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Belarus Opposition Leader Rips Up Passport at Border

Authorities attempted to expel Maria Kolesnikova
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2020 4:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Belarus opposition activist Maria Kolesnikova resisted an attempt to throw her out of the country Tuesday—a day after witnesses saw masked men force her into a vehicle in the capital, Minsk. Kolesnikova, a member of the opposition Coordination Council, was taken to the Ukraine border along with two other council members, Ivan Kravtsov and Anton Rodnenkov, the BBC reports. The two men say they were detained in Minsk Monday and interrogated with hoods over their heads. They said they accepted an offer to leave the country to avoid prosecution—but when they were brought to the border in a vehicle, Kolesniivova ripped up her passport in the "no man's land" between Belarus and Ukraine.

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"She was shouting that she won’t go anywhere,” Rodnenkov said at a news conference in Ukraine Tuesday, per the AP. “Sitting in the car, she saw her passport on a front seat and tore it into many small fragments, crumpled them and threw them out of the window. After that, she opened the back door and walked back to the Belarusian border." Kolesnikova is now believed to be in custody on the Belarus side of the border. In an interview with Russian media Tuesday, President Alexander Lukashenko claimed she had been arrested for "violating the rules on crossing the state border." He said that despite mass protests that followed last month's disputed election, he has no intention of stepping down because he is the only person who can "defend" Belarus. (Read more Belarus stories.)

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