Conflicts & War

Belarus regime begins trial of opposition leaders

Moscow, Aug 4 (EFE).- Belarus began on Wednesday the first trial against opposition leaders, among them Maria Kolesnikova, almost a year after protests against Alexandr Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime broke out across the country.

“Lukashenko has made many mistakes in the past few months. This trial held behind closed doors is a new sign of the regime’s weakness,” told Efe Tatsiana, Kolesnikova’s sister, in exile in Poland.

Kolesnikova was part of the triumvirate challenging Lukashenko over the fraudulent August 2020 election results, alongside Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Veronika Tsepkalo.

However, Kolesnikova has paid the highest price, having returned to Belarus in 2019 after 12 years living in Germany, whilst her comrades went into exile.

Kolesnikova and the attorney Maxim Znak, both imprisoned since last year, are accused of creating an extremist organization to overthrow the government.

If found guilty, they could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

The opposition had created a Coordination Council to facilitate the transfer of power after protests raged across Belarus over the fraudulent presidential elections, in which Lukashenko was reelected with over 80% of the vote, according to official figures.

All seven members of the council’s presidium have been incarcerated or have gone into exile.

The opposition figures argue that the protests were spontaneous and not sponsored by the West, as claimed by Minsk.

“The trial is behind closed doors because authorities want to hide the truth, that the accusations are nonsensical. If they are so sure that the opposition tried to take power by force, why don’t they prove it publicly? The trial is not held in public, so I doubt it will be fair,” said Tatsiana.

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