Artists shouldn't be silent.
The famous Belarusian musician, member of the legendary band LSP Piotr Klujeu, in an interview with the program of the website Charter97.org Studio X97, spoke about music, the revolutionary situation in Belarus, the position of artists, and the sacred meaning of protests in the country. The host is Yauhen Klimakin.
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- Piotr, you are a member of the LSP band, composer, musician. You have solo projects. What is your industry doing now? Has everything stopped?
- Now it lives in a pause of incomprehensible length. But, of course, based on historical experience, this could have been predicted. All pandemics last a certain amount of time. So now it's on pause. There are positive aspects to this because you can devote a lot of time to some meditation, reflection, creating something that would never have happened if we were in the comfort zone.
I mean, we are musicians who are on tour, who have an established system of how we share our energy with people, and now it's such a lockdown, but you can also see positive moments in this, no matter how hard it is.
- There are no concerts, but it's interesting, do all sorts of rich uncles, aunts for their children for corporate events order you so that your son or daughter dance to the golden boy?
- It is not clear yet, because it is possible that something will happen, God willing, somehow you need to share all that is inside you, but so far, the situation is unpredictable.
- Now it is impossible not to talk about the political situation, about everything that is happening in Belarus. What do you think, a public person, a creative person, is he obliged at such a historical moment to express his point of view, his position, to say what he thinks about what is happening in Belarus?
- When this level of violence occurs, things are obvious here, it's like some kind of Armageddon, an apocalypse. You cannot ignore if the weather is bad outside for several weeks, and here, in a moral sense, the weather is very bad. We have our own empirical experience, each in a different way: some have hidden, some express the obvious. I would not say that a creative unit is obligated, but some have something to say about this, some are still afraid, and some are so terrified that they have nothing to say.
I will share my experience. Since August, I can hardly write anything. Because what can you write here? What can we say when there is such violence on the street when they shoot near maternity hospitals and burst into apartments. I opened the lid of the piano and closed it, watched for 15 seconds: there were so many emotions that it was impossible to direct them into some kind of ray, to concentrate them in order to give out this emotion of pain. The pain of this level, it's like if the water in the kettle has been boiling for a long time, you need to turn it off, but you can't, steam is pouring from all the cracks, the lid, boiling water, but you can't direct this energy, this compassion into a specific ray because the pain is strongest.
- There is a very popular thesis that, for an artist, the worse, the more difficult the situation, the more nutritious it is. That is, it turns out not entirely true.
- Yes, but when you hear it, when you can hide from it. I could not mentally go out of town and sit in some house to write music because I had to participate in these protests. How can you be silent?
I sincerely went out and peacefully shared the fact that truth should have a place in this world. I could leave, lock myself in for two or three days and start working, but when you sit at home and through your window, hear explosions, shots, screams. And I also have a little daughter, whom I put to bed, and she asks: "Dad, what is happening on the street?"
- And what are you telling her?
- I say that terrible things are happening. That, unfortunately, one man, a very bad person, grew up unconstructive because, apparently, he was not raised, and he does evil. How can you start writing something here? Someone maybe can. Perhaps, I am too sensitive and sentimental person and share from my experience. But a large number of my colleagues support me. Perhaps, there are also steel guys who, after returning from protests, sit down at the piano and write. But you need to have a certain level of the psyche.
- What do you think of your colleagues who say: "We are apolitical, we will not write in our social networks, do not care that we have hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers, we do not comment, we are over the fight, we sing for everyone. Artists are people of peace."
- I respect every opinion, even such, but ...
- ... but aren't they sly, these opinions?
- People who say that fall into the field of use. If you are silent, you are being used. You are in the stream. That is, if you are silent, then all is well.
- Who uses it?
- The power, the system. I would even say, in this case, in Belarus, this is a unique case; the existence of evil can be recognized. This is a real evil, what now in Minsk dominates the Belarusian state - this is a real evil. And if you are silent, you are in the stream, then everything is fine. Okay, let's move on, so you can beat up people, you can behave like that - this is normal.
In this case, it is a crime. Such a crime as it was to be silent in the 30s in Germany, and in the Soviet Union, just the escalation of the NKVD and the Stalinist system was so strong that people were killed. Now we are ripening the same parallel, rushing home to people as in 1937; this is unthinkable. And those artists who are now silent, this is their right, but they are victims of this system, and they fall into this stream. And if you are silent - you are...
- Partner in crime?
- ... it turns out you could have done something even with a word, but you did nothing. You were just watching the crimes.
How do you like the artists' position, for example, your colleague in the shop Korzh, who first writes "go home," then he comes out.
- It's better to ask him.
- This is not an attempt to sit on two chairs at once?
