Nobel-Prize winning Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich has written an open letter denouncing the Belarusian government’s arrest and forced exile of members of the National Coordination Council.
The council was set up by Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to initiate a dialogue between protesters and the government and a peaceful transition of power,10 days after the presidential elections on 9 August.
“None of my like-minded friends in the National Coordination Council are around any longer. Everyone is either in jail, or has been sent abroad,” Alexievich wrote. “Today they took the last one, Maxim Znak.”
The seven members of the council included the former Minister of Culture and actor Pavel Latushka, the MTZ workers’ representative Serhey Dylewski, opposition leader and flautist Maria Kolesnikova, Tikhanovskaya’s trustee, Olga Kovalkova, and lawyers Lilia Ulasava and Maxim Znak.
Alexievich also addressed Russian intelligentsia, asking them for support. Her message follows Tikhanovskaya’s video address to Russians earlier today, in which she denounced the “Russian propaganda [that] is trying to distort what is happening in Belarus as much as possible.”
On 8 September, Kolesnikova was allegedly abducted, tearing up her Belarusian passport in the van to avoid expulsion from the country. The incident made international headlines and sparked criticism from US and EU leaders. Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia is “not ready to admit the existence of political prisoners in Belarus.”.
Read an English translation of the full letter below:
“None of my like-minded friends in the National Coordination Council are around any longer. Everyone is either in jail, or has been sent abroad. Today they took the last one, Maxim Znak.
First, they stole our country. Now, they are kidnapping the best of us. But instead of us, hundreds of others will come. It was not the National Coordination Council that protested. The country protested. I want to repeat what I always say: we were not preparing a coup. We wanted to prevent a split in our country. We wanted a dialogue to begin in society. Lukashenko says he will not speak to the street. But the street represents hundreds of thousands of people who go out everyday, or every Sunday. This is not just a street. These are the people.
People go out with their young children because they believe they will win.
I also want to appeal to the Russian intelligentsia, let’s use this old-fashioned term. Why are you silent? We only hear rare voices of support. Why are you silent while you’re seeing a small, proud people being trampled? We are still your brothers.
And I want to tell my people that I love them. I’m proud of them.
Here again, someone unknown is ringing the doorbell …”