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Following eight months of protests after Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s self-proclaimed electoral win, the democratic movement there is seeing dwindling numbers of people willing to face arrest and government harassment. Cultural figures are more resolved than ever to use their influence to help keep the movement alive. Artists, singers, and cultural advocates seek to inspire Belarusians to continue their fight. Cultural symbols were important during the Cold War and are vital now. They can inspire and sustain a long and unpredictable democratic revolution and should not be underestimated.
2021 will be a pivotal year for Belarus. What are the important symbols that resonate most with Belarusians across the country? What can Western actors do to elevate the most impactful cultural voices?
Joining the Eurasia Center for a discussion of the flowering of creative resistance across Belarus are Karima Bennoune, the United Nations special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Natalia Kaliada, co-founding artistic director and CEO of the Belarus Free Theater, Ilya Silchukov, a Belarusian operatic baritone, and Svetlana Sugako, singer and manager of the Belarus Free Theater and a prominent LGBTI activist. Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, moderates.
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Belarus’ August 2020 presidential election saw widespread protests and serious fraud allegations as President Lukashenka claimed victory against popular opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Following a brutal crackdown against protestors by security forces, will Belarus begin its transition to democracy, or will Belarusians face further repression as Lukashenka’s rule falters?
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