Former political prisoners and the families of President Lukashenka’s political opponents who are currently held in prison have urged Hollywood actors not to appear in Abel, a movie funded by the Belarusian government that is widely viewed as a piece of propaganda.
The petition has been sent to Eric Roberts and Sharon Stone, who are rumoured to have been offered parts in the movie. It was signed by Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Zmitser and Nasta Dashkevich, Pavel Seviarynets, Mikita Likhavid, Zmitser Drozd, Maryna Adamovich, Pavel Vinahradau, Maryna Lobava and others.
The petitioners refer to scenes in the movie that depict anti-government protests in front of the House of Government in Minsk, echoing the December 19, 2010 post-election demonstration that was brutally dispersed by riot police.
According to the petition, the peaceful demonstration ended in the arrest of more than a thousand protesters. Opposition politician and ex-presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich is still behind bars, the petition says.
The petitioners warn that the actors would be used by the Belarusian authorities in an attempt to whitewash their crackdown on dissidents.
Uladzimir Niakliayeu, a then presidential candidate who was brutally beaten up ahead of the protest and jailed afterward, said that Hollywood stars were unlikely to feature in the movie. The rumours are a PR stunt that the producers of the movie hope to use to get more money from the government for the project, he suggested.
If it were not for the authorities’ actions she would not pay attention to this film, Maryna Adamovich, the wife of Mikalai Statkevich, stressed. ‘I mean shutting off the main avenue in freezing weather and traffic interruption, which the protesters in 2010 were accused of,’ she said.
‘This movie is of no interest to me. I just wanted to draw public attention to the authorities’ double standards, human right violations, to the fact that there are people who are still serving their terms for Ploshcha [post-election peaceful protests] and some people are going to present these events to the world in a distorted way,’ Maryna Adamovich said.
Motion picture Abel which is being taken by Nonstop Media film company has already evoked a wide public response. The film crew expects it to become a national blockbuster and win the international viewer: Abel tells the story of two brothers who happened to be on opposite sides of the barricades. Its authors might state that the film is completely non-political but it is evident that a political issue is not to be slipped over.
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