Chapter 3

Solidarity: Events and People


Created in 1918, the original flag of the Belarusian People’s Republic featured a red band on a white field. After the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, this flag was chosen as the national flag of the new, independent Republic of Belarus. Even though Aliaksandr Lukashenka himself had his first inauguration under the white-red-white flag, in 1994 he pushed for the return of the old Soviet insignia, i.e., the current official red-green flag, which also features a traditional ornament. Henceforth, the original historical white-red-white flag and “Pahonia” coat of arms became the symbol of Lukashenko’s opposition. In summer 2020, both flags were used by protesters side by side to emphasize national unity. However, since August 2020, the white-red-white flag has made a triumphant return to public circulation.

White-Red-White Flag

Red-Green Flag

Flags in Kaskad District

Kaskad is a business and residential complex in Minsk located in the city’s Frunzensky district. Since the beginning of the protests, the Kaskad neighborhood has been active and came up with creative solutions for displaying the white-red-white flags on a rope between two high rise buildings, preventing access by the government employees put in charge of removing the protest insignia. When the latter would show up with a crane to take the flag down, the protesters would steal the flag in front of their opponents’ noses. Several of these instances were recorded on video, which then went viral. On November 10, Kaskad displayed a pair of giant underwear in white, red, and white protest colors. A video of the special riot police arriving to take it down became known as “OMON taking off the undies.” Since then, this protest neighborhood, along with many others, has been harassed by the riot police who have raided ordinary citizens’ private apartments on numerous occasions without providing their identification documents, much less search warrants. The Kaskad building complex’s flags became a well-known protest landmark and a symbolic tug-of-war with the regime.

The Female Power

The Female Triumvirate

On the eve of the Belarusian presidential election, two of Alexander Lukashenko’s three primary political opponents were arrested: Siarhei Tsikhanousky and Viktar Babaryka. Valery Tsapkala, the third oppositional candidate, was forced to leave the country. On July 16, 2020, a historic meeting took place during which representatives of the three oppositional headquarters – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Marya Kalesnikava, and Veranika Tsapkala – decided to join their efforts. Thus, the famous female triumvirate headed by Sviatlana Tsikhanovskaya emerged. They went down in history as the three women who challenged “Europe’s last dictator,” Alexander Lukashenko.

Svetlana is my President

On May 29, 2020, the famous blogger and presidential candidate Siarhei Tsikhanousky was arrested. His wife, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, announced her intention to run in his place. After joining efforts with Maryia Kalesnikava and Veranika Tsapkala, Tsikhanouskaya registered as the presidential candidate. She presented herself to the public as a transitional figure. Her platform, which consisted of two positions – the release of all political prisoners and holding a new fair election—mobilized and united the entire country. After numerous reports of election fraud, official numbers stated that 82% of the electorate voted for Lukashenko. Still, the majority of people believe that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya won by a wide margin, but the real numbers may never be known since the ballots in some polling stations were destroyed. On August 10, after an unexpected meeting with officials from the security forces, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya fled the country for Lithuania. She now lives and works in exile in Vilnius as the Belarusian opposition leader.

Ratcatcher Maria Kolesnikova 

The picture reminds of the legend of the rat-catcher, who by playing the magic flute, took the rats out of the city into the river, where the rats drowned. Facts: Maria Kolesnikova plays the flute and loves surfing.

our masha

Prometheus of Belarusian Revolution

On August 10, 2020, during the second night of the protests, the Belarusian police killed peaceful protester Aliaksandr Taraikousky. According to the authorities, Taraikousky died from the explosion of his own an unknown device, which he was about to throw at the riot police. Released later, footage from surveillance cameras shows that he died from the two gunshots. In early January 2021, BY_POL, an initiative created by former policemen who turned against the Lukashenka regime, published a leaked recording of a Belarusian law enforcement meeting, proving that the authorities issued an order permitting the riot police to use lethal force against the protesters. A people’s memorial was erected at the site of Taraikousky’s death, which was then repeatedly destroyed by the public utility services and rebuilt by the protesters. The slogan “We will not forget, we will not forgive!” entered the protest vocabulary, and now it can be heard throughout Belarus and beyond. No criminal case on the murder of Aliaksandr Taraikouski was ever opened.  

