The project offers a support programme for Belarusian activists whose projects and initiatives deal with the democratic development and European rapprochement of Belarus. In addition to financial support for the projects, the fellowship offers potential for establishing and exchanging contacts. Mentors accompany the fellows in their projects. The commitment of Belarusian activists will be made visible to the German public through a podcast series. Various public events will also contribute to this.
The repression of Belarusian civil society by the state authorities in 2020 forced many activists to leave Belarus. With the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Lukashenka's regime became a collaborator in Russia's war against Ukraine. The democratic civil society sector has been destroyed: civil society organisations have been dissolved and initiatives scattered. Thousands of activists who had to leave the country have resumed their activities abroad, where they are reorganising their lives within the new legal, social and economic environment. In addition, diaspora members experience discrimination when they are associated with the Belarusian regime. This made it difficult to establish cooperation in their countries of residence, to raise funds to continue their activities and to start new activities.
Despite the pressure on them, the activists in Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine remain important actors in building democracy in Belarus: they volunteer and start new projects and initiatives with which they actively stand up for democratic values and, for example, support Ukraine in its defence against Russia.
Building on the previous project "ConnectBY - Belarusian Civil Society in Diaspora", VisiBYlity aims to support activists in their work for a democratic Belarus from exile. The IEP is implementing the project with the Ukrainian Expert Foundation (UEF) and the Belarusian initiative RADAR_BY (Research and Action for a Democratic Accountable and Resilient Belarus).