Belarusian Popular Front

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Belarusian Popular Front "Renaissance"
Belarusian: Беларускі Народны Фронт "Адраджэньне"
Abbreviation БНФ, BPF, BNF
Leader Zianon Pazniak
Founded 25 June 1989 (1989-06-25)
Succeeded by BPF Party; Conservative Christian Party – BPF; Young Front
Headquarters Minsk
Ideology Anticommunism
Democracy
Political position Centre-right
International affiliation None
Colours                white, red, white
(Flag of the Belarusian Democratic Republic)
Party flag
Flag of Belarus (1918, 1991-1995).svg
The flag of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, in 1991 accepted as the Flag of Belarus. In 1993, the flag of the BPF was changed, and a Cross of Saint Euphrosyne was added to it[1]

The Belarusian Popular Front "Renaissance" (BPF, Belarusian: Беларускі Народны Фронт "Адраджэньне", БНФ) was a social and political movement in Belarus in late 1980s and the 1990s which led Belarus to its independence from the Soviet Union. It was similar to the Popular Fronts of Latvia and Estonia, and the Sąjūdis movement in the Republic of Lithuania.

Creation[edit]

The Belarusian Popular Front was established in 1989, following the examples of the Popular Fronts in the Baltic states. Its founding conference had to be organized in Vilnius because of pressure from the authorities of the Belarusian SSR.[2]

Initially, the Popular Front was uniting numerous minor organizations promoting the Belarusian language and history. However, soon the movement began voicing political demands,[2] supporting the Perestroika and democratization in the Soviet Union which would enable a Belarusian national revival. The Popular Front was the first political organization in Belarus to openly oppose the Communist Party of Byelorussia.

The prominent Belarusian writer Vasil Bykau became an active member of the Belarusian Popular Front. Writer Ales Adamovich was an active supporter of the Popular Front.[3]

The Front had about 10 thousand activists in different regions of Belarus[4] as well as in Moscow, Vilnius and Riga. It published a newspaper, Навіны БНФ "Адраджэньне" (English: News of the Belarusian Popular Front "Renaissance" ).

Among the significant achievements of the Front was the uncovering of the burial site of Kurapaty near Minsk, a major NKVD mass extermination sites of Soviet political prisoners in the 1930s.

The Belarusian Popular Front actively protested against Soviet policies following the Chernobyl accident, after which a large territory of Belarus was contaminated by nuclear fallout.[5]

The Belarusian Popular Front in the parliament of Belarus[edit]

In May 1990, 37 members of the Belarusian Popular Front were elected into the 12th Belarusian Supreme Council and formed a dynamic opposition group in the parliament of the then Soviet-controlled Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In July 1990, the Belarusian Popular Front initiated the passing of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. In August 1991, following the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt and supported by tens of thousands of protesters outside the parliament building, the Belarusian Popular Front has managed to convince the Supreme Soviet to declare full independence of Belarus from the USSR.[6] The historical Belarusian national symbols: the white-red-white flag and the Pahonia coat of arms were restored as state symbols of Belarus.

A meeting in Kurapaty in 1989 organized by the Belarusian Popular Front

Opposition to the regime of Alexander Lukashenka[edit]

In 1994, Alexander Lukashenka was elected president of Belarus. From the very beginning, the Belarusian Popular Front became one of the main political forces opposing president Lukashenka.[7] In 1994 the BPF formed a shadow cabinet consisting of 100 BPF intellectuals.

In 1995, members of parliament from the Belarusian Popular Front went on a hunger strike as a protest against Lukashenka's controversial referendum to replace state symbols by slightly amended Soviet ones and to make Russian language official in Belarus. The hunger strike was violently interrupted by police forces who beat up the members of parliament.[8]

In 1996, the Belarusian Popular Front was one of the main powers behind mass protests against Lukashenka's policies of russification and integration with Russia, as well as against his second controversial referendum amending the Constitution in a way to concentrate power in the president's hands. The protests were violently dispersed by the police. Two leaders of the Belarusian Popular Front, Zianon Pazniak and Siarhei Navumchyk, have fled the country and received political asylum in the United States.

Split[edit]

In the late 1990s the Belarusian Popular Front split in two rivaling organizations. Its conservative wing under the exiled leader Zianon Pazniak formed the Conservative Christian Party – BPF (Kanservatyŭna-Chryścijanskaja Partyja BNF), while the moderate majority formed the BPF Party (Partyja BNF, Партыя БНФ) led by Vincuk Viačorka.

Both parties claim to be the only legitimate successor of the Belarusian Popular Front established in 1989.[2][4] The Malady Front, formerly the Popular Front's youth organization, has also become an autonomous organization.

In 2011, following an internal conflict, more than 90 further members left BPF Party, including several prominent veterans of the original Belarusian Popular Front, such as Lyavon Barshchewski, Jury Chadyka, Vincuk Viačorka. This was sometimes described as a "second split" of the Belarusian Popular Front.[9][10]

Formally, the Belarusian Popular Front continues to exist as an NGO affiliated with the BPF Party.[11]

Notable former members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Флаги политических партий Беларуси" [Flags of political parties of Belarus]. vexillographia.ru. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Гісторыя Партыі БНФ" [History of the BPF Party]. BPF Party official website. 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "Як БНФ дамогся праўды пра Чарнобыль" [How the BPF managed to restore truth about Chernobyl]. svaboda.org. 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Гісторыя Партыі БНФ" [History of the BPF Party]. Official website of the Conservatice Christian Party - BPF. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "БНФ. Истоки" [BPF. The beginning]. istpravda.ru. 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017. 
  6. ^ "19 years ago Belarus’ independence became a law (Photo)". Charter 97. 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "Камни в ОМОН, перевернутые авто и аплодисменты — как менялись акции протеста за 20 лет". Salidarnasc (gazetaby.com)]]. 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "Галадоўка дэпутатаў БНФ: ці магло быць інакш?". svaboda.org. 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  9. ^ "Янукевіч: Пазбегнуць расколу Партыі БНФ было немагчыма". Euroradio.fm. 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  10. ^ "У партыі БНФ раскол". Narodnaja Volia. 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  11. ^ СТАТУТ ГРАМАДСКАГА АБ’ЯДНАННЯ БНФ ”АДРАДЖЭНЬНЕ” (Statute of the NGO BPF Renaissance as at 2012)

External links[edit]