Aleksandr Lukashenko opens 21st International Arts Festival "Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk"

    Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk helped Eurasian nations to preserve the common historical and cultural space, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the opening ceremony of the 21st International Arts Festival Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk on 12 July .

    “Without a doubt, the Vitebsk forum has become one of the kernels of the Eurasian integration. It helped our peoples to preserve the common historical and cultural space,” the head of state said.

    “This forum was destined to become a center of attraction of various cultures. Its very name – Slavonic Bazaar – combines the features of both European and eastern civilizations,” the President said.

    According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Vitebsk was chosen the venture of the event for a reason. “Vitebsk provides a fertile ground for integrating various traditions and cultures, it is the cradle of men of genius,” he said. The head of state noted that at the beginning of the last century Vitebsk was called Belarusian Paris. “Although outwardly the two cities have little in common, they are in fact very similar. Their streets and squares are filled with inspiration that lends wings to artists and gives birth to masterpieces,” the Belarusian President said.

    It was Vitebsk that shaped the unique character of Slavonic Bazaar emphasizing its sincerity, openness, intelligence and desire to promote esthetic ideals, the President said. “Paris lags behind Vitebsk in this regard,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    “The festival does not break artistic people, does not limit them using standards and formats. It recognizes the right for a different view; it values new ideas, perfect forms and profound content. It remains committed to the great mission of art that was formulated back in the Renaissance: to enrich a human soul, dignify a person, make the world a beautiful and harmonious place,” the head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the festival emphasizes respect for unique character of each nation and contributes to the birth of new artistic ideas. “In the modern world Slavonic Bazaar is the beacon of moral values. The urge for brotherhood and mutual respect, openness, generosity are the essence of a Slavonic soul. We are always happy to share the best we have and to welcome everyone who comes to us, Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians, with sincere intensions,” the President said.

    The President noted that during the festival Vitebsk “turns into a center of an international fair of arts drawing talents from all over the world, celebrating the diversity of unique cultures”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that after more than 20 years since establishment the festival has no room for complacency, it is moving forward and opening new dimensions of modern art.

    The head of state compared Slavonic Bazaar to Olympic Games. “Due to the great number of participants and cultural events, Slavonic Bazaar can be called summer cultural Olympics. It supports the major Olympic principle: art, just like sport, is above politics. The only things you see on stage are fair competition and sincere admiration of talented people regardless of their nationality, religion or skin color,” the President said.

    “Olympic Games dramatically lag behind our Slavonic Bazaar. They are politicized and badly flawed, while Slavonic Bazaar is an island of freethinking and independence, there are many things one can learn from it,” the head of state said.

    According to the President, it is the reason why Slavonic Bazaar has turned into one of Europe’s most popular springboards for young artists. “People believe that those artists whose first success came on Vitebsk stage will certainly become a star. Taisia Pavalii, Ruslana, Alena Lanskaya are cases in point,” the President said.

    “Each country has its chief cultural symbol. Slavonic Bazaar is that symbol for Belarus. We have never disregarded the festival and will never disregard or leave it without state support so that this large-scale forum will always be a high-profile event,” the head of state said.

    The head of state noted that a special award “Through art to peace and understanding” became a good tradition of the festival. “It grew so prestigious that turned into a kind of Oscar for musicians with very tough competition to get it,” the President said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko presentedthis award to People’s Artist of Russia Lev Leshchenko.

    Lev Leshchenko emphasized that he is very happy and proud to get this high award. “I love Belarus, Belarusian people. Although today we live in different states, we still are in the same cultural space – we sing the same beautiful songs, watch the same movies, read the same books and go along the same path. I want this path never to end,” he said. The singer thanked the Belarusian President for preserving the one and only “brilliant Vitebsk festival” that unites the brotherly Slavonic nations.

    “We live in different states. But the art makes us closer,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The Union State Prizes in Literature and Art were awarded to People’s Artist of Belarus Georgy Poplavsky and Russian poet Gleb Gorbovsky “for works of literature and art that make a great contribution to strengthening brotherhood, friendship and cooperation between the Union State member states”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko wished laureates inspiration and new successes.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko congratulated all the guests and participants of the festival on its opening. “Let this Slavonic Bazaar become an unforgettable event for each of us. Let it light new stars and put everyone in good spirits,” the President said.