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Belarusian Graffiti Artists Fined For Painting Iconic Writer's Portrait

Four graffiti artists in Belarus have been detained and fined for attempting to paint a large portrait of the late writer Vasil Bykau on the side of a building in Minsk.

The Partizan District Court in Minsk on June 17 found the four guilty of damaging public property and ordered them to pay the equivalent of $450 each to compensate for damages.

The four young artists -- who gave their first names only as Illya, Syarhey, Artsyom, and Aleh -- told RFE/RL on June 18 that they still intend to complete their portrait of Bykau.

They say they have asked city authorities to allow them to paint the portrait. Permission has not yet been granted.

Bykau, a monumental figure in Belarusian literature and civic thought, became an outspoken critic of autocratic Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in his later years.

He died in 2003. His 90th birthday was celebrated on June 19.