Staunton, April 23 – At the end of last week, Belarusians in the city of Mohylev had the chance to watch the British comedy “The Death of Stalin,” a satire the Russian authorities have denied their citizens the chance to view. After the showing, Belarusians offered their views about the film and about the need for films like it about even more contemporary politicians.
They also offered up an anecdote about Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka that says something about him but even more about the people who live under his rule (mspring.online/ru/the-death-of-stalin-quotes/, repeated at belaruspartisan.org/life/422818/). Among the best of the Belarusians’ comments:
· “It’s hard for me to view the film, ‘The Death of Stalin’ as a comedy. In it are shown horrible times when the powers could shoot people without courts or investigations. That the film was shot in the genre of a comedy only intensifies the feeling of horror from what happened at that time. This wasn’t funny.”
· “I understand why this film was banned in Russia; Putin doesn’t want to show the people himself and his entourage. In Belarus, the situation is different: Lukashenka firmly holds onto power, and there aren’t any people who could pretend to take his place. Therefore, he has nothing to fear from the film. But Putn has around him a multitude of oligarchs and heads of various services which compete among themselves.” Parallels with the film are all too obvious.
· “It is possible even good that the film ‘Death of Stalin’ was banned in Russia. Otherwise it might have led to explosions and fires at theaters as was the case with ‘Mathilda.”
· “Censorship in art should occur only when there are calls for murders, terrorism or extremism. Hitler’s Mein Kampf is an example of what should be censored. However, when satirical films are made or books about those in power are written there should not be any censorship.”
· “In Ukraine Russian serials are banned because the Ukrainians are in fact in a state of war with Russia. They know best of all how propaganda penetrates.”
· “An information war between Russia and Belarus has been going on for a long time already. I recently read a book and several articles about propaganda methods and manipulation and discovered that all this is employed by Russia … Unfortunately, in Belarus, people don’t have the culture of consuming information so that they can understand where the truth is and where propaganda.”
· “There has never been anyone one should not be able to laugh about, except perhaps Jesus Christ.”
· “I wouldn’t be against if someone would film a comedy about Zenon Poznyak … It is necessary to test all politicians with humor: strong leaders survive and laugh at themselves … So, if there were a comedy about Poznyak, I think it would be useful even for him.”
· “Satire is necessary, without it there can be an explosion in the state. Comedies, anecdotes and jokes about the powers help people relate to them more simply … When they prohibit you from laughing, protest attitudes spread more rapidly.”
· And one participant in the discussion shared what he said was Lukashenka’s favorite anecdote. The Belarusian leader opens the door of his refrigerator and there inside his beloved wife is shaking, apparently with fear. “He signs and says, you don’t need to shake; I’ve come for the cheese.”
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