Conflicts & War

Belarus opposition leader Kolesnikova says protests have positive future

By Nasta Zajarevich

Minsk, Aug 31 (efe-epa).- The only Belarusian opposition leader who has not gone into exile, Maria Kolesnikova, is positive about the future of the pro-democracy protests in the eastern European country.

She says the embattled Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has shown weakness by repeatedly turning to the Kremlin for support.

“With a kalashnikov in his hand he tries to show us he is a strongman, but everyone knows he is not,” she tells Efe in an interview.

Kolesnikova adds that images of Lukanshko carrying out inspections while armed with the assault rifle, in fact, had the opposite effect for the leader, who has been in power since 1994.

“Belarusians are prepared for a marathon of protests,” she adds after more than 100,000 people took the streets of Minsk for the third consecutive Sunday over the weekend despite the threat of a police clampdown.

“Lukashenko asked a neighboring country for help. The intervention in the affairs of other countries is a crime,” Kolesnikova says.

Russian president Vladimir Putin last week agreed to the creation of a joint Russian-Belarusian police force that could be deployed in Belarus if deemed necessary.

Kolesnikova rejects these so-called political obligations in the deep bilateral ties between Minsk and Moscow.

In her opinion, neither the Union State nor the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization justifies foreign intervention.

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