Sweden – The winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, Loreen, has performed at the government- supported music festival Slavianski Bazaar held inVitebsk, Belarus. Her performance was preceeded by an uproar in Sweden as the festival was opened by notorious dictator Alexandr Lukashenko. Amnesty International and several celebrities criticized Loreen and were concerned she could be exploited for political propaganda.
Her manager had inicially said that she would not speak out on the human rights issues in Belarus but would make a statement after returning to Sweden. However, Loreen has apparently changed that plan as she met Human rights activists in Minsk today. She met Natallya Pinchuk, the wife of imprisoned Belarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski, and with Byalyatski’s deputy in the human rights group Vyasna (Spring), Valyantsin Stefanovich. Pinchuck’s husband is serving a more than 5 year prison sentence due to tax evasion claims, which observers have called politically motivated.
“I think things will work out fine. I really hope so,” Loreen said about the couple. “Because it breaks my heart that such a wonderful family is separated like this – where the son is in one place and the mother in another, and the father in prison and fighting for the right things.”
Loreen told the press present at the meeting, that she had learned much about the family’s situation and the general human right’s situation in Belarus by her fans on social networks. She added that she hesitated about whether to go and perform at the festival or not. “I have people that like my music here. And people have a right to culture. And me not coming is a disrespect to them,” she said. “I’m not here for anybody else but the people that like culture and music. And that’s the only reason I stand on that stage — to share something that I have. That’s one thing. And two, to speak my mind, because I’m free, basically. That’s what I do.”
Stefanovich called Loreen’s interest in the situation “genuine” and thanked her for the support. “I think this is her personal civic position and not only with regard to Belarus,” Stefanovich said. “We know that during Eurovision in Baku, Loreen met with Azerbaijani human rights defenders and expressed her support for their work. We’re happy she wanted to meet with us. It was her idea.”
Source= Radio Free Europe
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