Lawyer For Opposition Leader Kolesnikova Reportedly Detained In Belarus Amid Contested Election, Mass Protests


Belarusian officials reportedly detained Maria Kolesnikova’s lawyer Thursday after she was charged with resisting police and attending an unauthorized protest.

Police confirmed Lyudmila Kazak’s arrest after she went missing on Thursday, according to the Associated Press

Kazak represents Maria Kolesnikova who is a leader of the activist group The Coordination Council. Kolesnikova’s appeal of arrest was rejected Monday, and she faces up to five years in prison if she is convicted of undermining state security, according to the AP. (RELATED: 400 Protesters Reportedly Detained In Belarus, Demand Lukashenko Resignation)

Protests in Belarus reportedly flared after President Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth term against his opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Many believe the election was rigged and Lukashenko is not recognized as president by other European countries, per the AP.

Presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her ally Maria Kolesnikova hold a press conference the day after Belarus’ presidential election in Minsk on Aug. 10, 2020. (SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images)

Kazak reportedly acted as Kolesnikova’s messenger from jail and said Kolesnikova encouraged more anti-government protests. In one message reported by the Associated Press, Kolesnokova said she did not regret her actions.

“Freedom is worth fighting for. Do not be afraid to be free,” she said, according to a statement from Kazak. “I do not regret anything and would do the same again.”

Protesters with a former white-red-white flag of Belarus parade through the streets during an opposition rally after the presidential inauguration in Minsk on September 23, 2020. (Photo by -/TUT.BY/AFP/Getty Images)

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania banned 98 law enforcement officers and judges from entering the countries Friday. Britain is considering sanctioning people involved with human rights abuse in Belarus, according to the U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The EU is also threatening to impose sanctions on Belarus, according to the AP.

Many protesters have been seriously injured due to police control tactics involving the use of rubber bullets, barbed wire and tear gas, per the AP. According to human rights activists, an estimated 100,000 people protested in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, on Sunday. (RELATED: Protested Reportedly Erupt In Belarus Against Putin Ally After Contentious Election)

Law enforcement officers detain a man during an opposition rally in Minsk on September 23, 2020. (Photo by -/TUT.BY/AFP/Getty Images)

Demonstrations continued in Minsk and across the country this week despite police efforts, the AP reported, with people singing songs and forming human chains.

The messaging app Telegram is reportedly being used to spread the word about another rally in Minsk Sunday. This rally is meant to symbolize Tsikhanouskaya’s inauguration, the AP reported. (RELATED: Belarus Opposition Leader Flees Country After Allegedly Rigged Election)

Tsikhanouskaya released a video today encouraging the protest Sunday.

“Together, we’ll be able to achieve our goal: a new fair election. And as a result, an official, lawful inauguration,” Tsikhanoskaya said.