Liza Vetrava and Nikita Bialevich are bloggers, presenters of the YouTube show "Be Belarus" from the "Godna" public initiative.
The idea of the show came from
, who is now behind bars.
"Pasha drew us there.
We were not supposed to be the presenters of this project, we just planned to go with another presenter and record our TikToks in parallel.
But when we gathered together on a common planer, it became clear that it would be more interesting if there were several presenters.
That's how we started at Godna," blogger Liza Vetrava tells.
Nikita Bialevich started his activity at "Godna" with the project "Electrotrip" - traveling by train for one day.
After leading TikTok "Decent Music", at the same time came an offer to take part in "Bus Belarus".
A lot of interesting and even scary things happened to Liza during her travels to Nikita, bloggers say.
“We shot in Drui, I actually really liked it there, but the place where we spent the night... It was a monastery, real cells.
When we arrived there, they told us: "Yesterday there was a storm.
The lightning struck right into the monastery, so there is no electricity or hot water."
I thought: this is already some kind of bell.
Then they put me in a room: white walls, a bed and a canvas with Jesus on the whole wall.
And the worst thing: one of the team members decided to touch the canvas and realized that Jesus was hiding something.
And behind this picture there was a hole in the wall that led to the next room, where there were abandoned beds, a kind of Christmas tree.
For me, it was a standard horror movie," recalls Lisa.
Nikita has other memories of the same monastery.
"We were the only ones who lived there.
Local women came to us to cook dinner and breakfast.
And when we just came from the road, there was a huge table, like in the "Last Supper", we sat down with the whole team under the cross, and there we had snacks, salads, everything was great.
And I'm vegan, and they couldn't think of anything better than making me a huge plate of buckwheat and cucumber.
But at least they came up with something, so thanks to the nice ladies.
Druja is a cool place."
Another memorable place in the travels in Belarus was the Dragon's cave, say Nikita and Liza.
"I was impressed by the place itself, because the surrounding forest, lakes, the path itself was very beautiful.
Although I didn't climb into the cave itself, because I'm afraid when the space is closed," says Lisa.
“There were a lot of spiders.
At first I thought it was some hair in the cave, then I realized it was moving.
And it's scary that you have nowhere to run, because you came home to the spiders," adds Nikita.
"Dignified managed to survive all this trash"
In the first season of the show "Bus Belarus" as many as 12 episodes were released.
Even in 2021, the team continued to shoot, despite the height of repression in Belarus.
"This is some naive Belarusian stupidity, because I felt real danger only after Nikita was detained.
When he was free, he told me a little about how his days were going, and then I thought: I should go," says Lisa.
Belarusian bloggers Liza Vetrava, Nikita Byalevich and Nikita Naydzonov.
The boy was detained last year on March 17 and sentenced to 15 days.
"Really, this is some kind of stupidity: you hope that you will get carried away, and even if it doesn't, as if it's not so terrible, you try not to think about it.
But when I got into prison, I thought: if I'm lucky and these 15 days are over, then I'm not ready to risk it again, I don't want to be here for ten years.
Then, as it turned out, they [the security forces.
— RS] "woke up" a little later, sometime in May or at the beginning of summer, they started to "swell" the case, summonses to the court came."
Nikita says that he was lucky, because later they also started coming for tiktokers.
During filming in Belarus, police officers approached the presenters and asked for their details.
"Of course, we tried not to rush, we agreed not to shoot more.
Somehow I went with Pasha Belavus and the cameraman to film about the school where Larisa Geniyus studied.
And so two policemen followed us at a distance of 20 meters, and then came up and copied our data.
It was scary," says Lisa.
The blogger notes that, despite all the difficulties, the Godna team did not fall apart and continues to develop even after moving abroad.
"We really went through a lot.
When the war started, I was in Ukraine - it was also stressful for the team and for me.
Then Nikita was arrested, then we moved, and we all ended up abroad, not knowing what to do and how.
But I think we are well done for continuing the project and not abandoning it."
Nikita adds that through the difficulties experienced, the level of the show and the personal skills of the presenters have grown significantly.
"Hodn" managed to survive all this trash: the leader was arrested, the war started, then a day later, a move, someone in Poland, someone in Vilnius.
But if I look at the same "Bus", how the second season differs from the first, I see how Lisa and I have grown in personal skills, how the entire production has risen in general."
"We all lack the feeling of home to start banging with all our might"
Belarus exists abroad as a community of people, Liza is sure.
But she complains that she cannot feel at home in Lithuania.
