Voices from Belarus - Update 2021, January 21st
'The protests are continuing, mostly in Minsk but also in smaller cities around the country. Street protests are having "yard" formats: people get together in the area they live and go around their area with flags and slogans "Go away! You're not our President! This is our city!" The problem is communication as all chats are checked and all leaders get into prison, so people communicate by very "secret" chats (what makes more difficult for mass media to get into also and that's one of the reason why protests are not broadcasted by alternative medias now). Often protesters go early morning on Sunday f.e. or not only on Sunday - not to be expected by police. These weeks it's strong frost in Belarus: -20-25C. It makes more difficult for police also to be outside long time...
Riot police is arresting people mostly not at protests (it became more difficult for them to know the time and place) but following people in social mass media and then arresting them in their apartments or public places (easy to find by mobile and/or home address). There are many arrests for 20 days and more for: flags on the balconies, symbolics (even small) on cloths or wherever, autodecoration with red stripe, several arests for snowmen colored with red. The government adopted legislation what gives more freedom for them to get people into custody for non-registered symbolics, mass events and so on. So, now f.e. if you put a flag on the balcony it is considered a single protests not permitted by the administration.
More people started to get long sentences (2-6 years imprisonment) for any opposition to police (it's difficult to call it fighting as police seem to be untouchable already), open appeals in mass media, blogging. Police got official permission to check distantly any online communication and docs.
Communication with those in prison is not accessible often (official reason - coronavirus, but in realty all those imprisoned get corona there inside with no any treatment).
Many Belarusians left the country and currently are in neighbouring Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, also Georgia.
Though leaving the country is not easy - only flights are accessible (boundaries are closed - officially because of corona), but embassies do not work here - so only flights to Ukraine and Georgia and few non-visa countries (Egypt, Turkey, etc.) are accessible.
The atmosphere of violence and fear is growing. It is added by helplessness and frustrations. Many of the people already spent time in prison and/or their close ones (often for not doing anything - just were arrested on the street).
The split between those supporting current regime and protesting is growing what is the most difficult in families (often elderly people trust local TV and the info there what is complete false and really believe that prostitutes and drug-users are willing to ruin the country).
Clients bring lots of despair into sessions. Often topics: how to exist in split world in a family, at work, among parents of school children and kindergarten. how to trust teachers and officials when you have to... Also lots of existential crises. The situation is getting much longer than expected by even the most sceptical prognosis and all are really exhausted but the problem is that the exit is not seen yet.. And it gives the feeling of loss... In addition many of Belarusians lost their close ones due to corona (official statistics is not reliable at all) what adds despair and grieving in the situation.'