Statement by Olga Kostukevich, winner of the New European of the Year Award 2020

This is a statement by Olga Kostukevich, winner with Ekaterina Zuizuik of the New European of the Year Award, which they accepted on behalf of the Women of the Belarus Opposition.

Read the New European of the Year citation here

The Belarusian protest should not be compared with Ukraine or Kirgizia or any other country. 

Our enemy is a dictator who has been creating his “fortress” for 26 years. He has his army, his system, his TV... And all these years we’ve been working to make this regime stronger – and that is our huge mistake.

This regime cares only about itself, the whole nation has become its hostage.

Now the nation is waking up to struggle against the system for the right to freedom, safety and a better life. And Belarusians have to destroy the system with our bare hands. This is our way.

We do not want barricades – that would be our pure defeat not only because we are weaponless against heavily-armed bandits, but also because we do not want more victims. Each life matters.

Throughout our not long-ago history we’ve been learning to value each human life, because so many Belarusians became victims.

Between 1917-1953 over 600 thousand Belarusians were repressed. During the Second World War II, one in four Belarusians lost their lives. 

We had the disaster of Chernobyl in 1986 and a COVID-19 pandemic which the government does not acknowledge - so we have to save ourselves.

And now Lukashenko gives carte blanche to his police to kill and torture citizens.

Belarusians have to stand up for their lives. 

We do not have the right to stop the struggle now. We want to survive as human beings.

We want to win as a nation. This is our peaceful war.



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