More than 4,000 Belarusians descended on Vilnius on October 27 to attend a concert by the popular Belarusian rock band Lyapis Trubetskoi that is banned from giving shows at home over frontman Syarhey Mikhalok’s criticism of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
The show had been organized with assistance from Vilnius-based European Humanities University, which offers education to Belarusian students.
Speaking during the show, Mr. Mikhalok said that he was "happy to see a great number of native white-red-white flags." He was referring to Belarus’ historically national flag, which has been banned by the Belarusian authorities.
"They, these office bastards expect us to be sad, want us to be lonely, to run from one corner to another with our heads bowed, but they won’t have it," the musician said in an apparent reference to Belarusian authorities.
Mr. Mikhalok expressed hope that Lyapis Trubetskoi would be allowed to play in Belarus again one day.
In 2011, at least three Lyapis Trubetskoi concerts were cancelled in various Belarusian cities for what appeared to be political reasons. Fans travel to neighboring countries to listen to the rockers, who normally play to sold-out crowds.
Last year, Pavel Radzivonaw, a departmental head at the Prosecutor General’s Office told reporters that the Tsentralny District Prosecutor’s Office in Minsk was examining Mr. Mikhalok’s video interview posted on www.1tvnet.ru in mid-September.
In the video interview in question, Mr. Mikhalok branded the Belarusian leader "a liar, a thief and an ignoramus." "He is no president," Mr. Mikhalok said. "He has gathered ‘black’ brigades around himself and unleashed genocide against the Belarusian people…This is a person who hates his people and deserves a fair trial at best. However, criminals like Lukashenka don’t leave witnesses to their crimes."
In October 2012, the district prosecutor’s office summoned Mr. Mikhalok for questioning over his remarks, but the rocker did not attend. He has not visited Belarus since.