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Belarus: Sham “conspiracy to seize power” trial against prominent political activists starts

Responding to news that a court in Belarus has begun a “conspiracy to seize power” trial against prominent political activists, including the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front party, Ryhor Kastusyou, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Today, another show trial begins in Minsk with the sole purpose of punishing Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s critics and discouraging any challenge to his repressive policies. Unlike other sham trials which are usually held behind closed doors, this one will be open to the public so that all the world can see it for what it is – a desperate attempt to crush dissent.

Unlike other sham trials which are usually held behind closed doors, this one will be open to the public so that all the world can see it for what it is – a desperate attempt to crush dissent

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“All critics of the Belarusian authorities detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression must be immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against them must be dropped.”

Background

On 29 July, the Minsk Regional Court began hearings in a trial against the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front party Ryhor Kastusyou, political consultant Alyaksandr Fyaduta, lawyer Yury Zyankovich, his former employee Volha Halubovich and Dzyanis Krauchuk, an activist.

Fyaduta and Zyankovich were detained on 12 April 2021 in Moscow and later transferred to Belarus. On the same day, Kastusyou and Halubovich were put behind bars in Minsk followed by Krauchuk on 26 April.

Fyaduta, Zyankovich and Kastusyou are charged with “conspiracy to seize power” under Article 357(1) of the Criminal Code. Zyankovich is additionally charged with “creating of an extremist group” (Article 361-1(1)), “public calls for the seizure of power” (Article 361(3)) and “incitement of social hatred” (Article 130(3)). Halubovich and Krauchuk are charged with “gross violation of public order” (Article 342(1)).