Natalia Rybak: “Norwegians want to erase Breivik from their memories”

Article published on www.svaboda.org 23.07.2012

Written by Igor Kornei

Link to the original article here 

Translation by Sonya Luzina.  English revision by Lillian Llewellyn

Alexander Rybak with his parents

July 22 marked one year since the terrorist attack in the capital of Norway, Oslo, and on the coastal island of Utøya by the citizen of this country Anders Breivik. The victims of a double attack are 77 people – mostly young people who participated in the activities of the Norwegian Labour Party. How did this emergency incident affect on the residents of this northern country, which was considered as almost a model of calm and tolerant attitude towards the representatives of different nations and faiths? 

The Belarusian Rybak family have been living in Oslo for the past two decades. Like many others, in the early 1990s, the young musicians moved to the West in search of the good life. And they were right: the Norwegian Rybak family is known around the world the last three years – primarily because of their son Alexander, who won triumphantly the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. Natalia Valentinovna, mother of Alexander, says that they began to feel at home in Norway during that time, so all the troubles are perceived very sharply. They can hear the sound of the explosion even now:

“All of us were in Oslo at that time, though in different places. I was at home, my mom just arrived from Minsk to visit us. Our windows are located right on the fjord and the city, so we not only heard it, we saw the explosion. Now we understand what happened, but we didn’t know anything back then – maybe the boat exploded, or something else. In short, there were many versions, but we didn’t think it is so terrible. We saw the explosion from the windows of our house. And Sasha has performed in Drammen this day – it is a half hour drive from Oslo, and he went to another concert after that. And at that moment he passed by Utøya – the island where the man had shot so many people. It is some strange coincidence, but he was there just before the gunman arrived and shipped to that island. We even checked the time. ”

Natalia thanks God that none of the family was hurt, but people, with whom she has a contact, lost close people in Oslo and on Utøya:

“Fortunately, no one of our closest ones was hurt , but, nevertheless, Norway – it is such a small country, so everyone was affected in some way. For example, though I’m not Norwegian originally, but it turned out that one girl was killed on this island, whose father worked in the same school where I play. At the same island were four students from a number of my former students. It means that each was affected in some way – whether neighbors, or relatives, or friends, or loved ones. In short, no one remained aloof from this tragedy.”

The local people suffer both physically and mentally, but, as Natalia Valentinovna says, there are no public displays of aggression or revenge. There was one case, when someone threw their shoes at the glass cage in the courtroom, where Breivik was, but this is an isolated example:

“You can see from the trial that these people are really not aggressive. And which other country would discuss this, without doubt, terrible crime for so long time? However, they weigh all the “pros” and “cons”, can he be punished for his crime? Or he is just sick schizophrenic – I even don’t know what to call this disease. That is, this is a country which fits democratic standards. They treat people from other countries and representatives of other nationalities with extraordinary respect

Of course, I can say that the mood has changed considerably in recent years, and not even due to this terrorist act. But due to the unpleasant aspects, which began to appear, because of the fact that so many people came to Norway from different places – these are different cultures, which don’t suit to the Norwegian concept of good and bad. So, of course, the reality has changed. You know, we simply weren’t locking the house for 15 years. We were at work and our house actually was opened. The doors were closed, but not locked. And we were not the only ones who did so. And now we began to lock the cars, we began to lock the houses. Our Prime Minister have never had the bodyguards, but he is accompanied by bodyguards since 2005. He said he can’t do otherwise, because he is threatened too. The country, which has been a quiet island in the bustling European world, unfortunately, has changed. ”

Natalia Rybak focuses on the fact that a large number of Norwegians want just to erase all mention about the criminal Breivik so nothing could remind them about the existence of such a terrible person in the future:

“One of the channels broadcasts the trial – but without sound, only the picture and one of the reporters tells about the trial. But there is a large group of people who don’t even want to see him, nor hear him, they don’t want to see his name. I think they shouldn’t even write about him in the newspapers or film him. They should have just erased him. And the trial will take care of that. There are professionals on both the prosecution and defense sides. Above all they should talk about the memory of the victims, about supporting people who have lost their loved ones. This is the main thing. And actually everyone thinks about it. By the way, they will also transform Utøya to avoid those terrible memories, they don’t want to make it as a monument of the tragedy. On the contrary, they want to erase these bad memories so nothing could remind them of this terrible man.

There was the service in the main cathedral. There were a lot of concerts. Actually many musicians and artists have responded creatively after the tragedy. It’s their feelings, their reactions to what happened. Even Alexander has written a piece for orchestra and violin. I think it’s very touching. He played it at the concert. There were many concerts, many meetings. The government delegations and just ordinary people met on the island. But God forbid, of course, I hope it will never happen in any country, with any people.

Anders Breivik was arrested on the day of the crime. The investigation lasted more than half a year, and the biggest trial in the history of Norway began in April of 2012. Breivik didn’t admit his guilt, and he called his victims “traitors” who don’t deserve forgiveness – he said they opened the country for immigrants and supporters of the multicultural policy. He apologized only to the “random victims” who are not related to the “criminal government.” The final verdict in the case of the most terrible terrorist of Norway hasn’t been announced yet – everything will depend on whether the experts acknowledge that Breivik is schizophrenic. If so, he will be found guilty and if mentally healthy, he faces 21 years in prison.

In the biography of the №1 Norwegian terrorist, there was suddenly found a Belorusian trace. Intelligence agencies have found that Breivik visited Minsk in 2005. During the interrogation the accused himself admitted that he had visited Belarus for a meeting with his friend, whom he met through the Internet. The girl, who then went to the USA, refused to cooperate with the investigation. But Breivik wrote that he visited Belarus to study the effects of the Chernobyl disaster and to visit the “Viking graves” in his “book-manifesto”, which was found by the secret services during the search.

This post is also available in Русский.

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