Belarusian Statehood and Laws
VI-VIII cc. Pre-Statehood
o 6th-7th centuries: Penetration of Slavs into the territory of future Belarus, already settled by Baltic tribes.
o 8th-9th centuries: Massive settlements of East Slavic tribes (Kryvichans, Drehovichans, and Radsimichans) on the territory of Belarus and their assimilation of Balts (see the story of Yatviahs).
IX-XII cc. Early Belarusian
Principalities.- Polacak, Turau
o 862: First mention of Polacak - a capital of Polacak Principality - Belarusian historical and spiritual beginning.
o 980: First mention of the city Turau - a capital of the powerful Turau principality.
o 1044-1066: Erection in Polacak of St. Sophia Cathedral to match similar buildings in Novgorod and Kiev, as a symbol of independent power
XIII-XVI cc. Grand Duchy of
Lithuania, Samojitia and and Rus' - Belarusian Renaissance
o 1240-1263: Rule of Mindouh (Mindaugas), who consolidates east Lithuanian and west Belarusian territories into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with a capital in Navahradak 13th-16th centuries. Belarusian lands flourish in the heart of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Samojitia and and Rus'.
o 1529, 1566,1588 - Three editions of Statute - the Belarusian State Law Code - were published among first European constitutions and Law Codes.
o 1581: Establishment of the Tribunal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Samojitia and and Rus' - the Supreme State Court.
1569 - 1772. Commonwealth of Poland. and
o 1569: A forced by Russian pressure from the East political union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus' and Samogitia with Poland establishes the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania - Rzhecz Pospilita Polsko-Litewska.
o 1654-1667: War of the Commonwealth with Russia; loss of Smalensk to Muscovy. Close to half of Belarusians perish defending their lands from Russian-Ukrainian invasion.
1772 - 1917. Part of Russian Empire.
Kosciuszko and Kalinouski Uprisings.
o 1772, 1793, 1795: Three partitions of the Polish Commonwealth among Russia, Prussia, and Austria. All of Belarus is incorporated into the Russian Empire, with the exception of a small northwestern corner, taken by Prussia. 1776: Most Belarusian cities and towns are deprived of their Magdeburg
Statutes of self-government. 1789: Onset of French Revolution. American Constitution adopted.
o 1794: Anti-Russian uprising led by Tadevush Kasciushka (Thaddeus Kosciusko).
o 1863-1864: Massive anti-tsarist uprising in Poland, Belarus, and Lithuania led in Belarus by Kastus Kalinouski
1918-1920 Belarusan Democratic Republic
o 1917: In March, the Russian Revolution causes Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate. In November, Lenin's Bolsheviks seize power. In December, the First All-Belarusan Congress in Minsk proclaims a republican government in Belarus and is disbanded by Bolsheviks
o 1918: On March 9, the Executive Committee of the Council of the First All-Belarusian Congress
declares a Belarusan Democratic Republic.
1920-1939. Byelorussian SSR. Partition of Belarus Between the USSR and Poland
o 1919-1921: The Russo-Polish War results in the partitioning of Belarus between the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and Poland
o 1921-1939 - Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) is established with its capital in Minsk. The short renaissance of Belarusian culture in 1920-1928 is choked by Stalin's executions and mass deportations to Siberia of 1930-ies. Polish secret police is prosecuting Belarusian political organizations in Western Belarus occupied by Poles.
1939. Re-Union of Western and Eastern
o September 1939 - Poland is divided between Nazi Germany and USSR according to Ribbentrop-Molotov secrect pact
o September 17, 1939 - Red Army moves into Western Belarus and joins it with Eastern Belarus - Byelorussian Socialist Republic.
o October 10, 1939 - Moscow transfers Belarusian cultural capital Vilnia from Byelorussian SSR to Lithuanian SSR.
1941-1944. Nazi Government of Belarus.
o June 21, 1941 - July 13, 1944. Nazi occupation of Belarus. A collaborationist government is created as a result of the II All-Belarusian Congress.
