Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Wife urges authorities to prove that Nyaklyayew is alive

The wife of Uladzimir Nyaklyayew and three prominent cultural figures have demanded that the authorities "show" the 64-year-old former presidential candidate to the public.

The statement has been signed by Volha Nyaklyayewa, as well as writer Uladzimir Arlow, poet Syarhey Zakonnikaw and filmmaker Uladzimir Kolas. It was submitted to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Committee for State Security (KGB) on Monday morning.

Speaking to reporters outside the building of the Prosecutor General's Office, Mr. Arlow stressed that a defense counsel had not been allowed to meet with Mr. Nyaklyayew so far. "There are rumors that Nyaklyayew is dead. This causes us great concern, that's why we demand that the prosecutor's office and the KGB show the poet to us and say whether or not he is alive," he said.

Mr. Zakonnikaw said that he could not recall "such cynical treatment of a writer." "Even during the Stalin era arrested writers and poets could read newspapers, send letters and everyone knew what had happened to them. Now we don't know the condition of Uladzimir Nyaklyayew," he said.

Earlier this month, Belarusian and Russian writers, the Union of Moscow Writers, the International, Belarusian and Polish PEN urged the Belarusian authorities to release Mr. Nyaklyayew.

Mr. Nyaklyayew was severely beaten up by police on December 19 and later forcibly taken from a hospital in Minsk to the detention center of the Committee for State Security. He has been declared a suspect in the mass riot case opened in connection with the opposition's post-election street protest, which he did not attend.