Imprisoned lawyer Maksim Znak nominated for Trarieux human rights award

Maksim Znak.

Belarusian opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the team of jailed presidential wannabe Viktar Babaryka have announced nominating political prisoner Maksim Znak for the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize.

According to Babaryka’s team, tens of thousands of Belarusians learned more about their rights thanks to Maksim’s activity. During his ‘legal’ livestreams, he explained to viewers in simple terms how the law should work, what allowable tools and methods people have for protecting our rights.

“This is not only an exceptional step to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens, but Maksim’s personal courage as well – he knew he might be detained at any moment,” Tsikhanouskaya said.

The Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize is an international human rights award given annually to a lawyer for contributions to the defence of human rights.

Maksim Znak was lawyer at Viktar Babaryka’s campaign office, a legal counsellor of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Maryia Kalesnikava; in the wake of the 2020 presidential election and the brutal crackdown on protesters, he filed a complaint with the Supreme Court against the election results and became a member of the board of the opposition Coordination Council set up by Tsikhanouskaya and her associates. Belarus’ Prosecutor General initiated criminal proceedings over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’. The authorities believe the body aims at seizing power in Belarus.

Znak was arrested on September, 9. A bit later, he was charged by investigators with ‘calls for actions aimed at causing damage to national security’ (Article 361-3 of the Criminal Code)

In December, the Belarusian Investigative Committee decided to initiate another criminal case against Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski and other persons over their allegedly creating an extremist formation and leading it under Article 357-1 (‘conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional way’).

‘Extremism’ coupled with ‘conspiracy’: More criminal charges against Coordination Council