Belarus & Ukraine:
According to the Belarusian newspaper Naviny, the rock bands featured in the festival are blacklisted for their “openly negative attitude toward the Lukashenka government”. Maria clarified that the bands are not openly ‘blacklisted’ – but they sure have problems performing and recording in Belarus.
The right to be free
At the same time, the Belarusian bands were stopped by border guards, detaining them for about six hours before letting them pass the border to Ukraine. Naviny reported that the border guards took the travellers’ passports and refused to explain why they were kept in detention.
Approximately 7,000 people attended the event, and Maria estimated that half of them were Ukrainians, the other half were from Belarus. She said that the atmosphere was very positive and optimistic. Maria read the visitors’ reflections and reactions on internet blogs and she said that the Ukrainians were amazed by the bands of the neighbouring country. And the Belarusians were impressed that such an event could be held in the central park of the city; many people were also making comments on the friendly police.
But the hassle was not over for the visitors when leaving the festival. On their way home they were subjected to a very strict border control. Border guards confiscated videos and photos from the festival. “They took copies of everything before handing back the cameras”, said Maria.
The festival was held for the first time this year and is planned as an annual event. In the future, the organisers hope to present more Ukrainian bands and maybe invite Polish and Lithuanian rock bands alongside the Belarusian ones.
Naviny – 22 September 2007:
‘People traveling to Belarusian rock festival in Ukraine turned back by police, artists allowed to cross border after six-hour detention’
European Radio for Belarus homepage:
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