Belarus has opened a criminal case against former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her ‘Coordination Council’ opposition movement. Its members are accused of forming an extremist group to overthrow the government.
Founded in August after the disputed election, officially won by incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, all of the Coordination Council’s Presidium members are currently in prison or in exile abroad. Their stated aim is to establish a dialogue with authorities, with the goal of eventually holding new elections.
According to the latest indictment, published by the Prosecutor General’s office, they are accused of “creating an extremist group and leading it, and financing its activities in order to seize state power in an unconstitutional manner.”
President Lukashenko had already accused them of the same thing, back in August.
In addition to Tikhanovskaya, the case explicitly names opposition figures Maria Kolesnikova and Olga Kovalkova, former Minister of Culture Pavel Latushko, strike leader Sergei Dylevsky, and lawyer Maxim Znak.
Belarus’ political unrest began on August 9, when Lukashenko was declared the winner of the presidential election. According to official results, which the opposition believes were rigged, 80.1% of voters chose the long-time leader. After the closure of polling stations, demonstrations began against the alleged falsification of results. Days later, Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania and founded the Coordination Council. In the months since, there have been regular protests on the country’s streets, with demonstrators demanding that the president resign.
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