Belarus: Kolesnikova was imprisoned for eleven years

Status: 06.09.2021 11:57 a.m.

In an internationally criticized trial in Belarus, the opposition activist Kolesnikova was sentenced to eleven years in prison. The 39-year-old was arrested a year ago in the course of the protests against the ruler Lukashenko.

The Belarusian opposition activist Maria Kolesnikowa was sentenced to eleven years in prison almost a year after her arrest. The court announced this according to the Belarusian state media in Minsk. The verdict was issued for alleged attempted illegal seizure of power. Her lawyer, Maxim Snak, who was also accused, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Both denied wrongdoing. According to the media, a long line of people is said to have formed in front of the courthouse.

Kolesnikova became internationally known in the course of the presidential election on August 9th last year together with Svetlana Tichanowskaja and Veronika Zepkalo. The other two women are in exile abroad.

Charge of conspiracy

After the falsification allegations against the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential election, Kolesnikova joined the mass protests against him. Together with Snak and other Lukashenko opponents, she founded the Coordination Council for a peaceful transfer of power in Belarus. The authorities of the authoritarian country accused her of conspiracy with the aim of an illegal seizure of power and of founding and leading an extremist association.

In a written interview with the independent Russian Internet broadcaster Doschd, the opposition officials spoke of an “absurd accusation”. This is another example of the “lawlessness of the police state”.

Kidnapped by the KGB in early September 2020

Kolesnikova was kidnapped by the KGB secret service in Minsk in early September 2020. When she was about to be deported to Ukraine, she tore up her passport shortly before the border crossing and thus thwarted plans to evict her from the country. Kolesnikova had repeatedly made it clear that he wanted to lead the fight against Lukashenko in the country. She was arrested.

Only state media allowed in the process

The trial against her began in early August this year. At the start of the trial, Kolesnikowa and Snak were sitting in a barred glass case in a court in the capital Minsk. Only state media were allowed to attend the closed-door hearing – but not family members. Today’s verdict, however, was public.

The process had been criticized internationally. The federal government has also repeatedly called for the opposition members to be released. Kolesnikowa had worked as a cultural manager in Stuttgart for a long time.

Your father had that ARD said in an interview: “I don’t expect any surprises and of course no fair judgment.” It was her own decision that his daughter was imprisoned. “Yes, that is a brave act. Yes, it is also a heroic deed and a role model for many.”

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