April 5 2012 Europe's Last Dictator: Lukashenko's Belarus

English PEN recommends the documentary, Europe’s Last Dictator, by Mathew Charles and Juan Luis Passarelli, on the 2010 opposition crackdown in Belarus under which several Belarus PEN members were arrested.

While the eyes of the world are turned to the Middle East, protests against dictatorships are happening also in Europe. Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus for the past 14 years, has been accused of torture, state-sponsored murder and kidnap as part of a crackdown on opposition to his government.

Europe’s Last Dictator follows the family, friends and supporters of opposition leaders including Irina Bogdanova, sister of imprisoned presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov. He is also the husband of Iryna Khalip, journalist for Russian Novaya Gazeta, who herself spent time in prison. The documentary charts the violent repression on the country’s opposition following what was widely accepted as a rigged election in 2010. Much of the documentary has been filmed undercover. It paints a picture of Lukashenko’s character and offers a rare glimpse inside one of the world’s most under-reported places.

Europe’s Last Dictator also includes interviews with Vladimir Neklyayev’s daughter. Neklayev is a writer, poet and former president of the Belarus PEN Centre and the Tell the Truth party’s candidate in the presidential elections. He was given a two year suspended sentence on 20 May 2011 for ‘participation in activities that disrupt the public order’. PEN centres have been following his situation closely. (For more information see http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/belarus-letter-to-president-lukashenko-from-pen-international/)

The events following the presidential elections in Belarus have seen the continued detention, maltreatment and impending prosecution of a number of writers and journalists, including members of the Belarus PEN Centre.

There are several screenings coming up over the coming months across the UK.

The trailer is available here: http://bit.ly/GRmWEw