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Tikhanovskaya Blames Belarusian Authorities for Disappearance of Opposition Figure


Former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya holds the Belarusian authorities responsible for the disappearance of Maria Kolesnikova, member of the presidium of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council, TASS reports.

Thus, the country’s leadership tries to derail the activity of opposition organizations, the politician said.

"The regime [of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko] shows that it is acting only by means of intimidation. The abduction of Maria Kolesnikova, Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov is an attempt to disrupt the activity of the Coordination Council," she said.

"However, this won’t stop us. The more they are intimidating us, the more people will be taking to the streets. We will continue the fight, will seek the release of all inmates and a new fair election," the Telegram channel of Tikhanovskaya’s press service quoted her as saying on Monday.

Some Belarusian media outlets have reported that unidentified individuals abducted Kolesnikova near the National Art Museum in Minsk on the morning of September 7. Member of the Coordination Council’s Presidium Maxim Znak confirmed to TASS that they could not get in touch with Kolesnikova.

The Interior Ministry’s Minsk Directorate informed TASS that it was verifying reports about Kolesnikova’s disappearance. The Interior Ministry said it had no information about the detention of the opposition politician. Apart from Kolesnikova, lawyers are also looking for Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov from the Coordination Council, who they also fail to get in touch with.

Belarus held its presidential election on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission’s data, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.10% of the vote, whereas Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was considered to be his key rival, garnered 10.12% of the ballot. Subsequently, she refused to recognize the outcome of the polls. After the results of exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests flared up in downtown Minsk and other cities. In the early days they were accompanied by clashes between protesters and police. The authorities call for an end to illegal rallies, while the Coordination Council set up by the opposition demands more protests.

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