Belarusian opposition member Maria Kolesnikova, who led protests against the Alexander Lukasehnko regime in 2020 and has been imprisoned in a prison in the former Soviet country ever since, has been admitted to the intensive care unit of a Gomel hospital.
According to her lawyer, quoted by the Telegram channel of the imprisoned opposition member Víktor Babariko, an ambulance took Kolésnikova to the health center on Monday, November 28.
The Gomel penal colony IK-4, where he is serving an eleven-year prison sentence, is silent.
The independent electronic newspaper Zérkalo.io assures that the opponent, who is 40 years old, was first admitted to a surgical unit of the hospital, and that she was then sent to intensive care.
"Maria's lawyer was not allowed to visit her in the colony on November 29. Why? They explained that they did not have a written petition for her," says Babariko's team.
It had previously been known that the opponent had been transferred to an isolation cell. But her co-religionists do not know from what date she was in that situation.
Kolesnikova's defense lawyer, Vladimir Pilchenko, complained to the Belarusian prosecutor's office about the impossibility of seeing his client. In that complaint he showed her concern for her state of health, but the Belarusian authorities did not show any reaction.
In 2020 Maria Kolesnikova was the right hand of Babariko, who was then considered the most prominent figure in the Belarusian opposition. But after her arrest, she continued her fight and became one of the main faces of the joint candidacy presented by the opposition to the presidential elections on August 9, 2020.
Kolesnikova was one of three women who took the lead in the protest movements. The other two were Svetlana Tijanóvskaya, running for president in place of her imprisoned husband, and Veronika Tsepkalo.
During the ensuing protests, brutally suppressed by the police of the authoritarian Lukashenko regime, Kolesnikova was part of the opposition Coordination Council.
Tijanóvskaya and Tsepkalo left Belarus under pressure from the authorities. Kolesnikova resisted.
In September 2020, she was detained by masked regime agents and forcibly taken to the Ukrainian border, from where they tried to expel her from Belarus. When she was in the neutral zone between the two countries, Kolesnikova, in an act of bravery, tore up her passport and returned to Belarus despite the reprisals she might suffer.
She was immediately arrested, accused, among other charges, of "conspiring to seize power" and "creating and directing an extremist organization". The opposition claims that all the accusations are false.
After a year in pretrial detention, in September 2021 the Minsk Oblast Court sentenced Maria Kolesnikova to 11 years in prison in a trial that took place behind closed doors.
Tijanóvskaya, today the leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile, published a message of support for her ally on social networks on Tuesday. "Terrible news! Our dear Masha, we all hope you are well," she wrote on Telegram.