Belarus protest leader arrested after unsuccessful expulsion attempt

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Belarus protest leader arrested after unsuccessful expulsion attempt




Belarus opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova in Minsk


© Reuters/VASILY FEDOSENKO
Belarus opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova in Minsk


Por Pavel Politykauk

KIEV (Reuters) – Prominent opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova was arrested by Belarus authorities on Tuesday, a border agent said, after the activist managed to thwart what a government minister in Ukraine described as an attempt to expel her. the country.

Interfax Ukraine news agency said the activist deliberately tore her passport so that Ukrainian border authorities would not be able to give her a ticket.

Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook that Kolesnikova, who disappeared during the previous 24 hours, managed to avoid “a forced expulsion from his native country”.

The fate of Kolesnikova, a central figure in the weeks of mass protests against the contested reelection of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, has been a mystery since supporters said masked men took her out on the street in the capital Minsk on Monday.

“Maria Kolesnikova could not be deported from Belarus, as this courageous woman took steps to prevent her from being taken across the border. She remained on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko is personally responsible for her life and health,” said Gerashchenko.

Kolesnikova’s whereabouts were unclear, but two other opposition figures who disappeared at about the same time as her, Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov, did indeed enter Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Ukrainian border service said. .

“Kolesnikova is now being held, I cannot say exactly where she is, but she is being held,” Anton Bychkovsky, a representative of the Belarusian border service, told Reuters by telephone. “She was detained in connection with the circumstances under which they (the group) left the territory of Belarus.”

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