VILNIUS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has condemned the jailing of two Belarus’ opposition activists as a parody of justice.
“It’s just another parody of justice. I’d like to look people in Belarus’ law enforcement, judges and other officers, in the eye, to ask them how they feel when jailing absolutely innocent people, those people whose only crime is the pursuit of freedom,” the minister’s spokeswoman, Vytaute Smaizyte-Kuliesiene, told BNS citing the minister’s words.
“I’d like to ask those judges what they really think. [Alexander] Lukashenko will fail one day, just as all other dictators, but you will continue living in your country and will have to respond before fellow citizens,” the minister said.
Earlier on Monday, a court in Belarus sentenced Maria Kolesnikova, one of the country's most prominent opposition figures, to 11 years in prison after she led unprecedented protests against president Lukashenko last year.
Kolesnikova, a member of the Belarusian opposition's Coordination Council Presidium, was accused of calls for actions aimed at causing harm to national security, of plotting to seize power illegally and extremism.
Maxim Znak, another senior opposition figure and a member of the Coordination Council Presidium, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Kolesnikova’s and Znak’s lawyers vowed to file appeals against the sentences at the Supreme Court within 10 days.
The European Union condemned the sentencing of Belarus' most prominent protest figures as a blatant violation of human rights and demanded their immediate and unconditional release.
Belarus was rocked by more than six months of protests following the contested presidential election in August, 2020, which the opposition and Western countries say was rigged and after which Lukashenko was declared winner, having secured his sixth presidential term.
Protesters demanded the resignation of the authoritarian leader, the release of political prisoners and new elections.