"Belarus abroad is different from the Belarus that exists inside the country.
Here you feel differently, you feel like a person, you are not afraid to go out.
I am no longer triggered when I see the police here, I am not so frightened by some mass events.
But on the other hand, I feel an even greater responsibility here, because I understand that people inside Belarus cannot work as actively for the new Belarus as we can here.
That's why we have to work twice or three times more in order to return to our homeland as soon as possible and be there together," Lisa says.
Nikita is convinced that Belarusians are capable of doing great things abroad.
"I don't know if Belarus exists outside Belarus.
I know that Belarusians and Belarusians definitely exist - and this is a very great force capable of many wonderful things.
Maybe we all lack some sense of home here to start banging with all our might."
"Hate comments in my direction sound the same as the security forces insulted me on Akrestin"
People write a lot of words of support to the presenters of "Bus Belarus", bloggers say.
Viewers also notice how the quality of the show has improved.
But there are also haters.
"I have a folder in my phone with hate comments.
I started to box them when we were still traveling with "Electrotrip".
My favorite comment from a woman: "It would have been normal to talk about the city, and not to fly like a clown."
I think: well, it's cool, I fly like a clown, - laughs Nikita.
- But as for Busya, I was hated there for my appearance: dyed hair, piercings, tattoos.
Here's an interesting pattern: hate comments directed at me sound the same as I was insulted by the security forces against Akrestin."
Lisa adds that not so much hate comments are left under "Bus Belarus", but various remarks and criticisms, which the team fully accepts and understands.
"I speak Belarusian - it's stylish, fashionable, and it's a sign of quality"
Belarusian YouTube currently lacks content that does not focus on the Belarusian language and history, believes Nikita Bialevich.
"There is a lack of any content: high-quality and not very good, author's, from the company, organization, comedy, beauty, game content.
It's like a joke that Belarusian literature is about war and the village, something similar can be said about Belarusian YouTube: it's about language and history.
And there is nothing wrong with content about language and history, I myself love it and am involved in such content.
But if there is only such content, then there is a feeling that it is not possible to talk about anything in the Belarusian language, which is not the case," says Nikita.
Lisa believes that Belarusian YouTube lacks freedom now, because people inside the country are afraid to do something, and this slows down development.
"Indeed, there is such a loop: when you are in Belarus, you are afraid to make content in the Belarusian language, because then you look like a fighter, a terrorist.
And when you're abroad, you start to take responsibility for the fact that you have to talk about important things, not just "how I spent today", "what highlighter I use", but about something thorough.
People in Belarus lack regular content about life in the Belarusian language, there is a great lack of fresh faces," adds Nikita.
The blogger is convinced that in order to get out of the Russian information context and influence, the Belarusian language should be popularized.
"If we don't say that the Belarusian language is oppressed, unhappy, but on the contrary, we will broadcast the thought: look, I speak Belarusian, it's stylish, fashionable, youthful, I can do it, and this is a sign of quality."
"There were two of us, we didn't know anything, but we had a phone and a desire to do something"
Nikita and Lisa advise everyone: start doing your own thing, even if you are afraid.
"I understand that it's difficult, as if: "I have an idea, but I need a team, light, a camera, a day, a week, for a full moon, for it to be in April, for my name to be Lesha".
But actually the main thing is to start doing something.
Everyone has a phone, a friend with a phone, mom, dad, at least something," says Nikita.
And if YouTube requires a higher quality of content, then you can start your project in Tiktok with just one phone, the blogger explains.
"It is best to adapt a creative idea to technical possibilities.
It's great that you have an idea to shoot a mini-series with 15 cameras and 16 people, but leave it for now, do the simplest version of what you came up with.
Let it be a sketch where you play all the people yourself: a woman with a towel on her head, a man with a beard drawn with a marker.
And it doesn't matter if it will be 15 or 50 views at first, because if you continue to do your thing, then success is already in your pocket."
Lisa adds that she also started her journey with a not very good phone, not even having a lamp for shooting.
"You will learn about a new environment, someone will tell you something, advise you, and that's all - you will join a community where there will be people like you.
Then you can shoot something together.
Here you are already entering a new level of shooting.
It's all a gradual process, and to start it, you need to push it."
“Find people who are doing something similar and do it together.
There may be three of you, you may not know anything, but you will learn and do something three times faster.
My first blogging project was a shakedown podcast recorded on an iPhone 7 sitting on a pillow on my desk.
There were two of us, we didn't know anything, but we had a phone and a desire to do something.
It was the beginning that allowed me to come here," adds Nikita.