BBC News interview with Alexander Kolesnikov is watched by spy
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Speaking to BBC News from the Belarus capital of Minsk, the father of Maria Kolesnikova, a prolific anti-government protester who is currently caged for her role in organising massive protests against dictator President Alexander Lukashenko told of his fears for his daughter and his country following the death of an anti-government activist in Ukraine. Vitaly Shishov was found hanged in a park in Kyiv but his death is being treated as suspicious. But during the interview a shifty-looking man can be seen appearing to listen in on the conversation as he holds his hand to his ear. It comes just days after a Belarusian athlete has refused to fly home from the Olympics to Belarus as the country spirals out of control.
Mr Kolesnikov said: “I know my daughter is not guilty.
“And she is so brave that I can’t be anything but positive.
“She told me whatever sentence I get, I am ready for that.”
But in a bizarre moment, a man can be seen acting strangely in the corner of the park where the BBC is conducting the interview.
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Wearing sunglasses, a blue shirt and a satchel, a bald man lingers and appears to be listening in on the interview as he repeatedly holds his hand to his ear.
He can be seen repeatedly turning around and acting suspiciously as he keeps his back to the cameras.
Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford noted: “Belarus feels anything but ok.
“Even our meeting is being monitored in the shadows.”
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The incident comes as Belarus has made news for a string of international incidents which many argue link back to the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
It comes as Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystina Timanovskaya, 24, refused to fly home after her appearance at the Olympics.
The athlete said she was scared for her safety after she was forced to pack her belongings and driven to Tokyo’s Haneda airport last week after she criticised her coaches for putting her in the wrong event but Belarusian officials says she was removed from the national team because of her “emotional state”.
In a video recording, she told the BBC her actions were not a political protest: “I love my country and I didn’t betray my country… This is about the mistakes that have been made by our officials at the Olympics.”
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She added: “Maybe I’ll only be able to return after five or 10 years”.
While on Tuesday Belarusian activist Vitaly Shishov, who had been living in exile in Ukraine, was found hanged in a park near his home in Kyiv.
He had been assisting Belarusian nationals keen to get out of Belarus to find work and escape the regime, Ukrainian police have launched a murder investigation.
While earlier this year Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevic was arrested after his Ryan Air flight was diverted to Minsk by regime fighter jets where he was arrested on arrival.
Last year unprecedented protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko were violently cracked down on and saw hundreds of activist arrested.
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