A court in Belarus sentenced a top opposition leader to five and a half years in jail this week for “hooliganism” and “incitement to mass disorder.” Alyaksandr Kozulin was one of two candidates who ran in March against authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in an election universally condemned as rigged. After the vote, Kozulin led a series of mass protests, until riot troops crushed the demonstrations and arrested him. The U.S. was quick to protest his jail sentence. “The entire trial was a politically motivated process,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, “designed to punish Kozulin for expressing his political views.” To protest the fraudulent election, the U.S. earlier this year imposed financial and travel sanctions on Belarus.
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