Dangerous games with dictator (Video)
15:10, — Politics
A video on the topic of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk has appeared on the web.
Its authorship belongs to a creative group of the Belarus Free Theatre, which direction started the campaign of moving the championship to another country back in 2011.
One of coordinators of the campaign “Don’t Play with the Dictator!” and director of Belarus Free Theatre Nikolai Khalezin answered to questions of charter97.org.
- You carried out a purposeful campaign for moving the world championship to another country, however, the championship is held in Belarus. Do you think the campaign was a failure?
- Certainly not. Social campaigns are held with different purposes, and definitely their main aim is to achieve a result. Our ultimate goal was to succeed in moving the championship to another country, but we consider informing the Belarusian society about what is going on in and outside the country an equally important result. Much has been done, and I am happy that a huge number of common people, creative persons, politicians, public activists and international stars have joined the campaign. It’s true, we have not achieved the ultimate goal, but the situation inside international sports structures is like that: they are conformists in what concerns the choice of partner countries, and their formal slogan is: “Sport is outside politics”, which allows them ignoring public opinion so far.
- Don’t you believe sports should stay out of politics, do you?
- There is a substitution of notion in this issue. By saying this phrase, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation René Fasel tries to treat us as politicians in the sphere of sports, but in reality, today in Minsk hockey serves the interests of Lukashenka and his whims, not fans, and by the way, there are not many of them present at the games.
- But there are positive aspects of the championship – many fans from all over the world have arrived, and Belarusian hockey lovers communicate with them.
- Yes, there are positive side effects, and contacts with foreign fans is one of them. However we stick to an unchangeable position: the joy of hockey fans is not worth of arrests of innocent people. And there are dozens of unjustified arrests already. It means that people are kept behind the bars providing joy of watching hockey for somebody.
- One of those who had announced launching the campaign “Don’t play with the Dictator!” was late President Vaclav Havel. Don’t you think that if he were alive, the situation could be different?
- We shall miss Havel always. Such people are very few in the world, and they are exactly the people who raise the bar as to what morality in politics, in public life should be. I am not sure that the result would be different, as even current presidents and chairmen of parliaments cannot beat the cynicism of sports officials today. But I know for sure that it would be more difficult for hockey officials to answer questions posed by Havel.
- Is the letter of the international art stars a result of the same campaign, of their spontaneous decision to address hockey players?
- It could hardly be called spontaneous, but when we talked to the majority of them, they said: “Let’s do something, people just cannot stay in prisons for our desire to watch hockey.” We started to collect signatures, and suddenly people who had never participated in such actions, started to join in: Andy Summers who played in the Police with Sting; Hugh Grant contributed our work on Belarusian issues actively, and together with Stephen Fry they twit hockey topics and our campaign; Kim Cattrall helps a lot, constantly in touch asking what else could be done for help. I am not mentioning our friends, who are engaged in Belarusian topic constantly: Tom Stoppard, Jude Law, Kevin Spacey, Michael Attenborough, David Lan. It is a very powerful stars’ “International”, which can do a lot to attract attention to the problems of Belarus today, and could do even more for the country after its liberation.
- There is a natural question, which Belarusian state-run news outlets like to discuss: who had paid for all this work?
- We all paid for that from our pocket. Some money for creative material had been donated to artists by friends or acquaintances, who wanted to participate, but in general the total amount of work had been done on volunteer basis. We have created almost no production industrially, so the main contribution was our time as professionals.
- Who produced the video “Don’t Play with the Dictator!” and where it is to be broadcast?
- Unfortunately, I cannot name everyone who has relation to the campaign, as some of them could face danger, even those who live abroad, but visit Belarus from time to time. I can say that this campaign has helped to mobilize a powerful potential for further work, we have been able to test our communication and tried paces. As a result, several informational campaigns have united in one flow, which made its way to the public with enhanced energy. Special thanks to Maryna Naprushkina, who created the slogan for the campaign a few years ago; to animated cartoon artist Oleg Minich, who had been forced to leave the country, but continues to care about its problems actively; to Yuliya Lyashkevich, who had been able to mobilize and captivate a huge number of creative personalities. We can continue our cooperation with these people in the future, and we have outlined a number of new projects already. So the championship was not useless for us as well.
A number of TV channels and websites of major publications from different countries asked us to send the video and posters for placing them on air and for publishing them, so I belive our work would not stay non-demanded.
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