Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarusian oral historian who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, says President Alexander Lukashenko needs to talk not just to the Kremlin but also to his constituents. “For this to happen, we need the help of the world and maybe Russia and Putin, if we can get it,” Alexievich told journalists in Minsk before reporting for questioning by state investigators in connection with her membership in the opposition’s Coordination Council.
On August 20, Belarusian officials opened a criminal case following the opposition council’s creation, charging the group with inciting acts that harm the country’s national security. If convicted, members of the council could face up to five years in prison. Alexievich insists that the group has committed no crime, saying its actions are a political necessity. “Each of us is proud of the Belarusian people. Belarusians have become a nation known now to the whole world… We are diverse, but we have just one country and we must live here together,” she said on Wednesday.
After her interrogation, Alexievich told reporters that she exercised her right not to incriminate herself and refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement. “I don’t believe that we’re engaged in anything illegal,” she said.
Mass protests have swept Belarus since August 9, when Alexander Lukashenko declared a landslide victory in a hotly contested presidential election. The political opposition, led by the former candidate and possible election winner Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya), rejects the official results and created the Coordination Council to facilitate the peaceful transition of presidential authority from Lukashenko to Tikhanovskaya.
Belarusian state investigators have also interrogated three other Coordination Council members: former Culture Minister Pavel Latushko and attorneys Maxim Znak and Liliya Vlasova. Officials have summoned opposition campaign manager Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava) for questioning, as well.