1945-1991. Post WWII Byelorussian Soviet
o 1945: On April 25, delegates from Belarus and Ukraine are invited to the San Francisco Conference. Recognized for their role in the war effort, both countries become members of the United Nations
o 1944-1991. Post-WWII Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) is restored from ruins with the help of other Republics. BSSR grows into modern industrialized state.
1991-present. Republic of Belarus - a
o August 25, 1991. Belarus declares independence
o December 8, 1991 USSR seize to exist.
o 1991 - 94. A course on the return to belarusization is adopted by Belarusian Government headed by Stanislaû Shushkevich. The historical Belarusian national symbol of Pahonia and white-red-white flag are returned. Belarusian language is adopted as the state language.
1994-present. Lukashenka Regime
o 1994. Alexander Lukashenka takes place of Stanislau Shushkevich after headed by him governmental committee on corruption turns some questionable evidences about Shushkevich. The same year Alexander Lukashenka creates a position of President for himself. He selects a 7-year Presidency term. The political reaction begins. Newspapers and other mass-media are prosecuted. Political demonstrations are dispersed by police, many participants of demonstrations are detained, beaten and intimidated. Several major Belarusian political figures opposing the regime of Lukashenka disappear without any trace. President Lukashenka strongly pushes for the state union with Russia.
o May 14, 1995. Acknowledging his pro-USSR sentiments Lukashenka returned Belarus to BSSR derived symbol and flag
o November 27, 2000 - the Chairman of Belarusian KGB, General Prosecutor and the Chairman of Department of State are replaced as a result of Lukashenka power coupe. Today most of the cabinet of Lukashenka consists of ethnic Russians. Lukashenka's Policy on dissolution of Belarus in Russia is accelerating.
See more detailed Belarusian Historic Timeline in our History Page.
This is a full text of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus adopted on March 1, 1994. After 2 year in power Mr. Lukashenka has created a President post for himself in a new text of 1996 constitution by way of widely contested as rigged and un-democratic "National Referendum" of 1996. You can compare the texts of two constitutions here and see for yourself how much more power Mr. Lukashenka has carved for himself. In 2004 even this was too little for already mature Europe's Last Dictator and another "National Referendum" equally rigged and resulting in 5 days of protests and beatings of peaceful demonstrations, President Lukashenka has changed constitution to allow himself to be elected for more than two terms (which are to expire in July 2006).
Belarusian state anthem, symbol and flag
There is a confusion with the symbols since national referendum on May 14, 1995. By enormous majority (~77%) Belarusians readopted the old soviet flag of Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and its symbol. I can only explain this outrageous act by the fact that Belarusan nationalist movement is following too extreme course for the most of Belarusians. Belarusians don't like extremes at all. Unfortunately the historical significance of the "Pahonia" symbol and white-red-white flag as Belarusian national symbols is now strongly overweighed by their political meaning as the symbols of extremist political party of national opposition. It is because of this strong political association that these symbols were rejected by majority of Belarusians on May 14, 1995. One other circumstance is that both white-red-white flag and "Pahonia" symbols were used by the collaborationist government established in Belarus by nazi during WWII occupation (read also a different opinion on this) and by Belarusian Democratic Republic established in Belarus during the WWI German occupation. This resulted in the negative attitude towards our historical symbols. There is very little knowledge of our true history in Belarus and of the historical value of "Pahonia" and white-red-white flag. The history of Belarus studied by the books of officially allowed Russian or Polish historians was very distorted. All of these authors, surprisingly including even soviet historians, were trying to hide to certain degree the fact of existence of Belarusian culture, our rich historical heritage, Belarusian people as a nation and, of course, our national symbols. Thus very few Belarusians, even with University degrees, know the true history of Belarus and its symbols. A sad fact since Belarusian white-red-white flag and "Pahonia" symbol are historical witnesses of our beautiful époque of renaissance in XV-XVII centuries. Unfortunately, these symbols gave birth in our contemporary society not to ideals of humanism and renaissance but rather to national hatred and injustice.
