MINSK -- Belarusian authorities have prolonged the pretrial detention of Maryya Kalesnikava, an opposition figure who is facing national-security charges, for two months.
The Coordination Council of the Belarusian political opposition said on January 6 that investigators had extended Kalesnikava's detention until March 8.
Kalesnikava is a key member of the Coordination Council, a body set up by Belarus's political opposition to facilitate a transfer of power in the country following a presidential election in August that the opposition says was rigged and the West has refused to accept.
Kalesnikava was arrested in September and charged with calling for actions aimed at damaging the country's national security via media and the Internet.
Kalesnikava, who rejects the charge as politically motivated, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if convicted.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.
Mass demonstrations have swept across Belarus since the disputed August 9 vote that gave Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term.
Lukashenka has directed a brutal postelection crackdown in which almost 30,000 have been detained, and hundreds beaten in detention and on the streets.
The EU and the United States refuse to recognize Lukashenka as the country’s legitimate leader and have slapped sanctions on him and other senior Belarusian officials.
The vote was widely dismissed as having been rigged, with the real winner being opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who left the country for Lithuania shortly after the election due to security concerns.