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Nobel Laureate Alexievich Says Lukashenka Has 'Declared War' On Belarusian People


Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2015.

The Belarusian Nobel Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich has condemned brutal police violence against demonstrators across Belarus, saying "the authorities have declared war on their people" and the President Alyaksandr Lukashenka should step down from power to prevent a bloody civil war.

Alexievich made the remarks from Minsk in a telephone interview with RFE/RL on August 12 as protests continued across Belarus over the official results announced from the country's August 9 election, which demonstrators say fraudulently gave Lukashenka victory with more than 80 percent of the vote.

"Leave before it's too late, before you have plunged the people into a terrible abyss, into the abyss of civil war," the 72-year-old author said in comments directed at Lukashenka. "Nobody wants blood. Only you want power. And it's your desire for power that requires blood."

Alexievich told RFE/RL she had been shocked by the violence and cruelty that police in Belarus have inflicted upon peaceful protesters -- including groups of women in Minsk and other cities.

She said the Belarusian people were "absolutely sure" that Lukashenka lost the election to his main rival, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced to leave the country for Lithuania when she tried to file a formal complaint with the Central Election Commission about the official results.

"Nobody sees those who love Lukashenka around, those who support him [now] the way they had supported him in the past," Alexievich said. "And how can one trust that man after seeing what is happening on our streets?"

Alexievich also suggested that Russian riot police -- OMON security forces -- may have been brought into Minsk by Lukashenka's regime in order to violently disperse the ongoing protests.

"We see almost inhuman, satanic fury, that the OMON [riot police] are acting with here and it is hard to believe that it is Belarusian OMON," Alexievich said.

Postelection Crackdown In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.

"It seems to me that Belarusian guys would not be capable of beating their own mothers and sisters in this way," she said. "It is not real. In smaller towns, where everybody knows each, other OMON refuse to beat people. But here [in Minsk] something unreal is going on."

Alexievich praised Tsikhanouskaya, a political novice and until recently a stay-at-home mother, saying she had accomplished a lot and remains "a symbol of thirst for changes, thirst for new life, thirst for honesty."

Alexievich said that she was grateful to Tsikhanouskaya and her associates for "preserving our dignity."

"I simply have felt real love for my people in these last few weeks," she said. "This is a completely different people, and there is a completely new strength in these people."

Alexievich said she thinks it is now impossible now for Lukashenka to resign without consequences because blood has been shed.

The 72-year-old Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel literature prize for her work chronicling the horrors of war and life under under repressive Soviet regimes -- including the way Soviet authorities mishandled the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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