‘Sing in Belarusian!’ Belsat TV interviews Eurovision winner Jamala

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Susana ‘Jamala’ Jamaladinova granted an interview to Belsat TV before performing at the concert dedicated to the memory of Lithuanians deported to Siberia in Stalin’s times.

What can you say about the Crimean Tatars’ situation on the peninsula?

 The situation is more or less stable, but I would call it controversial. Still, pressure is being reportedly exerted on the Crimean Tatars. Majlis was outlawed, libraries are being closed down, they banned a meeting on May 18 – the day of deportation, etc. The statements made by the Crimean government during, the annexation are not fulfilled. Then we were said that every person – Ukrainians, Russians and Crimean Tatars – will be perceived as members of one big family. But now we are facing problems. But I am optimistic, I hope that common sense will prevail and human rights will be observed regardless of someone’s nationality.

How important is the Crimean Tatar language in preserving the authenticity of your people?

During the Eurovision contest people often asked in what language the chorus was, where I come from, what the date ‘1944’ means? I always answered it is very important to know where you are from, what your origins are. That is why I used the title ‘1944’ for my song. After all, the date matters to me, because my family, the Jamaladinov suffered then and has been suffering from that time to the present day. This deportation marked an imprint on our whole family, on our lives, on all Crimean Tatars. Thus, using our language and knowing our history is a feather in my cap.

Moreover, Turkey’s president phoned me and expressed gratitude for the fact that I was singing in the Crimean Tatar language at Eurovision. He considers Crimean Tatars as brothers. For the first time of the history of Eurovision a song in the Crimean Tatar language was performed. And it turned out to be the winner!

Many people believe it would be very good if each contestant sings in their own language. This is a controversial question. Everyone wants yet to be internationally recognized, and English is an international language. Talking about the song 1944, I did not want to translate its refrain from the Crimean Tatar language, it was sort of mantra, it fascinated, it sounded as a piece of history, as an imitation of wood, which was overgrowing on the stage. It symbolized the revival of roots.

In Belarus, officials do not promote the use of the Belarusian language. What should the Belarusians do to have any impact on tackling the problem?

Sing in Belarusian! Release books in Belarusian, speak Belarusian. Our situation is similar to yours. There are parts of Ukraine, in which people speak only Ukrainian, and vice versa, there are places where Russian prevail, the people got used to it. But according to the law which is now being adopted in Ukraine, there will be more songs in Ukrainian, for example, on the radio. Our television is gradually developing in the sae direction and so on. Movies are translated into Ukrainian. Such transition takes time, it may cause discomfort in some way, but I, for instance, fluently speak Ukrainian, Russian and English.

And it seems to me that if a country is called Belarus, there should be the Belarusian language. Forgive me for such a radical position, but I think it’s right (laughing).

You won the Eurovision Song Contest, your rival was a singer from Russia. What does this victory mean to you?

There was no fight between Ukraine and Russia at Eurovision. It was a song contest <…> I do not want feed such rumours. I participated as a representative of Ukraine and I am proud that Ukraine won.

Hanna Rusinava, belsat.eu

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