Before, the persecution remained within the borders of Belarus, but now Lukashenko is also trying to silence dissidents who have left the country. This has been reflected in both the Tokyo Olympics and Europe.
In Minsk born world-famous screenwriter and director Andrei Kureichik now lives in Helsinki, as he has fled his country as president Alexander Lukashenko political persecution.
On Youtube, Kureichik maintains a video blog, or vlog, in which he discusses human rights, cultural policy, and democratic reforms.
Vlogi is hugely popular in Belarus. For example, a video released on Thursday had already garnered more than 75,000 views in its first 20 hours.
On the night between Wednesday and Thursday, threatening comments appeared under the Kureichik videos. “If you continue, you will share your destiny Vital Shishoun with them, ”they stated.
Shyšou, 26, was a Belarusian activist and leader of a refugee aid organization. He disappeared on Monday on a jog and on Tuesday he was found dead in a park in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. He had had time to apply for asylum in Ukraine.
The case is being investigated as murder.
“He was hanged,” Kureichik tells HS on the phone. “The government is now trying to catch people who have left the country. Lukashenko is getting more and more confused. ”
According to Ukrainian media Shyshoul also had connections to the far right Serhi Korotkihiin, believed to have been implicated in other similar deaths.
Belarusians opposition politicians have been concerned in recent days about the repression of dissidents in their home countries and their safety abroad.
The cross-border persecution has been evident all the way to the Tokyo Olympics. On Sunday, the Belarusian Olympic Committee tried to forcibly return the sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskajan back to his homeland from Tokyo after he had criticized the national team leadership on social media.
Read more: Lukashenko’s terror against dissidents is already reaching abroad – “They do not understand that they are doing anything wrong because they are used to doing so in Belarus”
Kureichik moved to Helsinki a month ago and is staying in a dormitory for artists who have fled political persecution. He considers Helsinki to be a fairly safe place.
Kureichik still reported to the security police (supo) the death threats he had received “for safety’s sake”. On Friday afternoon, he also met with police to discuss the issue.
“Russia’s special forces work extensively abroad and are in good contact with the Lukashenko administration,” Kureichik says.
“I try not to be afraid because I haven’t done anything wrong. But I take the threats seriously because I have a 14-year-old child. ”
HS asked Supo how many cases it became aware of in cases of persecution and intimidation of dissidents fleeing Belarus and other regions. Supo’s communications reported that the protection police have paid attention to the situation in Belarus.
“Unfortunately, however, we are not able to say in more detail who we are discussing with or what kind of operational work we are doing,” the communication was announced in an email.
Artists at Risk network introduces Andrei Kureichik on their website as follows: “Andrei Kureichik is an internationally acclaimed playwright, screenwriter and director, as well as a prominent political activist in Belarus”.
The last part of the presentation has only been true for about a year.
Kureichik is a very experienced screenwriter and director. His theater and film performances have delighted people in 37 countries around the world.
However, Kureichik has become known precisely for his light comedies with joy.
“None of what I did was political. It was art, ”he says.
Everything changed in the summer of 2020. The extraordinary presidential election at that time sparked the country’s opposition.
Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, continued to lead the country, but a large group of people did not accept the election result but accused the ruling party of electoral fraud.
“Hope woke up. Belarusians were not particularly political before, as no one believed that change would be possible. Last summer, we saw politicians who were completely new and introduced a new democratic project. ”
Last during the summer, Kureichik, which had previously remained outside politics, also became more active. He was one of the founding members of the Coordination Council established by the Belarusian opposition in August 2020. Other founding members included, for example, the leader of the Belarusian opposition, the presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsihanouskaya and a Nobel Prize-winning journalist and author Svetlana Alexeyevich.
“The purpose of the Coordination Council was to end the violence in Minsk and to negotiate the country’s policy. But unfortunately, Mr Lukashenko did not want to listen to anyone, not even the Nobel laureates. “
Lukashenko sought to suppress gravel sounds by force and imprison dissidents.
In autumn One morning, Kureichik received a call from his lawyer. This said he would have to leave the country by evening, or be imprisoned.
The artist left the country with his son. They only bought air tickets an hour before the flight so that the getaway would not be revealed before it was necessary. The rest of the family stayed in Belarus.
First Kureichik stayed in Europe, then in Tanzania.
“It was the only country where a Belarusian passport was valid in the midst of coronary embargo.”
Eventually, the artist returned to Europe. He did not want to be arrested in Tanzania, where the rule of law is not intact.
Now Kureichik makes political art.
“We all have to take responsibility for the situation, including the artists,” he says. “I want my child to live in a free country.”
Kureichik’s latest play will be performed in Helsinki in the autumn. It’s not a comedy.
The script consists of 14 true stories set in Belarus before and after August 2020. In total, the stories have been selected from up to 700 true stories.
Although the Belarussian leadership has become increasingly aggressive in recent weeks, Kureichik believes his homeland is changing – for the better.
“You can’t rule forever a people who hate you,” he says. “Unfortunately, the period of change is causing suffering to many.”