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Government in Exile: Explorations of the Belarus Enigma

Presentation by Ivonka J. Survilla, President of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile, at the Conference of the Canadian Association of Slavists (Ottawa, 24 May 2009)

If the sovereigns of my land had been as wise as the emperors of China, they probably would have built a wall along their border with the Duchy of Moscow at the very beginning of her aggressions against their territory. Instead, exhausted by the defensive wars against their Eastern neighbours, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the medieval predecessor of today’s Belarus), formed a defensive alliance with Poland. This happened in Lublin in 1569. 440 years later, I am speaking to you of the Government of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, which has been in Exile for the past 90 years. Once more – because of the expansionist policies of our Eastern “big brother”.

This presentation explores conditions that have affected Belarus’ existence since the early 20th century. Bolshevik aggression forced a legitimate Government into exile and required its existence beyond the borders of Belarus. In order to understand the present plight of this European nation, there is a need to consider the recent experiential history of Belarus and Belarusians.

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