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Protests in Belarus: Maria Kolesnikova indicted under security law



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  • Belarusian presidential election 2020

Maria Kolesnikova - August 30

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image captionMs. Kolesnikova is said to have tore her passport when security officials tried to persuade her to leave the country

Belarusian protest organizer Maria Kolesnikova was accused of inciting people to undermine national security, officials say.

Three women led a mass opposition movement, but she is the only one not to go into exile.

Ms Kolesnikova is said to have snatched her passport when authorities tried to expel her from the country.

Over the past five Sundays, at least 100,000 people have protested what were widely seen as a rigged election.

President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in the August 9 poll, but a brutal crackdown on the initial protests against the result only fueled popular anger.

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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who opposed Lukashenko as an opposition candidate, said she won the election. Shortly after, she was forced to flee to Lithuania.

The third of the three women, Veronika Tsepkalo, also left the country.

Lukashenko remained in power and is recognized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on Monday granted a $ 1.5 billion (£ 1.2 billion) loan after face-to-face talks between the two men.
Eyewitnesses last week saw Ms Kolesnikova, 38, kidnapped by masked men.
She was taken to the Ukrainian border with two other people, but prevented officials from forcibly deporting her by tearing her passport and throwing it out of a car window, those traveling with her said.
multimedia captionIvan Kravtsov says Ms. Kolesnikova tore her passport into pieces and then got in through the rear window of the car

“It was claimed that if I did not voluntarily leave the Republic of Belarus, I would be taken away anyway, alive or in pieces. There were also threats to imprison me for up to 25 years,” she said in a statement presented by her. lawyer.

The investigative committee said in a statement Wednesday that Ms. Kolesnikova had been accused Monday of calling for “actions to undermine Belarusian national security” using the media and the Internet.

Meanwhile, Ms Tikhanovskaya told the BBC that the opposition was ready to talk to Russia about their attempts to oust Lukashenko.

She said she regretted President Putin’s decision to support Lukashenko, who she said was a dictator.

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