Russian In Belarus Sentenced To 11 Years For Social Media Posts Urging Protests

Yegor Dudnikov  

MINSK — The Minsk City Court has sentenced a Russian citizen to 11 years in prison for his alleged actions against the rule of Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The court handed down the verdict and sentence on December 27 against 21-year-old Yegor Dudnikov, who says police severely beat him after his arrest, for allegedly inciting hatred and calling for actions to hurt Belarus.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.

The charges stem from Dudnikov allegedly taking part in preparing online materials in connection with unprecedented mass rallies in Belarus protesting official results of the August 2020 presidential election that handed Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term in office.

Investigators say that from January until May, Dudnikov placed at least 55 posts about the protests on the Telegram channel administered by the so-called Groups of Civic Self-Defense of Belarus (OGSB), an organization labeled as extremist and banned in Belarus in the aftermath of the protests.

Dudnikov is one of dozens in Belarus who have faced trial in recent months after authorities brutally suppressed dissent in any form following last year’s presidential election.

Rights activists and opposition politicians say the poll was rigged to extend Lukashenka’s 26-year rule. Thousands have been detained during countrywide protests and there have been credible reports of torture and ill-treatment by security forces. Several people have died during the crackdown.

Many of Belarus’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, while Lukashenka has refused to negotiate with the opposition.

The United States, the European Union, and several other countries have refused to acknowledge Lukashenka as the winner of the vote and imposed several rounds of sanctions on him and his regime, citing election fraud and the police crackdown.

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