Despite the queues at visa centres and consulates, the falling incomes and numerous bans, and, most importantly, the state propaganda claiming we live in a beautiful country, Belarusians keep leaving. Lithuania and Georgia keep registering an increased flow of Belarusians who leave their home country. Most of them say they want to avoid military service or political persecution.
The Lithuanian Migration Department has received asylum applications from 36 Russians and 59 Belarusians since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Antanas Montvydas, deputy head of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service, told reporters that some people came to Lithuania illegally. Citizens of Belarus and Russia arrive in Lithuania by bicycles, cross the border on foot, and get off the train to Kaliningrad, which goes through Belarus. Many of them dare to tear up their documents because they don’t want to be sent back to their homeland. Belarusians say that their rights are violated, and they do not want to go to war in Ukraine.
In March 2022, almost 20 thousand citizens of Belarus came to Georgia, and most of them stayed there, according to the Tbilisi-based Institute for Development of Freedom of Information. Only 16 Belarusians got refused entry to Georgia. Compared to 2019, the number of Belarusians entering Georgia has increased by 555 per cent. Among Belarusians and Russians, about 60 per cent of adults are men. It is an eloquent indicator that Belarusians do not want to fight. Besides, Belarusians in Georgia have no problems with legalization – it is possible to stay in the country without obtaining a temporary residence permit for the whole year.
With the outbreak of war, Uzbekistan became another popular destination for emigrating Belarusians. Many IT companies are moving their offices to Uzbekistan because of the liberalisation of Uzbek legislation. After all, companies’ clients want to work with Belarusian specialists, but not with the country and are not going to sponsor a dictator. Uzbekistan is now the third most popular destination for Belarusian IT specialists. Because of the number of newcomers, flat rental prices in the country’s cities have risen. The cost of products also grows, so IT specialists explore local markets.
Besides that, Belarusian IT specialists go to Armenia, which seems to be freer than Belarus, and is attractive with the visa-free regime. Prices in Armenia are much lower than in Belarus, you can buy cheap plumbing and repair your home, and people are always willing to help. Judging by the huge demand for apartments in Yerevan, many Belarusians and Russians choose this country for emigration. The owners of flats in Armenia even evict local Armenians, so that foreigners who are willing to pay more can move in.
For an IT professional, emigration is probably the right move. After all, Lukashenko does not care whether a man works in IT or not, as long as he is prepared to go and defend the dictator’s interests. But the illegitimate state does not ask the Belarusians themselves, while over 80 per cent of the citizens of our country do not support the war in Ukraine. And the men are well aware of the level of training and equipment of the Ukrainian soldiers, of their love for their homeland and realize that they will not return from there alive.
Our “NO means NO” campaign has been saying for two months that Belarusians do not want to fight on Russia’s side and are trying their best to avoid going to the front. As of early April, more than 2,000 Belarusians have applied to go and fight for Ukraine. And this number is growing. We hope that more and more Belarusian men will make the right choice in favour of peace.