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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Ukraine’s European choice does not have an alternative now”

Well-known Belarusian movie script writer, playwright, and director Andrei Kureichyk about the Russian aggression
13 August, 2014 - 16:29
Andrei Kureichyk

In Belarus Andrei Kureichyk is called “a man with a hyperactive civic stand.” A playwright and screenwriter, he is not only active in his response to social processes, but is also very productive in his creative work, writes a lot, and realizes his works into theater or movie production. Aged somewhat over 30, he is an author of 30        plays which are shown on the stages of nine countries of the world.

Andrei Kureichyk is a frequent guest to Ukraine. He comes to theater festivals that are held in our country, actively communicates with Ukrainian workers of theater, watches the productions of his plays staged here. For example, the philosophical comedy Man and Eternity by Andrei Kureichyk is shown in two Kyiv theaters, the Young Theater and the Theater of Young Spectator in Lypky. It is interesting for theater goers to compare the different scenic interpretations of the play by the two theaters. The Theater of Young Spectator in Lypky is also showing the play Watch Out – Women! based on the melodrama comedy by the Belarusian author.

Andrei Kureichyk is following with emotion what is going on very close to his Belarus.

“It seems to me Belarus is interested in stable and integral Ukraine. President Aleksandr Lukashenko understands that Gomel, Vitebsk, and Mogilev and our eastern Belarusian oblasts can easily become another ‘people’s republics,’ if Moscow decides so,” Andrei KUREICHYK underlined, “For they are populated almost exclusively by the Russian-speaking people. The Belarusian leadership is afraid of separatism and destabilization. That is why Lukashenko has demonstratively met with Turchynov (Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine) back in the time when in the Kremlin the latter was called as ‘illegitimate leader of junta.’ Lukashenko has put the accents immediately: we recognize the Ukrainian power which came as a result of the Maidan, and we don’t recognize Yanukovych. Moreover, Lukashenko immediately justified the ATO in the east of Ukraine. Incidentally, our state concern MAZ transferred a huge consignment of military trucks for the National Guard of Ukraine. So, Belarus, in spite of the strong pressure exerted by Russia, is showing as hard as it can that on the whole the country supports the Kyiv power in this conflict. And for ordinary people it is more complicated to understand the current situation: the Russian propaganda is on every TV set, there are practically no alternative views in the electronic mass media. However, those who have access to the Internet can receive unbiased information directly from Ukraine.”

Do you think it is possible to find points of contact and mutual understanding between the people with the help of art and theater?

“Art is based on philosophy of humanism and progress. Apparently, true art unites people, no matter what their political views are. Unfortunately, in the post-Soviet space art, including theater, is very much dependent on the state, hence – on the dominating ideology. It is apparent how workers of art of Russia, and in our country too, are trying to please the power, using the painful political topics.”

You are working in Moscow; your plays are staged in Ukraine, as well as in other countries. The annexation of the Crimea, and now the war in the east of Ukraine, has divided many people, including the well-known workers of culture, into two uncompromising camps.

“I’m not arrogating the idiotism of the power to the entire country. Russia for me is not just Putin, Dugin, Kiselev, Kurginyan, not just the ideology of expansion and imperialism, not just ‘arbitrariness, Orthodox beliefs, and nationalism.’ There are also Sakharov, Bunin, Pasternak, Shevchuk, Akunin! There are lots of people who think in a European way and understand that for the future success the country needs real democracy, openness, freedom, and respect to the international law. Unfortunately, such people are innumerous.”

As a playwright able to “cut” the life situations, how do you see the future plot of relations between Ukraine and Russia?

“What I can see now in the relations between the fraternal peoples of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine is a prewar rhetoric, a terrible version of The Karamazov Brothers. Meanness, arrogance, rudeness, and readiness to strangle one another have reached a fantastic scale. Of course, I didn’t expect Russia to stab brotherly Ukraine literally in the back, making use of temporary difficulties of its ‘brother.’ This is simply human meanness. I didn’t expect there would be so many lies: the Russian television is now a brazen and aggressive bragging, which sometimes has a terrible smell. And everyone understands: they were lying everyone in the eyes about the Crimean ‘green men,’ and the ‘peaceful rebels,’ and ‘crucified boy,’ and the Malaysian plane. The Crimea and the Donbas will poison the relations between the Ukrainians and Russians for many decades. Because of the apparent silliness of the Russian imperialists who have come to power, Ukraine and Russia have found one another farther from each other than it was in the 17th century. Over these months a four centuries’ backpedaling in the relations of people has taken place, and nobody knows whether they will get closer. But there is a plus: Ukraine’s European choice does not have an alternative now, of course if Ukraine wants to remain on the map of the world.”