National Anthem of Belarus
The anthem that was used before in a Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic sounds very ironic today when the national movement fights against the President's course on dissolution of Belarus in Russia - " We are Belarusians. We are searching our ways to happiness together with our brothers in Russia..." etc. The old soviet melody still remains a national anthem whereas the old words are rejected. The Janka Kupala poem "Young Belarus" was selected as the text of a new Belarusian national anthem whereas a melody is still not adopted. A complete melody of current Belarusian anthem in wav format is saved as a zipped file (~2Mb) here.
National Flag of Belarus
Correct me if I'm wrong but as for our national flag I've heard a following story: During one of the battles with German knights (Grunwald) a white bandage with a stripe of a blood stain across its center was used as a victorious banner. Since that time our flag is white-red-white. But this is a legend. Historically White-Red-white flag first appeared as the national flag of Belarus in Belarusan Democratic Republic (1918-1920.
The current official symbols of the Republic of Belarus enforced by Lukashenka Regime:
As a Belarusian, I confess, I don't like both of these new symbols. I do have certain friendly feelings towards the old soviet era symbols and the historic "Pahonia" symbol and white-red-white flag, but not these inventions of President Lukashenka. These new symbols are no joke. BBC News recently reported that Belarusian court convicted two youths for desecrating state symbols. It has sentenced two teenagers to up to eighteen months of hard labor after finding them guilty of hooliganism and insulting state symbols during sports competition.
Passport of the citizen of the Republic of Belarus
Belarusian passport is another symbol of Belarusian independence. Few of them have been issued. I personally still have ex-USSR passport with Belarusian "Pahonia" seal in it to symbolize that I am Belarusian citizen. In 1991-1994 Belarusian passports were issued with "Pahonia" symbol. They were later replaced by the passports with Soviet "cabbage". Lukashenka did not hesitated to spent our tax money to strip us of our national symbols everywhere.
Since Aliaksandr Lukashenka has became the President he has eliminated all characteristics of a constitutional state, from the national symbols to the Constitution and the popularly elected parliament. Existing rules and laws are ignored by the government and constantly violated, so we must say that there are no basic rules which could constitute the foundations of Belarusian law. Any law or rule can at any time be created, changed and violated by the chief, the only ruler Aliaksandr Lukashenka
History of Belarusian Law: Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were a great achievement of Belarusan Law. They were written during the 16th century and are among first European constitutions and Law codes. They have served later as an etalon to other European nations. The Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania are considered to be one of the main treasures (in addition to Lithuanian Metrics) of Belarusan, Lithuanian, and Polish culture.
Short comparison of some paragraphs from the Constitution of Republic of Belarus (1994) and the Constitution (1996) by President of Belarus A. Lukashenka
Belarusian Law page run by the U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library.
Current violations of legal system, observed in Belarus - numerous human rights violations, persecution of NGOs and opposition, state sponsored dissapearings/executions of political opponents are TBD. Recently, a Parliamentary group of Deputies "Republic" went on hunger strike demanding strengthening election laws. The head of the group General Fralou has expressed his outrage with wide spread legal and judicial violations in Belarus by state judges and prosecutors, serving Lukashenka regime's hasty justice.
