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Belarusian prosecutors seek 15-year prison sentence for Lukashenko’s opponent Viktor Babariko

Source: TASS

State prosecutors in Belarus have asked the country’s Supreme Court to sentence former presidential hopeful Viktor Babariko (Viktar Babaryka) to 15 years in prison.

The former Belgazprombank executive, whose trial began in February, stands accused of “accepting bribes in an especially large amount.”

According to Belarusian investigators, Babariko organized a group of his subordinates to systematically take bribes beginning in 2004. Allegedly, they collected more than 30 million Belarusian rubles (more than $11 million by today’s exchange rate) from various corporate clients over the course of 16 years.

Belarusian prosecutors are seeking sentences ranging from 3 to 6.5 years in prison for Babariko’s subordinates.

In May 2020, Viktor Babariko announced plans to run in the Belarusian presidential election — he was considered the leading potential candidate and main opponent of incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994. Babariko was arrested in June following a raid on Belgazprombank’s office. Election officials subsequently refused to register his candidacy for the presidential election.

Read Meduza’s interview with Viktor Babariko

‘This is a new Belarus’ Viktor Babariko is Lukashenko’s main opponent in the Belarusian presidential elections. Now he’s been put under arrest.

Read Meduza’s interview with Viktor Babariko

‘This is a new Belarus’ Viktor Babariko is Lukashenko’s main opponent in the Belarusian presidential elections. Now he’s been put under arrest.

Other potential opposition candidates such as blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky (Siarhei Tsikhanousky) and Valery Tsepkalo (Valery Tsapkala) also came under pressure in the lead up to the election. Tikhanovsky was imprisoned and Tsepkalo fled the country fearing criminal prosecution. 

In the end, Tikhanovsky’s wife, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya), ran in the election and became Lukashenko’s main opponent. According to the official election results, she won 10 percent of the vote, however, the opposition insists that the results were falsified and that Tikhanovskaya actually won the election. 

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