Kolesnikova To Remain In Custody Till November, 274 Legislators Demand Her Release

The Minsk City Court recognised the decision of the Partizansky District Court on the application of a preventive measure in the form of detention to a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council Maria Kolesnikova as lawful, lawyer Alexander Pylchenko told TUT.BY.

Last week, the Partizansky District Court rejected the defense’s complaint about the application of a measure against Maria Kolesnikova in the form of detention. The Minsk City Court considered the lawyers’ complaint against the district court’s decision behind closed doors and dismissed it.

Maria Kolesnikova during a court hearing on 21 September

“Maria will remain in custody until November – a preventive measure of detention for two months. The court decision can be appealed through the chairman of the Minsk City Court or the Prosecutor General and the City Prosecutor. […] The preventive measure can be changed by the investigating body or it may not be extended at the next extension of the preventive measure,” explained Pylchenko.

Maria Kolesnikova was reportedly abducted by unidentified men in the center of Minsk on the morning of 7 September. Next day state media reported that she was arrested at the border with Ukraine. According to her colleagues, Belarusian officials allegedly tried to expel her from the country, but she tore up her passport and refused to leave.

On 8 September, reports emerged that Kolesnikova was detained and placed in remand facility in Minsk as a suspect in a criminal case over an attempt to seize power. On 10 September, Kolesnikova filed a complaint against KGB officers and the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption for “kidnapping” and “death threats”.

Meanwhile, 24 transatlantic legislators from 29 countries in a letter to “the illegitimate President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko demanded the immediate release of Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikava” and all political prisoners. The legislators are also calling for an end to violence against peaceful demonstrators.

Among the signatories are U.S. Congressmen Marcy Kaptur, Bill Keating, Brian Fitzpatrick and Gregory Meeks. The letter sent to Lukashenko was signed by parliamentarians from Ukraine, Moldova, Finland, Poland, Belgium, Romania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Italy and other countries.

“The arrest of Ms. Kalesnikava will not end the Belarusians’ demonstrations for liberty in Belarus. Nor will it temper our collective resolve to support the Belarusian people and hold Lukashenko regime members and foreign actors responsible for grave human rights violations committed against Belarusians,” the letter reads.