I was saddened to receive the following message a few days ago from Belarus’s Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs:

Dear friends,

The Assembly’s friend and colleague Vitali Silitski, Academic Director of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, needs our help.

In July 2010 Vitali was diagnosed with cancer of the right kidney. Doctors decided to remove the affected organ. The operation was successful and the analysis conducted 3 months after the surgery confirmed this. However, in January 2011 the disease returned with multiple metastases in the lungs and abdomen.

Please see how you can help us, here.

Now I know all of us have received, via email, requests for money for one scam or another. Let me, however, assure you that Vitali is a very real person and his ailment a very serious one. While I’ve only met Vitali once in person, he wrote, several years back, some of TOL’s most insightful analysis ever on Belarus and some of the larger issues facing the post-communist region, before other jobs, especially his present one, started taking up too much time to allow him to contribute regularly. We recently chatted, via Skype, back in December when I was trying to recruit him to write something for our special Belarus report. He filled me in on his latest medical situation, which seemed upbeat, though he had some tests coming up. So it’s depressing to now see this news.

If you follow that link above, and I hope you do, you will see a plea for contributions to help out with Vitali’s treatment.

We at TOL wish him the best of luck in this new battle.

Jeremy Druker

Jeremy Druker is the executive director and editor in chief of Transitions Online. Twitter: @JeremyDruker Email: jeremy.druker@tol.org

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