Ksenia Zhuk and Artem Lukyanenka represented Belarus in 2017 as Naviband, with the song “Story Of My Life”. Amidst the ongoing protests against Lukashenka taking place in Belarus, the country’s Eurovision participation has been criticized. Naviband has recently shared their thoughts in an interview with Svaboda.
Expressing emotions through creativity
In their interview, Naviband shares how their new music was created. Their recently released song “Sneg” is, according to Artem, “a little sad, but hopeful.” For a while, the band resided in Poland rather than Belarus, but now they have returned to their home country.
Due to the conflicts in Belarus, the artists expressed that they were suffering with mental issues such as anxiety and insomnia. Artem shared that it was creativity which kept them going, as it allowed them to express their emotions. Some of their newly released songs and videos are made in support of political prisoners. Ksenia stated the following:
“We want everyone to find their own meaning in our songs. We are very happy that we were able to give our listeners a slightly different atmosphere now.”Ksenia Zhuk, speaking to Svaboda
Discouraging Belarusian participation in Eurovision
The Belarusian Foundation for Cultural Solidarity campaigns against both Belarusian participation in Eurovision, and its right to broadcast the show. Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has shown her support for this campaign as well. In a recent statement, the EBU said that the Eurovision Song Contest has no political agenda, thus allowing them to take part in the contest.
When asked about their thoughts on this matter, the members of Naviband were clear in their discouragement of Belarus in Eurovision. They stated that they are aware of the difficulties this may create, but they are more concerned about culture in Belarus.
Real culture, real musicians who can be on the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest and show what a real Belarus is – they are now in the underground. Culture develops underground.Artem Lukyanenka, speaking to Svaboda
Furthermore, they state that those who do participate in Eurovision for Belarus will consequently be tied to broadcaster BTRC. This represents that they have agreed to be live with, and accept, the current circumstances in Belarus. They say that in future interviews with the participant, despite the EBU’s political neutrality, the subject of the protests will be unavoidable, which creates issues as well. While Ksenia and Artem tried to stay neutral before, they are now open about their stance on the subject.
We are friends with Alieh Chamienka [a Belarusian musician], who once told us an interesting thing a long time ago: “No matter how neutral you are, an artist in our country must choose a side.” By this summer, we tried to speak only for the music. It’s not even about politics right now. We are partly speaking out against violence. If we have to choose a side, we choose the side of truth. The truth is with us, the bright, sincere Belarusians.Ksenia Zhuk, speaking to Svaboda
ESCXTRA would like to thank Instagram user @naviband.sweden for providing translations of the Svaboda article.