This week, the whole world is following the events in Ukraine. On February 24, at 5:00, Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Russian troops began to enter the territory of our neighbouring country, including through Belarusian checkpoints. Ukrainian troops are successfully repelling enemy attacks. Civilians are hiding in bunkers, collecting things and preparing for evacuation. On this day, “Our House” expresses support to the Ukrainian people. Since 2013, we have been monitoring the development of actions in the neighbouring country and supporting the Ukrainians’ desire for freedom and democracy.
On December 2, 2013, “Our House” expressed solidarity with Ukrainians who came out to defend the European choice of their country on the streets and squares of their country. “Ukraine is a country close to us, and we understand and share the position of those who came out to defend their European future. The future of Ukraine and also Belarus is decided on Independence Square. We wish the demonstrators and activists who took to the streets steadfastness and faith in victory, and Ukrainian politicians – responsibility and wisdom, which is needed to prevent bloodshed, prevent human casualties,” Olga Karach said in her address.
On February 9, 2014, “Our House” joined Belarusian public organizations and initiatives that called on the European Union to urgently consider the issue of economic sanctions against Ukrainian officials in connection with the situation in Ukraine. The text of the statement stated that there are all grounds for sanctions against officials responsible for massive violations of human rights and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Information was given about the victims and the dead during the Euromaidan. Belarusian activists drew attention to the fact that, according to official data, 4 Euromaidan activists were killed on February 4, 2014: Mikhail Zhiznevsky, Sergei Nigoyan, Yuri Verbitsky, Roman Senik. Another 29 people disappeared, possibly having been abducted, more than a thousand protesters were injured of varying severity. Belarusian activists have learned about 136 journalists who were injured at the protests. Representatives of Belarusian public organizations noted that these facts are sufficient grounds for consideration by the UN.
In July 2015, “Our House” held a conference on the topic “Belarusian place in the military security system of the Baltic-Black Sea region”. The main thesis was that the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland could be together. At the conference, they discussed the Kremlin’s nuclear diplomacy, Russian private military companies in the occupied territories, and proposed a fundamentally new idea: “Our countries belong to the category of consumer states of security, which they are provided with membership in military-political blocs, such as NATO for Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the CSTO for Belarus. Unfortunately, after the collapse of the USSR, no attempts were made to implement the concept of a common collective security system of the Baltic-Black Sea region. Before it’s too late, we need to do it.” The report on the vision of the Baltic-Black Sea Union was published on our website.
In November 2017, we informed readers that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine would not amend the law on the reintegration of Donbas to sever diplomatic relations with Russia. An analysis was published on our website about how Belarus could represent the interests of a neighbouring country in the event of a break-in diplomatic relations. And even then, we noted that Belarus offered to send a peacekeeping contingent to Ukraine to help restore peace in that country. “The idea itself is a good one, but, as usual, a lot of things in its execution, to put it mildly, are confusing. First of all, was it worth announcing this in Moscow, right after negotiations with the Russian leadership? It is unlikely that after this, Ukrainians themselves will perceive Belarusian peacekeepers as truly neutral,” the article said.
After the 2020 elections, Ukraine became one of the many countries in the world that supported Belarus on the path to democracy and refused to recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate leader. Relations with official Minsk have deteriorated, but representatives of the democratic forces have found common ground. On March 20, 2021, a picket of solidarity with Sergei Tsikhanouski took place in the centre of Vilnius, to which Olga Karach came together with Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, chairman of the faction “For a Democratic Belarus”, Alexey Goncharenko. In his speech, the deputy supported Sergei Tikhanouski, other Belarusian political prisoners and demanded their release.
On March 23, 2021, Olga Karach met with Yevgeny Volnov, speaker of the Center for Research of Crimes against the Foundations of National Security of Ukraine, Peace, Security of Citizens “Myrotvorets”. In the conversation, Olga Karach stressed that Ukraine is an important neighbour and a significant potential partner for Belarus: “Although, unfortunately, Ukraine has not yet recognized Belarus as a dangerous country. It means that there are examples when Belarusian refugees fleeing the Belarusian regime are extradited to official Belarus. And, unfortunately, it is hard to solve something when neighbouring countries continue to trade with Alexander Lukashenko and support him in one form or another. And Ukraine today has not stopped trade relations at the moment, has not imposed any economic sanctions, if you look very carefully at the trade turnover between Ukraine and Belarus.”
