25 October 2020,   06:49
Belarus protest leader Maria Kolesnikova charged with undermining national security

A prominent Belarusian opposition leader is facing up to five years in prison after she was charged with incitement to undermine national security, authorities of the country. Maria Kolesnikova called for “actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security” using the media and the Internet, the country’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Kolesnikova, who became one of the faces of the mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko that began after a disputed presidential election in August, is currently in prison in the country’s capital Minsk.

She was jailed last week after tearing up her own passport last week to thwart an attempt to expel her to Ukraine, two of her associates told a news conference. Belarusian authorities claimed she was arrested as she attempted to flee the country.

News of the charge came shortly after Alexander Lukashenko claimed in a long speech that the U.S. and its allies were fomenting massive demonstrations against his rule since the contested Aug. 9 presidential election. Protesters accuse him of rigging the election in his favor.