19 July 2019, Friday, 16:23
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Ihar Varashkevich: If People Sing, Fear Is Defeated

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PHOTO: VADZIM ZAMIROUSKI / TUT.BY

The actions of the police on the Freedom Day were absolutely senseless.

Famous Belarusian musicians Liavon Volski, Zmitser Vaitsiushkevich, Ihar Varashkevich and Pavel Arakelian were detained at yesterday’s celebration of the Freedom Day in Minsk.

The website Charter97.org asked the frontman of the Krama rock band Ihar Varashkevich to share the details of what was going on yesterday night:

- We decided to play an acoustic concert, because yesterday, March 25, was a festive day for Belarusians, the Freedom Day.

We planned to do it in a place where it would look natural, where street musicians always play – in the pedestrian street in the center of Minsk. We came there in a good, festive mood. I was sure everything would pass peacefully, without detentions.

However, the authorities had something different in mind.

- So, how did the events develop?

- I think they did not have an order for any harsh actions in the beginning. Some person approached Liavon Volski and said it was forbidden to gather and there will be an article for “mass event”.

We didn’t even manage to take out our instruments, were just standing near the bench discussing what to do. Then, probably, a harsher order came: like, if the musicians do not disperse, take them to the police department and hold there for several hours to prevent the action from happening.

- How did the police behave during detention and in the police department? Did they recognize you and your friends?

- During detention, the policemen behaved normally, they were silent most of the time. I’m not sure if they recognized us: these are not the people who listed to our music. Even if we had told them we were famous Belarusian musicians, it would not mean much to them. If they detained Philip Kirkorov, for example, that would be an extraordinary event for them.

In the police department, they first took us to the yard and left us standing there. Vital Rymasheuski was already there. In the yard, they gave us a “frightening” order “Face to the wall!” I’m joking – it wasn’t frightening. We stood beside the wall and remained there for about 2-3 hours. We talked, laughed.

The policemen were standing beside us, listened, and made “remarks” from time to time. There was nothing special about it, an ordinary detention. But you know, their actions left some bad aftertaste. An unpleasant impression. As if I touched something dirty and dirtied myself.

- Why, in your opinion, did they need to disperse a peaceful concert on a festive day?

- I don’t see the point of analyzing their orders. This looks like a lottery: they may allow, and they may ban. However, I repeat, I was sure there would be no dispersal. It was totally senseless. An absolutely pointless and illogical demeanor on the part of the police.

Some may think: maybe we decided to go to the center of Minsk because we needed some sort of advertising. It is certainly not true. We in our circles know what this date, March 25, really means, and celebrate the Freedom Day.

So why can’t we just come out to the center of our city and sing a couple of our songs?

- How would you comment on the fact that the people had not only refused to disperse after your detention, but even tried to continue the improvised concert?

- The people singing Liavon Volski’s “Three Turtles” by themselves after our detention – this was a decent action. This shows that the people are not afraid. When people sing, fear is defeated.

- Which conclusions can be made of the events in Minsk on March 25?

- The actions of the authorities remain unpredictable, so no conclusions.

I can say, there have been two bans for concerts, and the decision on the third ban can be taken any moment.

However, I would like to tell the Krama fans: we are waiting for you at our concerts, and are working on the new album. Everything will be good for you and us.

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