Nobel laureate Alexievich leaves Belarus for medical treatment in Germany - Metro US

Nobel laureate Alexievich leaves Belarus for medical treatment in Germany

FILE PHOTO: The 2015 Nobel literature laureate Svetlana Alexievich arrives for questioning by state investigative committee in Minsk

MINSK (Reuters) – Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich, a prominent opposition figure, has left Belarus on a trip to Germany but her departure is not linked to politics and she plans to return, an aide told Reuters on Monday.

Alexievich was one of only two senior members of the Belarusian opposition Coordination Council who was not in prison or out of the country following a crackdown on mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko since an election his opponents say was rigged.

Alexievich, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature, has become increasingly vocal against the authorities and a criminal case has been opened against the Coordination Council over accusations of an illegal attempt to seize power.

Its members accuse Lukashenko of stealing the Aug. 9 election to win a sixth term in power. He denies this.

Alexievich has travelled to Germany to receive medical treatment and for work reasons, her aide Tatiana Tyurina said by telephone, adding: “She will return.”

Tyurina said Alexievich had business meetings planned and intended to take part in a book fair in Sweden and an award ceremony in Sicily.

“Of course, the return will also depend on whether the authorities will allow her to return,” Tyurina said.

Minsk’s archbishop, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who has angered Lukashenko by defending the rights of protesters, was stopped at the border in early September as he was returning home from a ceremony in neighbouring Poland.

More than 13,000 people have been detained at protests in Belarus, according to the interior ministry.

The Coordination Council had no immediate comment about Alexievich’s trip.

A senior diplomat at the Lithuanian embassy in Belarus said Western diplomats in Minsk had taken turns to stay at Alexievich’s house or to be on standby to rush there in case the authorities took action against her.

(Additional reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; writing by Tom Balmforth and Matthias Williams, editing by Timothy Heritage)

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