MINSK, September 16. /TASS/. Member of the presidium of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council Maria Kolesnikova has been charged with publicly calling for a seizure of power, the country’s Investigative Committee said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Today, investigators brought charges against Maria Kolesnikova under Article 361.3 of the Criminal Code (calls for actions aimed at harming the national security of Belarus, made through the media and on the Internet). She remains in custody. The investigation continues," the statement reads.
The article carries a penalty of two to five years in prison.
Kolesnikova was detained in the early hours of September 8 and taken into custody. According to the Belarusian State Border Committee, she was apprehended while trying to illegally cross the border with Ukraine. Another member of the Coordination Council’s presidium, Maxim Znak, and the council’s lawyer Ilya Salei were detained in the same case.
Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.