Anna Zlatkovskaya is a Belarusian writer. Like for many other people from Belarus, her life is divided into the before and after the 2020 presidential elections.

Her first book, It’s Scary to Live, Mom, made her famous among Russian-speaking readers. Anna has recently published her second book, Butterfly Hunt, which she presented in Vilnius’ Užupis.

The writer is already working on her third book. But unlike the first two, it will not be published in Belarus.

“They simply will not allow it,” Anna said. “I will [reach out to] Lithuanian publishers.”

She has always been vocal about the Belarusian regime. She once published a column that almost brought her to court.

“[The Belarusian authorities] sent me a letter that they wanted to sue me,” Anna said. “They calmed down after some time. Thank God, because if there was a trial, they would have won – this is how the judicial system works in our country.”

Currently, the woman works at Malanka Media – an independent Belarusian YouTube channel. After the 2020 presidential election, she actively participated in the pro-democracy protests and used her journalistic resources to call on other people to come out to the streets and fight for their civil rights.

“I went to all the marches. […] I also campaigned for people to come out and not to be afraid,” Anna said. “Then, someone from the police called me and told me to come and talk about my participation in the protests. I realised that this was not good.”

“The next day, a friend with acquaintances in the government called me and said that the investigative committee was interested in me. In 12 hours, I packed my suitcase, took my child, asked for a humanitarian corridor to Lithuania, and fled. I was very scared. I was afraid that they might not let me out,” she recalled.

Her husband Cyril joined the family in Lithuania a couple of months later.

According to Anna, protests in Belarus provided hope, at least for a short moment in time, that change was coming.

“There were a lot of us. This was such a huge element. Many politicians admitted that even they did not expect that the protests would be so massive, that people would be so in solidarity with each other,” the woman said.

But looking back, Anna admits that the Belarusian people might have given up too soon.

“I believe that we should have stayed on the streets and repeated the scenario of the Ukrainian Maidan,” she said. “There were so many people. People were everywhere. There were no law enforcers at all. They were scared. This is when we had to stay.”