Thursday, September 17, 2020

Many in Three Million-Strong Belarusian Diaspora Said Ready to Help Their Country After Lukashenka Goes

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 16 – An appeal by a Belarusian blogger for members of the 3 to 3.5 million Belarusian diaspora to send help back to their country now that Alyaksandr Lukashenka is on the way out has attracted widespread support, signaling a sea change in their attitudes toward their native country.

            A major reason Belarusians have left their country over the past quarter century has been the absence of opportunity and freedom in the repressive regime Lukashenka has maintained. Most Belarusians abroad defined their future exclusively in terms of the countries to which they have moved.

            But now that is changing, and they may become more attentive to what is happening at home, more willing to send money back, more ready to lobby on behalf of their own country, and even more prepared to return. If so, that will make a big difference both financially and in terms of Belarusian identity (

            Those who have the experience of strangeness that émigré life often creates are more likely to be nationalistic in their outlooks. That is especially the case because political, social and religious organizations that couldn’t function in Lukashenka’s Belarus can and do function in other countries.

            As a result, while this trend may still be small in the Belarusian case now, it is likely to become more important and have a larger impact on the situation inside that country than many have imagined, especially because the diaspora amounts to more than a third of the total number of ethnic Belarusians in the world. 

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