On March 20-25, 2006, Hanna Murauskaya (ISU 2004, Belarus), who is currently writing her PhD thesis at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, organized a Cultural Week of Belarus and Ukraine and conference (March 23-25) entitled: ‘Ukraine and Belarus – what neighbors for the European Union?’
The timing was perfect since the Cultural Week and its conference took place just after the Belarussian presidential elections and on the eve of the Ukrainian parliamentary elections, making all the issues on the agenda highly relevant. Among the conference participants there were scholars of Ukrainian and Belarussian culture, history, politics, and languages from numerous countries; papers varied from the analysis of the present day political situation of these countries to very specific explorations of historical or linguistic peculiarities. Besides the conference, the Cultural Week included several events such as a concert by the Belarussian music group ‘Nagual’ and three movie screenings.
At the conclusion of the conference, the former president of the Belarussian republic, Stanislav Shushkevich, spoke to the participants about the concerns and hopes of the democratic opposition in Belarus. In response to the questions from the audience, he urged the West to help the Belarussian opposition in breaking through the information blockade. His talk resonated well with the paper delivered earlier in the conference by Mykola Ryabchuk, one of the most important Ukrainian literary critics and political commentators, who implicitly appealed for the West to pay more consistent attention to the democratic and pro-western tendencies in Ukraine.
Hanna not only organized and moderated the conference, she also spoke on the ‘Identity constructions through the foundation of the first museums in Belarus and Ukraine before 1917,’ this being the subject of her academic interest.
By Sofiya Skachko (ISU 2004, Ukraine)