"A Country to Live in" foundation team. Marina Garbuz: "Every person believed that he can change something"

We continue to present to you the team of our Foundation - people who give all their strength to the struggle for the freedom of Belarusians. Today we will tell you about Marina Garbuz, the head of the PR department.

And also - a mother, an activist, a football fan, a person who faced the injustice of the system in early childhood and is still fighting it.

- What did you do at the beginning of 2020?

- I took part in protests against the annexation of Belarus to Russia.

- How did you end up there?

- I'm a mom on maternity leave. I have two children. I have fought the state all my life. You have to understand that children from orphanages know everything about the state and everything, only the worst.

When I studied and went to the Human Rights Olympics, I could not answer because I knew that the answer did not work.

At the moment, I am 27 years old. And they told me that I would have an apartment by 18. But neither me, nor my brothers, nor any of my friends from the orphanage have it. Because our state tightened the screws every year. When I was in the status of an orphan, it was such that you could get an apartment at the place of your registration. But you have to understand that you have a place of registration when you are a child - your orphanage.

In the orphanage, you cannot get housing.

And you are then sent to the place where you were born. I am from under the Cherven. Became there in the queue for housing. There is no construction in Cherven. So I don't have a place to live either.

- How did you get to the orphanage?

- When I was a child, my parents died. I was ten, my brothers, even less. We were in different orphanages. The youngest is three years old. The middle one is 7.

- Why in different orphanages?

- Always sever siblings. To make it easier to adopt. And they often don't even say that the child has a brother or sister because such a child may not be accepted into a foster family.

- None of you adopted?

- Not.

- And what about the brothers now?

- They are already big. The study, work, live in Belarus.

- What is your relationship?

- We didn’t spend much time together. We weren’t close. But now we are in a relationship. They know that if something happens, they can contact me, I will definitely help. When I was in Belarus, we saw each other 2-3 times a year - they came to visit me.

- How do you assess the system of orphanages in Belarus?

- my friends and I have only positive emotions from the orphanage. Because we are children who did not know the other, they did not know human and parental affection. The teachers treated us very well - they cared and worried.

But an orphanage is such a hothouse environment in which everything is on schedule. And when you get into adulthood, you are confronted with unexpected things - how to cook soup, light the stove, and solve some everyday issues. You don't even know your basic rights. You don't know where to go, what documents to fill out.

- What is your attitude towards Lukashenko?

- Always sharply negative. I have always believed that a particular person blames all this confusion (bad attitude towards orphanages, insufficient care for children). Everything is great in words, but in practice, you can't even go anywhere.

The child's education in an orphanage is just basic. When I went to college, I was amazed at the knowledge of other teenagers: "Lord, where did you learn all this?"

Selected admission quotas for orphans. All are now doing on a common basis. It's a vicious circle. You cannot study, and you cannot get a normal job.

- How did you end up in this batch in 2020?

- I worked in various private companies - ran social networks, developed my business remotely. And so I was sitting at home, and then I met Severinets. I went to protests.

I admire this man who has been fighting Lukashenko all his life. He invited those people who went to the rally to meet and discuss how we can improve our actions. And so I thought about what could be done as a PR. And that's how we met. Then I saw the streams of Sergey Tikhanovsky.

He reminded me of such a simple man who walks and shows what is happening. Then I watched his streams, and I was delighted that he was so fearless. He knows that he will be detained, and he laughs, makes fun.

- Have you been to "A Country to Live in before the elections"?

- When Sergey Tikhanovsky announced that he would run, I sent an application to help him with PR. I helped and ran social networks, advertisements and did it from home because I have a small child.

When Sergey and most of his initiative group were detained, I collected signatures for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Kamennaya Gorka. It was such an interesting time too when you go every time as the last one. You kiss children, take a backpack with clothes, a passport, water.

- And how did your husband feel about this?

- We can say that my husband pulled me into this (laughs). But for some reason, when a woman is taken, she completely surrenders to the cause. My husband knew Sevyarynets even before me.

My husband supported me - he stayed with the children. At this time, he studied and worked from home.

- The events of August 9 and after: were they unexpected for you?

- Absolutely not. I was an observer, and that day I stood on the site near the school. We were waiting for the protocol, and I began to receive SMS from other observers (there was no Internet) that Tikhanovskaya won somewhere.

