MINSK -- Noted Belarusian activist Mikalay Dzyadok has been sentenced to five years in prison over his participation in unsanctioned rallies held last year to protest against official election results that handed strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term in office.
The Minsk City Court pronounced the ruling on November 10 after finding Dzyadok guilty of charges including organizing activities that violate social order and making public calls for activities that undermine national security.
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Dzyadok rejected the accusations against him and called the case "persecution for my views and my desire to tell the truth."
Dzyadok, a contributor to Novy chas (New Time) newspaper, was arrested in November 2020 after being actively involved in unprecedented anti-Lukashenka rallies that lasted for several months.
The protests were triggered by an August presidential poll that Lukashenka said he had won by a landslide but which the opposition and West say was rigged.
In 2011, Dzyadok was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison on hooliganism charges. He rejected the charge and Belarusian human rights groups declared him a political prisoner.
In February 2015, his prison term was extended by one year for allegedly disobeying prison guards, but he was unexpectedly released several months later along with other political prisoners.