Four fired in Belarus for democracy plea

March 4, 2005

Four lecturers at Belarusian State University have been fired for pro-democracy activities. They were among the 80-plus signatories of an "appeal to the Belarusian nation" that established a pro-democracy pressure group.

Two of them, Aleh Loyka and Ales Pashkievich, are writers involved in a campaign to save the Belarusian Writers' Union from eviction from its premises and, in effect, its demise as a working organisation. The other two are Alaksandr Rukhlya, head of the university's international relations office, and Paviel Bychkouski, a medical researcher.

The appeal, published in the newspaper Narodnaya Volya (The People's Will), was the initiative of Alaksandr Kazulin, the former (elected) rector of the university.

Professor Kazulin was removed from his post by President Alaksandr Lukashenka in November 2003. He has since been tipped as a potential leader of the opposition Belarusian United Social-Democratic Party.

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