#FreeAllWords: International Text and Translation Fund of the European Writers’ Council (EWC) gives a voice to authors from Belarus and Ukraine

Brussels, 15 Sptember 2022

#FreeAllWords: International Text and Translation Fund of the European Writers’ Council


  • Media campaign launched in Europe
  • Translators from 16 countries translate over 20 texts into European and International languages
  • Presentation and discussion “Language as Identity?” at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The international support project for Belarusian and Ukrainian authors, #FreeAllWords (www.freeallwords.org) of the European Writers’ Council (EWC) has been met with a great response. The donation-based text and translation fund sees itself as a collegial initiative for Belarusian and Ukrainian authors, and contributes with text and translation fees to immediate help for persecuted and threatened voices.

In the meantime, translators from Australia, Belarus, Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom, Hungary, Finland, France, Lithuania, Romania, Spain and Sweden have confirmed their cooperation with the initiative. In addition, talks are underway with translators from Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland and the Slovak Republic as well as the European Federation of Literary Translators’ Organisations, CEATL. From now on, more than 20 different short works by persecuted Belarusian and war-threatened Ukrainian authors can be translated into German, Danish, English, Lithuanian, Finnish, French, Macedonian, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish. An international selection board has been formed for the screening and recommendation. Its members include the Lithuanian translator Vytautas Dekšnys, the Ukrainian poet and publisher Natalia Trokhim and the Belarusian writer Barys Piatrovič.

“In particular, the attacks on the Belarusian and Ukrainian languages are increasing – bans on writing, printing and speaking are enforced with violence and arrests. Libraries are being “cleansed”, books in Belarusian and Ukrainian destroyed, publishers and bookshops in Belarus critical of the regime are banned from printing or selling, and Belarusian authors are being branded as “extremist” by the illegitimate Lukashenka regime. This is one of the reasons why we have made it our task to make the voices of our colleagues heard – #FreeAllWords publishes their works both in their original language and in as many translations as possible”, says Nina George, writer and President of the European Writers’ Council (EWC). 


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Media campaign and book fair panel 

For the European launch, #FreeAllWords has initiated a broad media campaign and is seeking support from translators as well as foundations, funding programmes and non-profit organisations. From September onwards, persecuted and threatened authors will be presented on the project’s social media channels. The initiative’s YouTube channel (#FreeAllWords – YouTube) was launched at the beginning of September. In the coming weeks, it will present the participating authors, who will provide information about their experiences with war and persecution, but also about their literary works, in brief video interviews.
In October 2022, #FreeAllWords is represented at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

#FreeAllWords is pleased to have the support of the following translators: 

Lotte Jansen, Harald Hartvig Jepsen and Trine Søndergaard from Denmark; Hanna Komar, Jim Dingley and John Farndon from United Kingdom; Will Firth from Australia; Vytautas Dekšnys from Lithuania; Arja Pikkupeura and Tatyana Pichulina from Finland; Christine Bilore from France; Christine Hengevoss and Lydia Nagel from Germany; Elena Drăgușin-Richard and Diana Danaila from Romania; Ruiz Ángela Espinosa from Spain; Ingrid Kalin from Sweden.

Detailed information is available at: freeallwords.org

About #FreeAllWords 

The #FreeAllWords text and translation fund is a joint support project for Belarusian and Ukrainian writers of all genres and is organised under the umbrella of the European Writers’ Council (EWC). #FreeAllWords was initiated by the authors’ associations A*dS (Authors of Switzerland), Forfatterforbundet (Norway), and the International Community of Belarusian Writers.

Website: www.freeallwords.org

Media information

#FreeAllWords WebsiteThe international initiative #FreeAllWords (www.freeallwords.org) was set up by the European Writers’ Council (EWC) with the aim to fund translations of short, topical texts by censored or forcibly silenced authors from Belarus and Ukraine into as many languages as possible, as well as to provide quick and tangible support to authors through text fees – to actively help disseminate their works and voices.

The initiators find it extremely important to make the voices of persecuted and war-affected authors of all the genres heard – in Europe and around the world.

The situation for Belarusian media and cultural professionals is life-threatening. The Lukashenko regime is becoming increasingly brutal in its crackdown on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. “Reporters without borders” found that last June alone, five independent media workers were put on trial. According to a report by the Belarusian PEN Centre, in 2021 more than 500 media professionals and 1,200 cultural professionals – writers, translators, musicians and actors – were arrested, a lot of them are still jailed.

