Belarus jails Lukashenko's opposition for taking part in protests

A Belarus court on Thursday sentenced a politician who stood against leader Alexander Lukashenko in a disputed presidential election in 2020 to 18 months in prison on Thursday, for taking part in widespread protests against the result of the vote.

Andrei Dmitriev, 41, who also led an anti-Lukashenko social movement, was sentenced in the capital Minsk, the Viasna human rights group said. He pleaded guilty to participating in the protests.

Months of unrest swept across Belarus after official results showed Lukashenko won the August 2020 election in a landslide. Independent rights monitors say the poll was neither free nor fair, and the European Union imposed sanctions on Belarus for "repression and election falsification."

Authorities in the country, which relies on Moscow for political and financial backing, have since led a crackdown against Lukashenko's opponents, and thousands have fled abroad.

Human rights groups say there are around 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus.

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