The head of the Belarusian Crisis Center, Oleksiy Frantskevich, explained why the majority of Belarusians do not support Russian aggression against Ukraine, who the Lukashians are, and how Belarusian volunteers, having gained combat experience in Ukraine, will help liberate their country from the dictatorship.
Just a few days ago, the British center Chatham House published the results of a sociological research, according to which more than a half of Belarusians believe that they do not deserve the same negative attitude from Western countries as the Russians. And only 15% of respondents feel guilty for the war in Ukraine. Why such results? After all, it is no longer a secret that the missiles that fire at peaceful Ukrainian cities fly, in particular, from the territory of Belarus.
I will answer with other numbers: a recent poll in Belarus also revealed that 86% of the Belarusians are against participation in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Citizens do not associate themselves with the government through which all this happens. Belarus has been under dictatorship for over 20 years. And in 2020, after the so-called presidential elections, the final illegitimate seizure of power took place using the military forces.
The only country in the world that supported the illegitimate, criminal government in Belarus was the Russian Federation on behalf of Vladimir Putin. In fact, after this event, Belarus lost its subjectivity, and today the issue of the occupation of Belarus by Russian aggressors must be raised.
That is, the Belarusians do not support Russian aggression against Ukraine. We see how, in one form or another, they do everything they can to resist it.
From the first days of the large-scale invasion, the Belarusians in Europe are included in the workflow and provided assistance to refugees from Ukraine, because at that time there were already hundreds of thousands of refugees from Belarus in Europe who left after 2020. Accordingly, they already had experience working with forced migrants. They did a great job – humanitarian aid, logistics, meetings, resettlement.
In Ukraine, the Belarusians enroll in the volunteer army, in the same battalion of Kastus Kalynovskyi (the battalion was formed in March 2022 to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine from Russian invasion, – UNIAN)…
…partisans, that derail Russian military-grade trains.
From the very first days, the Belarusians have been helping Ukrainian special services, giving information about the movement of the Russian troops at the risk of their lives.
The fact is that after 2020, the illegitimate government in Belarus actually started the genocide of its people. About three thousand political prisoners, hundreds of thousands of Belarusian refugees… People were forced to leave their homes due to political persecution. And in order to scare people even more and stop resistance, new legislation was introduced in Belarus. For example, internal troops can use combat weapons when dispersing peaceful demonstrators. As well as only calling for extremism is punishable by death.
Therefore, people who today help the Ukrainians, who give information about the movement of Russian equipment, can get 20 years of imprisonment. And those who let the train down the slope risk their lives – they face the death penalty.
Therefore, returning to the beginning of our conversation about various poll numbers, I would divide the Belarusians into the Lukashists and non-Lukashists. I believe that it is necessary to show the whole world, including the Ukrainians, that this is a clear division. There are the Lukashians, and there are The Belarusians. It is the same as there are the Kadyrovs and there are the Chechens. Huge difference.
By the way, about the Chechens. They also formed their own volunteer battalion in Ukraine and are also fighting against the Russian army, in particular against the Kadirov residents. And they are greatly helped by the Chechen opposition politicians who live in Europe. Does Svitlana Tykhanovskaya’s office help Belarusian volunteers fighting in Ukraine?
As for the office, I can’t say. But the entire Belarusian diaspora today will donate funds for the Armed Forces, including for the Belarusian volunteers, many people want to join the ranks of volunteers themselves, many applications come directly from Belarus.
And in general, there are many Belarusians who would like to help in any way. Just the other day, I spoke with four girls who are asking to be allowed to enter Ukraine. They are ready to volunteer, to do anything.
Why are they not allowed in?
Since missiles are flying from Belarus to Ukraine, many Belarusians got into a bad situation – they automatically became representatives of the aggressor country. The passport of Belarus does not allow normal movement. In addition, bank cards are blocked, there are many other problematic nuances.
You see, a lot of Belarusians wanted to escape from the Lukashenko regime after 2020. Someone did not succeed. Someone managed to leave either to Ukraine or through Ukraine. To a great shame, today there is no clear, concrete information on how many Belarusians lived in Ukraine at the time of the full-scale invasion of the Russian invaders, how many were in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Buchi, and so on. But, regardless of this, the Belarusian Crisis Center helps all Belarusians who were forced to leave their homes in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.
