Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu has criticized the arrest and harassment of opposition members in Belarus, after a key opposition leader and others were arrested.
In a message on Twitter, Mr. Aurescu said he was “outraged by the continued policy of harassing and arresting of members of the opposition in #Belarus” and called for political dialogue.
Maria Kolesnikova, a Belarus opposition leader who played a key role in leading recent anti-government street protests was arrested after she tore up her passport to avoid being expelled to neighboring Ukraine early Tuesday.
She was last seen being forced into the vehicle by men in plain clothes in Minsk city center this morning, Maxim Znak, a fellow member of the opposition co-ordination council, told The Times of London. Two other members of the opposition Coordination Council were also seized Monday.
Longtime authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is facing unprecedented street protests after widely condemned elections said it was the right decision to arrest her. He said she was being held for a border violation.
In an interview with Russian state media, he ruled out standing down. “No way I’m going to resign just like that,” he said. “I’ve been developing Belarus for a quarter of a century. I’m not going to give it all up,” the Washington Post reported.
Mass protests followed his re-election amid allegations of vote-rigging. More than 600 people were arrested on Sunday, following a fourth consecutive weekend of anti-government protests in the capital Minsk and other cities.
On Monday the EU urged Belarus’s government to free those jailed, calling the arrests „arbitrary and unexplained”.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said Ms Kolesnikova’s departure was “forced… to compromise the Belarusian opposition. To make it look like the opposition leaders threw hundreds of thousands of protesters against Mr. Lukashenko’s regime and fled to cozy Ukraine,” he said.
“Maria Kolesnikova could not be taken out of the country because this brave woman took measures to prevent herself from crossing the border,” he added.
Mr. Aurescu tweeted that there was “a need to fully respect fundamental rights, to stop such kind of intimidating actions and to initiate political dialogue!”