Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich questioned in Minsk as case opens against Belarus opposition for ‘attempt to seize power’

Many assumed despite playing a prominent role in Belarus’ opposition, Svetlana Alexievich’s fame made her somewhat ‘untouchable.’ Nevertheless, the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature winner was summoned for questioning on Wednesday.

The Belarusian Investigative Committee wanted to ‘discuss’ the case it has opened against the country’s opposition for allegedly making “calls to seize state power.” The writer, who sits on the movement’s ‘Coordination Council’, arrived at the committee’s building accompanied by other council presidium members Pavel Latushko, Maxim Znak and Maria Kolesnikova.

After the meeting ended, Alexievich told journalists that the movement is not strong enough to resolve its political dispute with the Belarusian authorities without outside help. “Our committee, we won’t cope with this situation. Unfortunately, our civic society is strong but not that strong. And that is why we need global help, maybe Russia’s too, if we can attract it together,” she said.

The Nobel laureate added that she doesn’t consider herself guilty of anything. “I am going [there] feeling absolutely calm, I don’t feel guilty. And I think that we did everything legally. The goal of the Coordination Council is to unite society, to help overcome the political crisis. We are not talking about a coup. We are witnessing the creation of Belarusian nation,” she explained.

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“The Belarusian brand has emerged: we are proposing a peaceful way. This is what the time demands today, when human life is valuable and people value their lives,” Alexievich went on. “What we saw in the first three days is outdated already, we need to talk to each other.”

She also cautioned against dividing society or fighting a war of “symbols.” “My ideal would be a person carrying a green and red flag (the state flag) in one hand and a white, red and white (opposition banner) one in another,” the writer explained.

Mass protests began in Belarus on August 9, after the country’s Central Election Committee announced that incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko had won re-election with 80% of the vote. According to the official results, widely believed to be falsified, Tikhanovskaya won just 10%. As thousands of people took to the streets, Belarusian security forces met demonstrators with rubber bullets and tear gas.

On August 14, the opposition announced the creation of a Coordination Council to assist in the transition of power from Lukashenko. The body is made up of seven members, including Alexievich and Pavel Latushko, a former Belarusian minister of culture.

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