The Belarusian Popular Front in 1988—1996: photo and video

The Belarusian Popular Front (Беларускі Народны Фронт) was a nationwide Belarusian democratic movement in the late 1980s and 1990s in favour of the Belarusian national revival and the restoration of the independence of Belarus as a democratic European nation.

The Belarusian Popular Front organized mass demonstrations supporting democratic reforms, commemorating the victims of the Soviet repressions of the 1930s, criticizing the inhuman Soviet policies regarding Chernobyl, and protesting against the Soviet discrimination of the Belarusian language and culture. In other Soviet-occupied countries, the Popular Front cooperated with local democratic movements: Sąjūdis (Republic of Lithuania), the People’s Movement of Ukraine, the Popular Fronts of Latvia and Estonia.

The Belarusian Popular Front has been the key driving force behind the political changes in Belarus in 1990 and 1991.

The small fraction of the Popular Front in the legislative council of the Soviet-occupied Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic has managed to resist the pressure of the conservative Soviet nomenklatura. Supported by tens of thousands of Belarusians on the central square of Minsk, the Belarusian Popular Front has initiated the passing of historical documents, enabling the official restoration of the independence of Belarus on August 25, 1991.

In the 1990s, the Belarusian Popular Front has been the key political movement opposing president Alaksandar Lukashenka who, supported by Russia, staged a coup d’etat that was formalized as two illegal and rigged referenda in 1995 and 1996. A. Lukashenka’s dictatorial regime, characterized by lack of basic political freedoms and by mass violations of human rights, has been dominating Belarus for more than twenty years since then.

The mass protests against A. Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime in 1995 and 1996 have been brutally cracked down by the police, and the leaders of the Belarusian Popular Front have been forced into exile.

Several modern opposition parties and organizations have evolved from the Belarusian Popular Front of the early 1990s. Many democratic politicians of today’s Belarus have begun their political careers as activists of the Belarusian Popular Front.

Commemoration of victims of Soviet repressions at the Kurapaty mass extermination site, 1988 and 1989

A demonstration of the Popular Front on November 7, 1990

Hunger strike by MPs of the Belarusian Popular Front in 1995