On the morning of 7 September, the opposition politician Maria Kolesnikova was dragged into a van near the National Art Museum in Minsk by masked men in civilian clothes and abducted. In recent weeks hundreds of people have been arrested by plain-clothes police officers in similar circumstances throughout Belarus.
Maria Kolesnikova is a member of the Coordinating Council of the Belarusian opposition who wants to enter into a dialogue with the ruling regime to negotiate a handover of power.
During the night of 8 September, she was to be illegally deported from her home country of Belarus to Ukraine, along with two other members of the Opposition Coordination Council, Anton Radniankou and Ivan Krautsou. To prevent this, Maria Kolesnikova had her passport torn up. She was thus able to prevent her planned deportation to Ukraine, while Radniankou and Krautsou were deported against their will. Maria Kolesnikova was subsequently arrested by the Belarusian authorities.
Her exact whereabouts were unknown until the morning of 9 September. Her lawyer has so far been refused to give her legal assistance. It is to be feared that the Belarusian authorities will continue to detain Maria Kolesnikova on political grounds and construct a charge against her.
Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) stated on the occasion of the assumption of her prisoner’s godparenthood for Maria Kolesnikova:
“Maria Kolesnikova is the face of the democratic movement in Belarus. My great solidarity is with her, she must be strengthened and protected. As Vice-President of the German Bundestag, I am therefore taking over Maria Kolesnikova’s prisoner’s godparenthood. The unscrupulous action of the Belarusian state power against the last remaining leader of the democracy movement in the country reveals the unscrupulousness of the dictator Lukashenka. He must immediately clarify how Maria Kolesnikova is doing and where she is. The flimsy trick of many dictators to silence disagreeable opposition members with goon squads or extra-legal methods will not work here. Our task is to show Lukashenka that we are watching closely and not silently accept his inhuman actions against his own people”.