Ukraine confirms crossing of border by Belarusian oppositionists Rodnenkov, Kravtsov

Witnesses said Sunday's protest may have been one of the largest yet

Witnesses said Sunday's protest may have been one of the largest yet

However, the developments do fit a "wider picture of the government giving people an option between staying in the country and being put in prison or being forced out", Connolly said.

"They talk about the cruelty of Belarusian police, and I would like to say this: there are no police anywhere in the world that are more humane (and) moderate", Interior Minster Yuri Karayev told state television on Monday.

"They are no sort of opposition. What they suggest will be a catastrophe for Belarus and the Belarusian people", the president insisted, as reported by Editor-in-Chief of the Govorit Moskva radio station Roman Babayan on Telegram.

Lukashenko has blamed the unrest - which began when he claimed a landslide victory in the August 9 presidential election - on Western powers and sought support from his neighbor, Vladimir Putin.

Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova has been detained while trying to enter Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to Belarusian border officials, a day after her allies said she had been grabbed off the street by masked men.

In his first sit-down interview since anti-government protests swept the nation, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made a slight concession, The Guardian reports - the so-called "last dictator in Europe", who has held his post for 26 years, acknowledged he "may have sat in the president's chair a little too long".

Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who has fled to Lithuania since the election, said on Monday through her press service that the "abduction" of her colleagues "is an attempt to disrupt the activity of the Coordination Council". "If Belarus falls, Russia will be next", state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Lukashenko as saying in an interview with several Russian media.

Kovalkova said agents of the Belarusian State Security Committee put her into a vehicle, where she was told lie on the floor, unaware where they were taking her. The more they intimidate us, the more people will take to the streets.

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"After that, she opened the window and got out (through the window) and walked towards the Belarusian border".

There she was detained by the Belarussians again. The issues were very different and, many of them were related to the politics and development of Belarus, the socio-political situation and the latest events in our country, external interference in the relevant processes.

The opposition movement on Monday said that unidentified men had taken Kolesnikova in central Minsk and driven her off in a minivan, while two other activists disappeared later.

"The EU expects the Belarusian authorities to ensure the immediate release of all detained on political grounds before and after the falsified 9 August presidential elections", its diplomatic head Josep Borrell said. She said the move will help overcome the current crisis, but the party founders' call for constitutional changes has stunned some other opposition council members, who argued that it could divert attention from the main goal of getting Lukashenko to step down.

Police detained dozens of people from among hundreds who protested on Tuesday evening against Ms Kolesnikova's disappearance.

Ms Kolesnikova's current whereabouts were unclear.

"I can't say concretely where she is, but she has been detained", Anton Bychkovsky, a representative of the Belarusian border service, told Reuters by phone.

© Misha Friedman/Getty Images Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova makes a heart sign with her hands during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, on August 23, 2020.

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