MINSK – A court in Minsk has sentenced four anarchist activists to lengthy prison terms in an ongoing crackdown on those who challenge the official results of last year’s presidential election that gave victory to the strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Minsk Regional Court Judge Valer Tuleyka on December 22 sentenced Ihar Alinevich and Syarhey Ramanau to 20 years in prison each, while Dzmitry Razanovich was sentenced to 19 years and Dzmitry Dubouski to 18 years in prison.
The court found the defendants guilty of terrorism and unlawful possession and use of weapons and explosives. Dubouski and Alinevich were also convicted of illegally transporting firearms and explosives across state lines.
The four men were charged in late October 2020 after being arrested as they attempted to cross the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. All dismiss the charges as politically motivated.
Crisis in Belarus
Read our current coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists and independent media after the August 2020 presidential election, widely seen as fraudulent.
The trial, which took place behind closed doors, began in mid-November.
Investigators said the anarchists set fire to several police cars during the protests, as well as a traffic police building and the office of the State Forensic Committee in the southeast area of Homel.
Rights activists and opposition politicians say the poll was rigged to extend Lukashenko’s 26-year rule. Thousands of people have been arrested in nationwide protests and there are credible reports of torture and ill-treatment by security forces. Several people died during the crackdown.
Many Belarusian opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, while Lukashenko has refused to negotiate with the opposition.
The United States, the European Union and several other countries refused to recognize Lukashenko as the winner of the vote and imposed several rounds of sanctions on him and his regime, citing electoral fraud and police repression.