A Belarusian opposition leader and former ally of President Alexander Lukashenko obtained a 17-year jail sentence in absentia Friday on costs that included forming an extremist group and discrediting Belarus.
Valery Tsepkalo, 58, was additionally fined round $14,000 and barred from holding public workplace for 5 years following a closed-door trial that resulted in his conviction. Different costs included issuing calls to grab energy, slander and insulting the nation’s president.
Tsepkalo fled to Russia in 2020 after the Central Election Fee barred him and eight different candidates from difficult Lukashenko in a presidential election that 12 months. He later moved to Ukraine, Latvia and Greece.
Based on the Belarusian human rights heart Viasna, Tsepkalo couldn’t defend himself in court docket or get acquainted with the small print of the case towards him as a result of he had no contact with the state lawyer.
His spouse went on to help the candidacy of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who determined to run towards Lukashenko instead of her jailed husband. Tsikhanouskaya contested the official election outcomes that confirmed the incumbent successful a sixth time period by a large margin, and later fled Belarus as effectively.
One other opposition politician who completed fourth within the election, Andrey Dzmitryeu, was arrested in Minsk and imprisoned at the start of the 12 months.
Lukashenko’s August 2020 reelection set off big antigovernment protests following an election that the opposition and the West denounced as having been rigged.
Belarusian authorities responded to the demonstrations with a significant crackdown that noticed greater than 35,000 individuals arrested, 1000’s crushed by police and dozens of media retailers and nongovernmental organizations shut. Lukashenko has dominated Belarus since 2004.