Belarus Opposition Leader Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

Photo: Al Jazeera

The Facts

  • A Belarusian court sentenced exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to 15 years in prison after a trial in absentia on charges including conspiring to overthrow the government.

  • The court also launched in-absentia proceedings against members of the Belarusian opposition council. Some members will serve 18 years, others will each serve 12.

The Spin

Narrative A

Alexander Lukashenko’s brutal regime continues to stifle dissent by imprisoning political adversaries. As a close ally of Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko’s tactics are not very surprising, but they are still a travesty. The international community must be very clear — Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was imprisoned for promoting democracy just as thousands before her were. This tyranny must end immediately.

Narrative B

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is a Western-backed operative whose primary goal is to disrupt order in Belarus and seize power through unconstitutional means. Tsikhanouskaya garnered just 10% of the vote in the 2020 election, yet she claims she won. She is now going across Europe trying to get countries to impose sanctions on Belarus. Tsikhanouskaya has opposed Belarus’s sovereignty from the beginning, and she must serve her time.

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