Ukraine born Belarusian author speaks about sham October 11 presidential poll
The winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature, Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, said on October 10 that she had not been congratulated on the award by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Svetlana Alexievich, Ukraine-born Belarusian author: "I want to say that President Gauck was the first person to congratulate, then the foreign minister, and in the evening Lukashenko congratulated me. That was a bit strange. Putin and Medvedev haven't said anything. They left that to an official."
Alexievich was announced as the winner of the award on October 8 for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union. The Swedish Academy said Alexievich's work, which chronicles the lives of Soviet women during World War Two as well as the consequences of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl and the Soviet military adventure in Afghanistan, was "a monument to suffering and courage in our time".
After the prize was announced, she obliquely criticised Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko and denounced Kremlin leaders for invading Ukraine.
A day later, on Friday October 9, Lukashenko welcomed the awarding of this year's prize to Alexievich, saying he did not hold her criticism of his government against her.
Lukashenko's conciliatory comments, made two days before a presidential election in Belarus in which he is seeking a fifth term, come amid a cautious rapprochement between Minsk and the West, long strained by his treatment of political dissent and poor human rights record. Alexievich is boycotting the sham vote on Sunday, October 11.
The European Union will reportedly lift its sanctions on Belarus, including those on Lukashenko, for four months after Sunday's vote, barring any last-minute crackdown.
Svetlana Alexievich, Ukraine-born Belarusian author: "It doesn't matter to Lukashenko how we vote. As Stalin said it is not important who votes and how they vote, what is important is who counts the votes. And I think that is the case here. I don't think we can expect any surprises and everyone thinks that what is happening in Russia and Belarus, will unfortunately continue for a very long time."
Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk region in west Ukraine in 1948. She worked as a teacher and a journalist after finishing school, later living abroad for many years in Sweden, Germany and France.