Film on work and arrest of Russian NGO worker in Tripoli comes to TV

“Shugaley” is based on the real-life experience of a Russian reasercher held in Libya’s Mitiga prison.
Friday 08/05/2020
Scene from "Shugaley".
Scene from "Shugaley". (shugalei-film.com)

MOSCOW –Russian TV channels are preparing to air a movie titled “Shugaley,” based on the real-life experience of a Russian reasercher held in Libya’s Mitiga prison.

The film tells the story of Russian NGO worker Maxim Shugaley, who was invited by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) to conduct research in the Libyan capital, but was later arrested with his translator.

Shugaley’s mission was to conduct surveys and polls in the country ahead of presidential elections that were planned for the end of 2019. While working in Tripoli, Shugaley discovered the scope of support for Saif al-Islam, the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. That led to his arrest by the “RADA” Special Deterrence Forces militia, headed by the Salafist warlord Abdul Raouf Kara.

The film begins by depicting Shugaley’s trip days after he arrived to the Libyan capital with his translator, Samir Seifan. While doing their assigned work, a group of masked gunmen came and took them to Mitiga prison, where they are still being held.

The film narrates the GNA’s efforts to prove that Shugaley is guilty of espionage and interference in Libya’s elections. They point to a meeting between Shugaley and Saif al-Islam as evidence, even though Libyan officials were aware of the meeting beforehand.

The film exposes the untold death and destruction in Libya and sheds light on the militia-led war by forces loyal to the GNA against the Libyan National Army (LNA), headed by Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Scene from "Shugaley".
Scene from "Shugaley". (shugalei-film.com)

According to the movie’s producer, Sergei Shcheglov, the story shows the reality of war-torn areas that remain rife with violence and injustice.

“We worked to save mankind, we worked on this idea, and this was really the slogan adopted by our team,” said Shcheglov. “We worked for 14 hours for 48 days. From the cast to post-production team, indifference had no place in our crew.”

The film also showcases extreme tension between Russia and the GNA, which accuses Moscow of lending support to the LNA in its battle to control Tripoli.

On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that it would do everything possible to free Shugaley.

The Russian Foreign Ministry released an urgent recommendation for its citizens to avoid travel to Libya, and called on other organisations not to send their employees there due to security risks.