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The Actors Defying Europe’s Last Dictator


Natalia Kaliada and Nikolai Khalezin run the Belarus Free Theatre in Minsk, Belarus, which puts on dissident productions critical of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko — referred to by many as the last dictator in Europe.

A decade ago, facing political persecution, Natalia and Nikolai fled to an undisclosed location in the UK where they now live in exile. Their work in Minsk has never stopped, despite frequent arrests of their actors and crew.

After widespread protests rocked Belarus in August 2020, the threats against the couple have only increased, with a state-controlled paper vowing that they’d be hung “side by side.”

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