what in the world is mini russia doing with its life…
News out of Eastern Europe’s mini Russia… Belarus!
Blacklisted Belarusian rock star uses music to fight censorship, including with songs written for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service.
Lavon Volski is one of the most famous rock musicians in his country, but his fans don’t hear his songs on the radio, nor can they see him live. He’s from Belarus, where his irreverent lyrics and non-conformist style are not allowed.
A keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist, Volski founded the band Mroja in 1981, and in the glasnost climate of the late 1980s in the Soviet Union, they became incredibly popular. When President Alyaksandr Lukashenka came to power in Belarus in 1994, Volski’s criticism grew more strident and he founded a band called N.R.M, which is an acronym in Belarusian for “Independent Republic of Dreams.” Volski describes the band as a “state within a state” for all those who don’t want to conform to the rules of President Lukashenka, who is often referred to as Europe’s last dictator. Volski has been banned from performing in Belarus since 2001.
Life in Belarus does not sound very nice… first you have weird claims that a photographer’s photographs had no artistic merit and now I find out there are blacklisted musicians…
Well, art and politics continue to intermingle on our planet… at least Belarus has given us proof of that.
Good luck to all Belorussian artists out there!
Some Background – Belarus Facts
After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than have any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place. Since his election in July 1994 as the country’s first and only directly elected president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place. The situation was somewhat aggravated after security services cracked down on mass protests challenging election results in the capital, Minsk, following the 2010 presidential election, but little protest occurred after the 2015 election.
Belarus has a population of around 9,000,000 who mainly speak Russian ( ~ 70%). It is a mini Russia.