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Published on Mar 20, 2008
A Lesson of Belarusian is documentary from the former Soviet republic of Belarus. The country is often labelled the last dictatorship in Europe, ruled by president Aleksander Lukashenko's arbitrary and ruthless iron fist. In many ways, the country has reversed time and now follows the logic from its Soviet legacy and replaced the mentality, economics, structures of society, language, national flag and symbols with that of its Soviet past. Hence it is the state, which has the monopoly on ultimate power, which is being used to steer and control all aspects of the citizens' life. Since A. Lukahsenko was elected president in 1994, he has used the state to wage a "cold civil war" against all aspects of opposition, in his effort to create a stable country with a conformed and isolated population, who only follows the orders from the president - whose legitimacy cannot be questioned. This harassment has prevented the emergence of an effective civic society and a political opposition, which could counterweight the president's power monopoly.
In this atmosphere the documentary follows a young activists who never gives up believing that Belarus one day will be free and democratic. Franek Viacorka studies at an elite school (lyceum) established by his father to promote the Belarusian language and culture. However, the school has been banned and operating underground since 2003, a victim of the anti-democratic rule of President Lukashenko. Franek and his classmates are both passionate and thoughtful, expressing their critical attitude to the government by issuing an underground newspaper, recording music with activist lyrics and organizing an opposition concert.
Despite the imprisonment of Franek's father and the constant threat of their own arrest, they are undeterred. In the March 2006 presidential re-election, they support the democratic opposition candidate in a mass demonstration in Minsk's main square. While the candidate is powerless to combat Lukashenko's corruption and use of riot police, Franek and his classmates realize that fearlessness is a victory in itself. The documentary is an eye-opener to the hearts and minds of free activists, who fight for an idea larger than themselves.
Recently the regime labelled the documentary as extreme material; unworthy and forbidden to watch in the country!