Belarusian opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova was reportedly detained by unknown people and has since been missing, her press team has said amid unconfirmed reports that she may have been kidnapped in the centre of Minsk.
The opposition”s press team said in a statement that Kolesnikova as well as her staffers Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov were still “out of touch” and that the opposition’s “lawyers are looking for them”.
Gleb German, opposition candidate Viktor Babariko’s press representative, confirmed to Euronews that Kolesnikova, who runs Babariko’s headquarters, had not been able to be reached since 10 a.m. Monday.
“The most important thing now is to establish a connection with Maria, Ivan and Anton in order to understand that they are okay and why they have been detained,” German said in a statement to Euronews. German said some Belarusian agencies denied having detained them.
A bystander near the National Art Museum told independent Belarusian media site tut.by that she saw Kolesnikova taken by masked people in civilian clothes. The bystander told tut.by that Kolesnikova was put in a minibus.
Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said the reports showed “the outgoing leadership is trying cynically eliminate one by one.”
“The kidnapping of M.Kalesnikava in downtown of #Minsk is a disgrace. Stalinist NKVD methods are being applied in 21st century’s Europe. She must be released immediately,” Linkevicius tweeted.
Kolesnikova is a leader of the Coordination Council which was set up by the opposition in Belarus to create dialogue with authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko over a transition of power following last month’s disputed election.
She ran Viktor Babariko’s opposition campaign but he was detained prior to the presidential elections. She then joined forces with candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Tens of thousands of Belarusians protested against Lukashenko once again on Sunday marking the fifth week of protests against the country’s leader.
Tsikhanouskaya, who was the main opposition candidate in the August election, has urged the international community to impose sanctions on “the individuals that committed electoral violations and crimes against humanity” following a violent crackdown on protests.
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