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23 Oct 2014

Money spent on culture should yield results

MINSK, 23 October (BelTA) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko demands that the public funds spent on supporting intellectuals should yield results. Alexander Lukashenko made this statement as he met with Belarusian intellectuals on 23 October, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian head of state.

The President drew attention to the fact that the government invests in the promotion of cinema. “This has not yielded any results yet. And this is people’s money,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The government wants writers to help promote citizenship and patriotism. Money does not always play a major role here. The most important thing is talent. Participants of the meeting gave examples of people who had nothing to do with art, but who managed to write very popular books without big investments.

The writers told the President about the issues that concerned them most. They discussed modern trends in literature and pointed to the waning interest in books in the entire world, not only in Belarus. They said that at present literature is going through hard times.

When asked why domestic authors and their works are so poorly advertised, the President said: “Tell me, what should be advertised? Give us products that can be advertised and we will find money to do that,” he noted.

The discussion about literature gradually gave way to discussion about education. The attendees discussed the literature that is now included in school curricular and shared their thoughts on whether these curricular feature enough Belarusian authors. The participants of the meeting believe that more should be done to promote the Belarusian language inside the country and abroad. A suggestion was voiced to consider establishing a national university where all disciplines would be taught in the Belarusian language.

The attendees also discussed the work of publishing houses. They deem it necessary to study readers’ preferences and interests more carefully. They also suggested using a competitive approach to publishing books if the publication is subsidized by the government. Alexander Lukashenko noted that publishing houses that violate the law will be shut down. “The government will act within the law and in line with moral principles of the society. I always ask civil servants to be honest and fair. If some publishing houses do not respect these principles, they will be shut down. It is my position. If a minister does not do it and I find out that he does not do it because of some opportunistic reasons, he will be fired the next day,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian head of state noted that there is a lot of brutality and violence in movies and books now. Most of readers and viewers are already sick and tired of that. He believes that television and cinema lack popular works that would tell a story about the life of ordinary people.

The participants of the meeting suggested instituting a large-scale literature contest. The President upheld this idea and noted that the selection criteria should be developed by writers on their own. Alexander Lukashenko suggested conducting such a contest in 2014 and promised to attend its final part when the results of the competition are announced.

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