Sunday June 4, 2023, Maria Kolesnikova has been languishing in the jails of Belarus for 1,000 days. Arrested in 2020, following the fraudulent election of dictator Alexander Lukashenko, the opponent made herself known with a spectacular gesture. As the KGB services, the Belarusian special services, tried to expel her from the country, she jumped out of the window of the vehicle and tore up her passport. After having undergone an operation this winter, the opponent’s health continues to deteriorate, and for four months, her family has had no news.
>>> Belarus: opponent Maria Kolesnikova sentenced to 11 years in prison
No more visits, phone calls, and letters for the one who was sentenced to 11 years in prison For “conspiracy against power” after the historic protests against the rigged election of dictator Lukashenko in 2020. Since March this year, Maria Kolesnikova has been placed in solitary confinement, as explained by her sister, Tatsiana Khomitch. “It’s a kind of cell to punish prisoners. The person is there alone. Sometimes they are several. The conditions are stricter. It means that all day, she is locked up in this dungeon.”
“She can only go out for a walk once a week and is only allowed one shower a week. Of course, she no longer works”Tatsiana Khomitch, sister of Maria Kolesnikova
Operated for a perforated ulcer in December, the opponent would have lost fifteen kilos and cannot benefit from all the drugs as well as adequate care. A case that is far from isolated.
Pressure is mounting on political opponents.
Maria Kolesnikova’s political mentor, former presidential candidate Victor Baricco, was reportedly beaten in his cell. His relatives do not know to which prison he was transferred. Belarus now has more than 1,500 political prisoners and finding out about their fate is becoming increasingly difficult. Anaïs Marin is the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Belarus. “No one enters the country’s prisons, apart from the lawyers sometimes, when they are authorized to return, sometimes they are told that the prisoner has not asked or has not tried to see him, so there is no no reason to come and visit him. Traditionally, my mandate for the UN was working with SNAC, a very reputable and serious human rights organization in Belarus. Unfortunately, most of its members have been arrested. We can think, for example, of Ales Bialiatski, Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been in detention for two years. All the others, “the people” who served as our contact and who could reach the families discreetly without putting them in danger, were themselves forced to flee to escape arbitrary detention.”
This UN expert claims to have received numerous allegations of cases of torture of Belarusian political prisoners. Placing them in solitary confinement would be a way of hiding the evidence.