Alyaksandr Kalesnikau managed to see his daughter for the first time in the past year.
Maryia Kalesnikava’s trial began on August 4, but even relatives are not allowed to attend the court sessions because the trial is held behind the closed doors. During the hearings, Alyaksandr Kalesnikau comes and waits near the court building, holding flowers in his hands. But recently he, has been suddenly summoned to court.
There are no details of his participation in the trial, as the man had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. According to the father, Maryia is in good health and and spirits. In court, she showed him the heart sign heart, which is typical of her.
As reported earlier, Maryia consistently repelled the accusations; she continues to insist on her being innocent.
Opposition activist Maryia Kalesnikava and lawyer Maksim Znak, the members of the board of the opposition Coordination Council, are 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). They may face up to 12 years in jail.
On 7 September 2020, Maryia Kalesnikava, a 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.
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, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski, and other Belarusian activists.
Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised Maksim Znak and Maryia Kalesnikava as political prisoners.