RFE/RL Launches 'Voices Of Solidarity' Project For Belarusian Detainees


RFE/RL's Belarus Service has launched a project meant to call attention to the hundreds of activists and opposition supporters jailed in the wake of the country's controversial elections on December 19.

The elections handed a fourth term in office to authoritarian incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka, frequently referred to as "Europe's last dictator." The vote was widely criticized by the Belarusian opposition and Western observers as falling short of democratic standards.

Peaceful postelection protests ended in violence after Belarusian security forces cracked down on demonstrators, beating and arresting hundreds of people, including a number of Lukashenka's presidential opponents.

The "Voices Of Solidarity" project brings together dozens of prominent international and Belarusian politicians and artists to read the names of opposition supporters detained after the vote.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush reads the names of the five presidential candidates still being held in a KGB prison.

The five presidential candidates -- Ales Mikhalevich, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, Vital Rymasheuski, Andrey Sannikau, and Mikalay Statkevich -- face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of organizing public unrest.

The names of those still imprisoned in Minsk were broadcast by RFE/RL's Belarus Service on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, and activist Yelena Bonner, the widow of Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov, also participated in the "Voices Of Solidarity" project.


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