Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova “kidnapped and threatened with mutilation” | World news


An activist who tore up her passport to avoid being forcibly deported from Belarus accused the authorities of threatening to kill her.

Maria Kolesnikova says she was forced into a van on Monday by masked men in Minsk and traveled over 200 miles to the Ukrainian border.

The opposition leader was arrested at the border after destroying her passport in a no man’s land between Ukraine and Belarus the next day.

Ms Kolesnikova said in an official complaint released by her lawyer that agents from the Belarusian State Security Committee put a bag over her head before she fought for her deportation from Belarus and was imprisoned.

Security forces officer drags protester to rally in Minsk

“They threatened to kill me,” Ms. Kolesnikova said. “They said that if I refused to voluntarily leave the territory of Belarus, they would take me out of the country anyway – alive or in fragments. ”

The 38-year-old is being held in Minsk for endangering national security.

Ms Kolesnikova is part of a group of opposition members protesting President Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian leadership.

This week Belarus marked a month since massive protests erupted against the re-election of Mr Lukashenko.

The opposition rejects the country’s vote in August as rigged, and protesters demanding Lukashenko’s resignation represent an unprecedented challenge to the Belarus leader’s 26-year reign.

Ms Kolesnikova is a prominent member of the Coordination Council set up by opposition activists to lobby for a new election.


Masked men attack rival Belarusian leader’s headquarters

Police raided the headquarters of protest groups on Wednesday to arrest several activists.

Lawyer Maxim Znak has been arrested, leaving Nobel Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich as one of the few high-level activists still free and currently still in Belarus.

She said she received threatening phone calls and feared she would be the state’s next target.

Earlier Thursday, a group of men wearing masks and holding crowbars broke into the headquarters of Viktar Babaryka, a political rival of Alexander Lukashenko, according to CCTV obtained by Sky News.


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