Belarusian opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova was held in Belarus on Tuesday after resisting a forced deportation to Ukraine, according to Kiev officials. Kolesnikova disappeared in Minsk on Monday after she was seen being bundled into a minibus. Two of her aides were also seized, the opposition Coordination Council said. They were press secretary, Anton Rodnenkov, and executive secretary, Ivan Kravtsov. Early Tuesday, the trio were driven to the Ukrainian border, where authorities told them to cross into Ukraine. Her aides went to Ukraine, but Kolesnikova remained in the custody of Belarusian authorities. Anton Bychovsky, spokesman for Belarus’ Border Guard Committee, confirmed that Kolesnikova is still in Belarus. Ukrainian officials also confirmed that Kravtsov and Rodnenkov had crossed the border, and that Kolesnikova had resisted. Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook that Kolesnikova had successfully prevented a "forcible expulsion from her native country."
Kolesnikova is a campaign partner of opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who ran against President Alexander Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential election. Protesters dispute the official election results, that saw Lukashenko claim a sixth term in office. Tens of thousands of people marched against the president once again on Sunday. On Monday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had called on authorities in Belarus to release all opposition figures and protesters. Protesters, human rights activists, and observers accuse Belarusian riot police of brutally suppressing peaceful marches in the former Soviet republic.
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