Havel wants to protest at Belarussian embassy, is denied entry

Prague- Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel condemned the rigging of the recent presidential elections in Belarus, but was denied entry by the Belarussian embassy when he wanted to personally hand over his protest, along with a call for Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down.

Havel had to cast his letter in the embassy's mail box.

On his arrival in front of the embassy, he was accompanied by senators Zdenek Barta (for the Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), Jiri Oberfalzer (Civic Democrats, ODS) and deputy Tatana Fischerova (for the Freedom Union, US-DEU), who, along with other personalities, had founded the Civic Belarus association which is to monitor the situation and help the Belarussian opposition.

Protests in Belarus broke out after Lukashenko was re-elected president earlier this month. According to OSCE observers, the elections were neither legitimate nor free.

"We protest against imprisoning of demonstrators. This is an act of solidarity. From our own experience we know how important acts of solidarity are for those who are struggling for a freer regime," Havel, a former leading anti-communist dissident, told journalists.

He said it is a task of the new EU countries to stress that evil must be resisted from the very beginning instead of waiting for "catastrophic consequences."

Asked by CTK to comment on the embassy's refusal to receive him, he smiled saying that this reminds him of the year 1979.

At the time, "my British colleagues Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter protested against my imprisonment [by the communist regime in Prague]. They, too, brought their protest to the [Czechoslovak] embassy. They, too, had to cast it in a mail-box," Havel said.

"However, they'll read it," he added, referring to the Belarussian embassy staff.

The Free Belarus group has been founded, apart from Havel and the above MPs, by senator Karel Schwarzenberg, ex-senator Jan Ruml and deputy ombudsman Anna Sabatova. Their activities have been appreciated by Vladislav Yandyuk, representatives of the Belarussian exile in the Czech Republic.

"This is a signal to Belarussians that the basic and democratic values have a weight if struggled for by personalities such as Vaclav Havel," Yandyuk said.