In Conversation with...

Belarus and Belarusians and Russia’s War against Ukraine

In Conversation with Vytis Jurkonis (Freedom House (Vilnius) and Vilnius University), Franak Viačorka (Senior Advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya) and Elena Korosteleva (University of Warwick) Chair: Gwendolyn Sasse (ZOiS)

Russia's war against Ukraine has completely changed previous perceptions of regional security and the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe. Belarus’ de facto participation in the war on Russia's side creates additional risks and threats both for neighbouring countries and for Belarusian citizens. Belarusian society, including those people who support Lukashenka, is by and large against the war. In fact, opinion polls demonstrate that Belarusians do not realise that Belarus is already involved in the war. Moreover, many Belarusians, who were forced to leave Belarus during or after the mass protests in 2020 and went to Ukraine, have now found themselves as refugees for the second time.

Since the beginning of the war some governments, private companies, educational institutions, and other organisations have applied additional restrictive measures and sanctions against Belarus and Belarusian citizens. Reports have proliferated of violence and hostility against ordinary Belarusians at the everyday level, even as they seek refuge from Lukashenka’s regime. In this context, the topic of how Belarus and Belarusians are perceived following the start of Russia's war against Ukraine is the topic of this event, jointly convened by ZOIS, the Research Centre of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Office (OST Research Centre), and the Oxford Belarus Observatory (OBO), with the support of the GCRF COMPASS project.


  • Elena Korosteleva is Professor of Politics and Global Sustainable Development and Director of the Institute for Global Sustainable Development (from April 2022) at the University of Warwick.

  • Franak Viačorka is Senior Advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and a journalist from Belarus.

  • Vytis Jurkonis is Project director at Freedom House (Vilnius) and works at Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University.

  • Chair: Gwendolyn Sasse is Director of ZOiS and Einstein Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at the Department of Social Sciences of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.