The book is preceded by a foreword by the Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort, who calls for active participation in the political situation in Belarus and, above all, clear European solidarity: »After what has been happening here since August, Belarus should not be a distant country for anyone in Europe. This is the story of the present, happening in the middle of the European continent.« Vitali Alekseenok documents this story in his book, starting with June 2020, when he learned about the beginning of protests and the arrest of Viktar Babaryka and Sergei Tikhanovsky in Germany via the international press. In addition to these two men, Valeri Zepkalo also wanted to stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election against Alexander Lukashenko, but their registration was not accepted. Instead, they were represented by Maria Kalesnikava, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Veronika Zepkala. This strong opposition trio became a political symbol for the peace movement. They led their protest with a determined fist (Tikhanovskaya), a disarming peace sign (Zepkala) and a hopeful heart gesture (Kalesnikava) and participated in the peaceful demonstrations. To stop the violence with which the government responded to the protests in August 2020, they offered dialogue to the government staff. However, Lukashenko's language was one of violence, which he sought to legitimise through a shifted, propagandistic narrative. Independent election observers were denied access both for early voting starting on 4 August and for the actual presidential election on 9 August. Pro-government polls on election day announced that 79.9 per cent of the votes went to Lukashenko and 6.8 per cent to the opposition trio led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Foreign and independent polls, however, showed the opposite picture: 79.7 per cent for the opposition, 6.2 per cent for Lukashenko. The European Union also did not recognise the election result and denied it »any democratic legitimacy«. The internet was paralysed throughout the country from 9 to 12 August to prevent the dissemination of information and the organisation of Lukashenko's opponents.
What the government did not count on, however, was that almost all of Belarus awoke from the paralysed and powerless state the country had been in since Lukashenko took office in 1994. Demonstrations spilled out onto the streets of Minsk and other cities. All of them were peaceful. Creative, colourful, hopeful forms of protest were formed; music and art emerged from them, the "energy of solidarity" filled the hearts of Belarusians who wished for a peaceful and democratic country. »They countered the ugliness of violence with love and beauty. And this had a greater effect: through their silent protest they awakened the inner strength of the people. They were louder than the thousand-voiced roar of passing cars or the terrible noise of shock grenades. The white of their clothes in the reflection of the August sun shone hopefully and cleansed us from the bloody experiences of the past days,« Vitali Alekseenok writes in his book.
With Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the public focus shifted to the war there. In its shadow, the Belarusian president was able to deepen his anti-democratic course. Thus, almost unnoticed, he had a referendum decide that he - like Putin - would be allowed to remain in office until 2035 and would also be guaranteed complete immunity from prosecution if, contrary to expectations, he left office earlier. Meanwhile, the Belarusian peace movement no longer takes place in the form of mass demonstrations on the country's streets. The danger of being imprisoned is too great, according to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who, along with Kalesnikava and Zepkala, was awarded the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen in May this year for her services to European unity. Maria Kalesnikava was also caught in the regime's crosshairs and was imprisoned in 2020 and eventually sentenced to a scandalous 11 years in prison. Instead, the resistance is now taking place underground. However, the movement has not lost the face of courageous peacefulness and innocence. Tikhanovskaya is certain that democratic change will take place and Lukashenko's regime will end.
On 11 June, »Die unvollendete Revolution« took place at the Forum am Schlosspark. Vitali Alekseenok conceived this concert and brought a musical testimony of the times to Ludwigsburg with three world premieres of Belarusian poetry settings. He also brought some copies of his book »Die weißen Tage von Minsk« and was available for discussion and signing.
»Die weißen Tage von Minsk«