Interview with Krystyna Kafka, who knows more about Belarusians than many politicians in Kyiv.
Ukrainian Krystyna Kafka's videos about Belarus on TikTok are viewed tens of thousands of times. In them, the blogger explains to Ukrainians what is really happening in our country.
"If you think that Belarusians are the same as Russians, 'allies in special operations', then you are at least stupid," Krystyna says to her compatriots in one of the videos.
Kidnapping of Lukashenka's opponents in the late 90s, Square-2006, revolution in 2020, Belarusian volunteers - this is not an exhaustive list of the topics she records videos on.
Why did Krystyna Kafka choose the role of a "lawyer of Belarusians"? In an interview with Charter97.org, she told us.
"Ukrainians read about Chechens, but they know nothing about Belarus.
- You pay a lot of attention to Belarus in your TikTok. Why this interest?
@hrystynakafka Заливаю старі відео, шоб не загубились #білорусь #білорусьукраїна #славаукраїні #жывебеларусь ♬ оригінальний звук - Шановна
- It's the usual interest in current events that emerged in 2020. I just observed what was happening, I didn't go into details, I perceived everything rather superficially. And already in 2022, after the beginning of a full-scale invasion, I came across the fact that some Ukrainians do not understand what is happening in Belarus, do not know what happened in 2020.
In Germany I met people (I never met them in Ukraine) who criticised me for learning Belarusian. They said: "Why are you learning Belarusian at a time when missiles are flying from Belarus to Ukraine? It is clear that there is no connection between the Belarusian language and Russian missiles. So I decided that I had to tell these people what was going on, as they were not aware of it and could not make a logical chain on their own.
At that time I started making videos for my TikTok and decided to make a video about emotions immediately after these events. It got more than 200 thousand views and I saw that Belarusians need such content from Ukrainians, because they need moral support. At such a time we all need moral support. Ukrainians also need such content, because many people were shocked, they did not understand why Ukrainians could be interested in Belarus at all, why we need to understand what is going on there. They did not understand that the question of a free Belarus is also a matter of Ukraine's national security.
After this video I am more aware of the current situation and how important it is now. It is important for Ukraine to win the war, for Russia to apologise to all oppressed peoples, for the empire to collapse. Our independence and the independence of all other oppressed peoples depends on Ukrainians understanding what is happening to other oppressed peoples.
So of course I am motivated to study things about Belarus. For example, when Ukrainians read about the Crimean Tatars, about Kartvel (the Georgians' own name - ed.), about Chechens, nobody knows anything about Belarus. I see the lack of information and I want to try to fill it.
"Ukrainians see Belarusians through the eyes of Russian propaganda".
- Why do you think Ukrainians know so little about Belarusians? These are the closest peoples.
- Obviously, it is in the interest of Russian propaganda to make Belarusians and Ukrainians quarrel, conflict, so that they don't understand each other. Otherwise, Belarusians and Ukrainians can unite against Russia and bring down this empire. The Russians understand this very well, that's why they put different propaganda narratives into our information spaces.
This can be seen in the example of how Belarusians did not understand what was happening on Maidan. And all because the Belarusian news reported these events in a completely different way, there was such a demonisation of the Revolution of Dignity. Some Belarusians, not intentionally, but falling for the narratives of this propaganda, said: "We don't want it to be like Maidan". That is, such narratives existed, but not because Belarusians did not want it to be like Maidan, they did not want it to be like the Maidan that Russia showed them.
Later it became such a phrase that Ukrainians say that "Belarusians came out only with flowers", "took off their shoes on the benches", that this was the whole essence of the 2020 protests. We know that this is not true, but Ukrainians do not know that it was otherwise, because Russian propaganda also influenced the Ukrainian media. The sources of Russian propaganda are not only publications in the Russian Federation, but also in other countries directly influenced by the Kremlin. There is Russian propaganda even in America. Similarly, Russian propaganda influenced the Ukrainian media, Ukrainians learned about Belarus from Russians. Ukrainians saw and still see Belarus through the eyes of Russian propaganda. That is why there are such misunderstandings.
"There was no Ukrainian president who did not shake hands with Lukashenka.
- Are the Belarusians and Lukashenka's regime in Ukraine now divided?
- Those who understand what is happening in Belarus separate the regime from the people. They understand that the Belarusian people are victims of Lukashenka's regime, that this regime is oriented towards Russia, that it does not represent the will of the people, but only suppresses it.
Ukrainians who have never heard of Belarus do not understand it, and unfortunately it is necessary to work with them. But the problem is that among these people there are media personalities who influence the information space of Ukraine. Ukrainians listen to them. Accordingly, they spread this opinion. This can be observed among bloggers, well-known volunteers, well-known politicians.
It is clear that there are certain media resources in Ukraine, there are people who speak in favour of Belarus, but this is not enough compared to the way Mykhailo Podoliak, for example, speaks about it. Because his word against the word of some administrator of a Telegram group with several thousand followers is a colossal difference.
