According to the 2001 census, about 270 thousand Belarusians lived in Ukraine. All these years, the Belarusian diaspora has not been an organized community, and we do not know how its number and composition have changed over the past 19 years. But what we know for sure is that 2020 has changed us dramatically.
The presidential elections in Belarus irrevocably changed not only the situation inside the country, but also gave a powerful impetus to the development of international solidarity of Belarusians abroad. We, the Belarusians of Ukraine, experienced violations of our electoral rights on Election Day and were shocked by the manifestation of excessive brutality by the Belarusian law enforcement agencies that followed E-Day. The international democratic community did not recognize the election results published by the Central Election Commission and condemned the massive violence and repression against peaceful protesters.
The official results for Ukraine have never been published, but according to the independent exit poll, 72.67% of people voted for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Kyiv, while Alexander Lukashenko received only 9.65% of all votes.
Беларусы Украины с первого же дня обращались в официальное посольство Республики Беларусь с требованием выразить свою позицию касательно нарушений основополагающих прав человека и Конституции РБ. Однако работники органа, обязавшегося представлять наши интересы за рубежом, так ни разу не вышли на диалог со своим народом.
The Belarusians of Ukraine from the very first day appealed to the official embassy of the Republic of Belarus with a demand to express their position on violations of fundamental human rights and the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. However, the employees of the state body which pledged to represent our interests abroad have never entered into dialogue with their people.
Since the beginning of August, the Belarusian diaspora has held dozens of pickets, rallies, chains of solidarity and women’s marches. Every day our presence became more and more noticeable, as Ukraine appeared to be one of the main countries that have received a significant number of Belarusian relocators (according to the border service, more than 70 thousand Belarusians crossed the border with Ukraine in August-September 2020). And this is no accident. Due to cultural proximity, the absence of a language barrier and thanks to the visa-free regime, many Belarusians forced to flee under the threat of political persecution in their native country chose Ukraine as a safe harbor for temporary residence. Therefore, the local diaspora actively engaged in helping Belarusian migrants in Ukraine.
To this date, several initiative groups and organizations have been created to provide diverse assistance to newcomers. They work in the following areas:
– Legal consultation
– Psychological help
– Humanitarian aid (food, clothing, hygiene items)
– Assistance with accommodation
– Solidarity actions and cultural events, etc.