Kolesnikova ‘resists expulsion’ on Ukraine border
A day after a Belarus opposition leader was seen being bundled into a van by masked men, she has been involved in dramatic scenes at the border.
Belarus says Maria Kolesnikova was detained while trying to cross into Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday.
But Ukraine says Belarusian officials tried to expel her, amid reports that she tore up her passport to stop them.
She is one of three women who joined forces to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in August’s election.
Mass protests erupted after election authorities awarded Mr Lukashenko victory amid allegations of vote-rigging. The main opposition figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, says she won 60-70% of the vote, where votes were properly counted.
The latest events on the border with Ukraine come after a fourth weekend of anti-government demonstrations. Authorities said more than 600 people were arrested on Sunday. The EU has demanded the release of all political prisoners and says it is planning to impose sanctions.
Mr Lukashenko, who has ruled his country since 1994, admitted on Tuesday that perhaps he had remained in power too long: “Yes, perhaps I’ve overstayed a bit, perhaps,” he was quoted as saying by Russian reporters, before making clear he would not leave “just like that”.
He has accused Western powers of interference and is expected to visit Moscow “in the coming days” amid claims by Lithuania that he is planning deeper integration with Russia.