Belarus: Navigating Turmoil and Transformation

Democratic Security Institute organizes an online panel discussion on Belarus: Navigating Turmoil and Transformation

Date: 17 July 2024, at 17:00 GMT+4 / 15:00 CET / 9:00 EDT

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  • Dr. Vasil Navumau, researcher specializing in the dynamics of social movements in Eastern Europe; fellow at the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) and the Institute for Social Movements (ISB) at Ruhr University
  • Volha Pavuk, Vice-speaker of the Coordination Council, a representative body of Belarusian democratic forces and civil society in exile; Blogger; 10+ years of experience in local politics and anti-corruption investigations in Homiel region (Belarus)

Moderated by: 

  • Katsiaryna Shmatsina, Eurasian Democratic Security Network (EDSN) Fellow 2021; researcher on Belarusian foreign policy; doctoral researcher at Virginia Tech (Washington, D.C.)

Since 2020, Belarus has been in the throes of an unprecedented political crisis, fundamentally altering the country’s trajectory. What began as protests against disputed elections has evolved into a sustained struggle between democratic aspirations and authoritarian rule. The regime of Alexander Lukashenko, has responded with widespread repression, resulting in thousands of political prisoners and prompting many to flee the country.

In parallel, Belarus has faced increasing pressure from Russia for deeper integration, including controversial amendments allowing for the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil. This development has sparked international concern and highlighted the regime’s strategic shifts.

Symbolic dates in Belarusian history, such as the Declaration of Independence on July 27, 1990, and the pivotal democratic elections on July 10, 1994, underscore the country’s journey from hope for democratic change to its current state of turmoil.

On July 17, our panel will convene to examine the current realities facing Belarusians on the ground, the experiences of the diaspora, particularly in Georgia and the EU, and the strategies of democratic forces operating in exile. Join us as we delve into these critical issues and assess the path forward for Belarus in the aftermath of its transformative political upheaval.


We would like to note that all of the speakers had to flee their homes. They were recently convicted in absentia, in sham politically motivated trials, as an attempt by the Lukashenka government to silence dissent at home and abroad. Katsiaryna Shmatsina and Vasil Navumau received a 10-year sentence for “an attempt to overthrow the government” and “harm to national security”. This case is so far the largest trial in absentia in Belarus, targeting an independent expert community. Volha Pavuk was sentenced to 8 years for “creating an extremist formation,” as she is a co-founder of the popular Youtube channel “Rudabelskaya Pakazuha.” The channel features conversations with local officials in Belarus and asks them questions about the transparency of budget allocation, infrastructure projects, and other inquiries on local governance.


The Democratic Security Institute (DSI) is an independent, non-partisan thinktank based in Tbilisi, Georgia. We are a team of policy and civil society professionals who are passionate about the power of democracy to bring security, social justice and prosperity to people living in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Growing out of the Eurasia Democratic Security Network (EDSN) project as part of the Center for Social Sciences, DSI was established in 2022 as a separate organisation.