What is the BYSOL Foundation Hotline, Who Does it Help, and How?

Repression in Belarus, forced emigration due to persecution, the war in Ukraine… It's completely normal for people to be unprepared for sudden crises and not always know how to protect themselves or solve a problem. That's why the BYSOL Foundation Hotline was created, offering everyone quick and high-quality assistance.


How It All Began

The hotline was established on the first day of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine in response to a large number of requests for help with evacuations from hotspots (Kyiv, eastern Ukraine, and other areas).

“At that time, the Foundation already had an evacuation department, so people started contacting us for help to escape the war. We decided to create the informational Telegram channel 'BYSOL: Departure and Evacuation' and the 'Hotline @help_bysol' for consultations,” says a Foundation representative.


Over a thousand people contacted the hotline weekly, and the team had to work 24/7. A few months after the Russian invasion began, evacuation requests from Ukraine to the hotline decreased as many people had already been evacuated and the rest could use established routes.

“Apart from evacuations from Ukraine, many Belarusians and Russians contacted the hotline. With increasing repression, more Belarusians sought help from us. One of the most intense periods for the hotline was during the announcement of mobilization in Russia. We actively advised Russians on how to leave the country to avoid war, which contributed to fewer Russians being forcibly mobilized to Ukraine,” says a representative of the department.


Common Inquiries to the Hotline

The hotline is the main way people reach out to the Foundation.

Most often, inquiries are about help for those facing political repression. Families of political prisoners, individuals summoned for questioning or under investigation, people applying for charity aid, those needing evacuation from Belarus, and Belarusians who have left the country and need advice on documents (power of attorney, expired passports, other legal issues in new countries) frequently contact the hotline. We also receive applications from doctors and students, as well as from draft-age individuals who do not want to join the Belarusian army to avoid supporting the war and the system.



Volunteers: The Engine of the Hotline

The launch of the hotline was made possible by volunteers. Some have been consulting since the hotline started, while others join periodically when the number of inquiries spikes. The core team remains stable and mostly unchanged. On average, the team processes 100-250 applications per week, but during significant events, this number can reach up to 1,000 over several weeks.

“We are very grateful to each volunteer for their contribution, effort, and energy because they consciously and for the long term join the line, thoroughly study each issue, seriously understand the context, help people, and manage to control themselves in difficult situations or when facing emotional reactions from those seeking help,” says a hotline representative.


How the Hotline Works

You can contact the BYSOL Foundation Hotline via a link on the main page of the website, a link in the BYSOL Telegram channel, and on social media.

“The value of the hotline is that we approach each person's situation professionally, understand it, and suggest the best actions to take under the circumstances. Often, people who contact us are experiencing repression for the first time, are under significant stress, and do not know how to protect themselves or where to start. The necessary actions can sometimes be very simple. We look at the situation objectively, know the tools that can help, and provide quick and comprehensive consultations,” says a hotline team representative.

If the inquiry involves specific legal issues, the hotline team can refer the person to competent partners such as Legal Hub, the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, By_Help, the “Partyzanka” hotline, povestka.org, and Human Constanta.


“The hotline team consists of experienced individuals. We have extensive consultation experience on the hotline or in other capacities helping Belarusians. We constantly study additional information, delve into various issues, analyze them, and keep up with current events. We adapt to changing contexts, consider them, and update our responses to meet new challenges. Often, we consult with partners to improve our knowledge in certain areas, and they provide us with more specific explanations and optimal solutions based on the new context.”

The hotline is also an entry point to other BYSOL Foundation programs. If a request involves support for the families of political prisoners, the person is connected to the relevant department for more detailed help or consultation. If evacuation is needed, the hotline directs them to the team handling that issue.


BYSOL continues to help victims of political repression in Belarus and residents of Ukraine during the war. We evacuate people from Belarus, provide financial assistance to victims of political repression, and strive to stop the war in Ukraine.

We are independent and ready to cooperate with everyone who shares our values, priorities, and views.

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There is no small donation; any amount strengthens the help for those who need it most.


Our main principle is never to say "No" or "Sorry, we can't help." This doesn't mean we answer just to respond. We take each question seriously, strive to find the best solution, and gather as a team to offer the most optimal answer based on the experience and knowledge of each member. We work as a team, adhering to a unified approach in our responses.

About a third of inquiries require an immediate response. These are always technical questions with specific features or complexities. The hotline determines the person's situation without verifying their identity or requesting supporting documents. We don't have the resources for such verification, but it's unnecessary for the hotline since the main goal is to provide answers based on the described situation.

The vast majority of such answers can be found by the individual, but they may not always have the time, opportunity, or energy to search due to being in a state of significant stress. On average, after the first contact with the team, the person receives a response within 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the complexity of the situation.

General fundraising

BYSOL supports released political prisoners and their families, people forced to leave the country, Belarusian volunteers in Ukraine, and initiatives that help Belarusians fight lawlessness in the country.