Different and very terrifying, is Russia’s war against Ukraine and the daily terror faced by writers in Ukraine. They are fighting on the front lines, supporting refugees and the army, staying in contested areas as chroniclers or are forced to flee to European countries.

“We want to build a bridge of free expression, democracy and understanding between writers, cultures, nations, and languages. Our colleagues don’t need Open Letters now, they need print lines, broadcast minutes and online formats to tell their stories and report from their point of view. We are organising this tangible help”, explains Nina George, novelist and President of the European Writers’ Council (EWC).


Within the framework of #FreeAllWords, short, current, existing as well as new texts, interviews, reports, essays, poems, and other literary forms will be translated into European and other international languages and disseminated through a wide variety of communication channels – digital, print, blogs, media, etc.

The first texts and translations by 30 authors from Belarus, Ukraine are to be published in up to 31 countries in the coming months. The goal is at least one million published words for peace and freedom of expression, for understanding between cultures and nations, and as a central contribution to the persuasive efforts for a free, democratic, peaceful, and inclusive society.

Writers’ associations in the European book sector and literary institutions are welcome to request texts and introduce authors to the public. European press and media are also welcomed to publish texts and translations. Literary translators from Ukraine and Belarus are welcome to register. The website www.freeallwords.org contains a detailed summary of the most important questions and answers about the programme so far, as well as a portrait of the participants and their work.


After the successful #FreeAllWords fundraising campaign, the first three authors can now be supported by the programme.

The first translations into Spanish and English are already available.

Kaciaryna Andrejeva (Bachváłava) is a Belarusian journalist; in 2020 she was recognised as a political prisoner. She began her work as a journalist in 2014. From 2015 to 2017, she worked for the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty, and since 2017 as a correspondent for the Belarusian-speaking independent television channel “Belsat”. Her articles have been published by Ukrainian, Russian and other foreign media. She faces 15 years in prison for “treason”. Her poem reached us from prison and was translated by 2020 Freedom of Speech laureate Hanna Komar (Belarus) and poet John Farndon (Great Britain).

Hanna Komar is an award–winning poet and translator, who was born in Baranavichy in 1989 and lives in Minsk.

John Farndon is a British writer of books, plays and music. He is best known as a writer of, and contributor to, science books for children.

Ángela Espinosa Ruiz is a Spanish translator, Belarusian language poet, and researcher.

Barys Piatrovič is a Belarusian writer and novelist. His works have been translated into German, English, French, Czech, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and other languages.

He is the founder of the independent literary magazine “Dziejasłoŭ”, which offers democratically oriented Belarusian authors a way to reach their audience under the strict conditions imposed by the authoritarian regime in Belarus. In 2011, he was elected chairman of the Union of Belarusian Writers, which was forcibly dissolved by the government in 2021.

Svetlana Lavochkina is a novelist, poet, and translator. She emigrated from Ukraine to Germany in 1999 and now lives with her family in Leipzig. Her works have been published in the USA, Europe, and Australia. Her novella “Dam Duchess” was selected as the runner up for the Paris Prize for Literature. Her debut novel “Zap” was shortlisted for the Tibor and Jones Pageturner Prize in London.

About #FreeAllWords and the European Writers’ Council

The #FreeAllWords programme was set up by European Writers’ Council – the umbrella organisation of 46 member organisations from 30 countries in cooperation with the parenting organisation of literary translation associations CEATL as a response to the initiative of the authors’ associations A*dS (Authors of Switzerland), Forfatterforbundet (Society of Authors, Norway), and the Community of Belarusian Writers (Belarus).

The authors’ and translators’ fees are paid from the #FreeAllWords fund. Participating foundations are: Fritt Ord, Kopinor (both from Norway), Landis&Gyr, Karl and Sophie Binding Stiftung (both from Switzerland). Interested foundations are welcome to inquire about a support opportunity.


#Freeallwords Project Management

  • Alena Makouskaya, Project Manager, Member of the EWC Board (English, Belarusian, Russian): contact@freeallwords.org
  • Aliaksandra Dvaretskaya, project assistance, enquiries from authors and translators (English, Belarusian, Russian), contact@freeallwords.org

Contact for media

  • Susanne Tenzler–Heusler, press and media officer, events, and book section, +49 173 378 6601, media@freeallwords.org