Police in Belarus on May 18 raided homes and apartments linked to the "Tell the Truth!" campaign.
Searches were reportedly conducted at the campaign’s office in Minsk, the offices of two Mahilyow-based non-governmental organizations, the Brest office of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, and the homes of opposition activists in Minsk, Hrodna, Brest, Hrodna, Slonim and Babruysk.
The plainclothesmen who arrived at the Minsk office of the "Tell the Truth!" campaign reportedly said that they were serving a search warrant issued by the prosecutor of Minsk’s Leninski district in connection with a criminal case.
Poet Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, leader of the "Tell the Truth!" campaign, and some 10 other activists were taken to the Leninski district police station for questioning.
Photo by Barys Haretsky
The criminal case was reportedly opened over illegal purchases of office equipment.
Searches were conducted at the Homyel home of Yury Varonezhtsaw, an activist of the campaign who is a member of the United Civic Party and was a member of the USSR parliament, the home of campaign activist Artsyom Tserashonak in Brest, and the home of campaign activist Ihar Lameka in Hrodna.
Computers, books by Mr. Nyaklyayew and "Tell the Truth!" booklets were reportedly seized. Police officers refused to provide any information to reporters.
Political analysts and human rights defenders link the raids to the forthcoming presidential election. Mr. Nyaklyayew, 63, who was chairman of the Union of Belarusian Writers between 1998 and 2001, has recently announced that he may run in the election.
The "Tell the Truth!" campaign was launched in February this year. "The aim of the campaign is to awaken the Belarusian public that lives amid lies and doesn’t seem to notice them," Mr. Nyaklyayew said at a launch event. "For a year ahead, we’ve planned three dozens of nationwide events to highlight, above all, every instance of such lies."
Renowned poets Ryhor Baradulin and Henadz Burawkin, former television announcer Zinaida Bandarenka, Chernobyl charity leader Henadz Hrushavy, scientist Radzim Haretski, Belarusian Association of Journalists head Zhanna Litvina, human rights activist Tatsyana Protska and chess master Viktar Kupreychyk have voiced their support for the campaign.
Mr. Nyaklyayew’s poetry won him the Leninist Young Communist League Prize in 1979 and the Belarusian State Prize in 1998.