Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova has been kidnapped by unknown people in central Minsk, according to a Belarusian Tut.By media outlet, citing a witness.
Masked people detained him and locked him in a minivan Tut.By.
The latest security forces after the disputed August election arrested 633 protesters following a mass anti-government rally on Sunday, followed by development on Monday.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, police in Minsk said they had not arrested Kolnikova.
Kolsnikova is one of three female politicians who joined the military before the August 9 presidential election, in an attempt to challenge Alexander Lukashenko.
An outspoken critic of Lukashenko, he has played an important role in the country’s post-election political crisis, which has seen massive protests and strikes for several weeks, accusing him of rigging his own re-election It is something he denies.
Prior to the vote, Kolenikova teamed up with opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikankovskaya, who later fled to Lithuania, and with Veronica Tsepalko, who has since left the country.
Another prominent activist, Olga Kovalkova, arrived in Poland on Saturday, saying she would face arrest if she lived in Belarus.
Tsepkalo told Al Jazeera from Poland that his colleagues in Belarus still had no information about Kolnikova’s whereabouts.
“Hopefully, she will be released as soon as possible. I really worry about her,” she said.
Tsepalko also said that “it is not safe for leaders right now and as you can see all the leaders have been jailed, detained or left the country”.
He added, “Lukashenko separates the strongest leaders. During this presidential session, he has jailed two opposition leaders. My husband is serving a sentence of up to 15 years on criminal charges.”
Tsikhanouskaya said the notice of Kolenikova’s abduction sounded like an attempt by authorities to derail the opposition’s coordination council and threaten its members.
Earlier on Monday, data from the central bank showed that Belarus burned through about one-sixth of its gold and foreign exchange reserves, or $ 1.4bn, in August as it slipped its ruble during a wave of unrest. Had fought to run the currency.
On August 31, Kolenikova announced that she was forming a new political party, along with a team of jailed opposition man Victor Bebariko, with whom she had previously worked.
On Sunday, columns of protesters defied a government warning waving red and white opposition flags and shouting “Go away” and “You’re a rat.”
Protests took place in major cities throughout Belarus.
Lukashenko has been in power since 1994, and people who have been outraged by the show of support for traditional ally Russia have rejected calls for new elections.
Unprecedented protests erupted when he claimed he was reelected with 80 percent of the vote.
Darag McDowell, principal analyst at global advisory firm Verisk Maplecroft, said economic factors are playing a key role in the demonstrations, causing the country to “run out of funds fast”.
McDelwell told Al Jazeera, “The IT sector has been repeatedly subdued with internet shutdowns to disrupt protesters. We have also carried out several attacks in the state-owned sector.
“People have lost their fear of Lukashenko, he has lost a lot of his authority. No matter how many riot police are stationed on the streets, it is not just to stop people from coming out.”
Al Jazeera and news agencies