Belarusian "black lists" have always existed like this — in quotation marks, in a half-legal and half-mythical form. This is a fact that was never publicly acknowledged by the official representatives of the Belarusian authorities: all the papers that got into the media space resembled self-publishing creativity and did not look like any official document.
The same is happening now. A document with the names of unwanted artists appeared
again in the Belarusian segment of the Internet. The list is very motley: there is Cher with Lady Gaga, and Alaksiej Chlastoŭ with Saša Niemo — perhaps this is a historical moment and a rare case when these surnames ended up on the same sheet of paper. It is not known for sure whether this is really a document used by the authorities, as it raises many questions. For example, there is a band N.R.M. but there is no Lavon Volski. There is Zmicier Kałdun but there is no band Daj darohu!.
If this is a real list, then it was compiled by not very experienced people, who are usually engaged in completely different tasks. If this creativity is by an unknown author, then at least it was successful, because it caused a large-scale discussion. Another thing is that the originality of this piece of paper is actually of secondary importance: now no one disputes or silences the facts of ultra-censorship, and the existence of black lists can finally be removed from quotation marks and given official status. In any case, the list of almost 90 bands and performers looks very superficial: the repressive machine in Belarus works at such a pace that the list must have hundreds of Belarusian names alone, let alone international artists.
In each case, up to a certain point, the lists of unwanted artists included a certain element of state creativity. Officials ignored them in public, so the musicians were completely dependent on force majeure: the lights suddenly went out in the club or the roof leaked. Now there is an official wording of the Ministry of Culture, voiced by Anatol Markievič: "Traitors have no place on the stage". It is not clear what "treason" is in the understanding of an official and how this wording looks on paper. But it is clear that this is an important statement and the actual and final legitimization of the existence of black lists, banned artists and the total destruction of the independent scene.
Who is a traitor according to the authorities? This is an artist whose position somehow does not correspond to the general line of the party. It's not even a band that came out to support an inconvenient candidate, and it's not even a singer that joined the protests. Problems can arise even with the most herbivorous artists, if they have not expressed their thoughts completely unambiguously. As an example, there is a wave of hate towards the band Drazdy, which is currently touring Belarus: according to pro-government Telegram channels, Vital Karpanaŭ is not a loyal enough singer, and his posts on social networks are a hidden criticism of the Belarusian authorities. Sometimes it resembles a medieval witch hunt, a competition in an artistic display of loyalty, an act of creative suicide with patriotic smiles on their faces.
An ideal demonstration of the creative potential of official culture is the "Song of the Year" contest, which after a long break was revived in Belarus. The parade of achievements of the Ministry of Culture finally turned into a patriotic song contest with titles like "What have you done for the Motherland?" or "The truth is behind us". At the same time, almost the main awards were given to songs written by a relative of Łukašenka. In fact, the official culture is engaged in corporate service, creates a cozy universe for a limited circle of persons belonging to the government.
An important quote from Markievič: "If a person sincerely repents of his words, posts, likes, is ready to work for the state and publicly declare their civic position, (s)he is given the second chance. If the words turn out to be lies, we say goodbye to such people once and for all". At the same time, the official culture is not capable of constructing high-quality narratives, its creative and financial potential is very limited, and perhaps the only ambassador of the authorities of Belarus known to the mass audience is the rapper Siaroha. Official cultural management does not involve selection and funding, it is the ultimate form of management: loyalty or death.
The court of the Leninski district of Brest recognized the video clip and lyrics of the song Daj darohu! as extremist under the name "Extremist". This is an elaborate demonstration of the paradoxical humour of the judicial system of Belarus, which strives to bring the extremist narrative to the absolute. From recent examples: the Karakin brothers from the band Litesound received 2.5 years of "house arrest", approximately the same terms were awarded to their parents. And this is a very mild sentence according to the modern judicial system of Belarus.
The musicians of the band Irdorath, Uładzimir and Nadzieja Kałač, served the full term and were released. They spent 1 year, 8 months and 9 days behind bars. From the positive news, the singer Saša Zacharyk was released in the courtroom. It is reported that she was sentenced to a non-custodial sentence. Such news becomes more or less sensational in the merciless daily informational mourning.
It's considered to be "Belarusian style" positive, a breath of fresh air in the prison.