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Belarus protests: Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich set to be quizzed over opposition council

Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2015.
Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2015.   -   Copyright  GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP or licensors
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Nobel Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich has been summoned by Belarus investigators over a new opposition council that is aiming to facilitate a transition of power in the country.

A spokesman for the council, which Alexievich is a member of, said she would be questioned at the Belarusian Investigative Committee on Tuesday.

The opposition coordination council was set up by critics of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, whose disputed re-election on August 9 has sparked widespread anti-government protests.

The 72-year old author and journalist won the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015.

Alexievich is known for her work which depicts life after the Soviet Union. Her best-known prose is "Voices From Big Utopia". Much of her work criticises political regimes in Belarus and the Soviet Union.

The news comes as Belarusian authorities arrested two opposition leaders on Monday after around 200,000 protesters flooded Minsk calling for the autocratic leader, who has been in power for 26 years, to resign.

Police detained Sergei Dylevsky, a factory worker who has become a prominent strike leader, and Olga Kovalkova, an aide to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition politician who stood against Lukashenko in elections earlier this month.

She fled the country to Lithuania after the vote.

Lukashenko made a dramatic show of defiance on Sunday against the massive protests, carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest.

He has said the demonstrations are part of a NATO plot to destabilise the country. NATO said those claims are baseless.

Lukashenko was declared the winner with 80% of the vote. The European Union says it does not recognise the result of the election.