Belarusians are not Lukashenka

Lukashenka regularly spews something wild, but Belarus is not only about Lukashenka / collage by Ulad Rubanau

Since the war in Ukraine started, the world's attitude toward Belarusians has shifted from admiration to negativity. An obscene meme has even appeared on the Internet, suggesting that Belarusians are to blame for everything. Moreover, Volodymyr Zelensky did not mention Belarus in his message in honor of the 160th anniversary of the 1863 Kalinouski Uprising against the Russian Empire. The Ukrainian ambassador to Poland explained it very simply to the representative of the United Transitional Cabinet, Valery Kavaleuski: rockets are fired at Ukraine from the territory of Belarus.

However, this does not mean Belarusians should be ashamed of what Lukashenka is doing. Here's what Belarusians can be proud of.  

War does not give the right to make political mistakes 

Wrong statements remain wrong even in wartime / Yauhen Malaletka, AP

Even Ukrainians have no right to unfairly insult Belarusians or try to erase them from history, as in the case of the Kalinouski uprising, says political commentator Vital Tsyhankou.

"The fact that Kyiv is fighting a war for our and your freedom does not give it a reason, an excuse for various insults aimed at Belarusians and for various political mistakes. Some people say that as long as the Ukrainians are at war, you should forgive them everything, any insults, and completely false statements directed at us. I say no. I am not a supporter of that. If two times two is four, you have to say it, even if people are under bombs and it is unpleasant for them to hear".

Belarusians protesting outside a polling station after the war began

Matolka notes that his friends in Ukraine and the majority of Hayun subscribers make a distinction between those who carry out Lukashenka's criminal orders and those who try to help Ukraine.

"They understand very well the situation in which Belarusians find themselves. That it is, in a sense, a double occupation from 2020, when Lukashenka seized power by force. It also happened in 2022, when the promised withdrawal of troops after the exercises did not happen".

At the same time, our source agrees that Belarusians are getting a lot of bad vibes.

"There is so much negativity, unfounded insults - we see it all. But we understand what we are working for. Not for the sake of subscribers, not for some fame. We consistently show our position.

I may not agree with the official Kyiv or some speakers representing the Ukrainian government, but that does not mean that I disagree with all Ukrainian people. Besides, we have worked and continue to work and try to help people in those areas where we consider ourselves more competent or where our work can be useful. Of course, the interests of Belarusians and the real Belarus, not those of Lukashenka, come first. Accordingly, there are basic values that I will always defend. I think we're unanimous on this in our team.

At the same time, Matolka believes that Belarusians who oppose the war and disagree with Lukashenka's policies have nothing to be ashamed of.

"Belarusians who have consistently defended national interests since 2020 or 2022, or 1994 or 1996, and have projected an agenda and an opinion about Belarusian sovereignty, independence, and the position that Lukashenka cannot represent the interests of the people, have nothing to be ashamed of.

In 2020, Belarusians made their opinion very clear. In 2022, when the war began, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Belarus.  

People's actions say more than politicians' statements

This woman in Belarus was fined 3,040 rubles (about five average pensions) /

During the most massive anti-war actions on February 27 and 28 alone, more than 1,100 people were arrested across the country. At least 630 of them were imprisoned, while others received heavy fines.

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