Lukashenko
© Sputnik / Maxim Guchek
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko dampened the hopes of those expecting a swift power transition in the country, saying change won't take place under pressure from street protests, but in accordance with the law.

"I would like to tell you in a manly way, so as not to leave a word unspoken. I'm often reproached: 'He will not cede power.' This is correct. That's not what the people elected me for," state news agency BelTA quoted him as saying on Tuesday.

"Power is given not to be abandoned or given away. In the mid-1990s it lay in the mud. Some wiped their feet on it. And on you, those in law enforcement. Many of you remember this period. I do not want Belarus to go back to those days," he stated at a ceremony where he introduced the country's new prosecutor general, Andrei Shved, to his subordinates. "Nobody will dare throw mud at the authorities, contrary to what they demand."

Lukashenko elaborated on how he sees the process of change eventually happening. "If you think that I'm holding onto power, with my hands blue with strain, for my own sake, you will strongly disappoint me," the leader explained. "Sooner or later others will take this power, but they will do so in accordance with the law, and not under pressure from street demonstrations."

In an interview with Russian media on Tuesday, it appeared that Lukashenko hinted that he might leave office after changes were made to the constitution, but his latest remarks suggest it won't happen soon. He also said he has no plans to negotiate with the opposition's Coordination Council, accusing them of wanting a "catastrophe" for the country by cutting ties with Moscow, and destroying the healthcare and education systems.

Opposition figurehead Kolesnikova files case against Belarusian security forces 'after attempt to force' her across the border

Maria Kolesnikova
© Sputnik / Evgenii Odinokov
Maria Kolesnikova
Belarusian opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova has filed a criminal case with the Investigative Committee, after the country's security forces reportedly threatened to deport her "alive or in parts."

On Wednesday, Kolesnikova's lawyer Lyudmila Kazak confirmed she had been jailed in a pre-trial detention center after being accused of making public calls to seize power. Earlier in the week, it had been reported she had been kidnapped by unknown men on the streets of Minsk.

Kolesnikova was thrust into the limelight in July, when she became part of the trio of Belarusian women leading the country's opposition. She was originally a campaign manager for former presidential candidate Viktor Babariko.

In a statement posted on Babariko's website, Kolesnikova claimed that she underwent abduction, death threats, and an attempt to forcibly remove her from the country. Because of these alleged crimes, she has filed an application to Belarus' Investigative Committee to begin proceedings against State Security Committee (KGB) officers, who she says she would be able to identify.

"I was told that if I did not voluntarily leave the territory of the Republic of Belarus, I would be taken out: alive or in parts," she wrote.

According to Kolesnikova, she was threatened with up to 25 years in prison if she refused to leave the country. When the KGB saw she would not go, officers put a bag over her head and she was driven to the border with Ukraine.

"After I tore up my passport, which meant I wouldn't be able to enter Ukraine, I was again put in a minibus and taken to the Mozyr border guard jail," she said.

Along with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Veronika Tsepkalo, Kolesnikova became well-known after spearheading the opposition campaign in August's Belarusian presidential election. After the election results were published, and incumbent leader Alexander Lukashenko won with 80 percent, thousands of Belarusian citizens took to the streets to demand change and a new vote. On August 14, former candidate Tikhanovskaya formed the Belarus Coordination Council, a group aimed at annulling the election results. The group, which has Kolesnikova as part of its seven-person presidium, has been accused by the Belarusian authorities of "aiming to seize state power" and "harming national security."