Political prisoner Maksim Znak’s detention term extended

Maksim Znak (L), Maryia Kalesnikava (C), Illya Saley (R). Source: @franakviacorka / Twitter

Maksim Znak’s being in custody was extended to May 9, his defence lawyer Dzmitry Layeuski told TUT.BY on Tuesday.

Znak was a 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 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.

Maksim Znak was arrested on September, 9. Then 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 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, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski, and other Belarusian activists.

In February, he was officially accused of ‘conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional way’ (Art. 357-1), and ‘establishing an extremist group and leading it’ (Art. 361-1).

Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised Znak as a prisoner of conscience. In February, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Babaryka’s team nominated him for the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Prize.

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