A Belarusian opposition spokesman said, on Tuesday, that a prominent Belarusian opposition figure, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence after leading mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, is in intensive care after undergoing surgery.
He was taken to a hospital in the southeastern city of Gomel, placed in a surgical ward and then transferred to the intensive care unit, Kolesnikova’s spokesman Gleb Germanchuk told CNN. He said she was in stable condition but “difficult with some improvement”.
Germanchuk, citing her lawyer Vladimir Belchenko, said Kolesnikova was placed in a “disciplinary cell” prior to her hospitalization because she was not at her “workplace” in prison when she was supposed to be there.
Fears are growing for her safety because Belchenko has not been able to see Kolesnikova in hospital. Germanchuk said her lawyer was unable to reach her at the hospital because when he arrived there was no doctor to let him in.
Germanchuk said his lawyer has sent a number of calls to prison officials about concerns about his health. Germanchuk said Kolesnikova’s relatives cannot visit her in the hospital because she is imprisoned and the same restrictions apply to her hospital stay.
The US embassy in Minsk said on Tuesday it was “closely monitoring” reports of Kolesnikova’s “sudden hospitalization”.
“We hope she will receive full and excellent medical care and make a speedy recovery,” the US embassy wrote on Twitter. The United States remains committed to holding regime officials accountable for human rights abuses. »
Kolesnikova, a musician turned activist, was one of three women who joined forces in 2020 to counter the opposition’s campaign against Lukashenko after two leading opposition candidates were ousted from the presidential race.
The trio was the face of a protest movement, with tens of thousands of Belarusians taking to the streets to demand political change in the country’s elections. Protesters and independent observers alleged the vote was rigged to extend Lukashenko’s 27-year rule.
President Lukashenko denied election fraud and the authorities responded to the protests with repression.
Arrested in 2020, Kolesnikova was taken to the border, where she was ordered to leave the country. Instead, she allegedly tore up her passport, refusing to be forced into exile.
In September 2021, she was charged with extremism and conspiracy to “unconstitutionally seize state power” and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The United States and many European countries condemned the court’s decision and called for Kolesnikova’s release.
Germanchuk said that as part of her time in prison, Kolesnikova had to do repair work, including on uniforms for the Belarusian army.