Activists of “Tell the Truth!” campaign comment on seizures of sheets of signatures to petitions for naming streets after Vasil Bykaw

At a countryside event held near Minsk on Thursday, activists of the “Tell the Truth!” campaign told the gathered journalists about authorities’ move to take away sheets of signatures that had been collected to petitions for naming streets in Minsk and Hrodna after writer Vasil Bykaw, BelaPAN reports.

Poet Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, leader of the campaign, said that the signature collection effort, which began in Minsk on May 9 and in Hrodna on May 11, yielded about 100,000 signatures. Sheets containing about 10,000 signatures were seized in a police search of the Minsk office of the “Tell the Truth!” campaign on May 18. Sheets containing some 20,000 signatures were seized together with a car belonging to campaign activist Mikhas Bashura on July 3, and sheets bearing 50,000 signatures were stolen on July 6 from an apartment leased by campaign activists in Minsk.

By these actions, the authorities spat in the face of the Belarusian public, Mr. Nyaklyayew said.

If the seized signature sheets fail to be recovered, campaign activists will submit the remaining signatures and copies of the seized sheets, he noted.

“Bykaw is our national pride,” he said. “When signatures were collected in Hrodna, people could not believe that the city, where the writer lived, had no street named after the national genius. The point is not how many signatures were collected. The point is that the authorities are acting against people. It is unclear what objective they wanted to achieve by stealing those signatures from us. What does this change fundamentally?”

Pointing to a pile of boxes bearing the words “Sign of Misfortune,” the title of a 1983 novel by Bykaw, Yuliya Rymashewskaya, spokesperson for the “Tell the Truth!” campaign, said, “Those actions by the authorities are a real sign of misfortune.”

“Getting into an apartment to steal signatures calling for commemoration is actually a tragedy,” she said. “We consider it very important to struggle against this sign of misfortune.”

In photos:
2, 5, 8 – Uladzimir Nyaklyayew;
3, 4 – Copies of signature sheets.