2015 Belarus: Ihar Lohvinau

President Alexander Lukashenko
Karl Marx Str. 38
220016 g. Minsk
Republic of Belarus

Mr. Sergei Popkov
Ministry of Communications and Informatization
10 Independence Avenue
220050 Minsk
Republic of Belarus

Oslo, 09.02.2015

Your Excellency,
Norwegian PEN are deeply concerned by the large fine imposed on the award-winning Belarusian publisher and PEN member Ihar Lohvinau for «carrying out illegal business activities». The Lohvinau Bookstore is convicted of operating without the required state registration and fined 976 million rubles.
In 2014, Ihar Lohvinau won the International Publishers Association’s Freedom to Publish award in recognition of his courage in continuing to publish important international works translated into the Belarusian language. His licence to operate was withdrawn in 2013 after he was accused of “promoting extremism”, after publishing a Press Photo book. Since 2013, Lohvinau has on six occasions sought the obligatory state registration to publish and distribute books, but has been denied a licence by the Ministry of Information every time.
PEN regards this denial and the imposition of a draconian fine on Lohvinau as a clear attempt by the Belarus authorities to silence yet another independent voice in Belarus. We call for the conviction and sentence to be overturned and for his business to be allowed to continue operating without politically-motivated hindrance.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs