The event was opened by the MFF Chairman Yuri Hubarevich. “It is the 95th anniversary of Vasil Bykau’s birth now. Do we see any official events in Belarus dedicated to this date? There are none,” said the MFF leader.
He also reminded that no matter how much the public demands this, “we can count on one hand’s fingers the number of streets in small towns and villages, which are named in honour of Vasil Bykau — not a single central street, not in any major city.”
“The authorities have other priorities — they focus more on some sports events and games, hoping that through them they’ll be able to divert the public’s attention from urgent problems,” said Hubarevich.
According to him, Bykau became a real citizen who came to understand “the essence of totalitarian regimes — not only the Nazi, but the Soviet, as well, and later its legacy regime, which now reigns in Belarus.” “He gave sound assessments. His opinion, his creative work, and his civic and political feat are a lesson for us all,” added the politician.
The celebration participants came from Vitsebsk region, Mahiliou region, Minsk, and some even came by bicycles (from Polatsk and Lepel). They did this in spite of the unfavourable weather forecast and the fact that the For Freedom of Thought Prize was not awarded this year. Besides, the Belarusian Language Society didn’t participate in the celebration this year.
“Vasil Bykau is the banner under which we have been striving to ensure that Belarus becomes a truly independent, a truly democratic, and a truly European country,” said MFF Council member Khristafor Zhaliapau at the event.
He noted that he, a Bulgarian by birth, became a Belarusian thanks to books by Bykau, Uladzimir Karatkevich, and other prominent authors. “I’m Belarusian, and my children are Belarusians, and my grandchildren are Belarusians, too,” said Zhaliapau.
Among others, Ada Raychonak, a prominent ethnographer and winner of the Vasil Bykau For Freedom of Thought Prize, made a speech before the participants. She said her education is Russian Language and Literature Teacher, but at one time under Bykau’s influence she gave a promise to make speeches exclusively in Belarusian, and has kept her word ever since.
Literary readings were held as part of the celebration: Kristsina Bandurina and Nina Filipava read excerpts of Bykau’s works, and local poets and writers read their works. Swan Heorh Stankevich performed a few songs. The celebration was concluded by the concert by Andus Takidanh and Bartosik Band family ensemble. An exhibition dedicated to Bykau was organized.