Celebrated Belarus author calls for Russia's help

The most celebrated writer in Belarus, Nobel-prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, called on Russia on Wednesday (August 26) to help persuade President Alexander Lukashenko to negotiate.

She spoke as she arrived for questioning in a criminal case accusing an opposition body she’s involved with of an illegal attempt to seize power.

"Maybe the world can help us so that Lukashenko will negotiate with somebody. Now he talks only with Putin. Maybe it is possible to get Putin and the world involved in the conversation so Lukashenko will talk and understand."

She emerged after only a short time inside, saying she’d invoked her right not to testify against herself.

She added there was no basis for the investigation.

Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature for her works on World War Two and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

She is also one of dozens of high-profile figures who last week formed a new opposition Coordination Council.

Two of the group's leaders were jailed on Tuesday.

The council says its aim is to negotiate a peaceful transition of authority after the election, but Lukashenko called it an attempt to seize power illegally.

Police have been rounding up dozens of protesters heading home from peaceful demonstrations, rights groups also said on Wednesday.

Previously, authorities were showing relative restraint at such gatherings.