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‘Tearing up my passport was the right decision’ Belarusian oppositionist Maria Kolesnikova talks to Dozhd ahead of trial in Minsk

Source: Dozhd
Ramil Nasibulin / Belta / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

The trial of Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava) began in Minsk on Wednesday, August 4. Along with opposition lawyer Maxim Znak, she stands accused of calling for actions that threatened the national security of Belarus. The exact content of the charges remains unknown and the trial is taking place behind closed doors. Before the start of the hearing on Wednesday, Maria Kolesnikova danced inside the courtroom cage and made a heart sign with her hands — one of the symbols of the opposition movement. The independent Russian television network Dozhd interviewed Kolesnikova ahead of her trial. Here’s what she said, in brief. 

The charges against Maxim Znak and I are absurd. The current Belarusian government is a “gang of dastardly, cowardly scammers.” They proposed that I “act in a film à la Roman Protasevich.” I replied that I would tell the whole truth about my abduction, the investigation, and the lawlessness in the pre-trial detention center. I will not write an appeal for clemency because I am not guilty. I don’t judge those who cooperate with the authorities [to secure their release] — everyone makes their own choice. Viktor Babariko received a harsh sentence because they’re afraid of him. All of the talk about Russia’s support is smoke and mirrors. But it’s easier for Lukashenko to go crawling on his knees for “support” than to end the stand-off in Belarus. Apparently he forgot that he’s not living with Vladimir Putin, but with the Belarusian people. The sanctions are important because Belarusians must feel that they aren’t alone in a situation of terror. Having stayed in the country after the elections, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. On the day of my arrest, I wasn’t sure I would survive. I don’t regret a thing. I think that tearing up my passport was the right decision.

This is a summary of Maria Kolesnikova’s interview with Dozhd. You can read the full Q&A in Russian here

Maria Kolesnikova in court on August 4, 2021
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