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

Coordination Council giving press conference in Minsk. 24 August 2020. Photo: Svyatlana Far / belsat.eu

The Prosecutor General’s Office has launched criminal proceedings over establishing ‘an extremist group’, being in control of it, financing its activities as well as conspiring against members of the opposition Coordination Council (CC) and other Belarusian activists.

In the course of the probe into the case under Article 361-3 of the Criminal Code (‘calls for actions aimed at threatening national security’) that had been previously opened against the above-mentioned body, the Investigative Committee decided to initiate another criminal case against Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski and other persons over their allegedly creating an extremist formation and leading it, the press service reported of Monday.

As referenced by the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee opened one more criminal case against members of the Council and other persons under Article 357-1 of the Criminal Code (‘conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional way’).

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The Coordination Council was founded at the initiative of opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her associates 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 in the wake of the 2020 presidential election and the brutal crackdown on post-election protests. In August, Belarus’ Prosecutor General opened a criminal case over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’.

In addition, Alyaksei Lyavonchyk, one of the founders of BY_Help foundation, is charged with ‘financing of the activities of an extremist group’ (the one that was set up by the CC, according to the Belarusian authorities) under Article 361-2 of the Criminal Code. In November, he was accused of ‘destabilising the situation in Belarus’. BY_Help’s campaign collects donations for those arrested, fined, injured and beaten by security forces after the August 9 elections.

Authorities block funds of BY_help beneficiaries