Paval KHARLANCHUK, key actor of Maksim Gorky National Academic Theater, stage director of children’s plays, fired for his political convictions
Gifted actor and director, participant of the protests on the Square, Paval Kharlanchuk is fired from work. He was detained on the Square in the night when the tent city was liquidated. The court sentenced Paval Kharlanchuk to arrest for participation in an unauthorized protest action. “I began to have problems in the theater from that moment on, -- says the actor. – I was suspended from all performances. The administration of the theater suggested that I should quit on my own, but I refused on principle”.
On September 20 Paval Kharlanchuk was suspended from participation in the performances with the wording “because of unreasonableness of his further participation in the plays of the current repertoire”.
On December 26 the actor was fired “in conjunction with failure to meet the requirements of the job”.
Before that the theater administration made a number of attempts to make his work in the theater impossible.
In September minister of culture Uladzimir Matsveichuk and his deputy Uladzimir Rylatka met with the company of the theater. Besides the actors, the meeting was attended by art director Barys Lutsenka, executive director E. Herasimovich, and Rastsislau Yankouski. During that meeting the state official made a statement that has become infamous: “Those who are for the president should stay in the theater!” The company catcalled the statement. Barys Lutsenka claimed that by participation in a protest rally Paval let the theater down and that “art and politics are incompatible”. “When I said that I have a right to my own convictions, my colleagues responded with applause”, -- says Paval Kharlanchuk.
On September 13 the Art Council (advisory body of the theater) gathered for a session. Again, the theater administration tried to persuade the actor that he had “let the theater down”. “I said I had been on the Square in my free time. I have already been punished for participation in an unauthorized protest action. I asked what else I had done so that they want to suspend me from work. They told me I was working in a state theater and I had no right not to adhere to the state ideology”, -- says Paval. During the voting there was one vote against suspending Paval from performances. However, that vote was not taken into account.
The Art Council considered the issue of suspending Kharlanchuk from playing. On the basis of the Council’s decision executive director E. Herasimovich and art director B. Lutsenka signed order #66 of
Art director B. Lutsenka also prepared a letter of the actor’s performance appraisal. Later that document became the ground for firing the actor.
Here are some extracts of the document (you can find the whole text on our web-site): http://www.spring96.org/en/news/4935/
“In March 2006 Paval Kharlanchuk took part in an action directed against the authorities of the Republic of Belarus. The law-enforcing bodies brought him to administrative responsibility. Paval Kharlanchuk violated the moral principles of the theater. Instead of acknowledging his mistake during the gathering of the theater’s company, he behaved very defiantly and unethically, despite numerous conversations with the theater administration. By that he contrasted his personal convictions with generally accepted norms of lawfulness”.
“The Art Council of the Theater recognized the actions of the actor incompatible with the status of an actor and the National Academic Gorky Theater and proposed to suspend him from the current repertoire. At present P. Kharlanchuk does not have any roles in the repertoire. That situation provokes nervous and unhealthy reaction of the company, which does not facilitate a positive and creative process”.
Kharlanchuk appealed to against the decision about his suspension to the Commission for Working Disputes. This is the body which solves the working disputes in a pre-trial procedure. The actor asked to regulate the situation and cancel the order about his suspension, because it was not based on his professional qualifications. His request was not satisfied. The actor planned to file a complaint to court, but the events developed very quickly.
The theater administration gathered a certifying commission to consider if Paval Kharlanchuk has a qualification of an actor of higher category.
The certifying commission consistent of the administration of the theater:
The session of the certifying commission was also attended by deputy of the Minister of Culture Ul. Rylatka. The commission did not certify that Kharlanchuk has qualifications of an actor of higher category. Thus, administration cancelled a contract with him under Art 42 part 3 of the Labor Code – “failure to meet the requirements of the job”.
On December 26 Paval Kharlanchuk was fired.
Paval Kharlanchuk played leading roles in the most popular plays of the theater. He also directed plays for children. He received numerous theater awards and won many theater contests.