Uladzimir Niaklajeu, Tell the Truth! civil campaign leader

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Uladzimir Niaklajeu, Tell the Truth! civil campaign leader

Belarusians know Uladzimir Niaklajeu primarily as one of the most talented poets. Songs with his lyrics are still sung regardless of what the President thinks about their author.

Once loyal to the regime, Niaklajeu became an oppositionist after he understood that the course chosen by Alexander Lukashenko would lead to the destruction of Belarusian national culture. The poet saw the things he had devoted his life to disappear. Cultural confrontation grew into civil opposition.

In February 2010, Uladzimir Niaklajeu launched the public campaign “Tell the Truth!” which later became his presidential electoral campaign. Niaklajeu formed the biggest spearhead and managed to gather more signatures than his competitors from the democratic camp. But on December 19th 2010, the day of the elections, a rally of his supporters was attacked by the Belarusian special services. Niaklajeu was then abducted from hospital and taken to a KGB jail.

In court Niaklajeu stated that he wouldn’t avenge. He saw his task in joining the efforts of all constructive political forces to lead the country away from the razor edge to which the incumbent authorities had brought Belarus. The authorities responded to this statement by continuing to persecute “Tell the Truth!” campaign activists who focused on the daily protection of their voters’ civic rights. Niaklajeu was also criticized by numerous radical oppositionists.

But still, as a poet and politician Niaklajeu remains the most popular figure for those who value the independence of Belarus and dream about the resurrection of Belarusian culture and the Belarusian language. The Belarusian PEN Center put him forward as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Public polls demonstrate a considerable number of his supporters. And “Tell the Truth!” political structure demonstrated that a poet also can be a party leader.

Niaklajeu’s website, Niaklajeu apologized for Belarusian authorities’ actions against Swedish Embassy, Russkaya Gazeta interview, Narodnaya Volya interview

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists