Arrested lawyer Maksim Znak declares hunger strike to protest criminal charges
Maksim Znak, lawyer and member of the presidium of the Coordination Council, has been officially charged under Part 3 of Art. 361 (calls for actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus) of the Criminal Code. In an act of protest, the arrested lawyer went on a hunger strike, according to his counsel Dzmitry Layeuski.
“Like the suspicion before, the charge is extremely vague, as it is not clear which of Maksim’s statements are considered to be directed against national security, and it still constitutes persecution for expressing an opinion. Due to the illegality of criminal prosecution and arbitrariness of his pre-trial detention, Maksim Znak officially announced his refusal to eat on September 18, the day he was charged. He informed the pre-trial detention center administration in writing,” Layeuski said in a comment for tut.by.
According to the defender, Maksim Znak believes that legal mechanisms for the protection of individual rights and freedoms do not work in Belarus, and he sees no other ways of fighting this situation while he is in pre-trial detention, given the “obvious absurdity of the charge linked to freedom of expression.”
The Investigative Committee earlier brought the same charges against one of the leaders of the Coordination Council Maryia Kalesnikava and Viktar Babaryka’s lawyer Illia Salei.
On September 10, the human rights community of Belarus called Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak and Illia Salei political prisoners and demanded that the Belarusian authorities release them immediately.