|Formation||14 August 2020|
|Purpose||To facilitate the democratic transfer of power in Belarus|
|Affiliations||Belarusian democracy movement|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power (Belarusian: Каардынацыйная рада, romanized: Kaardynacyjnaja rada; Russian: Координационный совет, romanized: Koordinatsionnyy sovyet), known often as the Coordination Council, is a Belarusian non-governmental body created by presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to facilitate a democratic transfer of power. The council, founded during the 2020 Belarusian protests in response to the disputed 2020 Belarusian presidential election, is filled with 600 members with a 7-member leadership presidium. The first meeting of the Council took place on 18 August. From late August to mid-October, Tsikhanouskaya and several of the presidium members were arrested or chose to exile themselves from Belarus, fearing repression by Belarusian security forces.
On 12 October 2020, the Council issued an ultimatum to Lukashenko to resign, release political prisoners and stop the violent crackdown on protestors by 25 October, failing which a nationwide general strike, road blockages and the collapse of sales in state-owned shops would take place.
The formation of the Coordination Council was announced in a video released by Tsikhanouskaya on 14 August in which she also claimed that she had received between 60 and 70% of the vote in the 9 August presidential election, and appealed to the international community to recognise her as the winner. Tsikhanouskaya stated that the aims of the council is to coordinate a peaceful and orderly transfer of power from incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko and to hold a new, free and fair presidential election at the earliest opportunity.
On 17 August, Tsikhanouskaya released a video in which she stated that she was ready to lead a transitional government.
On 19 August, Tsikhanouskaya recorded an appeal to EU leaders in English, appealing to them to not recognise the results of the presidential election in a meeting of EU heads of government scheduled for later that day.
On 19 August, Alexander Lukashenko said that the opposition's formation of a coordinating council was "an attempt to seize power with all the ensuing consequences." He stated that the authorities would "take adequate measures, but only in accordance with the constitution and the law." Lukashenko described the members of the Coordination Council, stating, "Some of them were once in or close to power. They were kicked out and hold a grudge. Others are outright Nazis. Just take a look at their names." On the same day, former presidential contender Valery Tsepkalo said that he did not understand the criteria for the formation and tasks of the new council. He complained that he was not invited.
On 20 August, Prosecutor-General Alexander Konyuk initiated criminal proceedings against the members of the Coordination Council under Article 361 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. In a statement released, Konyuk alleged that the "creation and activity of the Coordination Council are aimed at seizure of state power, and at harming national security" and that "the creation of such bodies is not allowed in law, and they are unconstitutional." On the same day, presidium members Dylevsky and Znak were summoned for police questioning. Znak and Dylevsky arrived for questioning on the morning of 21 August and were later released.
On 21 August, "Tsikhanouskaya's lawyer" Znak filed a formal protest in relation to the presidential election with the Supreme Court of Belarus. Znak said that "A complaint has been submitted. A decision on when to start proceedings is due within three days."On 24 August, presidium members Dylevsky and Kovalkova were detained by OMON officers whilst attempting to support a wildcat strike at the Minsk Tractor Works factory. Presidium members Vlasova, Latushko, Alexievich and Kolesnikova were also summoned for questioning. Both Kovalkova and Dylevsky were sentenced to 10 days' imprisonment the following day.
On 31 August, presidium member Vlasova was detained by the OMON.
On 5 September, presidium member Kovalkova chose to leave Belarus rather than remain in detention over the Section 361 charges.
As of 9 September, the only member of the presidium not yet arrested or missing is laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, although there were reports from Belarusian journalists that unknown men were knocking at the doors of her home. As of 9 August 2020, she is under round-the-clock guard by diplomats for several European countries including ambassadors from Poland and Lithuania.
At a press conference in Poland, council member Pavel Latushko condemned the situation in Belarus, claiming that 10,000 people were subject to misconduct and imprisonment orchestrated by the security forces. He stated that 450 people were tortured and protesters were put into jail on fake charges. Latushko and Olga Kovalkova invited the OSCE and United Nations to send observers to Belarus and observe the situation there.
25 October ultimatum
The exiled members of the Coordination Council Presidium, including Sergei Dylevsky, held a meeting in Vilnius on 12 October, setting an ultimatum for Lukashenko, which was announced the following day by Tsikhanouskaya and sent to "all official structures of Belarus". The ultimatum sets three conditions, calling for
- Lukashenko to resign;
- political prisoners to be released; and
- the violent crackdown on protestors to cease.
The deadline for the conditions to be fulfilled was set to 25 October 2020. The council promised that if the ultimatum were not satisfied, a national general strike would begin on 26 October, roads would be blocked, and "sales in state-owned stores [would] collapse".
