Belarusian regional court sentences opposition activists – JURIST – News

The Minsk Regional Court on Monday sentenced Maria Kolesnikova, one of the leaders of the street protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko last year and a high-ranking member of the Opposition Coordination Council, to 11 years in prison.

Kolesnikova was charged and convicted of a conspiracy to seize state power by unconstitutional means, that is, to commit a crime under part 1 of article 357 of the Penal Code, to create an extremist organization and to call for actions harmful to the state. Security. Lawyer Maxim Znak, another leading member of the Coordination Council, faced the same charge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Belarus has faced months of protests fueled by the granting of a sixth term to Lukashenko following the presidential vote in August 2020. The US, Canada, UK and the EU condemned the Lukashenko regime, announcing the imposition of sanctions in June for its “continued attacks on human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law”.

Western countries have since denounced Kolesnikova’s verdict, with the British Foreign Secretary calling it an attack on defenders of democracy and the EU calling for his immediate release. An EU spokesperson said in a statement that “the EU deplores the flagrant and continued lack of respect by the Minsk regime for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Belarusian people”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “The United States condemns the politically motivated and shameful conviction today of Belarusian opposition figures Maria Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak.

The verdict has not yet entered into force and is subject to appeal and protest to the Judicial College for Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus through the Regional Court of Belarus. Minsk.

Elna M. Lemons