Natalia Kolobova recounts abduction, torture and imprisonment by Belarus President

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Laura Poitras, American journalist and documentarian, is known for her work with the Snowden family, WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden himself. Born in Argentina, she is the younger sister of French photojournalist, Guillaume Poitras. Poitras lives in New York and Berlin. This is her first work for CNN.

One of the main reasons behind the fall of the Soviet Union was a single person: Boris Yeltsin.

The property owner of many prime properties in the Soviet Union, including one of Moscow’s finest hotels, Yeltsin’s undoubted popularity and ruthlessness, was a factor that helped to bring down the union in 1991.

Yeltsin also played a major role in introducing democracy to Belarus. Coming out of the old system in 1991, Belarus became the newest member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and one of the most politically active regional states.

Yeltsin was elected president of Belarus during the reform wave in 1990. He was later elected to the position of leader of the newly created country of Belarus in 1993. His dictatorial rule had become unthinkable and his popularity and strength increased when many citizens started to organize in large protests, calling for his resignation.

One of the protesters, Natalia Kolobova, filmed and documented the way leaders in Belarus tried to make her disappear. Her documentary “Pulp Fiction”, based on the case, was nominated for a Telly Award.

Now, the focus for the current government of the country of Belarus is on Natalia Kolobova and her husband Nikolai Oleinik. Ozgorod Nominichko and Ovez Khalili — people involved in the documentary — have been sentenced to five years in prison in 2013. In January 2014, Ovez Khalili and Ozgorod Nominichko had a strange encounter — their phones were hacked and they received text messages and messages threatening them that Natalia Kolobova would be killed soon.

Natalia was detained in January 2014 on the suspicion of orchestrating a revolt and she was transferred to Zerkalo Malysh prison. She was subsequently held in solitary confinement for 21 days, where she was tortured. On the release of her from prison, she asked for her lawyer to be given a letter from the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, in jail and paid a fine. It was this letter that brought Natalia Kolobova to the attention of journalists and activists around the world.

Natalia was released in April 2014, and in August 2018, because of a criminal lawsuit she filed, she was unable to be found in the Netherlands, and her possible future in Russia was under a cloud. This is Natalia’s first work for CNN.

Natalia Kolobova and Alexander Alpern are human rights advocates who have defended people from human rights violations. In 2004, they helped Artyom Saenko, a Belarusian university student from Maniakh town, undergo medical treatment for complications due to radiation exposure in an underground nuclear research reactor.

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