But we knew that this would not happen on our precinct - the headmistress had a riot policeman's son. He came many times and kicked us out of the precinct. That is, we observed practically from a neighboring yard.

On August 9, we were waiting for the protocol (about 100 of us), and now the riot police arrived. And I, together with two children, ran away from the riot police.

In general, everything was expected of me. But I didn’t think it’s going to take that long. I thought that on August 9th, this act of violence would happen, and people would not come out again. Probably, this is what Lukashenko expected.

But people came out.

- Why did it happen?

- Each person believed that he could change something. He came, cast his vote, and realized that he had been deceived {when the election results were announced}. After that, he felt like a person who can say no. If earlier we reasoned: “But we cannot change anything. Let the ruler decide there. " But now we understand that we can and must change.

- Tell us about the detention of your husband.

- After the elections, I participated in chains of solidarity, women's marches. My husband and I helped political prisoners, including people from "A Country to Live in" movement. We helped with letters, transmissions and we did all this together with Marfa Rabkova.

I was also an observer in the courts, went to Zhodino (took people from there). I wanted to help somehow.

This {the detention of the husband} happened on August 31st. My husband left for the BAJ to help interrogate people who left Akrestsin Street. And I went to print the posters for the action.

An hour and a half later, I returned home and heard the doorbell ring. I thought my husband had arrived. My son ran and opened to the people in black, and I only managed to write to Marfa Rabkova that they had come for me, then deleted the telegram.

I understood that they had come for me because I was in "A Country to Live in" I was at the headquarters of Tikhanovskaya. Therefore, I was shocked when they told me that my husband was detained, and they came with a search.

He was accused of organizing riots. And then, through a lawyer, I was told that he was detained because I have two children. Then they still could not afford to arrest a woman with two small children. Such a moment of pressure on me.

It was GUBOP (about 10 people, but three entered the apartment). They said that everyone knew that I was also a participant, and they hoped (!) That I would hold my head and think about how to raise my children.

They took all the equipment except my phone. I persuaded him to leave so that I could work from this phone. It was their big mistake (laughs). Through him, I closed all my and my husband's accounts. I removed and cleaned everything, warned everyone.

- What happened next with your husband?

- They took him to the Investigative Committee, then to Akrestsin Street, then to Volodarka. They released him on the tenth day, and all this time, they said that he was detained because of me. They pressed me to shut up and stop giving interviews.

As a result, I was already summoned to the IC (they called me first). And they told me: "Add wherever you want the children and come to us on Monday." This was the last bell, and I realized that on Monday, they would shut me down.

Therefore, on Friday, we drove away in several cars and lay down on the bottom. Raised children in pajamas, and at 12 o'clock in the morning, we ran. The weekend was spent without communication.

And on Monday, I already had a visa - we left across the border.

- Did everything go well?

- It's hard to call it that. The bus was going empty (quarantine had already begun in Lithuania). Except for my children and me and the Lithuanian driver, there was no one there. He was apprehensive about us because I explained in a nutshell that we are running. We went through passport control and were already leaving, but the customs officers caught up with us. I thought, well, everyone, they are taking us away.

They decided to interrogate me again. They rechecked my passport. We stood there for about an hour. The children sat crying, and the driver did not leave anywhere, although they told him to leave. He refused. Said: "No, there is a woman with children." He called everyone and said that the bus was being delayed. I think it helped a lot, and we were eventually released.

- Was your husband in Belarus at that time?

- Yes. He was sitting. He was released 2-3 days after my departure. He came out terrified. He contacted me and told me not to do anything that he was released because I would be silent. Then we managed to take him out of the country to Lithuania in a roundabout way.

- In Lithuania, did you immediately start working in "A Country to Live in" foundation?

- Yes, I met Maria Moroz here. By this time, she already had the idea of ​​creating a fund. She invited me to deal with political prisoners - to do what I did in Belarus. Plus, I'm also doing PR.

The essence of my work is to make as many people as possible know about the opportunity to help Belarusians.

- And what is the complexity of your work?

- If you do not take the emotional component (communication with relatives of political prisoners, each of whom has his own pain), then the main problem is trust. Some funds have tarnished their reputation, and now we have to prove that our fund is good.

Although we are trying to do it, we publish transparent reports. We are all open to let people know that we are not just some kind of employee. We are Belarusians who want to return home to a free Belarus.

- Have you personally encountered mistrust of "A Country to Live in" foundation?

