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Alexievich: 'Atmosphere Of Violence' Contributed To Deadly School Attack In Belarus

"There is some kind of feeling of hatred in the air and people are being fed by that," says author Svetlana Alexievich.
"There is some kind of feeling of hatred in the air and people are being fed by that," says author Svetlana Alexievich.

MINSK -- Belarusian writer and Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich says she believes an "atmosphere of violence" in the country contributed to the deadly school attack outside of Minsk earlier this week, in which two people were killed and two injured.

In an interview with RFE/RL on February 14, Alexievich said that people in Belarus hear justifications for violence and witness disrespect to human dignity on a daily basis, even from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

A 15-year-old boy in the town of Stouptsy, 65 kilometers southwest of Minsk, stabbed to death a female teacher and a 17-year-old student and injured two other students during classes on February 11.

Lukashenka, on February 12, blamed school authorities and the Education Ministry for the attack.

"Our schools are in a mess, a total mess! Something like that has never happened before. The district education authorities failed. The Education Ministry failed. There was no order in that school. Why?" Lukashenka said.

"Look at Lukashenka's behavior in public. He orders a minister to report faster, threatening him that 'otherwise you will leave this place hand-cuffed.' That is nothing but violence, disrespect to human dignity," Alexievich said.

She added that the tragedy was the result of an ongoing "inculcation on all levels of the belief that all matters can be solved by force."

"There is some kind of feeling of hatred in the air and people are being fed by that. That leads to the persuasion that all problems can be solved by violence, by a knife, by a gun," Alexievich said.

According to her, students are under pressure and also feel extreme forms of competition.

"In some cases, children are unable to accept others' success, and amid the spirit of common rudeness and arrogance they chose violence," Alexievich said.

Alexievich added that in Belarus today, nobody can find a way out of the atmosphere of violence.

"And not many even want to find such a way out. Everything is being solved by a shout, threats, the humiliation of an opponent. Our lives are being ruled by boorishness," Alexievich added.

The school attack’s two victims were buried on February 13.

The attacker is in custody, facing life in prison because of his age. If he were 18 or older, he could face the death penalty. Belarus is the only country in Europe that practices capital punishment.

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