Minsk: Unknown persons take away opposition activist Maryia Kalesnikava

Мaryia Kalesnikava at New Belarus March in Minsk. 23 August 2020. Photo: Iryna Arakhouskaya / belsat.eu / vot-tak.tv

On Monday morning, Tsikhanouskaya’s associate and Coordination Council (СС) member Maryia Kalesnikava was reportedly detained near the National Art Museum.

Unidentified people put her in a minibus and drove away in an unknown direction.

“Not far from the museum, I saw a parked dark Sobol minibus with the inscription ‘Communication’ on the wing. I walked on and heard the sounds of a phone falling on the pavement and sort of tramping, turned around and saw masked plainclothed peopls pushing Maryia into the minibus and her phone flying off, one of those people picked up the phone, jumped into the minibus, and they left,” Anastasiya, a witness to the situation, told TUT.BY.

The girl did not dare to film what was happening in fear of being arrested.

Kalesnikava’s phone is available, but she is not answering it. At 10.13 (local time), CС spokesman Anton Radnyankou said that Maryia was alone in the city centre. Learned about the disappearance from TUT.BY, he was about to ascertain her whereabouuts. At about 11, he was out of reach on the phone.

“Instead of talking to the people of Belarus, the outgoing leadership is trying cynically eliminate one by one. The kidnapping of Maryia Kalesnikava in downtown of Minsk is a disgrace. Stalinist NKVD methods are being applied in 21st century’s Europe. She must be released immediately,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Twitter.

The press service of the Interior Ministry has not commented on the alleged abduction yet.

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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, Alyaksandr 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.

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