New Times Will Come
“Lukashenko is a guardian of the Soviet era. He tried to stop the time.”
“I saw free people!” In this exclusive interview Belarusian writer and Nobel Prize Laureate Svetlana Alexievich looks back on the 2020 democratic uprising in her home country. “I’d even say I fell in love with my people.” Read more …
“Lukashenko is a guardian of the Soviet era. He tried to stop the time”, Alexievich states. She compares the Belarusian dictator with Stalin or the German Gestapo during the Third Reich. “To even come up with those cruelties…it was inconceivable.”
Alexievich accuses Lukashenko of always having been a cruel leader that took advantage of Belarus’ strategic geopolitical position. “For that he got money, and he got cheap gas and oil. And he lived off that. But now, when he saw around half a million people on the streets, he was profoundly shocked. He considered himself the ‘Daddy’, that was his trump card. And he suddenly realized how much people hated him.”
Alexievich ends on an optimistic note. At the time she is reflecting upon the 2020-events in her exile in Berlin writing on a new novel. “Before, young people used to say they were Alexievich: New Times Will Come not interested in politics. Now we want exactly what we want. We want Lukashenko gone and we want an independent country.”
Svetlana Alexievich (b. 1948) is a Belarusian journalist and writer. She writes nonfiction in the form of documentary novels based on interviews and witnesses’ testimonies. Her work chronicles many of the most important and traumatic events of Soviet history (including post-Soviet republics), telling those stories through the narratives of individuals who experienced them. Among her works are ‘The Unwomanly Face of War’ (1985, English translation 2017), ‘Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster’ (1997, English translation 2005), ‘The Last Witnesses’ (2004), ‘Second-hand Time’ (2013, English translation 2016) and ‘Boys in Zinc’ (1991, English translation 1992). In 2015 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, her work called “a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Other awards include the ‘National Book Critics Circle Award’ (2005), the ‘Peace Prize of the German Book Trade’ (2013) and the ‘Prix Médicis’ (2013).
During the 2020 Belarusian protests, Alexievich became a member of the Coordination Council of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. On August 20th, the Prosecutor-General of Belarus, Alexander Konyuk, initiated criminal proceedings against the members of the Coordination Council under Article 361 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, on the grounds of attempting to seize state power and harming national security. On August 26th, Alexievich was questioned by Belarusian authorities about her involvement in the council. On September 9th, 2020, Alexievich alerted the press that “men in black masks” were trying to enter her apartment in central Minsk. “I have no friends and companions left in the Coordinating Council. All are in prison or have been forcibly sent into exile,” she wrote in a statement. “First they kidnapped the country; now it’s the turn of the best among us. But hundreds more will replace those who have been torn from our ranks. It is not the Coordinating Council that has rebelled. It is the country.”
Diplomats from Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Sweden began to keep a round-the-clock watch on Alexievich’s home to prevent her abduction by security services. On September 28th, 2020, Alexievich left Belarus for Germany, promising to return depending on political conditions in Belarus. She was the last member of the Coordination Council who was not in exile or under arrest before her departure. In August 2021, her book The Last Witnesses was excluded from the school curriculum in Belarus and her name was removed from the curriculum. It was assumed that the exclusion was made for her political activity.
Svetlana Alexievich was interviewed by Anne Haubek and Thomas Ubbesen in her apartment in Berlin in August 2021.
Camera: Christian T. Jørgensen
Edited by Michael Christophersen
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond
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