In accordance with the Belarusian law, the term of Maryia Kalesnikava’s being in custody is to expire on March, 8. However, there have been no reports about her release so far.
On January 6, the press service of imprisoned might-have-been presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka informed of another extension of Maryia Kalesnikava’s detention term. Since then, the Belarusian authorities have not published anything new about her prisoner’s status.
Kalesnikava’s defence lawyer is expected to see her on March 9, tut.by reports. Then it might become known whether she received a notice of further extending.
On September 7, Maryia Kalesnikava, a member of the opposition Coordination Council and activist at Viktar Babaryka’s campaign office, was kidnapped near the National Art Museum in Minsk. Unidentified people drove her away in an unknown direction. As it turned out later, the politician 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.
“They warned that if I did not voluntarily leave the territory of the Republic of Belarus, I would still be withdrawn – ‘alive or ‘in pieces’,” Maryia said.
On September 8, 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.
In mid September, Kalesnikava was charged under Art. 361-3 of the Criminal Code (‘calling for actions aimed at harming the national security with the use of mass media and the Internet’). Belarusian human rights defenders put her on the political prisoners’ list that includes 269 names at the moment.
In December, the Prosecutor General’s Office launched criminal proceedings over conspiring, establishing ‘an extremist group’, being in control of it, financing its activities against members of the Coordination Council, including Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski, and other Belarusian activists.
In the run-up to International Women’s Day, the US Department of State announced the list of recipients of the 2021 International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award. Belarusian Maryia Kalesnikava is among this year’s laureates.