On June 25, 2024, the trial of human rights defender Olga Karach in absentia will begin on charges of attempted “conspiracy to seize state power by unconstitutional means”. Five “conspirators” will be tried in absentia, among them Veranika Tsapkala, the second face of the Belarusian Revolution-2020, and the acting chairman of the Social Democratic Party “Narodnaya Hramada”, Yauhen Vіlskі. Olga Karach and all the “conspirators” face up to 12 years in prison.

But this is not the only time when human rights defender Olga Karach was falsely accused of attempting to conspire to overthrow the Belarusian regime.

 On April 12, 2021, the political scientist Aliaksandr Feduta and the lawyer Yuras Ziankovich (a citizen of the United States and Belarus) were detained in Moscow as part of the criminal case of attempted conspiracy to seize state power in Belarus by unconstitutional means and attempted assassination of Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

Aliaksandr Lukashenka accused the CIA and the FBI of involvement in the coup. Apart from Feduta and Ziankovich, the chairman of the conservative party Belarusian Popular Front Ryhor Kastuseu and Ziankovich’s secretary Olga Halubovich were also arrested in Belarus. Ryhor Kostuseu and Aliaksandr Feduta were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, Yuras Ziankovich was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment,

The conspirator Ziankovich planned to get money from Karach, wrote Lukashenko’s main state propaganda newspaper

At the trial it turned out that Yuras Ziankovich, Aliaksandr Feduta and other conspirators were victims of a successful provocation by the KGB, which had lured them to Moscow for their arrest. But as it turned out, the KGB was planning a provocation against Olga Karach too, trying to lure her to Moscow these days also under the guise of an invitation to a certain “federal TV talk show”. When it turned out that Olga Karach had nothing to do with this conspiracy, turned out to be smarter, didn’t go to Moscow and certainly didn’t invite anyone there, the main propaganda mouthpiece of Lukashenko – “Belarus Today” newspaper – broke out with a vicious publication on the theme “this extremist was lucky again”.

In July 2020, Olga Karach and a rather large group of people (but not agreeing among themselves) hatched a conspiracy to get Viktar Babaryka, the most popular 2020 presidential candidate, out of prison. Then about 20-30 people, including Olga Karach (there are about 50 mentions in the KGB database in total, but some several times), wrote personal sureties to have Viktar Babaryka released, pledging to go to prison in his place if he escaped at large. We learnt this from the list of appeals to the KGB website, which was recently leaked online by Cyberpartisans. Other politicians, if this database is to be believed, unfortunately did not participate in this “conspiracy” and did not try to get Viktar Babaryka out of prison by personally promising to sit in his place.

Investigation of the terrorist attack in Minsk, opponents of the authorities. Aleh Barshcheuski, Valery Shchukin and others were detained together with Olga Karach

On April 19, 2011, Olga Karach and 18 activists of “Our House” were detained on suspicion of committing a terrorist attack at the metro station Kastrychnitskaya in Minsk. Olga Karach’s husband Aleh Barshcheuski detained 10 days in prison on suspicion of committing the terrorist act, Olga herself was severely beaten and police officers threatened her with rape. In Belarus, terrorism is punishable by death penalty. But the criminal case on terrorism fell apart and the charges were dropped. Subsequently, two young men of Vitebsk, the city where Olga Karach is from, were shot in this criminal case.

In the local elections in 2010, Olga Karach, according to the Vitebsk election commission, tried to bribe her voters by handing out balloons with the inscription “Our House”. This is not a conspiracy, of course, but there is something conspiratorial about it.

In the spring of 2006, Olga took part in the protest tent city on Kastrychnitskaya Square, but before that, when getting off the flight at Minsk airport, she was confiscated 80 euros, which, according to the customs officers, she was taking to distribute to the protesters in order to finance the Belarusian revolution of 2006. At least one more “conspirator” – Jaraslau Ramanchuk, later a presidential candidate-2010, was caught on the same flight.

A year before that, Andrei Klimau, a well-known liberal and deputy of the 13th Supreme Council (Independent Parliament of Belarus) and former political prisoner, decided to announce his revolution, setting it for March 25, 2005. For this purpose, he distributed the roles in the future conspiracy, having written the book “Uprising-2005” and published there the “List of the Belarusian elite after Lukashenko”, where he enlisted about a hundred of the most famous political and civil figures, including Olga Karach, whom he “appointed” as a speaker in the future Belarusan parliament without asking her consent. Thus, Olga Karach was unwittingly involved in this “conspiracy”.

In 2001, in September, as voters who had cast their ballots in the presidential election dispersed, the Palace of State Trade Unions in the centre of Minsk was seized and held overnight by protesters against fraudulent presidential elections, and the single opposition candidate at the time was Vladimir Hancharyk, head of the Federation of State Trade Unions of Belarus. Olga Karach was one of those who entered the building at the time of the seizure and remained there. The OMON did not intervene at that time and only observed what was happening.

Perhaps the 2001 protests and the seizure of the Palace of Trade Unions is the only time when Olga Karach’s actions can really be called a conspiracy in any way.

Not this is all they have to fantasise about today.