Up to 18 years in jail: Lukashenka regime passes draconian sentences on defendants in ‘Tsikhanouski case’

On Tuesday, the verdict in the case of politicians Syarhei Tsikhanouski Mikalai Statkevich, bloggers Ihar Losik and Uladzimir Tsyhanovich, members of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s election team Artsyom Sakau and Dzmitry Papou has been delivered in pre-trial detention centre Nr 3 in Homiel.

Photo: Belsat

The 173-day trial of this case started on June 24; it has been held behind closed doors. Previously, the investigation into the case had lasted more than a year. Only defendants, lawyers, judges, prosecutors and state media officers were allowed to be present the hearingsin order to ‘ensure the safety of participants of the trial and protect secrets protected by law’. However, the Belarusian officials failed to give any explanations to justify such measures. The relatives have been let to enter the courtroom only on the day of passing the sentence.

The defendants in the so called Tsikhanouski case were accused of ‘organising mass riots’ (Article 293-1 of the Criminal Code), ‘organisation of actions that grossly violated public order’ (Art. 342-1), ‘inciting social hatred’ (Art. 130-3), ‘disrupting the work of the Central Election Commission’ (Art. 191-2) in Belarus during the preparation and holding of the presidential elections. It should be highlighted that all of them had been arrested before the outbreak of the post-election protests in August 2020.

As the defence lawyers had to sign non-disclosure agreements, it is still unknown what punishment the prosecutor demanded for each defendant. Notably, Mikalai Bakunou, who was a judge at the very beginning of the trial, was later substituted by Mikalai Dolya who has imposed the following prison terms on the defendants today:

  • Syarhei Tsikhanouski – 18 years in a medium security penal colony (found guilty under Art. 342-1, 293-1, 130-3, 191-2);
  • Artsyom Sakau and Dzmitry Papou16 years in a medium security penal colony each (found guilty under Art. 342-1, 293-1, 130-3, 191-2);
  • Uladzimir Tsyhanovich and Ihar Losik – 15 years in a medium security penal colony each (found guilty under Art.293-1, 130-3);.
  • Mikalai Statkevich – 14 years in a high security penal colony (found guilty under Art. 293-1).
Global Question
Genocide of Belarusian people (ENG video)
2021.11.16 18:14

According to Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, ‘the very existence’ of such people as the six defendants is ‘a crime for the regime’. They are repressed for the wish to live in free Belarus, she said on Twitter.