Near, far Belarus

Near, far Belarus

 Vahid Gazi

I thought of possessing enough information about Belarus because of living for a long period of time at the same ideological-political sphere. But my impressions on Belarusian state and people which I felt during by last visit to Belarus will not let me alone for a certain period. As it turned out, a number of books read by me, films watched by me, storied heard by me and short-dated visits to this space as if served to concealing the real truth about this nation. I am familiar with the fact of the HISTORY being incapable in front of the policy at the sample of our nation’s fate but of course I could not even imagine how historical truth of politicized ideology could turn into humble slave…

My talks in the cities, settlements, villages with villagers, drivers, hotel and restaurant servants, politicians, NGO representatives, journalists, law defenders, historians, communists, democrats, patriots, people having no principles and convictions, Orthodox believers, Catholics and at last not numerous Moslems, acquaintance with monuments of near and far history during my visit to Belarus turned topsy-turvy my imaginations about this nation. I made sure one thing: though there was any ethnic link of belarusians with Russians from history, they were quite distinctive from one another and sometimes they even ignored one another.

 RUSSIA, MOTHERLAND?!

 Traversed but unwritten history says one thing: “There is not the second nation being subjected to moral and physical genocide as belarusians by Russians (I do not intent nations disappearing by “russianization” and at the same time it is difficult to find the second nation who would love Russia as byelorussians”. It is both contradictive and tragic reality.

My women companion of 35-40 age speaks about her nation’s history and I noticed how she tried to hide her sorrow but in vain. “We – byelorussians are called yielding, coward. How we have to be? From time to time our men were killed. Mothers brought up their children coward as «mother’s sonny”. When mothers used to tell their sons “Sonny, do not meddle with other people’s lives”, “Do not thrust your nose into something”, “Do not stir a step from my side”, “Do not keep company with anybody” how it can be differently? It is for centuries as every 30-50 years our men, intellectuals while showing their faces outside, were decimated. It is reflected in out national mentality…A feeling of fear manages out people”.

Differentiating from Belarusian communists connecting their history with Russia and russianized people, national forces of this nation consider themselves to be a part of great Lithuanian Princedom. History, national tradition, folklore, proximity of language and other factors gives ground for such thinking. My companion-historian says the following about it: “from ethnic-cultural point of view Belarus was not referred to Russia. It is more close to Lithuanian-Polish culture. State language at Grand Lithuanian Duchy was Belarusian language. There was not a nation called Russians. Pay attention, Belarusian, Pole, Lithuanian are nouns, names. But “Russian” is an adjective, defines something. There is diversity from religious point of view. 80% of populations were Catholics till the middle of XIX century. Under the order of Russian tsar in 1839 Catholic religion was prohibited and people were made to accept orthodox religion. The nation was divided into two parts according to religion. Polish are called Catholics and belarusians are called orthodox believers. At the moment being, most part of belarusians are orthodox believers, number of Catholics do not exceed over 20-25%. Though we are independent state policy is directed to russianization, is continuing to attach us to Russia under compulsion. Belarusian culture and language is considered to be of minor importance. Russians formed their culture on the basis of Belarusian- Lithuanian culture, then appropriated it and later denied”.

These conversations seemed to me so familiar as history traversed by us. Our pretension on the fact of the ancient Turks playing one of principal roles in the formation of Russian culture (though they declaim it) is not news. we also conducted exchange of opinion with that historians and other companions about traces of ancient Turks in the country. Unfortunately they do not see the traces seen y us or even do not bring to minds. I told to my companions in Politsk he event which I have faced with recently in royal garden in Warsaw.

My Polish acquaintance that was acquainting me with the park, its history pointed at the monument and told me about courage of Lithuanian King mounting a horse who stopped osmans invasion at the bounds of Vienna gates. (This duchy is referred to a significant period of Polish and Belarusian history) Jan III Sabelsky. This monument aging over two hundred years was bronze statue of the king mounting a horse with 2 soldiers at his foot asking for help. I did not doubt who were the persons asking for help but I asked it. My acquaintance told that tye was “Osman Turks”. I stepped closer to the monument and noticed braids on the head of the second soldier. “Osmans did not braid hairs, this is Atilla’s soldier, and see osman soldier is another one” I told pointing at the monument of soldier with turban. Acquaintance tried to change the theme of our talk and silently told “might be”. Then I continued: “200 years ago when this monument was set up Turkish spirit still existed in Europe, sculptor did not create these images simply. It is said that military and some official decrees were given in an ancient Turkish language till the period of Ottomans arrival to Europe. Might be osmans arrival is a historical mistake. They not knowing it renewed Turkish spirit of 1000 years ago and at the result caused “disappearance” of these traces. Sculptor points to putting an end to ancient Turks thousand years signs in Europe by this victory of the king”.

