About 20 Belarusian oppositionists who organized rallies against the integration of Belarus and Russia appeared in the courts
Courts in Belarus on Thursday sentenced about 20 protesters against integration with Russia. Protesters were fined and sentenced to short-term prison terms.
The opposition protests in December were provoked by two rounds of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
Many Belarusians worry that talks to strengthen economic ties could pave the way for a Russian takeover of Belarus. These fears are based on the experience of Ukraine, from which Russia annexed Crimea in 2014..
A Minsk court sentenced protest organizer Pavel Sevyarynets to 15 days of arrest and a $ 610 fine. About 20 more protesters were also fined and arrested by the decision of the capital’s courts..
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for more than 25 years, relies on Russian energy subsidies and loans to keep the country’s economy afloat. Russia recently increased energy prices and cut subsidies for Belarus in an attempt to push the idea of closer integration between the two countries. However, the Belarusian president rejected Moscow’s claims and called on fellow citizens to support the country’s independence..
The authorities did not oppose the unauthorized rallies of supporters of the independence of Belarus – this became an unprecedented manifestation of tolerance in a country where the police, as a rule, harshly suppress any opposition actions.
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