A sentence which crowns the repression of any opposition to the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Belarusian justice sentenced, Monday, September 6, to eleven years in prison the opponent Maria Kolesnikova, one of the figures of the protest in the summer of 2020.
His conviction and that of his co-accused, Maksim Znak, to ten years in prison, were announced by the press service of Viktor Babaryko, another jailed opponent for whom they had worked. They were judged for “Plot to seize power” and D’“Calls for actions undermining national security”.
Repression without restraint for months
The trial of the two opponents, imprisoned for eleven months, began in early August and was held behind closed doors, so that few details have leaked out, especially since most of the independent media, NGOs and the opposition have suffered unrestrained repression for months.
According to images released on Monday by Telegram messaging accounts, Mme Kolesnikova, 39, smiling, made a heart sign with her hands cuffed in the glass cage reserved for the accused. This sign was one of the rallying gestures during the 2020 protest.
The young woman was arrested in September after spectacularly resisting an attempt by the authorities to expel her from her own country. According to her relatives, the Belarusian security services (KGB) abducted her, then put a bag over her head to take her to the Ukrainian border. Refusing to leave Belarus, she jumped out of a window and tore up her passport, resulting in her imprisonment.
Unprecedented protest movement
Mme Kolesnikova was one of three women propelled to the head of the protest movement, along with Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya, presidential candidate in place of her imprisoned husband, and Veronika Tsepkalo. The latter two fled the country, under pressure from the authorities.
The unprecedented protest movement in Belarus, which gathered tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets, was born in August 2020 following the re-election considered fraudulent of Alexander Lukashenko, at the helm of the country since 1994.
This movement was gradually put down, with thousands of arrests and the forced exiles or imprisonments of protesting political leaders, media officials and NGOs.
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