The public closing event of the ConnectBY project took place on 7 December via Zoom. In the first part, Dr. Olga Matveieva and Dr. Vasil Navumau presented the results of the project's internal study, in which they examined the challenges and opportunities of Belarusian activists in the diaspora. The results show that large parts of Belarusians who have emigrated from Belarus since 2020 and partly from Ukraine in 2022 have to invest most of their time and energy in arriving in a new country. Administrative and language challenges are only one part. On the activist side, many NGOs and media outlets registered in Belarus have been liquidated by the regime in the last two years and have to reorganise themselves in the diaspora. Furthermore, the co-aggressorship of Aleksandr Lukashenka in the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine complicates the situation for Belarus:ins in Ukraine on a social level.
With Dr. Olga Shparaga, Florian Carmona and Anton Niedzielka we discussed aspects of community and trust building within the diaspora communities especially during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as gender-specific challenges.
Furthermore, it is important to differentiate the autocratic Belarusian regime and its supporters from the Belarusian citizens at home and abroad who suffer under the regime. It is necessary to impose further sanctions against the Belarusian state and to provide Belarusians with real opportunities for residence and integration in the EU.
Another fundamental difficulty is access to independent information from Belarus. Due to the severely restricted press, most opposition and critical news can currently only be passed on via chat groups. Independent Russian media can only partially fill this gap.
The IEP will publish the results of the study as well as reports by nine people from the Belarusian diaspora in the new year in the form of a project publication. The publication will be available in English and Belarusian on the IEP website from the end of January.