On 16 October, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya was put on the wanted lists in Belarus and Russia on charges of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order".
Objectives and structure
The council has stated that its primary goals are:
- To end political persecution of citizens and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
- For the release of all political prisoners in Belarus.
- The annulment of the 9 August presidential election and for new elections to be conducted to international standards organised by a reconstituted central elections commission.
Council presidium member Pavel Latushko stated that the council does not want to radically change the course of Belarusian foreign policy, adding that it wants to maintain "friendly and profound" relations with Russia, as well as to have a good working relationship with the European Union and to act as a bridge between the east and west.
Tsikhanouskaya stated that applications to the council were open to Belarusian citizens who considered the officially declared election results to be falsified, and who were trusted by social groups. Applications were invited from individuals representing workers' groups, political parties, trade unions and other organisations of civic society and from authoritative figures such as doctors, teachers, business leaders, authors or sportspersons. Olga Kovalkova and lawyer Maxim Znak were given responsibility for collating and approving membership applications.
- Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel laureate in Literature
- Sergei Dylevsky, leader of Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) strike committee
- Maria Kalesnikava, headquarters coordinator of Viktar Babaryka's 2020 presidential campaign
- Olga Kovalkova, Belarusian Christian Democracy party co-chair
- Pavel Latushko, former Minister of Culture
- Liliya Vlasova, mediator and lawyer
- Maxim Znak, lawyer
Detentions and location
|Name||Detentions/disappearances||Out of Belarus as of/since|
|Tsikhanouskaya||Out 11 Aug– 2020|
|Alexievich||Out 28 Sep– 2020|
|Dylevsky||24 Aug–17 Sep 2020||Out c. 13 Oct– 2020|
|Kalesnikava||7 Sep– 2020|
|Kovalkova||24 Aug–3 Sep 2020||Out as of 5 September 2020[update]|
|Latushko||Out as of 9 September 2020[update]|
|Vlasova||31 Aug– 2020|
|Znak||9 Sep– 2020|
An initial membership list, consisting of 35 members, was circulated on 17 August and expanded to 51 members on 18 August. In addition to the 7-member presidium, other members include athlete Nadzeya Astapchuk, film director Jury Chaščavacki, civic leader Ales Bialiatski, politician Jury Hubarewicz, physicist Alexander Dabravolski, politician Andrei Egorov, Mikalai Kazlov of the United Civic Party of Belarus, Andrei Kureichik, politician Vital Rymasheuski, painter Vladimir Tsesler, former EPAM Systems top-manager Maksim Bahratsou, entrepreneur and investor Michael Rumiantsau, independent analyst Siarhei Chaly. As of 24 August 2020[update], the council consisted of 600 members.
- a trade union group ProfSoyuz Online for encouraging the creation of independent trade unions
- a women's group
- a support group for local initiatives in the districts of Belarus
- KOTOC: legal advice for interactions with and electoral participation in sub-national formal structures (oblasts, raion)
- an economic group
- a business support group
- a Christian group
- a political prisoners and human rights group.
Tsikhanouskaya has asked the international community to support the efforts of the Coordination Council.
- Josep Borrell, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has called for the authorities in Belarus to stop criminal proceedings against members of the coordination council. The European Parliament has recognised the coordination council as the "interim representation of the people demanding democratic change in Belarus" and will not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as president of Belarus once his current term expires.
- Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda spoke with Tsikhanouskaya by telephone, offering his support for the coordination council. The Prime Minister of Lithuania has also called on Belarus to conduct new, "free and fair" elections supervised by international monitors. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has referred to Lukashenko as the "former president" of Belarus. On 20 August, Lithuanian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis invited Sviatlana to his office and publicly referred to her as "the national leader of Belarus. On 10 September, a law was passed by the Lithuanian Parliament which recognises Tsikhanouskaya as the "elected leader of the people of Belarus" and the Coordination Council as the "only legitimate representatives of the Belarusian people". The resolution also declares that Lukashenko is an "illegitimate leader".
- Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, referred to the Coordination Council as the right partner for the authorities to negotiate with.
- On 25 August, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed that the leadership of the Coordination Council did not want to reduce ties with Russia and instead hoped to continue with good bilateral relationships between the two countries.
- The US Secretary of State in a statement urged the Belarusian government to actively engage Belarusian society, including through the newly established Coordination Council, in a way that reflects what the Belarusian people are demanding, for the sake of the future of Belarus, and for a successful Belarus. The United States Government has also stated that "the people have clearly rejected the regime".
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