The BelTa state news agency said the trial had started on Tuesday morning. Tsikhanouskaya and several others were to be tried on charges of treason and attempting to seize power, the court said before the trial.
“Tsikhanouskaya, while on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, proclaimed herself the winner of the last election… and the only national leader elected by the Belarusian people,” the General Prosecutor’s Office said.
A day before the trial was due to begin, Belarus brought new criminal charges against Tsikhanouskaya’s jailed husband, a 44-year-old video blogger, who was arrested in 2020 while attempting to run for office against Lukashenko himself.
Despite having no prior public record, Tsikhanouskaya decided to run for office in his place after learning of his detention, and she was approved to appear on the ballot.
According to rights advocates, there are approximately 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and is a close ally of Russia, is despised in the West.
Belarus also put rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Byalyatski, and two others, on trial this month on charges of financing protests and smuggling money. They could face from seven to 12 years in jail on charges of financing protests and smuggling money.