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Belarus protest leader Maria Kolesnikova charged with incitement to undermine national security

Published by Yahoo on Fri, 18 Sep 2020


Belarusian authorities have charged protest leader Maria Kolesnikova with incitement to undermine national security, which carries a maximum jail term of five years. Ms Kolesnikova was charged with calling for "actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security," the country's top investigative body said in a statement. She could face up to five years in jail if convicted. Ms Kolesnikova, formerly a professional musician, emerged as one of the opposition leaders last month after Belarusians took to the streets across the country to protest Alexander Lukashenko's widely disputed landslide victory in the Aug 9 presidential election. Authorities crushed the demonstrations with unprecedented violence and tortured hundreds in prison. The last of three women who spearheaded the protests to remain in the country, 38-year old Ms Kolesnikova was abducted from the streets of Minsk last week. More than 24 hours later, she was detained at the border while trying to 'illegally cross' into Ukraine. Her associates who were forcibly expelled from Belarus said that Ms Kolesnikova ripped up her passport to stop authorities from taking her across the border by force. Ms Kolesnikova was suffering from allergies in prison but remains in good spirits, according to Lyudmila Kazak, her lawyer.
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