Threats to Belarusian Statehood
Ever since the XVc. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus' and Samogitia (old Belarus) experienced attacks from Russia on its Eastern borders. First Smaliensk lands - the birthplace of the famous Belarusian dynasty of Sapiehi - were lost to Russian tsars. In 1654-57 the Eastern half of Belarus including our ancient capital - Polacak - was demolished by joint forces of Russians and Ukrainians. According to some sources 50% of Belarusian population has perished defending our state in this "brotherly" war. This is considered to be the bloodiest event of Belarusian history. In 1772 during the first partition of Poland entire Belarus has become part of the Russian Empire - The North-Western Province, as it was referred by Russian Imperial bureaucrats. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 Belarus has formed the Belarusan Democratic Republic (BDR) in 1918 - a democratic bourgeois state which has embraced the ideas of freedom, diversity and pluralism. The BDR has lasted only for one year. It was overturned by Bolsheviks and the Soviet Belarus was formed. After the Battle of Slucak the BDR government retreated to an exile and is currently located in the USA. During the years of the USSR the policy of russification was strictly implemented in Belarus. Only a period of 1920-1928 had a short Renaissance of the Belarusian national thought. Later on according to the communist theory entire population of the USSR was shaped into a new human entity - "Soviet men" - which had surprisingly Russian look and feel. In 1991 the document was signed by Belarus, Ukraine and Russia during the famous meeting in Belavezha about dissolution of the USSR by initiative of Belarusian prime-minister - Stanislau Shushkevich. A sovereign state of the Republic of Belarus was born. In the next three years Belarus has made many steps towards restoring its national identity. The historic national symbols of Belarus - "Pahonia" coat of arms and white-red-white flag were returned. The Belarusian Language was given a power of official language with a ten-year program of transition from Russian to Belarusian language in official documents. Thousands of publications exploring Belarusian national identity, culture and history have flooded the press. The school programs have been modified to teach our kids about the real history of Belarus. In 1994 after only 3 years of independence the export of Belarusian goods to the West exceeded the one to Russia and other former republics. Belarus was on its way to sovereignty. Nevertheless the 200 years under Russian domination with constant brainwashing, re-writing of our history, and, especially, the ethnic closeness of Belarusians to Russians, have made our path to independence difficult. Belarus was too indecisive or not enough nationalistic to join Baltic States in their escape from Russia.
In 1994 Aliaksandar Lukashenka, a little known chairman of agricultural farm, who was heading the parliament commission on corruption in government has accused prime-minister Shushkevich in minor thefts and misuse of his position (something about free apartment renovation). Soon Shushkievich was replaced by Lukashenka - a simple, sincere guy from the agricultural farm. Lukashenka has used the distrust of Belarusians to politicians in his campaign. In a short period of time Lukashenka has created a post of the President for himself with 7-year presidency turn. Very soon the rigid system of power that Lukashenka was building up resulted in human rights violations, persecution of press, disappearing of political opposition leaders, beatings of anti-Lukashenka demonstration participants. Lukashenka presidency has turned into a Regime. At early stages this regime was supported by majority of Belarusians. Unlike the soft liberal Shushkevich, Lukashenka had a clear nostalgia for the USSR. At all times he was conducting the policy of the union with Russia. Already by 1996 Belarus has turned its economics from the West to the East. Russia has become a #1 economic partner of Belarus again. While hesitant initially Russia has finally accepted the offer of Lukashenka regime. The initial doubts of Russians were that Belarus will pull their economy back. As Russia was finding itself in bigger and bigger isolation in Eastern Europe with Ukraine and Baltic States demanding huge taxes on the transit of Russian goods to Europe, the ever willing regime of Lukashenka was becoming more appealing to Russian government and business mafia. Eltsin was reluctant to deal with dictatorship of Lukashenka. So reluctant that according to some sources Lukashenka was financing Eltsin's opposition in Russia. On the other hand, Putin has accepted Lukashenka at once. Remarkably, Putin never spoke to Belarusians as a nation, he only communicated with Belarusian fürer - Lukashenka. On November 27, 2000 Lukashenka has replaced Belarusian chief of secret service, KGB and General Prosecutor. This feels like a move of Putin - an old KGB agent, who is used to conduct his policy through secret service operations. At this point a 5-year plan of the Unification of Belarus and Russia is adopted. It includes merging financial systems, military, having a common government, and all other attributes of the unitary state. Unless the majority of Belarusian folks will awake now and pour out into the streets to dismantle Lukashenka regime - we will never see our freedom.
