OSA / Highlights

Elections in Belarus 2006

Yuri Khashchevatsky, Belarus, 1996, 56 min


In this daring political satire from Belarus, black humor exposes the shape of totalitarianism in the Presidency of Alexander Lukaschenko, admirer of Hitler. Charting the despot's rise to power, the film shows how Lukaschenko began by promising to root out all governmental corruption - then used his knowledge of that corruption to become president.

Khashchevatsky made An Ordinary President a political pamphlet, taking his cue from Michail Romm's Ordinary Fascism . Ever since Alexander Lukaschenko became president of Belarus, it is increasingly obvious that the state has turned into a dictatorship. Khashchevatsky charts Lukaschenko's career, showing how he was able to achieve power, how his personality changed and how he has used his position to create a totalitarian autocracy. Lukaschenko is a man who makes no secret of his sympathy for Hitler.

Illuminating background details and explanations are provided by interviews with Lukaschenko's former friends and "comrades-in-arms," who have since become his opponents. They include Alexander Feduta, head of the presidential information office from July 1994 - January 1995; Yuri Sacharenko, minister of the interior from August 1994 - November 1995; Oleg Ignatenko, director of the presidential surveillance service from July 1994 - April 1996; and two chairmen of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus; Stanislav Shishkevitch and Semion Shareki.

"I simply had to make this film when I realized how basic civil rights in my country were being whittled away by President Lukaschenko and freedom of speech was being increasingly curtailed. I started working on it in 1995, well aware that it would be difficult and that we would be obstructed and threatened." - Yuri Khashchevatsky


Director: Yuri Khashchevatsky
Camera: Wladimir Andronow, Sergei Wajtriver, Goran Ruljow
Editing : Alexei Struljow


Yuri Khashchevatsky was born in 1947 in Odessa, Ukraine. In 1976, he moved to Minsk where he worked as a film director. In 1984, he showed his first film, Quiet Life in Glubokij (Grand Prize at Kiev All-Union Film Festival). Since then, he has directed 23 films, both features and documentaries. Credits include: Kyojyov Was Here (Grand Prize in Minsk at All-Union Film Festival, 1987), Opposite Action (Grand Prize at St. Petersburg International Film Festival, 1989), Everything's Good (Grand Prize in Munich, 1996), and Russian Happiness (Grand Prize in Ekaterinburg, 1992), among others.



"Not everything that was connected to a certain Adolf Hitler in Germany was bad. Remember his rule in Germany. The German order had grown over centuries. Under Hitler, this process reached its culmination. This is perfectly in line with our understanding of a presidential republic and the role of its president"
-- Alyaksandr Lukashenka, interview with the German newspaper "Handelsblatt", 1995. "Handelsblatt" chose not print the passage. But the interview, which was taped, was broadcasted twice by Belarusian Radio and can be heard in the film.

On December 23, 1997, two unidentified men broke into the film studio of Yuri Khashchevatsky and beat him unconscious, breaking his nose and his foot in three places, and leaving him with a concussion, multiple bruises, and abrasions. HRW

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