Big Daddy – Lukashenka, The Tyrant of Belarus
Published September 2012
BIG DADDY is a journey into the dark, secret heart of present day Belarus, a country ruled by ex-pig-farmer President Alexander Lukashenka, a man with an odd speaking style – a mix of Worzel Gummidge and Adolf Hitler – and, his critics say, his own death squad, not to mention a secret prison where his opponents are tortured. John Sweeney, an award-winning BBC reporter, travelled undercover to Belarus to find out for himself how things work under Lukashenka’s tyrannical rule. Sweeney spoke to victims of the regime’s torturers, who gave him chilling accounts of their ordeals and the mother one of the two men tried, convicted and executed for a monstrous crime – the 2011 bombing of the Belarus Metro which killed 15 people – who says her son and his friend were framed. BIG DADDY tells how Lukashenka takes his eight-year-old son to meet Pope Benedict, the Russian President and Hugo Chavez; how the death squad ‘vanished’ four rivals and another 30 ‘undesirables’; and how the opposition were tortured after crying foul in 2010 over a contested election by being forced to stand still and naked in -20°C (Sweeney himself has a go in a freezer in North London). Lukashenka comes out of this book smelling of blood and looking like a 21st century Macbeth. BIG DADDY is a gripping read and a hugely important work of the highest quality investigative journalism.
by John Sweeney