Protest leader in Belarus says threatened with expulsion “alive or in pieces”

Protest leader in Belarus says threatened with expulsion

Activists participate in protest in support of Maria Kolesnikova

© Reuters/BelaPAN
Activists participate in protest in support of Maria Kolesnikova

Por Mark Trevelyan

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova said security agents placed a bag over her head and threatened to kill her when they tried to forcibly deport her to Ukraine this week, according to a complaint filed by her lawyer on Thursday.

Kolesnikova, one of the most prominent leaders of the month-long protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s contested reelection, prevented the attempt to expel her by tearing up her passport.

She emerged as a heroine for the protest movement trying to overthrow Lukashenko’s 26-year-old government, and an important target for authorities who detained her on charges of an illegal attempt to seize power in the former Soviet republic.

She said in her testimony that she genuinely feared for her life during the failed deportation attempt.

“In particular, it was stated that if I did not voluntarily leave the Republic of Belarus, I would be removed anyway, alive or in pieces. There were also threats to imprison me for up to 25 years,” said Kolesnikova.

She was told that there would be “problems” for her as long as she was kept in custody or in prison, she said.

“The nominated people (security agents) made threats to my life and health, which I considered real,” he said.

Her lawyer, Lyudmila Kazak, has filed a criminal complaint against Belarusian authorities, including the KGB security police, for kidnapping, illegal detention and murder threats, said the Tut.By news portal.

The complaint was referred to the State Investigation Committee. Asked about the matter, a committee representative, Sergei Kabakovich, said: “At the moment, I have no information on this.”

Maria Kolesnikova is now being held in the capital Minsk, where Kazak said she was being questioned on Thursday. Kazak saw his client at a pre-trial detention center on Wednesday, and said she had bruises on her body.

Lukashenko denies having defrauded the August 9 election, the official results of which indicate that he won by an overwhelming victory, and has severely repressed the protesters who demand his resignation. He refuses to talk to the opposition, saying it is committed to destroying the country.


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