Imprisoned Belarusian opposition leader Kolesnikova is in intensive care after surgery for an unclear reason

Imprisoned Belarusian opposition leader Kolesnikova is in intensive care after surgery for an unclear reason

Maria Kolesnikova was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2021. According to the regime, she was involved in a conspiracy to seize power in the country, threatened security and founded an extremist organization.A.P.’s photo

According to members of the Belarusian opposition to the regime, Kolesnikova underwent surgery on Monday. She had previously spent some time in the “punishment cell”. Whether that has anything to do with the reason for her operation, her allies, who don’t even know the reason for the surgery, don’t know. However, her health was good until recently, Kolesnikova’s sister and father say. Her lawyer has not been allowed to visit her in prison for the past two weeks.

Kolesnikova is the last left-wing opposition leader in Belarus. Others, like Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran against Lukashenko in the election, have fled abroad or been expelled. To avoid that scenario, Kolesnikova shredded her passport in September 2020 when Belarusian agents tried to take her across the border into Ukraine.

She was involved in organizing large-scale protests against Lukashenko, who claimed a new term as president after rigged elections in August 2020. In that election, Kolesnikova first served as campaign manager for opposition politician Viktor Babariko. After he was captured, she joined the Tikhanovskaya campaign.

Conspiracy

Tens of thousands were arrested in protests against the regime after the elections. A year later, Kolesnikova was convicted. According to the regime, she was involved in a conspiracy to seize power in the country, threatened security and founded an extremist organization.

Kolesnikova said before her trial that she had been offered a pardon. Then she had to plead guilty and apologize in a prepared interview for state media. Freedom is worth fighting for. “Don’t be afraid to be free,” she wrote in response to this request from prison.

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