Square of Changes

Djs of Changes

Russian rock star Viktor Tsoi’s song “Changes!” was used as a protest song in Belarus as early as July 2011, after which it was officially censored from Belarusian radio and TV. On August 6, 2020, three days before the presidential election, Belarusian DJs Vladzislav Sokolov and Kiryl Galanov disrupted the official event in Minsk’s Kyiv Park by playing this banned song. Both DJs were arrested the same day and were forced to emigrate upon their release from jail. Their symbolic gesture, however, served as a signal to action. It also inspired the protesters to create a unique urban space, known in Minsk as the “Square of Changes,” which became the epicenter of Belarusian protest culture. A mural depicting Sokolov and Galanov was repeatedly destroyed by the public utility services and restored by the protesters over ten times.


On the evening of November 11, 2020, strangers wearing balaclavas arrived in Minsk's residential area known as the Square of Changes. They started removing the white and red ribbons from a fence that had been decorated by the locals. Representing a makeshift flag, these ribbons are the Belarusian protest know-how, as it takes more effort for the government employees to remove them rather than removing a single flag. One of the Square of Changes residents, artist Roman Bandarenka, went out to “defend” the improvised flag. The strangers in balaclavas brutally beat him and took him to the police station. An hour and a half later, he was taken to the hospital in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. Bandarenka died the next day. The last words he wrote in the online neighborhood chat were, “I’m going out!” These words instantly became a powerful hashtag of the protest. A people’s memorial was erected at the Square of Changes. The massive protests that ensued were brutally suppressed by the police, with more than 100 people kettled in the residential complex overnight with no possibility to escape without being arrested. The whole country was shocked by a leaked conversation published by the NEXTA Telegram channel, a major independent Belarusian protest media outlet, on November 19, 2020. It was a phone conversation between Lukashenka’s press-secretary Natallia Eismont and Dzmitryi Baskau, the head of the Belarusian Hockey Federation, during which they said they were planning to go out to cut ribbons together. They also discussed the weapons they should take and how they would transport their captives. No official reaction followed. Then the authorities accused Bandarenka of being intoxicated at the moment of arrest, leading to “0% alcohol” protests taking place across the country. Doctor Artsiom Sarokin and journalist Katsiatyna Barysevich who disclosed Raman’s medical information, were arrested. Journalists Dar'ia Chultsova and Katsiaryna Andreeva were sentenced to two years in jail for conducting the protest live stream from the Square of Changes. The criminal case to investigate the murder of Raman Bandarenka was opened only in February.

The Streets of Belarus

Honor to The Heroes

By “heroes,” this image refers to those Belarusians in the government and policing structures who resigned in the first days following the fraudulent presidential election to express their solidarity with the peaceful protesters. Some law enforcement officers who put their weapons down and stood with the people later decided to retire. Some of them publicly circulated video addresses online in which they disposed of their uniforms. This media event was dubbed #погонопад (pogonopad, the fall of epaulets). California-based Belarusian IT entrepreneur Mikita Mikado of PandaDoc launched the initiative Protect Belarus, which combined efforts with the Belarus Solidarity Foundation to assist those former police officers who had lost their jobs. The regime took revenge on September 5, 2020, by arresting four top managers at PandaDoc’s Minsk office. As a result, Mikado decided to terminate his program, but several other IT companies continued his project 

Independent Media

According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, in 2020, independent journalists were detained over 470 times, 97 underwent administrative arrests, and 15 are currently facing false criminal charges. Among them are three fearless female journalists: Dar'ia Chultsova, Katsiaryna Andreeva, and Katsiaryna Barysevich. They are being charged with organizing mass protests and disclosing medical information about Roman Bondarenko, a protester murdered by the regime’s cronies. Also among the journalists are the founder of the Press-Club Belarus, Yulia Slutskaya, four other former members, well-respected journalist Andrei Aliaksandrau, and his partner Iryna Zlobina. They are guilty of doing their work and supporting the victims of the political repressions. Ihar Losik, administrator of a popular social media channel in Belarus, has been on a hunger strike for over a month. Siarhei Tsikhanouski, the prominent video blogger and the husband of Belarusian opposition leader SviatlanaTsikhanouskaya, is charged with organizing mass protests. Fifty media websites have been blocked and had their licenses suspended. 

