A court in Belarus has sentenced an opposition leader to ten days in jail for calling on supporters to join unsanctioned protests.

The district court in the capital Minsk on Wednesday found 71-year old Vladimir Neklyaev guilty of encouraging supporters to take part in a rally last month that he did not attend.

Neklyaev, a former presidential candidate, pleaded not guilty and described the ruling as an "attempt to stifle and crush any protest in Belarus."

Neklayev's arrest comes a day after another leading opposition figure, Mykola Statkevich, was detained. It was still not clear on Wednesday why Statkevich was being held. Statkevich had organized two events in Belarus this month: an Oct. 21 protest march against the government and a commemoration Sunday for victims of Stalin-era political repression.