Maria Kolesnikova, Belarusian Opposition Leader, Hospitalized After Surgery

Maria Kolesnikova, a 40-year-old Belarusian activist, has been taken from prison and placed in intensive care in a hospital in Gomel, her allies say. Ms. Kolesnikova was jailed for 11 years in 2021 after mass protests at the discredited re-election of Belarus’ leader Alexander Lukashenko a year before.

Ms. Kolesnikova’s Twitter account, run by her allies, wrote that she was transferred to the hospital on 28 November and underwent surgery. The account said that she is now in a stable but serious condition. It is not known why she needed surgery, with her team only saying that she had a “surgical pathology”.

Mass street protests swept Belarus soon after Mr. Lukashenko was declared the winner of the presidential elections in 2020. The opposition says the results were falsified, and the real winner was Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Many demonstrators were brutally beaten while some – like Ms. Tikhanovskaya – have been forced into exile, as Mr. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, tries to crush all dissent. In 2020, the Belarusian security forces tried to deport Ms. Kolesnikova to Ukraine, after kidnapping her in Minsk. But she refused to leave the country, ripping up her passport at the border and climbing out of the car window.

By Evey Lovelace

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