Pictures, Video & Audio


The Power of the Powerless

Russia, Belarus, Ukraine—Writing in Times of Eclipse

Alissa Ganieva (Moscow) in conversation with Viktor Martinovich (Minsk) and Ostap Slyvynsky (Lviv). Introduction: Katharina Raabe

In English language

The images from Belarus last summer—veritable oceans of protesters swinging white-red-white flags—are inextinguishably carved in our memories. It was a true moment of democracy—after a rigged presidential election, people took to the streets to express discontent and dissent. However, the newly born society, which had emerged so powerfully, has now been exposed to a policy of revenge. The strongman in Minsk and his security apparatus terrorizes his own citizens who are being detained, tortured, and killed. People such as young Roman Protasevich has been broken and forced to declare himself guilty of incensing mass riots—in a procedure reminding of public court trial in Stalinist Russia. A wave of repression is flooding Russia. Activists and critics of the regime don’t feel safe anymore. Neighboring Ukraine provides exile to political refugees who cross the border in huge numbers. Seven years ago, Ukrainians were swaying away their corrupt president and finally forcing a regime change. As a result, the Kremlin annexed the Crimea and waged war in the Donbass region, destabilizing Ukrainian statehood and fueling tension between people of both countries and ethnic groups inside Ukraine.

Given these tensions and grim events—have fellow-writers and artists been prepared to face it, actually? Do they redefine their role as intellectuals in troubled communities, rethinking the relationship between the poet and the power? How do they perceive each other’s situation? How do they cope with increasing fear and intimidation—and how to reconfirm values such as freedom, responsibility, and truth?

A cooperation of the Cultural Foundation Schloss Wiepersdorf and the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB).


Go back