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Opposition Leaders Abducted in Belarus

Opposition supporters take part in a rally against police brutality following protests to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus September 13, 2020.

The political turmoil in Belarus since the fraudulent reelection of authoritarian Alexander Lukashenka on August 9 continues.

Opposition Leaders Abducted in Belarus
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The political turmoil in Belarus since the fraudulent reelection of authoritarian Alexander Lukashenka on August 9 continues. Members of the political opposition in Belarus set up the National Coordination Council, or NCC, to negotiate with the Belarusian authorities about holding free and fair elections and a transition of power. Instead of engaging in good faith, the Lukashenka regime has launched a politically-motivated investigation against the National Coordination Council and detained, forced into exile, and abducted members of the NCC.

Indeed, the United States is deeply concerned by the September 7 abduction of National Coordination Council member Mariya Kalesnikava in Minsk, and the forced expulsions of Spokesman Anton Rodnenkou and Executive Secretary Ivan Krautsou on September 8.Maxim Znak, also a National Coordination Council member, was detained the following day.

The United States commends the courage of Ms. Kalesnikava and of the Belarusian people in peacefully asserting their right to pick their leaders in free and fair elections. Protesters have faced brute violence and repression by government authorities, which included brazen beatings in broad daylight and thousands of detentions, as well as increasing reports of abductions.

Since September 1, university students have been the victims of violent crackdowns led by security forces dressed in black with their faces covered in ski masks. Several were picked up from the street and thrown into unmarked mini vans.

The United States, in coordination with its partners and Allies, is considering additional targeted sanctions to promote accountability for those involved in human rights abuses and repression in Belarus. “We remind the Belarusian authorities of their responsibility to ensure the safety of Ms. Kalesnikava and all those unjustly detained,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.

“We call on the Belarusian authorities to end the violence against their own people, release all those who have been unjustly detained, including U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov, and engage in meaningful dialogue with genuine representatives of Belarusian society.”