One of the most prominent figures in the Belarusian opposition, Maria Kolesnikova has been hijacked according to media reports. He was Veronica Tsepkalon along with another aspiring president Svetlana Tsihanouskajan campaigning assistants. After the election, Tshianouskaya fled to Lithuania and Tsepkalo to Ukraine.
According to a person who spoke to the local Tut.by news site, Kolesnikova was abducted from ten in the morning local time in a minibus. His phone is off, according to the opposition.
The local police have not said anything about it.
In the wake of the situation in Belarus, the European Union is imposing economic and travel sanctions on 31 “senior Belarusian authorities” since mid-September, Reuters reports. The information comes from three EU diplomats.
The sanctions stem from the presidential election a month ago, the outcome of which the Union considers fraudulent. The sitting president has ruled the country for 26 years Alexander Lukashenko received 80 percent of the vote, according to official results.
– We initially agreed on 14 names, but many states felt that this was not enough. We have now reached agreement on 17 others, one of the diplomats told Reuters.
According to the source, the targets of the sanctions are responsible for the elections, the violence and the attempts to suppress the protests. One of the persons is reportedly the Minister of the Interior of Belarus Juri Karajev and his deputy.
The sanctions will enter into force on 22 September and a formal agreement is expected on 21 September, when the EU foreign ministers will next meet. The list of names may change before then.
President Lukashenko is not on the list. The current German Presidency of the EU wants more time for dialogue and the possibility of imposing sanctions on the President at a later stage.
In 2015, the EU eased sanctions imposed on Belarus in 2004. The aim was to work to improve the gap.
According to Reuters, the EU, like NATO and the United States, has been careful to make sanctions decisions too quickly so that Russia does not complicate matters. Russia is the closest ally of Belarus.
The Kremlin announced today that Lukashenko is visiting Moscow “in the coming days”. The continuation of his power is likely to depend largely on what Russia decides to do.
Belarusians have protested in large numbers against the outcome of the presidential election. Last Sunday, the capital, Minsk, marched more than 100,000 people. According to the Interior Ministry, 633 people were arrested.