In Belarus, another member of the opposition seems to have been kidnapped in the protests against President Lukashenko. It concerns lawyer Maxim Znak, who was allegedly taken by masked men from his office in the capital Minsk. This is what the Belarusian news site Tut.by writes on the basis of eyewitnesses.
His kidnapping means that only one member of the leadership of the Coordination Council in Belarus is at large, says correspondent David Jan Godfroid. The council was set up by the opposition after last month’s controversial presidential elections to allow a peaceful transfer of power.
“Znak’s spokesman could no longer get in touch with him,” says Godfroid. According to Tut.by, he would have left a piece of paper with the word ‘masks’ on it. “But no one knows what that means.” It’s unknown where Znak is now.
On these images Znak is taken:
The Russian press agency RIA Novosti reports that the lawyer has been arrested by the secret service. “Because they’re often people in civilian clothes, you don’t know what they belong to. But there’s a good chance that it’s the secret service,” says Godfroid.
The Belarusian police say they know nothing about an arrest. “They keep saying that when they’re arrested. Until it’s really no longer possible,” says the correspondent.
Fate last member
Five of the seven members of the Coordination Council have now been arrested or forced to leave the country. For example, opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova was arrested yesterday after refusing to leave Belarus. Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov have probably been forcibly expelled from the country and are staying in Ukraine. Two others were arrested at the end of August.
Writer and Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexeyevich remains the only member. According to Godfroid she plays a small role in the organization, among other things because of health problems. “I don’t think she’s at risk. She is well known internationally. They probably won’t take the risk of arresting her.” Until recently, she lived in Berlin and Warsaw, because of her critical stance against Lukashenko.
Aleksyevich has issued a statement. “First our country was kidnapped, now the best of us are being kidnapped,” she writes. She also makes an appeal to the Russian intellectual elite to finally open their mouths about the crisis in Belarus.
Aleksyevich told local journalists that strangers tried to enter her apartment this morning. European diplomats have gathered in Aleksieevich’s house, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs informs on Twitter.
Kolesnikova’s house was also to be searched.
“They’ve never been able to control, because the members were arrested from the beginning. It’s been a paper tiger.”
In Belarus there are massive demonstrations against the outcome of the presidential elections of August 9th. According to the official results, President Lukashenko won, but the opposition speaks of large-scale fraud and demands new elections.
During confrontations between demonstrators and the police dozens of activists have been arrested again in recent days. They demonstrated, among other things, against the arrest of opposition member Kolesnikova. Last Sunday a few hundred demonstrators were arrested during massive demonstrations against President Lukashenko in all major cities of the country.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 121 people were arrested at various protests in Belarus yesterday.
The arrests aren’t easy everywhere, as can be seen on the images below. Sometimes bystanders fiercely resist: