The trial of exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya has begun in Belarus. According to the state news agency Belta, the trial began today in the absence of the 40-year-old woman and four of her allies in the capital Minsk. Tichanovskaya and her co-accused are charged with high treason and “conspiracy to seize power unconstitutionally”.
Tichanovskaya, who currently lives in Lithuania, had previously described the trial to the AFP news agency as a “farce” and “personal revenge” on authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko. “I don’t even know what my supposed lawyer will do tomorrow in this court, how he will defend me,” said Tikhanovskaya. “I don’t know how long this process will take, how many days, but I’m sure they will sentence me to many, many years in prison.”
mass protests for election
Tichanovskaya ran against Lukashenko in the presidential elections in Belarus in the summer of 2020. After her controversial re-election, which was not recognized by the West, Tichanovskaya sharply criticized her. Mass protests after the election were violently repressed by the ruler, who had been in power for three decades. Thousands of people were arrested or fled abroad, including Tichanovskaya.
The 40-year-old woman is considered the face of the Belarusian opposition and regularly denounces government attacks. In addition to her, the opposition and activists Maria Moros, Pawel Latuschko, Olga Kovalkowa and Sergei Dylewski are also accused.
Since the protests, Belarusian authorities have continued to crack down on critical voices. The human rights organization Vyazna currently has over 1,400 political prisoners. The trial against imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Vyaznya, Ales Byalyatsky, began in Minsk in early January. The democracy activist and two other militants who are also accused face up to twelve years in prison.