Since the beginning of protests in Belarus almost every Russian user of Facebook saw the link for this charity “to support the victims of violent repression.” It was organized by the activists of the project BY_help have attracted a record $2.5 million that will be spent on the payment of fines and the treatment of battered protesters. At the end of last week, the same team has launched a “solidarity fee” for Belarusians, who lost his job because of disagreement with Lukashenka’s regime, and has collected about $400 thousand in addition, the organizers promise “allowance” of €1.5 thousand for each security officer who publicly claim dismissal and “go to the light side”. The correspondent of “Kommersant” Alexander Chernykh asked the member BY_help Andrei Strizhak about the details of the fundraising — and learned how the organizers plan to distribute the money collected.— Andrew, could you for a start tell us briefly about yourself?— I am a civil activist, a volunteer, a human rights activist. I do this, terrible to say, for 20 years. And the last five years, I was very firmly involved in different crowdfunding, fundraising initiatives. As a rule, it was fees for citizens of Belarus, who was in a difficult situation because of state repression. Is payment of fines, payment of arrests…Photo:— Payment of arrests?— Yes, we have in Belarus is the know-how ó to pay the cost of the day of arrest. If you are in jail, have to pay for each day of stay in the “hotel Hilton”.— And how much?— Fourteen and a half rubles, which is about €5 euros per day. In principle, not so expensive, probably, if it’s jail, located in the center of Minsk. (Laughs.) That such charges we engaged in recent years.— “We” is who? International mediaconsulting Alex Leonchik, photographer and civil activist Yulia Doroshkevich, volunteer and human rights activist Andrei Stryzhak. Here are the three pillars that in the spring of 2017, has launched a project BY_help. Our first campaign had the support of the repressed members of the “March of natureade”, which took place in all cities of Belarus. I remind you that Alexander Lukashenko came up with the ingenious idea to support the Belarusian economy: the special tax for the unemployed. There is a famous caricature: the Deputy came to the rostrum in Parliament and says: “Let us ban unemployment, then the unemployed will not.” That’s about the same logic was Alexander Lukashenko — he wanted to tax those people, who generally have no money. Well, of course, this is all very angered, began mass protests, the government responded with repression.And then our team the world has gathered $55 thousand We had never such amounts are not collected. The money was spent to support people who have suffered from Sylowof ICA.Here it is necessary to clarify that BY_help not working. We are like a Phoenix reborn when we becomes necessary. Worked for some period of time, raised money, distributed them, distributed, reported — and then fled. Go about their business until there was a new trash in the country. Then we reappear.— What happened next?— In 2018, the state ran on journalists in the framework of the so-called Learned, is completely delusional and obviously fabricated. When our independent media was charged with unlawful use of materials of the state Agency BelTA. We joined to raise money to restore equipment to replace the confiscated editions. To independent journalists continued to work.The third campaign took place in early 2020 after mass protests against the so-called deep integration with the Russian Federation. We have in the society the understanding that such “deep integration” will lead to loss of independence and absorption by Russia. So many people came out to protest in support of independence. They also received fines we collected approximately $25 thousand And was most recently a very large campaign — ByCovid-19. Absolutely legendary history, when we three months raised nearly $360 thousand they bought almost half a million units of protection, fifteen thousand items of medical equipment. Took it all to hospitals and hospitals in the country.And then, almost without respite, on June 25 began the big collection associated with the presidential election.— Even before the protests?— Yes. Because these elections were especially dirty, aggressive actions by the authorities. As you know, both the leading candidates — Victor Babariko and Sergei tikhanovski, were arrested, interned and isolated before the start of the active campaign. There was a huge number of arrests of members of their staffs and initiatives, provocations, beatings — the whole Arsenal in General.Belarus has power sore point — mass event. It always causes a reaction.— We in Russia is too familiar. The government is afraid of people take to the street. Even if not a political reason — the protest against the developer, for example. So people who during the presidential campaign, came out to peacefully protest, to support their candidate, each time received large fines. To the 25th June was already $35 thousand dollars issued such fines. That’s why we started another collection. And by the morning of August 9, we collected $200 thousand And then something happened what everybody knows. The ninth number of the elections, almost immediately the official media gives completely implausible numbers. Allegedly more than 80% of citizens voted for the President, who has 26 years continuously findssmiling in power. The country begins mass demonstrations, peaceful protests against the obviously rigged results. But this time the protests are accompanied by an absolutely unprecedented level of violence by the security forces. Police and riot police grab of citizens, beaten, bullied them, even rape. Yes, there is documentary evidence — medical records of people who come out of prison with the trauma of the rectum.This chaos, this storm of violence, which spilled into the streets of Minsk and other cities, led to the fact that people strongly protested. And if the morning of August 9 we have in the account was $200 thousand., then the next day — on the first of the protests and violent arrests — we got the first million dollars.Photo: Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters And the violence continued.