Stirling MP Alyn Smith, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), has reiterated support for the democratic rights of the Belarusian people, joining protestors in Westminster following reports a high profile opposition leader has been snatched by state security in Belarus.
Belarus has been rocked with widespread domestic protests and faces international condemnation, after the results of recent elections – many believe to be fraudulent.
Incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, stands accused of orchestrating widespread electoral fraud and ordering a brutal crackdown on legitimate protest, whilst opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has fled the country over safety fears.
The whereabouts of Maria Kolesnikova remain unknown, after she was forced into a vehicle in the capital of Minsk on Monday night, and was rumoured to have been subjected to an attempted ‘forced exit’ from Belarus into Ukraine at the shared border.
Alyn Smith MP said:
‘The world cannot turn a blind eye as members of the Belarusian opposition are disappeared into vans and kidnapped by state security services. The SNP joins parliamentary colleagues across the democratic world in condemning the actions of President Alexander Lukashenko, and call on the UK government to join us in pushing for urgent talks.
‘I’m heartened to hear the calls for democracy in the streets of Belarus. Protestors there have been subjected to horrific violence, with widespread claims of torture by state security forces and an intensely violent state response.
‘Anyone with a democratic bone in their body must stand with us, and the UK must play its full role in facilitating discussion and talks at the highest levels, keeping pressure on international partners to ensure democracy prevails and human rights are safeguarded.’