Updated at 14:52,24-02-2021

Emigre politician Navumchyk makes surprise trip to Belarus


Emigre opposition politician Syarhey Navumchyk arrived in Minsk on Tuesday on his first visit to Belarus in 20 years.

The 55-year-old deputy chairman of the BNR Rada (government in exile of the 1918 Belarusian National Republic) and member of Belarusian PEN Center arrived at Minsk National Airport on a flight from Prague, where he has lived for years.

Mr. Navumchyk is expected to spend a couple of days in Belarus before returning to the Czech capital. He works for the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

A member of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet between 1990 and 1996, Mr. Navumchyk was a coordinator of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF)'s parliamentary faction and took part in a hunger strike held by MPs in April 1995 to protest a referendum called by Alyaksandr Lukashenka to give Russian the status of state language. He was among the MPs who were beaten up and thrown out of the Supreme Soviet's building by police on the night of April 12, 1995.

In late April 1996, Mr. Navumchyk and BPF Chairman Zyanon Paznyak secretly crossed the border into Ukraine and traveled to the United States, where they were granted political asylum.

The Svaboda newspaper reported in May 1996 that the border guard chief had ordered the politicians arrested if they attempted to return to Belarus.

In September 2015, opposition politicians Ales Mikhalevich and Vyachaslaw Siwchyk returned to Belarus after years of self-imposed exile.