Basowiszcza fans: Explanations!

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Although a festive spirit and
friendly atmosphere ruled Basowiszcza 2008, the number of fans decreased
considerably, security guards prevented them from raising high white-red-white
flags and headliners were not allowed to do the encore.

About 5,000 fans turned out
for the festival that took place in Grodek, Bialystok province, on July 18 and
19 and featured about 20, mostly young, bands.

Musician Alyaksandr Pamidorau
shared his general impression of the festival with ERB, "Regretfully, as
to the Belarusian-language format and approach, this is the only Belarusian festival
that takes place abroad. This is a very important event, a tradition associated
with the early period of Belarus'
independence." 

But despite bands'
excellent performance on stage, the festival is losing fans and its
organization often irks performers.

Alyaksandr
Rakavets, frontman of hip-hop band IQ48 who was the festival's headliner and
second day presenter, says that the atmosphere remains the same, but notes
organization problems. "It worked a little differently this summer. In
terms of presentation and atmosphere it remains the same, but in terms of
organization it has become worse, less professional. In addition, there were
fewer fans because of visa problems." 

The organizers had promised free visas to all Belarusians who submit
applications before the deadline, but only about half of the applicants were
actually granted visas. This was one of the reasons for the low attendance.

Only six of nine
contestants made it to the festival, others, including heavy metal band Znich,
were not given visas. The organizers said that the musicians failed to table
all required documents on time, while musicians thought their paperwork was in
order.

Journalists and
musicians are divided about the contest results. Some backed the jury's choice,
while others do not understand how some of the contestants were selected.

Vital Shum,
producer of Hliuki that grabbed the third prize, says, "It was an objective
and fair decision.

The third place
is something that Hliuki's performance deserved yesterday. But today, when I
watched other prize winners perform it seemed that we deserved better. But we
have come here not to take awards, but to play and show ourselves to the
public."

Hrodna’s heavy metal band
Tlusta Lusta won the first prize. Minsk’s
Spita/\\ь F and Mahilyou’s Hliuki came
second and third, respectively.

This year's Basowiszcza was marred incidents that angered both musicians and
fans. Shortly before the live broadcast, security personnel started to seize
rods to which fans fixed white-red-white flags, alleging that they obstructed
Belsat cameramen's view. The scene was reminiscent of the dispersal of
opposition protesters on Kastrychnitskaya
Square in Minsk.
 

The fans
demanded explanations from Belsat director Agnieszka Romaszewska when she took
the stage to present the awards.

In another development, the
organizers cut short the performance of headliner IQ48 because the previous
band had played 30-minutes longer than planned. It was a big disappointment for
fans to see IQ48 leave the stage.