World Solidarity Day recalled: Long live Belarus!
Despite the bad weather,&# 160; Belarusians abroad held protests&# 160; against&# 160; Lukashenka’s regime&# 160;
On the initiative of the leader of the Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, rallies were held last weekend within the framework of the World Day of Solidarity with Belarus. The goal of the day of solidarity was to return Belarus to the agenda of different countries of the world, to tell the stories of political prisoners in Belarus, to stop trials and violence against innocent people..
February 7 was not chosen by chance. Exactly six months before that, the next presidential elections were held in Belarus. According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, Alexander Lukashenko, who has been the country’s president since 1994, won with 80.1% of the votes. However, according to the surviving protocols of local election commissions, in most cases Svetlana Tikhanovskaya won, becoming the single alternative candidate from the Belarusian opposition. Although the Central Election Commission «awarded» she only 10.12% of the vote.
Since the evening of August 7, protests against the falsification of the presidential elections and brutal methods of dispersing peaceful demonstrations have not subsided in the country. Protesters demand the cancellation of the election results approved by the Central Election Commission, a new election campaign, in which those candidates who were arrested on trumped-up charges or were forced to leave Belarus could also take part.
Correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America» talked with representatives of the Belarusian diaspora in some of the countries where rallies of solidarity with their homeland were held.
Kiev: «Us – million. He – one. We continue to fight»
A civil activist named Georgy who recently moved from Belarus to Kiev asked not to mention his last name. «I – an ordinary participant in all marches and rallies (in support of Belarusian protesters)», – he introduced himself.
«It was sunny and frosty in Kiev without snow. But this did not frighten people. This time about a hundred people came to the march, but at the last action – in memory of Mikhail Zhiznevsky – there were many more people. There were not only us, but also the Ukrainians who support us». A native of Gomel, Mikhail Zhiznevsky died on January 22, 2014 on the Maidan. He was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.
This time Georgy noticed that during the march itself he did not notice the Ukrainians, but already on Independence Square (Independence Square), local residents approached the Belarusian activists, expressed their support and solidarity and wished them success in the fight against the regime. Arriving on the Maidan, the marchers unfurled a five-meter white-red-white flag, which has become a symbol of the protest movement in Belarus. People holding smaller flags, historical coat of arms «Chase» and posters lined up in «chain of solidarity» and lit the fires. The posters had inscriptions in Belarusian: «Solidarity – these are not just words. We are together and we will win», «Not removed in the fall – we will plant in winter», «Freedom for political prisoners», «Solidarity knows no boundaries». «Us – million. He – one. We continue to fight».
At the end of the story, Georgy noted that he closely follows the political life around the world and the actions of Belarusian communities in different countries. Therefore, he was aware of similar actions of solidarity with Belarus in different countries..
Berlin: Belarusians have many flags, and Russians have many posters
Creative project coordinator «Embassy of the Free Democratic Republic of Belarus in Germany» First of all, Taras Säkerka noted that on February 7, a real snowfall fell in Berlin for the first time in this winter.. «And it was great, because our action looked more colorful against a white background.», – he stressed. «Even in the morning I came across messages that due to snowy weather some activists are afraid to come to the action, but in the end, about a hundred people came, which is not bad by our standards..
We had a procession from Potsdamer Platz, past the Russian embassy to Humboldt University. The procession took about an hour, the police accompanied us, and everything went very peacefully. We shouted chants: in Belarusian “Long live Belarus!” and in German: “Lukashenka – not president!”, “Lukashenka – dictator!”, “Lukashenka – usurper!”. And passing by the Russian embassy, in solidarity with our Russian colleagues and like-minded people, they shouted “Russia will be free” and “Down with dictatorship!”».
Taras Syakerka also said that on February 7 he took part in the procession of Russian activists from the residence of Angela Merkel to the Russian embassy. The action was dedicated to Alexei Navalny and all Russian political prisoners.
«If we compare the Russian actions and the Belarusian ones, then one can immediately notice the difference both in the faces of the participants and in the clothes. In addition, Russians have a lot of posters at rallies, but there are practically no flags with rare exceptions. We have – the opposite is true. There are a lot of flags in the hands and on the shoulders, but few posters», – Taras notes.
Indeed, participants in the Berlin action of solidarity with Belarus held in their hands portraits of prisoners of the regime with inscriptions “Imprisoned” and “Hostage”, as well as a crossed-out portrait of Lukashenka with an inscription “Terror”. Several people raised a banner over their heads with the inscription in English: «Stop terror in Belarus!».
«In Berlin, in general, there are some demonstrations every day, and especially a lot of them on weekends. And the police are present on each to protect the protesters. The police even have a special department, whose officers accompany the demonstrators. Moreover, sometimes there are demonstrations of opposite sides, and the police make sure that there are no clashes between them.», – explains the Belarusian activist.
