MINSK -- A court in Belarus has sentenced RFE/RL freelancer Liza Hancharova and her father, Alyaksandr Hancharou, to 15 days in jail on charges of taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration.
On March 15, the Central District Court in Minsk found the two guilty of taking part in an unsanctioned rally on March 13.
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Both have rejected the charges, saying they were not taking part in the protest but had been arrested by police while they were nearby by chance.
Hancharova was also found guilty of planning to shoot video of the rally for unspecified "extremist Telegram channels," a charge which she also rejected.
“RFE/RL deplores the jailing of Liza Hancharova, a graphic designer with Radio Svaboda, our Belarusian service, in Minsk. For the simple act of watching a protest take place, Liza was brutally attacked on the street by police and jailed for 15 days. She should be released immediately," said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly.
Hancharova told the court that police brutally threw her onto the asphalt pavement several times during her arrest and used "suffocating methods" against her.
Hancharova and her father were among about a dozen people detained in different parts of Minsk on March 13 amid an ongoing police crackdown against people protesting against the official results of an August 9, 2020, presidential election.
The official results handed a sixth term to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has run the country since 1994.
Thousands of people, including dozens of journalists who've covered the protest rallies, have been arrested.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.
Some have been given lengthy prison sentences. Leading opposition figures have been pushed out of the country.
Some human rights organizations say there is credible evidence of Belarusian security officials torturing detainees.
Lukashenka denies allegations that the election results were fraudulently altered in his favor. He refuses to negotiate with the opposition over their demands that he step down from power and conduct a new election that is free and fair.
The European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and governments in other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate leader of Belarus.
They've also imposed sanctions against him and other senior Belarusian officials in response to what they call the “falsification” of the election results and brutal crackdowns against peaceful demonstrators following the vote.