Razam! United with Belarus

Sophie Chang (張芷瑀) looks on as her mother Anastasia Kurlenia (柯安娜), second from right, and Kurlenia’s Belarusian compatriot Artem Subotka (蘇爾僑), left, deliver a presentation on the situation in Belarus at the Liuminzhan Bar & Bed café in New Taipei City on Saturday February 6, 2021. On the right is journalist Liao Yun-jie (廖芸婕) who served as moderator for the event, which was titled ‘Razam’, meaning ‘together’ in Belarusian.

The following feature appeared in today’s Taipei Times:

Anastasia Kurlenia recoils in mock horror. Her daughter Sophie has broached the unthinkable.

“Those are the Russian colors,” says the six-year-old, pointing at the red and white of the flags and traditional attire on the walls of Liuminzhan Bar & Bed, a cosy cafe on a backstreet in New Taipei’s Yonghe District (永和).

“Just kidding,” she responds to her mother’s goggle-eyed gape. “I know it’s Belarus.”

For an event focusing on a rigged election and violent crackdown against dissent, things are off to a light-hearted start. But this is the Belarusian way. Despite the gravity of the topic, the presentation delivered by Kurlenia and her compatriot Artem Subotka over the next three hours frequently embraces gallows humor. The event, which was held on Feb. 6 and titled Razam, meaning “together,” was designed to show solidarity with Belarusians protesting the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as president on Aug. 9 last year. The result was almost universally derided as a sham.

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