Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Belarusian rock star Syarhey Mikhalok wins civil society award

Naviny.by

Syarhey Mikhalok, the leader of popular Belarusian rock band Lyapis Trubetskoi who is known for his open criticism of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has won the annual civil society award of the Minsk-based Assembly of Pro-Democratic Non-Governmental Organizations, BelaPAN said.

The band's spokesman received the 2013 Champions of Civil Society Award in the Civil Society Leader category on behalf of Mr. Mikhalok during the awards ceremony in Minsk on Monday.

The organizers of the "Let's Do Better! 2013" campaign who created a platform for cooperation between 27 NGOs throughout Belarus were named the winner of the award in the Campaign of the Year category.

A free Belarusian-language course at the art gallery in Minsk was recognized the best new project.

The award in the Most Notable Provincial Event category was presented to Katsyaryna Muzykantava, a resident of the village of Samurokava near Mahilyow, for staging protests against the government's decision to cull hogs as a precaution against the spread of African swine fever.

The website of a human rights organization called Vyasna (Spring) won the best NGO website title.

Lyapis Trubetskoi are rumored to be on authorities' blacklist of Belarusian and foreign musicians and cultural figures known for having spoken out for democratic change in Belarus and for the release of political prisoners. The list is reported to include some 30 individuals and 15 bands. Government officials dismiss the existence of such a list as a hoax.

In 2011, at least three Lyapis Trubetskoi concerts were cancelled in various Belarusian cities for what appeared to be political reasons. Fans travel to neighboring countries to listen to the rockers, who normally play to sold-out crowds.

In October 2011, Pavel Radzivonaw, a departmental head at the Prosecutor Generals Office told reporters that the Tsentralny District Prosecutors Office in Minsk was examining Mr. Mikhaloks video interview posted on www.1tvnet.ru in mid-September. In the video interview in question, Mr. Mikhalok branded the Belarusian leader "a liar, a thief and an ignoramus." "He is no president," Mr. Mikhalok said. "He has gathered black brigades around himself and unleashed genocide against the Belarusian peopleThis is a person who hates his people and deserves a fair trial at best. However, criminals like Lukashenka dont leave witnesses to their crimes. In October 2012, the district prosecutors office summoned Mr. Mikhalok for questioning over his remarks, but the rocker did not attend. He has stayed away from Belarus since then for fear of arrest, paying only a couple of unannounced visits to his home country over the last two years.