REUTERS

Unidentified people detained Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova in central Minsk on Monday and drove her off in a minivan, the Belarusian Tut.By media outlet cited a witness as saying.

Read alsoBelarus opposition leader calls for U.N. monitoring mission – mediaKolesnikova's allies said they were checking the report, Reuters reported.

Police in Minsk said they were also looking into reports she had been abducted, the RIA news agency reported.

Belarus protests: background

  • On August 9, presidential elections were held in Belarus. The country's Central Election Commission announced the final election results. In particular, 80.1% of voters supported incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, 10.1% voted for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 1.67% for Anna Kanopatskaya, 1.2% for Andrey Dmitriev, and 1.14% for Sergei Cherechnya. Some 4.59% voted against all candidates.
  • Thousands took to the streets to protest what many believe was a rigged vote count. Riot police violently cracked down on protesters.
  • Belarus' Ministry of Internal Affairs said about 7,000 protesters had been detained in different cities since August 9. On the evening of August 13, the authorities started to release detainees.
  • On August 14, the European Union announced it did not recognize the outcome of the presidential elections in Belarus.
  • The March of Freedom, the largest protest in the history of Belarus, took place on August 16 in Minsk. Hundreds of thousands of people joined in.
  • On August 20, the Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal probe into the attempt by the opposition to "seize power."
  • Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed "foreign interference" in the election and the external efforts to foment protests. He spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin who had promised him comprehensive assistance upon request.
  • Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin has warned of the possible use of army to disperse protesters rallying under the flags he claims were once used by Nazi troops.
  • On Sunday, September 6, the March of Unity was held in the cities of Belarus. According to various sources, a total of nearly 100,000 protesters took part in the rally.