*

upload_article_image

Belarus opposition leader jailed after joining protest

A leading Belarus opposition politician was jailed Monday amid a crackdown on protesters who rallied against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election bid, rights activists said.

Lukashenko, who has relentlessly suppressed opposition and independent news media during more than a quarter-century in power, is seeking a new term in an election scheduled for Aug. 9.

Nikolai Statkevich, one of Belarus’ most prominent opposition figures, was handed a 15-day jail term Monday after taking part in Sunday's protest in the capital, Minsk, according to the Viasna rights group. Statkevich served six years in prison for involvement in protests after the 2010 election.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, meets with Valery Vakulchik, chief of the Belarusian state security service, KGB, in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, June 1, 2020. (Nikolai PetrovBelTA Pool Photo via AP)

Viasna said that more than 50 opposition activists detained in recent days were to face courts in several parts of the country.

On Friday, popular opposition blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky was detained during a rally in Grodno, the country’s fourth-largest city.

A man, wearing a face mask and gloves to protect against coronavirus, gathers signatures in support for potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 31, 2020. A human rights group in Belarus says more than 30 people have been detained amid demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko running for another term. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government refused to postpone the election scheduled for August 9. (AP PhotoSergei Grits)

A woman, wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, walks with her cart as people give their signatures in support for potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 31, 2020. A human rights group in Belarus says more than 30 people have been detained amid demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko running for another term. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government refused to postpone the election scheduled for August 9. (AP PhotoSergei Grits)

People, wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, applaud to a speaker as they gather to give signatures in support of potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 31, 2020. A human rights group in Belarus says more than 30 people have been detained amid demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko running for another term. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government refused to postpone the election scheduled for August 9. (AP PhotoSergei Grits)

Opposition activists attend a rally to support for potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 31, 2020. A human rights group in Belarus says more than 30 people have been detained amid demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko running for another term. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government refused to postpone the election scheduled for August 9. (AP PhotoSergei Grits)

A man, wearing a face mask and hood to protect against coronavirus, attends a rally to support for potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 31, 2020. A human rights group in Belarus says more than 30 people have been detained amid demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko running for another term. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government refused to postpone the election scheduled for August 9. (AP PhotoSergei Grits)