Detained in Belarus. Opposition activist Maryia Kalesnikava is not in Ukraine

Маryia Kalesnikava. Мinsk, 24 August 2020. Photo: Svyatlana Far / belsat.eu

Belarusian citizen Mariya Kalesnikava has not arrived at Ukrainian border crossing points, Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s Border Service, told belsat.eu on Tuesday.

Early in the morning, Belarusian state-run news agency BelTA reported with reference to Belarus’ State Border Committee representative Anton Bychkouski that Maryia Kalesnikava, Ivan Krautsou and Anton Radnyankou, members of the board of the opposition Coordination Council (CC), crossed the Belarusian-Ukrainian border at about 4 am.

However, according to the Ukrainian side, only Radnyankou and Krautsou entered Ukraine. Maryia Kalesnikava reportedly tore up her passport to rule out her being withdrawn from Belarus.

Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko commented on the situation:

“It was not a voluntary departure. It was an act of forcibly expelling [citizens] from their native country. They [Belarusian authorities] failed to deport Maryia Kalesnikava from Belarus. This brave woman took action to prevent them from moving her across the border. She has stayed in the territory of the Republic of Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukashenka is personally responsible for her life and health.”

Later, the Belarusian border officials have confirmed that they detained Kalesnikava. They claim she was pushed out of the car by her associates.

“When they saw a border officer, their car gained speed, which put the serviceman’s life at risk. And the vehicle left the territory of Belarus. At the same time, Kalesnikava happened to be outside the vehicle. As I see it, she might have been forced out of it in some way,” TUT.BY quotes Bychkouski.

Maryia Kalesnikava on her way to Investigative Committee. 27 August 2020. Photo: Tanya kapitonava / Belsat.eu

On September 7, Tsikhanouskaya’s associate and СС member Maryia Kalesnikava was abducted in the vicinity of the National Art Museum in Minsk. Unidentified people put her in a minibus and drove away in an unknown direction.

On August 31, the election team of the imprisoned might-have-been presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka, including Kalesnikava, posted a video in which they voiced the intention to set up a political party titled Vmeste (Together).

As reported earlier, Lukashenka’s strongest rival Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya initiated the creation of the CC as part of taking urgent measures to restore law and order in Belarus as well as to ensure the transfer of power in the country. At the moment, the Council comprises 600 members. Last week, Belarus’ Prosecutor General initiated criminal proceedings over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’. The authorities believe the body aims at seizing power in Belarus. Several board members, including Belarusian Nobel Prize holder Svetlana Alexievich, were summoned to the prosecutor’s office for questioning.

Since early September, many members of the Coordination Council have been facing trouble: international mediator Liliya Ulasava was arrested by the Financial Investigations Department; strike movement activist Syarhei Dyleuski has been in custody for over two weeks; politician Volha Kavalkova was forced out of the country; political analyst Andrey Yahorau was detained during Sunday’s Unity March in Minsk.

Opposition Coordination Council insists on dialogue, blames Lukashenka for rattling sabres

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