The trial of the husband of Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has begun. Sergei Tikhanovski was arrested last year for disturbing public order shortly after announcing his 2020 presidential election. He faces a 15-year prison sentence.
The famous blogger is known as a critic of President Alexander Lukashenko. According to his partner, he has been incarcerated since the end of May 2020 and would not have seen his family since. Because of his arrest, his wife decided to run in the elections in his place. Tikhanovskaya quickly became Lukashenko’s primary opponent.
Tikhanovskaya claims to have won the elections, as did Lukashenko. The incumbent president declared himself the winner with 80.1 percent of the vote. According to the opposition, there was a fraud. After the polls, Belarusians took to the streets en masse to express their dissatisfaction with Lukashenko and the polls. These actions were often brutally beaten down by the police.
In the aftermath, activists and journalists have been arrested. Opponents of the president, who has been in power since 1994, have also fled the country. For example, Tikhanovskaya is in Lithuania. In addition to her husband, other opponents of Lukashenko are also on trial on Thursday, including prominent opposition member Mikola Statkevich. The hearings took place behind closed doors in the city of Gomel, the second-largest city in Belarus.