İrem UZUN -TDO- One of Belarus’s most prominent opposition leaders, Maria Kolesnikova, has been detained by state security at the border between Belarus and Ukraine almost 24 hours after she was abducted from the center of Minsk by masked men. She ripped up her passport in order to avoid being deported from her own country, according to a Ukrainian minister and media reports.
Kolesnikova, a member of the Coordination Council created by the opposition to facilitate talks with Lukashenko on a transition of power, was detained Monday in the capital, Minsk, along with two other council members. Witnesses said she was bundled into a van by masked men. Early Tuesday, Kolesnikova and the two other council members were driven to the border, where authorities told them to cross into Ukraine. Kolesnikova refused and remained on the Belarusian side of the border in the custody of Belarusian authorities. The two other council members, Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov, crossed into Ukraine. “When attempting to deport her, she (Kolesnikova) tore her passport and could not be allowed into the territory of Ukraine by border guards,” a source told Interfax-Ukraine agency.
Kolesnikova is a campaign partner of opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who claimed victory against President Alexander Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential election. She is a vocal critic of Lukashenko and has played a vital role during the weeks of demonstrations.
Belarusian authorities say Koleniskova has been detained by police while trying to flee the country for neighboring Ukraine. Ukrainian officials, however, disputed that version of events. "It wasn't a voluntary exit," Ukraine's deputy interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said.