June 2002 has brought some interesting developments. Putin has confronted openly Lukashenka's idea of Russia-Belarus Union as the union of two sovereign states. It's either union or sovereignty now. He suggested that Belarus would become the 90th object of Russian Federation and be entirely stripped of it's sovereignty. It is hard to say what is real motivation of Putin at this moment - perhaps dealings with Lukashenka Regime has started to affect an image of Kremlin as democratic government, or he might have been directly pressured to stop supporting the regime by Bush and EC. Whichever it is, undoubtedly the main current threat to Belarusian sovereignty is Russian Empire. Interestingly, throughout the centuries most of the prominent Belarusians saw Russia as the main threat to our "freedom in pursuit of happiness":
Meleci Smatrycki - Belarusian religious leader said in his work "Parenesis" in 1628:
"Moscow does not understand freedom"
Kastus' Kalinouski - leader of the 1863-64 uprising in Belarus, wrote to Belarusian people in his prison cell in Vilnia, before being hanged by tsar executors on March 22, 1864:
"...go as an entire nation to fight for your human and national rights, for your faith, for your native country. For I say to you from beneath the gallows, my People, that only - then will you live happily, when no Muscovite remains over you. "
Vasil' Bukaû - Belarusian writer, who is referred by some as consciousness of Belarusian nation, in his 1995 interview to Prof. Gimpelevich (U. of Waterloo, Canada) said:
" ...If one considers the amazing metamorphosis that has taken place recently with both Russian communists and democrats, one sees how their democratic idea has taken on an imperialistic tone. We (meaning: national patriots) do not share this idea and, therefore, cannot accept Pan-Slavism, or any other concept that calls all nations - Slavs or non-Slavs into so-called single family. Our historical experiences indicate that such "family" will not bring happiness". [Ref. 3]
Today Kremlin and Putin's KGB gang continue financing Belarusian regime of Lukashenka. Only this August 2005 they promised him a long term credit of 146 million US dollars. EU's 2.5M and US 5M over several years support of Belarusian opposition is nothing compared to money that Russia pours every year into Belarusian Dictatorship for its "friendship".
On the Discrimination of Belarusian Minority in Poland - Statement of the Editorial Board, 11/06/04.
In XVI c. Russia had rid itself of the Tartar-Mongolian domination and started to raid Belarusian lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus' and Samojitia (GDL). The rulers of the GDL have formed a political and military union with Polish Kingdom - The Commonwealth of Rzecz Pospolita Polsko-Litewska. For a century this union had proved to be successful in deterring Russian invasions. At its peak Rzecz Pospolita became a giant state extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. But this vast, indecisive and overly liberal state was doomed to fall a prey to despotic and cruel tsardom of Russia, which has modeled its para-military organization - "Oprichnina" - on Tengiz Khan hordes. In mid XVIIc. the Ukraine has broke away from Rzecz Pospolita and joined Russia. Together they have attacked Belarus in 1654 and brutally demolished most of our Eastern cities. After that Belarus and Poland gradually lost their independence to Russia. Only in 1917, after Russian Bolshevik Revolution, did Poland broke free from Russia. After a three year war with Poland Bolsheviks have signed in 1921 a peace treaty in Riga, according to which Western Belarus and Western Ukraine have been given to Poland. And so, between the wars Belarusian national movements were prosecuted by Soviet secret police - NKVD - in Eastern Belarus, and by Polish secret police - Defenziva - in Western Belarus. In 1939 Poland was divided between Nazi Germany and the USSR according to Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement. Western and Eastern Belarus were united. Vilna - the all-times cultural and spiritual center of Belarusian nation - was first assigned by Communists to Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. But soon it was given to an occupied Lithuania as a bribe to calm down the protests of Lithuanians, being rounded up into Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Republican borders really didn't meant anything in the USSR. After the WWII ( around 1954) a big area in the West of Belarus - Padlassie - populated by predominantly Belarusians was given as a present to newly formed Polish Peoples Republic, together with 400,000 Belarusians living in this land. A significant number of Polish population was allowed to move from Belarus to the newly annexed territory from Germany in the West of the Polish Peoples Republic (a present to Polish comrades from Joseph Stalin). This was the last change of Polish-Belarusian border. Nevertheless the old slogan of Polish Ultra-Right - "From the sea to the sea", alluding to the grandeur of Rzecz Pospolita of XVII c., is still alive in Poland and heard often in Belarus. I have heard myself on Polish radio an expression: "There is no Poland without Lviv, Hrodna and Vilna". Currently there are around 300,000 Poles in Belarus. The 400,000 of Belarusians were strongly assimilated in Poland ("apaliacheli'") - only 10,000 people recorded themselves as Belarusians in Padlasse during the last census. There latest wave of actions directed against Belarusian population in Poland grew big in 2002. Belarusian region of Poland was divided into voting regions in such skilful manner that none of the regions has Belarusian majority any longer. Radyo Racya a source of news for Belarusians in Poland has stopped being funded. The Poles in Belarus are more organized and active. The Union of Poles of Belarus is located in Hrodna. It is a strong organization supported by Polish government. Obviously the Belarusian organizations in Poland do not receive the same level of support from the totalitarian government of Belarus. So far, there were no strong separatist movements on both sides. Although the head of the Union of Poles in Belarus has been known to pay visits to NATO headquarters in Brussels. The hope is that Belarus will manage to shake off the Regime and return back to Europe. Joining of Belarus to EU with subsequent dissolution of borders would definitely bring a relief to Belarusian-Polish relations. But for now the Iron Curtain has been moved onto Polish-Belarusian border. It is now a border between NATO and Russian military alliance, and a subject of constant tension.
