Nothing but to change the system and the attitude fundamentally. Otherwise they will come again.
Yes, we all were trying to live in internal emigration. Our own venues, art and co-working spaces, our own galleries, cafes, restaurants, bars, and pubs started to appear. It seemed to all of us that Minsk reminded a little of Europe and, in some places, even the wind of change was felt. We were planting trees and flowers outside our homes and decided that we would open our own kindergartens and schools and, let it be so, that we would replace the windows and roofs in the state-run ones and we would live.
We even internally agreed to organize the work of our medics during COVID-19. Well, let it pass the state - it is not the fault of doctors and people that some folks do not believe in the existence of the virus (later, when the folks ccaught the disease themselves, they realized that they can make some extra money on the vaccine, as usual, hood-winking Russia a bit, however, it is no stranger to that).
And no one even thought that elections in 2020 would be louder than in 2016.
We were sitting quietly in our imaginary worlds until one day we were addressed as people.
Respectfully, very intelligently, deliberately and politely, so intelligently and argumentatively that we just couldn't believe it was to us and to our country.
It turned out that over the ten years of internal emigration, on the fertile soil of a warming of relations with Europe and the calming of the especially sick and violent, there has grown up in our country a new community of guys who are educated and cool in all respects. And with Viktar Babaryka entering the arena, it became obvious that the older generation had not left altogether as well. They were simply living and lbreathing in their small circle of intellectuals and professionals.
When Viktor gathered ten thousand people in a week, it became clear how many of us there were. We saw that it was not a group of outcasts who wanted changes, but hundreds of thousands. It turned out that the inner circles had grown so large that the outer ring of containment had been stretched so much that it essentially no longer made any difference. That was three percent spread out over the whole country. We believed and followed those people who had faith in the law and its power. And I'm grateful to them to this day for all the discoveries of 2020.
Except that we didn't think at that moment that it was possible to destroy our flowers with kirza boots, that it was possible to lock people up just for opinion and dissent, that it was possible to come up with an assassination attempt, a root cellars, and appeals, in general - to come up with anything at all. I remember watching videos from Minsk at night via barely breaking through Internet, and not believing that those things were happening to us - the stun grenades, the explosions, the bullets. And there were my relatives in the street. The ones who had been planting flowerbeds, painting trees, helping homeless animals, and donating to "Names". It knocked senseless. We and our loved ones were being killed, beaten, imprisoned, humiliated, tortured, locked up. They destroyed exhibitions, galleries, spaces, cafes, restaurants - business survived and IT.
Our plan didn't work. You can't build your world inside a rotten system. Internal emigration turned out to be an air-castle that melted away in a flash when we became unwanted.
I have often heard: "Where have you been for ten years?" Sorry, friends, I was living in a world that didn't exist. It was not my concern.
I believed that if you didn't touch the system, you could do charity work, build a business, and grow flowers outside your front door. I was wrong. Many of us have succumbed to illusions. That is why it is so important not to succumb to them today. Nothing has changed. People are still being detained every day. For clothes, window-blinds, decorations, conversations in Zoom.
Those who end up there today are the most unwanted, but that doesn't mean that any of us can't end up there. Alas. This is why I don't condemn those who have left. That's why I don't dare to call for planting trees and flowerbeds at the entrance. It's all been done before. Only to hammer it away. Only to change the system and the attitude fundamentally. Otherwise they will come again. And again they will trample our flowers. For they mean nothing to them.
Veranika Hryshkova, Facebook