Belarus accuses opposition leader of plotting December unrest

Belarusian prosecutors on Wednesday accused opposition leader Nikolai Statkevich of organizing mass anti-government protests after allegedly rigged presidential elections in December.

Statkevich, one of seven presidential candidates detained after the December 19 vote that gave a fourth term to President Alexander Lukashenko, could face up to 15 years in prison.

“Statkevich organized mass disturbances and led them in agreement with [former presidential candidate Dmitry] Uss and others,” prosecutors said.

Police beat and arrested hundreds of demonstrators, who attempted to storm the government headquarters in protest against Lukashenko’s re-election.

The United States and European Union condemned the crackdown and imposed sanctions against Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1994.

Statkevich is also accused of calling on protesters to storm the government headquarters.

A number of opposition activists have already been sentenced to jail terms of up to four years.

Another former presidential candidate, Andrei Sannikov, has also been charged with organizing the unrest.

In March, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing hundreds of cases of torture and inhumane treatment of jailed protesters.

MINSK, May 11 (RIA Novosti)

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