People with Unlimited Abilities

On October 15, 2020, the first march of people with disabilities took place in Minsk. Many people with disabilities who were fed up with the regime took to the streets to express their protest against its violence. A few of them had only recently begun using wheelchairs due to the brutal crackdown on August demonstrations. These marches lasted from October 15 to the end of November and attracted up to 200 people. Even there were reported some detentions.

Minsk-Hero City Stella mini

Streets of Belarus

Illegitimate leader Aliaksandr Lukashenka declared 2021 the year of National Unity in Belarus. It is difficult, however, to imagine a more conflicted situation. This artwork reflects the conflict between the two flags and ideologies, between the regime and the protesters, between those who were incarcerated, are currently in jail, or are at risk of incarceration, and the wardens. Protest tactics include blocking the roads, holding processions, and forming solidarity chains. The sound of car horns in solidarity with the protesters has become an integral part of the sonic protest landscape. Belarus’s streets remain dangerous with the security forces often kidnapping ordinary citizens. 

Minsk-Hero City Stella

Opened in 1985, the Minsk–Hero City Obelisk is a monument commemorating the 40th anniversary of victory in the Second World War. On August 16, 2020, the most extensive protest action in Belarusian history took place with 250,000–400,000 people, approximately gathering in its vicinity. Some reports estimate that about one million people across Belarus—a country of 9.5 million—participated in the All-National March for Freedom with 500,000 protesters in Minsk alone. Those who gathered at the Minsk–Hero City Obelisk later marched towards the Independence Prospekt and the House of Government. No detentions or incidents were reported, and the protesters later self-organized to clean the streets after the march was over. 

Government House

On August 14, 2020, a large crowd gathered in front of the House of Government in Minsk. The riot police officers in charge of guarding the building received an order to put their shields down. The protesters perceived this gesture as a sign of the police siding with the people. Some female protesters started hugging and kissing the police officers and giving them flowers. After the protest entered its reactionary phase, many people reproached those women for channeling the lighthearted flower power ethos in protesting the military usurpation of power at a time when the other side was committing massive human rights violations.

solidarity chains

A number of Belarusian doctors and medical workers lost their jobs after expressing their citizenship, supporting protests against the results of the presidential elections, condemning violence against protesters, and also criticizing the actions of the authorities in connection with the pandemic. At a time when the country lacks qualified specialists, the repression against doctors continues. For example, doctor Artem Sorokin and journalist Kateryna Borisevicova were convicted for publishing a medical report showing that there was no alcohol in the blood of activist Roman Bondarenka, who died of injuries during the police detention. This claim was also denied the official version of the government.

On August 14, 2020, many employees of the factories Grodno Azot, BelAZ, the Kozlov Minsk Electrotechnical Plant, and the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant and other Belarusian enterprises supported the protest and went on strike. 

On August 12, 2020, Belarusian women spontaneously took to the streets in large numbers calling for an end to state violence, forming solidarity chains, and gathering across the country. Self-organizing in Telegram chats, they chose to dress in white, the traditional color of women’s suffrage. Hence, the “Women in White” movement was born. From August to October 2020, Belarusian women continued to participate in weekly Saturday marches, clashing with the police and breaking through police lines. All in all, there were four Saturday marches: the Women’s Grand March for Freedom on August 29; The Loudest March on September 5; Women March for Women on September 12; The March of Sparkles on September 19, which resulted in 400 detentions; and the Démarche against Political Repressions that took place on October 10. With the escalation of police violence against women, these massive marches subsided, while smaller decentralized forms of protest persisted.

