A Belarusian court has handed down heavy sentences to five people for an alleged coup attempt

A Belarusian court has handed down heavy sentences to five people for an alleged coup attempt
A Belarusian court has handed down heavy sentences to five people for an alleged coup attempt

A court in Minsk on Monday handed down sentences of up to 11 years in prison to five people accused by the Belarusian prosecutor’s office of attempting a coup d’état. Among those convicted is the head of the opposition party, a political scientist or a lawyer with an American passport, the human rights organization Vyasna reported.

For participating in an alleged “conspiracy to gain power in an unconstitutional way”, the judge sentenced political scientist and literary critic Alyaksandr Fjadut to a ten-year prison sentence, while the leader of the opposition party, the Belarusian National Front, Ryhor Kastusjou, received the same sentence.

The highest sentence of the five convicts, 11 years in prison, was given to the Belarusian-American lawyer Juras Zjankovič, who was also identified as the leader of the group. Activist Dzjanis Kraučuk and lawyer Volha Halubovičová will go to prison for 2.5 years.

The five accused in the case were arrested in April 2021 and have remained in custody since then. The Belarusian secret police, the KGB, and its Russian counterpart, the FSB, announced at the time that they had prevented an assassination attempt on Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and his sons and that they had uncovered a “coup d’état”. Lukashenko said investigators believe there is evidence of US involvement in the plan.

Fjaduta previously said the “coup” was orchestrated by the Belarusian secret service and a KGB officer who had infiltrated the group. Its members participated in an online meeting, during which they discussed the future of Belarus and possible changes in the country, during which, according to Vyasna, “some radical proposals” were also made.

Zjankovic and Fjaduta later agreed to an offer to meet with members of the Belarusian security forces in one of the Moscow restaurants. They were provoked into making various statements during the meeting and were arrested by Russia’s FSB immediately after, the human rights organization said.

The year before last, Belarus was rocked by unprecedentedly large demonstrations that broke out after Lukashenko won the presidential election for the sixth time, according to the official results. The opposition and some Western countries claim the results were rigged. The security forces brutally suppressed the protests, arresting tens of thousands of people and beating thousands of them. Vyasna estimates that there are around 1,300 political prisoners in the country.

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Lukashenko showed the little pioneers a “trick” with a bottle. The whole hall applauded him. | Video: Aktuálně.cz/Twitter/Francis Scarr

The article is in Czech

Tags: Belarusian court handed heavy sentences people alleged coup attempt

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