Maria Kolesnikova demands criminal investigation against Belarusian KGB over abduction and violent threats
Lyudmila Kazak, the lawyer representing Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava), has sent a statement to the Belarusian Investigative Committee on her behalf, demanding the launch of a criminal case against officers from the Belarusian KGB (the national intelligence service) and the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK).
Kazak visited Kolesnikova at Pre-Trial Detention Center Number One in Minsk, where she is currently under arrest as a suspect in a criminal case over an illegal attempt to seize power in Belarus. According to her lawyer, following her abduction by unidentified men in downtown Minsk on September 7, Kolesnikova was taken to the GUBOPiK building, where she was threatened with physical violence. She was later taken to the KGB.
“Maria faced threats of physical violence which, being in the GUBOPiK building [at the time], couldn’t be perceived as anything but real,” her lawyer said in the official Telegram Channel of former Belarusian presidential candidate Viktor Babariko (Viktar Babaryka).
Kazak added that Kolesnikova has bruises following her arrest and that her “hands are sore, because she was forced into a car and held [there].” In addition, Kolesnikova has received medical assistance at the detention center due to blood pressure and heart problems.
On top of demanding the launch of a criminal case, Kolesnikova’s statement to the Belarusian Investigative Committee details her abduction, as well as the psychological pressure and death threats she faced, and an attempt to force her out of Belarus “alive or in parts.” Kolesnikova also stated that she was threatened with a 25-year prison sentence.
We demand an investigation into the abduction of Maria Kolesnikova, [her] illegal arrest and the threats, as well as the termination of the criminal case against her, Maxim Znak, Ilya Saley, and all other political prisoners! We demand of the current government: stop the persecution of citizens of Belarus!
A day after her abduction in downtown Minsk, Belarusian state media reported that Maria Kolesnikova had been arrested at the border with Ukraine. According to her colleagues, Belarusian officials allegedly hoped to force her out of the country, but she ripped up her passport before reaching the border checkpoint, preventing herself from leaving Belarus.
On September 9, reports emerged that Kolesnikova was in custody in Minsk and that she had been named as a suspect in the criminal case the Belarusian authorities had launched over the formation of the opposition’s Coordination Council, where Kolesnikova is a member of the Presidium. She now faces up to five years in prison.