In Belarus, the confrontation between the illegally detained authorities and the people, who courageously express their dissent, continues. At the moment, there are no longer those categories of society who have not been touched by the repression of the regime.
“Nash Dom” would like to draw attention to the theater workers who are subjected to repression for expressing their civic position and for participating in cultural events.
At night between 10 and 11 August, famous actor Pavel Kharlanchuk was detained near Pushkinskaya metro station. That day, Pavel was just trying to get home after the rehearsal ended. After two days in prison, Pavel was released, and subsequently fined 15 basic units (approximately 120 euros). The actors of the Kupala Theater could not stand aside and called on the authorities to stop the violence. After a long confrontation and pressure from the authorities, almost the entire staff of the theater was fired, and the head of the theater, Pavel Latushko, was also dismissed. At the moment, only 12 actors remain in the theater troupe, the performances have been canceled.
In the evening of 10 August, Vladimir Petrovich, director of the Mogilev Regional Drama Theatre, was detained in Mogilev. After his arrest on August 13, theater workers wrote applications to leave the trade union. On August 26, they published an open letter against violence and for fair elections.
On August 12, the actors of the Grodno Drama Theater wrote an open letter in which they called on the authorities to release all the detained people, to organize an honest and open recount of votes, and also appealed to the security officials so that they did not break the law. And on August 15, someone raised a white-red-white flag over the building of the drama theater. The Investigative Committee has launched an investigation into the matter. According to the artist Sergei Kurylenko, the actors began to be summoned for talks.
On August 23, the actor of the New Drama Theater Ivan Sladkevich was detained. He participated in a peaceful action in Vitebsk with two friends. On August 25, the court sentenced Ivan Sladkevich to 7 days in prison.
On August 17, the Belarusian Culture Ministry dismissed the director of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater in Minsk, ex-minister Pavel Latushko. He took part in the action for the resignation of the Minister of Internal Affairs Yuri Karaev, and the theater staff announced that they were ready for a strike.
On August 26, after the dismissal of Pavel Latushko, the artistic director of the Kupala Theater Nikolai Pinigin was fired. Before that, they stopped letting him into the theater. Pinigin wrote a letter of resignation of his own free will. Also, a letter of resignation was written by actors and directors – in total 58 people left the theater.
On August 26, actors Mikhail Zuy and Dmitry Esenevich, the creators of the YouTube channel “ChinChinChenel”, and the authors of the song “Shchuchynshchyna”, left the Kupala Theater.
Actor Dmitry Tumas, who has since started working on the construction site, also resigned.
On 26 August, the theatre management signed a resignation letter from actress Svetlana Anikey. She has been with the theater troupe since 1999. In 2020 she received the Francysk Skaryna Medal.
At the same day, Honored Artist of Belarus Yulia Shpilevskaya, who played the role of Pavlinka, left the theater. She has been working in the theater since 2000. After her dismissal, she took part in the filming of the video for the song “Magutny Bozha” – she read the text in the video.
Roman Podolyako, who had been working in the theater since 2002, also left. “We are not criminals. We have not violated the law. We have expressed our position. The theater and every staff member are in danger,” he wrote on his Facebook. Roman Podolyako and other dismissed employees of the Kupalovsky Theatre are now staging performances on a YouTube channel.
Among those dismissed on 26 August are Elena Sidorova, Natalia Kochetkova, Georgy Malyavsky, Igor Denisov and National Artist of Belarus Arnold Pomazan.
On September 2, National Artist of Belarus Viktor Manaev resigned from the Kupala Theater. He spent 40 years on the stage of the Kupala Theater. Five other theatre actors who supported Pavel Latushko were also dismissed: Yevgenia Adamenko, Marta Golubeva (who participated in the collection of watermelons at Lukashenko’s plot in 2019), Diana Kaminskaya, Nikolai Kuchits and Alexander Podobed – another National Artist.
On September 4, the actress of the Gomel Regional Drama Theater Alla Lenaya was fired. She has worked in the theater since 2003. On August 9, her brother was detained at a protest action. Also, in August, she and six other theater employees spoke out against violence and for fair elections.
Honored Artist of Belarus Sergei Kurylenko with his wife, artist Valentina Kharitonova, were detained during protest actions in Grodno on September 20. Colleagues, having learned about this, stopped the performance as a sign of solidarity, announcing this to the audience during the intermission.
After these events, actress Yelizaveta Milintsevich was fired from the theater. Officially, by agreement of the parties.
Then, on 25 September, the lead actor of the Grodno Drama Theatre, Igor Ulanov, was sacked, the others were stripped of their bonuses and allowances, and all performances are cancelled.
Two theater directors – chief director Gennady Mushpert and stage director, Honored Artist of the Republic of Bashkortostan Sergei Kurylenko – were fired after they announced they were joining the strike. Gennady was offered to resign of his own free will, he refused and was fired, but it is unclear under what article. In response, the actors also announced joining the general strike.
Actresses Valentina Kharitonova and Natalya Leonova were also fired. All were dismissed under Part 6 of Art. 42 of the Labor Code of Belarus – failure to fulfill, without a valid reason, labor duties by an employee who has an unreleased disciplinary sanction. In response, most of the troupe’s actors also announced they would join the general strike.
On September 23, after the protest action, the actor of the Grodno Puppet Theater Alexander Ratko was detained. Fleeing from the police, he tried to swim across the Neman. After three days, Alexander was released without trial.