When asked if there were any actions by supporters of Lukashenko and Putin on February 7, he just threw up his hands: «In principle, we have not met such people here at all. – neither on Belarusian actions, nor on Russian ones. Such people, most likely, exist somewhere in a small percentage. But this – people are not too distant and they do not follow any stocks, and do not come to specifically compromise someone», –summed up the coordinator of the creative project «Embassy of the Free Democratic Republic of Belarus in Germany» Taras Syakerka.
Vienna: collect the number of likes equal to the number of victims of repression in Belarus
The participant of the solidarity action in Vienna Yulia Daineko introduced herself as a volunteer from “Belarusians in Austria”. «It was raining here and we were worried that few people would come. And we have planned interactive communication, for example – erected a large stand of solidarity, where everyone could leave inscriptions with wishes and words of support for the Belarusian people. We had to cover this stand with plastic, but everything went very well», – she shared her impressions with the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».
The protesters in the Austrian capital brought with them Belarusian white-red-white flags, and sheltered from the rain with umbrellas, where white and red segments also alternated. The same colors were present in the clothes of many who came. The highlight of the action in Vienna was an exhibition of samples of Belarusian protest poster art. It featured works by such artists as Pavel Dorokhin, Volya Kuzmich, Anna Redko, Ksenia Gurina-Averbug. «We had time to laminate them before it started to rain, so everything was great. We set ourselves the goal of showing, first of all, the beauty of the Belarusian people both in general and within the framework of the ongoing protest», – noted Julia Daineko. And she continued: «Our promotions always take place in a very friendly environment. True, the participants of the actions against the quarantine from Covid-19, passing by us, casually expressed dissatisfaction, why they should not get together, but we can?
But in general, representatives of the democratic movement often drop in to us. “Vienna goes Europe”, and this time we were even visited by the MEP from the Austrian People’s Party Lucas Mandl. He asked for the floor and spoke words of support to the Belarusian people, said that it is very important not to miss the moment and continue to fight for democracy, freedom of speech and the release of political prisoners».
A week ago, Russians, who had just completed their rally in support of Alexei Navalny, also approached the Belarusian picketers.. «These were very interesting and touching moments when, passing by us, people said: “Long live Belarus!”, and we answered them “Long live forever!” and they understood that it was the Russians who were leaving their action. But this time only Austrians and Poles came to support us. True, the weather was not favorable for many passers-by to stop at our picket», –Yulia Daineko tried to justify the absence of Russian activists.
And at the end of the conversation, she confirmed that she knew about similar actions held in many countries of the world: «7 february – World Day of Solidarity with Belarus, and we were preparing to take part in it. In addition, I know that the organization “Vienna goes Europe”, asked Austrian representatives in the UN and OSCE on social networks to collect likes under messages about the World Solidarity Days in an amount no less than the number of people who were imprisoned in Belarus, starting from August 7».
Ottawa: Flag Speed Skating Autographed by Tikhanovskaya
Deputy Chairman of the Main Board of the organization, existing since 1949 «Zgurtavannya Belarus Белару Canada», public association secretary «Belarusians of Zamizhzha» Sergei Mozgovoy (Syarhei Mazgavy) in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America» began with the fact that in the province of Ontario is now a complete lockdown in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic. «But, according to the constitution, the authorities do not have the right to prohibit political actions. However, they recommend that no more than 25 people get together, while maintaining social distance.», – he explained.
Interestingly, Ottawa is home to one of the longest ice rinks in the world, with a length of 8 kilometers and an area of 90 ice hockey fields. It was this skating rink on the Rideau Canal, which connects Ottawa with Kingston, that became the venue for the action of solidarity with Belarus. Moreover, activists were not frightened even by 38-degree frost. «The guys got up on skates and drove this distance. Many Canadians were interested in what they saw, drove up, asked, approved. By the way, many people know about what is happening in Belarus, because François-Philippe Champagne, who at that time was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, called Svetlana Tikhanovskaya after she arrived in Vilnius. Anyway, Canada has always stood on the side of justice», – noted Sergey Mozgovoy.
While driving along the long skating rink, the protesters also held white-red-white flags in their hands, and one of them, sent from Vilnius, bore the autograph of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, as well as the flags of Canada. And at the finish, the protesters wrote the word Belarus on the snow and lined up in the shape of a heart.
After the end of the speed skating race, about half of its participants joined the political action, which was carried out by Canadians of Russian origin. This action took place in front of the parliament building, and activists of the two countries held posters in English «Stop political persecution in Belarus» and «Stop political assassinations in Russia».
«Cars passing by honked, passers-by stopped, started a conversation. By the way, here many people know who Navalny is, they, of course, they know not only about the events in Belarus, but also about what is happening in Russia. And we, in turn, try to ensure that information about this does not leave the pages of newspapers.», – concludes Sergey Mozgovoy.