Kastus' Kalinouski
(February 2, 1838 - March 22, 1864)

A publisher of the clandestine newspaper "Peasant's Truth" and leader of the 1863-64 uprising in Belarus. The conditions of life for Belarusians, Lithuanians and Poles in Russian Empire becomes so bad after 70 years of occupation that during 1861 in Belarus alone, 379 peasant protests were recorded; of these, 125 were quelled by police and military force. The atmosphere was ripe for an uprising.  In Belarus, preparations for this outcome commenced in July 1862, when the first issue of the clandestine newspaper Muzhyckaja Prauda (Peasants' truth) appeared.  Behind the publication stood a group of young radicals, of whom Kastus Kalinouski (1838-1864) was the most prominent.  Principal contributor to the publication (seven issues of which were printed), Kalinouski became the leader of the uprising in Belarus when it broke out two months after the Polish insurrection began in January 1863. The uprising lasted until the late summer of 1863. Severe battles were fought throughout Belarus.  But the insurgents were no match for the 120,000-strong Russian elite troops, with whom nearly 260 encounters were fought. Russians won in the majority of cases. The uprising of 1863 provoked harsh punishment of its participants and sympathizers. Russian Governor-General Muraviyov well deserved the nicknames of "hangman" and "russifier".  According to tsarist official sources for Belarus and Lithuania, 128 people were executed and more than 12,000 exiled to Siberia. An ideological by-product of these events was the birth of Belarusian nationalism, of which Kastus Kalinouski is considered to be the founding father.  In his prison cell in Vilna, before being hanged on March 22, 1864, Kalinouski wrote an impassioned plea to his people:  I say to you from beneath the gallows, my People, that only - then will you live happily, when no Muscovite remains over you. 

Links to Kastus' Kalinouski:

Kastus' Kalinouski page at ABM
Bielaruski Knihazbor book series: Kastus' Kalinouski "For Our Freedom"
On-Line Library "Knihi": Belarusian Uprising Publications of Kalinouski Times
Muzhyckaia Pravda

Other Relevant Pages of the Virtual Guide to Belarus

Belarusian Castles and Knighthood
Historic Belarusian Battles
Belarusian Statehood 
History of Belarus

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