Also, that day, Andrei Drobysh, an actor from the Kupala theatre, was detained during a protest in Minsk. Subsequently, the man was fined 10 basic units (approximately 80 euros).
On October 2, Zoya Belokhvostik, a leading actress of the Kupalova Theatre, People’s Artist of Belarus, was left without a job at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She was not accepted as the artistic director of the acting course.
When asked about the reasons for such a decision, a popular answer among the heads of various structures was received: “You understand.” It is noteworthy that Zoya’s daughter, actress Valentina Gartsueva, was fired from the Kupala Theater on August 26.
On October 11, the actor Ilya Yasinsky was detained and sent to a prison in Zhodzina, 60 km from Minsk. On October 12, Ilya Yasinsky was released, but the actor faces a trial ahead, the results of which are difficult to predict.
On October 26, actress Elena Girenok was detained. She was beaten by the security forces; on the night from 26 to 27 October, the actress was released, apparently because she had an underage child at home alone, although experience shows that this is not always a valid reason for the police.
On October 26, the actress of the Belarusian Free Theater Daria Andreyanova was detained. She was taken to a pre-trial detention center in Baranavichi.
On October 28, Andrei Galanov, conductor, Honored Artist of Belarus and winner of the Francysk Skorina Medal, was dismissed from The National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theatre.
On October 28, Ilya Silchukov, a laureate of international competitions, baritone and soloist of The National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theatre, was dismissed.
On October 28, Regina Sarkisova, first violin of the Bolshoi Opera House, was fired for condemning the violence.
Violinist Alla Dzhigan was fired on October 28 for condemning the violence.
On October 29, the conductor of the choir Galina Kazimirovskaya was detained, who spent three days in prison and was released on November 2.
On October 30, an employee of the Grodno Drama Theater Vasily Minich was dismissed. He hung the white-red-white flag over the theater.
“We are not allowed to publicly support people. More than once the management of the theater intimidated and threatened us, interfered in every possible way, deprived us of incentive pays, bonuses, surcharges, and issued reprimands. I have been summoned to the investigative committee to testify more than once because of my political views. There is a real threat of a criminal article being applied to me”.
On October 30, Natella Belugina, an employee of the Grodno Drama Theater, was fired. Her husband was detained for applause at the protest, as was her disabled friend, who was also arrested for clapping his hands. There was a trial and fines. Together with colleagues, they wrote down the appeal and wrote a letter to the administration demanding an end to the violence and holding fair elections. They asked the theater administration to stop the performances, but they refused.
On October 30, Anastasia Muchko, an employee of the Grodno Drama Theater, was fired.
On October 30, Maria Meleshko, an employee of the Grodno Drama Theater, was fired. In early August, together with the theater artists, headed by the chief director G.V. Muspert wrote and sent letters demanding new transparent elections and an end to the violence.
On October 30, an employee of the Grodno Drama Theater Alexander Demyanov was dismissed.
Vitaly Leonov has been working in the Grodno Regional Puppet Theater since 2001. He was fired after recording a video in support of director Igor Ulanov.
He had been filmed several times before, probably with the aim of imposing administrative or even criminal penalties on him. The theater management did not want to compromise and forced the actors to play comedies, although the theater’s repertoire includes more topical productions. OMON was often on duty near the theater. Vitaly has repeatedly received threats of dismissal under the article. He also received constant calls from unknown numbers.
On November 2, Alesya Klochko, an actress of the Belarusian Army Theater, was detained. Alesia took part in the filming of the Freedom Belarus video, after which her house was rummaged. At the time of the event, only her 78-year-old grandmother was at home. Alesya herself was summoned to the Central police department, where she was charged under Article 23.34. She was given a fine of 30 base units.
On November 5, actress Polina Levina, who had worked in the troupe since 2018, was fired from the Grodno Drama Theater. She joined the nationwide strike on October 30.
On November 5, actor Aleksey Stonoga, who had worked in the troupe since 2004, was fired from the Grodno Drama Theater. He joined the nationwide strike on October 30.
On November 8, the actor and host of “Kalykhanki” Alexander Zhdanovich was arrested in Minsk. He stood up for the woman who was captured by the security forces and was released only 9 days later, on November 17.
On November 13, the 68-year-old actor of the Gorky Minsk Drama Theater Igor Andreev was detained in Minsk. Andreev, together with his wife, went to the city center, and then a message came from him that the police had detained him. According to the latest information, he did not get in touch anymore.
On November 25, director Andrei Novikov was fired from the Mogilev Regional Drama Theater.
The dismissal of Novikov is associated with the civic position that the theater troupe held in 2020. Andrei Novikov did not fire employees who spoke out against the government.
On December 6, at a Sunday march in Minsk, the actor of the Belarus Free Theater Aleksey Saprykin was detained. He got 15 days in prison for participating in the protests.
On December 27, Belarusian actor Alexander Molchanov was detained. He was found guilty under Article 23.34 and got 11 days in prison.
On January 31, Timur Nedzved, a 13-year-old actor who played the National Poet of Belarus Yanka Kupala in adolescence in the film “Kupala”, was detained. He was taken to the police office together with his father Pavel.
International Centre for Civic Initiatives “Nash Dom” demands to stop repressions against theater workers, to restore all dismissed actors, directors, etc., and also demands immediate attention to the current situation and repressions.