Eastern Europe

Belarusian Opposition Leader Abducted By Men In Masks, Unable To Be Contacted

Belarusian Opposition Leader Abducted By Men In Masks, Unable To Be Contacted
Мария Колесникова
Image by Maria Kolesnikova

The only Belarusian opposition leader to remain in-country, rather then flee or be jailed, has been abducted in broad daylight and stuffed into a van marked ‘Communications’ in the capital Minsk. Maria Kolesnikova is unable to be contacted.

Kolesnikova, 38, was one of a trio of women who united to challenge Lukashenko in last month’s presidential elections after other opposition candidates were either jailed or driven to flee Belarus. She is the only member of the trio to have remained in Belarus since the election, with presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fleeing to neighboring Lithuania and Veronika Tsepkalo to Poland, reported The Moscow Times.

Belarus’ coordination council, set up to oversee the transfer of power to [Presidential Candidate Svetlana] Tikhanovskaya, told the RBC news website that Kolesnikova is one of three council members with whom it has lost contact.

“We can only assume, but it’s obvious that the authorities are doing everything to prevent the council’s work as much as possible,” Pavel Latushko, former culture minister and currently a senior member of the transitional council, told Interfax.

Candidate Tikhanovskaya pleaded with the United Nations to send an observation mission to Belarus, reported Russian news outlet Meduza.

“We ask the United Nations to condemn the use of excessive force by the Belarusian security services against protesters. We suggest a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the human rights situation in Belarus. We urge the United Nations to send an immediate international monitoring mission to Belarus to document the situation on the ground,” Tikhanovskaya said. 

Lawyers are looking for representatives of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council Maria Kolesnikova, Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov whom they could not get in touch with, the council’s press service said on Monday, reported Russian state news agency TASS.

“We have so far been unable to get in touch with Maria Kolesnikova, Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov. The lawyers are looking for them. The appropriate notifications of defense acceptance will be sent to the State Security Committee (KGB) and the Investigative Committee soon,” the report said.

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