- When there is a high level of authority, you need to be very careful, you can say different things, and you need to weigh it two or three times. Therefore, if a person has some kind of authority - let him consider twice, three times, ten times what he wants to say.
- You are trying to evade the answer. Let me ask a simpler question. Is it okay for you or not?
- It's not okay for me. I just respect my colleagues in the shop with all my heart, but people make mistakes. But in this case, of course, it is impossible to have a double position, because there is an obvious fact. Of course, there are people, especially artists, who think it is necessary to conduct a dialogue to follow the path of constructivism, but it does not work in this case. This is probably the only case when it is really impossible to play by the rules with the regime in Belarus.
- An outstanding thinker, aphorist Stanislav Jerzy Lec has good words. I will not give an exact quote, but I will retell: "If you were eaten by cannibals with a knife and a fork, is this progress or not?" It's the same about the dialogue. Is it possible to conduct a dialogue with cannibals?
- When you sit down to play chess with him, he plays backgammon with you. Why did so many lose, back in the 1990s, with Mr. Lu? Because they played one game with him, and he played another game. It was always possible to conduct some kind of dialogue with strong dictators, but no dialogue is possible with him because he only has lies, the highest level of cynicism, he is ready for any tricks just to stay in power. Therefore, you can only play against him without the rules, no matter how much you want.
Lukashenka today is like the last fruit, vegetable. As it is said: "What you sow, you reap." And here we are reaping the fruits, perhaps the last, of the Soviet Union. And the bright sprout of this scoop, in a negative sense, it holds on, tries to withstand, of course, it is very strong, but we will behold the fruits, unfortunately, of humanity accomplished in the 20th century.
- You've probably seen the video, the initiator and ideological inspirer of which was Aliaksandr Saladukha. "They don't give their beloved", where in the style of the Soviet stage, a couple of artists, Kirkorov, Baskov from the upper echelon, who do not get out of the TV, but there are also a lot of the penultimate carriages, about ten artists. Tell me, do you know such a system from the inside? How is such a product created?
- Thank God, I don't know such a system from the inside. These are obvious things: the Soviet system gave rise to such "homo soveticus," translating from the Latin "Soviet man." What did Lenin say in his time? These are all important things that "the spiritual and the search for freedom are the Soviet person's enemy, because there is conscience, and conscience is the main enemy of the Soviet person. And our task is to free a person from conscience and make him free. "And here, in this case, the system works, for them, apparently, and the indicator is strength. Here they are at the power, they are at the lever, so this is their wall.
- What do you think, the order was from which administration, which president? Belarus or Russia?
- No idea. Honestly, I do not know.
- And in your opinion, what's the budget for this event, where are Kirkorov, Baskov?
- Usually, such budgets are unlimited. I think that politicians are ready to pay huge sums of money in their dirty games.
- Tens, hundreds of thousands?
- Yes. Maybe more. Here is the price of the issue. Perhaps the prices for the artists from the Russian Federation are higher, the prices for the artists of the courtiers of the administration of Mr. Cipollino are not high. But there is a small, soviet, collective-farm, and low threshold for entry. The guys are doing their job, but this is "money in hand - there will be sounds", this policy, it is in all languages.
- I watched the X-factor, on which you performed with other musicians, and it was pleasant, of course, both then and now that you started to go out with Pahonia to the main foreign channels when it was not fashionable. I understand why it was important for you.
- I would say it's hard to be ahead of time. Proceeding from the soberest analysis of the history of Belarus, and I love history, in order to study some country, its history, there is an interesting way - to see what the neighbors say about it. So, I studied the Belarusian issue from different angles, starting with Sweden, Finland, the Baltic states, the Moscow state, Ukraine, Poland, even the Balkan countries, how they look at us. There is an interesting book by Timati Snyder, "The Reconstruction of Nations," by an American who described the history of Belarus very well. By adequately weighing, assessing the situation, you more or less understand where the path to truth is.
Based on this experience, I have long understood, as many others did, where Belarus is, what it is - not Soviet, European. Therefore, I have always pushed through these values since those years; then, I got a little tired because I knocked and knocked. Then I went to rock and roll, just music, there was a very strong period. And in my heart, I have always remained with the Pahonia and will always be because these are fundamental, sincere values of love for my land.
The problem is that many do not like their own. Now, they love it. Of course, when such a person is in charge of the country, in fact, it seems to you that this is some collective farm. Many had open eyes; they were simply shy, but now this fuse is lit, and people woke up in their physical activity with a manifestation of civil position. A civil society was formed, literally in two months, in a month and a half. And these values are just love for their land, without any "who's cooler, worse, weaker." There is no nationalism; it is a healthy love for your land.
