“I couldn’t even withdraw the money.” Belarusian journalists’ bank accounts still blocked in Ukraine

28.04.2023 Story: Эканамічныя ўмовы

Owning a bank account in Ukraine as a Belarusian journalist is still problematic. After the war started, they were frozen, and attempts to withdraw cash were mostly unsuccessful, said journalist Ales Minau, who has been living in Kyiv since late 2021.

“My card was blocked again in the middle of March 2023,” shares the journalist. “I visited a bank office to inquire about cash withdrawal. They said there was no such option. The only way was to provide another bank account’s details for a transfer. However, none of the Belarusians I know have an account.”

Even an attempt to contact the support service, according to the correspondent, did not bring any results: the bank has blocked calls from Belarusian clients since the accounts were associated with the phone numbers.

“I know that the deputies of the ‘For a Free Belarus’ faction have been contacted, but so far there has been no reaction from them,” Ales Minau added. “I have also sent a petition to the Security Service of Ukraine, explaining why I consider the measure unfounded. I have been told that the letter has been accepted. The answer should come in two weeks, but I don’t have much hope.

Now the journalist cooperates with several editions in the European Union and says that the only solution to receive money is bringing it in cash from abroad. However, this is not an easy task, given the obstacles for getting in and out of Ukraine.

Some Belarusians ask their Ukrainian friends to open an account in their name, but this is not secure and involves extra problems with Internet banking.

Recall that Belarusians’ bank accounts in Ukraine were first blocked immediately after a massive invasion by Russian troops in February-March 2022.

However, thanks to the intervention of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the accounts of some Belarusian journalists were unblocked. A year later, however, the problem arose again. In March-April 2023, Belarusian journalists once again faced the inability to use bank applications and make transfers. The problem has not been solved to date.

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