…While my acquaintance was speaking to me about the beauty of swans swimming in the lake.

The story told by me caused great interest at my Belarusian companions.

Not depending upon wishes of Europeans there are appearing scientific proofs proving historical role played by ancient Turks in the formation of European culture. Though it has not turned into the target of discussions of international conferences there is began to speak about it at several scientific circles. Role of Turks is of great significance as in mosleming  of Asia and christianing of Europe.

Religion of divine service worshipped ancient Turks existed a long time before Christianity and already became stable religion at the time of Christianity appearing. Saint attributes of Christianity – cross, icon, temple and also pine-tree decorated at New Year and a number of other historical attributes was the newness brought to Europe during Grand Resettlement of the Peoples by ancient Turks. It is impossible not to sense ancient Turkish spirit at historical cupola rituals, cupola songs of belarusians.

Stories heard by me from separate companies in the country of forests and bogs did not seem to me strange. Paying attention to the last 200 years history of Azerbaijan will assist to perceive bitter history of miserable nation. How familiar view…

Russian heroes such as Suvorov, Minin-Pojarsky, Susanin show their victory first of all over byelorussians. Belarusian lands were struggle square for Russians. They waged war earlier with Swedish or other nations at these lands. Peter’s father Aleksey Mikhaylovich killed most part of this nation in the war of 1654-1667 years. It is written so in the soviet history. “Russian tsar ordered: – Do not kill belarusians, do not burn huts, do not trample fields under foots”.

The last victory of belarusians over Russians was in 1514 in Orsha. Belarusian army smashed Moscow Princedom on September 8. Today Belarusian democrats want to celebrate this date as heroic day. Last year members of Young Frontiers of Belarus celebrated this very day by throwing doll with Putin’s description into the yard of Russian embassy who suggested to join Belarus. They wrote the following words addressed to Putin on the doll: “Putin, away your hands otherwise the second Orsha will take place”. Organizer of the action Dima Dashkevich was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment for this event.

Great part of Belarusian history is dedicated to war with Russians. Belarusians struggling in the course of long centuries held fight for freedom after being official include as component of Russia in 1796. The history of this nation as the history of other former soviet nations is quite different from what did write soviet historians.

SOVIET UNION IS A CULMINATION POINT

OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE

 It is truth that bolshevists conducted more successful russianization policy than the policy held by Russian tsars during 70 years. During this period of time number of nations living at the territory of the USSR reduced from 190 to 90. It is not casual that it is possible to meet at every step blink eyed as Asiatic, black haired as Southerners or red-head Russians looking like Scandinavians. Tragedy of Belarusian people reached its latest extent during soviet period. These were places where Red terror bloomed. The real genocide took place in 1939 after joining eastern Belarus with the west. Peoples Commissariat of Internal affairs conducted more pitiless repression among “Western”. The policy run served to tearing the nation to pieces; it is tried to put eastern Orthodox believers against western Catholics. Population of Western Belarus is called Polish after the 1654-1667 years war. In II world war Belarusian people were subjected to great losses. One forth of population was annihilated.

Belarusians stayed as partisans in the memory of old generation. Hero-partisan who was taking part at bloody battles in bogs, at enemy surroundings was considered to be one of the most favorite characters of soviet literature and art. Old citizens of Malodechny village were telling the following about partisans:

“The Germans were treating with local population normally until formation of partisan group. An order on formation of such groups was issued from Moscow. Population did not treat respectfully towards the Germans, in any case they were occupants, but at first the was not feeling of hate towards the Germans. Massacre began after formation of partisan groups. There was such a thought as if local population assists partisans. The Germans and partisans were taking away from our food-staffs. Partisans were finding what we had been hiding from the Germans. In most cases the Germans were paying the money for the food-staff taken but this money that was no good for anything. To our surprise “ours” were seizing as “paternal good”. The villagers were set fire both by the Germans and partisans”.

“At first the Germans demonstrated normal treatment towards us; they have arrived here for a long period of time and for this reason did not want to break relations with local population. One German coming back after vacation brought with him cucumber seed and sowed it. Cultivated. The arch properly gave efficient harvest. For the first time we ate our fill in Germans’ time. They demolished the collective farms and divided among population… mostly wildness was done by the representatives of People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs and SS. Local police representatives, “punishment” groups selected among the people of other nations were more merciless. But the nation did not wish to fight. There were such brothers one of whish was the supporter of partisans, another one – supporters of the Germans. They were spending nights together but in the mornings were starting to their places of gathering. The people were just thinking of surviving.