It seems to me that intelligent and educated Ukrainians, who understand what's going on, support the Belarusians. But there is another problem. Ukrainians who support the Belarusians usually do not get into conflicts on the Internet, they usually do not speak out.
I've seen Ukrainians write something in support of the Belarusians, but I also know people who support them, but they do it quietly, they don't speak out, it's not in the public space. But there are a lot of cries in the public space that "the Belarusians are to blame for the fact that they have a dictatorship". People who like conflict are very active on social networks, so there may be an impression that many Ukrainians do not understand what happens. One gets the impression that even the majority of Ukrainians do not understand it. It would be interesting to find out how many percent of Ukrainians actually share Lukashenka and Belarus.
- Why do you think Lukashenka was the most popular foreign politician in Ukraine until 2020?
- It is the influence of Russian propaganda and the consequences of the policy of the Ukrainian authorities. I'm not a specialist and I don't know much about it, but as a simple observer I saw the same Petro Poroshenko shaking hands with Lukashenka. It seems to me that there was no Ukrainian president who did not shake hands with Lukashenka.
Perhaps it is such a cynical position - as long as evil does not attack us, as long as evil does not harm us, we try to live with it somehow amicably. And when evil touches us, when we suffer directly from it, then we start to do something about it. It seems to me that this is just a consequence of the common agenda, when we were shown Lukashenka as an economic grandfather who comes to the field and asks about the harvest and how the potatoes have grown. It is absurd, but unfortunately it works.
This absurd can bring a person to power, and this absurd easily leads the masses. For example, they liked Oleh Lyashko (the leader of the Ukrainian Radical Party - ed.) because he walked with pitchforks. But I doubt that anyone read his election programme. I doubt anyone was interested in what Oleh Lyashko was doing, they were all wielding pitchforks. It's the same with Lukashenko, he is a populist, he can talk a lot, hang noodles on their ears. And Ukrainians looked at this noodles and wondered: "God, how beautifully this guy speaks, give us someone like him".
This is the influence of the authorities. If the Ukrainian authorities are friends with Lukashenka, trade with him, negotiate in Minsk, where "Lukashenka is a guarantor of security and a good friend of Ukraine" (Poroshenko once said so), it is clear that Ukrainians feel that Lukashenka is actually doing something good for Ukraine. That's why Lukashenka's rating was so high.
And now I read an interesting comment in my TikTok from one woman (thank God it's not a mass phenomenon). She wrote that Lukashenka "stabbed us in the back". This woman didn't expect him to let Russian troops through Belarus in 2022. These are real people who did not expect such a thing. At the same time, the woman claims to have lived in Belarus. Things happen, but, most likely, it's just the influence of propaganda. One can say that Belarus is a country captured by terrorists. If a Ukrainian says that Belarus as a state is an ally of Russia, it is at least wrong. Lukashenka is an ally of Russia, Lukashenka's regime together with its special services, together with its militia, together with its army is an ally of Russia. But this is a minority that has no ideological basis. These are people who have either been processed by propaganda or who have no moral principles. A person who is capable of bullying other people is clearly not guided by any moral principles, by any idea. He is guided either by money or by some unhealthy cockroaches in his head.
"Free Ukraine and free Belarus will help Russians to rethink their cultural heritage"
@hrystynakafka Я знаю, що вас бісить поєднання цих кольорів, вибачте. #білорусьукраїна #славаукраїні #українськізмі #російськапропаганда #жывебеларусь ♬ Piano sonata in the style of 18th century classical music ... - kenapo
- What will relations between Belarusians and Ukrainians be like in the future?
- I can only say what I hope. In my ideal world, Ukraine and Belarus would be good friends and neighbours. These are countries that in the future, after Ukraine's victory, will work together to make Russia redeem itself, just as they did with Germany after the Second World War.
It should look for me as follows: free Ukraine and free Belarus help Russians to rethink their cultural heritage. If we analyse Russian culture, literature, art, we see that this propaganda ("Russian world" - ed.) creates itself. We can take some conventional authors of Russian literature who did not want to write propaganda works, but they will still have this agenda. This propaganda, these imperialist ideas, have been going on for centuries. So we need to eradicate this imperialist thinking that has been passed down from generation to generation, to reform it, to help Russians to rethink reality. Not because we are all so nice and want to do good for Russians, no, we want to do good for ourselves first.
We want our descendants to have no more wars, so hopefully after Ukraine wins and the criminal regime in Belarus is overthrown, we will work together on this issue. If we just leave Russia alone, there will be no Lukashenka, but someone else, and Ukraine will just return its territories, we risk getting a new war in 30-50 years. And we don't know on whose territory it will be: on the territory of Belarus or Ukraine. It will depend on what the Russian authorities come up with.
@hrystynakafka Так шо перш ніж обсирати білорусів, почитайте про них в інтернетах! #білорусьукраїна #славаукраїні #жывебеларусь ♬ Birds and sparrows (environmental sounds / natural sounds)(322163) - somosomowhat