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Belarus Sentences Two More Lukashenko Opponents


A former opposition presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich sits in a cage during a court session in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, May 26, 2011

A former opposition presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich sits in a cage during a court session in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, May 26, 2011

Belarus has sentenced two more political opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko to prison terms for leading post-election protests against his re-election in December.

A Minsk court Thursday sentenced the two former opposition candidates, Nikolai Statkevich and Dmitry Uss, to prison sentences of six years and 5.5 years respectively.

Three other former presidential candidates have been convicted and sentenced, including human rights leader Andrei Sannikov who was handed a five-year jail term. They are among dozens of people convicted by Belarus for their part in the protests.

Demonstrations began in Minsk and other cities after Mr. Lukashenko was announced the winner of the December 19 ballot and re-elected to a fourth term in office. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the election results. About 700 were arrested.

Western governments and opposition groups in Belarus have condemned the harsh crackdown by the Minsk government on its political opponents. The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions against the Lukashenko government.

The Belarusian president won nearly 80 percent of votes in the December poll, an election international observers described as "flawed."

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