Family reports missing Belarusian opposition leader Kolesnikova

The family of the disappeared Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova has filed a missing persons report. According to a witness this morning in the centre of Minsk, the politician was pushed into a van by a group of masked persons and kidnapped.

Since then nothing more has been heard of her. Friends and family have been unable to make contact with Kolesnikova. The police say they don’t know anything and say they are investigating the case, according to news site Tut.by.

Two other members of the Coordination Council set up by the opposition also appear to be missing. Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov have not been heard since this morning. Other members have been arrested or expelled from the country before.

The remaining members of the Coordination Council write in a statement that President Lukashenko’s regime is guilty of terrorism in order to suppress protests in the country. They write that it makes no sense, because demonstrators “no longer know fear” and continue to organize themselves “decentralized and without leaders”.

Europe worried

Kolesnikova is one of three women who, together with Svetlana Tichanovskaya and Veronika Tsepkalo, has become the face of opposition to President Lukashenko in recent months. She is the only one still living in Belarus: Tichanovskaya fled to Lithuania under unclear circumstances, Tsepkalo fled to Moscow and later Warsaw.

Europe has reacted with concern to the disappearance of Kolesnikova. The German Minister of Foreign Affairs Maas has asked Belarus for clarification. His British colleague Raab has also expressed his concern.

The protest against Lukashenko’s disputed election victory has been going on for a month. Yesterday an estimated 100,000 Belarusians took to the streets in Minsk, with 633 protesters arrested according to the police. Today Belarusians have also protested at various locations.