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Former Belarusian Teacher Jailed For Two Years For Telegram Posts

A former Belarusian teacher has been sentenced to two years in prison over her posts on Telegram commenting on unprecedented rallies against strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka that erupted after last year's controversial presidential election.

A court in the southern city of Mazyr on November 8 found Iryna Harashyna guilty of organizing and preparing activities that "blatantly" violate social order and illegal activities to gain private information.

Charges against Harashyna stemmed from her posts in a Telegram channel that was declared extremist by Belarusian authorities earlier this year.

The trial was held behind closed doors, and it is unknown how the defendant pleaded.

Also on November 8, the Supreme Court shut down the Belarusian Language Society.

Society Chairwoman Alena Anisim said after the ruling was pronounced that the group's two newspapers in the Belarusian language will have to stop operations now.

In recent months, Belarusian courts have branded several civil society and rights groups extremist, forcing them to shut down as part of a sweeping crackdown in the wake of mass protests triggered by the presidential poll, which Lukashenka said he had won by a landslide but which the opposition and West say was rigged.

On November 10 and 19, the Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the possible liquidation of the Belarusian Popular Front opposition party and For Freedom movement, respectively.

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