KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A main opposition activist in Belarus and two other individuals of an opposition council went missing Monday, raising fears they had been detained as authorities look to squelch virtually a month of protests towards the re-election of the nation’s authoritarian leader.
Maria Kolesnikova, a member of the Coordination Council created by the opposition to facilitate talks with President Alexander Lukashenko on a transition of energy, was as soon as reportedly build on a minibus within the capital, Minsk, and pushed away by unidentified folk. Final week, Kolesnikova launched the advent of a unique opposition catch together.
Her disappearance follows a extensive rally Sunday in Minsk that drew an estimated 100,000 protesters annoying the resignation of Lukashenko, who extended his 26-year rule in an Aug. 9 election that the opposition and some pollemployees remark was as soon as rigged.
Sunday’s demonstrations in Minsk and other cities went on despite authorities warning that contributors can also face reprisals. The Interior Ministry talked about 633 folk had been detained Sunday for taking half in unsanctioned protests.
Council member Maxim Znak talked about Kolesnikova’s colleagues awe she was as soon as detained and two other council individuals also couldn’t be reached Monday.
The Belarusian Interior Ministry talked about it hasn’t detained Kolesnikova but the Verbalize Security Committee that peaceable goes below the Soviet-era title KGB has kept mum.
The Coordination Council denounced what it described as “strategies of awe ragged by the authorities in desire to a dialogue with society.”
“Such strategies are unlawful and can handiest exacerbate the plot within the nation, deepen the crisis and fuel extra protests,” it talked about in a assertion.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius tweeted that Kolesnikova’s disappearance is half of the Belarusian authorities’s effort to “cynically put off one after the other” the leaders of the protests and known as for her instantaneous unlock.
After a brutal crackdown on protesters within the first few days after the vote that stoked international outrage and swelled the ranks of protesters, authorities in Belarus like switched to threats and selective arrests of opposition activists and demonstrators.
German authorities spokesman Steffen Seibert strongly condemned the overall arrests in Belarus, noting that “the finest response that Lukashenko and his folk seem to love for (the protesters) within the meanwhile is naked violence.”
“We depend on the instantaneous unlock of all those that had been arrested earlier than the elections, on the day of the election and since the election, merely for exerting their democratic, self-evidential rights as citizens,” he talked about.
Concentrated on the speak leaders, Belarusian prosecutors like opened a prison probe of the Coordination Council that opposition activists region up after the election to strive to barter a transition of energy.
Two council member, Sergei Dylevsky and Olga Kovalkova, got 10-day jail sentences and, after serving them, handed unique 15-day penal complex phrases. Kovalkova surfaced in Poland on Saturday, announcing the authorities forced her to leave the nation after threatening to ranking her in jail for a protracted time.
A complete lot of other council individuals had been known as in for questioning.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the predominant opposition challenger to Lukashenko within the election, moved to Lithuania a day after the vote below power from authorities. She talked about Monday that Kolesnikova’s disappearance marked yet every other strive by the authorities to intimidate the opposition.
“It’s an strive to derail the work of the Coordination Council, but we is presumably no longer stopped,” she talked about. “The extra they strive to scare us, the extra folk will ranking to the streets. We are able to proceed our wrestle and push for the unlock of all political prisoners and a unique, fascinating election.”
The worn teacher ran towards Lukashenko after her husband, a favored blogger, was as soon as jailed. Two other prime doable challengers had been blocked from working. One was as soon as jailed on money laundering costs he pushed apart as a political vendetta, and yet every other one fled the nation with his young folk earlier than the election, fearing arrest.
Final week, Kolesnikova launched the advent of a unique catch together, Together. She talked about the slip will wait on overcome the present crisis, but the catch together founders’ demand constitutional adjustments has alarmed any other opposition council individuals, who argued that it ought to also divert consideration from the predominant just of getting Lukashenko to step down.
Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this file.
Be conscious all AP tales on the traits in Belarus at https://apnews.com/Belarus