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Belarus State in Two Minds about Ukrainian Writer

12.02.2017 Source: Press service of BAJ

Within a day, Belarusian law enforcement agencies forbid the prominent poet and writer Serhiy Zhadan to stay in Belarus, but then overturned the ban.

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On the morning February 11, the Ukrainian poet and writer Serhiy Zhadan wrote on his social page that he had spent the night in a cell, and his passport was stamped with “forbidden to enter” mark, and he had 72 hours to leave.

He was taken from the hotel to the police department at around 2 am. He was later informed by the country’s security agency, the KGB, that he was not allowed to be in Belarus because Russia in 2015 banned him for alleged participation in terrorist activities (the logic presumably stemmed from the standing that Belarus and Russia shared common visa-free space).

The incident sparked a wave of astonishment, followed by the statement of the Belarusian PEN-center and a request for explanation from the Ukrainian Embassy to Belarus. What has been the determinant here is a mystery, but in the evening, the author reported that the stamp had been annulled. Serhiy Zhadan recited some his works at the poetry festival Vershy na Asvalce (VI international poetry festival Poems on the Asphalt named after writer Mikhas Straltsou, takes place alongside with a large yearly Book Fair); then the author has been off for Kyiv promising to be get back in May with a music concert.

It should be mentioned that today, new visa regulations come into effect allowing citizens of quite a large number of states to visit Belarus within five days without a visa.

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