20 January 2018, Saturday, 4:12

Yury Khashchvatski: System can twist Lukashenka's head off


The prank by Vovan showed how miserable and dependent the Belarusian officials are.

Well-known Belarusian film director Yury Khashchavatski said it in an interview with charter97.org.

– Mr Khashchavatski, being a professional director, how did you take Vovan's much talked-of telephone prank of Aliaksandr Lukashenka?

– I can say that it is rather hard to organise it. You need to know the phone numbers, you need to change your voice, etc. Perhaps, even the FSB helped him. I understand what a huge work was done for the joke. I remember that when I was shooting An Ordinary President, I needed an interview with Lukashenka. The authorities already knew I was making the “unconstructive” film about him. They wouldn't have permitted to interview him. So, we invited a Russian journalist, paid him for the travel and gave him our questions. At that time, Lukashenka was eager to become the Russian tsar, so he easily agreed for an interview with the journalist. Our trick was exposed later, but we already had the material from the journalist.

– What did the ruler fall for?

– He always wants to please his conversation partner. Let's recall how he praised Hitler in an interview with a German newspaper trying to please the Germans. I once called him a genius of deceiving, because real life and game became one for him.

– How would you prank Lukashenka?

– Honestly, I didn't think about it. I would probably try to understand how he manages to balance between Russia and the West receiving money from both sides. For example, I would introduce myself as Vladimir Putin and offered him some money to buy Belarus. Or I would pose as Catherina Ashton or Barack Obama. Anyway, you need to be very careful, because Lukashenka is extremely cunning and able to fool anyone.

– Was it worth risking?

– Firstly, it was funny. Secondly, it shows how miserable and dependent the Belarusian officials are. At the same time, these jokes are not innocent. I laughed from the one hand, but from the other hand, I took Lukashenka's works seriously. This joke shows the work of the Russian secret services that can wiretap Lukashenka, record his conversations and so on.

Of course, these jokes desacralise the power of dictators and tyrants. They show that they are not gods. They are ordinary people, presidents, farmers... Satire is a powerful weapon to struggle against the dictatorship. So, I used much humour in both An Ordinary President and in Kalinovski Square.

– Do you think Lukashenka will try to take revenge on Vovan?

– Of course he wants revenge, because he is a revengeful person, and this joke made him look like an idiot. I hope there are some normal people in his team who will try to restrain him. Otherwise it will only add popularity to the pranker and again show how the Lukashenka regime looks like.

As for the punishment of the people close to the system, as it happened after the teddy bear assault, I think he will be more careful. He understands he has become a hostage of his own system that can twist his head off at any moment. He is more likely to go into hysterics demonstratively.