Thousands took to the streets in the Belarusian capital to demand the release of protest leader Maria Kolesnikova, who was arrested on Tuesday at the Ukrainian border, Minsk authorities said. Kiev on Tuesday denied the allegations, explaining that Maria Kolesnikova opposed her forced expulsion from Belarus and that she had been arrested for failing to persuade her to leave the country.
According to the agency Interfax Ukraine, she broke her passport to prevent her from crossing the border.
Another Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tihanovskaia, in exile in Lithuania, said the situation in Belarus was “absolutely unacceptable” and called for international support for the ouster of President Alkesandr Lukashenka, whom she said no longer represented. this country.
Speaking via video in front of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Tshanovskaia said that the country and its people need help, and that there is a need for international pressure on the regime led by a man clinging to power.
“We need sanctions against those who give and execute criminal orders that violate international norms and human rights. We need the immediate release of all political prisoners and the beginning of a civilized dialogue in order to find ways for our country to move forward, “Svetlana Tshanovskaya told the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.
Alexander Lukashenko, the disputed leader of the Republic of Belarus, said in an interview with Russian state media that if his regime collapses following the protests, “Russia will be next.”
“Do you know what conclusion I reached with the Russian establishment and authorities? If Belarus falls, Russia will be next, “Lukashenko said. “If Lukashenko collapses, the whole system will collapse, followed by all of Belarus,” he added.
He has discussed the issue several times with Vladimir Putin, and the Russian president has promised to send troops to Belarus if the protests escalate into violence. A summit with the participation of the two is scheduled to take place in the coming days or weeks.
Regarding the arrest on the Ukrainian border on Monday night to Tuesday of the opponent Maria Kolesnikova, Lukashenko stated that she was thrown from a car “on the go” by two other opponents while they were fleeing to neighboring Ukraine.
“In their car, they sped up and threw her out of the car on the way. On the way, “he insisted, saying he was now negotiating with Ukraine to hand over the two opponents in the vehicle. Kiev on Tuesday denied the allegations, explaining that Maria Kolesnikova opposed her forced expulsion from Belarus and that she had been arrested for failing to persuade her to leave the country.
Alexander Lukashenko has led Belarus since 1994 and also won the August 9 presidential election, according to official results, which gave him the victory with more than 80% of the vote. On the other hand, the opposition claims that the election was massively defrauded.
According to a Russian radio journalist, at the same meeting Lukashenko reportedly said he did not rule out holding early presidential elections.
The Belarusian leader said his supporters would be attacked if he withdrew, said Roman Babaian, editor-in-chief of Moscow Talks and one of the journalists who interviewed Lukashenko.