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Criminal case opened against Belarusian opposition for attempt to seize power

Commenting on the setting up of the Coordination Council by a group of Belarusian citizens, the country's prosecutor general said that the creation of such bodies is unlawful

MINSK, August 20. /TASS/. The Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office has opened a criminal case into calls for seizing power after the opposition set up the Coordination Council, it told TASS on Thursday.

"Yes, we confirm that a criminal case has been opened into that [the creation of the council] under Section 361 of the Criminal Code," the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

It provides for responsibility for "calling for actions aimed at causing damage to the national security of the Republic of Belarus." It implies liability in the form of imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Commenting on the setting up of the Coordination Council by a group of Belarusian citizens, Prosecutor General Alexander Konyuk said that "the creation of such bodies is not provided for by law, and their activities are unconstitutional." He also noted that "a number of citizens who realized that their actions were illegal, announced their withdrawal from the council and said they disagreed with its action program." "The creation and activities of such a body are aimed at seizing state power and causing damage to the security of the Republic of Belarus," he stressed.

The creation of the Coordination Council was initiated by ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on August 14. She refused to recognize the outcome of the presidential election announced by the Central Election Commission, according to which incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.10% of the vote, whereas Tikhanovskaya, who was considered his key rival, garnered 10.12% of the ballot. Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus. According to latest reports, she is currently in Lithuania. The opposition headquarters earlier said that the council’s objective would be to ensure the transition of power in Belarus.