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By the evening of the 19th, though, it becomes clear that Lukashenko has no intention of relinquishing power and that his electoral sweep has surely been falsified.
Le tout Minsk turns out in protest, catching the authorities by surprise.
As you can guess, Lidbeer is the festival of the popular drink.
They say that last year Belarusian “Oktoberfest” was one of the largest events in Belarus haveing gathered over 100,000 guests.
But it is against the official ideology, and that means it’s dangerous.”When the documentary first starts, in September 2010, the Belarus Free Theatre’s actors and directors have little inkling that they’re about to be thrown into the most dangerous predicament of their lives.
Rather, they’re cautiously excited about the upcoming presidential election, in which several viable opposition candidates have registered, including Andrei Sannikov, a family friend of Nicolai and Natalia.
“That was the moment when, for the first time, people felt that they could be free.”It was a feeling that was dramatically short-lived.
In footage that had to be smuggled out of Belarus, the documentary shows waves of riot police moving into central Minsk, converging on the unarmed protesters like swarming black insects.
But in 2010, change seems to be shimmering in the air: Belarus’ weary citizens are gearing up for a hotly contested presidential election, and Lukashenko’s rule is suddenly more precarious than it has been in close to two decades.During one arrest, Lukashenko’s thugs menaced her: “You will be raped before you will be killed, and everything that the Nazis did during World War II would be just a dream for you.” The couple’s friends have been kidnapped, tortured, and murdered for their political affiliations.Little wonder, then, that the troupe goes to extreme lengths to keep their plays covert.Phone numbers are passed via secret Facebook pages, locations are distributed via text, and audiences are assembled under pretenses, like being guests at a fake wedding. ” The group pounds sticks, chanting “Long Live Belarus! Later, actor Oleg stands with two other performers, shirtless and shoeless and smoking a last cigarette before a firing squad blindfolds the men and turns their faces away from the spectator’s gaze.“I am very interested in what a viewer is silent about, what he doesn’t want to talk about,” says Vladimir Shcherban, the theater’s director and co-creator.
(The state KGB still manages to find them and routinely raids their performances.) “We’ve always been in a shaky position,” says Maryna. “Not that we’re expecting anything, just in case.”What these audiences are assembling to see, at great personal risk, is the act of truth being spoken to power, even if it’s in a shabby underground space. “And in Belarus, there are many topics that are taboo.
“Words can prove mightier than 10 military divisions.”A year to the month before Havel’s death, 600 miles away in another former Soviet state, a small band of theater dissidents were witnessing what they hoped was their country’s own neo-Berlin Wall moment.