Khadanovich asks Lukashenka about ‘blacklisted’ writers
The President met Belarusian literary men on October 23. Representatives of the official Union of Writers of Belarus and of two ‘disgraced’ unions – the Belarusian PEN-centre and the Union of Belarusian Writers – were invited.
He expected the invitation, head of the PEN-centre Andrei Hadanovich told Euroradio. The event was panned a few months ago but was cancelled for some reason.
Hadanovich: "The suggestion was unexpected a few months ago. I had been considering it a lot before I agreed. I know that some people refused but I am not going to reveal their names.”
He was able to ask Lukashenka his questions, the writer said:
Hadanovich: "I asked three sets of questions. One of them was about ‘blacklisted’ writers, censorship, self-censorship and the possibility of creation of equal conditions for pro-government and independent writers.”
Furthermore, the head of the PEN-centre mentioned publishers’ problems: the publishing house Goliath was unable to sell books in its bookshop, Ihar Lohvinau had lost its license for selling his photo album Belarus Press Photo. Hadanovich also suggested creating a magazine for translations of foreign pieces of literature into Belarusian.
The President’s response took 1.5 hours, Hadanovich said. Lukashenka mentioned the topics Hadanovich had not asked him about:
Hadanovich: "Nobody asked him about political prisoner Mikola Statkevich. However, Lukashenka explained his motives and said why Statkevich was still in prison.”
Lukashenka also mentioned the terrorist act in Minsk metro and said that it was impossible to abolish the death penalty.
Hadanovich did not get any specific response to his questions and does not know if the problems he mentioned are going to be solved. However, the meeting context was positive, the literary man said.
Lukashenka even spoke Belarusian from time to time:
Hadanovich: "The state leader used to speak Belarusian to insult his political opponents. I have heard a few statements like that today. However, he also spoke Belarusian in a stylistically positive context.”