The white-red-white flag artist was reported to the police. She was forced to go underground.

The artist was saving herself from panic attacks by drawing yard flags. Now she is saving herself from the pursuit.

Voices from Belarus
7 min readDec 5, 2020

Tatiana Gorelchik was forced to go underground. During protests, people walk with flags created by her. She pictured both Alexander Taraykovski with a hole in his heart and Roman Bondarenko going towards his death. But recently the NYC citizen reported her to the police and addressed Lukashenko saying Tatsiana is an “organizer” of street protests.

Starting from November 16th, Tatiana doesn’t live at her place, she has switched off her phone and uses an encrypted channel for the Internet connection. She received threat messages on Facebook, police visited her mother-in-law and her friend was visited by the officers from the Moskovsky District police department. Tatiana is afraid of criminal prosecution, therefore, as she says, she has to hide in the forest.

“I consider this as a threat to my life and persecution for my political views,” the artist says. contacted Tatyana Gorelchik to ask how they are trying to make a “puppeteer” out of her and what she actually does when drawing her flags.

“Puppeteer” from the forest

This is what people say about our Tatyana: “Tatyana draws flags for all city areas and initiatives, she decorates us and our areas day and night! She has already made history! She has already done so much for us!”

“But then one careless acquaintance happened on Facebook and now I have to escape in the forest,”says Tatiana.

The reports on Tatyana were sent to the police and 3 other authorities. “They say I organize protests, take part in those, draw flags, call out the people. In short, it’s enough for a criminal case.”

Tatiana’s prosecutor, the “careless acquaintance” mentioned above, is a Belarusian, originally from Bobruisk, now living in New York City. tried to contact her but received no response.

According to Gorelchik, “The immigrant started with curve words addressed to me and my family. Then it turned into curse language towards people walking under white-red-white flags, and after it turned into threats of reprisals against me and another girl. As a result, we found out about the reports on us from the four instances.”

“As a person who really goes to protests and draws flags, it hurt me to get outed so silly for nothing. It is really tough for me not to be in Minsk, I had to escape and wait. It is really exhausting. But, on another hand, I received so much kindness and warmth, that it’s beyond words,” says Tatyana.

Do not believe, do not get scared…

Right now Tatyana is in a safe place, waiting for what’s going to happen next. One of the four instances has already been resolved.

“Police were looking for me at my mother-in-law’s place. The officer said they would not open a criminal case, but he is not the one to decide. He said we would be watched and I shouldn’t be scared to come back home. To be honest, these words scared me the most,” Tatiana does not believe that the government will forgive her for drawing white-red-white flags. They are hunting for those.

“I was ready to be detained during protests or to be detained for my drawings … But I was not ready to be stabbed in the back by the person who initially was a white-red-white flag fan. I have drawn a personal flag for that lady… ” says Gorelchik.

Painting as a rescue from panic attacks

Tatyana had been running a perfume business together with her husband for seven years. The government took the couple’s business away and they moved to Moscow.

“Moscow is emotionally draining. You spend up to six hours in traffic every day…And you also miss your friends and family. So, we decided to return to Minsk. And here the COVID epidemic started,” says the artist.

“Due to the government ignoring the real scale of the epidemic, due to the fear, I started having panic attacks. Our friend works in a hospital. He keeps a list of people dying from the pandemic and in a week the names from this list disappear…This is horrible! A panic attack is like having very strong tachycardia, you cannot control your body — you are feeling terrible panic. And when I draw I calm down and get distracted,” the hero shares her impressions.

After the presidential elections in Belarus, Tatyana Gorelchik had a serious relapse. She healed with the help of drugs which had a significant side effect.

“I was looking for another therapy option. In addition, I had a strong desire to express myself by picturing the things happening after the elections. And drawing flags gives me all of this,” Tatiana reveals her inner motivation.

“My husband and I tried to go to all protests: you go for a couple of days with everyone, you run away from unknown people. There are detentions, beatings. After that, you simply lay in bed for two days and cannot move, you drink sedatives, thinking that everything was in vain. There is a lot of demotivating scary news. My husband supports me: “Nothing was in vain! Let’s pull ourselves together!” “I, just like everyone else, need hope. This is why I draw,” Tatyana says.

“What am I doing this for?”

Tatyana has 54 flag artworks created and many other drawings filled with love towards Belarus. Orders come from all over the country, as well as from the diaspora — Poland, Austria, Israel, Ireland …

The artist created her very first flag on September 12th, she was working for 13 hours straight.

“I saw “Cascade” district uniting, I saw “Grushevka” district getting their own flag. So I wanted to unite my district too. I have drawn a flag for the “Kamennaya Gorka” district and posted it on Facebook. And people messaged me asking if it is possible to create a flag for the “Chizhovka” district? Then other districts expressed their interest,” Tatyana recalls.

The artist says that there is nothing negative, deadly, or calling for violence that can be associated with the red-white-red flag. “It is kind, positive, and clean.”

“My only work that makes people cry is the flag with Taraikovsky. A man with his heart shot… Many people texted me and said I made them cry,” says the author.


We are creating a neural network

Why do the old regime followers see a threat in harmless pictures and white-red-white symbols? What power does the flag have that the flag’s artist had to be reported to Lukashenko? Tatyana Gorelchik answers these questions.

“Now we live during times when local flag symbolizes us, our area. We started being proud of the place we live in. It’s all about the fact that you were born here, you are a Belarusian and this is your home. And the flag is an expression of our national values. Everyone needs a flag: both common and individual at the same time.”


“The nation’s unity is happening now. It never happened before, and this is the coolest thing. We finally started to communicate with our neighbors, we started to know each other. We go outside and not just say “hello”. We can ask “how are you?” and get some kind of meaningful answer, not just “I’m fine”. We see now that we are able to communicate without alcohol, we can arrange yard concerts and lectures.”

Every person is unique and interesting in their own way. You see them all and fall in love. People are becoming a true nation with a collective mind. We are building our own neural network. We are like skin cells. We are together and pass on to each other information, ideas. We just started breathing. We are not faceless anymore.

If there is heaven on earth, then it is in the Belarusians, in people themselves. It is said that exaltation occurs through suffering. We have suffered so much, we have exalted so high, we are this elevation itself.”



Voices from Belarus

Stories of people hoping for a democratic Belarus. Created, translated and moderated by a collective of independent authors.