Two key opposition figures in Belarus, Maria Kolesnikova and Maksim Znak, were on Monday jailed for threatening national security.
A Minsk court found both guilty of threatening national security and conspiring to seize power during protests against the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, state media reported. Both will serve their sentences in penal camps. Protest organizer Kolesnikova was jailed for 11 years while lawyer Znak received 10 years.
In August 2020, Kolesnikova and Znak co-founded the Coordination Council, a non-governmental body aiming to facilitate the democratic transfer of power away from Lukashenko.
“I do not expect any surprises and of course no just verdict,” Kolesnikova’s father commented when court proceedings started in August.
Western states have repeatedly criticized Belarus’ crackdown on opposition figures since a disputed election in August 2020, resulting in sanctions from both the EU and U.S.