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Belarus jails opposition leader's husband for 18 years

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The husband of Belarus's opposition leader was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 years in jail for organizing mass unrest and inciting social hatred.

That's according to the official Belta news agency.

Syarhei Tsikhanouski, a video blogger, was jailed in May 2020 as he prepared to run against Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko in a presidential election in August that year.

He denied the charges.

His wife Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya ran in his place in the election, which led to months of mass protests after Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory and the opposition accused him of rigging the ballot.

A few hours before the verdict was pronounced, Tsikhanouskaya denounced it.

"A year, twenty years or one hundred years - it's not normal. It's illegal, and it is not something one can tolerate."

"And I will continue to defend the person I love, who has become a leader for millions of Belarusians."

Tsikhanouskaya fled to neighboring Lithuania to escape a sweeping crackdown after the election.

She has since gained prominence, meeting an array of western leaders.

Tsikhanouski's trial was closed to the public and lawyers were banned from disclosing details of the case.

Five supporters of Tsikhanouski were tried along with him and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 16 years.

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