- Certainly. You can read the comments on Facebook, although there are many good ones.

But there are also massive attacks on our advertising accounts. At the moment, they are blocked on all social networks. And because of this, we cannot even launch an advertisement, which greatly complicates our work and assistance to political prisoners and their families.

- Do Belarusians in Lithuania do enough to win?

- Not. But I cannot judge them. Each has its own situation. But there are examples of people who left and began to build their lives. And some people cannot just sit when such terrible events take place in your country.

Although when I arrived in Lithuania with children, I thought that I could hardly do something either without a husband. Where to get food, how to pay for the apartment? Such everyday things terribly interfere, and it seems to me that this is why Lukashenka kicks out all the activists. Because abroad it is more difficult to do {fight the dictatorship}.

- Plus, the one who left loses a certain authority within the country.

- Yes. The "A Country to Live in" movement who stayed in the country have a grudge that you left. Although I try to convey to them that I have lost my home, business, warm bed. And here I have to live in not the best conditions because I simply do not have enough money.

- What do you think, today Lukashenko suppressed everyone in Belarus, cleaned everything up?

- Not. I believe he will leave. You just need to understand in what way.

- How do you see the development of Belarus? Should it be a non-aligned country, in the EU, or with Russia?

- I see Belarus as a neutral country. It seems that if people are allowed to realize themselves, our country will live well. I also want people to be able to move freely between countries. There is a visa-free regime.

- What do you think? What to do with those who are now in prisons because of their civil position. Will they need to pay some kind of compensation when they are released?

- Our Foundation is preparing a rehabilitation program for those who will be released. These are examinations and rehabilitation. This is what we can do. And if you look from the side of the state, then compensation will be needed. Perhaps due to the sale of Lukashenko's residences.

- Your hunger strike. Was it an emotional step? And what did you want to achieve by this?

- When I went on a hunger strike, it was the tenth day of Igor Bantser's dry hunger strike. I have great respect for him. This is the person who fights throughout his life, simply by his own methods. Plus, then Igor Losik and Dmitry Furmanov were starving, and it was all together. I understood that these people are so hard that they go to extreme measures.

It was also tough for me in this situation. But I could not go to Belarus and stand next to them, so I went on a hunger strike to support them, at least in this way. It was an emotional step.

- An unexpected (for me) fact. You were in the fan movement. How did you end up in it?

- After the orphanage, I came to Minsk and entered the railway college. I was 15 years old. And then I got to know football. It was 2009. Then there was such a wonderful team of MTZ-RIPO.

- Why did you start rooting for her?

- I am the kind of person who always goes against the system. Then all football clubs were considered fascists. I went where against all this. I was for peace, for love, for brotherhood. Therefore - "antifa." And therefore - MTZ-RIPO.

- Until what year were you a fan?

- I participated, and was sick, and went on trips until the club was disbanded. That is, when the funding was closed, the club slid down. We tried to support it ourselves, but we didn’t pull it.

- Did you break through the golden season? {attendance at all official team matches for the year}

- No, I was still studying and working at this time (laughs).

- Remember the coolest player of that time.

- (Laughs). Are you kidding me? It was important to me what was around.

- What was the most dangerous exit?

- Now I remember Vitebsk for some reason. There was a decisive match. We rented buses. When we arrived, we realized that we were unlikely to leave. Then the buses left, and we got there on our own. The players also helped us.

- And what happened?

- Good fans welcomed us.

- Who was the most important rivalry with?

- With Minsk "Dynamo." We shared one city. There was and is still FC "Minsk," but it is so quiet, calm.

You have to understand why the fan movement as such is disintegrating. Because even then, the state knew that any association of people is dangerous. And to get to the match, they filmed people on camera, took our passport data.


- What was your biggest disappointment in the last year?

- I was disappointed in some people who have forgotten about what is happening in Belarus.

- The biggest joy in the last year?

- I was thrilled when Stepan Latypov survived.

- Tikhanovsky or Tikhanovskaya?

- Tikhanovsky.

- Sevyarynets or Tikhanovsky?

- ... Sevyarynets.

 - Belarus or Lithuania?

- Belarus.

- MTZ-RIPO or "Partizan"?

- You can't ask that at all.

- Hotel or tent?

- Tent.

- Car or motorcycle?

- Motorcycle.

- Candy or fruit?

- Fruits.

- Facebook or VKontakte?

- Instagram.

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