Belarus Opposition Leader Kidnapped Amid Protests, EU Calls for Sanctions

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Maria Kolesnikova, one of the prominent oppositions face to challenge incumbent Alexander Lukashenko iron hand rule over Belarus was abducted on Monday by some masked men from the centre of Minsk and carried away in a van.

Kolesnikova is a member of the opposition Coordination Council, the last of three female politicians left in Belarus who joined forces before the August election to take on Lukashenko’s regime. The other two, Veronika Tsepkalo and presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya left the country soon after the election leading the opposition struggle from outside Belarus.

Protests erupted in the streets of Minsk, Belarus capital after the result of Presidential race was announced where Alexander Lukashenko, often called as the ‘Europe’s last dictator’ who has been ruling Belarus since 1994 when it got separated from erstwhile USSR, was declared winner getting more than 80% votes. This would be his sixth consecutive term in office.

The Election was condemned by Belarus opposition, EU and USA calling it a rigged process. Soon after the results were declared, protests broke out in Belarus with 1,00,000 to 2,00,00 people coming out to protest against Lukashenko for the last five weeks. The protest has cut across the social spectrum with students, workers from factories and woman leading the movement from the front.

Lukashenko stated that he “may have overstayed” in his latest interview but has no intention of stepping down and denies any election fraud. The riot police have hit the street detaining the protestors which have left four protestors dead and several injured.
According to the latest reports, Kolesnikova was being forcibly deported to Ukraine. But she managed to escape her deportation by tearing away her passport. Later she was detained by Belarus Border Guard and her whereabouts currently is unknown.

The Foreign Ministries of UK, USA and Germany have raised concern over the whereabouts of Kolesnikova. EU has gone ahead and has threatened sanctions against members of Lukashenko’s regime.

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