On Thursday, defence lawyer Dzmitry Layeuski managed to meet with his client Maksim Znak, a member of the board of the opposition Coordination Council and lawyer at the imprisoned presidential hopeful Viktar Babaryka’s campaign office. Znak was arrested on September, 9.
“This time it was not easy; we only talked for a few minutes. His health state has deteriorated, which was predictable. At the same time, Maksim is not losing heart,” he said.
On September 18, Maksim Znak was charged by investigators with ‘calls for actions aimed at causing damage to national security’. On the same day, he went on a hunger strike in protest. Belarusian human rights defenders put him on the list of political prisoners.
“He believes that the public should realise that the law is important. Normal social life is impossible without the law, as surely as a human being cannot live without food,” Layeuski added.
Prominent Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich is the only one of the seven members of the board of the Coordination Council (CC) who has not been directly affected by the Belarusian authorities’ harsh measures against the initiative. The other representatives were jailed (Liliya Ulasava, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak) or forced out of the country (Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova). Another member, strike movement activist Syarhei Dyleuski, was released on September, 18 after spending 25 days in prison.
As reported earlier, Lukashenka’s strongest rival Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya initiated the creation of the CC 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; it comprises about 600 members. 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.