- On August 9, you went out into the street, like thousands and thousands of Belarusians. Did you doubt whether to go out or not?
- I did not doubt it. Because they say: "Why are you going? You have two children." Yes, I have two children, so I'm going because I want my children to live in a country where you can express your basic rights. In Belarus, we are not talking about some super deeds. This is the fulfillment of basic human rights. In our district, in Kamennaja Horka, we went with the whole family to the school, to the polling station. They had to post the number of people who came to vote at the site. They didn't. It's just that it is extremely cynical and disrespectful to people who pay taxes, who respect the law, who go green at traffic lights. Why do we comply with the law, but they do not, and we still pay them for it.
People went to school; I went out with my family, with my children and my wife. We surrounded the school and shouted: "Come out!" The school's headmaster was very frightened; the AMAP arrived, and, in a cordon, they took her away and drove away. They did not post any information on the fact that something had happened at the polling station — complete disrespect for people. Then in the evening, I went to the center because my brothers were there, my friends were there, and my colleagues were there. I could not help but go because I had to say: "Guys, this was a manifestation for elementary values. And what did we do? We stood, we sang songs, and clapped on the sidewalks, in permitted places, not on the roads. But these people came. I don't even know what to call them, what word to choose in literature, and they just went to us, the clapping people. I thought it would be like in 2010 - they will wave with sticks and run away. But when I saw that grenades were being thrown at us, clapping and singing, and when I saw an Asian-looking guy five meters away from me, perhaps it was some Chinese student, and he was bleeding. I saw in front of me, 20 meters away, people with some kind of guns (I do not understand firearms). I did not think that I would see grenades directed at us, including at me. I saw this horror, and my two children appeared before my eyes; I realized that I could die now.
But I was with people, and we were in solidarity, we were together. As an artist, I went as well, because I understood that my appearance could also help people. Young people came up and said: "Petsia Klujeu, thank you for being with us." There are explosions in the background, and they take selfies. It's nice because, with my presence, I could make useful, good energy and give people faith that we are all there. The deepest horror that I experienced that night, returning home very late, returning miraculously, to be honest, I realized that Belarus would never be the same. It was clear for a long time already, but the demon spread his wings that night; they did not expect that so many people would come out of us. They thought that there weren't many of us, and they were given the task to destroy! Then they understand that they cannot physically cope with us, and the madness began.
- I saw a video in which you sing in Minsk "Beware of leaf fall," and there are thousands and thousands of people with lights on their mobile phones. I watched and thought, what the person who sings and sees all this beauty around is feeling. What did you feel?
- Love. I love people, and that's why I felt it. It was Monday; it was the Independence Day of Belarus from 1991 to 1995. I just stood in the crowd, and I came there as an ordinary person, as I did, not thinking that I would perform. But the guys came up with speakers and asked: "Petsia, will you sing?", I say: "Yes, but I am without anyone, without musicians." And then I call the guitarist, and the guitarist is also there, Pashka Triput, and we got together, found a guitar and, absolutely impromptu, as it should be, performed, shared what was inside. Because people need love, especially in this situation, when there is so much anger, and that's all. It was natural.
- And what about emotions? You regularly perform at large venues. When there is also support at concerts, there are also mobile lights, and this is the situation. Are feelings different or not?
- Similar. Something unites. There are unifying values. These people who stood on the square are people who stand for the truth, for the fulfillment of elementary human rights. The feeling of one flow united and inspired. Of course, it is not every day that you perform under the shooting of operatives. It's even interesting: when I was singing, I thought what kind of camera work there was; apparently, there were some cassettes with the signature of the day, the artist. Because the next day, on Tuesday, they started beating very hard, then there was an incident near the church, and the church was closed. It was a sincere feeling; it is my job to share good energy with people. I did it sincerely.
- You are not only an artist but also a businessman; I heard you were going to open a hostel network. Tell me.
- I had an experience. It was a long time ago, 2012. After that, I told myself that I would not be engaged in business in Belarus because I barely escaped imprisonment. This is how Soviet power paid me for good deeds. It was a simple thing when I returned from the EU and saw it.
- What did you do in the EU?
- Studied. I saw that we had very few hostels, there was only one hostel in Minsk, and I opened a second one. A hostel is a good place where power engineers gather, where not sex tourists spend the night, but people who go for something big. For communication, for knowledge of the country's gastronomy and culture, and then it was still necessary to get visas, it was 2012.
- So what didn't the regime like?
- The situation was such that incomprehensible anonymous letters began, incomprehensible arrivals of police at 12 o'clock in the morning began in search of some people from eastern countries without documents. In hostels, the price is about 10-15 dollars per night, and the homo sovetikus thought, the Soviet authorities, our Soviet police, that some suspicious element was sleeping there. But here comes a lieutenant, my age, twenty and a couple of years. And he looks that a Norwegian, a Finn. He has never seen a Swedish passport in his life, and here he looks and sees a Norwegian passport in the Soviet district of the hero city of Minsk, and he does not understand, it does not fit in his head, what the Norwegian is doing here for 15 dollars, not 200 euros at the Crowne Plaza. Why is he sleeping here? Because the Soviet authorities do not understand that a European tourist is not going to spend the night at expensive hotels that have been built here and are empty. He needs an inexpensive bed, where he will socialize, where he will receive energy. He will better spend money on gastronomy and spend money, so our people earn more.
And the war began. I opened another hostel, and the business went well. And they saw that this guy was dangerous, that he could open three, four, five, six hostels, eight. And it would be so.
- In general, you had to close.
- I was closed by force. I was given a ban on activities. They simply deprived of my business, drove me into a very difficult economic situation. And I finally went into music. I've always been into music, but it went parallel. I thought I would be in business, and music would be a hobby; I would do what I want. But then I went into music; I immersed myself completely because it is much easier and more honest in terms of performance. You go on stage, give people energy - for this you receive money, in gratitude, in order to live. And in Belarus, it is difficult with business; you can become an enemy. And the more successful you are, the worse you are for them.
- How to defeat the dictatorship? What is needed now?
- There is no such, I would say, universal pill. Each dictatorship is unique and requires a unique approach. But in this case, we will behold a tough dictatorship. Mr. Cipollino showed that he is extremely aggressive, that he is not ready for any dialogues, and if he conducts dialogues, this is all a game, all lies, you cannot believe it. It's like an exorcism, a demonic possession. According to theology, it is believed that when the devil is in the human body, he will mix truth with lies, tell the truth at the right time, and lie at the right time. And then you get confused where the truth is and where the lie. When you listen to him for several minutes, you sometimes start to believe him. He has such a devilish ability to "become our own," human notes appear, so he said: "Don't touch Nina Bahinskaya," this is ridiculous. What the cynical methods of influence are. Therefore, we witness a tough dictatorship and how to fight it; this is a unique case.
It seems to me that a change will take place in Belarus, which the human race has never seen, some unique case. That is, the dictatorship in Belarus will be overthrown in some new way, which has not yet been known thorium because the level of lies is so cynical, so arrogant.
Of course, my theme is to fight with maximum love in the most peaceful way. Because he who takes the sword in his hand will die by the sword. In this case, they take the sword, and they will die, and we go with love. And no matter how hard it was for us, I know that the truth is with us, and we will win. But the question is, how many people will die, how many people will suffer morally, physically, mentally? It's hard to fight because of the highest level of deception on his part, but I believe that it is the peaceful protest that will win. They really want us to start aggression, but we will not do this.
- Looking at this historical moment, how do you understand the mission of an artist today? What is it now?
- Help people cry these tears, help people rejoice, help people get over it. People are suffering, people are crying, people are afraid, people are happy, because in fact, very bright, good processes are taking place now - civil society is being formed. In Belarus, I gave concerts to people in courtyards, it was unthinkable before that my courtyard would go down to the entrance, and we would eat and talk together, our children would play together.
Throughout Belarus in cities, people recognized their neighbors in a high percentage, solidarity appeared, in a positive manifestation of this word. And then the artist comes out and helps people, in his yard, in the children's sandbox, where my daughter plays with the children, I sang for people. The artists' task now is to be as close as possible, like a doctor at a patient's bed, and artists are next to the Belarusian people to help them digest all this.
- What would you say to the artists who play apolitical, "we are outside the fight," who sit on two or three chairs?
- Today's silence will make them remain silent forever. That is, artists who are now silent will lose. They will then be silent because they will want to say something, and it will be too late. Their silence will tell everything now, very loudly. And it turns out that people will ask: "Where have you been?" It will be hard for these artists later. And many artists will simply disappear, especially in Belarus. Imagine that after its outcome, a certain caste of artists will disappear altogether. These artists will never have a single concert, or they will be on the DPR territory or somewhere in such countries where the pro-Soviet dictatorship will usurp and where they will tell how the decaying West captured our beloved Blue-eyed, and here we are carrying...
- The last stronghold.
- Yes, but I don't know where it might be. But there may still be such places, unfortunately, on planet Earth.
- Let's finish. I have a request for you. It is no coincidence that we have chosen a location with a musical instrument. Tell me, could you now play what you feel, looking at what is happening in Belarus, participating in these processes?
- I will share. I'll play without words. I will just play music because of what is happening in the country - no words are needed here.
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