A year after the presidential elections, the Belarusians of Finland are confident in imminent democratic changes in their homeland
The Belarusians of Finland gather weekly for protests in Helsinki, but the atmosphere of fear around the political activism associated with Belarus has not spared Finland either.
Exactly a year ago, a historic presidential election was held in Belarus, the result of which is still not recognized by the Western world. Alexander Lukashenko declared his confident victory, although in those polling stations where it was possible to organize independent observation, the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya
just terribly tired of Lukashenka “- on the eve of the presidential elections, the Belarusians of Finland began to actively participate in the political life of their homeland
Because of the falsifications, tens and hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets of Belarusian and foreign cities to protest against Lukashenka’s actions. In Belarus, these actions were harshly suppressed, and after a few months they gradually came to naught. Many opposition figures – including Tikhanovskaya, whose husband is still in prison – had to flee to Europe. Now Western countries do not have contacts with the Lukashenka regime, but communicate with the headquarters of Tikhanovskaya.
In March 2021, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya paid an official visit to Finland. She met with Prime Minister Sanna Marin , President Sauli Niinistö , Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto and with the Belarusian diaspora of Finland
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: you can’t play hockey when the genocide of Belarusians is taking place in the country
The EU has imposed several packages of sanctions on the Belarusian state. The recent sanctions were caused by the incident with the forced landing in Minsk of a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius with the Belarusian opposition leader Roman Protasevich on board.
Finland systematically supported the introduction of all packages of EU sanctions against Belarus. The Finnish side also advocated the inclusion of Alexander Lukashenko personally in the sanctions list. So far this has not happened, but Lukashenka’s path to Europe is already barred. But over the past year, he visited Russia three times and met with Putin. 41>
“It can’t be otherwise”
While the street protest in Belarus is suppressed by the regime, the Belarusians of Finland continue to take to the streets on a regular basis. Every Saturday they go to the Mannerheim monument in Helsinki with posters against the dictatorship and white-red-white flags banned in Belarus. They demand the release of political prisoners and observe human rights in Belarus.
– We do not even hope for democratic changes in Belarus, but we are confident in their inevitability. It couldn’t be otherwise. The process will take longer than we expected, but there is no other way out, – says the head of the organization “Belarusians of Finland” Kirill Kirillov .
Similar actions are taking place in other Western countries, and Belarusians abroad are trying to keep their homeland on the agenda in these countries. They appeal to the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, remind about the situation in Belarus and try to get Belarus renamed in those countries where this is relevant – including Finland. Belarusians living abroad regularly communicate with each other and take patronage over Belarusian cities in order to support their compatriots who have remained in their homeland.
– The Belarusians woke up and realized that together they were strong. Many new contacts have been established, and the nation has rallied, since we have one common enemy. The enemy is not so terrible, but, unfortunately, he has power and strength, – says Kirill.
Finsky lane 134. My youth, Belarusia
But not everyone is so fearless. Recent events have noticeably shaken the confidence of Belarusian activists in their safety. At first, due to pressure from sports officials, the Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya had to flee from Japan to Poland. A week ago, a Belarusian activist Vitaly Shishov was killed in Kiev. He was the chairman of the public organization “Belarusian House in Ukraine”, which was involved in helping Belarusians who fled from the Lukashenka regime.
Activists living outside Belarus understand that they are not safe even far from their homeland. Belarusian politically active director Andrei Kureichik , who now has projects in Finland, admitted in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat that he fears for his life and the life of his 14-year-old child, although he considers Helsinki a safe place.
He told the Supo Security Police about the threats he received, which said that he would share Shishov’s fate if he continued. Supo told HS that they have their finger on the pulse regarding the situation with Belarus.