Lyavon Volski: the Voice of Revolution


The front man of the rock band “N.R.M.” inspires the young generations of Belarusians.

What does it take to make a revolution? If it has to take place in the hearts of a generation, then basically all you need is a guitar. Some talent won’t hurt either. And if you have just a fraction of Lyavon Volski’s charisma, then it should be enough to rock the nation.

But who exactly is this person with the curly ginger hair and the high-pitched voice? Lyavon Volski is more than just a song performer. He is a musician and an artist, an essayist and a poet, a comedian and a public figure with mighty influence. Born in 1965, Lyavon Volski has already brought up the second, if not the third generation of his fans. They still see Lyavon as a teenager pal although his older admirers already have their own children. Facing the court, the activists of “Malady Front“ youth oppositon organisation told the journalists that these were Volski’s songs, which brought them into politics. As ever before, their idol is full of new ideas and energy like a small nuclear power plant.

Lyavon Volski was born into an artistic family. His father, Artur Volski, was a well-known Belarusian poet and writer. Lyavon studied in the College of Art in Minsk, where he founded the rock band „Mroya“ (‘the dream’) in 1981. The Belarusian-language songs caused suspicion, rock music was seen as dangerous, KGB people were watching. Suddenly “perestroika” broke out, and “Mroya” got the chance to tour the country with its concerts. The popularity grew as an avalanche. In 1989 “Mroya’s” hit “He’ll Be Back” topped the chart of “Belaruskaya Maladziozhnaya”, the biggest Belarusian radio station for the youth at that time.

The Soviet Union broke up in 1991, burying “Mroya” under the debris of the collapsed ideology. The new country was born, and it needed new music. „Mroya“ quietly seized to exist in 1994, giving way to „N.R.M.“ (sometimes translated as „Narodnaya Respublika Mroya“ – ‚the People’s Republic of Mroya’). It immediately became the sound and the voice of the new generation, which revolted against the comeback of the Soviet ghosts, embodied by president Lukashenka. Gone were opera-like vocals and the electronic keyboards from the 80’s. It was the time for rugged sounds of electric guitars and metal notes in the voice. The texts changed as well – they became more sarcastic and more furious. “N.R.M” was really pissed off, just as the whole younger generation, which felt it was being robbed of their freedom. Volski sang about the zombie army, creeping into the houses of Belarusians (“Zombie”) and about the spirit of time: “I’ve got a disgusting feeling in my soul, and I lack words to express it” (“La-la-la”).

“N.R.M.” openly mocked the regime, which reinstalled the Soviet-type state symbols. The emblem of “N.R.M.” closely resembled the “new” Belarusian coat of arms, but the country’s shape was changed to Jolly Roger. “N.R.M.” fans picked up the idea and made the symbol of their club similar to that of BRSM, the pro-Lukashenka youth organization – with the same Jolly Roger motive. All this was highly irritating for the authorities.

As the years passed, it became more and more obvious, that the authoritarian rule has settled in for a long time. With many artists retreating into the “inner immigration” and quitting music, “N.R.M.” was doing its best to cheer up the free-thinking public. “I’m breathing the air of freedom”, Volski sang in “The Balloon”, the opposition anthem of the new century. “N.R.M.” often performed at opposition rallies and, as a result, was banned from radio and TV stations in Belarus. Not that it prevented “N.R.M.” to participate in the protests of March, 2006 in Minsk.

For the first time the “N.R.M.” song made it to the top of a music chart 18 years ago. Today, their song “Miensk and Minsk” is on the 1st place again – according to rating of “Tuzin Hitou” (‘a dozen hits’), the major web-portal dedicated to Belarusian music. “We live by halves in two different cities – Minsk and Miensk” Volski sings, reflecting upon the ideologically biased Minsk and the free-thinking Miensk (Miensk is the old name of the Belarusian capital).

For Lyavon Volski being the front man of the most famous rock band in Belarus is just not enough. Parallel to „N.R.M.” he has launched another music project “Zet”, a fusion between performance art and politically charged rock. The musicians hide their faces behind white masks or wrap themselves into bandages like mummies. The songs of “Zet” are gloomy and politically aggressive.

Another music project, also the creation of Volski, is called “Krambambulya”. Opposite to “N.R.M.” and “Zet”, “Krambambulya” is innocent in its political context. It is aimed at a larger public, which likes to party and have a good drink. The music of “Krambambulya” is an easy ska hooliganism, its lyrics are often a mix of Belarusian and Russian (called “trasyanka”). The name of the project derives from the old Belarusian alcoholic drink. In fact, the music of “Krambambulya” has become so popular, that the same strong drink reappeared in liquor shops after centuries of oblivion. The economic success of the trademark, however, didn’t seem to have had much effect on Lyavon Volski’s well-being, who is still driving a 13-year-old “Subaru”.

Calling Volski the idol of the Belarusian rock would not be enough. He is also a poet, with two books of his verses on a shelf. He is a writer, who publishes absurdist stories and visionary essays in Nasha Niva, the oldest Belarusian newspaper, now driven into the deep underground.

Lyavon Volski, is no novice with pencils and brushes. In the early 90’s his comics were published in “Byarozka”, the leading Belarusian magazine for teenagers. In 2007 Volski remembered his old hobby. His comic strip “Bulbman” (‘potatoman’) appears weekly in “Nasha Niva”, showing adventures of the Belarusian superhero and his faithful piglet assistant.

Volski is also an experienced media showman. In the early 90’s he hosted a popular radio show „Kvadrakola“ (‚squarecircle’) which was broadcast by „Belaruskaya Maladziozhnaya“ station. Perhaps, when Belarus becomes democratic, Volski might take a shot at conquering TV. This will be another Belarus, in any case. But however the country changes, Volski will remain constant. As he sings in one of old hits of “Mroya”, “I’m ready to die on stage, I’m a rock musician“.



by Ales Kudrytski


If you would like to listen to the songs of Lyavon Volski, try to visit “Tuzin Hitou” ( If you mark “Miensk i Minsk” in the list and then vote, you will be able to download the song (login: tuzin password: 117vabnotau)

You can also download the video of the “N.R.M.” song “Gadziuchnik” (‘the nest of vipers’) here:

More links here: