Maksim Znak

Last update: 12 March 2024
Maksim Znak
Штаб Віктара Бабарыкі
Lawyer, advocacte, poet, bard, author of the book "Zekamerone".

Political presecution:

In 2006, after protests over the results of the Belarusian presidential election, Maksim Znak served his sentence – 14 days in prison in Žodzina.

In 2020, Maksim Znak was the advocate of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Viktar Babaryka, Maryja Kalesnikava became a member of the Coordination Council.

He was arrested on September 9, 2020. On the same day, it was officially announced that the Main Investigative Office of the Investigative Committee continues the investigation of the criminal case initiated by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Belarus under part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code (inciting actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus). Thus, suspects Maryja Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak ended up in a pre-trial detention center.

On August 4, 2021, the closed trial of Maryja Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak began in the Minsk Regional Court. Both of them were convicted under three articles of the Criminal Code: Art. 361 of the Criminal Code (inciting actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus), part 1 of Art. 357 of the Criminal Code (conspiring to seize power by unconstitutional means), Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creating an extremist formation).

Maksim Znak was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony.

On September 10, 2020, he was recognized as a political prisoner.

He continues writing behind bars.

On September 6, 2021, a judge of the Minsk Regional Court, Siarhiej Jepichaŭ, found Maksim Znak guilty under three articles of the Criminal Code: part 3 of Art. 361 (calls for action against national security), part 1 of Art. 357 (conspiring to seize state power by unconstitutional means), part 1 of Art. 361-1 (creating an extremist formation and leading it) and sentenced him to 10 years of imprisonment in a closed penal colony.

On March 23, 2022, Maksim was added to the “List of persons involved in extremist activities”.

On May 24, 2022, the KGB added the political prisoner to the list of persons “involved in terrorist activities.”

In 2022 The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the detention of Maksim Znak was a violation of articles 7, 9, 10, 11, 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, 14, 19, 22, 25 and 26. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is arbitrary.

Since February 2023, Maksim Znak has been completely deprived of contact with the outside world (incommunicado status): the authorities do not allow lawyers to see him, and have deprived him of phone calls, visits, and correspondence with anyone, including his family. All arguments about the need to respect the rights of Maksim Znak were ignored by the authorities, and the complaints were rejected. All lawyers who defended Maksim Znak were deprived of the right to practice law.

Creative activity:

Maksim wrote songs and poems from a young age; at the same time, he got engrossed in playing the guitar. Over the years of creativity, hundreds of beautiful songs have accumulated, of which 4 albums were recorded: “Kazki“, “Harady“, “Vietraź“, “Mora“.

In 2010, Maksim Znak won the Best Combination of Text and Music Award at the festival of bard songs Kupałaŭskija Vakacyi.

In 2018, the laureate of the grand prize on the Bardaŭskaja Vosień festival, which takes place in Białystok, Poland.

In the summer of 2020, Maksim Znak wrote the song Dignity and Will and performed it publicly for the first time at a large rally in Minsk on July 30. The song has been sung many times by different artists.

In prison, Maksim Znak wrote and released the song Bulba (bel. бульба – potatoes; in a Russian-speaking world there is a stereotype that all Belarusians are peasants and only eat potatoes): “They thought they buried us… but aren’t we potatoes?! We cannot be entombed. We pierced the soil with green and we are reaching for the sky.” The song was performed by a band consisting of lawyers Pravavy Defołt. The poem was also translated into German by Aksana Kust.

In 2020, Lavon Volski performed the song Flying Dutchman to the words of Maksim Znak.

In 2023, Anna Sharkunova gave the melody to a poem sent by Maxim from prison, and thus the song “Znaki” was born.

In prison, Maksim wrote the book “Zekamerone”, which was published in Belarusian, Russian, English, German, and Swedish.

The English translation of “Zekamerone” by Ella and Jim Dingley won the English PEN Award (2023) and was shortlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize (2024). Maksim Znak’s texts were also awarded the Francišak Alachnovič prize for works written in prison.

Mail address: Maksim Znak, PC No. 3, 211322, Viciebsk region, Vićba