A court in Belarus on Monday gave the wife of a former presidential candidate a two-year suspended prison sentence for taking part in an antigovernment rally. Two days earlier, her husband had been sentenced to five years.

The court in the capital Minsk on Monday passed the sentence on Irina Khalip after it convicted her of taking part in riots.

The trial follows December's election, in which President Alexander Lukashenko was declared winner with nearly 80 percent of a vote that was largely viewed as rigged.

Police violently dispersed a rally that drew tens of thousands of protesters on the election night. Some 700 people were arrested, including seven presidential candidates. More than 20 opposition activists have been sentenced to prison.

Khalip, a 43-year-old journalist, is married to former candidate Andrei Sannikov, who was sentenced to five years in prison on Saturday on similar charges.

The verdict in the Sannikov trial drew protests from EU and U.S. officials.

Sannikov, a former deputy foreign minister, said during the trial that he was tortured by the secret police and that its chief personally threatened harsh reprisals against his wife and their 4-year-old son.

Authorities threatened earlier this year to put their son in an orphanage.

Khalip, who will be on probation and will have to face the court again in two years' time, told reporters after the hearing that her trial was political.

"I still feel like a political hostage," she said.

She said her lawyers will appeal the verdict.

Russia's foreign ministry on Monday raised its concerns over recent trials against opposition activists, urging Minsk "to be more responsible in complying with international obligations in human rights".

The Kremlin has recently raised pressure on its ally Belarus in an apparent effort to squeeze concessions on economic issues.


Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.