Belarusian People's Republic
Land claimed by the BNR at the time
Government in exile since 1919
|Capital||1918 Minsk · Vilna |
|Capital-in-exile||1919–1923 Kaunas |
|Common languages|| Belarusian |
minority languages recognized for official usage:
|Chairman of the Rada|
|Historical era||World War I|
|9 March 1918|
|14 February 1919|
|ISO 3166 code||BY|
The Belarusian People's Republic (Belarusian : Белару́ская Наро́дная Рэспу́бліка, [bʲeɫaˈruskaja naˈrodnaja rɛsˈpublʲika] , transliterated as Biełarúskaja Naródnaja Respúblika, BNR; Russian : Белору́сская Наро́дная Респу́блика, romanized: Belorusskaja Narodnaja Respublika), historically referred to as the White Ruthenian Democratic Republic (German : Weißruthenische Volksrepublik ) was a failed attempt to create a Belarusian state on the territory controlled by the German Imperial Army during World War I. The BNR existed from 1918 to 1919.
The BNR was declared on March 9, 1918, in Minsk by the members of the Executive Committee of the First All-Belarusian Congress,and two weeks later, on March 25, 1918, it proclaimed independence. In 1919, it co-existed with an alternative Communist government of Belarus (the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia, which later became part of the Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic), moving its seat of government to Vilnius and Hrodna, but ceased to exist due to the capture of the whole Belarusian territory by Polish and Bolshevik forces during the Polish–Soviet War of 1919-1921. Currently, its government in exile, the Rada (Council) of the Belarusian People's Republic is the oldest still functioning government in exile.
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The Belarusian People's Republic was declared on the territory of modern-day Belarus three weeks after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on March 3, 1918 between the new Bolshevik government of Soviet Russia and the Central Powers in the border city of Brest-Litovsk.
After the 1917 February Revolution in Russia, active discussions started in Belarus about either gaining autonomy within the new Russian Republic or declaring independence. Representatives of most Belarusian regions and of different (mostly left-wing) political powers, including the Belarusian Socialist Assembly, the Christian democratic movement and the General Jewish Labour Bund, formed a Belarusian National Council in late 1917. The Council started working on establishing Belarusian governmental institutions. Both the Bolsheviks and Germans refused to recognize it and interfered in its activity. However, the Germans saw an independent Belarus as part of the implementation of their plan for buffer states within Mitteleuropa. The Bolsheviks had negotiations with the Belarusian Democratic Republic regarding an eventual recognition, but later decided instead to establish a pro-Soviet government of Belarus - the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus.
Parallel with negotiations that started between the Germans and Bolsheviks, the Belarusian Council started actively demanding recognition of autonomous status for Belarus, with continuing internal discussions on whether it should become an autonomous region within Russia or declare national independence.
In its First Constituent Charter, passed on February 21, 1918, the Belarusian Council declared itself the only legitimate power in the territory of Belarus. On March 9, following the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between the Germans and Bolsheviks, the Belarusian Council issued a Second Charter where it declared the establishment of the Belarusian People's Republic. The Belarusian Council became the provisional government of Belarus and was renamed the Council of the Belarusian People's Republic.
On March 25, 1918, the All-Belarusian Congress proclaimed the independence of Belarusian National Republic (Bielaruskaja Narodnaja Respublika, abbreviated as BNR). The Government of the BNR left Minsk in December 1918 for the Lithuanian Republic, and in spring 1919 went into exile. [ self-published source? ]
In its Third Constituent Charter, the following territories were claimed for BNR: Mogilev Governorate (province), as well as Belarusian parts of Minsk Governorate, Grodno Governorate (including Belastok), Vilna Governorate, Vitebsk Governorate, and Smolensk Governorate, and parts of bordering governorates populated by Belarusians, rejecting the then split of the Belarusian lands between Germany and Russia.The areas were claimed because of a Belarusian majority or large minority (as in Grodno and Vilna Governorate), although there were also numbers of Lithuanians, Poles and people speaking mixed varieties of Belarusian, Lithuanian and Polish, as well as many Jews, mostly in towns and cities (in some towns they made up a majority). Some of the Jews spoke Russian as their native tongue; others spoke Yiddish.
There were attempts to create regular armed forces of the newly-established Belarusian People's Republic.Belarusian military units started to form within the disorganized Imperial Russian Army already in 1917.
According to the historian Oleg Latyszonek, about 11,000 people, mostly volunteers, served in the Army of the Belarusian People's Republic.
General Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz supported the Government of the People's Republic and openly positioned his army as a Belarusian national army, also acting as the first President of the Belarusian Provisional Government shortly after the exile of the People's Republic before again handing power to the populace. [ citation needed ] For his resistance against Bolshevik forces, members of Belarusian minority in Poland regard him as their national hero.[ citation needed ]
The major military action of the Army of the People's Republic was the Slutsk defence action in late 1920. The Council of the BNR, based at that time in Lithuania, sent officers to help organize armed anti-Bolshevik resistance in the town of Slutsk. The Belarusian army managed to resist a month against the greater strength of the Red Army.[ citation needed ]
During its short existence, the government of Belarus established close ties with the Ukrainian People's Republic, organized food supplies to Belarus from Ukraine and thereby prevented hunger in the country. [ citation needed ]Diplomatic representations of Belarus had been created in Germany, Estonia, Ukraine and other countries to lobby for Belarusian interests or to support Belarusian soldiers and refugees who landed in different parts of the former Russian Empire.
