PEN International is shocked by yesterday’s (December 19, 2010) arrest and beating of Vladimir Neklyaev, writer, former president of the Belarusian PEN Center, and Belarus presidential candidate. His present whereabouts are unknown and there is deep concern for his well being. The Belarusian PEN Center has issued an appeal, below. PEN calls for the immediate disclosure of Neklyaev’s whereabouts and urges that he be released. It further calls for him to receive all necessary medical treatment as a matter of urgency.

Background Information

Statement by the Belarusian PEN Center Council
The Belarusian  PEN Center strongly condemns acts of violence against the honorary chairman of the Belarusian PEN Center and presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev.

On the evening of 19 December he was brutally beaten by security services (doctors later diagnosed brain injury). Unconscious, Vladimir Neklyaev was taken to hospital from where he was kidnapped a few hours later by unknown persons. The present whereabouts of Neklyaev is unknown.

The Belarusian PEN Center demands an urgent determination of Neklyaev’s fate and for guarantees that he is receiving full qualified medical care. We demand an investigation of the beatings and abduction against the honorary chairman of Belarusian PEN Center.

We appeal to Belarusian and international human rights organizations, PEN International and the national PEN centers to join our calls for Vladimir Neklyaev’s release.

Council of the Belarusian PEN Center

Several hundred people protested the outcome of the presidential elections in which the incumbent, President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, was announced the winner by a large majority. The elections have been heavily criticized both within the country and outside, with opposition parties saying that the vote was rigged. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), described the election as “fail[ing] to give Belarus the new start it needed. The counting process lacked transparency. The people of Belarus deserved better.” It went on to criticize the mass arrests and described the voting process as “flawed.”

On Sunday, December 19, around 10,000 people converged on central Minsk to protest the election outcome. When demonstrators reportedly tried to storm the government building, police set upon the demonstrators, arresting hundreds, including journalists, human rights activists, and most of the presidential candidates. Video footage depicts demonstrators being beaten and crushed against a wall. Among those arrested is Vladimir Neklyaev, who, as reported by Belarusian PEN and shown in video footage, was severely beaten, hospitalized, and then taken to an undisclosed location.

Earlier this year, Neklyaev was briefly detained with scores of members of civil society groups arrested in mid May accused of distributing “false information.”

Vladimir Neklyaev, a 63-year-old poet and author, is the leader of the organization "Speak the Truth," set up in February this year. From 2005 to 2009, he was also president of the Belarus PEN Center, of which he remains a member.

Write A Letter

  • Condemning the arrest and ill-treatment of Vladimir Neklyaev and other human rights activists and journalists;
  • Expressing alarm at Neklyaev’s ill treatment and that he is held in an undisclosed place of detention;
  • Urging as a matter of urgency that he be provided with all necessary medical attention, and that his whereabouts are made known;
  • Urging that he be freed immediately, and that a full and proper investigation be held into his ill treatment.

Send Your Letter To

President of the Republic of Belarus
Alyaksandr G. Lukashenka
Karl Marx Str. 38
220016 g. Minsk
Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or +375 172 22 38 72
Email: [email protected]
Via web site:

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Belarus in your country if possible.

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after January 4, 2011: ftw [at]