The Atlantic: The forbidden musicians against the dictator (Video)
9:55, — Politics
The Top 7 songs about Europe's last dictator by american magazine.
Last week, the performance of the Belarusian group RockerJoker was unexpectedly canceled at the festival of independent Belarusian culture in Poznan, Poland. The reason was the group's song "Sanya Will Stay with Us," which it performed on the eve of the 2010 presidential election in Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukashenka followed up on his disputed reelection by violently cracking down on peaceful protesters and jailing many of the opposition candidates.
The Polish organizers of the festival said that the song was about Lukashenka ("Sanya" is the Belarusian nickname for Alyaksandr) and that the group supported his campaign. During his 18 years as president, Lukashenka has been the hero of many songs, and not only in Belarus. Here are seven songs about the man once dubbed "Europe's last dictator."
1.) The public in Belarus continues to debate whether this song is just a joke, or made to order. During the 2010 campaign, the RockerJoker song was ordered played on most Belarusian FM radio and public TV stations, and it topped the official charts (although it's hard to tell if "Sanya" himself much likes it).
2.) One response to RockerJoker's hit was performed by the popular Russian radio anchors Murzilki International and broadcast by the Russian station Autoradio just ahead of the December 2010 vote.
3.) This rap track appeared a year after the 2010 election, during a fairly routine conflict between Lukashenka and Russian leaders. In its various versions, this song got over 1 million views on YouTube. The Russian group Ilich openly mocks Lukashenka as they portray him appealing to the Russian authorities for more gas and oil deals.
The group says in the video description, "All the characters are fictional, all the matches are random." But the light-hearted disclaimer didn't spare them Lukashenka's wrath -- Ilich has been banned in Belarus.
4.) Syabry has been very popular since Soviet times, and they've changed their politics often. The song "Listen to Father" was presented to the public on March 8, 2006 -- 11 days before the 2006 presidential election. Belarusian State TV broadcast the concert live and the song got a lot of airplay.
Band leader Anatol Yarmolenka denied that the song was about Lukashenka, but the song's writer, Russian composer Oleg Sorokin, wrote that "Anatol Yarmolenka knew exactly who is the main character of this song, and I even tried to dissuade him, that Lukashenka does not like it."
5.) Popular among young people, the Belarusian punk-rock group Day Darohu became famous for its inappropriate lyrics, and "To Sanya" is no exception. Many wonder why this group hasn't been banned yet!
6.) This song was recorded just days after the 1995 referendum proposed by Lukashenka that gave the Russian language equal status to Belarusian, and also brought back symbols of Soviet Belarus. This was during the beginning of Lukashenka's rise to power.
Interesting fact: The song was recorded in the studios of Belarusian state radio, which was already under Lukashenka's control. Since then, some former employees and the band members are prohibited from entering the building. The group's leader, Kasya Kamotskaya, said that the song truly came from the heart, but the group has never performed it since recording it.
7.) Widely popular in post-Soviet countries, the group Lyapis Trubetskoy is now banned in Belarus, and has openly demonstrated against both Lukashenka's and Putin's regimes. Around 5,000 people -- mostly Belarusians - attended the group's concert on October 27 in Vilnius, Lithuania, which is the closest big city to Minsk.
This song was created in 1995-1996, during the first years of Lukashenka's presidency. It is a remake of the song from the film "The Adventures of Buratino," the Soviet version of Pinocchio; they simply replaced "Bu-ra-ti-no!" with "Lu-ka-shen-ko!"
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