Suspended sentences for Belarus opposition activists

May 21st, 2011 - 12:03 am ICT by BNO News  

MINSK, BELARUS (BNO NEWS) — Two former Belarusian opposition presidential candidates and several election campaign activists were handed two-year suspended sentences on Friday, RIA Novosti reported.

A Minsk district court found Vladimir Neklyaev, who had been under house arrest, guilty of organizing mass protests during the December presidential elections. Four of his campaign managers were each given two-year suspended sentences.

Another former opposition candidate, Vitaly Rymashevsky, received a similar sentence. They were part of the seven candidates detained after the polls, which international observers said were rigged.

A Belarusian court sentenced on Saturday another former presidential candidate to five years in prison for organizing mass unrest. Andrei Sannikov, a former deputy foreign minister and leader of Belarus’ Christian Democratic Party, challenged Alexander Lukashenko in the December presidential elections.

The candidate’s wife Irina Khalip, a journalist for the Belarusian Novaya Gazeta, was also detained, but then released pending trial.

More than 600 citizens of Belarus were detained after the December 19 demonstration in central Minsk following the reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for more than 15 years. The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Belarus over the post-election crackdown.

Most of the detainees have been charged with administrative offenses, but dozens of criminal cases have been initiated over the protests, including several against former presidential candidates.

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