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Free theatre fights for free Belarus

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Summary of story from the Guardian, April 3, 2011

Natalia Kaliada, the artistic director of the Belarus Free Theatre, is an unstoppable force.

Previously based in Minsk, but now in exile, the theatre is the central motor of a campaign to draw attention to the terrible political repression happening in a country that, as Kaliada points out, “is in the middle of Europe, only two hours from London”.

It’s the sheer energy, determination and commitment that she brings to her cause that make Kaliada so compelling.  Her youngest daughter, 12-year-old Daniella,  hasn’t been to school since she and her husband fled Minsk, and there is no question of the family going home.

Their other daughter, 17-year-old Marya, is still in Belarus, as are their parents and they don’t know when they’ll ever see them again. They’ve been named enemies of the state, but, as Kaliada repeatedly points out, they’re the lucky ones. Many of their friends are in jail; others are dead.

The fight for freedom in Belarus is largely being led by women. “We haven’t any choice,” says Irina Bogdanova, founder of website ‘We remember.’

“I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to be here doing this. But someone has to. And all the men are in jail.”

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