The theme song of the International Festival of Arts Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk sounded for the 31st time. Aleksandr Lukashenko, who traditionally participated in the opening ceremony of the festival, spoke not only about culture and art, but also about politics and friendship between peoples, “Art is eternal, and people’s yearning for friendship and peace overcomes and will overcome any obstacles. I will say more: in today’s crazy, insane world that cancels culture and languages, rejects people on ethnic and other grounds, our festival has become almost the only life-giving spring, a source of creativity and new accomplishments!”
In his speech, the President noted that we did the right thing to retain and preserve our festival throughout the difficult period of the 1990s. Of course, this festive, creative atmosphere is not the best time to talk about politics. Yet, this politics has played a role in the history of Slavianski Bazaar from its very first day,
“Our motto of the festival ‘Through Art to Peace and Understanding’ is more relevant than ever. When founding this festival, we could not even think that the single Slavic world which strength lies in its thousand-year history would be put to the test politically and culturally.
That simple human values like friendship, trust, sincerity that serve as a vital link between countries and peoples would be lost.”
“We could not even imagine that a friendly nation of Yugoslavia would disappear from the political map, the post-Soviet space would plunge into a series of armed conflicts, and NATO, a military bloc, would expand to the east scattering the Slavs across different sides of the barricades,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Aleksandr Lukashenko presented the Grand Prix of the 20th International Children Music Contest 'Vitebsk' to Belarusian Elisey Kasich Photo by BELTA
According to the Head of State, the most crushing blow was dealt eight years ago right at the very heart of the Slavic world — the Belarusian-Russian-Ukrainian brotherhood, “And no matter how history is being twisted today, we lost Ukraine long before the start of the special operation. It was when its politicians themselves abandoned their Slavic identity, when we struggled to bring Ukrainians to perform on this stage, even those who had been living in other countries for a long time. Yet, no matter what it cost us, the Ukrainian language was spoken at the opening of the Slavianski Bazaar festival. And it will be spoken, including today. Moreover: it will always be spoken here! Ukraine, the brotherly Ukrainian people, will return to their family, and we must do everything to keep the festival going and welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Let them rest assured: our Slavic soul will endure everything and face our lot bravely and the ideas of goodness, peace and justice will triumph again.”
The President noted that no matter how hard the West tries to draw the Iron Curtain on us, guests from Europe and other continents continue coming.
“We have created a large-scale project on the world level truly together. This project unites nations and cultures, demonstrates our common historical choice, our national dignity,” emphasised the President.
Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed his gratitude to all the participants of the festival, who boldly and proudly came here to represent the culture of their country, “The world’s future should be in hands of people like you are. The future of a world that I believe will overcome the current challenge to humanity!”
There is something to be proud and cherish
After the performance, the President presented the prize to the winner of the Grand Prix of the 20th International Children Music Contest 'Vitebsk'. This year the award went to Belarusian Elisey Kasich. The panel of judges of the competition gave the maximum number of points to the young talent from Belarus on the first and second days of the contest, as a result, Yelisei Kasich is the only young performer who scored 140 points.
In addition, Aleksandr Lukashenko presented the Union State Award in Literature and Art 2021-2022 on the stage of the Summer Amphitheatre. According to the decision of the Supreme State Council of the Union State, the award was presented to several groups of artists taking part in the concert programmes of the International Festival of Arts Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk, the creators of the Rzhev Memorial to the Soviet Soldier and the team of the publishing project Historical Memory of the Union State timed to the 75th anniversary of the common Victory of the peoples of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War.
Photo by Aleksandr Kulevsky
The artistic director of the Syabry band, People’s Artist of the Republic of Belarus Anatoly Yarmolenko and the Syabry band were honoured with the special award of the Belarusian President ‘Through Art to Peace and Understanding’. The Head of State personally presented it to the artist during the opening of the festival.
From the Vitebsk stage, a welcoming speech was also heard from the President of Russia Vladimir Putin to the participants and guests of the festival, which was read by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Aleksei Overchuk,
“The greeting says: for more than three decades, the festival, held in ancient and beautiful Vitebsk, has been making a significant contribution to the development of international humanitarian co-operation, to the embodiment of spiritual ties between the fraternal Slavic peoples. A significant place in the programme is occupied by events held under the auspices of the Union State. It is important that the organisers pay great attention to the creativity of the younger generation.”
Vladimir Putin sincerely wished inspiration and creative success to all participants of the festival, and bright and unforgettable impressions to its guests.
Not only concerts
Despite the varied weather, Vitebsk buzzed like a beehive all the festival days: numerous guests and participants from 30 countries of the world, over 500 journalists, about 300 craftsmen who came to amaze with their art, a horse patrol, cheerfully clattering along the rain-washed streets of the city above the Dvina River, bright colours everywhere, flowers and a unique atmosphere that could be felt only here, only in these July days.
But there were not only the brightness and sparkling fun — the International Festival of Arts Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk was also characterised by a breadth of interests: it was crowded with many projects in different genres for all three decades of its existence. In addition to pop artists, classical musicians and folk groups, jazzmen and opera singers came here with their performances. Photo by BELTA
Participants of the 5th International Festival of Drummers and Majorettes marched through Vitebsk to the resounding drum roll, the City of Masters rustled with bright colours on the pedestrian streets of Pushkin and Tolstoy, and bell chimes sounded in the Holy Assumption Cathedral of Vitebsk: it was the Slavic Blagovest celebration of choral music — the festival easily combined the earthly and the spiritual in its whirlwind.
Important anniversaries were also in the focus of the festival this year. A plein-air exhibition dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the birth of national poets of Belarus Yakub Kolas and Yanka Kupala marked the beginning of the Days of the Union State in the Vitebsk Centre of Modern Art. A patriotic photo exhibition ‘Destinies Folded in Triangle’ was opened on the Alley of Military Glory in Pobeditelei Park.
The theatrical programme of the festival was rich in new projects this year. First of all, besides the Theatrical Meetings that have already become a tradition, the Puppet Quarter received its separate poster — a series of performances by puppet theatres in Belarus and abroad. Secondly, the Theatre Laboratory operated for the first time. About 30 students from Belarus and Russia became students of GITIS Academy teachers.
The gala concert was a great finishing chord of the festival, which summed up the results of the 31st International Pop Song Performers Contest 'Vitebsk'. The Grand Prix went to a representative of Belarus, Anna Trubetskaya.
Over the past years, the festival has become a true centre of attraction for all creative artists and groups of the post-Soviet space, an impressive lodestone for talents, a real cultural bridge between states.
This is exactly what the Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk was created and lives for: to strengthen friendly and cultural ties, steadily moving through art towards peace and mutual understanding.