Oppositional Maria Kolesnikova back in the penal camp

Dhe photo shows Marija Kolesnikova, like many Belarusians she met in the summer of 2020, as one of the faces of the uprising against ruler Alexandr Lukashenko: with a beaming smile on her face. It’s for her father. Alexandr Kolesnikov sits in front of his daughter in a disposable gown and mask. She gets up from a stretcher.

Telegram channels loyal to the regime circulated the photo on Monday. It is obviously about relieving concerns about health and dealing with the prisoner. It was announced last Thursday that Kolesnikova had been taken from her prison camp in Gomel, south-east Belarus, to a hospital and urgently operated on.

Her father was admitted to the hospital but not allowed to see his daughter. Doctors spoke to him in the presence of Interior Ministry officials. Her condition was “serious”. Although there were unconfirmed reports that Kolesnikova was suffering from an ulcer perforation, the rupture of an ulcer through the wall of the stomach, no diagnosis was given to the father.

Kolesnikova’s supporters on Telegram have now confirmed this finding. Her father was able to see his daughter for ten minutes, under the supervision of a doctor and prison camp staff. She was brought back there at the weekend and is currently in the infirmary. Kolesnikova was “emaciated and not very strong,” wrote her supporters.

She is currently unable to tolerate the camp food, but the infirmary has promised to adjust the diet. Kolesnikova thanked the hospital doctors who saved her life from peritonitis.

Lukashenko’s regime has been holding Kolesnikova for two years and three months. She had headed the staff of the prevented and imprisoned presidential candidate Viktor Babariko. In September 2021, she was sentenced to eleven years in a camp on charges including a “conspiracy to seize power” and has been held in Gomel since the beginning of this year, as one of 1,443 political prisoners in Belaruscounted by Vyazna human rights defenders on Tuesday.

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