An Interview with Margarita: Belarusian Activist Part I
Updated: Apr 8
Margarita, a Belarusian Activist, has been an activist for the Belarusian people and has been actively speaking out against the current dictatorship for six months.
In a two-part interview conducted by Editor-in-Chief and contributing writer Georgia Skuza through The Digital Voice, Margarita provides a firsthand account of the atrocities committed by the Belarusian government in light of the invasion of Ukraine.
Part I: Beginning of the Journey
Q: If comfortable, please state your name and pronouns:
Margarita: “Margarita, she/her.”
*For the safety of Margarita and her family in Belarus, only her first name will be used.
Q: In what year did you emigrate from Belarus?
Q: What made you leave?
Margarita: “I was 12 years old at the time and it was my mom’s decision. It was right after the 2010 election that my mom realized that this country is not moving anywhere and the economy is not going to grow anytime soon. She wanted a better future for me, her only child, so she made a decision to move abroad. She was choosing between Germany and the US, but there was a better opportunity for us to move to the US.”
Q: Do you still have family there?
Margarita: “Yes, most of my family is still in Belarus. Some are in Ukraine, and some in Russia, and some are in the Netherlands and Germany. I have 15 aunts and uncles, 4 grandparents, and 30+ cousins. I also have some half brothers and sisters but I’ve never talked to them. They also live in Belarus.”
Q: What made you turn into an activist?
Margarita: “I started being a social media influencer in 2020, and I was fairly successful, I learned a lot in a year or two. However, I got sick of being a lifestyle influencer, especially with everything going on in the world. I thought, who cares about what I eat or what I wear when there are people suffering in my own country. So I decided to change my niche completely. I deleted my 12,000 follower Instagram account and my 13,000 follower TikTok account and started two new ones. I was deeply hurt by the fact that I was useless during the protests in Belarus and no one in the US seemed to care. Even my friends rarely reposted anything even though I basically begged to share information and spread awareness. I decided to take control and make more people care and aware of what’s happening.”
Q: How long have you been an activist for the Belarusian people?
Margarita: “I started posting in October of 2021, not so long ago, and to my surprise I grew very fast.”
Q: What is the current status of anti-Lukashenko political organizations and media?
Margarita: “All if not most anti-Lukashenko organizations are located outside of Belarus because the ones who stayed in Belarus were called extremist, closed, and the people that worked there were jailed. There is no free press in Belarus.”
Q: What strategies is the Lukashenko government using to suppress them?
Margarita: “As I said, I have noticed that many of the organizations are being placed on the extremist list and so they cannot come back to Belarus. One huge example of what happened to one of the journalists of NEXTA named Roman Protasevich, is that the plane he was on that was going through the Belarusian sky was stopped midair and forced to land in Belarus so that Protasevich could get arrested. Along with Protasevich, his girlfriend Sofia Sapega was arrested as well. All because NEXTA is an anti-government channel on Telegram and Instagram. Lukashenko uses all means possible to scare people from spreading the truth about Belarus.”
Q: How would you describe the state of political opposition in Belarus?
Margarita: “I would say that many people don’t believe in change anymore and are giving up. That is what I’m feeling from reading the news and listening to Svetlana Tohanovskaya. However, there are still many people that keep fighting, especially those who live outside of Belarus. I would say that the opposition weakened, but so did Lukashenko, so in my opinion we still have a chance.”
Q: Have there been any protests?
Margarita: “Yes, there were some smaller protests but people nowadays are scared to protest because not enough people are coming out and we do not have a good leader. I wish Tihanovskaya just announced a day and time for protests (organized it) but instead she is just hinting at it taking the responsibility off of herself.”
Q: Based on Lukashenko’s past actions, do you trust that he will not send missiles, troops, and helicopters into Ukraine from Belarus?
Margarita: “If we are basing it on his past actions then he will simply do what Putin tells him. However, Putin ripped him off this time, he didn’t pay up, so Lukashenko is finally waking up from his delusional dream (I hope). I doubt that he will send anything or anyone to fight against Ukraine. However, this is my opinion based on his actions, merely a prediction.”
Q: What has been your own personal experience of speaking out against the war?
Margarita: It was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions for me. I am not a military or war expert, I am not even a politicologist. I am a content creator and I know how to attract attention and I am using this skill to bring attention to Belarus. However, I was very emotional when the war started, I had multiple emotional breakdowns. I even posted a video on TikTok crying but I ended up deleting it later. I tried sharing some news but I figured it is not my strongest side yet and I need to work on filtering information.”