My name is Yuri Nesterenko. I am a member of the organizations BAJ (Belarusian Association of Journalists) and SBP (Union of Belarusian Writers), which are banned by the Belarusian authorities.
The reason for our family's departure from the homeland is simple and at the same time very complicated: the threat of repression against those Belarusians who were engaged in the usual business of their life — preservation of their identity, popularization of their culture, teaching children to speak their native language.
In 2019, I was an independent observer for the Right of Choice campaign in the parliamentary elections. I participated again in the 2020 elections as an independent observer and journalist. And for the first time I was an independent observer for the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights back in 2001.
Since then I have been persona non grata for the authorities, with all the consequences for decades (including lawsuits that cannot be won, jobs that cannot be hired and art that cannot be done properly).
In 2021, some of the publications I had to work with on a regular basis were declared extremist. My colleagues suffered, their equipment, computers and other equipment was confiscated. During the search of the house of one of the most influential journalists of Mogilev region they found working documents with my surname on them.
The colleagues, journalists who were summoned for interrogation, confirmed that a case was brought against me. They advised not to delay and to leave Belarus immediately. So we found ourselves in Georgia, where we lived for half a year until we managed to get the Schengen visas.
Now my family with two minor children is in a European country for about six months. We were lucky to get the children into a normal school, they are in an art school and a sports center. But our financial situation is still difficult, we can't work officially, we have no help or compensation for housing. There is still a debt for airfare from Georgia to Europe.
How much money is needed?
2060 € — rent and utilities; necessary food and related expenses to support a family of 4.