Injustice Belarus
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NGOs 2020.09.10 EN Open statement in connection with the detention of Belarusian Lawyers
Maria and Maxim Injustice in Belarus

Open statement in connection with the detention of Belarusian lawyers Ilya Salei and Maksim Znak
September 10, 2020

We express our deep concern at the detention of lawyers Ilya Salei and Maksim Znak on September 9, 2020, in Belarus, in a criminal case that is undeniably politically motivated. We consider this to be a gross violation and interference with their professional legal activities and
with their rights to express professional opinions, as established by international legal standards.

This case is a direct consequence of a dire situation, problems, and violations of the professional rights of attorneys and lawyers and the overall functioning of the legal profession in the Republic of Belarus. These problems were highlighted by both international organizations and representatives of the legal community before.1

According to the information posted on the website of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, “the investigation of the criminal case opened by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Belarus under Part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. At the moment, in the course of the investigation, evidence has been obtained that testify to the commission by individuals of a non-governmental organization called the Coordination Council, actions aimed at destabilizing the socio-political and economic situation and public awareness in the country, causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus.

These actions were carried out using the media and internet resources. With regard to the suspects’ Maria Kolesnikova and Maksim Znak, with the approval of the prosecutor, a preventive measure was chosen in the form of detention. Ilya Salei was also detained on suspicion of committing this crime.”2

However, detained Ilya Salei is a lawyer of Maria Kolesnikova, one of the leaders of the Belarusian protest movement and a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, who is also in jail.3 Second detained lawyer Maksim Znak was representing Viktor Babariko, who ran for the President of the Republic of Belarus but was not allowed to register as a candidate and was recognized as a political prisoner.

Maksim Znak was also an attorney for the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, on whose behalf he created the Coordination
Council. As a member of the Presidium of the Coordinating Council, Maxim Znak was providing legal assistance as an attorney. Maxim Znak’s lawyer Dmitry Laevsky notes: “All his statements,



Coordination Council – a public initiative created with the goal of overcoming the political crisis in Belarus and ensuring peace and understanding, and also for the protection of the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Belarus. For more information about the Council, please see appeals. Comments were public, transparent, their content was absolutely legal and did not carry
any illegal intentions.”4

We would like to emphasize that, in accordance with the United Nation’s Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers5. Governments must ensure that lawyers can perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference. Lawyers, like other citizens, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association, and assembly. In particular, they have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice, and the promotion and protection of human rights, and to join or form local, national, or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful actions or their membership in a lawful organization.

The Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers with a report about the situation of lawyers Maksim Znak and Ilya Salei.6

The report called for urgent action to be taken in connection with the detention of the lawyers and requested sending an urgent message to the Government of Belarus on the need to comply with the Basic Principles concerning the role of lawyers.

Belarusian lawyers and jurists have made an open statement in connection with the detention of their colleagues.7

We also demand from the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to:

– immediately release lawyers Maksim Znak and Ilya Salei and comply with international legal standards of the independence of the legal profession and the exercise of the right to defense;

– stop the persecution of lawyers and attorneys who are exercising their constitutional right of free expression by expressing their opinions8 while performing professional functions;

– strictly observe the provisions of Art. 62 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus: “Everyone has the right to exercise and protect rights and freedoms, including the right to use at any time the assistance of lawyers and their other representatives in court, other state bodies, local government bodies, at enterprises, institutions, organizations, public associations, and in relations

4 See

5 See 
Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990, see

6 See

7 See

8 See
Article 33 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus with officials and citizens. Opposition to the provision of legal assistance in the Republic of Belarus is prohibited by law.”9


1. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland
2. ARTICLE 19, United Kingdom
3. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe
4. The Bar Association of Luxembourg
5. The Swedish Bar Association
6. The French and German-speaking bars Association of Belgium AVOCATS.BE
7. The European Association of Lawyers AEA-EAL
8. Lawyers for Lawyers, The Netherlands
9. FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
10. Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM, Serbia
11. OMCT World Organisation Against Torture
12. Human Rights House Foundation, Norway
13. Centre de la protection internationale, France
14. Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Lithuania
15. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), Belgium
16. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee
17. Freedom Now, USA
18. Crude Accountability, USA
19. All-Ukrainian Association of Lawyers Providing Free Legal Aid – Odesa Division, Ukraine
20. Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Russia
21. Pskov Regional Human Rights Environmental Public Movement “Svobodnyi Bereg”, Russia
22. Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Ukraine

9 See

23. German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg
24. Stichting CAAT Projects, The Netherlands
25. MEMORIAL Deutschland e. V. Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, Germany
26. Legal Policy Research Center, Kazakhstan
27. Public Association Dignity, Kazakhstan
28. Human Rights Movement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”
29. Belarusian Helsinki Committee
30. Human Constanta, Belarus
31. Center for Participation and Development, Georgia
32. Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor, Armenia
33. Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Ukraine
34. SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, Russia
35. Souchastiye v Sud’be, Blagotvoritel’nyy Tsentr, Russia
36. Human Rights Embassy, Moldova
37. Libereco Partnership for Human Rights, Germany
38. Public Verdict Foundation, Russia
39. Human Rights Group “Grazhdanin, Armia, Pravo”, Russia
40. DRA – German-Russian Exchange, Germany
41. Social Action Centre, Ukraine
42. Helsinki Committee of Armenia
43. Helsinki Association, Armenia
44. Macedonian Helsinki Committee
45. Swedish OSCE network
46. Albanian Helsinki Committee
47. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
48. Women of the Don, Russia
49. Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia
50. Human Rights House Zagreb, Croatia
51. Human Rights Center, Georgia
52. Mogilev Human Rights Center, Belarus
53. Netherlands Helsinki Committee
54. Human Rights Center ZMINA, Ukraine
55. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
56. “Ekumena” Center, Belarus
57. Youth Memorial – Perm, Russia
58. Human Rights House in Chernihiv, Ukraine
59. The Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
60. Östgruppen – Swedish initiative for democracy and human rights, Sweden
61. IDP Women Association Consent, Georgia
62. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Kazakhstan
63. Czech Bar Association, The Czech Republic (TBC
64. Civil Initiative Against Lawlessness in Courts and Prosecutor’s Office, Belarus
65. AED-EDL (Avocat.e.s Européennes Démocrates / European Democratic Lawyers),
Barcelona, Spain
66. Freedom House, USA
67. Independent Social-Ecological Movement – NESEHNUTI, Brno, The Czech Republic
68. Stichting CAAT Projects, the Netherlands
69. La Asociación Libre de Abogados, Spain
70. RAW for Women and Girl Survivors of War (Raw in War)
71. Citizens Network Watchdog, Poland
72. ORDRE DES AVOCATS DE PARIS / Paris Bar, France
73. The Сouncil of the Warsaw Bar Association of Advocates, Poland
74. Russian LGBT Network
75. Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

76. Freedom of Religion and Believe – FORB, Belarus
77. Human Rights Center Memorial, Russia

78. Khusanbai Saliev, lawyer, Bir Duino-Osh, Kyrgyzstan
79. Valerian Vakhitov, lawyer, Bir Duino-Osh, Kyrgyzstan
80. Lyudmila Ulyashina, Human Rights Advocate, Ph.D. in Law, Associate Professor, European Humanities University
81. Lyubov Moseyeva-Elye, Legal Adviser, Kaluga Movement For Human Rights, Russia
82. Magomed Mutsolgov, journalist and human rights activist, Ingushetia, Russia
83. Dina Shautsova, Lawyer, Belarus

Source Attached Hereto:

2020-09-10 EN NGOs Open statement in connection with the detention of Belarusian lawyers

Nicolaos AA Cheropoulos
Father of Anthoula and Alexandra
Stockholm, Sept 2020
Reviewed Oct. 2023