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Jailed Belarusian Blogger With Presidential Ambitions Gets Additional 15-Day Jail Term

Syarhey Tsikhanouski at the Saviecki District Court in Homel in December. (Courtesy - RFE/RL)
Syarhey Tsikhanouski at the Saviecki District Court in Homel in December. (Courtesy - RFE/RL)

A jailed Belarusian blogger, Syarhey Tsikhanouski, who intended to take part in the August presidential election, has been given an additional 15-day jail term for what a court in the southeastern city of Homel called the "organization of an unsanctioned mass gathering."

The Soviet District Court on May 18 announced the ruling but did not specify what event Tsikhanouski had been convicted of organizing.

Tsikhanouski is the owner of a popular channel on YouTube called "The Country for Life" that challenges Belarusian authorities.

He was initially detained on May 6 and sent to jail for 15 days for taking part in unsanctioned rallies against Belarus's integration with Russia in December.

Tsikhanouski and subscribers to his YouTube channel planned to organize a rally called Anti-Parade in the eastern city of Babruysk on May 9 to challenge President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decision to hold a massive military parade on Victory Day in Minsk despite the coronavirus pandemic.

On May 15, the Central Election Commission rejected Tsikhanouski's registration documents for his candidacy for the presidential election scheduled for August 9.

Lukashenka, who has led the former Soviet republic since 1994, has expressed intentions to seek reelection to a sixth term.

He said in November 2019 that he could also stand in 2025, while adding: "I won't cling onto my seat with my cold dead hands."

Belarus abolished presidential term limits in a referendum in 2004.

It's unclear who will run against Lukashenka.