A prominent Belarusian opposition leader is facing up to five years in prison after she was charged with incitement to undermine national security, authorities in the eastern European country said Wednesday. Maria Kolesnikova called for “actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security” using the media and the Internet, the country’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The embattled president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is meeting his last ally standing Monday, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, less than 24 hours after more than 100,000 people took to the streets in the latest protest to demand his resignation. The pair are to hold a “working meeting” at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi — their first face-to-face meeting since a protest movement emerged across Belarus after the contested Aug. 9
A top Belarusian opposition figure has been detained while trying to cross into neighboring Ukraine, Belarusian state media reported Tuesday after weeks of protest over a disputed election result. Concerns over Maria Kolesnikova’s whereabouts grew on Monday, with independent Belarusian media outlet Tut.by reporting that she was kidnapped and forced into a car by masked men in the center of capital Minsk.
Unidentified masked men snatched the leading Belarusian opposition figure, Maria Kolesnikova, from the street in the center of the capital, Minsk, on Monday and drove her away in a minivan, witnesses told local media. Kolesnikova was one of the campaign partners of the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claimed victory against the long-ruling president, Alexander Lukashenko, in disputed elections on 9 August.
The Belarus chief prosecutor has launched a criminal case against opposition leaders, accusing them of trying to seize power. The indictment from Alexander Konyuk says the “creation and activity of the [opposition] Coordination Council are aimed at seizure of state power, and at harming national security”. Earlier President Alexander Lukashenko ordered police to end the mass protests against him in the capital Minsk.
European Union leaders holding an emergency summit were expected to endorse sanctions on Belarusian officials blamed for election fraud on Wednesday, but signaled reluctance to take steps that might be seen as a bid to pry the country from Moscow’s orbit. President Alexander Lukashenko has faced mass street demonstrations since officials declared he had been reelected on Aug. 9 in a vote his opponents say was rigged.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been heckled by workers on a visit to a factory as anger mounts over his disputed re-election. Workers chanted “leave” and booed the long-time leader of the ex-Soviet state as he insisted he would not allow a new vote after allegations of ballot fraud. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has suggested she could act as an interim leader.
Russian internet giant Yandex (YNDX.O) said on Thursday that armed individuals had entered its offices in the Belarusian capital Minsk. The company said the armed individuals had barred employees inside from leaving the building. Security forces have clashed with protesters in Minsk and other Belarusian cities in recent days after a contested presidential election victory by Alexander Lukashenko, the incumbent.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanouskaya said on Tuesday she had fled abroad for the sake of her children, after two nights of clashes following the contested re-election of strongman President Alexander Lukashenko. Tikhanouskaya, a 37-year-old former English teacher, emerged from obscurity to mount the biggest challenge in years to Lukashenko, taking her husband’s place in the campaign after he was jailed.
Long-serving Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has won a sixth term, the central electoral commission said, after elections marred by violence as police cracked down on opposition protesters. A former Soviet collective farm manager, Lukashenko has ruled the country since 1994, but faces the biggest challenge in years to keep his grip on power with some voters believing strongly that it is time he stood down.