See a detailed chronicle
of the criminal prosecution and detention of Maxim Znak. Znak is a lawyer and Head of Dispute Resolution Practice at Borovtsov and Salei BIS Law Office (one of the oldest legal organisations in the country). In May 2020, together with Iliya Salei, Znak joined the election campaign of the presidential candidate Victor Babariko, providing legal assistance to his headquarters. After the election, he appealed the election results as Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s lawyer; on her behalf he participated in establishing the Coordination Council and became a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council as a lawyer. Znak was taken into custody on 9 September 2020, and is currently being held in SIZO № 1 in Minsk. He was charged with crimes under Part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code (calls for actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus). To demonstrate his opposition to the accusations, the lawyer initiated a hunger strike.
On 10 February 2021, Znak was charged with conspiracy to take state power in an unconstitutional way (Part 1 of Art. 357 of the Criminal Code), and with creating and leading an extremist group (Part 1 of Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code). Those accusations are in addition to the ones that were posed in September 2020 (public calls for actions aimed at harming national security (Part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code).
On April 30, the Minsk City Court refused to cancel the detention of Maksim Znak. At the moment, the period of detention has been extended until July 9, 2021.
Human rights organisations recognised Znak as a political prisoner, and the INGO Amnesty International recognised him as a prisoner of conscience. The defence is represented by lawyers Dmitry Laevsky, Evgeny Pylchenko, Nadezhda Znak and Sergey Zikratsky.
The International Professional Bar Associations (ABA, CCBE) and human rights organisations have repeatedly appealed in support of Znak and the inadmissibility of persecution of lawyers for political reasons.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee called upon the UN Human Rights Committee to take urgent measures regarding the detention of Znak and to send an urgent message to the Belarusian government on the need to adhere to the basic principles concerning the role of lawyers.