A court in Belarus has sentenced 14 people to stiff prison terms for taking part in "mass disorder" amid nationwide protests against the disputed results of last year’s election.
A court in the western city of Brest on April 30 sentenced the defendants to between 5 ½ and 6 ½ years in prison in a widely watched case over their participation in rallies in the city of Pinsk. Most of those sentenced in the Pinsk case were accused of throwing objects at police and destroying property.
The Vyasna human rights monitor categorizes the 14 as political prisoners.
The rallies in Pinsk were part of mass demonstrations that swept across Belarus in the wake of an August election that gave authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term.
Tens of thousands have since been detained, hundreds beaten, several killed, and media quashed in a crackdown that has forced most leading opposition figures into exile.
The Belarusian opposition, the EU, and the United States consider the election fraudulent and don’t recognize the results.
Belarus Court Gives 14 People Long Prison Terms For 'Mass Disorder'