This article by the editorial Board is published by Washington Post. Here is an excerpt:
Danuta Perednya was an honors student at Mogilev State University in Belarus when Russia began a military onslaught against Ukraine. On Feb. 27, just days after the invasion, she reposted a text in an online chatroom that harshly criticized Presidents Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Vladimir Putin of Russia for unleashing the war. She called for protests and spoke out against Belarusian troops entering the conflict directly.
The next day, Ms. Perednya got off a bus in Mogilev from her hometown of Kirovsk and was arrested. She was expelled from the university, and accused of actions aimed at causing harm to the national interests of the Republic of Belarus and of insulting Mr. Lukashenko. On June 10, she was labeled a person involved with terrorist activities by the Belarusian security services. On July 1, Ms. Perednya was sentenced to 6½ years in a penal colony — for simply expressing her views.
In a photograph widely circulated online, Ms. Perednya, 20, is smiling broadly. This is not the face of a terrorist or a criminal. Rather, it is the face of a dictatorship using terror and coercion against its own people to smother free speech and association. It is the face of a tyrant, Mr. Lukashenko, who was defeated in the 2020 presidential election but stole it from the true victor, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, after she was greeted by huge crowds with hopes for change. Mr. Lukashenko declared himself the winner, incarcerated hundreds of protesters and forced Ms. Tikhanovskaya into exile. How is it possible to insult such crude despotism?
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