16 May 2021, Sunday, 6:25
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

No More Bazaaring

No More Bazaaring
Iryna Khalip

Lukashenka has lost all of his toys.

There were times when “Slavonic Bazaar” had nothing to do with the regime, and existed in a parallel reality with the state, not getting in touch with it. The event was created by Radziyon Bas, the person who managed to hold jazz festivals in Vitsebsk even during the Soviet times - “The Vitsebsk Fall” and “The Dixielands Parade”.

In fact, “Slavonic Bazaar” was invented so as the building of the Summer Amphitheater would not stand idle after it was specially designed and built for the Polish Song Festival in Vitsebsk. Do I need to mention that it was Radziyon Bas, who headed this festival, as well as “Red Carnation” and “Spring Ball”? When the Polish Song Festival ceased to exist, the amphitheater faced the destiny of a decayed building. And then Bas invented the “Slavonic Bazaar”, a pop music festival. He found partners in Ukraine, in Russia, got sponsors involved - and the festival did happen. Yes, it was funny, naive, cheesy, but also successful, noticeable, and trademark.

And then an usurper came who decided that everything here belongs to him alone: the land, the others’ ideas, business, and people. He announced that the festival from now on would be held under his own ideological supervision, and in several years the “Slavonic Bazaar” turned into a place for the Russian pop stars to hang out. They went to Vitsebsk as to some country house where people pay them money for barbecuing and drunken chorus singing. Besides, the usurper did the same to the award “For Spiritual Revival”, founded by Alena Skrypel in an absolutely private way.The awarding ceremony first took place in the independent Belarus in 1994, but then Lukashenka got his grabby hands on it. In the end, another “Slavonic Bazaar” appeared, but even more pitiful.

When Radziyon Bas got sick and ended in the wheelchair, the state, as an acknowledgement of his merits, built a pandus near the entrance to his house. However, they apparently forgot that there was no elevator in the building, and Bass was unlikely to get to the pandus from the fourth floor anyway. He died in 2017, and the show went on, getting shallower and shallower.

Now, however, the toy seems to be broken altogether. All more or less known performers refused to go to the “Slavonic Bazaar”. Hosts also refused to participate in the festival, one by one. Apparently, by July the “Bazaar’s” shagreen skin will shrink to the size of Aliaksandr Saladukha’s solo gig, where they will drive workers, promising them a day-off for this.

It is happening with all Lukashenka’s toys now, the toys he took from their creators, from the society, from professionals, and has been filling them with his kolkhoz spirit for years. Belarus was kicked out of the Eurovision song contest because the usurper decided to give the right to choose the contenders to ideologists instead of the professional jury and spectators. They moved the Ice Hockey World Cup from the country, and no joint parties with the sports rascal Rene Fasel helped. The personnel reshuffle with the son Viktar in the NOC didn’t help either - the International Olympic Committee banned both from attending the Olympics back in December. Moreover, the IOC wanted not revenge but justice, did not enter confrontations: having imposed sanctions on the father and the son, along with several sports officials, they still let the state flag to the games. They should have rather sat back and rejoiced that their red-and-green flag still was dragged into - but no, they are starting a criminal case against Aliaksandra Herasimenya and Mikalai Apeykin. So now it seems that our athletes will go to Tokyo under a neutral flag. And of course they will go to the next Olympics under the white-red-white flag.

There was just one thing he should have done - leave quietly, without the armed siloviki, without mean petty revenge to the entire people, without killing, sending civil turnkeys to cut the ribbons. Pack his stuff, pick up his devoted girlfriend, tell her “Let’s go home, Lida?” And watch Eurovision on TV, if he is lucky enough.

And now all of his favourite toys are being taken away from him. It always happens when an overgrown bloke gets into a sandbox to toddlers, seizing their toys, throwing sand and shouting it is his territory and he is the boss here. And then, soundly thrashed, he finds himself alone in the sand amongst dogs’ poop. Serves him right.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org