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Masked Men Seize Belarus Opposition Leader

2 other council members are missing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2020 2:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – A leading opposition activist in Belarus is missing—and witnesses say they saw masked men bundle her into a vehicle Monday morning. Maria Kolesnikova is one of three women who challenged President Alexander Lukashenko in last month's disputed election, the BBC reports. The other two, Veronika Tsepkalo and leading opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, fled the country after the election. Witnesses said they saw the masked men seize Kolesnikova's phone before forcing her into a minibus in the capital, Minsk. Kolsenikova told the BBC last month that she saw no point in having bodyguards. "I am aware that no number of guards would be of any use if a bus full of riot police stopped us," she said. "We all know what a police state is capable of."

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The apparent arrest follows a massive Sunday rally in Minsk, where more than 600 of an estimated 100,000 protesters were arrested according to the Belarusian Interior Ministry. The ministry said Monday that it hadn’t detained Kolesnikova but there was no comment from the State Security Committee, which still uses the name KGB, reports the AP. Kolesnikova is a member of the Coordination Council, set up by the opposition to seek a peaceful transfer of power from Lukashenko. At least two other members of the council went missing on Monday, opposition activists say. (Read more Belarus stories.)

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