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Belarus Sentences Exiled Opposition Leader to 15 Years

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — A court in Belarus on Monday sentenced exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to 15 years in prison after a trial in absentia on charges including conspiring to overthrow the government.

Tsikhanouskaya and four other opposition figures are being tried in their absence in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. They also face charges of creating and leading an extremist group, inciting hatred and harming national security.

All five left Belarus following the unprecedented mass protests that erupted in 2020 after authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko secured his sixth term in office in a disputed election. The opposition and the West have denounced the vote as rigged.

The demonstrations that followed were the largest and the most sustained since Lukashenko assumed office in 1994. He has run the country with an iron fist ever since. His government unleashed a brutal crackdown against the protesters, detaining more than 35,000 and beating thousands.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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