Tensions and drama have been overflowing in Belarus recently. There are ongoing political demonstrations throughout the country and a significant proportion of the population is unhappy with the current leadership. Meanwhile, Belarus’ participation in Eurovision 2021 is uncertain too. Now, the country’s 2017 and 2020 Eurovision acts — NAVIBAND and VAL — have collaborated on a Freedom Day anthem to commemorate the anniversary of Belarus’ independence from the Russian SFSR.
NAVIBAND feat. VAL – “ВОЛЬНЫЯ СНЫ” (Voĺnyja sny)
With music and lyrics by NAVI’s Ksienija Zhuk, “Voĺnyja sny” (Free Dreams) is a powerful pop-rock piece. It is entirely in the Belarusian language, and features beautiful vocal harmonies and kicking instrumentals. A stunning nature-themed music video accompanies the track, featuring both frontwomen.
The song’s lyrics travel a thin line between empowerment and protest. In the build-up to the refrain, the singers belt out: “Wake up the universe, forgive us today”. Running along the semantic field of mother nature, the lyrics seem to allude to getting (back) the people’s freedom while using the metaphor of the Earth coming back from hibernation.
The song was released to coincide with Belarus’ Freedom Day on 25 March. It’s a celebration of the Belarusian identity in the spirit of Freedom Day. It also fits in with a number of previous pro-Belarusian opposition releases from both duos.
On 25 March in 1918, the Belarusian Democratic Republic announced its independence from the Russian SFSR. The Belarusian people have been observing 25 March as unofficial celebration day ever since. The date is particularly important in these times when the Belarusian nation needs some joy to hold on to. With their freedom in jeopardy, they could use a celebration of their liberty.
The situation in Belarus
Since August 2020, there has been an ongoing crackdown of peaceful demonstrators who continue to speak out against police brutality and President Alexander Lukashenko. You’ll remember that he was re-elected in elections that have been widely condemned by the international community, including by the European Union.
Since October 2020, the EU has progressively imposed restrictions on Belarus and levelled sanctions against people it says are “responsible for repression and intimidation” against protestors. The Council of the European Union says: “The measures were adopted in response to the Belarusian authorities’ unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detentions, following the August 2020 presidential elections.” “The EU does not recognise results of the Belarus elections, condemning them as neither free, nor fair.”
What do you think of NAVIBAND and VAL’s new song? Do you believe Belarus could one day fly a white-red-white flag at Eurovision? Sound off in the comments below!