Sep 10, 2020 - World

European diplomats step up to guard last opposition leader left in Belarus

Svetlana Alexievich arrives for questioning by investigators on Aug. 26.

Svetlana Alexievich arrives for questioning by investigators on Aug. 26. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images

European diplomats have begun keeping round-the-clock guard at the home of Belarusian opposition activist Svetlana Alexievich, who says masked men attempted to break into her apartment on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old Nobel laureate is the sole original member of the opposition council formed to facilitate a peaceful transition in Belarus who has not been detained, exiled or disappeared.

The big picture: Wednesday marks one month since President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in a blatantly rigged election, setting off a mass protest movement that has continued unabated even in the face of security crackdowns and a state media takeover by master propagandist Vladimir Putin.

The state of play: The Lukashenko government has initiated a criminal case against the seven-member Coordination Council.

  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: The 37-year-old presidential candidate and self-described "housewife" fled the country after being detained by Lukashenko's security services and forced to film a video calling for an end to the protests. She remains exiled in Lithuania and told BuzzFeed News that she is the "national, chosen president" of Belarus.
  • Maria Kolesnikova: Her lawyer says she was forced into a van by masked men and told she would leave Belarus "alive or in bits." She was driven to the Ukrainian border but avoided deportation by tearing up her passport and throwing it out the window. She's now jailed in Minsk.
  • Maxim Znak: The 39-year-old lawyer was dragged out of the council's building in Minsk on Wednesday by masked men. His whereabouts are unknown.
Diplomats at Belarusian activist's house
Via Twitter

Go deeper: Svetlana Alexievich is not going anywhere (The New Yorker)

Go deeper