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Documentaries: The Belarusian Diaspora in Germany – Life in an unknown environment

Jana Shnipelson / Unsplash
Jana Shnipelson / Unsplash

How do Belarusians who have come to Germany since 2020 view their new life? In three videos created as part of the VisiBYlity project, we accompany Belarusian migrants in their everyday lives. What obstacles do they face and how do they overcome them?

German language courses, scholarship programs and involvement in the Belarusian community – Belarusians shoulder numerous tasks in their everyday lives in Germany. However, their residence status is anything but secure. In view of the ongoing repressions by the Lukashenka regime in Belarus, many of them are trying to obtain a long-term residence permit and are getting used to the idea of a new life in their new environment without forgetting about the situation in their home country.

In cooperation with the producers Andrei Karalevich and Maria Savushkina, the VisiBYlity project produced three short documentaries that provide insight into the life of the Belarusian diaspora in Germany. The videos depict three Belarusian people who left Belarus after the demonstrations against the fraudulent 2020 presidential elections and the subsequent repressions by the Lukashenka regime, and are now living in German exile.

Episode #1 – Plan B

In the first episode, we meet Ales Piletski, a Belarusian journalist and reporter who was targeted by the Belarusian authorities for his reporting and ultimately decided to move to Ukraine. After the start of the Russian war of aggression, he applied for asylum in Germany and organized the relocation of his wife and two children from Belarus.

Episode #2 – Like a fairytale

The protagonist of the second episode, Maryna Antaniuk-Prouteau, is a Belarusian philologist and academic who decided to emigrate to Germany after taking part in the protests in Minsk in 2020. She received a scholarship from the University of Bremen and was able to continue her research work. In cooperation with the Belarusian community RAZAM e.V., she is working on the opening of a Belarusian House in Bremen, which is to become a meeting place for the Belarusian diaspora and for an exchange with German society.

Episode #3 – A city to live in

The third episode accompanies the Belarusian publisher and poet Dmitri Strotsev. After being repeatedly threatened by the Belarusian authorities and kidnapped by the Belarusian secret service KGB in Minsk in 2020, he decided to leave the country and has been living in Berlin and Vilnius ever since. He was awarded a scholarship for his work as a writer, but is unable to take advantage of it due to migration regulations.

All three videos were shown at the film screening and pop-up exhibition "Belarusian Culture under Pressure" on June 20. Following the screening, producers Andrei Karalevich and Maria Savushkina, as well as the protagonist Ales Piletski, answered questions from the audience.

Team & authors

About the VisiBYlity for Belarusian democratic actors project: Capacity building, advocacy and research for more attention for the Belarusian diaspora in the German and European public: these are the core contents of VisiBYlity.

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