Beginning in 1918, Anton Łuckievič, the Prime Minister of Belarus, met with Vladimir Lenin hoping to gain recognition for the independence of Belarus by Soviet Russia. The Belarusian delegation even proposed the creation of a federation with the RSFSR and the adoption of the Soviet Constitution in Belarus in exchange for Russia recognizing the independent status of Belarus, but Lenin did not agree to these proposals.
In 1919, a delegation of the Belarusian People's Republic under Prime Minister Anton Łuckievič participated in the Paris Peace Conference, attempting to gain international recognition of the independence of Belarus. On the way to the conference, the delegation was received by Czechoslovak president Tomáš Masaryk in Prague. During the conference, Łuckievič had meetings with the exiled Foreign Minister of Admiral Kolchak's Russian government Sergey Sazonov and the Prime Minister of Poland Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
In October 1919 the Belarusian People's Republic was officially recognized by Estonia and in December 1919 by Finland.On November 11, 1920 the Belarusian People's Republic signed a treaty with the government of Lithuania in which both states declared to recognize each other and to cooperate together.
The government also managed to create between 150 and 350 schools and preparations for the creation of a University in Minsk were initiated.
Being surrounded by more powerful neighbours and having no allies, the BNR quickly lost its independence and did not become a real state with a constitution or defined territory. However, many modern Belarusian historians suggest that creation of the Belarusian People's Republic was the reason for Bolsheviks creating the puppet Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and allowing some elements of national cultural life in the 1920s.[ citation needed ]
In December 1918, the German army retreated from the territory of Belarus and the Red Army moved in to establish the Socialist Soviet Republic of Belarus. The Rada (Council) of the BNR moved to Grodno, the center of a semi-autonomous Belarusian region within the Republic of Lithuania.During the subsequent 1919-1920 Soviet-Polish War, the Rada went into exile and facilitated an anti-Communist struggle within the country during the 1920s.
In 1925, the exiled Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic (Rada BDR) discussed relinquishing its authority in favor of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic controlling the eastern part of Belarus. Despite many members of the democratic government advocating this idea, the proposal was not approved.
During World War II, the Belarusian government-in-exile, based in Prague, refused to cooperate with Nazi Germany or with the Belarusian Central Rada, the pro-German puppet government, and issued statements in support of the Western Allies.
The advance of the Red Army in 1945 forced the BNR's Rada to relocate to the western part of Germany, occupied by British and American troops. In February 1948, the Rada passed a special manifesto, by which it declared its return to activity. In April 1948 the Rada, together with representatives of the Belarusian post-war refugees, held a conference in Osterhofen, Bavaria.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, similar governments-in-exile of the neighboring countries (Lithuania, Poland and others) handed back their mandates to the corresponding independent governments.
Upon declaration of independence of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990, it was stated then that the Rada was ready to hand its status to a democratically elected parliament of Belarus. The parliament of Belarus of that time had been elected under Soviet rule. However, these plans were dropped after president Alexander Lukashenko, elected in 1994, established an authoritarian regime accompanied by a return to Soviet policies in regards to Belarusian language and culture.
The Rada BNR still exists as a government in exile and attempts to lobby for interests of the Belarusian diaspora in countries where it has its representatives.
Since the late 1980s, March 25, the Independence Day of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, is widely celebrated by the Belarusian national democratic opposition as Freedom Day (Belarusian : Дзень волі). It is usually accompanied by mass opposition rallies in Minsk and by celebration events of the Belarusian diaspora organizations supporting the Belarusian government in exile.
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|History of Belarus|
A national flag of three stripes — white-red-white — was adopted, as well as a state seal (Pahonia) based on an emblem of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Chairpersons of the Council of the Belarusian People's Republic:
In 1998, Belarusian linguist and translator Siarhiej Shupa published a two-volume collection of BNR archives (Архівы Беларускай Народнай Рэспублікі. Менск-Вільня-Прага-Нью-Ёрк). The total size of the two volumes is more than 1700 pages. Essentially these are the processed and re-organized documents from the Lithuanian archival fund #582 in Vilnius and they constitute roughly 60% of all the BNR official documents from 1918. Another 20% of BNR official documentation is located in the Minsk archives, and the fate of the remaining 20% is unknown.
This article describes the history of Belarus. The Belarusian ethnos is traced at least as far in time as other East Slavs.
