Officials: Painting Bykau is an ideology issue

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Painters were fined for 4.5 million roubles each for their attempt to draw Vasil Bykau in the centre of the city. The graffiti on the transformer vault had not been allowed by the city authorities. The portrait has already been removed and the communal services demand 200 thousand roubles for it.

The painters are trying to get the permission now.  Having passed five formal procedures, they have learnt that only deputy head of Minsk City Executive Committee department of ideology can allow graffiti on a transformer vault.

“We sent our letter to the deputy head of Minsk City Executive Committee department of ideology. Now we will need to wait for 15 days. We have asked him to allow us to finish our drawing on that transformer vault. We will try asking for other spots if they do not let us do it there,” coordinator of the project Signal Aleh Larychau said.

The painters used to draw on high-rises and other buildings in Homel and Mahilyou and the local authorities allowed it. Why didn’t they ask for permission to draw Bykau? “We had no time before the writer’s 90th anniversary”.

“We decided to risk. There are many examples of drawings made in Minsk without permission – they have not been removed so far because people like them,” Aleh Larychau explained to Euroradio. The policemen and representatives of the communal services who detained the painters did not mind the portrait, he added.

A new graffiti has appeared on the transformer vault now – the inscription ‘Vasil Bykau was here’. The author is unknown. We asked the architecture and construction department of Minsk City Executive Committee whether painters usually asked them for permission to draw graffiti in Minsk.

“There were such examples in October and Moscow Districts of Minsk. But they have to ask district administrations for it,” officials explained.

Why did they sent the painters to deputy head of the Mayor of Minsk then?.. We asked if it was possible to paint a portrait of Vasil Bykau in Moscow District.

“Bykau is an ideological issue,” Moscow District Administration replied. They could only recall one case when painters sought for the authorities’ approval of a drawing.

“If they do ask us for permission, they are usually going to pay. If somebody suggested a project like a contest of students’ works… But any sketches must be approved by the administration,” district officials said.

There are a few drawings that have not been allowed by anyone in Karl Marx Street and in Independence Square. Nobody is removing them for the time being.

Photo: svaboda.org , Victar Kontar’s Facebook

In the photo: Bykau’s portrait on a transformer vault and the inscription made after its removal.