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Belarus Extends Pretrial Detention Of Opposition Figure Kalesnikava


Maryya Kalesnikava is a key member of an opposition council in Belarus. (file photo)

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 coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.

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.

With reporting by BelaPAN
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    RFE/RL's Belarus Service

    RFE/RL's Belarus Service is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language. It is a bulwark against pervasive Russian propaganda and defies the government’s virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media.

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