Speed Reads

'the result of state terror'

Belarusian activist stabs himself in the throat during court hearing

On Tuesday, a Belarusian activist accused of organizing protests and resisting arrest stabbed himself in the throat during a court hearing in Minsk, the human rights watchdog Viasna 96 said.

Before the stabbing, the activist, Steffan Latypov, said government authorities "came to me and warned that if I can't admit my guilt, then I would be thrown in a cell with hardened criminals and criminal cases would be launched against my relatives and neighbors." Viasna 96 said Latypov underwent surgery, and none of his vital organs were damaged.

This comes a week after Belarus' authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, ordered a fighter jet to divert a Ryanair flight bound for Lithuania to the Minsk airport. Once the plane was grounded, authorities went on board and arrested Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old dissident journalist living in exile in Lithuania. 

Belarus' 2020 presidential election was viewed as fraudulent by the United States and European Union, after Lukashenko claimed he won more than 80 percent of the vote. Protesters gathered across the country, with the government violently cracking down on dissenters. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled Belarus amid the protests, tweeted on Tuesday that Latypov was "threatened with the persecution of his family if he didn't admit himself guilty. This is the result of state terror, repressions, torture in Belarus. We must stop it immediately!"