Read also this article by Wojtek Kosc in Central Europe Review "M I N O R I T I E S: To Be a Belarusan in Bialystok", which explains situation of Belarusian minority in Poland. Here's an excerpt:
Some striking facts illustrate the growing discrimination against Belarusans. After the AWS (Solidarity Election Action) parliamentary victory in 1997, money for renovation of the Orthodox monastery in Suprasl (which had been kept in a special budget reserve) was taken away. Last year, the Belarusan Society was refused funding for all its projects. The Belarusan Social-Cultural Society has yet to receive any money this year, although the Ministry of Finance has apparently already transferred the funds to the Ministry of Culture. Moreover, it is already known that next year's allocation will be ten percent less. Bialystok's 250th anniversary was celebrated without any reference to Belarusans' and/or Orthodox followers' contribution to the city's development.
Last March a "Solidarity With Belarus" concert was held in Warsaw, Poland. See here several videos from the concert on Youtube.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. This year a reggae freedom fest in support of Freedom in Belarus will be held on March 25 in Warsaw. Thank you, Poles!
After the last Belarusian nuclear weapon was moved to Russia in 1996, United States have lost their interest in Belarus. There seems to be a silent agreement between two former superpowers - by which US is not interfering with the process of swallowing Belarus by Russia - a so called Russia-Belarus Union, imposed on Belarusians by Lukashenka Regime. Just like the Holocaust in Chechnya has not been a strong issue of US policy towards Russia, Belarus seems to be interpreted by US as an "internal" issue of Russian Empire. As long as Russia is heading towards capitalism and is not interfering with US operations in the rest of the World - Iraq, Yugoslavia - Russians are allowed to do their own operations in Chechnya, Tatarstan, Pridnestrovie, and now - Belarus. It's true that Americans are appalled by the totalitarian rule of Lukashenka regime and it's human rights violations. And there is certain support of anti-Lukashenka forces in Belarus coming from USA. But Belarusian national liberation movement did not saw even 10% of the level of US support that, for example, Baltic States enjoyed.
There have been little or no active support to Belarusian national liberation movement from the EU. On the contrary, according to Polish news agency "Kaminikat" in a recent scandalous slip of a tongue, the ambassador of OSCE in Belarus - Mr. Georg Vik - has acknowledged during the conference "Vision of United Europe" in Bialystok, Poland, that for several years Europe has been trying to unite Belarus with Russia. He said that for Europe dissolution of totalitarian Belarus in "democratic" Russia will solve the problem of the last dictatorship in Europe - Lukashenka regime. Another issue is probably the fear of Western European states of EU to be dissolved in "barbarian" Eastern European states like Belarus. The contribution made by the Great Duchy of Lithuania into European cultural development process of XV-XVII cc. has been conveniently forgotten in Western Europe. So far, out of European countries Belarusian national liberation has seen most of support from Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania and other Baltic States, and to some degree from Poland, Italy, Netherlands and Denmark.
Similarly head of PACE Van-der-Linden
recently had praised Lukashenka regime in private talk with Estonian parliament
members (Fall 2007).
