Belarus president congratulates dissident writer for Nobel prize

A man dressed as a pumpkin take a selfie next to a poster bearing the image of Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko as his supporters collect signatures to register him as a candidate for the October 11 presidential elections, in Minsk on Sept 19, 2015 . PHOTO: AFP

MINSK (AFP) - Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday (Oct 8) congratulated dissident writer Svetlana Alexievich, an outspoken critic of her country's authoritarian regime, for her Nobel prize for literature.

"I am sincerely happy for your success," Lukashenko said in a statement. "I really hope that your prize serves our state and the Belarussian people."

Lukashenko also wished Alexievich "health, happiness and new works in the service of the Belarussian people."

Alexievich, who was awarded the Nobel literature prize Thursday for her work chroniclling the horrors of war and life under the repressive Soviet regime, lives in the Belarussian capital Minsk.

However, she is not widely known there, with some attributing the lack of recognition in her homeland to her prickly character and refusal to become part of the country's literary establishment.

None of her books - written in Russian and dealing with sensitive issues around World War II, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster - is published in Belarus, which Lukashenko rules with an iron fist.

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