Belarusian activist Maria Kolesnikova in intensive care

The Belarusian government critic Maria Kolesnikova is said to be in the intensive care unit of a hospital for reasons that are still unknown.

The activist is one of the best-known opposition figures in the country. / Maria Kolesnikova in intensive care

Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova, who has been sentenced to a long prison term, is in her prison’s intensive care unit, according to another detained politician. “Masha is in intensive care, cause unknown,” tweeted Viktor Babariko. She had been operated on the day before, he wrote, without giving details. “She is currently in a stable, serious condition.”

Her father Alexander Kolesnikov confirmed this. The doctors did not tell him what was wrong with her, he said, according to the AP news agency.

Figurehead of the Belarusian opposition

There are no official explanations for the event. Along with Maria Tichanovskaya, Kolesnikova is considered a figurehead of the Belarusian opposition to long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko. The two led nationwide protests in 2020 against the disputed presidential election in which Lukashenko declared himself the winner. He had the police and the judiciary crack down on the demonstrators. In 2021 Kolesnikova was awarded the Vaclav Havel Prize for her commitment.

Tichanovskaya went into exile in Lithuania, while Kolesnikova was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiracy to subvert. Babariko, who was considered a promising candidate in the presidential elections in 2020, was hit with various charges before the vote and finally sentenced to 14 years in prison last year for bribery, tax evasion and money laundering. The trials are considered political staging.

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