Conversations with the people met by me in various places of this country revealed my other imaginations to be erroneous. Thought of Belarusians and Ukrainians possessing a special status was also much more exaggerated. In a certain spheres, for instance, in the sphere of higher state and military duties they were given preference but in solution of problems of national character byelorussians were behaved towards crueler. Present patriots of Belarus do not want to forget this step attitude. At present former USSR or present Russia is accused as instigator of several troubles.

While speaking about communists our driver made a sour face. He was pointing at fog-like “smoke” at the far distance over green forest and telling: “This is peat on fire. Soviets began to drain bogs not thinking of consequences. Ecological disaster happened as a result. If there is a little drought the peat is on fire”.

More painful story is told by other companion: “Of course, you have heard about Chernobyl. At that period of time irradiated clouds were flying to Moscow over Belarus. You know what they were doing? They were shooting from fun and aiming clouds at the direction of Belarus. Long were raining irradiated rains. This one is glaring example of Moscow’s “fondness” for us.

 A.LUKASHENKO: “I AM ORTHODOX BELIEVER ATEIST”

 Though Belaveshinsk agreement being signed in Belarus created condition for many soviet peoples for gaining independence, Belarusian people felt the real freedom and independence in a short period. Now Belarusians remember pleasant impressions the years run by Shushkevich as a democratic period. Declaring its independence in 1991 Belarus felt “the real freedom and democracy” till 1994. National attributes of Belarus have been rehabilitated and it entered into democratic development way. Process of formation of political parties, NGOs and democratic institutions has begun. But this period did not last long. The first and the last free election in 1994 held in history of the country was resulted with victory of state farm director and later on instructor of “Znaniya” society Alexander Lukashenko. New president began to “drag” country back – “Union”. Nomenclature and pensioners authority was rehabilitated. At the result the words “independence”, “democracy”, “native language”, “Market economy” turned to irony for some and for others as the struggle principle.

Lukashenko began his presidential activity by changing national attributes: flag, emblem and anthem and giving status of state language to Russian language. Soon it became clear that he will run the policy to integrate with Russia. Coordinated with Russia foreign and internal policy began to be run. In the upshot Belarus turned into Russia’s satellite. Local specialists mark some hard discords. It is enough just to pay attention to the fact that there are 4 Belarusian language schools in Minsk where the number of citizens constitute 2 millions. Previously Belarusian speaking people considered being villagers but at present – opposition members, Moscow TV channels possess hegemonic preference in election mass media system of the country. Belarusian language newspapers could be counted on the fingers. National bank has already made a calendar for transition to Russian ruble. Nowadays Lukashenko considers himself sincerely the most real candidate to the duty of the head of Russian-Byelorussian state. He even considers industrial-trade representatives formed in the provinces of Russia to be his potential support precincts.

At the moment being, Belarusian population constitutes 9 million people. Population increase speed equals to zero or might be even lower. As it became clear at the result of conducted polling 86% of pupils want to leave the country, most part of women wishes to marry foreigners. Being at the duty of official and computer programmer at the Presidential palace is considered to be the most fashionable job.

Authoritarian regime in the country is dominating. Officials are managed with the principle of award and punishment. After the last presidential election 172 state officials were rewarded for cars “Mercedes” from state budget account. At the same time over 20 thousand were opened criminal cases against state officials. All of it is executed with the aim of keeping officials apparatus in awe. Local specialists at personnel policy resemble president to bolshevists. Prosecutor General of the country is a person without any juridical education, military man, major of armored division. Head of national bank is a builder who worked chief of trust and etc.

At the moment in the country there are 18 registered and 3 unregistered parties. In separation none of them is considered to be real force center. Even united opposition is powerless in comparison with the president who does not lead any party. Here as well opposition is not homogeneous. Some part of population accuse Lukashenko of less integration to Russia and other part – to sacrifice national interests in favor of the former metropolis.

In a word, today Belarus is in the list of authoritarian states that can not go out of sphere of influence of Russia (if not to take into consideration a few patriots I would write not wishing to go out of sphere of influence) and human rights violation is of mass character. Run self-separation policy “presented” Belarusian the status of being undesirable for Europe and status of unacceptable president to Lukashenko.

P.S.

…The peoples resemble one another: with their histories, fates…

…The peoples as well do not resemble one another: as much strong as pitiable, as much pitiful as strong…

May, 2003

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