Belarus’ Interior Ministry threatens graffiti artists with 12 years in prison

Belarus’ Interior Ministry threatens graffiti artists with 12 years in prison
In an effort to stamp out the growing number of protest-themed murals appearing on walls of Belarus, the Interior Ministry has warned that graffiti artists face up to 12 years in prison. A Mural of two DJs that defied the state at a state-sponsored concert is the most iconic of all the images.
By bne IntelliNews October 13, 2020


Following on from its announcement about the live ammo threat on Ocotber 12, the Ministry of the Interior (MVD) released a new threat on October 13: Belarusian graffiti artists face up to 12 years in jail for painting murals on walls.

The motivation behind this new punishment is the murals that keep springing up all over Minsk celebrating the résistance to the authorities and President Lukashenko.

The most famous – and there are an increasing number of murals appearing throughout the city – is the so-called “DJs of Change” that was painted on the wall of a utilities shed in the courtyard of a residential complex.

The iconic image is of the two DJs that were hired to play at a state-sponsored concert the week before the disputed presidential election on August 9. In order to prevent Tikhanovskaya from holding a final rally before the vote that was expected to draw tens of thousands, the city of Minsk booked out all the public spaces with a set of “spontaneous” music concerts.

Tikhanovskaya and her followers hijacked the event by inviting her supporters to attend the event. Half way through the two DJs played Viktor Tsoi’s perestroika anthem “Changes” that had become a theme tune for the opposition movement, and threw up hand signs associated with the opposition leaders, the V of victory and the clenched fist of unity. The authorities pulled the plugs to the speakers and the two DJs were quickly arrested and given 15 days in jail.

The mural of their defiance has become an icon of the revolution and while authorities painted over it every day, the local residents painted it back every evening. At one point six guards were posted around the utilities shed to prevent the mural being renewed. But when the police went off to sleep for a few hours, sure enough by morning the mural was back. The local residents have renamed the courtyard “the square of change” and the mural is a source of local pride.