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Belarusian court sentences blogger to 18 months for blocking traffic during protest

MINSK – A court in Minsk has sentenced a blogger to 18 months in a maximum-security penal colony for her participation in protests against the government of authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Among the charges for disturbing public order in August 2020, Volha Takarchuk, 36-year-old blogger and mother of two young children, allegedly “blocked traffic” and “shouted slogans”.

She was sentenced on December 20 that the court followed the prosecutors’ request for conviction in the case.

“If each of us is silent, it will be what it was before: everyone in the kitchen quietly hated power, condemned it, but just sat there and did nothing. I don’t want to live on my knees ”, she said in a video recorded in January in case she was arrested and detained.

Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo)

Protests erupted in Belarus after Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the winner in an August 2020 election which opponents say was rigged. The West refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate leader of Belarus.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested, and human rights activists say more than 800 people are now jailed as political prisoners amid sometimes violent repression by dissent officials.

Independent media and opposition social networks were also targeted.

Several protesters have been killed in the violence and some rights organizations say there is credible evidence that security agents use torture against some of those detained.

Lukashenka has denied any wrongdoing regarding the presidential vote and refuses to negotiate with the opposition on the resignation and the holding of new elections.

The European Union, the United States, Canada and other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate leader of Belarus and have imposed sanctions on him and several senior Belarusian officials in response to the “falsification” of Belarus. vote and post-election repression.