Key opposition figure goes missing in Belarus

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Maria Kolesnikova, a key opposition leader in Belarus, has disappeared in the country’s capital Minsk.

The former Soviet republic has been engulfed in protests against the rule of embattled President Alexander Lukashenko.

Kolesnikova, who is considered to be a central opposition figure, was seen being bundled into a vehicle by men in plainclothes, according to independent Belarusian news outlet Tut.By.

Foreign news outlet have quoted Gleb German, Kolesnikova’s press representative, saying that the team had had “no contact” with her on Monday. German reportedly said that her whereabouts, along with that of two other leaders involved in the opposition’s Coordination Council, remain unknown and their lawyers are looking for them.

Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry was quoted saying that it had no information on the alleged disappearances, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas was quoted saying that Germany demands to know the whereabouts of Kolesnikova. He also called for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus. Germany, the country which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, is working “relentlessly” on a series of sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime, the foreign minister told the German media.

Kolesnikova is a leader of the Coordination Council which was set up by the opposition in Belarus to create dialogue with Lukashenko over a transition of power following last month’s disputed election.

She ran Viktor Babariko’s opposition campaign, but he was detained prior to the presidential elections.

Kolesnikova then joined forces with candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Protests continue to rock the Eastern European state, as tens of thousands descended on the streets protesting against Lukashenko’s regime on Sunday marking the fifth week of protests.