I admit, evacuation from the occupied territories is very difficult. On the one hand, the citizens of Belarus, like the Ukrainians, hid from the rocket attacks of the Russian occupiers in basements. On the other hand, we faced the fact that with Belarusian passports they could not get on the evacuation buses and trains. They were checked most often at checkpoints. They asked more questions. For example, I received a call from a guy whose house in Irpen was completely bombed, and he was completely left without documents… Or another situation – the Belarusian family – a mother, father and four children on their own evacuated from Irpen, hiding from the bombings under a destroyed bridge, but they also had problems getting on the train and leaving Ukraine for Poland, because they had Belarusian documents.
There are many problems. It is a pity that representatives of the democratic forces, Svitlana Tykhanovskaya, did not make any statement about the Belarusians who are on the territory of Ukraine. But we launched a “hotline” in Ukraine (you can contact us by phone number +38068-325-61-44 (Telegram) and by e-mail email@example.com) to provide targeted humanitarian assistance, evacuation assistance, psychological assistance, medical when needed.
A few days ago, I had a meeting with the head of the migration service in the Lviv region, we are cooperating with the Security Service of Ukraine, we are talking with the National Bank in order to somehow solve these problems.
But still, additional verification is necessary. After all, Russian missiles are not only flying from the territory of Belarus, but subversive groups are also entering.
I believe that an individual approach is needed in this regard. After all, even according to the last population census in Ukraine, which was 20 years ago, more than 250 thousand Belarusians lived here.
And how to distinguish the Belarusians from the Lukashians?
Verify everyone. Personal verification and after it – legalization, account unblocking, the ability to enter and leave the country… We to cooperate on our part.
Currently, we have launched a Belarusian information center in Lviv to talk more about the Belarusian resistance in Ukraine and Belarus. After all, what do we now see on the network? Most of the news about the rockets that are flying to Ukraine from the territory of Belarus, and we want to talk more about how the Belarusians sent a warehouse to the brink, about the work of cyber partisans, about the Belarusian volunteers in Buch, in Irpen, about the Belarusian volunteers – those who, despite the threat to their lives, do everything to bring about and forge a joint victory over a common enemy
The Belarusians understand that they cannot do anything in their country now. And they understand that the fate of Belarus, in particular, is being decided in Ukraine. That is, now the issue of deoccupation of Ukraine is being raised, and this will be followed by the issue of deoccupation of Belarus.
Don’t you think that the majority of Belarusians, on the contrary, are anticipating and just waiting when Lukashenko is gone? For example, there is an opinion that when there is no Putin, there will be no Putinism.
I think that we have a historic chance – for all free Belarusians to unite around Ukraine, stay with Ukraine in order to defeat the common enemy. And after the victory of Ukraine – to make Belarus free and democratic.
I have already said and I will say it again – Russia occupied Belarus. Lukashenko is Putin’s Gauleiter. This should be clearly understood not only for our Western partners, but also by the Belarusians themselves. Lukashenko is Putin’s protégé, the puppeteer sits in the Kremlin. And now a historic moment has come for us – to unite all efforts – so that the Belarusians join the volunteer units, and Belarusian volunteers do everything possible – to help Ukraine. We must consolidate and throw all our forces at a common victory in order to liberate Belarus in the future. There’s no other way. Everyone perfectly understands that without a free Ukraine there will be no free democratic Belarus.
It is also about the fact that after the victory of Ukraine, Belarusian volunteers will go home to restore order in their country?
Peaceful protest in Belarus has already shown its ineffectiveness. After all, security forces literally killed people. Currently, with bare hands, the Belarusians cannot do anything.
But the Belarusians in the TrO and in the volunteer battalions gained a lot of combat and military experience on the territory of Ukraine. And when they return home, they will come to the aid of the rest of the Belarusians to liberate it from the occupiers. Belarusians will support their own and at the first opportunity will start resistance.
Aren’t you afraid that the Russian propaganda, Putin’s and Lukashenko’s propaganda will call it a “civil war”?
Now I coordinate many actions, protests in Europe. Their goal is not only to block the trucks going from Poland to Belarus, not only to tell the world about the children killed by the Russian occupiers, not only to ask the world to give weapons to Ukraine. Their goal, among other things, is to show that Belarus is with Ukraine. That Belarusians and Lukashians are not the same thing. We want to show the whole world that the Belarusians do not support an illegitimate government, they do not support the Russian rule. How can there be a civil war under such conditions?
Belarus is a territory occupied by Russia. And if someone talks about a “civil war”, he will repeat the same narratives as the Russian propaganda in 2014 regarding the occupation of Ukrainian territories.
In 2020, there was a military seizure of power in Belarus, which is being held with the help of security forces. All this time, the illegitimate government is carrying out the genocide of its own people. Therefore, in Belarus there may be resistance against the occupiers, but in no case a civil war.