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8 Sep, 2020 00:15

EU, UK sound alarm over ‘abduction' of Belarusian opposition figurehead Maria Kolesnikova, threaten sanctions

EU, UK sound alarm over ‘abduction' of Belarusian opposition figurehead Maria Kolesnikova, threaten sanctions

European nations have expressed concerns over the fate of Maria Kolesnikova – one of Belarus’ leading opposition figures, apparently kidnapped in Minsk – threatening sanctions and demanding the release of detained protesters.

The EU, as well as Germany and the UK, have accused Minsk of quelling protests that have gripped Belarus for almost a month with “repressions” on the heels of reports of Kolesnikova’s disappearance in Minsk on Monday.

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell did not mince words as he accused Belarusian authorities of “unabating arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds” in a statement on Monday. Borell referred to Kolesnikova and some other members of the Coordination Council of the Belarusian opposition among those that “have been targeted” in the post-election crackdown.

Also on rt.com EU won’t blacklist Lukashenko: Germany, France, & Italy slap down Poland & Baltic states’ hardline proposals on Belarus – Die Welt

Brussels said it “expects” the Alexander Lukashenko government to ensure the “immediate release” of all those detained, while threatening to slap his administration with sanctions.

“The EU will impose sanctions on individuals responsible for violence, repression and falsification of election results.”

Berlin and London also said they are particularly concerned over Kolesnikova’s fate. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Minsk “must make her safe return their highest priority” while Germany’s top diplomat, Heiko Maas, demanded her whereabouts be revealed.

“If Mr. Lukashenko does not change his course, we will react,” Maas warned.

Kolesnikova is believed to have been abducted in Minsk and driven away in a minibus with the sign ‘Communication’ on its side, Belarusian media reported, citing eyewitnesses. Her whereabouts are unknown. Local law enforcement have denied any knowledge of the incident, and have confirmed to be looking into Kolesnikova’s disappearance after her family filed a missing persons report.

Also on rt.com Belarusian opposition figurehead Maria Kolesnikova ‘abducted’ on Minsk street in broad daylight, but police deny any knowledge

Along with the runner-up in the disputed Belarusian presidential elections, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, and opposition activist Veronika Tsepkalo, Kolesnikova led the charge to oust the Belarusian president, with the Council having been set up to facilitate a transition of power. At the moment of her alleged abduction, she was only one of the troika of women who remained in the country.

Lukashenko has previously accused foreign countries of meddling in Belarus, suggesting a Western-backed plot to instigate a color revolution through mass protests, while denouncing the Council’s work as “an attempt to seize power.”

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