— Yes, for the first time in the history of Belarus security forces used tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons. Your entire Arsenal to completely disperse a peaceful protest. Well, the behavior of the security forces speaks for itself. There are famous images of the crowd when they beat defenseless people lying, when they shoot at the Windows, when knock glass from passing cars. Absolutely unmotivated violence, even animals don’t behave like that.Statistics and chronicle protivostoyaniya of daliea then there was the first evidence of how detainees were treated in detention centers and police stations. Photos with the effects of severe beatings, in which all body in bruises. People wanted to help the victims, not only the citizens of Belarus.— Yeah, I saw in the feed Facebook, the Russians transferred money.— A big thank you to them for that!— Why you are collecting it on Facebook? For wider coverage, not to withdraw within the country?— First of all, because our government hands can’t reach Facebook. I highly doubt that now in Belarus could work on the website to raise funds for the repressed or dismissed for political reasons. Here’s an example: in 2019 appeared in Belarus crowdfunding service Mola-Mola, where there were charges for a variety of goals — from helping seals to the treatment of sick children. This resource was quietly exist until the summer of 2020, we also used it to raise money for fined and arrested. For example, in may was the story with the paramedic from the city of Lida, which is at the stream with Tikhanovski spoke about the problems of doctors and the real situation with davidom. He was fired, and then through the Mola-Mola for him have the money.Co-founder of Mola-Mola was Edward Babariko, the son of presidential candidate Victor Babariko. When the election campaign began, the government began to clean up all of the assets associated with it. And then Belgazprombank simply terminated unilaterally the contract of this service. So ended the story very cool crowdfunding platform. Fortunately, with Facebook and PayPal authorities can not do so.But you’re right — Facebook is really very easy. It has internal algorithms that promote their own fundraising fees. If you just put in the post a link to some third-party platform, then Facebook will not further promote it. And here is your fee, like your video content, Facebook is actively promoting — and it gives the viral effect.Moreover, the Toolkit Facebook not only allows you to create yourself and share it on your page. In just a few clicks to invite friends to also transfer money.
And it is also a very interesting time for fundraising. If you look at the statistics of our collection for the victims, we can see that 170 thousand were invited and 70 thousand of them made a donation.— And Facebook take a percentage of the collection?— Yes, of course, the Commission is around 6%. There are other fees loss, for example associated with the withdrawal of money on a card and exchange them for cash or on the accounts of the recipients. If you really count everything, often losing up to 10%. But that’s the price for convenience and viral spread. It’s a commercial service, in the end, they have something to earn. They can’t, as we, the volunteers, work to clean the idea. During the campaign for victims you really have collected a huge amount, more than $2.5 million So the question is — have you already started to distribute them? And who would even apply to them? How do you decide whom and how much to pay?— Strictly speaking, even more than $2.5 million – indeed, many still were sending money via PayPal, for example. Look, this campaign BY_help aimed at three categories of people: arrested, fined and wounded in the course of excessive use of force by the security forces. The first two all clear — people provide us with receipts on payment of a fine or the expense of the police “hotel”. But in the case of beating increasingly difficult — not everyone has a medical certificate.— Many are probably afraid to go to the doctors in this situation.— Yes, and our riot police does not issue a certificate that he beat someone up. I think that in Russia do not issue such documents. (Laughs.) In the case of the wounded the situation looks like. There are two categories of people. The first is those who still appealed to a medical facility. They have a very characteristic case history indicated a traumatic injury — and that people from the clubs affected, but not drunk fell. The second are those who consciously did not seek medical help, even though injured. In this case, it is possible to show your wounds. To do photos, videos — that will be enough for verification.— What you actually pay for broken people? Medication and treatment?— Rehabilitation, Yes. Victims will receive from us a fixed amount — depending on injury.— How you set these amounts?