Profiles of Belarus in Focus winners
Sam Knight: Inside the Snow Globe (read article)
Sam Knight is a magazine writer.
He writes mainly for the Financial Times’ weekend magazine and for Prospect, a British monthly magazine, where he is a contributing editor.
He often writes about people and places undergoing profound change and over the last 18 months has covered subjects such as health service reform in the UK, post-crash Iceland, and the arrival of the Olympics in London. His work has appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times and The New Republic.
He is currently working on a book about life in Europe during the financial crisis.
Sam first visited Minsk in 2007 to write about the Jacub Kolas Lyceum, a Belarusian language school formally closed down by the authorities in late 2003, but which continued to meet in people’s homes. He cannot remember why he decided to write about Belarus, only that it seemed important to do so, and very hard to figure out. Since then he has returned in 2008, to write about the immediate impact of the financial crisis on the country and then, in December 2010, to cover the presidential elections for Harper’s.
Shaun Walker is the Moscow Correspondent for the UK’s Independent.
He has lived in Moscow since 2003 and worked for The Independent since 2007, reporting on Russia and the former Soviet countries. He has travelled to Belarus many times in the past year.
Shaun Walker studied Russian and Soviet history at Oxford University.
Polona Frelih, Moscow correspondent for Slovenian daily Delo. Since 2007 she has been following political, economic, cultural and everyday life in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. She reports on various subjects - from breaking news stories such as the Georgian-Russian conflict in South Ossetia and Abhazia in 2008, daily challenges of the indigenous population of Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous Region to the national revival and political repressions in Belarus.
Coming from Slovenia, a relatively small country which in 1991 gained its independence from the former Yugoslavia, Polona has always been interested in the question of how and to what extent national identity is preserved in multinational states. That is what brought her to Belarus in the first place, where she has met many interesting people with one common problem – a political system that is an enemy not only to the Belarus national revival, but also to the basic human rights.
Polona started her career on the news desk of the Slovenian National Television back in 1997, then covering events in the countries of the former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence. She was also the author of the weekly review of world events called the Weekly Mirror and a Slovenian correspondent to the CNN World Report.
Ángela Espinosa was born in Málaga (Spain) in 1993. By the age of three, she had already learnt how to read and write on her own, starting to compose poetry when she was six years. old. In 2011, she graduated from a musical conservatory with honours (Professional Degree in Piano and Humanistic Baccalaureate). She also obtained the Extraordinary Baccalaureate Prize in Málaga.
In 2005, she was awarded the first prize in the 15th Musical Contest \"Ángeles Reina\" (speciality in piano). In 2008, she won the Ben Franklin Transantlantic Fellows Initiative Scholarship, awarded by the US Government to young world leaders. During this program, she became aware of international political issues and took a special interest in the Belarusian situation.
Besides her native Spanish and English, she speaks French and Russian fluently, and she is currently learning German, Ukrainian and Polish. At present, she is a freshman in the University of Granada (Slavic Philology) and she is collaborating in a translation project of contemporary poetry (Spanish to Russian) with the Interpreters’ School of the University.
Brendan McCall (USA) is a theater and movement artist whose work has been presented in over 25 countries on 4 continents since 1993. He is currently directing an original adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s ’A Doll’s House’ in Ankara.
In 2010, he founded Ensemble Free Theater Norway in Oslo , an independent theater group dedicated to new work and international collaboration. McCall has taught at universities internationally since 1994, including 6 years at the graduate level, and 7 years in administration on 3 continents.
His articles have appeared in Contemporary Theatre Review, Contact Quarterly Dance Journal, Movement Research Performance Journal, Dance Magainze, and will be including in the upcoming book The Actor´s Checklist: Creating the Complete Character (Cengage) by Dr. Rosary O´Neill.
McCall has worked with Belarus Free Theater in Minsk and Oslo since 2009. The candid sharing by co-founders Natalia Koliada and Nikolai Khalezin of their experiences in Minsk, including imprisonment and death-threats; as well as the horrific events surrounding the December 2010 elections in Belarus; inspired McCall to take more action as an educator, activist, and human being. One of these was the writing of “When Theatre is ´Thoughtcrime´,” published in Contemporary Theatre Review (United Kingdom) in 2011.
Information / Contact: www.ensemblefreetheaternorway.com
BFA with Honors, New York University; MFA, Bennington College.
Kiryl Kascian, LL.M. - PhD candidate in Law at the University of Bremen, Germany; web-editor of \"Belarusian Review\", a quarterly established by the Belarusian-American Association; author of various scholarly and analytical articles, book chapters, as well as book reviews in English, German and Belarusian. Research and journalist interests cover predominantly law and politics of Central and Eastern Europe and newly independent states with a particular focus on Belarus.