Barszczewski is critical of the pro-Russian policies of Lukashenko and manifests among others that the Belarusian political order should be conform with its Constitution and that Belarus should approach the European Union rather than Russia, without letting the economic pragmatism of the EU restrict the development of the country.
Barszczewski started his political engagement following the Belarusian independence from the Soviet Union and the foundation of the Republic of Belarus in 1991, and was a member of the National Parliament (the Supreme Soviet) from 1990-1995. He led several parliamentary working groups, focusing on questions regarding the education system and nationality, but was expelled from his position due to his participation in protests against the pro-Russian policies of President Alexander Lukashenka in 1996-1999.
In spite of continued political discrimination, Barszczewski has kept up his political work, speaking out internationally about human rights abuses occurring in Belarus. From 1991 he has been vice-director of the Belarusian Humanistic Centre for Culture and Education at the Belarusian Ministry of Education, a facility which, since its official closing by the Belarusian government in 2003, has been working illegally as the Belarusian Humanities Lyceum. From 1996-1999 and 2007-2009 he led the opposition movement’s Party of Belarusian People’s Front (BPF), and from 2003 to 2005 he was the President of the Belarusian PEN Club. Since 2012, Barszczewski has been working as a columnist for the only Belarusian oppositional journal, Narodnaya Volya.
Lawon Barszczewski’s writings cover the areas of cultural heritage, literary traditions, political, cultural and developmental issues, among others. He translates works from French, English, Latin, ancient Greek, German and Polish. Among the works translated by Barszczewski are works by Bertold Brecht, Franz Kafka, Bruno Shulz, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Stanisław Wyspiański, Czesław Miłosz, and Sławomir Mrożek. Barszczewski has already translated Stanisław Przybyszewski’s drama Snow during his stay in Krakow, and is currently working on a translation of Balladyna by Juliusz Słowacky.
Krakow city of refuge
Barszczewski is the fourth guest writer to be welcomed by Krakow since the city joined the ICORN network in 2011. Krakow was the first city in Central and Eastern Europe to join ICORN, and provides ICORN writers with a safe place for continued creative and literary activity at Villa Decius, which for many years has been an important place of residence and reflection on human rights and freedom of speech for writers. This is done in collaboration with the Krakow Festival Office and the City of Krakow. The Head of the Villa Decius Association, Danuta Glondys, was recently elected a new member of the ICORN network’s board, and international cooperation within the ICORN has a strategic position in the Krakow UNESCO’s City of Literature.