Belarusians celebrating 90th anniversary of Belarusian National Republic

BNR 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...

Belarusians around the world on March 25 celebrate the 90th founding anniversary of the short-lived Belarusian National Republic (BNR), BelaPAN reports.

state seal depicting «Pahonya» (Pursuit)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 Belarusian National Republic (BNR). A national flag with white, red and white horizontal stripes 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.

Opposition supporters are planning to stage a demonstration in downtown Minsk on Tuesday evening to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the BNR. Demonstrations are being held also outside Belarus on occasion of the anniversary.

Andrea Rigoni, the special rapporteur on Belarus in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, has sent a message of greetings to former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich.

He expressed regret that he would not be able to attend the demonstration in Minsk, saying that he had a tight schedule because of preparations for Italy's parliamentary elections scheduled for April 13, according to Mr. Milinkevich's press office.

Mr. Rigoni noted positive developments in Belarus but said that the general situation regarding human rights and democracy in the country still caused concern.

He promised that he would continue using every available opportunity to bring the country closer to standards of the Council of Europe.