Defiant poster art by Belarusian artists
A collection of artistic posters reflects the ongoing resistance against Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who sees anything in white-red-white as criticism.
Three symbols of Belarusian resistance
An exhibition at the Museum Folkwang in Essen shows how artists from Belarus are defending themselves against the regime in the digital realm. This picture by Antonina Slobodchikova shows the symbols of the strong trio of women who stood up to Lukashenko: Maria Kolesnikova's symbol is the heart, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya's is the fist, and the victory sign represents Veronica Tsepkalo.
Lukashenko's bloody trail
A long trail of blood leads from a drawing of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in this work by Ekateryna Prokoyeba. His regime brutally suppressed last year's protests with arrests, torture and intimidation. Many opposition members and demonstrators were injured or ended up in prison. Those who could, fled the country.
'Seizing Private Ryanair'
Vladimir Tsesler is one of Belarus's best-known artists and a fierce critic of the regime. This poster commemorates the Ryanair plane that was forced to land, after which opposition member Roman Protashevich was arrested at Minsk airport. Lukashenko himself is said to have ordered the forced landing, on the grounds that there had been a report of explosive materials on board.
In early August 2020, Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the winner of a disputed presidential election. According to unofficial statistics, only 3% actually voted for him, thus establishing the meme "Sasha 3 percent," depicted here by artist Vladimir Tsesler. Independent election observers were not allowed.
'The Human Rights Situation in Belarus'
As expressed in this poster by artist Hanna Murajda, the human rights situation in Belarus is alarming. Activists and journalists are severely restricted in their work and a number of organizations are trying to draw attention to the situation. A report by Amnesty International concludes that the judicial system is used to punish victims instead of holding perpetrators accountable.
White-red-white are the colors of the national flag of the first independent Belarusian state, which was proclaimed on March 25, 1918. Lukashenko abolished the flag in 1995, shortly after the start of his term in office. Today, they are the colors of the opposition, which risks its life in the fight against police violence and a corrupt regime. Hanna Murajda depicts the flag as a wall.
Avtozak, as the buses in Nick Osadchiy's image are called, are the stuff of nightmares for opposition members. They demonstrate power and represent torture and violence. People on the streets are dragged into such buses and taken to prisons. As a result, the term "busophobia" established itself among demonstrators. Anyone, regardless of whether they are politically active or not, can be arrested.
Anything in white-red-white can be perceived by the regime as criticism and resistance. This creates a state that goes against its own people, as this poster by Olga Balai shows. Under the title "Cultprotest.me — Artists for Democracy in Belarus," the Museum Folkwang in Essen is holding an exhibition of protest posters by young pro-democracy artists from Belarus that runs through October 24, 2021.