Accessibility links

Breaking News

Rock Festival Opens On Belarusian-Lithuanian Border

The festival's slogan is "Music Opens Borders" (Courtesy Photo) August 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A three-day rock festival starts today in Lithuania, just meters from the Belarusian border, under the slogan "Music Opens Borders."

Organizers say the Be2Gether festival is intended to bring Belarus closer to Lithuania and the European community. They point out that the festival -- the first of its kind in Lithuania -- is taking place the same year that the European Community is marking its 50th anniversary.

Close to 30,000 people are expected to attend and 30 bands from various countries will perform at the event in the town of Norviliskes.

Its proximity to the Belarusian border suggests a political undertone to the festival. But organizer Darius Ivanauskas says that's not the case.

"Our slogan is 'Music opens borders,'" Ivanauskas said. "It has a broader meaning -- opening borders between human beings, in the broadest sense possible, meaning destroying the walls that exist in the human soul, opening minds. We want this kind of culture to come to Lithuania."

Still, what professes to be a nonpolitical event has met with protests from Minsk.

Belarusian authorities have called on Lithuania not to allow "propagandistic acts of a hostile, non-neighborly and anti-Belarusian nature" during the event.

Ivanauskas, however, says he doesn't know what the fuss is about.

"Maybe they only want to warn people not to behave in a bad way, not to violate the border, or stage demonstrations against the Belarusian regime. I think the Belarusian statement has only this meaning," Ivanauskas said.

Bands from Germany, Russia, Iceland, and Latvia -- as well as Belarus -- will be performing at the three-day event, which was organized by the Lithuanian Culture Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry. The European Commission is also supporting the program.

Ivanauskas described the scene before the start of the concert.

"I've been here only once before in my life. At that time it was an empty field," he said. "I was really excited to come here today and see how it would look. In fact, everything seems to look good. People are gathering slowly, setting up tents. The stages were built two days ago. Now the bands are rehearsing, sound checks are being made."

RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report

RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report

SUBSCRIBE For weekly news and analysis on Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report."