Continued from page 2

“I have never participated in any kind of political activity, but Lukashenko [thinks] that free thought, in itself, is dangerous,” he added.

The university reopened in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius in 2005, where it has been educating young Belarusians ever since.

About two-thirds of its 1,800 students are studying through Internet courses in Belarus, and the rest attend classes on the campus in Vilnius.

“The university can educate a new generation, people who will look at Belarus as citizens of a European country rather than citizens of a Soviet country,” Ms. Kobzova said.

Dissidents say initiatives such as Belsat, ARU TV and the university provide hope for a post-Lukashenko future.

“So many of the best minds of Belarus — the young, active professionals — have left the country because they were pressured by the regime,” said Mr. Marozau.

“They are the most valuable resource for democratic forces in Belarus.”