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'Very High-Level' Belarusian Authorities Reversed Ban On Ukrainian Author


Serhiy Zhadan, an acclaimed novelist and poet who traveled to Minsk for a literary event, said on February 11 that he had been taken into custody by KGB officers who burst into his hotel room, kept in a cell overnight, and ordered to leave the country.

MINSK -- A Belarusian official says an order requiring Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan to leave the country and barring him from entry was rescinded after high-level officials intervened.

Zhadan, an acclaimed novelist and poet who traveled to Minsk for a literary event, said on February 11 that he had been taken into custody by KGB officers who burst into his hotel room, kept in a cell overnight, and ordered to leave the country.

However, the head of the migration department at the Belarusian Interior Ministry, Alyaksey Byahun, told RFE/RL on February 13 that Zhadan's case had been studied and that a decision was made at "a very high level" to cancel the ban.

Byahun said that the Interior Ministry informed Zhadan later on Febrtuary 11 that the ban had been cancelled, and the writer returned to Ukraine on February 12.

Zhadan said that after he was detained, he was told that he was not allowed to be in Belarus because neighboring Russia banned him in 2015 for alleged "involvement in terrorist activities" -- an apparent reference to his support for the protests that drive a Moscow-friendly president from power in Ukraine in 2014.

Belarus and Russia have close ties and share a visa regime.

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