Belarusian national revival

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Dudka Bialaruskaja, an 1891 book of poems by Francišak Bahuševič

The Belarusian national revival (Belarusian: Беларускае нацыянальнае адраджэнне) is a social, cultural and political movement that advocates the revival of Belarusian culture, language, customs, and the creation of the Belarusian statehood at the national foundation. Revival refers to the Belarusian nationalism and the modern Belarusian national consciousness represented by several waves starting from the 19th century.

Early 19th century[edit]

In the early and mid 19th century, Jan Czeczot, Wladyslaw Syrokomla, Wincenty Dunin-Marcinkiewicz, Jan Barszczewski and several other writers, most of whom represented the local nobility, created the first literary works in modern Belarusian language. Their works were written in local rural dialects and ignored the traditions of the written Old Belarusian language from the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The greater part of the Belarusian regional elite at that time supported the movement to reestablish the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and took an active part in the uprisings of 1830-31 and 1863-64. In that situation a new trend for Belarusian national separatism was something completely new and unknown in regional policy.[citation needed] Konstanty Kalinowski, the leader of the 1863 Uprising on the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, published his appeals to the Belarusian peasants in the Belarusian language, but his activity was part of the movement for independence of the "Polish-Lithuanian" new Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania.[citation needed]

In the second half of the 19th century, the first leftist national clubs emerged among Belarusian students in the major universities of the Russian Empire, i.e. in the University of St. Petersburg. These clubs issued several illegal publications, for example, Homan with demands for autonomy or independence for Belarus. Ignacy Hryniewiecki, the assassin of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, according to some historians, was one of creators of the Belarusian fraction in the Russian socialist movement Narodnaya Volya[1]

Early 20th century[edit]

In early 20th century a further development of Belarusian national political organisations, mainly socialist (Belarusian Socialist Assembly) and Christian democratic was continued through state of their political programs. As a result of the First Russian Revolution of 1905 publications in national languages were legalized, and this resulted a boom in Belarusian book and newspapers publishing. In particular, the newspaper Nasha Niva, founded in 1906, became one of the most important centers of education and promotion of Belarusian national identity in middle class of Belarus, both in urban and rural territories.

After the Bolsheviks' Revolution in October 1917, Belarusian national organisations representing all regions of the country have held the First All-Belarusian Congress which later declared independence of Belarus as the Belarusian Democratic Republic. This state existed until 1919 when its provisional parliament, Rada BNR, was forced into exile by the advancing Bolsheviks' Red Army. During the Russian civil war members of the Belarusian independence movement established own partisan units (known as Zialony dub) as well as Belarusian national units in the army of the newly established Republic of Lithuania, the Polish army as well as joined the Belarusian-Russian army led by general Stanislau Bulak-Balakhovich.

Bolsheviks' government allowed official usage of Belarusian language and granted an official status for Belarusian culture as a part of their korenization policy in the established puppet Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. However, these policies ended by the early 1930s and were followed by intensive Russification and terror against Belarusian cultural and social elites. Meanwhile, numerous Belarusian political and cultural organisations continued its activity in Poland-controlled West Belarus. Belarusian separatists like Branislau Tarashkevich were elected members of the Polish parliament.

During the Second World War the Belarusian Independence Party operated against the Soviet Union.

Late 20th and early 21st centuries[edit]

Perestroika advanced a new wave of the Belarusian national revival. Several new regional cultural national organisations like Talaka were formed by end of the 1980s. Also political pro-independence movement of the Belarusian Popular Front, led by Zianon Pazniak was founded in 1988. Following the elections held in 1990 Belarusian Popular Front created a 35-member fraction in the Supreme Soviet of Belarus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michaluk D. Białoruska Republika Ludowa 1918-1920 u podstaw białoruskiej państwowości - Toruń, Wydawnictwo naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika, 2010