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Latushka — about the painting "Kastus Kalinowski among rebels of 1863"

Kastus Kalinowski among the rebels in 1863
"Kastus Kalinowski among the rebels in 1863", P. Sergeyevich

In a MOST column for Kastus Kalinowski's birthday, NAM head Pavel Latushka talked about a painting of insurgents from 1863-1864 that hung in his office when he was minister of culture in Belarus

Original article:

In a column for MOST for Kastus Kalinowski's birthday, NAM head Pavel Latushka talked about a painting of insurgents from 1863-1864 that hung in his office when he worked as Belarus' minister of culture.

I would like you to pay attention to the work of Piotr Sergievich "Kastus Kalinowski among the rebels of 1863".

This work is now in the collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. And my personal story is also connected to this work.

I remember the year 2011 and my conversation with Vladimir Makey, then head of Lukashenko's administration. We were considering a film project — a TV series about the uprising of Kastus Kalinowski.

The project was complicated. The administration put sticks in the wheels, and I had to talk to Makei about it. To which Mr. Makey made his remark to me: "This project cannot be implemented due to the fact that Kastus Kalinowski is an anti-Russian historical figure.

My answer to Mr. Makey was: "If we look at the history of the Belarusian people, most of the historical events are connected exactly with the struggle of the Belarusians for their independence against the Russian Empire.”

These are facts that cannot be crossed out of the history — our history, which today moves into the present. Today we are also fighting for our Independence: the independence of our state has been challenged by our Eastern neighbor.

What could I do then as Minister of Culture? Yes, there were examples when we embarked on film projects despite a categorical ban from the Lukashenko administration... I can only recall the shooting of "In the Fog" based on Vasily Bykov's work, which we managed to do.

In this situation I made the decision I could at that moment: to place in the office of the Minister of Culture the work you see before you now — Peter Sergeyevich, "Kastus Kalinowski among the rebels in 1863" painted in 1955.

You can imagine that this work is about two by three meters. It was the entire wall in the office of the Minister of Culture, where this piece of art was located.

It was important to me as a symbol that, despite the ideology that the Lukashenko’s regime has always preached, it is important for us to defend and demonstrate that we are a nation with the right to our statehood, Independence — that's what our national hero, Kastus Kalinowski, fought for.

The work was rolled up (it was impossible to get it through the doorway) and delivered from the National Museum of Art. By the way, I was helped then by a man who today represses museum staff — the then and current general director Vladimir Prokoptsov.

After the painting was hung on the wall, I told my colleagues in the Ministry of Culture: "Now I can invite any ambassador to this office and use this painting to demonstrate our desire to be free and independent.” But I made one remark: "The only ambassador who probably won't come to this office will be the ambassador of the Russian Federation.”

Later Boris Svetlov, who came to the post of Minister of Culture after me, very quickly removed this art from his office.


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