— We orientirueshsya on forensic approach to determining the severity of the harm done to health. It is used in our legal system, for example, to calculate under what article to judge a man who beat up a neighbor. Bruises without fractures — one payout. Fractures and serious injuries that require long-term recovery, are a different category. Each case is considered individually and the amount of payments is also assigned individually. BY_help joined forces with a media platform “Names”, which also conducts its collection: we make a single payment, and they take a long-term support for the most severe cases. Treatment, rehabilitation, prosthetics, etc. and if people have, say, traumatic amputation of limbs is also an individual case. Seek the help of businesses that could engage this person in the long run. Because rehabilitation can take a year or more. But such cases are, fortunately, not very many.— And what is this business you speak of?— Very different people. We have established communication during the collection ByCovid-19. Then the business community of Belarus very clearly and powerfully helped people. Many of them decided to cooperate with us further.— How many people have already asked for help? And when they get paid?— More than a thousand applications were received from people who were fined, arrested, beaten. We are now processing these applications. But here it is necessary to understand the particularities of work Facebook — he slowly brings money to the card, it takes a week to ten days. Plus some time spent on it to transfer money to beneficiaries. So not a quick process. But we have to on August 9 was already some amount taken out, we now enjoy. And quietly close these questions.What we did the first thing — decided to make payments to the families of the two victims. One guy, Alexander Trajkovski, was killed during a demonstration. According to the interior Ministry, he allegedly tried to throw the police explosive device. But the video and photos prove that he was standing unarmed, with his hands raised and he was shot. We decided to give the family compensation. And agree with the owners on the continued support of the family depending on their needs. We will not leave.The second victim is Alexander the Tuft of Gomel. He was beaten by riot police, he had not provided medical care, and the man died in the hospital. The authorities still deny the connection between the beating and death, there is a separate dramatic story. We are not yet in full contact with the family, but when all is determined, we will provide them necessary support.Riku.— When you said that the official targeting criteria payment, I thought, it looks like you are doing the functions of the state, from which it was eliminated. After all, how things should be done? If the person was beaten up by representatives of the state, he sues and gets compensation from the budget generated from taxes of citizens. You this is not possible, therefore, you create a parallel structure, where people pay a voluntary tax. As a result, you form a kind of parallel budget and make payments that actually should have been done by the government. You know, I now have a feeling of deja vu. About the same I heard when we were engaged in the campaign ByCovid-19. Then we were called in parallel by the Ministry of health, now you say we parallel the budget.Indeed, in a normal country this question was resolved by the Prosecutor’s office and court. If the representative of the state has caused harm, the state has to compensate for it — everything is fair. But we in Belarus, the courts do not work, and especially on such occasions. So… Earlier I did not agree with this formulation, because the state still was doing something in the fight with davidom. Much less than I could, but in General a lot. But in this story we know that the government will do nothing. So the analogy is interesting, and I’m with her, I would agree.— How many people are employed to parallel the Ministry of social protection?— (Laughs.) Yeah, I like this image. If we talk about the total number and calculate the all-all-all, I think, 50 volunteers. Is the backbone, about five people, who make strategic decisions about how it will work. I think the current Ministry is much more officials.Here is the time to tell you about our second fundraising campaign BY_Solidarity, which we launched on Friday, August 14. The fact that Belarus is a very difficult situation with employment. If a person, for some reason, objectionable to the authorities, he can get a wolf ticket, with which you will not find anywhere else-especially if you live in a small town. And one of the tasks of the new campaign is to support people who have lost their jobs because of their political beliefs.
For example, it so happens that the people coming out to protest, he is detained, fined and then terminated a contract with him. And to support those people who suffered for their beliefs, launched the campaign.In addition, we are in a difficult and important situation of civil servants and security forces. In this environment, as elsewhere, there are normal people who would like to leave with this work, looking at what’s going on. But many of them probably don’t answer questions, what to feed the family and how to pay the loan.We understand that many interior Ministry officers and riot police�� now wavering and trying to decide between full welting and a clear conscience. It is clear that the main motivation here is not money. However, if a person knows that he is guaranteed there will be money to collect the child to school, it will have a little more arguments in favor of the transition on the bright side, so to speak.— And how much would you pay to push for this transition?— We decided on a one-time fixed amount of support — and a half thousand euros per person.— Why that amount?