New criminal case opened against Belarusian opposition leaders Tsikhanouskaya, Latushka

The Investigative Committee of Belarus has initiated another criminal case against Belarusian opposition leaders Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushka; they are now charged with ‘unwarranted appropriation of the title or power of an official’ (Article 382 of the Criminal Code).

If one is found guilty under this article, they may be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushka. Warsaw, 3 June 2021. Photo: Belsat

‘The accused, in coordination with other conspirators who aimed at violating the Constitution of Belarus, created pseudo-state authorities, departments, missions of the Republic of Belarus abroad and, in continuation of their criminal actions, they entered into negotiations with international organisations,” Syarhei Kabakovich, a representative of the Investigative Committee, said in a statement.

According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, 80.1% of voters supported Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2020 presidential election. Belarusian officials state that his strongest opponent Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10.12% of votes. However, on the back of announcing the results of the official exit polls, Belarusians started to take to the streets, claiming that their votes were stolen.

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In the wake of the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, Tsikhanouskaya initiated the creation of the Coordination Council (СС) as part of taking urgent measures to restore law and order in Belarus as well as to ensure the transfer of power in the country. Belarus’ Prosecutor General opened a criminal case over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’. The authorities believe the body aims at seizing power in Belarus and fault the opposition politicians for ‘establishing an extremist group and steering it; calls to overthrow or change the constitutional order of the Republic of Belarus or to commit crimes against the state; conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional way; attempted terrorism’.

The members of the CC board were jailed (Liliya Ulasava, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak) or forced out of the country (Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Svyatlana Alexievich, Syarhei Dyleuski, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya).

In addition, the Belarusian authorities accuse Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushka of ‘preparations for mass riots and seizing buildings’.

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