Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia in the north and east, Ukraine in the south, Poland in the west and Lithuania and Latvia in the north.
NOTABLE BELARUSANS & INDIVIDUALS WITH BELARUSAN ROOTS
Vasil Bykau - 20th Century Writer
Frantsishak Skaryna - 15th Century Scholar
Thaddeus Kosciuszko - American Revolutionary HeroMarc Chagall - 20th Century Painter
St. Euphrosynia of Polacak - 12th Century Orthodox and Catholic Saint
Сьвятлана Аляксандраўна Алексіе́віч - нобелеўскі лаўрэат
Irving Berlin - Songwriter/Composer
Shimon Peres - President of Israel
Chaim Weizmann - 1st President of Israel
Kirk Douglas - Actor
Wayne Gretsky - National Hockey League Star
Harrison Ford - Actor
Larry King - Talk-show Host
Lisa Kudrow - Actress
Alexander Rybak - Eurovision Champion
Frank Lautenberg - U.S. Senator
Olga Korbut - Olympic Gold-Medal Gymnast
MAJOR HISTORICAL DATES
March 25, 1918
Declaration of Independence of the Belarusan Democratic Republic (BNR)
August 25, 1991
Second Declaration of Independence as the Republic of Belarus
Kupalle Summer Solstice
Dziady Day of Remembrance for Ancestors
Hukannie Viasny Welcoming of Spring
Belarusans are a Slavic people who trace their national roots to the 9th-century principality of Polacak. Present-day Belarus was the central part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Litva) until its occupation by Russia (Muscovy) at the end of the 18th century; the Grand Duchy was the superpower of 15th-century Eastern Europe, governed by Belarusan nobility through statutes of laws written in the Belarusan language. These provided unparalleled freedoms to the population and tolerance for a plurality of religious faiths.
Torn by conflicts between competing powers to both the west and east, the Belarusan people lost their political power, but the nation, their language and their culture survived. Belarusan was the first language of one of the heroes of American Independence, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who would carry the principles of liberty and freedom from the young United States back to Eastern Europe.
REAWAKENING, INDEPENDENCE & SOVET TIMES
Through the 19th century, Belarusan writers and thinkers planted the seeds of national reawakening. On March 25, 1918, the Belarusan Democractic Republic (BNR) was declared. The spread of communism gave ample pretense for the political powers in Moscow to overrun the young country, despite many uprisings against the Bolsheviks. But the principle of Belarusan independence remained. As part of the Soviet Union, a Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was established, while a democratically-elected government-in-exile preserved the legitimacy of the original BNR. In 1991, in Belarus’ ancient Belavezha Forest, the leaders of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union.
Belarus became independent as the Republic of Belarus in 1991, but true freedom and the full flowering of Belarusan culture and language have yet to flourish. The democratic development of the country was ended by the unconstitutional and dictatorial maneuvers of the current government of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who also revived the policy of russification and blocks efforts to establish and promote Belarusan language schooling.
BAZA continues today to provide aid and inspiration to Belarusans seeking freedom outside Belarus and in partnering with other diaspora organizations and the representative council of the Belarusan Democratic Republic currently in exile.
BAZA keeps the dream of a free Belarusan nation and homeland alive as a hub of ideas, a preserver of heritage, and a home for Belarusans, friends of Belarus, and believers in a better future.
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