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Gomel court sentences members of Tikhanovskaya team to jail terms for plotting riots

According to the investigation, the accused organized a meeting on August 5, 2020 to plan mass unrest in Gomel

MINSK, May 4./TASS/. A district court in Gomel, Belarus, has sentenced three members from the action group of former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and one of her confidants to various prison terms, pronouncing them guilty for plotting mass unrest and seizure of administrative buildings, the prosecutor’s office of the Gomel Region said in a report uploaded to the website of the Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday.

They are sentenced to six years in prison under Part 1 of Article 13 and Part 2 of Article 293 (mass unrest) and Part 1 of Article 13 and Part 1 of Article 292 (seizure of buildings and facilities) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. A 53-year-old man has been sentenced to six-and-half years in prison, with another charge added to the above, under Article 396 (insulting an official), the report said.

The prosecutor’s office specified that the men would serve out their terms in a medium-security penal colony, while the women would be sent to a minimum-security detention center. "The sentence has not entered into legal force as of yet, it can be appealed or protested within ten days from the day of its announcement," the prosecutor’s office added.

The court in Gomel began reviewing these criminal cases on charges of mass riots on April 12. According to the investigation, the accused organized a meeting on August 5, 2020 to plan mass unrest in Gomel. Opposition figurehead Tikhanovskaya also attended the meeting, which discussed a plan to organize mass riots, as well as the seizure of the administrative buildings and executive committee buildings and to appoint their supporters as their heads.

According to the investigators, Tikhanovskaya supported the plan and "agreed to allocate money for the purchase of stun guns, pepper-spray balls, walkie-talkies, megaphones, microphones and other equipment and weapons intended for carrying out the crime," it said. Those charged faced up to eight years in prison.

Nationwide demonstrations engulfed Belarus following the presidential election held on August 9, 2020. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police.