The Minsk Regional Court has sentenced Maryia Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak, members of the opposition Coordination Council, to 11 and 10 years in prison, respectively, on charges “calls for action against national security” (Part 3 of Art. 361), “conspiracy to seize power in an unconstitutional manner” (Part 1 of Art. 357) and “creation and administration of an extremist formation” (Part 1 of Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code).
Kalesnikava will serve her sentence in a general-security penal colony, while Znak was ordered imprisonment under medium-security conditions.
Due to the fact that the trial was held behind closed doors and the defense lawyers cannot disclose any information about the court hearings, no details are known as to the essence of the charges. Shortly before the trial, the Prosecutor General’s Office said that “no later than July 16, 2020, the defendants, together with other persons, entered into a conspiracy to seize power in an unconstitutional manner.” The charge related to Kalesnikava and Znak’s activities as part of the opposition Coordination Council established after the rigged presidential election of August 9, 2020.
“According to the plan, after declaring themselves and publicly appearing in various places as representatives of the majority of Belarusian citizens, they prepared and publicly announced statements about the election victory of candidate S. Tsikhanouskaya, loss of confidence of the people of Belarus in government and administration, and weakness of the current government. They called for ‘strikes’ at state-owned enterprises with purely political demands as a legal way of expressing their opinions. They have repeatedly called directly and in a veiled form for the election to be declared invalid and the incumbent head of state to be illegitimate,” the indictment read.
Both convicts were earlier called political prisoners by the country’s leading human rights organizations.