A Belarusian court on Tuesday jailed Sergei Tikhanovsky, the husband of opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, for 18 years for inciting hatred and social unrest.
Five of his supporters were also given prison terms ranging from 14 to 16 years, according Belarusian state news agency Belta. The sentencing took place behind closed doors.
“The very existence of these people is a crime for the regime. They’re repressed for the wish to live in free Belarus,” Tikhanovskaya tweeted after the verdict. “The dictator publicly takes revenge on his strongest opponents. While hiding the political prisoners in closed trials, he hopes to continue repressions in silence,” she added.
Tikhanovsky, a video blogger, was detained in May 2020 as he was preparing to run for president against Alexander Lukashenko. After the detention, Tikhanovskaya ran instead. Lukashenko’s announcement that he had won the vote led to months of protests that were violently repressed.
Tikhanovskaya has since been leading opposition to Lukashenko from Lithuania.
Last week, Tikhanovskaya mentioned her husband at U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy meeting, mocking world leaders’ statements by saying she was confused about “the difference between ‘very, deeply, strongly concerned’ and ‘gravely, extremely, seriously concerned.’”
This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Sergei Tikhanovsky’s name to conform to Russian transliteration.