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Jailed member of the Belarusian Opposition Coordination Council Presidium declares hunger strike over criminal charges


Belarusian lawyer and Opposition Coordination Council Presidium member Maxim Znak has gone on hunger strike in pretrial detention after being charged with inciting threats to national security, reports the Belarusian news outlet, citing Znak’s defense lawyer, Dmitry Layevsky. 

According to Layevsky, Znak “came to the conclusion” that in Belarus, mechanisms for protecting human rights don’t work, therefore, going on hunger strike in pretrial detention is one of the “few remaining ways to fight against lawlessness and injustice.”

It’s unclear from the charges which of Znak’s statements were considered threats to national security by the Belarusian Investigative Committee, Laevsky underscored.

“As Maxim Znak explained, his refusal of food is intended to encourage everyone, especially law enforcement, to recall the spiritual and moral values upon which the law is based, and not to destroy them,” Laevsky said.

Opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava), who is also a member of the Opposition Coordination Council Presidium, was charged with inciting actions that threaten national security on September 16. 

The founding of the Opposition Coordination Council was initiated by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya), Alexander Lukashenko’s main competitor in the 2020 presidential election. The council’s declared aim is ensuring a peaceful transfer of power and new presidential elections in Belarus.

The council’s presidium includes seven people. In the month since the council was established, six of them have been either placed under arrest, forced to leave the country, or forcibly removed from Belarus. 

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