An attorney, partner, and head of the dispute resolution practice at the Law Office "Borovtsov & Salei". He was a member of the Minsk Regional Bar Association (MRBA).
Maxim was marked by international rankings and legal guides (in particular, The Chambers Guide, Legal 500, IFLR1000 and Who's Who Legal). He possesses a Ph.D. in Law.
While practicing law, he taught at the Faculty of Law of the Belarusian State University and was the author and lecturer of the course "Legal environment for business" of the MBA program of the Belarusian State University.On May 28, 2020
, he joined presidential candidate Viktor Babariko's team to provide legal assistance on electoral law issues. In the headquarters, he was the head of the legal department.On June 20, 2020
, Maxim Znak, on behalf of Viktor Babariko, by proxy, submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) an application for the registration of Viktor Babariko as a presidential candidate, which allowed Viktor, even while in custody, to maintain his candidacy in the electoral race.
Subsequently, Maxim Znak represented Viktor Babariko at a CEC meeting, where the issue of registering the latter as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Belarus was considered, and also, on the basis of powers duly executed, filed a complaint on behalf of Viktor Babariko to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus against the decision of the CEC to refuse Viktor's registration as a presidential candidate; Maxim held public explanations of the legislation on electoral issues — both for members of the initiative group and Belarusian citizens on YouTube.On August 10, 2020
, Maxim Znak, as Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's attorney, appealed the results of the presidential election to the CEC, and on August 21, 2020, Maxim Znak, on behalf of S. Tikhanovskaya, filed a complaint to the Supreme Court of Belarus on considering the August 9 elections invalid, providing 25 document folders indicating the grounds for non-recognition of the results of the election.
Maxim Znak, on behalf of S. Tikhanovskaya, participated in the formation of the Coordinating Council in August 2020 and was elected to its Presidium.On September 9, 2020,
Maxim was taken into custody. He was charged under Part 3 of Art. 361 (public calls for actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus) of the Criminal Code. As a sign of disagreement, M. Znak began a hunger strike.
Maxim Znak was defended by lawyers Dmitry Laevsky, Yevgeny Pylchenko, Nadezhda Znak and Sergey Zikratsky.
Human rights organizations recognized Maxim Znak as a political prisoner, and INGO Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience.
International professional associations of lawyers (ABA, CCBE) and human rights organizations have repeatedly sent
appeals in defense of Maxim and the inadmissibility of persecuting lawyers for political reasons.On February 10, 2021,
Maxim was charged with conspiracy to seize state power by unconstitutional means (Part 1 of Art. 357 of the Criminal Code), as well as with the creation and leadership of an extremist group (Part 1 of Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code). This was done in addition to the initial accusation under Part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code.On March 15, 2021
, the defense of Maxim Znak appealed against the charges brought against him for conspiracy to seize power by unconstitutional means.On May 7, 2021,
Maxim's defenders announced the end of the preliminary investigation. All efforts and motions of the defense to terminate the criminal prosecution against Maxim, as well as all defense appeals against the charges brought against him, were rejected.On July 5, 2021
, the criminal case on charges against Maxim Znak and Maria Kolesnikova under part 1 of Art. 357, part 3 of Art. 361, part 1 of Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code was submitted for consideration to the Minsk Regional Court.On August 4, 2021
, the trial began in Maxim Znak and Maria Kolesnikova's case. The court was held behind closed doors. Relatives of Kolesnikova and Znak were not allowed into the courtroom.On September 6, 2021
, the Minsk Regional Court sentenced Maria Kolesnikova to 11 years in a penal colony, and Maxim Znak to 10 years in a maximum security prison. The verdict was read out by Judge Sergei Epikhov. On the morning of September 6, queues of those wishing to get into the court lined up for the announcement of the verdict, but not everyone was able to get into the hall, and foreign diplomats were not allowed in by order of the Belarusian MFA.
Maxim Znak's defense declared that the conviction was unlawful and groundless and appealed against the verdict.December 10, 2021,
Maxim Znak received the Human Rights Award 2021 from the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE Human Rights Award 2021).On December 24, 2021,
the Supreme Court considered the appeals of Maxim Znak and his defenders and upheld the verdict.
Since January 2022, Maxim Znak has been serving his sentence in penal colony No. 3 (Vitba village, Vitebsk region).
In May 2022, Maxim Znak was included by the State Security Committee in the List of organizations and individuals involved in terrorist activities.On December 24, 2021,
Maxim Znak was expelled from the Minsk Regional Bar Association in accordance with the decision of the meeting of the MRBA Council dated January 19, 2022, based on par. 11 part 1 Art. 74 of the Charter of the Minsk Regional Bar Association and Art. 24 of the Law on the Bar in connection with the entry into force of the court verdict on the conviction of an intentional crime.
On May 21, 2022, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention communicated to the authorities of the Republic of Belarus its decision (A/HRC/WGAD/2022/24) regarding Maxim's deprivation of liberty. In this decision, the UN Working Group concluded that:
- the imprisonment of Maxim Znak was carried out in 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 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is arbitrary;
- the arrest and detention of Maxim Znak had no legal basis and resulted from the peaceful exercise of his rights under articles 19, 22 and 25 of the Covenant (freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom to participate in the conduct of public affairs);
- the arrest of Maxim Znak is based on discrimination on a political basis and status as an attorney for a political opposition party, in violation of article 26 of the Covenant;
- the treatment to which Maxim Znak was subjected appears to be an act of retaliation for his active work and is incompatible with the international legal obligations of Belarus;
- no legal proceedings against Maxim Znak were to be held;
- Maxim Znak must be released immediately and unconditionally.
However, the authorities refused to release Maxim Znak; as of September 2022, he remains in a penal colony.
Human rights activists believe that political prisoner lawyer Maxim Znak has been in a punishment cell for a long time. Concerning Maksim Znak, they also managed to get confirmation: the administration of the Vitba-3 colony informed his wife, Nadezhda, that the political prisoner was in fact being held in a punishment cell. The family does not receive letters from Maxim Znak for a month and a half. The last letter from him came on February 9th, 2023.