Belarus officer sentenced for leaking document on crackdown

International

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Belarusian military officer on Friday was sentenced to 18 years in prison for leaking a document related to the government’s crackdown on protests against the country’s authoritarian president.

The officer, Capt. Dzianis Urad, was accused of giving the media a copy of a government directive urging the military to help put down the demonstrations.

Belarus’ Supreme Court handed Urad an 18-year prison sentence and stripped him of his military rank for the actions that “hurt national security.”

Earlier this month, President Alexander Lukashenko has stripped 80 military and police officers of their ranks over their suspected links to the opposition.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet nation for more than a quarter-century, has faced months of massive protests triggered by his re-election to a sixth term in an August vote that the opposition and some election workers said was rigged.

The Belarusian authorities have unleashed a harsh crackdown on protests demanding Lukashenko’s resignation. More than 34,000 people have been arrested in Belarus and many of them were brutally beaten.

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