Belarusian Interior Ministry knows nothing about detention of Maria Kolesnikova – World

MINSK, September 7. /TASS/. The Belarussian Interior Ministry has no information regarding the detention of a member of the Presidium of the opposition’s Coordination Council, Maria Kolesnikova, and her colleagues, the ministry’s spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova told TASS on Monday.

“The Interior Ministry has no information at its disposal about the detention of Kolesnikova and her colleagues,” she said.

Earlier, Belarusian media said that in the morning of September 7 unidentified persons kidnapped Kolesnikova near the National Arts Museum in Minsk. She was reportedly forced into a minivan bearing a Communications marking.

A member of the Belarusian opposition Coordination Council’s presidium, Maxim Znak, has confirmed to TASS that his attempts to contact Kolesnikova have been unsuccessful. The Council’s press-service said that lawyers were also looking for the Council’s representatives Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov, who remain unavailable.

The Minsk police department has told TASS it is checking the reports of Kolesnikova’s disappearance.

In Belarus’s August 9 presidential election the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, emerged the winner with 80.1% of the votes. The runner-up, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who received 10.12%, did not recognize the election returns. Shortly afterwards she moved to neighboring Lithuania, where she has remained since. Right after the election returns were made public several Belarusian cities saw mass protest demonstrations. During the first days there were clashes with police. The opposition’s Coordination Council has been calling for further protests, while the authorities are demanding the illegal demonstrations must be brought to an end. During the election campaign Kolesnikova was a member of the election team of Viktor Babariko, who was eventually denied registration as a presidential candidate. She firmly supported Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as a presidential candidate and jointed the opposition’s Coordination Council.

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