Milinkevich urges public to attend BNR anniversary demonstration in Minsk


Alyaksandr Milinkevich has urged Belarusians to attend a demonstration that the opposition plans to stage in Minsk on March 25 to mark 90 years since the foundation of the short-lived Belarusian National Republic.

In his statement, the former presidential candidate says that “the best sons of our land made a courageous step and declared to the world the Belarusians’ wish and right to have their independent, democratic state – the Belarusian National Republic.” “History has proved that they expressed the will of millions of Belarusians,” Mr. Milinkevich says.

“Today we all need to respect the achievements of our great ancestors and work further for the sake of freedom, independence, our country’s national revival,” the statement reads.

Mr. Milinkevich, as well as Lyavon Barshchewski, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party, and opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich applied to the Minsk city authorities for permission for the demonstration in February.

The organizers want the demonstrators to gather in front of the Concert Hall of the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society on Yakub Kolas Square at 6 p.m. and to march along Minsk’s main thoroughfare, Independence Avenue, to Valadarskaha Street, and then along Haradski Val, Maksim Bahdanovich and Yanka Kupala Streets to Yanka Kupala Park, where the rally would take place. Participants are expected to lay flowers at statues to Yakub Kolas, Yanka Kupala, Maksim Bahdanovich and Adam Mickiewicz, as well as at the building where the independence of the Belarusian National Republic was proclaimed on March 25, 1918.

The Belarusian National Republic came into existence shortly before the end of the First World War, when the Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. Although the German authorities remained reticent, if not actually hostile toward the BNR provisional government, they did not interfere much with its political functioning. On March 25, 1918, the provisional government (Rada) together with representatives of the Vilna (Vilnius) Council proclaimed the independence of the BNR. A national flag with two white horizontal stripes and one middle red stripe was adopted, together with a state seal depicting "Pahonya" (Pursuit), the old emblem of the Grand Duchy of Litva.

Armenia, Czechoslovakia, Georgia, Germany, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland recognized the BNR de jure.

To counteract the effect of the proclamation of the BNR, the Russian Bolsheviks set up a Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic in Smolensk on January 1, 1919. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, a Communist government replaced the Rada there on January 5. The Rada was forced to go into emigration. //BelaPAN