On April 18, 2021, Olga Karach took part in the march “Freedom for everyone, Freedom for everyone” organized by the Belarusian Diaspora of Vilnius. The leitmotif of the event was the support of the people of Ukraine, forced to fight the Kremlin aggressor again. In her speech at the rally, Olga Karach called on Russia to stop any military actions against Ukraine, stop assembling troops near the borders and withdraw from the territory of Donbas all Russians fighting against the civilian population of Ukraine.
On August 12, 2021, a material based on the results of a voice chat with Ukrainian political scientist Yevhen Magda was published on our website. He said that before the elections of 2020, many Ukrainians supported Lukashenka, but after the dictator staged violence in the streets, they changed their minds. The political scientist stressed that Belarus and Ukraine should work together to develop a narrative that will counteract the imperial narrative of Russia. Yevhen Magda also drew attention that Ukraine is the only country neighbouring Belarus where Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has not visited. He expressed regret that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya does not always treat Ukraine with increased attention: she addressed Putin many times, and there were appeals to Ukraine once or twice.
On August 24, 2021, “Our House” became one of the few initiatives that congratulated Ukraine on the 30th anniversary of independence. We could not ignore the achievements of Ukraine over the years. The neighbouring country is higher than Belarus in the security rating, the minimum wage and nominal GDP are higher, it is more attractive for students and foreign specialists. After the 2020 elections, many specialists in the field of medicine, IT, journalism chose Ukraine for the relaunch. In our congratulations on Independence Day, we wished Ukraine a speedy victory over our common enemy, the Russian aggressor.
On January 27, 2022, “Our House” hosted a stream with Yuri Shulipa, director of the Institute for the Study of Russian Aggression and editor-in-chief of the information publication National Policy. The broadcast took place on the eve of the start of the Russian-Belarusian military exercises. Yuri Shulipa noted that on February 20, 2014, Putin launched the fourth world hybrid war, and this is an act of geopolitical revisionism for the defeat of the USSR in the third World Cold War. “Putin’s dictator has been feeding this integration for 22 years, promising that maybe we will have a union state, everything will be united and so on. But you have to give us discounts on gas, oil products, electricity and everything else,” Yuri Shulipa said. The lawyer warned that the military exercises called Allied determination 20.22 were offensive exercises. Military strikes on Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states were planned.
What does “Our House” say today?
We started talking about Russian aggression on February 15, 2022. On this day, Olga Karach’s stream was dedicated to the war between Ukraine and Russia was released on the YouTube channel “OUR HOUSE TV”. Olga Karach told about the main news of international politics, answered what to do at the beginning of hostilities. From the stream, addressed not only to Belarusians but also to Ukrainians, you can learn about political asylum, an alarming suitcase and border crossing.
On February 18, 2022, we traced the history of relations between Russia and Ukraine after Russia attacked our southern neighbour in 2014. After the annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of violating the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. In March 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine proposed to denounce the friendship agreement with Russia. On August 28, 2018, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare for the termination of the agreement. On September 6, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine decided to terminate the treaty following the provisions of its article 40. On September 17, the President approved this decision. On September 24, the official note was handed over to the Russian Foreign Ministry. We noted that Ukraine is trying to break away from the Soviet system of governance and increase the index of democracy. Russia tries to impose a policy of subordination and follows the path of strengthening authoritarianism.
On February 21, 2022, we learned that Putin recognized the “LPR” and “DPR” as independent republics. Olga Karach’s YouTube channel stream was dedicated to this on February 22. In it, Olga Karach paid attention to Lukashenka’s words on this matter and told what threatens the closure of the borders of Ukraine and Belarus. The stream also discussed the world’s reaction to the recognition of the “LPR” and “DPR”. Olga Karach advised Belarusians who are in the country.
Since the morning of February 24, “Our House” has been covering all the events taking place in Ukraine. We informed subscribers that we are ready to accept refugees from Ukraine in Poland. We told them how to leave unsafe places. Our Telegram channel has a map of bomb shelters in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, information for Belarusians of Ukraine. In connection with the Russian aggression, Olga Karach called for the government in exile formation. In the evening, Olga Karach went to a protest rally against Russian aggression in Vilnius.
“Our House” is following what is happening in Ukraine. These days we listen to the news and read with horror about the victims among civilians. But we believe in the victory of the Ukrainian people, that this war will end with the surrender of Russia and Putin’s departure from the presidency. Ukrainians are courageous and persistent people. We express our solidarity with all those who took part in actions against Russian aggression around the world. Let peace return to the homes of Ukrainians and Belarusians soon!