Saturday, September 19, 2020
Home Europe Belarus: Nobel Laureate Alexievich visited by diplomats amid 'harassment'

Belarus: Nobel Laureate Alexievich visited by diplomats amid ‘harassment’

Published

image copyrightTwitter / @AnnLinde

image captionSvetlana Alexievich pictured at home in Minsk surrounded by European diplomats

European diplomats have been photographed at the home of a Nobel Prize-winning writer in Belarus after she said masked men tried to break in.

Svetlana Alexievich called journalists to her home on Wednesday after the incident.

She is the last leading member of the opposition Co-ordination Council still in Belarus who has not been detained.

The government has cracked down on dissent after protests swept the country following a disputed election.

Maria Kolesnikova, one of three women who joined forces to challenge authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko in August’s vote, is currently in detention after

she resisted attempts by the authorities to expel her to Ukraine earlier this week

.

Her lawyer told local news site Tut.by that she was being held on suspicion of calling for “the seizure of state power”.

And on Wednesday witnesses reportedly saw Maxim Znak, a lawyer and another member of the Co-ordination Council, being led down a street in the capital Minsk by masked men in plain clothes.

Thousands of people have been arrested in the crackdown on the opposition and its supporters.

Authorities announced on Wednesday that 121 people had been detained at protests nationwide the day before.

Hundreds more people were arrested on Sunday

during the fourth consecutive weekend of anti-government demonstrations.

What’s the latest on Svetlana Alexievich?

Ms Alexievich, a Nobel Prize-winning writer and journalist, said

she had asked supporters to come to her home after she was harassed

with door knocks and phone calls. She said masked men had earlier attempted to break into her apartment.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted an image

of the author at home in Minsk surrounded by European diplomats late on Wednesday morning.

“Harassments, arrests [and] forced exile of opposition… is a serious violation of peaceful protests,” she said. “Happy to share this photo taken a moment ago in Minsk.”

image copyrightEPA

image captionSvetlana Alexievich called journalists and supporters to her home, alleging masked men had tried to break in

In

a statement posted on the website of the Belarusian PEN Centre

, Ms Alexievich said the Co-ordination Council “wanted a dialogue to begin in society”.

The opposition set up the committee in the wake of the election calling for a peaceful transfer of power.

“We were not preparing a coup. We wanted to prevent a split in our country,” she wrote. “It was not the [council] that revolted. The country revolted.”

And what happened to Maxim Znak?

The 39-year-old, who previously worked as a lawyer for jailed presidential candidate Viktor Babaryko, was due to take part in a video call on Wednesday but failed to dial in.

When a colleague called him, Mr Znak said someone had arrived and then hung up.

He then texted the word “masks” to a group, one activist told local media. This is believed to be a reference to the face masks worn by the Belarusian security services.

media captionWhat lies behind the Belarus protests?

Witnesses then reported seeing Mr Znak being led down a street close to his offices by masked men in civilian clothes.

On Monday, Mr Znak had told the BBC he was concerned about his safety.

“I’m pretending to be relaxed,” he said. “It’s a professional habit – but actually I’m very concerned and scared.”

The police are yet to comment on reports of his detention.

What else is happening?

On Wednesday, the exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya visited the Polish capital Warsaw where she delivered a speech at a university and called for the protests in Belarus to remain peaceful.

“I think it is impossible to fight violence and give violence,” she said.

She has also called for the immediate release of Mr Znak.

“The methods employed by the so-called authorities are outrageous,” she said in a statement. “It’s clear Lukashenko is afraid of negotiations and is trying… to paralyse the work of the Co-ordination Council and intimidate its members.”

media captionProtesters took to the streets of Minsk and demonstrated outside President Lukashenko’s palace

Ms Tikhanovskaya, the chief opposition rival to Mr Lukashenko in last month’s election, was forced to go into exile in neighbouring Lithuania shortly after the vote.

She entered the race after her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky and another candidate were jailed.

Mr Lukashenko, meanwhile, is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on 14 September. The pair will discuss energy co-operation, regional conflicts and many other topics, the RIA news agency reports.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

‘Bale will change way opponents view Spurs’

Gareth Bale has that "wow" factor, something only a few very special players in the world have got.When they play, they have a different aura and a presence on the pitch that affects everyone - even before they kick a ball.So, Bale will not just have a positive effect on his new Tottenham team-mates and…

Tottenham re-sign Bale from Real Madrid

Bale's signing was announced on the same day as Sergio Reguilon's arrival at SpursTottenham have re-signed Wales forward Gareth Bale from Spanish champions Real Madrid on a season-long loan."It's nice to be back. It's such a special club to me. It's where I made my name," said Bale. "Hopefully, now I can get some match…

Leeds win seven-goal thriller

Helder Costa is the second Portuguese to score for Leeds in the Premier League after Bruno Ribeiro.Leeds came out on top in a seven-goal thriller against Fulham in their first Premier League home game for 16 years.Leeds' opening two Premier League games this season have seen 14 goals, the most in a top-flight side's opening…

Ex-UK diplomat in China information sharing probe

Image copyright Alamy A former British diplomat is under investigation for allegedly selling information to undercover Chinese spies, a Whitehall official says.Fraser Cameron, who runs the EU-Asia Centre think tank, is suspected of passing sensitive information about the EU to two spies allegedly posing as Brussels-based journalists.He is alleged to have exchanged the information for…