© Antonio Zazueta Olmos
Natalia Kaliada: 'In Belarus it's very simple – everything's repressed'
The exiled co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre on the company's new play and the escalating brutality in her homeland
When I interviewed you last year, you'd been forced to leave Belarus and were living with your husband [the playwright Nikolai Khalezin] and your daughter in exile in Britain. Your friends were in prison, some had been tortured, your family had been threatened. Has anything improved?
Nothing has changed for the better. Everything has changed for the worse. There were two executions recently. Belarus is the only country in Europe that uses the death penalty. New arrests are taking place. New people are going to jail for long-term sentences. Even rock concerts are banned in Belarus. Nothing has changed since the Soviet Union.
Few people realise that there is a repressive dictatorship right in the middle of Europe.
Most people have no idea. It's only a two-and-a-half-hour flight from London and it's a place where people – our friends – have been imprisoned, stripped, electro-shocked and tortured in a KGB jail.
You and Nikolai formed the Belarus Free Theatre as an underground theatre in Minsk. Now you are in exile, you try and raise awareness of what is happening there. How does your new play – Minsk, 2011 – do that?
When you live in a suppressed society, many things happen, but one is that a culture of sexual violence develops and grows very fast and this is what we explore. The whole country is isolated, freedoms are suppressed and violence is one of the things that grows out of that.
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