Belarus investigators to question Nobel laureate Alexievich amid crackdown

FILE PHOTO: The 2015 Nobel literature laureate Svetlana Alexievich speaks during a meeting at the 29th International Book Fair or FILBO in Bogota, Colombia, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarusian Nobel laureate author Svetlana Alexievich has been called in for questioning by state investigators over a criminal case opened against an opposition council, the group said on Monday.

Alexievich, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2015, is a member of an opposition coordination council that was set up by opponents of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko after a disputed Aug. 9 election that has sparked nationwide protests.

Alexievich will come in for questioning at the Belarusian Investigative Committee on Wednesday, a spokesman for the council said.

Alexievich, 72, is not known to have taken part in any of the council’s public meetings. She is known to rarely leave her home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The demonstrations pose the biggest challenge to Lukashenko, a former Soviet state farm boss, in his 26 years in power. The move to question Alexievich comes hours after police detained two high-profile council members, Sergei Dylevsky and Olga Kovalkova.

Alexievich’s writings, based on recorded oral histories, mapped decades of life in the Soviet Union before its implosion in 1991, as well as experiences of people during World War II and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Sujata Rao