Viktor Babariko told supporters in a statement released ahead of his trial on Wednesday that the past year had been one of “victory over the slavery we carried in our souls” even if a political victory over authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime has so far failed to materialize. “For years they convinced us that Belarusians couldn’t do without an iron fist to lead us,” he said. “That we were incapable of taking independent decisions and taking responsibility for our future.” Babariko’s message was penned in the prison cell where he has spent the past eight months. Months in which Belarus has changed in profound ways ; changes he has only been able to follow from behind bars. A presidential campaign cut short Babariko’s problems with the Belarusian judiciary began in early June 2020, just weeks into a whirlwind presidential campaign that saw hundreds of thousands of Belarusians sign his bid to register as a presidential candidate. Initial online polling put Babariko far ahead of incumbent Lukashenko, some suggested the opposition figure could even pick up close to 50% of the votes. The authorities’ response was to ban independent opinion polls. Also in early June, investigators raided Belgazprombank, the bank Babariko had… Read full this story
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