Regime offers Maryia Kalesnikava to grant interview to state TV in exchange for release. Today her trial starts

The Belarusian authorities tried to reason political prisoner Maryia Kalesnikava into giving an interview to one of state-run TV channels and filing a petition for pardon in exchange for her release, the Russian media outlet Dozhd (Rain) reports.

Мaryia Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak. Photo: Виктор Бабарико / Facebook

According to Kalesnikava, she repeatedly got proposals to ‘cooperate with the investigation and appeal for pardon.

The woman is being kept in the pre-trial detention centre in Minsk. Today, on August 4, Minsk district court has started to hear the cases of Maryia and her associate Maksim Znak. The trial was reported to be held behind closed doors.

“I keep calling for initiating a dialogue, holding negotiations to put an end to the confrontation in society. They ‘heard’ me and offered to to ‘act in a movie a la Raman Pratasevich,” the political prisoner said.

Maryia Kalesnikava says she is ready to appear on state TV channel and talk about her being abducted and lawlessness in prison. She refused to ask for mercy because she does not consider herself guilty.

“They [representatives of the regime] are a gang of mean and cowardly scammers, and it would be weird to trust them. They always lie. Don’t believe, don’t be afraid, don’t ask for anything and keep laughing – those are my principles of communication with them,” Kalesnikava added.

(UPD) A video from the court has appeared on pro-Lukashenka Telegram channel Sputnik Belarus on Wednesday morning; it shows Maryia holding up well and dancing even in the ‘cage’.

Kalesnikava and Znak, the members of the board of the opposition Coordination Council, are tried for ‘calling for actions aimed at harming the national security’ (Art. 361-3 of the Criminal Code); ‘conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional way’ (Article 357-1); ‘establishing and ruling an extremist group’ (Article 361-1). They may face up to 12 years in jail.

On September 7, Maryia Kalesnikava, an opposition activist and member of the might-have-been presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka’s team was kidnapped near the National Art Museum in Minsk. Unidentified people drove her away in an unknown direction. As it turned out later, the activist spent half a day in the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption; then she was taken to the State Security Committee (KGB), where the chekists demanded she voluntarily depart from Belarus. According to her, several KGB officers voiced threats to take her life. A day later, Coordination Council spokesman Anton Radnyankou and secretary Ivan Krautsou who were forced out of Belarus gave a press conference in Kyiv. They told how the KGB failed to push Kalesnikava out the country. In the neutral zone, she destroyed her passport, jumped out of the car and returned to the Belarusian border.

Kalesnikava ‘treats criminal case with irony’ her lawyer says

Maksim Znak, a lawyer at Viktar Babaryka’s campaign office, a legal counsellor of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Maryia Kalesnikava, was arrested on September, 9. In the wake of the 2020 presidential election and the brutal crackdown on protesters, he filed a complaint with the Supreme Court against the official 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.

In December, the Prosecutor General’s Office launched criminal proceedings over establishing ‘an extremist group’, being in control of it, financing its activities as well as conspiring against members of the Coordination Council, including Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski, and other Belarusian activists.

Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised Maksim Znak and Maryia Kalesnikava as political prisoners.

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