— According to official statistics, the average salary in the country €500. Of course, the reality is much worse. But we decided to push off from these mythical €500, which always says Lukashenko. And make the payment in three months, because in the case of unfair dismissal the law provides for compensation in the form of three-month salaries. As you can see, our internal legal logic coincides with the legal system of Belarus.— Again and you like duplicate state system, only more effectively.— Well, Yes. (Laughs.)— The terms on which the security forces can qualify for this money?— Verification will be a public Declaration of the person’s dismissal or the desire to quit. Our idea is that the policeman took the video: “I’m leaving because…” And such examples already. The person will know — you can act according to conscience, nothing to fear, the next few months he will have financial support. On the other hand, the same movie demotiviruet other people to the same thing, if they hesitate to change hearty Lunches to freedom.— I don’t really understand why it was decided to open a second, separate fee. Someone just will not understand that they are two different campaigns. Wouldn’t it be easier to collect everything in one jug?— See what the difficulty is. Campaign BY_help works with three specific categories of people. Volunteers know how to handle the application, how to pay the money and so on. But if their task is to add the distribution of money to the dismissed or people intending to retire, it will lead to the collapse of the team. Which consists of volunteers, as I recall. It would be an additional and quite serious burden on the already established processes. This is the first reason to create a separate Fund with a separate team of professionals, which included the founders of the campaign BY_help.And the second reason is that I in recent days has received thousands of messages in all instant messengers where people asked about such a collection. The Belarusians and the Diaspora now want to sacrifice it for such things. We found large businesses ready to support this work. For example, we were joined by the Aichi-entrepreneur Mikita Mikado (co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc.— “Kommersant”). People understand that such a Fund depends on how quickly in Belarus can come change. After all, if a person feels his financial stability, he is much bolder in expressing their opinions and defending their rights.— You say “Foundation” just as the word? Or you intend to register the NGO?— At the moment, “solidarity Fund” — this is the name, not the legal form. But in the future, most likely, we will have to obtain some kind of legal status. Although I myself am a natural advocate who believes that people didn’t need any permits and additional registrations to come together and work. But there are more pluses than minuses: if we can register the organization, then we will have the opportunity to use a variety of mechanisms to reduce the tax base used will be less loss in the way of money to people who need help.— You have already collected a total of more than $3 million And you have all kind of the final amount of the fee? And what will you do if after all payments will remain some surplus?— You know, we act based on what is happening here and now. The situation in Belarus is changing, not even every day — twice a day! People have a great desire to help the protestors and the authorities — the same strong desire for these protests to suppress. We see a lull, but prepared that the power will again begin to prescribe penalties, to thrash and arrest people. So don’t relax yet, money still may not be enough.At the same time, we understand that you really have collected a large amount. I have already said that we are gradually moving to the creation of the Fund. This Fund can be its own program. That is, we quite unexpectedly from people who were looking for funding, turn into people who theoretically can this funding be allocated. But all this is just speculation. Because the situation is developing so quickly that just do not have time to plan anything strategically. Now we say that a lot of money, and tomorrow will begin again the arrests. But thank you for asking these questions, it helps to build in the head options for future action.— You could make a guess — how do you see the worst scenario and the best?— The best position is a full release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners. Close all criminal cases against them. And I’m not just talking about those people who have been detained in recent days of protests. This goes for Sergei Tikhanovski and Victor Babariko, which the human rights community has recognised as political prisoners.We need an end to the violent actions of the security forces. The removal from service of those people who been all over this. Proceedings, and open and fair.And the third point — the recognition that A��exander Lukashenko lost the election. Start talking about the peaceful transit of power to Svetlana Tikhanovski. And subsequently, as it said in its main electoral promise, to be held new presidential elections fair and democratic. They will be able to participate even Alexander Lukashenko, if he by that time will have the desire and the ability. Everything fact can life emerge.In any case, we are waiting for change, and we make these changes. We do everything to ensure that the new Belarus took place. And we understand that it’s our only chance. If we retreat, if we lose, it will be the worst scenario. We in this country will be gone.— “We” is to whom?— Us — people who want a new Belarus. People who openly say that they are tired of a 26-year reign of one and the same person. In that Belarus, which is building Alexander Lukashenko, such people have no place — they just put all the polls.