Free Theatre and Sannikov in London

The center of free speech in London playwright Tom Stoppard is the leaders of the "Free Theatre" Natalia Kolyada and Nikolai Khalezin, as well as opposition leader and a representative of Charter 97 Andrei Sannikov. We caught up by phone with Natalia Kolyada and Andrei Sannikov, asking them to talk in more detail about this event.

Natalia Kolyada: Today in London, the organization Index on Censorship introduce our "Free Theatre". At this meeting, will be present and Andrei Sannikov. At a meeting held video shows the third part of our play, called "Numbers". This show talks about the situation in Belarus only in numbers.

MS: How "Free Theatre" overcomes the language barrier, speaking to a foreign audience?

Natalia Kolyada

Natalia Kolyada: This is easy, because I always use subtitles in the language of the country where we show our performance.

MS: In the promotion as "Free Theatre" and the campaign for freedom of expression in Belarus joined the world famous playwright Tom Stoppard. Please tell me where he got the interest both in your theater, and to Belarus?

Natalia Kolyada:
We met with Tom Stoppard six years ago. We wrote him a letter and asked him to become the patron of the "Free Theatre". Tom Stoppard bequeathed to us that he supports us and become our patron and asked what else he could do for us. We replied that it would be just great if he went to Belarus and met with artists working in the underground, but with people who are trying to change the political situation in the country and carry out their activities and in difficult conditions. But with this and started our close relationship. Today it is a friendly, family relations. Tom Stoppard was at home, familiar with our parents. No surprise that Tom Stoppard, who dedicated his life to the countries that were or are in such oppressive conditions as Belarus, took such a tough, moral stand against the dictatorship in Belarus.

As I understand it, Tom Stoppard is one of the main speakers at today's presentation …

Natalia Kolyada:
Today he will be there, as he was also on the shares on July 1, which is initiated by the "Free Theatre" has been held for several years. The action is called "World Art event in support of Belarus' support it, and Mick Jagger, and Vaclav Havel, and Harold Pinter, and a number of British and American artists, including Steven Spielberg. Tom Stoppard came on July 1 at the Belarusian embassy in London to express their opinions about the new law in Belarus on censorship on the Internet. And it continues to this company, knowing that this year is very difficult for Belarus, as we are all waiting for the presidential election.

MS: And the question is more personal agenda. In Belarus "Free Theatre" works in pretty harsh conditions. Was it not you desire to quit Belarus and go somewhere where the conditions for the work would have been better?

Natalia Kolyada:
We get a lot of offers from many countries — France, Britain, America — to stay and work in them. Here's the last sentence of us was made in July of this year in America. For us, this is a very difficult decision. I do not want to lie and say that we've never thought about it, as is the persecution of family and friends, the actor can not work, there is a ban on the execution of the profession in the country. But if you have a large number of viewers who say that our performances help them go out and are an inspiration to them, such a decision quite difficult. However, the thought of leaving come to mind, and say that this is impossible, I will not. But I can assure you that this year, the presidential election, we will be in Belarus, because we needed there.

Andrei Sannikov

Andrei Sannikov, and announced his intention to run in the presidential election, said that the presence at the launch of the "Free Theatre" — is part of its program of stay in London, where he will meet with journalists, politicians and public figures.

Mr. Sannikov, what, in your opinion, the political situation in Belarus ahead of the presidential election in 2011 is different from the situation before the 2006 election? If this situation has changed, in which way — for better or opposition to the regime?

Andrei Sannikov:
The situation has changed in the best way for a change in Belarus. Because now it was obvious what some may not have seen in 2006 — namely, that the dictatorial system Lukashenko has failed dismally. People are not offered no way out, no solution to the problems that have arisen due to the global economic crisis. The situation is characterized by the fact that today all the neighbors of Belarus shows that with the regime and with Lukashenko can not be the case. We know that Russia is still supported him, and now it seems that long-term support of Lukashenko is over for Russia and the negative results they may have first thought that with this regime, no agreement can not be reached.

MS: That is, you believe that the signal that went from Moscow towards Lukashenko — I mean the movie "The Godfather", etc. — This is a signal of a serious change of relationship, not a way of temporary dissatisfaction with the Kremlin?

Andrei Sannikov: I believe that this is one of the signals. I can not say yet what it means to the signal — or they have already decided that they can not continue to deal with Lukashenko, or is it just an attempt to increase the pressure on him? But I see that they are looking for other relationships. That is referred to Ukraine, which may be an example of the model of the relationship — it seeks integration with the European Union and at the same time greatly improved relations with Russia. This is a very interesting example for Belarus.

MS: How do you assess the fact that the intention to run for the presidency said or hinted almost have almost a dozen independent candidates in Belarus?

Andrei Sannikov: I attribute this fact to the assessment of the political situation in Belarus — the feeling is that the changes in Belarus will be held very soon, so people would like to participate in these changes.

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