Jailed Belarus opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova ‘in intensive care’ | Belarus

The jailed Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova has been admitted to intensive care and undergone surgery, her allies have said.

“Maria is in the emergency hospital in Gomel, in the intensive care unit,” said the press service of Viktor Babaryko, another opposition politician.

Kolesnikova father, Alexander Kolesnikov, said his daughter was in a grave but stable condition. The doctors didn’t share her diagnosis or any other details with him about the surgery, Kolesnikov said.

He noted that his daughter looked energetic and cheerful when he last visited her in prison about a month ago.

Kolesnikova’s lawyer said she had been placed in a penitentiary cell before she was taken to the hospital. He didn’t elaborate on her condition.

The lawyer said that authorities had repeatedly rejected his requests to see Kolesnikova at the prison she was being held at.

Kolesnikova was one of a trio of female leaders – with Veronika Tsepkalo and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya – who led historic demonstrations against the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko in 2020. Massive rallies broke out across Belarus against Lukashenko’s claim to a sixth presidential term.

Kolesnikova was jailed for 11 years after resisting expulsion from Belarus. In September 2020, the country’s KGB security service drove her to the Ukrainian border after putting a sack over her head and pushing her into a minibus, but at the frontier Kolesnikova ripped up her passport so she could not be deported.

Lukashenko’s crack down on the protests led to thousands of arrests and the forced exile or imprisonment of activists and journalists.

“What terrible news. Our dear Masha, we all hope that you will be alright!” said Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the opposition in exile. Kolesnikova, 40, is the only one of the three women still in Belarus.

With Associated Press and AFP