Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova sentenced to 11 years in jail

Kolesnikova and another opposition activist, Maxim Znak, were charged with extremism and conspiracy to “seize the state” power in an unconstitutional way” in held a trial in the capital Minsk behind closed doors, Belarusian state media That reports Belta.

znak, who is also An key member of the coordination council formed by opponents of Lukashenko is authoritarian government, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kolesnikova, a musician die became an activist, was one of three women who joined forces last year in front of the opposition campaign against Lukashenko after prominent male opposition candidates were barred from presidential election race.

The trio was the face of a protest movement die tens sent of thousands of Belarusians take to the streets demand political change during the country’s elections. The protesters, as well as independent observers, claimed that the vote rigged to Lukashenko’s 27-year rule.

President Lukashenko, who electoral fraud denied, has faced sanctions of the US and other western governments since they claimed victory and crackdown against opponents last year.

Kolesnikova was arrested last September and taken to the border where she was ordered to leave the country. Instead, she reportedly tore up her passport, refusing to be forced in exile.

“We demand the immediate release of Mary & Maksim, who are not guilty of something. To be terror against Belarusians who dare to stand up to the regime. We won’t stop until everyone is free in Belarus,” Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a Belarusian opposition leader who walked for president and led protests with Kolesnikova, said on Twitter Monday, after the verdict was announced.

Tikhanovskaya, who was standing in for her husband as an opposition candidate after being imprisoned in the run-up to the vote, fled to neighboring Lithuania with her children last August after contesting the primaries results die Lukashenko handed over a landslide win.

Tikhanovskaya called Kolesnikova and Znak “heroes” for Belarusians.”

The exiled opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya makes her first public    appearance in Vilnius, Lithuania in August 2020 after the flight from Belarus.

“The regime wants us to see them crushed and exhausted. But look – they smile and dance. She know – we will release them much sooner than these 11 years. Their terms shouldn’t be afraid us — Maksim and Maria wouldn’t want this,” she added, share a video of the two opposition leaders stand in a glass cage for defendants in court of law.

Viktor Babaryka, an ex-banker who had tried to run against Lukashenko before he was arrested and imprisoned said: in An post on to be Telegram broadcaster Monday that the judgments of Kolesnikova and Znak would be appealed.

The US and several European countries have made statements condemning the court’s ruling and continue to make efforts to silence them government opponents.

Biden issues executive order against Belarusian regime on anniversary of fraudulent election

“Unfortunately, these convictions are further evidence of die of the regime total ignore for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Belarus. Ms Kalesnikava and Mr Znak deserved a transparent court decision of the false charges levied against them, die they have not received”, the American minister of State Antony Blinken said: in a statement Monday, calling the conviction “politically motivated” and “shameful”.

Last month, on the one-year anniversary of In Belarus election, President Joe Biden issued sweeping executive order targeting members of the Belarusian regime concerned in the repression of human rights and democracy. On Monday, Blinken quoted the order and reiterated the Biden government’s calls for “Belarusian authorities to begin a sincere dialogue with the democratic opposition and members of civil society leading to free and fair elections among international observation.”

Germany on Monday promised to increase the pressure against the Belarus regime if it does not change its civil rights behavior, with the government spokesman Steffen Seibert calls the verdicts unjustified. The British minister Foreign Affairs Domnic Raab said Belarus attacked the defenders of democracy and freedom by imprisoning two opposition members. The European Union has demanded immediate and unconditional release of Maria Kolesnikova and Maxim Znak.

Read More: World News

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