Belarus – A short Dream of Freedom

A film by Irene Langemann
45 min., ARD, Mediathek

Protests of historic proportions shook Belarus after the fraudulent elections in the summer of 2020. There had never been anything like this during the decades-long rule of autocrat Alexander Lukashenko. Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the arbitrariness of the state apparatus. The regime crushed the peaceful protests with brutal force, throwing people into prisons where they were cruelly tortured. The presidential candidate Svetlana Tichanova and other leading opposition figures had to flee abroad. But ordinary citizens who had participated in protests or strikes against the regime were also forced to leave Belarus.

The film explores the question of why the regime was able to suppress widespread popular protest and silence the public. Belarusians in exile, who have found refuge in Poland and Germany, recount their experiences after the rigged elections.
Television journalists Natalia and Mikhail Maksimov took part in the peaceful protests and recall how the spiral of repression intensified in the winter of 2021 and people became desperate. Alexander Asarov, a former lieutenant of the Belarusian police who changed sides, joined the BYPOL organization in Poland. It was founded by former members of the Belarusian security forces. BYPOL collects data on torture and records testimony. Whistleblowers from Belarus provide recordings of telephone conversations and videos with incriminating footage. The goal is to preserve the data for future investigations and trials and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Tatiana Khomich, the sister of the opposition figurehead Maria Kolesnikova, who was sentenced to eleven years in prison, draws the attention of international politics to the fate of political prisoners in Belarus.

The film interweaves personal fates and tragedies with the drama of the country. Moving archival footage shows what has happened in Belarus since the 2020 elections. Belarusians in exile believe that the peaceful revolution brought people together as one nation for the first time.

A commissioned production by WDR, broadcasted at ARD 21.3.2022

Linkt to Mediathek