Svetlana Alexievich: Appeal to the Russian intelligentsia

9 September 2020

Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich remains the last member of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council at liberty in the country. She published an appeal addressed, among others, to the Russian intelligentsia.  

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group  [original sourc: РБК]

The writer Svetlana Alexievich, the only Belarusian Nobel laureate and a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council of the Belarusian Opposition, has published a statement on the website of the Belarusian PEN Centre, which she has headed since 2019. 

At present, Alexievich is the only member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council who remains at liberty inside Belarus. The last remaining member of the presidium at liberty, Maksim Znak, was arrested today. 

“There are no longer any of my like-minded friends on the presidium of the coordination council. Everyone is either in jail or has been thrown abroad. Today they took Maksim Znak, ” wrote Alexievich. 

I also want to appeal to the Russian intelligentsia, let’s call it that according to the old custom. Why are you silent? We only hear rare voices of support. Why are you silent when you see a small proud people being trampled? We are still your brothers,” writes Alexievich. 

She stressed that this is not about the uprising of a small group of people but of the entire country. “We did not plan a coup. We didn’t want to create a schism in the country. We wanted a dialogue to begin. Lukashenka says he won’t speak with the street but the street is thousands of people that come out on to the street every Sunday, every day. This is not the street, this is the people.”  

Svetlana Alexievich is a Russian speaking writer. Among her most famous works are the The Unwomanly Face of War, Zinky Boys, and Chernobyl Prayer. In 2015, she won the Nobel Prize for literature. She has consistently supported the Belarusian opposition. Following the start of protests in August, Alexievich called for an end to the violence. On 12th August she demanded Lukashenka’s resignation, urging: ‘Leave before it’s too late, before you plunge the people into a terrible abyss, into the abyss of civil war. Leave.’.  

On August 19th, Alexievich was elected to the presidium (governing body) of the opposition coordination council. However, she did not participate in meetings for health reasons. Despite this, the writer figures in a criminal prosecution for incitement of actions aimed at harming national security. The punishment under this article of the Belarus Criminal Code is up to five years in prison. During an interrogation by the Investigative Committee of Belarus, she refused to testify and remains a witness in the case. 

On the morning of 9th September Alexievich reported that unknown persons had come to her house but that she refused to open the door to them. According to, after that she asked journalists to gather at her house just in case. 

Translated by Matthew Quigley

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