Masked males detained Belarusian protest chief Maria Kolesnikova in central Minsk on Monday morning and drove her away in a van and two of her allies additionally disappeared later, the opposition motion stated.
Kolesnikova, a member of the opposition coordination council, is the final of three feminine politicians left in Belarus who joined forces earlier than an Aug. 9 presidential election to attempt to problem veteran incumbent Alexander Lukashenko.
A vocal critic of Lukashenko, she has performed an necessary position in weeks of mass demonstrations and strikes by protesters who accuse Lukashenko of rigging his re-election.
Lukashenko, who has been in energy for the final 26 years, denies that allegation and has accused overseas powers of attempting to topple him in a revolution. He has responded with a crackdown which some these detained say contains torture and beatings.
Three European Union diplomats informed Reuters that the EU is now making ready to impose financial sanctions on 31 senior Belarus officers, together with the inside minister, in response to the election and subsequent crackdown.
Facing his deepest disaster but, Lukashenko retains the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has promised to ship in police to help him if wanted.
Kolesnikova’s abduction, if confirmed, comes as Belarusian authorities look like stepping up their efforts to attempt to halt the protests and hinder the work of the opposition council, which they’ve accused of plotting to overthrow Lukashenko.
On Sunday, tens of 1000’s of individuals demonstrated throughout the nation demanding Lukashenko step down. Security forces detained 633 protesters, Belarusian authorities stated.
Police in Minsk had been cited by Russia’s Interfax information company as saying they’d not detained Kolesnikova.
A witness, Anastasia, was cited by the Tut.By media outlet as saying she had seen Kolesnikova pushed right into a dark-coloured van by masked males in plain garments in central Minsk.
She stated Kolesnikova’s cell phone had dropped to the bottom in the course of the tussle and that one of many masked males detaining her had picked it up earlier than the van sped off.
The opposition council stated two different activists, Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov, disappeared quickly afterwards and stated the authorities seemed to be systematically concentrating on its members.
“It’s obvious that these methods are illegal and cannot lead to anything else apart from an escalation in the situation in the country, deepening the crisis and fuelling protests,” it stated in a press release.
“We see that the authorities have openly begun to use terror tactics in recent days,” it added, calling the actions crimes towards humanity.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius likened what had occurred to Kolesnikova to one thing that the Stalin-era secret police within the Soviet Union would have performed.
“Instead of talking to the people of Belarus, the outgoing leadership is trying cynically (to) eliminate (them) one by one,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The kidnapping…is a disgrace. Stalinist NKVD methods are being applied in 21st century Europe. She must be released immediately”.
Before the election, Kolesnikova had joined forces with opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who later fled to Lithuania, and with Veronika Tsepkalo, who has since left for Poland.
Another main activist, Olga Kovalkova, arrived in Poland on Saturday, saying she had been informed she would face arrest if she stayed in Belarus.
The disaster is hitting the Belarus financial system. Central financial institution figures revealed on Monday confirmed the previous Soviet republic had burned by way of almost a sixth of its gold and overseas trade reserves, or $1.4 billion, in August, because it fought to prop up its rouble foreign money in the course of the wave of unrest.
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