RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report, Vol. 3, No. 9 (excerpts)


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Subject: RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report, Vol. 3, No. 9 (excerpts)

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RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report, Vol. 3, No. 9
(excerpts)


RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
________________________________________________________
RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report
Vol. 3, No. 9, 13 March 2001
 
A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by
the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team
 
***********************************************************
 
POLAND
 
ART GALLERY HEAD RESIGNS OVER CHARGES OF 'ANTI-POLISH' ACTIVITY. Anda
Rottenberg has resigned as director of Zacheta, Poland's most
prestigious national art gallery, PAP reported on 7 March. Minister of
Culture Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski announced that a competition will
be held to find a replacement for Rottenberg.

Rottenberg's step followed public calls for her resignation after
scandals surrounding two exhibitions at the Warsaw gallery. Last
November, Zacheta hosted an exhibition called "The Nazis," which
showed photographs of Polish and foreign actors in Nazi uniforms
without any commentaries (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine
Report," 28 November 2000). Polish movie star Daniel Olbrychski
vandalized the exhibition with a theatrical saber, saying he was
outraged by his photograph being shown in the exhibition without his
permission.

A much larger public outcry followed Zacheta's exhibit of a life-size
figure of Polish-born Pope John Paul II being crushed by a meteorite.
Two right-wing lawmakers tried to dismantle the exposition, but were
prevented from doing so by the gallery's guards. Some 90 lawmakers
published an open letter in the Polish press accusing Rottenberg of
"anti-Polish" activity. Some newspapers published letters from
indignant readers who ascribed Rottenberg's alleged "anti-Polish"
stance to her Jewish origin.

Rottenberg defended her position by saying that art is open to many
interpretations, and that "the way in which a subject could be
portrayed was dictated only in the period of socialist realism."
Minister Ujazdowski, who resisted demands to fire Rottenberg, was
forced to comment that "scandal and provocation should not be criteria
for choosing works of art and exhibitions displayed in a national
gallery."

"Lack of education, the results of which we see now, is caused, among
other things, by lack of a place where such education could take
place. The way art is received now is not appropriate," AP quoted
Rottenberg as saying in regard to the public reaction to the
controversial Zacheta exhibitions.

....................
 
BELARUS
 
INTELLECTUALS PROTEST 'ANTIHUMAN' FILM ABOUT CATHOLICISM. A group of
Belarusian intellectuals and scholars have protested the presentation
of the film "Dushekhvaty" (Soul Snatchers) by Yury Azaronak on
Belarusian Television last month, Belapan reported on 7 March. The
group said the film "debases" the Catholic Church, "disgraces" the
Belarusian people, and "stirs up interdenominational enmity" in
Belarus. "The author tackles the subject without being familiar with
either the history of the Catholic Church, or its soul-edifying
activity," the group said in statement. The statement also notes that
it is not clear why the film includes scenes involving NATO [and
Russian politicians] Yegor Gaidar, Boris Yeltsin, and Mikhail
Gorbachev, "who have nothing to do with the church." The intellectuals
said it is inadmissible to show television films like "Dushekhvaty,"
which is of an "antistate, antisocial, anti-Belarusian, and antihuman
character."

Azaronak is notorious as an author of Belarusian Television features
laden with anti-Western and pro-President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
propaganda. He came to prominence on the eve of the controversial 1996
referendum, when one of his television films portrayed the Belarusian
opposition as the physical and spiritual descendants of Belarus's
wartime collaborators with the Nazis.

President Lukashenka, who once defined his religious belief as that of
an "Orthodox atheist," openly favors the presence of the Russian
Orthodox Church in Belarus and strives to make Orthodoxy a "state
religion" in exchange for moral support to his regime from the church
hierarchy. According to some estimates, there may be some 1 million
Roman Catholics in Belarus.
 
'AFRO-ASIANS' AS A BELARUS-RUSSIA INTEGRATION RESULT? Belarusian
Television reported on 10 March that, according to official data,
Belarus currently hosts some 200,000 "Afro-Asians" - refugees from
Asia and Africa who want to illegally cross the Belarusian border into
Western Europe. This year, Belarusian border troops have detained 260
people from Asia and Africa attempting to cross the border in 56
separate organized groups. However, authorities admit that their
efforts to cope with the increasing influx of Afro-Asians are
completely futile because of the transparent Belarusian-Russian
border. "A majority of ordinary trespassers, after having presented
their identity cards and paid fines for the damage they inflicted [on
the state], are transported at the expense of the state to a
Moscow-bound train. But usually everything begins for them anew at the
first Russian train stop," Belarusian Television commented.

....................
 
*********************************************************
Copyright (c) 2001. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
 
RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report is prepared by Jan
Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by
"RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed
every Tuesday.
 
Direct comments to Jan Maksymiuk at maksymiukj@rferl.org.
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