Charnihau authorities disrupt Be Free festival

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The festival will not be held on August 21 and 22, however, it is still not clear whether Be Free will be postponed, held in some other city or cancelled this year. The city administration of Charnihau, where it had been planned to organize the fourth festival Be Free at the end of August, has not allowed to do it. The organizer of the festival Vital Supranovich has informed ERB about it.

Vital Supranovich: “We have found out that Charnihau authorities are not inclined to allow us to conduct the event. Our Charnihau partner – Charnihau Civil Fund for Human Rights whose representative sent an appeal to the city administration – has not managed to receive any documents. Neither proving that the event is cancelled nor that it is allowed”.

The organizers got worried only after the meeting of the festival’s steering committee with representatives of the authorities, police, Emergency Control Ministry and others had not been held at the beginning of June. The organizers have not received any letters from the city administration proving that they support the festival either. Everything happened after Charnihau authorities had given a verbal agreement to allow Be Free.
A Charnihau partner of the festival Victar Tarasau has informed ERB that he expects to get an official refusal to allow the event from the city administration soon.

Victar Tarasau: “As they explained to me, the city authorities have nothing against it and support such events; however, taking the recent Ukrainian events into account, they decided to ask the regional authorities about it. They were told that such an event was undesirable. We suspect that there is some political context in it. The authorities’ attitude to Belarus and to organizations that do not really support the Belarusian government changed after Yanokovich had come to power”.

Tarasau says that the reason for the refusal will most likely be technical and far-fetched. Something connected with sanitary norms, civil order or something else. Vital Supranovcih also thinks so.

Vital Supranovcih: “The Ukrainian legislation differs from the Belarusian one. It is difficult to forbid an event there because the principle of conducting them is based on declarations. I can hardly think of any reasons to forbid an event. We had a top-level festival last year and no warnings were pronounced to us”.
ERB has tried to ask Charnihau city administration to comment on it. However, neither the deputy Mayor Aksana Tunik-Fryz who was responsible for the festival last year nor the cultural department answered the phone. Victar Tarasau said that he had not been able to contact those people for several days.
The organizers have already claimed that the festival “Be Free” will not take place on August 21 and 22. They have already started looking for some other place to hold the festival. However, it is still not clear whether it is going to be postponed, held in another city or cancelled until the next year.
Let us remind you that the festival Be Free has been organized in different Ukrainian cities with the help and support of local authorities since 2007. It was held in Lutsk, Lvov and Charnihau.