Updated at 13:19,16-08-2022

Belarusian woman believed to have been kidnapped by Syrian rebels

Maryna Nosava, naviny.by

Belarusian citizen Svyatlana Markiyanovich is believed to have been kidnapped by rebels in Syria, which has been torn by a bloody civil war since March 2011.

On August 9, a video featuring Ms. Markiyanovich and self-described Moldovan citizen Karina Koltso surrounded by gunmen was posted on Youtube. The women say that they had been sent to Syria by Hezbollah to spy on the "Free Syrian Army," pretending to be journalists.

According to Ms. Markiyanovich’s account on social networking website odnoklassniki.ru, she is a 30-year-old resident of Zhodzina, Minsk region. She visited her page on June 17, 2013, for the last time. One of her photographs was apparently taken when she was travelling in an aircraft.

A brother of Ms. Koltso, Leonid Bydko, confirmed to the Belarus Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that his sister left on July 25 to "earn some money." "She phoned me a week ago and said that she had been kidnapped," Mr. Bydko said. "She says that she was kidnapped from her girlfriend’s place, and that they are both in captivity now."

Ms. Koltso’s first phone call to her brother was from a Lebanese number. The July 25 call was from a Syrian number. The woman said that she was in Syria.

The 32-year-old Koltso has no husband, children or job. Her brother so far has not reported her kidnapping to authorities.

When reached by BelaPAN, Andrey Savinykh, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, expressed concern about the reported abduction of Ms. Markiyanovich. "At the moment we’re examining the available information closely through our embassy in Syria and other channels," he said. "It would be premature to make any conclusions right now."