30 May 2023, Tuesday, 3:24
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Rock, Scissors, Oblivion

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Rock, Scissors, Oblivion

Stalin's natural granddaughter

To make life not too dull for Belarusians while they are waiting for change, the state has decided to amuse us and let us connect with wonderful. A huge monument in the form of a stone woman with a banner and a baby will soon appear in Kastrychnitskaya Square. Its name will be United Belarus. The project has been approved and chosen among equally grandiose ones. The monument is likely to occupy the square and clear it finally from idle Belarusians, who used to wander freely with flags not so long ago. Now the flag is sure to be of a grey-brown color and the columns of a phallic kind will be set around the stone woman. They will symbolise the six regions of Belarus.

Finally. It has come true. I used to think that the sarcophagus in Kastrychnitskaya Square looks a bit lonely. It's so clumsy, ugly, miserable, looking like the Lenin mausoleum, during the construction of which one stole most of the building materials. It looks so lonely in the middle of the city that one feels sorry for it. And the piece of stone excrement on the other end of the square, symbolizing kilometre zero, does not save the situation. One has to crown our poor square with a woman with a banner and poles to let guys have fun.

I intentionally mentioned these guys. For many years I couldn't understand where that stone part at the bus-stop came from and why it's kilometre zero. History is silent when one and a half of diggers (in the original, it was, of course, shovellers, but here, indeed, for the effect) decided that the centre of the native country is right there. But then I did find out the origin of this part. One tells junior schoolchildren in Belarusian schools that a star fell there, at this very spot on the square, one day in October. And Belarusian children walked in the dark because this star was lighting the way. There were no roads, though, nor was there a square. Anyway, our ancestors wandered through forests and paved roads. Later, when the roads were paved and towns were built, the spot where the asterisk fell was called kilometre zero, children - Octobyabryaty, the square - Oktyabrskaya, and a group of Octyabryaty was called 'zvezdochka'. And did you think they just put that stone block on the square? No, our young forefathers gave it to us as a long-lasting memento.

Now, they will have a neighbour. I confess I tried to look closely at the sketch of the sculpture "United Belarus" and to understand, whom will this stone woman look like: Kachanava or Yermoshina? Well, she's going to look even more terrifying. This stone-carved, hijab-like, terrifying statue, with a malformed, bare-assed child in one hand and a stick with a crumpled rag hanging in the other. Please, bring another globe, if they try to make a symbol of Belarus out of this triumph of bad taste.

Anyway, you can erect whatever you want on our squares. I understand that you are short of time and seek to mark the territory - to crap out the country so that one cannot ignore you even later. To take people on guided tours of Lukashenka's Minsk. So that these stone freaks turn into artifacts and become a part of our life. For those who truly love Belarus to hate it, because of aesthetic disagreements (this was, after all, Andrei Sinyavsky's brilliant formulation - about aesthetic disagreements with the Soviet authorities). Go ahead, hurry up. I will simply remind you that on this very square, which was once called Tsentralnaya Square, monument of Stalin stood there. It did not bother anyone. It was there for nine years. But one evening, the square was cordoned off and the monument was ripped off. Minsk citizens were not thrown into paddy wagons or beaten with batons. They were asked to step aside and watch with curiosity from the other side of the avenue, as the father of nations was being sent to a dump by trucks and ropes. Nobody shed a single tear. They watched with amazement: will one get it down at one dash, or not? It weighs forty tons. I do not know what weight the stone woman, Stalin's natural granddaughter will have, but she obviously will not stand as long as the Soviet ghoul did.

And by the way, dear sculptor-authors, please, put something on the child, which is in the left hand of the "United Belarus", because it's too awkward. Well, put something on baby, a marshal's uniform, for example.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org