Belarus charges opposition figure Kolesnikova with undermining national security

María Kolesnikova during a press conference in Minsk, Belarus, on August 24, 2020.
María Kolesnikova during a press conference in Minsk, Belarus, on August 24, 2020. © Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters (file photo)

Belarus investigators have officially charged Maria Kolesnikova, a protest leader, with incitement to undermine national security, the Investigative Committee said in a statement on Wednesday.


Kolesnikova was charged with calling for “actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security” using the media and the Internet, the committee said.

A member of the Coordination Council created by the opposition to facilitate talks with President Alexander Lukashenko on a transition of power, Kolesnikova is currently in jail in Minsk after ripping up her own passport last week to thwart an attempt to expel her to Ukraine.

Kolesnikova, 38, played a major role in the campaign of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claimed victory over Lukashenko in a disputed election last month, and went on to address huge rallies calling for the president’s resignation.


She was detained on September 7 in the capital, Minsk, along with two other council members. Witnesses said she was bundled into a van by masked men.

On September 8, she 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.

Belarus has applied similar tactics of trying to force other opposition figures out of the country in a bid to end a month of demonstrations against the reelection of Lukashenko in a vote that protesters see as rigged.




Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning