The Citizen (KZN)

Opposition leader held

- Minsk

– One of Belarus’ leading opposition figures has been detained while trying to cross into Ukraine, Belarusian border officials said yesterday.

Maria Kolesnikov­a was detained while attempting to cross overnight with two other members of the opposition’s Coordinati­on Council who were able to pass through to Ukraine, Anton Bychkovsky, a spokesman for the state border committee, said.

She and the two other council members, press secretary Anton Rodnenkov and executive secretary Ivan Kravtsov, disappeare­d on Monday. Bychkovsky said Rodnenkov and Kravtsov were able to cross into Ukraine and the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk confirmed they were in the country.

Kolesnikov­a was being held and “an investigat­ion is under way to legally assess the situation”, Bychkovsky said.

State news agency Belta quoted border officials as saying the three had tried to cross the border in a BMW car around 4am.

The Coordinati­on Council was set up to ensure a peaceful transfer of power after President Alexander Lukashenko’s main rival, Svetlana Tikhanovsk­aya, rejected his claim to have won a 9 August presidenti­al election with 80% of the vote. The disputed election has sparked widespread protests and a police crackdown. – AFP

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