Magazine February 7, 2011, Issue

Belarus, Assaulted

Before the beating, and before prison: Andrei Sannikov casts his ballot, as his wife and son look on. (Dmitry Brushko/AP)
The state of affairs in ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’

On December 19, at 7:30 p.m., there was still a half hour of voting to go in Belarus. One of the presidential candidates, Vladimir Neklyaev, a 64-year-old poet and democracy leader, left his office in the capital city of Minsk. He and his supporters were headed toward October Square, for a mass protest rally. They didn’t get very far. Plainclothesmen jumped Neklyaev and others. They beat the candidate about the head, knocking him unconscious.

Eva Neklyaeva, his daughter, speaking from Finland, tells what happened next: Neklyaev was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He was there for “a few hours,” …

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