Belarus opposition figure urges probe into 'abduction

Znak was one of the last two members of the Coordination Council's governing praesidium to remain free

Znak was one of the last two members of the Coordination Council's governing praesidium to remain free

Kolesnikova, a member of the opposition coordination council created by the opposition to facilitate talks with long-time president Alexander Lukashenko about a transition of power, was detained on Monday in the capital of Minsk.

Mr Znak had time only to text message "masks" before they took the phone away from him, Mr German said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that he has no intention of ceding power and will not let it "lie in the mud", TASS reports.

An AFP journalist said the crowd of demonstrators waving the opposition's red-and-white flag on Sunday appeared to be as large or larger than on the previous three Sundays, when more than 100,000 people rallied in the streets of Minsk.

"Let's not allow propaganda to poison ties between two friendly peoples, and unscrupulous politicians to damage the interests of both Belarus and Russian Federation", she said. "There is a danger we will lose the country".

Along with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Veronika Tsepkalo, Kolesnikova became well-known after spearheading the opposition campaign in August's Belarusian presidential election.

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Lukashenko has dismissed the opposition as Western stooges and rejected demands from the US and the European Union to engage in a dialogue with protesters. Mr Lukashenko denies vote-rigging. The council was formed by the opposition to negotiate a peaceful transfer of power in the wake of the disputed election.

The interior ministry said 121 more protesters had been arrested yesterday. Several people have died.

Voicing concern over the fate of Kolesnikova, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas demanded "clarity on the whereabouts and the release of all political prisoners in Belarus".

Along with Ms Alexievich, Mr Znak was the last of the seven members of the opposition Coordination Council's governing presidium to remain free in Belarus.

Alexievich, victor of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature and the sole remaining council member still active in the country, argued the group'swork would go on despite state pressure.

Babariko, a banker who was detained last month and excluded from the August 9 election ballot, said in a video recorded before his arrest that one of the party's goals would be constitutional reform.

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A spokesman for the European Commission, Peter Stano, said the EU's executive branch was trying to establish what happened and condemned the Belarusian authorities' actions as "unacceptable".

On 8 September, Kolesnikova was allegedly abducted, tearing up her Belarusian passport in the van to avoid expulsion from the country.

Pompeo said the potential sanctions would be aimed at promoting "accountability for those involved in human rights abuses and repression in Belarus".

That was the claim of Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov, who say they were expelled by the country's security services.

"She (Kolesnikova) was forcibly pushed into the back seat, she shouted that she was not going anywhere", said Rodnenkov from a press conference in Ukraine on Tuesday.

She said the reformed Belarus the opposition is fighting for would want to have good relations with all nations, including Russian Federation, with which Belarus has close economic ties. Kazak saw her client at a pretrial detention centre on Wednesday, and said she had bruises on her body.

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"After that, she opened the window and got out (through the window) and walked towards the Belarusian border".

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