Chernobyl and Astravets still acute issues: Lithuania’s Nauseda meets with Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich and Gitanas Nauseda. Photo: Robertas Dackus / Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda met with Svetlana Alexievich, an internationally renowned Belarusian writer and Nobel laureate in Literature.

During the conversation, the politician and the literary figure discussed her works, including Chernobyl-themed ones.

“Do we know how to assess painful experiences of the past and learn proper lessons? In the immediate vicinity of Lithuania, in Belarus, the present-day Chernobyl, i.e. the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant, is emerging. It poses a threat not only to Lithuania, but to the entire European Union. Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich, which was adapted for being staged in theatres in Lithuania and Belarus, is a wake-up call for the countries that underestimate the threat of the Astravets NPP. We must do our best so that no one will ever have to write Astravets Prayer,” Nausėda said.

Lithuania is the main critic of the Astravets NPP, which is under construction 50 km from Vilnius. The Lithuanian authorities insist that the facility is being built with violations of safety requirements. Minsk, however, refutes these allegations.

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The Lithuanian leader and the Nobel Prize holder also touched upon the priorities of cultural diplomacy in Eastern European countries and stressed the importance of preserving historical memory, the presidential press service reports.

In addition, Gitanas Nausėda expressed his support for Alexievich’s initiative to open a publishing house of women writers.


Svetlana Alexievich is a Soviet and Belarusian investigative journalist and prose writer. Her most notable works are War’s Unwomanly Face (monologues of women in the war speaking about the aspects of the Second World War which were hardly mentiond before), Zinky Boys (first-hand accounts from the war in Afghanistan), Chernobyl Prayer.

Lambasted by Lukashenka regime, she left Belarus in 2000. The International Cities of Refuge Network offered her sanctuary and during the following decade she lived in Paris, Berlin and Gothenburg. In 2011 Alexievich moved back to Minsk.

In 2013, after receiving the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Union the writer said that the Belarusian government ‘took no notice of her’.

In 2015, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Svetlana Alexievich ‘for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time’.

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