Picture: Thomas Hanses/EBU, Instagram Margarita Levchuk

Since last August, we’ve continuously reported on how Belarusian Eurovision stars have been affected by the crises in their own country in the aftermath of pro-democracy protests. Recently, a Belarusian “list of banned artists” has appeared in local press and on social media that highlights the continued limitations to freedom of expression in Belarus.

The 9 August marked a year since the 2020 Belarusian presidential elections and the start of widespread protests against the current government. In that year, barely anything has changed for the Belarusian people. For pro-democracy artists, it has increasingly become difficult to perform in their native country, with a crackdown on those who may speak out against the government.

Over the past week, a list of “banned artists” in Belarus has been circulating over social media. This list includes names of many Belarusian Eurovision participants. Here’s an explainer on what we officially know about the list and what it means.

“List of banned artists”: What is it all about?

On the 5 August, several publications in Belarus started reporting on a list they had received. In fifteen pages, it detailed the names and professions of hundreds of key workers in the cultural sector, media and sports. Most of them have taken an outspoken pro-democracy stance in the past year.

In total, over 40 individual artists and an additional 19 musical groups are visible on the list. Next to that, it records the names of over 150 journalists who left state media following the protests.

The direct origins of the document remain mostly mysterious and exact creators of the list have not been verified.

The document appeared in the independent Belarusian media after an anonymous employee of a recruitment agency tipped different outlets. This anonymous person claimed they received the list in the mail and that they were told to not employ anyone on the list.

According to Radio Svaboda, the Belarusian service of RFE/RL, the list first appeared in a pro-governmental Telegram group called “Traitors of the Republic of Belarus”.

Although the original source of the list remains unknown, it has nevertheless sparked outrage on Belarusian social media as it is yet another tool of intimidation used against artists.

Who is on the list and what does it mean?

The list includes Eurovision participants Angelica Agurbash, Polina Smolova, Dmitry Koldun, Litesound, Uzari, NAVIBAND and VAL. Next to that, it includes former Belarusian Junior Eurovision stars Olga Satsiuk, Ksenia Sitnik and Aleksey Zhigalkovich.

The inclusion of Smolova and Koldun is noteworthy. Neither of them have spoken their minds on the conflict or sided with the pro-democracy movement publicly. Smolova has not made any public appearances in recent times.

Eurovision fans might also recognise the names of national final stars Alexey Gross, Alen Hit, Evgeny Litvinikovich, Max Lorens and Rusya from the musical group SHUMA on the list.

Former Eurovision commentators Evgeny Perlin and Denis Kurian are among the list of former employees of BTRC.

The direct implications of the list are unclear. However, such an inclusion is nonetheless an evident form of intimidation. It demonstrates the limitations on freedoms of expression within the country’s music industry.

The political situation in Belarus eventually led to the country’s disqualification from the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. Belarus’ state broadcaster BTRC was later expelled from the EBU, making it impossible for BTRC to participate in both Eurovision and Junior Eurovision in the near future.

Read all our Belarus Eurovision news here

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David
David
2 months ago

Alyona Lanskaya was also made to change her song Rhythm of Love to Solayoh by BTRC/Government if I’m not mistaken. Surprising she is not on the list

zelenovi
zelenovi
2 months ago

I would love it if Eurovision next year includes some moment of solidarity with Belarus during the show – maybe a guest performance by a few of these artists?

Luc
Luc
2 months ago
Reply to  zelenovi

It’d be nice, but it’s impossible due to Eurovision’s non-political nature

Roo
Roo
2 months ago
Reply to  zelenovi

And where would this fit in to the format of an overly long format? We have people here wanting a tribute to this person, that person. Open, 25 acts, short interval, voting and be finished in 3 hours.

ZMG
ZMG
2 months ago

Is there somewhere one can see the full list? None of the links direct to it and I cannot find it with google

Branko86
Branko86
2 months ago
Reply to  ZMG

Probably Fake! I cannot find it online!

