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Image: A rift among writers of Belarus

A rift among writers of Belarus

Friday, 25 November 2005

Belarus political authorities initiate a divide among intellectuals. After the constituent assembly of the new writers organization, the literati have in fact been divided into "good" and "bad" ones. On 18 November Belarusian society witnessed the cloning of the Union of Belarusian Writers, which resulted in the Union of Writers of Belarus. This is yet another attack on the non-governmental public organizations, and an attempt to isolate the most active part of the Belarusian-speaking writers".

This is the first time a "shadow union is created when there is an efficiently operating Union available. The chair of the newly-created writers´ organization is Nikolai Cherginets, who, apart from literature, is actively involved with politics; he is a deputy of the Supreme Chamber of the Parliament, head of the International Relations Committee.

None of the popular writers or poets of Belarus have been invited to take part in the event. None of the legitimate leadership of the current union of writers have not received invitations to attend the constituent assembly of the new organizaiton. Of 130 delegates to the Congress, half are members of the current Union of Belarusian Writers.  The delegates were selected using the local ideology departments. Judging by those who attended the constituent assembly, the membership in this union will be claimed by newspaper contributors who, according to the UBW charter, do not have the right to be a member of the writers´ organization.

The speakers and new leaders of the Cloned Union accused the earlier writer organization of political intrigues and failing to create significant and worthy books that deserve the attention of the people. "Who barred all of the critical speakers from writing that kind of books! The Union does not write any! Also, why then did the state spend substantial amounts on having the books published by state-owned publishers", counters the chair of the current UBW Alies Pashkievich. He also notes that "even the watchful Ministry of Justice did not make any comments regarding the alleged political intrigues (and activity outside the scope of the charter) by the Union of Writers!

 The UBW members were also indignant at the seizure of the name: thus, the Union of Writers of Belarus was the name of the current Union of Belarusian Writers in 1991. After in 1996 public associations were banned to have the name of the country included into the name of the organization, they had to make changes to the Charter and to the name. And now the Ministry of Justice has an "interesting issue of registering the public organization with such a name. But as is known, law in Belarus does not apply equally to all.

The congress delegates adopted a decision to appeal to the state with a request for financial support of the newly-made structure, and also expressed a desire for a meeting with the head of state. They accused us of political intrigues, while they in fact are building a political structure...", commented the UBW leader Alies Pashkevich on the situation: Acting in the name of the state, they publicly started to divide the writers into "good" and "bad" ones...   Our country has about 1000 writers. Of them 582 are members of our union. A divide was also reported in our union. This is a lie because none of the congress participants, including Mr. Cherginets, have applied for withdrawal from our union.

A Representative from the Belarusian PEN-Center, assesses the situation in the following way: "This is yet another attack on the non-governmental public organizations, an attempt to isolate the most active part of the Belarusian-speaking writers. What happened now was not specially intended:  it is simply turn to create such harmless formations. This step ideally falls in with the overall tendency of "purging the cultural environment prior to the elections".


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