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Andrey was working at a bar in downtown Minsk when he stumbled into the dangerous world of politics in a country where protest comes with a prison sentence, or worse.

At OK16, a former factory hall turned culture hub in the Belarusian capital, Andrey would often see Viktor Babariko, the chief executive of a bank that owned the venue, in line for a coffee and a chat. When he unexpectedly announced his bid to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in August’s election, Andrey thought: Why not join Babariko’s campaign?

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