Athletes solidarity chains

Athletes solidarity chains

Athletes solidarity chains

Athletes solidarity chains

chains of solidarity

women in white


Workers caring a flag

Women of Belarus

on a walk



Female solidarity chains

Female solidarity chains

female solidarity

Diasporas of Belarusians

St. Wenceslaus Raising the White-Red- White Flag

According to the Czech Statistical Office, nearly 7000 Belarusian ex-pats live in the Czech Republic. Many of them are critical of the current regime and participate in the protests to make their voices heard. On August 9, 2020, many Belarusians living in the Czech Republic gathered in St. Wenceslaus’ square in Prague to support the protesters in Belarus. On August 16, during another large protest rally, the large white-red-white Belarusian flag was placed at the center of a heart formed by nearly a thousand people gathering in the Czech capital’s Old Town Square. Additionally, buildings in several Prague districts flew the historical Belarusian flag to support the ongoing protests. In January 2021, Škoda Auto, a Czech automobile manufacturer, refused to sponsor the Hockey World Championship in Belarus and expressed its solidarity with Belarusian protests.


Opera Diva Margarita Levchuk

On June 15, 2021 the Belarusian authorities opened a criminal case against Margarita Levchuk for "desecration of the state red-green flag."

Krasnaya Zhyelyen

Krasnaya Zhyelyen is a satirical duo on pressing political topics created by Belarusian opera singer Margarita Levchuk and blogger Andrei Pauk. The most famous hit was the song "Tolko Motolko" (Only Motolko) dedicated to the activist, blogger Anton Motolko as a reaction to the declaration of his Telegram channel @motolkohelp as extremist.

Margarita is carrying a package for Grysha to jail

Grysha - Grigory Azarionok, a propagandist from state TV. The creator of the program "The order of Judas" where he shows "the real face of the opposition". One of the "awarded with the order" was a famous belarussian singer Margarita Levchuk. After that she started making jokes about the strong love and relationship between her character from the Krasnaja Zhyelyen duo and Grigorij Azarionok.

Olga Khizhynkova

Olga Khizhinkova, Belarusian model and Miss Belarus-2008, runner. She had three trials for taking part in protests. In total, Olga served 42 days. The girl was kept without basic sanitary items, in a cell full of lice.

Katerina Vinnikova

In Minsk, police detained Katerina Vinnikova, a student of the law faculty of the Belarusian State University (BSU). On June 29, 2021 during the graduation ceremony, she made a speech in which she expressed support for the arrested lawyer and oppositionist Maksim Znak and the teachers dismissed for political reasons.On July 1, in the dormitory where the student lives, a search was carried out in her absence, her laptop was seized. On July 2, Katerina was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest. Her speech at the graduation ceremony was assessed by the court as "unauthorized picketing."

White-Red-White Bride

Inna Zaitseva became famous in Belarus after participating in the protests in a wedding dress with a red stripe at the bottom. At the end of October 2020, she was detained in Grodno, and the wedding dress was attached to the case as evidence and was not returned.


This comic is based on the viral video released on September 23, 2020, of a Yandex ridesharing driver saving a protester who was running from the police.

Nina Baginskaya

According to the Czech Statistical Office, nearly 7000 Belarusian ex-pats live in the Czech Republic. Many of them are critical of the current regime and participate in the protests to make their voices heard. On August 9, 2020, many Belarusians living in the Czech Republic gathered in St. Wenceslaus’ square in Prague to support the protesters in Belarus. On August 16, during another large protest rally, the large white-red-white Belarusian flag was placed at the center of a heart formed by nearly a thousand people gathering in the Czech capital’s Old Town Square. Additionally, buildings in several Prague districts flew the historical Belarusian flag to support the ongoing protests. In January 2021, Škoda Auto, a Czech automobile manufacturer, refused to sponsor the Hockey World Championship in Belarus and expressed its solidarity with Belarusian protests.


Taking care of youself



This pattern showing a sexual intercourse was not originally meant to be connected with the topic of this year‘s election. But suddenly the hashtag #jabacka started popular with the supporters of current regime and this image became a part of the series. „Backa“ means „father“ in Belarusian and Lukashenko has been using this nickname for years. Like the head of the family, he proclaimed himself The Father of the country. #jabacka was created by Lukashenko‘s electorate in opposition of #jamy97 that supported Svetlana Tsikhanovskaja to illustrate the quantity 97% of people who gave their vote to her. The combination of these two words „Ja“ (me) and „Backa“ sounds quite perverse. „Jabacka“ is a neologism from the word „jabac“ that means „to f*ck“.


The form of protest by citizens of St.Petersburg