Zianon Pazniak

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Zianon Pazniak, 2008

Zianon Pazniak (Belarusian: Зянон Станiслававiч Пазьняк, born April 24, 1944) is a Belarusian patriotic politician, one of the founders of the Belarusian Popular Front and leader of the Christian Conservative Party of the BPF. He has lived in emigration since 1996.

Biography[edit]

Zianon Pazniak was born in the village of Subotniki in Grodno Region.

He graduated from the Belarusian State Institute of Theatre and Arts in 1967 and completed his postgraduate studies at the Institute of Ethnography, Art and Folklore in 1972. Upon completion of his university studies, Pazniak worked as an arts researcher. After a wave of Soviet political-administrative repressions in 1974 resulting in the loss of his work at the Arts Institute, Pazniak worked as an archaeologist at the Archaeological Division of the History Institute of the Belarusian Science Academy. His specialisation was the Late Middle Ages in Belarus. He was heavily involved in efforts to preserve the remaining section of the historic centre of Minsk, which was considerably damaged by the redevelopment efforts undertaken by the Soviet administration after the end of the Second World War. In 1981 Pazniak successfully defended a doctoral dissertation on the history of the theatre.

In 1988, Zianon Pazniak made public his researches of alleged NKVD mass executions in the forest of Kurapaty near Minsk. At that time, he became a leader of the Belarusian national movement for freedom and independence. In 1988, along with Vasil Bykau, he was one of the founders of the Belarusian Popular Front and the Belarusian Martyrologue.

From May 1990 until January 1996, Pazniak was a deputy of the Belarusian parliament. As parliamentary deputy, he was the leader of the fraction of the BPF. Pazniakh contended that

Belarus, because historically it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, constitutes the 'eastern edge of European civilisation'.58 He has advanced a proposal, for an association of those states lying between the Baltic and Black seas to protect them from Russian hegemony:

It is necessary to restore the equilibrium in Eastern Europe that was destroyed 200 years ago (with the partition of the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth). I am talking about Baltic-Black Sea Commonwealth states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova). This is the path toward stability, equal cooperation, and a guarantee for sovereignty

.

In 1996, Zianon Pazniak chose to leave Belarus, citing a potential arrest (or even liquidation) by the forces of the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. He was granted political asylum in the United States.

On June 19, 1997, Belarus's prosecutor's office opened a criminal case against Pazniak accusing him of incitement to ethnic hatred.[1]

Following emigration, Zianon Pazniak is still active in leading the CCP-BPF (Christian Conservative Party of the BPF). His endeavour to participate in the presidential elections of 2006 was set back when he refused to forward the requisite number of signatures gathered for his candidacy.

He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism.[2]

Pazniak and Christian Conservative Party of the BPF refused to join elections in the oppositional coalition led by Alexander Milinkevich in 2006 without any control of Lukashenko's administration, voting process and votes calculation. Election ended with voting falsification and was not acknowledged by EU and United States.

Criticism[edit]

Roy Medvedev thinks that Pazniak is a hard and a radical nationalist, a fanatic of national idea.[3] Pazniak's critics also accuse him of Russophobia and fascism.[4][5]

Pavel Sheremet thinks that Pazniak was an intolerant and a rough politician and his emigration was cowardice.[6]

Alaksiej Janukievich called Razniak's accusations of collaboration with KGB "paranoia".[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]