23 March 2021 – The Belarusian authorities must immediately release translator and English language tutor Volha Kalackaja, PEN International said today, as a verdict in the case is expected tomorrow.
Volha Kalackaja has translated into Belarusian the works of some of the world’s most renowned authors, including Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, William Golding and Tennessee Williams. Following the presidential election of 9 August 2020, Kalackaja took part in mass protests against the widely disputed official results, which saw President Alexander Lukashenko elected to a sixth term in office. On 18 January 2021, she was giving a private tuition class at her home in Minsk, when police entered the residence and took her for questioning. She has been held in pre-trial detention since. Her trial opened in Minsk today and is due to conclude tomorrow.
Volha Kalackaja has been charged with ‘malicious hooliganism’ under Article 399 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. PEN International believes that the charges against her are disproportionate, and fears that she is being targeted for taking part in peaceful protests. Scores of writers and translators have called for her immediate release, including Margaret Atwood, the European Writers Council, the European Council of Literary Translators’ Associations and several PEN Centres.
The PEN Community stands by Volha Kalackaja and urges the Belarusian authorities to release her immediately.
PEN International featured Volha Kalackaja’s case on International Women’s Day. Her plight was further highlighted in PEN’s Annual Women Writers Committee Meeting.
For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: Aurelia.email@example.com