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Abduction of Maria Kolesnikova, the Woman Leading the Belarus Revolution, Is Classic KGB ‘Terror’ Ploy

Abduction of Maria Kolesnikova, the Woman Leading the Belarus Revolution, Is Classic KGB ‘Terror’ Ploy

MOSCOW—Men in civilian clothes with masks covering their faces grabbed the woman inspiring a revolution in Belarus on Monday. They pushed Maria Kolesnikova into a minivan at about 10am local time (3am ET)—the opposition leader hasn’t been seen since.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ brutal leader for the past 26 years, has been cracking down on protests and threatening to arrest members of the opposition Coordination Council for an alleged “attempt to seize power,” but this is not simply a case of heavy-handed policing. It was a classic abduction, a technique of repression favored by the likes of the KGB and its Russian successor the FSB for generations.

The Belarusian KGB has been known for making people “disappear” since the early years of Lukashenko’s rule; for more than a quarter of a century, he has chosen to repress his opponents. His willingness to abuse power is the main reason so many Belarusians want to see him forced out of office and put on trial.

Two other members of the 600-strong Coordination Council also went missing on Monday. Frantic opposition staff and their lawyers have been touring the prisons and police stations in a desperate search for their kidnapped colleagues.

A Belarusian nation is being born right in front of our eyes.

Svetlana Alexievich

“We still do not know where they keep Maria,” Kolesnikova’s aide Gleb German told The Daily Beast, six hours after his boss vanished. “The authorities are openly using methods of terror, which will only cause a bigger crisis in the country.”

Millions of Belarusians have come to recognize the tall, broad-shouldered figure of Kolesnikova, since this summer’s rigged presidential election, which threatens to bring down the last dictatorship in Europe even though Lukashenko fixed the result.

Opposition leaders Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo united behind Svetlana Tikhanovskaya forming a powerful triumvirate of women challenging Lukashenko.

The opposition say the people of Belarus chose to boot Lukashenko from power and elected Tikhanovskaya to replace him.

Tikhanovskaya and Tsepkalo fled the country in the aftermath of the disputed election. Kolesnikova stayed, and during a month of subsequent rallies, protesters have emulated her trademark heart sign and repeated her slogan: “Belarusians, you are amazing! There is nothing impossible for you.”

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