Crime & Justice

Belarus opposition leader faces up to 12 years in prison

Moscow, May 13 (EFE).- Belarus on Thursday officially accused opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova of conspiring to overthrow the government, fostering movements to threaten national security and leading a violent extremist group.

“She could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison,” the opposition party said on its Telegram channel.

Authorities have closed their investigations against Kolesnikova, who was arrested in September 2020 for refusing to be expatriated by the State Security Committee (KGB).

The most serious charge against her is that of conspiring to unconstitutionally seize control of the government, under article 357 of the country’s criminal code, which the opposition has repeatedly denied.

Kolesnikova decided to take part in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election after the arrest of Victor Babariko, the presidential candidate she was working for.

Kolesnikova, alongside other opposition leaders Veronika Tsepkalo and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in October.

Earlier this month, the Belarusian judiciary sentenced four of Tikhanovskaya’s associates to 6 and 6.5 years in prison for participating in mass riots and planning to seize government buildings ahead of the presidential polls which saw Lukashenko re-elected, a result that has not been recognized by either the opposition or the West. EFE


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