The probe into the criminal case against Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s four confidants has been completed, the case has been submitted to court, the Belarusian Investigative Committee (IC) reports.
In October, the Belarusian authorities put Tsikhanouskaya on the interstate wanted list. Now they are going to seek her extradition; the proper documents have been prepared.
On Tuesday, the Investigative Committee published fragments of a video filmed by a candid camera during Tsikhanovskaya’s meeting with her election agents on August, 5. According to the agency, the special services put the presidential candidate’s entourage under surveillance on the back of getting information about their preparing for mass riots and the seizure of government buildings in the city of Homiel.
“In order to plan their actions in detail, the accused held a meeting on August 5, it was attended by Tsikhanouskaya. In her presence, they discussed a plan to stage mass riots in Homiel, as well as would-be seizing administration buildings and replacing incumbent heads and chairmen with their proxies,” the statement reads.
The video presented by the secret services is a set of short pieces (5-10 seconds each); it is hard to grasp any context. In one of the fragments, one of the participants says: “Still, our task will be occupying the executive committee.” As the quality of the video is very poor, it is impossible to get a good look at people’s faces.
Tsikhanouskaya’s press service has already commented on the accusations:
“During the election campaign and the months of post-election protests, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s team has communicated and keeps communicating with a great number of Belarusians. Some of them have always looked to radical measures and continue to do so, but Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has never participated in elaborating plans of such kind. The published video shows that she left the room in order not to continue the discussion. And, as more than 200 days of Belarusian protest prove, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her team support only peaceful methods.”
The committee says that the persons taking part in the meeting were detained in early August. They were charged under Article 293-2 of the Criminal Code (‘preparation for massriots”), Art. 13-1, Art. 292-1 (‘preparation for seizing buildings).
“A measure of restraint in the form of incarceration has been applied to all of them; Tsikhanouskaya is currently wanted. The corresponding documents that are necessary for her extradition have been handed over to the Prosecutor General’s Office,” the IC added.
According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, 80.1% of voters supported Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2020 presidential election. Belarusian officials state that his strongest opponent Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10.12% of votes. However, on the back of announcing the results of the official exit polls, Belarusians started to take to the streets, claiming that their votes were stolen.
In the wake of the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, Tsikhanouskaya initiated the creation of the Coordination Council (СС) as part of taking urgent measures to restore law and order in Belarus as well as to ensure the transfer of power in the country. Belarus’ Prosecutor General opened a criminal case over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’. The authorities believe the body aims at seizing power in Belarus.
The members of the CC board were jailed (Liliya Ulasava, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak) or forced out of the country (Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Svyatlana Alexievich, Syarhei Dyleuski). Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya was also compelled to leave Belarus; now she is staying in Vilnius.
Over 2,300 criminal cases linked to the presidential campaign and post-election protests have been initiated since the summer of 2020. By the moment, 258 defendants have been recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community. At the same time, several thousand detainees filed complaints against police officers’ illegal actions to the Investigative Committee. However, not a single criminal case has been opened over the citizens’ appeals.