Europe’s Last Dictator

August 23, 2012 6:42 pm

A good documentary, like a good book, stays with you for days after watching it, and Europe’s Last Dictator, although not easy to watch, did just this.  While the documentary’s UK premiere in March this year, was a glittering and public event, it was a far cry from the conditions in which the documentary was made; the censored, terrorized and repressed nation of Belarus, where conversations are monitored, media censored and free speech silenced.

In a time of extreme political turbulence in the Middle East, the eyes of the world are often distracted from atrocities happening closer to home. For 14 years, Belarus has suffered at the hands of their totalitarian president, Aleksander Lukashenko. Filmmakers, Matthew Charles and Juan Passarelli, captured the catastrophic backlash of the, widely considered, fraudulent elections of 2010.  With interviews from families, friends and supporters of opposition leaders, combined with horrifying original footage of Lukashenko’s brutal, political crackdown of the post 2010 election peaceful protests, Europe’s Last Dictator exposes accusations of torture, state-sponsored murder and violent repression as reality.

The documentary is narrated by Joanna Lumley, a longterm human rights activist who “felt compelled to do what I could to help publicize the chilling facts of deaths and torture going on at this very minute [in Belarus]”.  The film, not only, hoped to educate the World about the relatively unknown atrocities gripping the nation but also documented the journey of the two extraordinary main contributors, Eva Nyaklyaeu and Irina Bogdanova, from very private people to public figureheads of the Free Belarus Now campaign.  Eva Nyaklyaeu is the daughter of a presidential candidate and Irina Bogdanova, is founder of Free Belarus Now and sister of Andrey Sannikau, one of Lukashenko’s main political oppositions, who was imprisoned in 2010 before suspiciously disappearing from jail.  People still do not know his whereabouts.

Andrey Sannikau’s selflessness, determination and bravery are astounding and Irina Bogdanova’s relentless wish and commitment to raising awareness concerning the carnage in Belarus are inspiring and essential for the Free Belarus Now campaign.  Watch it, educate yourself, and spread the word so that people can no longer argue that ignorance is bliss.


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