Imprisoned lawyer Maksim Znak faces new charges

Lawyer Maksim Znak.

Two new criminal cases have been launched against Maksim Znak, his defence lawyer Dzmitry Layeuski said on Facebook on Friday.

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).

“On February 10, my colleague, lawyer Maksim Znak, was accused of ‘conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional way’ (Article 357-1 of the Criminal Code), and ‘establishing an extremist group and leading it’ (Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code),” Layeuski informs.

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

Maksim Znak was never involved in the wrongful acts mentioned above, the defence lawyer stressed. According to Layeuski, his client’s facing the charges is nothing but the retaliation for his ‘professional activity, expression of legal opinion, action by legal means, promoting the rule of law’.

“There are no legal grounds for any of the charges. Of course, we will keep fighting for Maksim,” Layeuski added.

Maksim 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.

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.