Belarus sentences Svetlana Tijanóvskaya to 15 years in prison

Svetlana Tijanóvskaya

A court in Belarus sentenced this Monday (03.06.2023) in absentia to 15 years in prison for the main opposition member, Svetlana Tijanóvskaya, who is in exile in Lithuania because of the repression carried out by the Alexander Lukashenko regime. As reported by the Belarusian agency Belta, the court sentenced four other exiled opponents in the same case, including former Minister of Culture Pavel Latushko and a member of the Coordination Council for a democratic transition in Belarus.

In the process, which Tijanóvskaya called a “farce”, Latushko was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Both were charged with “conspiracy to take power unconstitutionally.” Three other opposition leaders, María Moroz, Olga Kovalkova and Sergei Dylevski, were sentenced to 12 years in prison. All those convicted are in exile in Lithuania or Poland and were tried in absentia. They were also found guilty of deliberate actions intended to incite social enmity and discord.

“Today I do not think about my own sentence. I think about the thousands of innocents, detainees sentenced to real prison sentences,” Tijanóvskaya said on Twitter. “I’m not going to stop until every one of them is released,” she promised. The opponent, who considers herself the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential elections in which Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected, was described as fraudulent by the opposition and by multiple Western countries, including the European Union, previously stated that the judicial system in her country ” It has become a machine of repression and terror”.

The opposition leader downplayed the sentence today and stated on her Telegram channel that “with it or without it, the democratic forces and I will continue to do everything possible to free our political prisoners and achieve democratic changes in our country.” In total there are 1,438 political prisoners in Belarus including bloggers, businessmen, activists, protesters and aspiring presidential candidates, including Tijanóvskaya’s husband, Sergei Tijanovski, according to the Vesná human rights organization.