Belarus' President Alyaksandr Lukashenko, pop icon
Last week, the performance of the Belarusian group RockerJoker was unexpectedly canceled at the festival of independent Belarusian culture in Poznan, Poland. The reason was the group's song "Sanya Will Stay with Us," which it performed on the eve of the 2010 presidential election in Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukashenka followed up on his disputed reelection by violently cracking down on peaceful protesters and jailing many of the opposition candidates.
The Polish organizers of the festival said that the song was about Lukashenka ("Sanya" is the Belarusian nickname for Alyaksandr) and that the group supported his campaign. During his 18 years as president, Lukashenka has been the hero of many songs, and not only in Belarus. Here are seven songs about the man once dubbed "Europe's last dictator."
1.) The public in Belarus continues to debate whether this song is just a joke, or made to order. During the 2010 campaign, the RockerJoker song was ordered played on most Belarusian FM radio and public TV stations, and it topped the official charts (although it's hard to tell if "Sanya" himself much likes it).
RockerJoker: "Sanya Will Stay With Us"
Father asked you to stay with us.
If Sanya will stay with us,
Everything will be OK!
Sanya, stay with us!
We cannot be by ourselves, we cannot.
Sanya, stay with us, Sanya.
I'm with you.
2.) One response to RockerJoker's hit was performed by the popular Russian radio anchors Murzilki International and broadcast by the Russian station Autoradio just ahead of the December 2010 vote.
Murzilki International: "Song About Sanyechka"
"Song About Sanyechka" is sung to the tune of the popular Soviet song "Ah, Tanya, Tanya, Tanyechka," and was a hit on the Belarusian Internet as well.
He wants to stay in his position for a fourth term.
Soon Belarusians will go to the polling stations,
And give their votes for Sanyechka because of his mustache.
He doesn't want to be friends with Vovochka [Russian leaders Vladimir Putin] and Dimochka [Dmitry Medvedev].
He is swearing, kicking, spitting,
Over there, that's what they call leading the country.
3.) This rap track appeared a year after the 2010 election, during a fairly routine conflict between Lukashenka and Russian leaders. In its various versions, this song got over 1 million views on YouTube. The Russian group Ilich openly mocks Lukashenka as they portray him appealing to the Russian authorities for more gas and oil deals.
Ilich: "Give Us Gas"
The group says in the video description, "All the characters are fictional, all the matches are random." But the light-hearted disclaimer didn't spare them Lukashenka's wrath -- Ilich has been banned in Belarus.
Potatoes, squash, carrots, and no money.
Oh! I said already,
That in general we need a little bit of gas to make people love me.
In short, I said that the problem is resolved already
You, Vovka, tell Dima for me.
GIVE ME GAS to failure!
Why are YOU so greedy!
GIVE ME GAS to failure!
Finally, when Lukashenka understands that he will not get gas from Russia, he tries to call the EU and NATO, with no success.
Hello, this is the president of NATO. Belorussia, **** you....
4.) Syabry has been very popular since Soviet times, and they've changed their politics often. The song "Listen to Father" was presented to the public on March 8, 2006 -- 11 days before the 2006 presidential election. Belarusian State TV broadcast the concert live and the song got a lot of airplay.
Syabry: "Listen to Father"
Our father is strict, but fair.
Many books will be written about him.
And we would like to be like him, too.
He is great and powerful!
He will not teach bad things.
Father can put everything in order,
And he is way cooler than others!
Just look around -- and it's immediately obvious
Who's the boss of the house.
So Listen to father!
In the morning, during the day and at night
Listen to father!
If you feel bad
Listen to father!
And everything will be alright.
Band leader Anatol Yarmolenka denied that the song was about Lukashenka, but the song's writer, Russian composer Oleg Sorokin, wrote that "Anatol Yarmolenka knew exactly who is the main character of this song, and I even tried to dissuade him, that Lukashenka does not like it."
5.) Popular among young people, the Belarusian punk-rock group Day Darohu became famous for its inappropriate lyrics, and "To Sanya" is no exception. Many wonder why this group hasn't been banned yet!
Day Darohu: "To Sanya"
In the tiny, dirty shack, and hungry.
With the family sitting near the wire-radio,
We love your speeches
We are with you, Sanya, and we will show how great we are
We'll drink together until we puke tequila.
And we will play hockey together, Sanya....
You will be the master of the universe,
Because you have royal genes.
I will trust only you
You are a genius, I know it.
(Lukashenka is a big hockey fan.)
6.) This song was recorded just days after the 1995 referendum proposed by Lukashenka that gave the Russian language equal status to Belarusian, and also brought back symbols of Soviet Belarus. This was during the beginning of Lukashenka's rise to power.
Novaye Nyeba: "President, Go Home"
Interesting fact: The song was recorded in the studios of Belarusian state radio, which was already under Lukashenka's control. Since then, some former employees and the band members are prohibited from entering the building. The group's leader, Kasya Kamotskaya, said that the song truly came from the heart, but the group has never performed it since recording it.
Novaye Nyeba is on the Belarusian blacklist.
But you and I, we chose freedom,
And we will not drink it like beer.
We leave three words:
"President, go home!"
They forgot the word "Love,"
But this word, I cannot use it anymore.
You and I, we choose words
But they do not listen to them.
We leave behind us three words:
"President, go home!"
7.) Widely popular in post-Soviet countries, the group Lyapis Trubetskoy is now banned in Belarus, and has openly demonstrated against both Lukashenka's and Putin's regimes. Around 5,000 people -- mostly Belarusians - attended the group's concert on October 27 in Vilnius, Lithuania, which is the closest big city to Minsk.
Lyapis Trubetskoy: "Lukashenko"
This song was created in 1995-1996, during the first years of Lukashenka's presidency. It is a remake of the song from the film "The Adventures of Buratino," the Soviet version of Pinocchio; they simply replaced "Bu-ra-ti-no!" with "Lu-ka-shen-ko!"
Who is known by all since childhood?
Who is not a scientist, not a poet,
But has conquered the whole world?
Tell me, what is his name?
He is surrounded by rumors,
He is not a toy, he is alive!
He has the key to happiness,
And because he is so lucky,
All the songs are about him,
What is his name?
This post appears courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.