Writer and Belarusian PEN member Aliaksandr Fiaduta must be released

This statement was originally published on pen.org on 15 April 2021.

Aliaksandr Fiaduta, a critic of the Belarusian president, was detained in Moscow and transported to Belarus with no charges lodged against him

PEN America today called for the immediate release of Belarusian PEN Center member Aliaksandr Fiaduta, a political scientist, literary critic, and former aid to Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Detained without any mention of a criminal charge, Fiaduta is being held in detention without access to legal counsel or medical care.On April 12, after Fiaduta traveled to Moscow, the Belarusian PEN Center lost contact with him. A day later, it was confirmed that Fiaduta had been detained in Russia, reportedly by the Belarusian KGB. No charge was listed; instead, authorities relied on article 108 of the Belarusian criminal-procedural code, which allows for detention on direct suspicion of committing a crime.

“The detention of Aliaksandr Fiaduta in Moscow is senseless, and it is especially disturbing to see him detained outside Belarus and returned to the country,” said Polina Sadovskaya, director of Eurasia programs at PEN America. “This incident makes even clearer the role that the Putin regime is playing in backing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s illegitimate attempts to cling to power in Belarus. Meanwhile, Belarusian authorities have not even bothered to even make up a charge against Fiaduta, making it quite clear that he has been arrested simply for his beliefs and for vocally expressing his opposition to the regime. We call for Fiaduta’s immediate release, and for the international community to speak out against this example of Russian collusion in Belarusian oppression.”

Fiaduta, once an active member of Lukashenko’s campaign team and later the president’s press secretary, resigned from the government in the 1990s and joined the opposition. He has since become a vocal opponent of the current regime. In 2010, Fiaduta was arrested while working on an opposition campaign, and wrote American Poems while in pre-trial detention. American Poems won the Aleś Adamovič Award issued by the Belarusian PEN Center.

PEN America demands that Aliaksandr Fiaduta and that all other political prisoners in Belarus be released immediately and unconditionally. So long as Fiaduta remains in detention, however, PEN America insisted he be given access to a lawyer and to proper medical care.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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