Opening of 32nd international arts festival Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk

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  • 14:53

The true art of the festival Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk unites nations and states. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during the festival’s opening ceremony on 13 July.

According to the head of state, for a third of a century already the festival has been making the beautiful city upon the Dvina River a center of attraction for genuine talents and true connoisseurs of art. “We, Belarusians don’t call Vitebsk a cultural capital for the sake of pathos. This status is predetermined by history. Both thousand years ago when the route from Varangians to the Greek crossed the place and today the city was and remains a crossroads of national cultures and traditions of different nations. The rhythm of creative ideas and concepts has always beaten strong here,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president reminded that innovative forms of art were created in workshops of Malevich, Chagall, and other vanguard painters at the beginning of the 20th century. They are now recognized as the world classics. At present the Vitebsk land has become the native place for massive art festivals, contests, national and international forums. It is here that new traditions are born, new talents are uncovered, and the history of modern art is written.

“This history is being written by you – our beloved artists, painters, composers, poets, and folk craftsmen. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone, who gifts a piece of their soul to our festival. We hear it in songs. We see it in theatrical performances, dance routines, and street performances, in unique decorative goods. All of us – participants, organizers, guests – create a wonderful atmosphere of genuine, true art here that unites nations and states. The art that is splendid in its national identity. The art that is truly high and always rises above political games and intrigues,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “The motto of the festival ‘Through art to peace and mutual understanding’ has never been more relevant than it is today. Slavonic unity, the unity of all sensible people is once again being put to the test. But here, in Vitebsk year after year we see how it is getting stronger. And the number of our friends grows larger. Artists from the remotest parts of the planet perform on this stage. By coming to us, they say no to all the artificially created barriers between nations and countries, to all the enforced stereotypes and opinions about our countries.”

The president said: “Year after year, as we gather under the dome of the Vitebsk amphitheater we create peace together. Belarusians and Russians. And I am confident there are plenty of Ukrainians here. And our guests. We create peace! And it is the key mission of Slavianski Bazaar.”

The festival takes place under the patronage of the Belarus president and the president has a role to play during the festival. “I highly appreciate my right to present well-deserved awards on this stage,” the Belarusian leader noted.

This year Aleksandr Lukashenko presented the grand prix of the 21st international children’s music contest Vitebsk to the young Kazakh performer Sherkhan Arystan.

During the festival’s opening ceremony the head of state also presented a special prize “Through art to peace and mutual understanding” to the Honored Artist of Belarus and the irreplaceable hostess of the Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk Yelena Spiridovich.

Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying: “Just like in previous years today we honor those, who are taking their first career steps and established names. We appreciate experience and contributions to the development of Belarusian culture. We see new talents and help them start their careers. To a degree this ceremony reflects the essence of the policy of our countries based on principles of the continuity of ages and generations. We, Belarusians feel deep respect for predecessors, on whose shoulders we rely as we strengthen and develop our statehood. And we do everything to become a reliable pillar for children and grandchildren. We have always been an island of security and a reliable pillar for all peace-loving people. Trust me, Belarus will always be like that.”

The head of state recalled the history of the festival at the beginning of his presidency: “I remember my first steps onto this stage. Back then I was feeling some… You know what a person feels when they come out in front of a huge audience. There are 7,000 people here [in the Summer Amphitheater] and millions are watching. As usual, I approached our prominent hosts. And some young girl (she is an adult today) was trying to overload me with information because she understood that it would be difficult to meet with the president, particularly back then. I didn’t listen to everything she said. And I remembered Yelena saying: ‘Aleksandr Grigoryevich [Lukashenko], please, save Slavianski Bazaar’.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that times were complicated back then. Not even because the Soviet Union had collapsed or money had been in short supply or something else. “The thing is various dealers came forth and tried to disperse this Slavianski Bazaar across cities and towns. Only a handful of people, including Yelena, felt that it would destroy the festival. I realized all of it after I came back after this first festival.”

The president stressed he had not recalled the event in order to emphasize his role: “It is emphasized enough. What I did or didn’t do, bad things or good things. It is all on you. It is the fate of presidents. But I’d like to emphasize that there were only a few people… Three, maybe four, maybe five people, whose souls were welded to our festival. They latched onto the festival and were asking everyone they could to save the festival.”

“We’ve presented this prize [to Yelena Spiridovich] for a reason. It may be a bit late. We sometimes presented these prizes to people, who are on the other side of the barricades now. It is life. All things may happen. But we presented these prizes in recognition of the art that these people had gifted to us and to these organizers. This is why there is no need to be modest, Yelena. You deserve this award. And all of those, who stood up back then (several people next to you), those, who were saving this bazaar, have to understand that it is also their award. No offense, please. An award of the very few people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

He wished for the history of the Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk and of Belarus to be eternal. He wished for the best tunes and voices of not only Belarusian performers but those from Russia, Ukraine, neighboring Slavonic countries, and many other nations to always be heard on the stage of the festival. The president also wished for peace and creation to remain the key goals of modern generations and future ones.

In conclusion of his speech the president declared the 32nd international art festival Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk open.