“Belarus Is in the Centre of My Heart!” Belarusian Culture during Socio-political Crisis: Issue 34

Photo: illustration by Lizа Liankevich
“One lives just for themselves and their children, and it’s ok, but another is guided by some bigger ideals. It will be horrifying if we build a prison for ourselves and our children with our own hands,” Alaksandr Ždanovič.

Download the pdf-version of issue 34 of Cultural Resistance Monitoring

Persecution, Convictions, Cultural Policy

Pavieł Sieviaryniec

Pavieł Sieviaryniec [Pavel Sevyarynets] was sentenced to seven years in prison on May 25. In court Pavieł chanted “We believe! We can! We’ll win!” and was later punished for that.

Another 21 persons have been recognized as political prisoners in Belarus, among them Siarhiej Vołkaŭ [Siarhei Volkau], an actor of the Palessie Drama Theater. Siarhej was detained, allegedly, in connection with the Pinsk case, and has been in the Baranavičy pre-trial detention center since May 5.

Julija Čarniaŭskaja [Yulia Charniauskaya] is facing charges. Her lawyer, however, isn’t allowed to make any information public! Julija remains under house arrest.

Alaksandr Ždanovič

Aksana Zareckaja [Zaretskaya], an expert in etiquette and culture, a member of the Coordination Council, had a search on May 26, after which she was invited for a conversation “about the inadmissibility of illegal actions” and released.

Alaksandr Ždanovič [Aliaksandr Zhdanovich], an actor and TV presenter, was fired from the Maxim Gorky National Academic Theater “for committing an immoral act incompatible with the work in the theater”. The artist himself believes that the reason for his dismissal is his civil position. In November 2020, he served nine days of administrative arrest for participating in a protest and has been outspoken about the terror in the country.

An exhibition of photographer and local historian Viktar Barysienkaŭ “It’s time to remember” about the lost heritage of Viciebsk which was to open in the local history museum on May 27 was cancelled by the administration 2 days before its opening. Instead, the artist posted it on his Facebook page.

A cafe Biscuit in Viciebsk, where many cultural events were held, stopped working on May 31. The reasons for the closure are connected with the concert of musician Aleś Dzianisaŭ [Ales Dzianisau]; he was detained and beaten on August 11, 2020; on March 18, he was summoned for questioning by the Department for Combating Economic Crimes.


Stefanija Cichinskaja [Stefania Tsikhinskaya], film director and artist, was sentenced on May 24 to 10 days of administrative arrest for white-red-white paper hearts in her window.

Barys Chamajda

Vitold Ašurak [Vitold Ashurak] was buried in Biarozaŭka on May 26. Patrol cars stood at entering the town, blocking it for the people who had white-red-white symbols with them.

Barys Chamajda [Khamaida], an activist distributing Belarusian literature, newspapers and magazines under a white-red-white umbrella in the center of Viciebsk, was detained again on May 27.

Activists who have previously been prosecuted for holding unauthorized mass events are tried again, often on completely trupmed-up charges.

Dissent and Cultural Activism

Art in memoriam Vitold AšurakSergei Ski; allkimiya; Olga Yakubouskaya.


Art reflecting on the other events: Andrej Žalazka, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 25.05.2021; Vera MoPer, the airport of the future Belarus; Olga Yakubouskaya, To the Mayor of Riga Martins Stakis


The big online concert of the Volny Chor with the program Mury took place on May 27. 

An online concert in memory of Vitold Ašurak and to support his family. 

EBU Executive Board agreed to suspend Belarus Member BTRC

In support of the repressed cultural figures, Belarusian writer Sasha Filipenko donated  to a charity auction three editions of his novels, which he will sign personally for the winner. 

Voices of Belarusian Culture

Hanna Sieviaryniec about Pavieł’s sentence:

Hanna Sieviaryniec

“Despite the fact that there is a lot of suffering around now, that it is very difficult to keep from hatred, anger, curses, when I reflect, I inevitably feel sorry. I feel sorry for the people who are given life, and they spend it on fear, on the deeds which in their dreams they will be ashamed of, and when old they will be ashamed of. None of them can say that they will tell their grandchildren what they did on May 25, 2021. For our children and grandchildren, these will be legendary stories. But none of these people will be able to say, on May 25, 2021, I, my dear, passed a sentence to Sieviaryniec”.

International Solidarity

A number of organizations released statements in support of the detained journo and blogger Raman Pratasievič [Pratasevich], among them PEN Moscow and Free Word Association,  PEN International, PEN America, and The National Ukranian Writers Union

Iya Kiva, a Ukrainian poet and translator, prepared a detailed article on the Belarusian protest art, in the Ukranian language. 

Joep Bertrams’  works themed Belarus.

An exhibition Wordless – Falling Silent Loudly is taking place in Dresden. Belarus is represented by the works of poets Dźmitry Strocaŭ [Dmitry Strotsev] and Anatol Ivaščanka [Ivashchanka]. The Berlin-based publisher Edition Fototapeta released two more books  about the events in Belarus in the German translation, they are “Sie haben schon verloren” by Alhierd Bacharevič and “Minsk. Tagebuch” by Jula Cimafiejeva [Yulia Tsimafeyeva]. See the link for the online presentation. 

The film COURAGE directed by Alaksiej Pałujan [Aliaksei Paluyan] telling about the protest events in Belarus in summer 2020 is nominated for the Berlinale Documentary Award.

Svetlana Alexievich and Angelina Jolie discussed the situation in Belarus. The meeting was organized by the Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation in partnership with Amnesty International.

Political Prisoners’ Birthdays

June 1 is the Birthday of Maryja Kalenik, a political prisoner, student and future designer.

Maria was detained on November 12 as a suspect in the criminal case under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (organization or participation in group actions that grossly violate public order), she is currently facing trial.

Maryja’s sister says that the girl has always been sensitive to injustice,

“She, like many others, is opposed to the election fraud and violence, dictatorship – and she openly expressed her position. We received three letters from her. She writes to her grandmother that she doesn’t regret anything, that she is faithful to her principles and values, that she keeps her head up. And that she’s missing us.”

To congratulate Maryja with a letter or postcard, write to: СІЗА-1. 220030, г. Мінск, вул. Валадарскага, 2.

*Messages should be written only in the Belarusian or Russian language. 

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