Minsk club closed down for “unauthorized events”

The Minsk-based club Arena on May 21 stopped operations, having cancelled several concerts. The club’s management refused to comment.

The organizers of the concerts that were scheduled to take place in Arena on May 21 and May 22 are unanimous in saying that the club was closed down on ideology reasons. They said the authorities did not like the concert by Zet and IQ-48 bands scheduled to play in Arena on May 14.

The ideology department at the Minsk City Hall ordered to cancel the show. Several hours ahead of the concert, the show by Zet and IQ-48 was shifted to Katakomby club. The organizers were detained by police right in the club. Afterwards, Katakomby had to close for “renovation”.

The Zet entered the very first ‘black list’ of the bands two years ago after having played at one of the opposition-staged concerts at the Bangalore Square.

The Minsk city police authorities confirmed that Arena Club was closed down for “staging the events that were not authorized by the Minsk City Hall”.

“After the club violated the regulations by staging unauthorized events, the police requested the district authorities to close down the club,” a spokeswoman for the police department told the European Radio for Belarus.

On May 22, Arena Club was scheduled to host the Break the Silence metal festival. But the organizers told the European Radio for Belarus that the concert was cancelled.

The festival organizer: “Arena Club is closed down. Unfortunately, the concert will not take place. I have already refunded money for the tickets.”

On May 21, a concert by the Russian punk bands Cockroaches! And Elysium was to be played in Arena Club. But ahead of the show, the club’s management advised the organizers to look for new premises urgently. The concert was shifted to Yula Club, but the organizers faced problems there as well.

Organizers: “We agreed on a certain amount. But, the club abruptly raised the rental costs at $300. We did not have enough money. At 1600 we were ready to pay Br1.5 million.

We asked the club’s management to give us one hour to find money, while they would open the club and let people in. Moreover, there were around 200 people waiting in front of the club and willing to buy tickets. So, $300 was a ridiculous amount at this background.

But we were told to get Br600,000 ($300) within half an hour. We got the money within 40 minutes, but meanwhile the art director who was supposed to pick the money had already gone up to his office. The guards would not let me up. Unfortunately, the art director would not pick up his phone. It was impossible to get hold of him.”

Cockroaches! band took their fees and left for Moscow. The Elysium is still in Minsk. The organizers that spent several thousand dollars have apologized to those who had already bought tickets. The organizers are slowly refunding the money.

They said that among the visitors who came to the club there were those who understood the situation and did not demand their money back. The concert by Cockroaches and Elysium will definitely take place in September in a different club.

The return of Vicious Crusade band, scheduled to take place in Arena Club in May 27 will take place but quietly, said the club’s management.