Belarus starts trial of opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya

World Tuesday 17/January/2023 15:58 PM
By: DW
Belarus starts trial of opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya

Minsk: The trial in absentia of Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya opened in Minsk on Tuesday, state news agency Belta said.

According to Belta, Tsikhanouskaya faces charges including high treason, "conspiracy to seize power" and creating and leading an extremist organisation.

Tsikhanouskaya ran for president in 2020. Although the electoral commission in Minsk announced the victory of longstanding strongman Alexander Lukashenko, Tsikhanouskaya and her supporters allege that the results were fraudulent.

Following the election, she fled to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and became the head of the opposition in exile.

On Monday, Tsikhanouskaya told the Reuters news agency, "In Belarus there are no honest trials. We live in absolute lawlessness in our country so tomorrow's trial will be a farce and a show but not real justice."
In a statement posted on Twitter, Tsikhanouskaya called the charges against her "the revenge of a pathetic dictator who lost power."

"Belarus needs real justice, not a puppet show," she declared.

Other charges against opposition figures
A day before the start of her trial, Belarus brought new charges against Tsikhanouskaya's husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who was arrested in 2020 as he attempted to run for president.

Also on Monday, Minsk began the trial of Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist and activist who is also of Belarus' ethnic Polish minority. Tsikhanouskaya called the trial "shameful" and called for Poczobut's immediate release.

Belarus also put rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski and two others on trial this month on charges of financing protests and smuggling money, with possible prison sentences of up to 12 years.
Rights activists estimate around 1,500 people in Belarus are in jail on politically motivated charges.