Belarus police hunting even for choirmeisters

Another choral conductor has been detained in Belarus. Their being in the crosshairs might be related to the activity of the so-called ‘flying choirs’ that perform patriotic songs in public places and bedroom neighbourhoods to show support for Belarusians.

Overnight into Tuesday, plainclothed policemen arrested musician Tatsyana Haluza, took her to the police station in Baraulyany, from where OMON drove her in an unknown direction. Her husband was left at large, but the officers bluntly refused to tell him where they were taking his wife to.

Tatsyana Haluza. Photo: Nasha Niva

Tatsyana Haluza is a well-known choir conductor and lecturer at Minsk State Art College, as well as a former student of famous Belarusian professor Viktar Rouda. She has two under-age children.

Earlier, the police detained Halina Kazimirouskaya, the conductor of the Concordia Choir. She spent four days in the notorious detention centre in Akrestsin Street in Minsk. There the woman happened to be in one cell with Natallya Dulina, an associate peofessor and one of the best Belarusian italienists, who was sentenced to administrative arrest for participating in a student protest and fired from Minsk State Linguistic University.

Halina Kazimirouskaya. Photo: Nasha Niva

According to Belarusian media outlet Nasha Niva, the police are in search of musicians who direct ‘flying choirs’, i.e. groups singing so-called opposition songs and hymns (e.g. God Almighty, Pursuit, Walls, We Long for Changes) to boost buoyant and fighting mood of Belarusians amid post-election protests.

Song of the Free

One may suggest that musicians from the National Philharmonic, who joined the protests in early August, may appear in the ‘flying choirs’. Such anonymous concerts will definitely make it into the cultural history of Belarus and Europe, Nasha Niva authors believe.

Belarusian musicians is one more professional group that has faced persecution over expressing their political and civic position; the activists are jailed, fined, thrown out of work. On Wednesday, 188 employees of the Grand Opera and Ballet Theatre recorded a video appeal in which they stood up for the dismissed colleagues:

“Our team is being bled white. Brilliant, irreplaceable people are being wrested from it,” the musicians stressed.

The protest rallies in Belarus have been underway for over two months. The major demands are Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation, holding a free and fair election, releasing political prisoners, putting an end to police violence as well as state-run TV stations’ providing people with unbiased and reliable information. According to human rights activists’ estimates, about 16,000 people have been detained in Belarus since the election day; many of them were beaten or tortured, some were raped. There are at least six death cases that are linked to the post-election protests. Hundreds are parties to criminal proceedings, the number of political prisoners exceeded 100.

Sunday’s protest against terror: Belarusians marching to Kurapaty (photos)