Many of young Belarusians are frustrated observing our neighbors - Lithuania, Latvia and Poland - joining NATO and EU, while we are left behind with the Lukashenka's dictatorship of communist retirees and all the crazy plans to unite with Russia, build new USSR or whatever. October 14, 2007 a first "European March" was held in Minsk where thousands of progressive Belarusians expressed their desire to return to liberal and democratic European values. Fortunately not all Europeans consider Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova a lost case. Here's what Financial Times has printed on Jan 02, 2003 in it's article "LEADER: Eastern approaches":
"In Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, the position is even more difficult. Here, the EU has made no promises about future membership, even if individual EU leaders have occasionally dropped hints. The fundamental problem is that the three states' presidents - Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Ukraine's Leonid Kuchma and the communist Vladimir Voronin of Moldova - do not seem to share the EU's faith in democracy and open markets.
But many of their citizens do. The challenge is to engage these people, without supporting their overbearing masters. The answers include loans for small businesses and aid for non-governmental organizations, independent media and educational travel. Given a fair wind, such support could help develop genuine democracies.
The debate over EU membership for these three states must be left to a future date. Faced with its current enlargement menu, there is little appetite today to contemplate a further wave. But the possibility of membership should not be excluded. In 10-15 years, an EU that had successfully incorporated the Baltic states, central and south-east Europe might be ready to consider Ukraine as well as Turkey."
Currently Belarusian democratic opposition receives a lot of political and some financial support from EU structures. EU imposed sanctions on Belarus because of violations of rights of independent labor unions in 2007. But when it comes to private European business there are too many greedy businesses in Europe that are willing make a buck by supporting Belarusian totalitarian regime. Such recently Dutch bank ABN Amro has offered 500 million euro credit to Belarusian regime. Similarly Austrian Raiffeizen Bank and VTB Bank Europe, Great Britain were supplying anti-democratic Belarusian regime with their large loans. Lately Belarusian regime has sold a number of Belarusian enterprises (Motovelo, Velcom) to Austrian and Cyprus investors in completely non-transparent way, without any public auctioning. One can expect such dealings from totalitarian regime, but there is also European counter-part that is all too willing to prop the regime in Belarus.
While US has already called Belarusian regime - a dictatorship, European Parliament only recently agreed that Lukashenka is a dictator and his rule is dictatorship:
The European Parliament (EP) on Thursday March 11, 2005 passed a strong-worded resolution blasting Aleksandr Lukashenko’s government and demanding the immediate release of several activists whom it called political prisoners. In particular, the resolution calls for recognizing the current Belarusian regime as a dictatorship and Mr. Lukashenko a dictator, and “identifying and freezing the personal assets of President Lukashenko and those other senior members of the regime who ensure the continuation of the dictatorship.”
One more thing - the post-Communist set of mind and the people that carry it will be gone in 15 years, hopefully together with regimes like Lukashenka. But will Belarus survive the onslaught of Russian Empire? We don't want to turn into Chechnya... We will need all the support we can get to fence off new Russian Empire. A lot will depend now on what will happen to Ukraine and Georgia. If the West won't turn its back at Ukraine and Georgia as it did at democratic Russia of the early 1990-ies, and will assure Ukraine's and Georgia's economic success - then there will be a great example for all other repressed peoples on the territory of former USSR. Otherwise people may choose the miserable security of dictatorships (they just did it in Kazakhstan) , rather then plunging into years of pseudo-democratic chaos as Russia did.
Links related to Belarusian Statehood
Literature on the Belarusian Statehood
Ref. 1. "Belarusian Statehood. Reader and Bibliography", Ed.: Vitaut Kipel and Zora Kipel, Byelorussian Institute of Arts and Sciences, New York, 1988. Library of Congress Card #88-70081.
Ref. 2. Jan Zaprudnik, "Belarus: At a Crossroads in History,"
Westview Press (now part of Harper Collins),
1993, ISBN: 0-8133-1794-0 (pbk.)
You can order the book @ Harper Collinsr: 1-800-822-4090; fax: 1-800-242-7737; http://www.harpercollins.com/
Ref. 3. Zina Gimpelevich, "Two Interviews with Vasil Bykaû", In: Zapisy Vol. 23, published by Belarusian Institute of Arts and Sciences, New York-1999.
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