Jose
Jose
2 months ago

Zena has left the chat ??

sam
sam
2 months ago
Reply to  Jose

i mean, zena did host JESC and it was even more clear that btrc liked and trusted her when she won the (rigged, even tho her song was good) national selection. she was going to win that from the start and for some reason the belarusian govt trusts her to not step out of line, which is saddening

Chessguy99
2 months ago

As for those listed,but have yet to take an active stance against the government, it may be a case of not taking a pro-government stance when asked. A case of, if you’re not with us, you’re against us.

Ashton
Ashton
2 months ago

this list is just letting me know who to stan

Agent 007
Agent 007
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

Because you are told who are the bad ones and who are the good ones, right? 🙂

Carla
Carla
2 months ago
Reply to  Agent 007

Good one… not.
Ashton has probably decided that democracy is closer to themselves than proven dictatorship. Each individual has the right of filtering who to ‘stan’ and who not based on personal criteria. Therefore, Ashton probably decided for themselves how to do so.
No one has to be told anything. Not when it comes to decency and respect towards a population of people that has done nothing wrong to be denied basic goods such as human rights. It should be intuitive.
Hard business for James Bond to understand these concepts, isn’t it?

Last edited 2 months ago by Carla
Agent 007
Agent 007
2 months ago
Reply to  Carla

I understand that concept and I assume people who downvoted my opinion understand that concept too 🙂 As for democracy/dictatorship… well, I am not the judge. I trust Belarusian people more than myself in this case and I have a lot of relatives/friends in Belarus, not only liberal youth aged less than 40 years, but GENERAL POPULATION and opinions of ALL is important for me. I have a more balanced view on things than you might have imagined 🙂 all the best

Last edited 2 months ago by Agent 007
Darren
Darren
2 months ago

Hopefully these talented, true artists can find shelter in neighbouring European countries and be able to continue to perform and exercise their artistic abilities in freedom and comfort without fear of consequences.
As for Belarus, I fear at this stage things will get worse for them before they get better. Just things change quickly.

Valery
Valery
2 months ago

Also both Denis Kurian and Evgeny Perlin were Junior Eurovision hosts

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago

This shows that ART MATTERS, and that artists DO have a voice.

Una
Una
2 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

True. From the “counter-culture movement” in the US in the mindblowing1960s to the wonderful music of Latin American artists that inspired generations. I remember reading about and seeing some images with people in Estonia and possibly other Baltic countries making a “chain” for hundreds of km holding hands. So could the wiwiteam make a special jam with Eurovision artists making a “chain” of solidarity of songs and ideas with artists that are persecuted? Måneskin could do “Break on Through”, Albina who I think I remember speaks Spanish could do “Sólo le pido a Dios” of Mercedes Sosa? I gave sort… Read more »

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago
Reply to  Una

Brilliant idea, I agree 100%! I hope it’s doable.

Safiyaa
Safiyaa
2 months ago

Even if it’s not a real thing, it’s probably relevant. No one needs an official list to know that artists who criticize the Lukashenko will have this kind of problems. It reminds me of Poland – TVP has already fired several people who criticized the government (directly or indirectly), that’s why they don’t have too many artists to choose from and had to send Rafal who is a host last year. On the other hand, even if they wanted to choose someone else, many artists don’t want to have anything to do with TVP.

Radi
Radi
2 months ago
Reply to  Safiyaa

Well this is also a matter of involvement&help from the broadcaster and money probably. Artists didn’t want to take part of it in the past years, because it was always too late with too little time for preparations. Adding political situation=disaster. TVP’s approach is very wrong with choosing the song imo. They now want some composers to make it and find someone to perform and again wait till the end of the year. No authenticity, it can’t work.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago

Dang they really banned their two JESC winners…

Kaitlin
Kaitlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

They also disbanded the Belarusian EYP. Its probably because they know the power of young people

Una
Una
2 months ago

Honestly, this is a good piece of journalism. I salute Wiwibloggs for its timely covering of this serious issue. I do hope for good in Belarus and its people.