Belarus: After an Expulsion Attempt, Maria Kolesnikova Speaks through her Lawyer
Since Maria Kolesnikova, the Belarusian opposition leader, was seen in a van next to masked men on Monday in the capital, Minsk, there were contradictory stories on whether it was an arrest or an assassination attempt, until she spoke through her lawyer.
Ms Kolesnikova said in a statement filed by her lawyer that she had been forced into the van by masked men.
“It was stated that if I did not voluntarily leave the Republic of Belarus, I would be taken out anyway, alive or in bits. There were also threats to imprison me for up to 25 years.”
These threats come after she had prevented officials forcibly expelling her by tearing up her passport and throwing it out of a car window.
According to Ms Kolesnikova’s lawyer, she is now seeking a criminal case against Belarusian security forces including the KGB.
In addition, she said that she has feared for her life especially when security officers threw a bag over her head during an attempt to deport her.
Worth to mention that Ms Kolesnikova is one of three women who joined forces to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in August’s election. She is the last of the three women to remain inside Belarus.
While Ms Kolesnikova is detained, the other two women Veronika Tsepkalo and presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, left the country soon after the election in which Ms Tikhanovskaya won with 60-70% in places where votes were properly counted.
But what about Lukashenko?
During the inauguration of a new chief prosecutor on Thursday, the president maintained his legitimacy as leader.
“People often reproach me: ‘He won’t give up power.’ They’re right to reproach me. The people didn’t elect me for this,” he said.
“Power is not given to be taken, thrown and given away.”
The president, in power since 1994, said that Belarus could not return to the instability of the years following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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