MINSK — A court in Belarus has sentenced RFE/RL freelance correspondent Liza Hancharova and her father, Alyaksandr Hancharou, to 15 days in jail on charges of taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration.
On March 15, the Central District Court in Minsk found the two guilty of taking part in an unsanctioned rally on March 13.
Both have rejected the charges, saying they were not taking part in the protest but had been arrested by police while they were nearby by chance.
Hancharova was also found guilty of planning to shoot video of the rally for unspecified “extremist Telegram channels,” a charge which she also rejected.
Hancharova told the court that police brutally threw her onto the asphalt pavement several times during her arrest and used “suffocating methods” against her.
The 22-year-old Hancharova has worked at RFE/RL’s bureau in Minsk for three years as a freelance infographic designer and content creator.
Hancharova and her father were among about a dozen people detained in different parts of Minsk on March 13 amid an ongoing police crackdown against people protesting against the official results of an August 9, 2020, presidential election.
The official results handed a sixth term to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has run the country since 1994.
Thousands of people, including dozens of journalists who’ve covered the protest rallies, have been arrested.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.
Some have been given lengthy prison sentences. Leading opposition figures have been pushed out of the country.
Some human rights organizations say there is credible evidence of Belarusian security officials torturing detainees.
Lukashenka denies allegations that the election results were fraudulently altered in his favor. He refuses to negotiate with the opposition over their demands that he step down from power and conduct a new election that is free and fair.
The European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and governments in other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate leader of Belarus.
They’ve also imposed sanctions against him and other senior Belarusian officials in response to what they call the “falsification” of the election results and brutal crackdowns against peaceful demonstrators following the vote.