On June 15, Svetlana Alexievich, a prominent Belarusian writer and holder of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany from Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Since late September, she has been staying abroad.
At the awarding ceremony at Bellevue Palace, Steinmeier paid tribute not only to the Belarusian author’s literary achievements but also to her contributions to her homeland.
“Your people are close to us, they deserve our attention and our support,” Deutsche Welle quotes the top German politician.
According to him, last year’s post-election peaceful protests in Belarus ‘revealed to the world how strongly the country was yearning for freedom’.
“We have learned more about your country this past year than we ever knew before,” Steinmeier told Alexievich.
The Nobel laureate thanked the German president, calling the award ‘an unexpected gift’. The literary figure believes that her contribution to the current situation was ‘only a modest one, since words alone could not eliminate the distress of the former Soviet Union’.
At the same time, Svetlana Alexievich admitted that her post-Soviet hardships coulf also be a resource: “This suffering is what made me go this way.”
The famous writer is the only one of the seven members of the opposition Coordination Council board who has not been directly affected by the Belarusian authorities’ harsh measures against the initiative. The other representatives were jailed (Liliya Ulasava, Maryia Kalesnikava, Maksim Znak) or compelled to leave the country (Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkova, Syarhei Dyleuski). As reported earlier, Belarusian opposition politician Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya initiated the creation of the CC as part of taking urgent measures to restore law and order in Belarus as well as to ensure the transfer of power in the country. Belarus’ Prosecutor General initiated criminal proceedings over establishing the Council, naming it a ‘threat to national security’.
On September 9, unknown people were trying to get into the apartment of Svetlana Alexievich; some weeks later, she departed from Belarus.
“The authorities have already tried to arrest me. And sooner or later they would have done it. It is a startling situation when one knows they might get arrested. None of us could believe it until recently,” the writer said.
In February 2021, Svetlana Alexievich said that she would never have left Belarus if not for the state of her health. “And I would like to return to a new country,” she added.
In April, the writer said she was working on a book about the recent developments in her native country.