Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

"Speak the Truth!" Proved They Really Collected the Signatures

In the museum of traditional architecture and life "Strochytsy" near Minsk, the "Speak the Truth!" campaign presented the results of the signature-gathering action for naming streets in Minsk and Hrodna after Vasil Bykau.

At the beginning of the event, the spokesperson of the campaign Yuliya Rimasheuskaya showed slides about the signature-gathering action. She called the theft of 50 thousand signatures on 6 July a "sign of misfortune".

The leader of the campaign, poet Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu in his address to the audience said the theft was a spit in the face of the whole Belarusian nation.

"We have gathered almost 100 thousand signatures. We may say that the signatures have been collected not by the campaign, but by the people. And so it turns out that those people who stole the signatures (we may say with certainty that they were secret-service agents) spat in the face of not Nyaklyayeu, they spat in the face of the people", said the poet.

At the presentation, activists who gathered the greatest number of signatures were awarded prizes. It was also mentioned that a decision had already been taken to name one of the streets in Hrodna after Vasil Bykau.

The chairman of the "Fair World" Party Syarhey Kalyakin said that the party "participated in the signature-gathering action" as well.

"It is important that the "Speak the Truth!" campaign supports such a moral authority as Vasil Bykau", he added. "Of course we may have different attitudes towards his works. But we cannot deny that they make us think. And it is very unfair that the name of Vasil Bykau has not received special mention yet." Syarhey Kalyakin mentioned that the "Speak the Truth" campaign is "a campaign for our freedom, because current authorities rest on lies".

Vasil Bykau’s friend, poet Syarhey Zakonnikau said that a street was named after Bykau when he was alive – in a small village Bolshaya Severinka in Ukraine, where the writer had fought and had been wounded.

"I am very proud that Bykau treated me like a son – very tenderly. Mean tricks played by the authorities before are nothing compared to this low act – the theft of the signatures", said Zakonnikau. He added that it was Bykau who actually launched the "Speak the Truth!" campaign when he wrote the truth about the war. Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu remarked: "He continues to speak the truth".

The organisers of the event decided to dispel doubts about the existence of 100 thousand signatures that had been stolen and confiscated. They stated that at the moment the campaign had only 5 thousand signatures left, but all the signatures lists had been scanned. These sheets were printed in front of the about 60 people present at the event.

According to Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu, these copies will be sent to Minsk City Executive Committee, although he "did not harbour illusions that these signatures would be accepted".