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Top US diplomat slams ‘shameful sentencing’ of Belarus opposition figures

file photo: u.s. secretary of state antony blinken deliver remarks to the press on afghanistan
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday condemned the “politically motivated conviction and shameful sentencing” of Belarusian opposition figures Maria Kolesnikova and Maxim Znak.

“These sentencings are further evidence of the regime’s total disregard for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Belarus,” Blinken said in a statement.

Kolesnikova, one of the leaders of mass street protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko last year, was sentenced on Monday to 11 years in prison, leading to an outcry from Western countries.

Kolesnikova and Znak, another senior opposition figure, were charged with extremism and trying to seize power illegally. Both denied wrongdoing.

Slamming “the politically motivated conviction and shameful sentencing,” Blinken called the charges against the two “bogus” and said they did not have a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal.

The United States reiterates its call for “for an end to the campaign of repression against the people of Belarus for exercising their human rights inside and outside Belarus and for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners – including Ms Kalesnikava and Mr Znak,” he said.

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