How do repression and war traumatize young people in Belarus?

Most young people remain in Belarus /
Most young people remain in Belarus /

"First of all, we would like to know how young people feel, especially those who continue to live in Belarus," says Anna Dapshevichute, Secretary General of the RADA Youth Council, who, together with her colleagues, spoke about the study into the attitudes and needs of young Belarusians.

In the process of gathering information, the opinions of Internet users aged 14 to 31 were taken into account. The first part of the study took place in 2019-2020, when 1,073 respondents were interviewed who were living in Belarus, had left the country or were going to emigrate. After the start of full-scale war in Ukraine it became clear that the situation would change, so in February 2022 the work continued and another 519 people were interviewed.

The results of the study show what topics young Belarusians are interested in, what concerns them, and what opportunities they lack today. The most popular among them are exchange of experience (34%), self-realization (30%) and internships (27%), followed by new contacts and educational programs (18%, in 2020 it was 23%).

Expectations of support from government organizations and institutions are almost as low as assessments of the level of actual support. Many young people have not even heard of the activities of NGOs, partly because most of them have been liquidated in Belarus and their social feeds are considered extremist sources of information.  

Как репрессии и война травмируют молодёжь в Беларуси? Итоги исследования

How do repression and war traumatize young people in Belarus? Results of the study
"While we can still understand something about the young people who left the country, and in general the conditions here are more favorable for their development, how to work with young people inside the country is a very sensitive issue, because both we and some other NGOs were forced to leave," says Anna Dapshevichute. "It is clear that it would be important for all of us to know how to work with our direct target group in the country, so we continued our research in 2022."

And so the focus group sessions were held. The results of the research led to conclusions that were shared by RADA's experts. They can be relied upon to understand what has happened to our young people in recent years. 

Migration in Belarus is felt more difficult than migration abroad

As many as 12.3% of respondents have left Belarus or are seriously planning to leave in the near future, and 28.3% would like to leave Belarus but do not have the opportunity to do so. Thus, about 40% of Belarusian youth, with varying degrees of determination and confidence, would not like to stay in Belarus today.

Due to active migration, ties between Belarusians are being broken. Not only friends and relatives are leaving the country, but also people who were doing something in the country - platforms are closing, various organizations and initiatives are disappearing. That's why young people in Belarus often don't know where to go.

All this is experienced very deeply and raises the question, "When are you going to leave?" This problem is on the surface, it is discussed in social networks, and it triggers everyone. 

Как репрессии и война травмируют молодёжь в Беларуси? Итоги исследования
This is what the "big creature" looked like on Kastrychnitskaya Street /

Incomprehensible rules of the game for those who remained

There are still active people in the country who know exactly what they cannot do in public, for example, a festival dedicated to human rights or an educational event. At the same time, they do not know whether they can officially organize a simple meeting or an exhibition. The constant search for boundaries and risks is such a big problem that it undermines the general state of affairs, and everything is constantly changing.

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