By Thomas Escritt
BERLIN (Reuters) – Svetlana Alexievich, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for her oral history of the end of the Soviet Union, dedicates her latest book to the “revolution with the face of a woman” in her native Belarus after disputed elections from last year. .
Alexievich, 73, became a Nobel laureate in 2015 for his account focusing on the Soviet quagmire in Afghanistan and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Last year, he got a front-row view of the massive protests that erupted in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in the 2020 presidential election.
When thousands took to the streets insisting that not he but Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had won the vote, Alexievich, considered the most important intellectual in her country, joined the council of the opposition leader who coordinated the wave of protests.
“During those months we were able to do something that we had not accomplished for hundreds of years,” he told Reuters in Berlin, where he has lived in exile since September, summarizing the subject of the book he is writing. “We became a nation.”
Alexievich joined a mass exodus of opponents of Lukashenko, many of whom were expelled by a crackdown that has landed thousands of people in prison and sparked condemnation from across Europe.
But speaking before the premiere at the Berlin Film Festival of Aliaksei Paluyan’s documentary “Courage” about the street protests, Alexievich said that the protesters had done something unique and could count on a day of triumph.
“Our revolution has the face of a woman,” she said, speaking proudly of the way women, including Tsikhanouskaya, who took refuge in Lithuania, and her close ally Maria Kolesnikova, who is imprisoned in Belarus, led the protests and were targeted. thousands of women joined in the streets.
“If it was a revolution with a male face, it would probably have been a war and bloodshed,” Alexievich said, praising the way the protesters remained peaceful in the face of police brutality.
“And even if it is not immediately effective, they are working like moles, digging a tunnel into the future.
“Thousands of us want to go home.” “But it is not up to me: it will probably only be when Lukashenko is no longer in power.”
Belarus, part of the Soviet Union and for centuries before the disputed one between Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Prussia, still has close ties with Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin has propped up Lukashenko with financial aid while the West has tried to isolate him. his government with sanctions.
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