MINSK -- Belarusian authorities say a man in the eastern city of Mahilyou was handed a two-year prison sentence for online comments that insulted a KGB officer who was killed in a police shoot-out at a Minsk apartment that also killed an IT worker in late September.
Details remain unclear around the September 28 shooting that resulted in the death of Andrey Zeltsar, a man working for a major U.S.-based IT company called EPAM and a KGB officer, Dzmitry Fedasyuk.
The Prosecutor-General's Office said on January 10 that the 45-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of insulting the officer.
It was not clear exactly what the defendant, whose name was not released, wrote other than defending Zeltsar and criticizing the KGB team involved in the shoot-out.
It is the first court ruling in the case, which the Investigative Committee said in October involved dozens of individuals.
Authorities claimed at the time that "an especially dangerous criminal" had opened fire on security officers after they showed up at his apartment looking for "individuals involved in terrorist activities."
Authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka slammed people who posted comments on social media praising Zeltsar and criticizing Fedasyuk, saying that "we have all their accounts, and we can see who is who."
Belarus witnessed unprecedented anti-government protests after a presidential election in August 2020, in which Lukashenka claimed reelection.
Opposition groups say the vote was rigged, while many Western governments have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the winner.
In response to months of street protests, the government has arrested thousands. Fearing for their safety, most of the top opposition figures have left the country.