Belarus - the Struggle for Freedom of Expression

Brussels, March 27
In cooperation with the Office for a Democratic Belarus, the Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted (Hamburger Stiftung für politisch Verfolgte) and the Hanse-office in Brussels organized an evening discussion on the difficult media situation and problems with freedom of expression in Belarus.
The event, scheduled on the next day after a large-scale demonstration in Minsk that was brutally dispersed by the riot police, gathered large number participants eager to hear about the recent developments in Belarus. Representatives of the European Commission and the EU Council, members of the European Parliament, activists of non-governmental groups and various European media came to listen to Natallia Makushyna, a well-known Belarusian journalists currently working for the Deutsche Welle radio. Makushyna spoke about the unbearable conditions Belarusian independent media has to operate in. She described repressions that her colleagues and she herself experience every day.
Factual prove for what the Belarusian journalist was describing came this morning when KGB launched a large-scale attack on offices and apartments of the remaining independent media outlets and journalists all over Belarus.
Natallia’s presentation was followed by readings of writer Alhierd Baharevich, whose poems and short stories received international recognition and have been published in many European newspapers and magazines. Mr. Baharevich read his short story “The Art of Being a Stutterer” in Belarusian while the guests of the event were following the author with the help of the English and German translations[1]. Baharevich’s symbolic story tells about what may happen when a person is deprived of the possibility to express himself/herself freely. There is no politics in Alhierd Baharevich’s stories. He left Belarus, nevertheless, over one year ago because of the “suffocating” environment, unacceptable for an artist.
Special guest of the evening, Vera Rich, a London-based journalist and translator, who has been involved in Belarus for over fifty years, read several “Poems of Freedom” from the book with the same title. She also read her own poem related to the discussion.
Freedom is the soul
Soul in the body’s mystery
Which has formed a dream of being
At liberty
Without suffering
Freedom cannot be…
(Ryhor Baradulin, translataion Vera Rich)

More photos


 Natalia Makushina, interpreter, Аlhierd Baharevich

[1] Alhierd Baharecich’s texts were presented in English for the first time. The “The Art of Being a Stutterer” will soon be posted on our web-site.