Katerina Barushka, 27, is a journalist dedicated to bringing attention to complex issues in Belarus and the surrounding region that might otherwise go unnoticed in the West. As a reporter for Transitions Online, Eurozine and New Eastern Europe, she has covered the relationship between Belarus and China, Belarus’ parliamentary elections, refugees, and even a Swedish organization’s airdropping of teddy bears holding human rights messages into Belarus.
“I believe that only through a shift in values can we ensure that the democratic transformation of Belarusian society is stable and irreversible,” she said. “One of the ways to achieve this change is to constantly remind Belarusians of the need to think on their own, of the interdependability of events and the consequences of actions. And one of the best ways to do this is through thoughtful, insightful journalism.”
Barushka was one of the first Belarusians to spend a year at a U.S. high school through the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program, where she said she was able to see “what a free, active and responsible society looks like.”
During college she wrote for Student Thought, Belarus’ only independent student magazine (and a past NED partner). Her pro-democracy support in Belarus was expanded through her work with the OSCE and East European Democratic Center, another NED partner.
“In times of despair, when nothing was working out and I wanted to give up, the feeling that there is someone across the ocean who believes in me and supports me…it keeps me going.”
“Youth starting out in Belarus are confronted by a closed, hierarchical society, where only one’s connections count,” she said. “The YIC gives anyone willing to be active an opportunity to develop.”
Above all, she believes that a shift in values is important to ensuring democratic transformation in her country. While she faces many obstacles, she is thankful for the support that she has received from the community.
“In times of despair, when nothing was working out and I wanted to give up, the feeling that there is someone across the ocean who believes in me and supports me,” she said speaking about her relationship with NED. “It keeps me going.”