Belarusian activist refuses to leave country
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 9/08/20, 06:13 pm
Maria Kolesnikova tore up her passport as authorities tried to force her to cross the border into Ukraine on Tuesday. She sits on a council of opposition leaders who want to work out a plan with President Alexander Lukashenko for him to step down. Protests broke out in Belarus a month ago after Lukashenko won what is widely regarded as a rigged election. He has ruled Belarus for 26 years, relentlessly stifling dissent and keeping most of the economy in state hands.
Why did the Belarus government try to deport Kolesnikova? It has used similar tactics to force other opposition figures to leave the country. Authorities detained Kolesnikova on Monday in the capital city of Minsk and drove her and two other opposition leaders to the border. When they arrived in a no man’s land between the countries, Kolesnikova ripped her passport into small pieces to make it impossible for the authorities to expel her. “After that, she opened the back door and walked back to the Belarusian border,” said her companion Anton Rodnenkov. She remains in government custody.
Dig deeper: Read Jenny Lind Schmitt’s interviews with Belarusian Christians.
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