Decent and intelligent people should govern Belarus.
What is Belarusian happiness, and why they are trying to take away the title of People's Artist of Russia - there are answers to these and other questions in an interview with Russian actress Liya Akhedzhakova for Radio Svaboda.
“The way people in Belarus are treated makes one want to cry”
- You know, it's a happy day for me - my colleagues, the journalists of Radio Svaboda, who were imprisoned on Akrestsin Street in inhuman conditions, were released after their arrest (the conversation took place on July 26 - ed.). Belarusian happiness now is not easy. I know that you are closely following the events in Belarus, that you are in solidarity with the Belarusians. What would you say to Belarusians in these dramatic days?
- Now I will cry. I am tearful in these matters. Thank God they're out. In Russia, it is hard for journalists who work seriously. Difficult for historians, artists, and some directors. And what is happening in Belarus... The way people are treated makes one want to cry. Such cruelty, such rage. Such dislike for our people, for those people who are the pride of the nation. Scientists, journalists, actors, students. So many people have been to Akrestsina Street and experienced monstrous humiliations and such rage. It is impossible to understand. It was in 1937 in Russia, in the USSR, but we thought that we had already moved away from this. I love Belarus so much, I toured there so much. By the way, a few years ago... who would have thought what awaits us.
“Lukashenka will not listen to me anyway, and I don’t want to address him”
- You appealed to Lukashenka in social networks, asking him to leave...
- I did not appeal to Lukashenka in social networks. It's bots, tweeting on my behalf. It's all a lie. They make things up in my name. They say things that I would say differently or not say at all. Already one lawyer is working on this issue, now another. Tweets on my behalf grow like mushrooms. But you're a witness to the fact that I'm not good at using the Internet. What am I supposed to do...
- And if there was an opportunity to appeal to Lukashenka, what would you tell him?
- I do these things thoughtfully, on time, and in such a way that no one gets punished for it. I myself got into a terrible story. This is not the first time bots have been writing on my behalf to bring me under sanctions. I know where the wave is coming from.
And Lukashenka won't listen to me anyway. Who am I to him? And I don’t want to address him. I can only address people who are suffering, in a dire situation. His cruelty has no boundaries. Both in Russia and Belarus, the siloviki are “running the show.” This should not be so, otherwise, we will again come to concentration camps, executions, and "NKVD troika."
"Flayers will be punished"
- Some observers compare what is happening now in Belarus with the period of persecution of the first Christians. Apart from 1937, what metaphor, what comparison with the situation in Russia and Belarus seems to you the most accurate? After all, the situations are similar...
- Similar. We are going there, to Lukashenka. And the opposition is squeezed and intimidated. This is scary. It is just so frustrating. I don't know what needs to happen for history to happen. And history is such a thing that everything changes and passes into another stage. And the flayers will surely be punished. But, besides the opposition and history, I still believe in God. They will be punished. They don't want to think about it. Security officials are paid salaries. Power over people is a terrible thing. We are talking about politics... I'm not a politician, I just really love Belarus, and I really love Ukraine. My audience is there. I went there all my life on tour. Now, in Russia, there are people who demand to take away from me the title of People's Artist of Russia, the State Prize, and everything that was once awarded to me. This does not really bother me since my viewer will never be taken away from me. They are mine, and I am with them.
- You played in the video performance “Offended “Belarus(sia)” based on the play by playwright Andrei Kureichik. What are your creative plans related to Belarus?
- Now Kureichik has written an even better play. There are monologues of people who were at Akrestsina Street, who experienced this cruelty on their skin. He made a play out of them, we will play it. Oksana Mysina (director - ed.) says that this is the strongest material.
- How do you think representatives of Russian culture, Russian civil society can support the Belarusians? Whose voices are important to hear?
- There are many voices, but there are also those who believe that it is better to be silent. Do not let your team down when it comes to the theater, do not let your colleagues down. The quieter you go, the further you'll get. It is better to keep your lips shut. There are a lot of them. But many people woke up. Including very great artists who are not silent.
"Someone sicced the 'Officers of Russia' organization and the war veterans, and they wrote a letter to the prosecutor's office"
- Tell us how they are trying to take away the title of People's Artist from you?
- A new performance has been released based on the play by the young playwright Rinat Tashimov. This is a student of my friend Nikolay Kolyada. These are the Ural playwrights, Yekaterinburg, the Ural school. I've played Christmas plays all my life. And now Rinat Tashimov has written a wonderful play about what is happening now, about the meanings that excite me and many actors who understand and hear it, who feels strongly about it. Someone encouraged and sicced the "Officers of Russia" organization and war veterans. They are 95 years old there, they hardly go to the theater.
They wrote a letter to the prosecutor's office that allegedly my character on the stage is using foul language and condemning war veterans. Plus there is an advertisement for homosexuality. Members of the SERB movement told us that if we do not correct it (although, no one actually uses obscenities), then they will come to our performance with some kind of bottle. It will be smashed, and such a stench will go through the theater that the audience and the actors will not stand it. First the stench, and then there may be a different chemical composition. They came to the performance, wore wreaths "Death to the Sovremennik." They write about me that I'm an old woman with dementia who denigrates the Russian theater and swears on stage. And a lot of other things. I'm a little scared and terribly disgusted.
- Who else is scared now?
- Those who get to Akrestsina Street. Those who raise their voice and are not silent. There are very brave people. And what can they do to me... There is a denunciation in the prosecutor's office. But there is no swearing. These are all lies. The play is great, anti-war. I am scared that officers and security forces are in charge of culture. They command how to stage the play, which plays we can and can't take, how we should play and who should play.
- And those who give orders in Belarus - are they scared?
- They are under Lukashenka. Someone thinks that they will win, intimidate everyone, and will "run the show." But there are also those who understand that, when this is over, the consequences for them will be very bad. But there will definitely be retribution for what they are doing now.
"Belarusian happiness is normal elections"
- I began our conversation with such uneasy Belarusian happiness, when my colleagues were released, who are still charged in a criminal case. And what is unconditional Belarusian happiness, as you see it?
- Firstly. Normal elections, without fraud. And all will be well. And also the judicial system. And, of course, so that the security forces do not rule. Decent, intelligent people should govern. There are many such wonderful people in Belarus. As soon as there are normal elections, everything will change. Long live Belarus! Forever and ever!