Political prisoner Maryia Kalesnikava transferred to penal colony in Homiel

The team of convicted presidential wannabe Viktar Babaryka has got information about opposition activist Maryia Kalesnikava’s whereabouts. As reported earlier, she left detention centre Nr 1 in Minsk a few days ago.

“Maryia Kalesnikava is in the women’s colony in Homiel. She has been there since January 9,” the statement reads.

️On 6 September 2021, a Minsk court passed guilty verdict in the case of Maryia Kalesnikava and lawyer Maksim Znak, who contributed to Viktar Babaryka’s election campaign and then became the members of the board of the opposition Coordination Council established by opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Kalesnikava and Znak were 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). The trial which kicked off on August 4 was held behind the closed doors. The two defendants denied all the charges.

Maryia Kalesnikava was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment in a minimum security penal colony, Maksim Znak – to 10 years in a medium security penal colony.

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On 7 September 2020, 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.

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

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