MALADZYECHNA, Belarus – A Belarusian prosecutor has moved a court to convict world heavyweight kickboxer Alyaksey Kudzin to 3 1/2 years in prison for attacking a security officer during a pro-democracy protest following a controversial election a year ago.
The prosecutor filed the application on August 10 at the Maladzyechna District Court near Minsk, where the trial against Kudzin is ongoing.
Kudzin, a mixed martial arts fighter nicknamed The Brick, was arrested in Moscow in January after escaping to Russia in the fall of 2020.
Russia extradited Kudzin to Belarus in July, despite fears the athlete could face political persecution and torture.
In the presidential election on Jan.
The day after the vote, Kudzin took part in a demonstration for democracy in downtown Maladzyechna, during which security forces attacked protesters with tear gas and batons.
During the hand-to-hand combat, Kudzin reportedly knocked a security officer unconscious.
The fighter was later arrested near a hospital where he was treating his injuries.
Read our current coverage when the Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka increased pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown on demonstrators and the opposition following what was widely considered to be a fraudulent election in August 2020.
While in detention, he was reportedly beaten and shot with rubber bullets before being released under house arrest two weeks later.
He then fled to Russia and wavered his trial in November.
Mass protests against Lukashenka have faced the gross detention of tens of thousands of people, with much of the opposition leadership imprisoned or forced into exile.
Several demonstrators were killed and thousands arrested in mass demonstrations calling for Lukashenka’s resignation. There were also credible reports of torture during an expanding raid on the security area.
The Belarusian authorities have also closed several non-governmental organizations and media outlets.
On August 9, the Belarusian PEN Center, an association of writers, announced that the Supreme Court had officially closed the group led by Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The group has criticized Lukashenka and his government for continuing to crack down on pro-democratic activists and organizations.
The West, which refuses to recognize the official results of the presidential election and does not consider Lukashenka to be the country’s legitimate leader, has imposed several rounds of sanctions on its regime, most recently on the 9th controversial vote.