Diplomats surround ‘harassed’ Belarus Nobel winner

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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. -BBC

Show More
Back to top button