Vladimir Niakliaev, 64, is a poet and writer whose poems are studied by schoolchildren across Belarus.
Since February he has led the Tell the Truth campaign, which demands that authorities stop distorting or withholding information from citizens. What began as a civic movement, however, has become a political one, and Niakliaev has been labeled pro-Russian due to the fact that the campaign is funded by Belarusians living in Russia. A former director of the Belarusian PEN-Center, he spent several years as a dissident in exile in Poland.
Niakliaev has confessed that a scene in a play he wrote in which a child kills a cat was based on an event in his life. The admission provoked discussions on the Belarusian Internet, which led to Niakliaev signing a memorandum with a homeless cat, Barsik, of mutual understanding between humans and homeless animals.