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With No Right to the Culture – Issue 17 Reflecting the Situation in Belarusian Culture Over Last Week


The seventeenth issue of the Digest of Cultural Resistance covers the events which took place in the cultural field of Belarus in the last week of January. Particularly large-scale have been repressions against national symbols, affecting both individuals and businesses. They want to deprive us of symbols, our heritage and culture, banning them and punishing us, but those will live and so will Belarus, live forever.

Download the pdf-version of issue 17 of Cultural Resistance Monitoring

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The Belarusian PEN Center has prepared a large report for 2020 based on the monitoring of violations of cultural and human rights against cultural figures.

On January 25, Dzianis Ivanoŭ, an artist of the chamber choir of the State Philharmonic, was detained during a rehearsal. In November last year, Dzianis had already served 15 days of administrative arrest. The same term was given to the photographer Marharyta Novikava, detained during the action “Food Not Bombs” on January 24. Viktar Carykievič, about whom we wrote in the previous issue, received a year of general regime colony for a series of actions. The owners of the store Moj Rodny Kut Alena and Valer Jesipionak were detained “for selling unregistered symbols.” In Brest, the editorial office of the online magazine Binocl and the cultural space Kryly Halopa were searched, along with their the management. On January 29, police came to the Hrodna store Admietnaść, where one can buy goods with national symbols. Siarhiej Vieramiejenka, the store owner and activist, is said to have an administrative proceeding underway. The financial police came to the Minsk store Symbal.by: they confiscated all the equipment and goods, four employees were charged under Art. 17.1 (petty hooliganism). In Navahrudak, a pensioner Alaksandr Bystryk was detained on his way to a weekly tour of the city, and his house was searched. Poet Julij Iljuščanka was detained in Minsk on January 31 and sentenced to 25 days in jail on February 1.

The online store of Belarusian symbols “БЧБ.бел” has temporarily suspended its work due to the inspection by the Department for Combating Economic Crime. Labor protection inspection visited the shop Moj Rodny Kut in Malaryta. On January 29, the exhibition “I can almost hear birds” by photographer Maksim Saryčaŭ opened in the Brest space Kryly Halopa but didn’t work for even an hour after the visit of the Ministry of Emergencies.

People all over Belarus keep being arrested and fined for white-red-white flags and even cloth of such colors on a balcony, for white-red-white balloons released from the balcony, for a photo with a flag that was not even posted publicly, for chrysanthemums – white and red. The Prosecutor General’s Office announced the recognition of the white-red-white flag as extremist. For one day the petition in support of the flag collected more than 50,000 signatures.

Cultural resistance: In the new issue of the video project Words are more powerful a poet and translator Hanna Komar reads Francišak Alachnovič; a second gig within the series Victory Artists in support of Belarusian cultural figures, played by Петля Престрастия; new works by artists inspired by current events in Belarus (Lilya Kvatsabaya, NikaEmerald, Artsyom Bobovnikov).

International solidarity: a German platform IndieRepublik published an article in support of the Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation and called on international colleagues to support Belarusians; tAustrian literary community expresses solidarity with literary translator Volha Kałackaja and Belarus people; Pavieł Sieviaryniec, who’s been in prison since Juky 7, was awarded the Mikhail Zhyznevsky Literary Prize “Warrior of Light”.

Read the details of last week’s events in №16 pdf version.

The newsletter was prepared by the Belarusian PEN Center in cooperation with the Belarusian Cultural Solidarity Fund.