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The Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919 was part of the campaign by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic into areas abandoned by the Ober Ost garrisons that were being withdrawn to Germany following that country's defeat in World War I. The initially successful offensive against the Republic of Estonia ignited the Estonian War of Independence which ended with the Soviet recognition of Estonia. The war against Republics of Latvia and Lithuania was more successful for the Soviets, and resulted in the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics being established. In Belarus, the Belarusian People's Republic was conquered and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia proclaimed.
The Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic or Litbel (Lit-Bel) was a Soviet socialist republic that existed within the territories of modern Belarus and eastern Lithuania for approximately five months during 1919. It was created after the merger of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia. The republic was dissolved after the Polish Army took over its claimed territory of eastern Lithuania during the Polish–Soviet War.
Vajacki marš was the National anthem for the short-lived Belarusian Democratic Republic that existed in 1918. Currently the government of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, Rada BNR, exists in exile.
Radasłaŭ Astroŭski was a Belarusian nationalist political activist and political leader, notably serving as president of the Belarusian Central Rada, a puppet Belarusian government under German administration in 1943–1944.
The Belarusian Popular Front "Adradžeńnie" 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.
Western Belorussia or Western Belarus is a historical region of modern-day Belarus comprising the territory which belonged to the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period in accordance with the international peace treaties. Before the 1939 Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland it used to form the northern part of the Polish Kresy macroregion. Following the end of World War II in Europe the territory of Western Belorussia was ceded to the Soviet Union by the Allied Powers, while the city of Białystok with surroundings was returned to Poland. Until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 Western Belorussia formed a significant part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). Today, it constitutes the western part of the sovereign Republic of Belarus.
The uses of heraldry in Belarus is used by government bodies, subdivisions of the national government, organizations, corporations and by families.
The Slutsk defence action or the Slutsk uprising was an unsuccessful armed attempt to establish an independent Belarus. It took place in late 1920, near the end of the Polish-Soviet War, in the region of the town of Slutsk. It involved a series of clashes between irregular Belarusian forces loyal to the Belarusian People's Republic and the Soviet Red Army, ending in a Soviet victory.
Belarusian resistance movement are the resistance movements on the territory of contemporary Belarus. Wars in the area - Great Northern War and the War of the Polish Succession - damaged its economy further. In addition, Russian armies raided the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth under the pretext of the returning of fugitive peasants. By mid-18th century their presence in the lands of modern Belarus became almost permanent.
The Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia or Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus was an early republic in the historical territory of Belarus after the collapse of the Russian Empire as a result of the October Revolution.
The Ukrainian War of Independence, a period of sustained warlike conflict, lasted from 1917 to 1921 and resulted in the establishment and development of a Ukrainian republic, most of which was later absorbed into the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of 1922–1991.
The Belarusian Socialist Assembly, BSA was a revolutionary party in the Belarusian territory of the Russian Empire. It was established in 1902 as the Belarusian Revolutionary Party, renamed in 1903.
Vasil Zacharka was a Belarusian statesman and the second president of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in exile.
Belarusian diaspora refers to emigrants from the territory of Belarus as well for people of Belarusian descent.
Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic is the supreme governing body of the Belarusian People's Republic. Since 1919 the Rada BNR has been in exile where it has become the most influential political organization of the Belarusian diaspora and an advocacy group promoting support to Belarusian independence and democracy in Belarus among Western policymakers. As of 2019, the Rada BNR is the oldest existing government in exile.
The Ukrainian People's Republic, or Ukrainian National Republic, a predecessor of modern Ukraine, was declared on 10 June 1917 following the February Revolution in Russia. It initially formed part of the Russian Republic, and proclaimed its independence from the Russian Soviet Republic on 25 January 1918. During its short existence the republic went through several political transformations - from the socialist-leaning republic headed by the Central Council with its general secretariat to the national republic led by the Directorate and by Symon Petliura. Between April and December 1918 the Ukrainian People's Republic did not function, having been overthrown by the Ukrainian State of Pavlo Skoropadsky. From late 1919 the UNR operated as an ally of the Second Polish Republic, but by then the state de facto no longer existed in Ukraine. The 18 March 1921 Treaty of Riga between the Second Polish Republic, Soviet Russia and of Soviet Ukraine sealed the fate of the Ukrainian People's Republic.
The First All-Belarusian Congress was a congress of Belarusian political organisations and groups held in Minsk in December 1917. The congress gathered 1872 delegates from all regions of Belarus and was violently dispersed by Bolshevik military.
Dominik Semashko was a Belarusian activist. In 1890s, he joined the Polish Socialist Party and other socialist groups advocating workers' rights. The police forced him to flee to Switzerland where he received engineering education and firefighting training. During World War I, he was fire chief in Vilnius from 1915 to 1918. In 1918, he was elected to the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic and co-opted to the Council of Lithuania. Initially, he was a supported of a union between Lithuania and Belarus along the lines of the old Grand Duchy of Lithuania but later shifted to more fully support Lithuania. He represented Lithuania at the Paris Peace Conference and during the negotiations of the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty. In 1920–1922, he was Minister for Belarusian Affairs. He then retired from politics and devoted his time to firefighting.