Maria Kolesnikova, an opposition protest leader in Belarus, was charged with undermining Belarus’ national security on Wednesday. She is one of the few major opposition politicians still in Belarus.
Since the presidential election, numerous opposition politicians have fled into exile or vanished. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who challenged Alexander Lukashenko for the presidency, has fled to Lithuania.
According to eyewitnesses, Kolesnikova was abducted off the street over a week ago. In addition to her colleagues on the coordination council, her press team has also disappeared. Tikhanovskaya has condemned the detentions as an attempt to disrupt the efforts of the coordination council.
Shortly after Kolesnikova’s disappearance, security forces attempted to force her to leave Belarus, diving her and two colleagues to the Ukrainian border. Kolesnikova tore her passport apart and threw it out the car window to prevent the security forces from forcing her into exile. In a statement released by her lawyer, Kolesnikova claims she has been threatened with imprisonment, exile and murder.
Since the protests calling for Lukashenko’s resignation began, hundreds have been injured and arrested, and several people killed. In response, the EU announced that they are considering imposing sanctions. It has also called for the release of all political prisoners. Like Canada and the UK, the EU does not recognize the legitimacy of the election.