Category Archives: English

Elections to the House of Representatives were not free and fair – statement by Rada BNR

Statement by the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic
On the Elections to the Chamber of Representatives
of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus
on 11 September 2016

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Former US Ambassador: Belarus Democracy Continues In Diaspora

Recent events in the Republic of Belarus demonstrate clearly that democracy is far from having been achieved in that troubled country. That fact confirms the wisdom of the caution shown by today’s heirs of the pre-Soviet, democratically based, independent Belarus They have withheld recognition of the present government. Theirs is the last government in exile of the many from Eastern and Central Europe which one-by-one returned their authority as democracy gradually was restored to most of the former Soviet empire.

This article chronicles the history of the Belarusian Democratic Republic (BNR) and its Council (Rada) from the time of its fleeing Red Army occupiers in 1920 until the present day. It discusses the Belarusian experience in comparison to those of other exiled governments, particularly that of Ukraine. Finally, it suggests that Western governments should both take cognizance of this historical democratic tradition and give the present Rada appropriate policy attention in considering relations with post-Soviet Belarus.

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The Constituent Charters of Belarus of 1918

The three Constituent Charters issued by the Rada BNR in February and March of 1918 have declared Belarus an independent democratic state. This has been the reestablishment of a sovereign Belarusian state after more than 100 years of Russian rule.


First Constituent Charter

To the people of Belarus

Our native land has found itself in a new and difficult situation. The fate of the regime that was here previously is not known. We face the possible occupation of our land by German troops.

We must take our fate into our own hands. The Belarusan people must assert their right to full self-determination, and the national minorities their right to national and personal autonomy.

The rights of nation should find realization by means of a Constituent Assembly convened on democratic principles.

However, even before convening the Constituent Assembly, all power in Belarus should belong to the peoples residing therein.

The Executive Committee of the Council (Rada) of the First All Belarusan Congress, supplemented by representatives of the revolutionary democracy of the national minorities and fulfilling the goals imposed upon it by the Congress, declares itself to be the Provisional Authority in Belarus to govern the land and to convene as soon as possible an All-Belarusan Constituent Assembly based on universal voting rights for the entire adult population without distinction of nationality, religion, or sex.

The Provisional National Authority in the land, having assumed the tasks of defending and strengthening the revolutionary achievements, will carry out these tasks through the National Secretariat of Belarus, which has been established and which, from this date on, has assumed the exercise of its responsibilities. The names of the members of the Secretariat will be published later.

The Executive Committee of the Council of the First All-Belarusan Congress
Given in Miensk, Belarus, February 21 (8), 1918.


Second Constituent Charter

To the people of Belarus

During this World War in which some powerful states have been destroyed and others liberated, Belarus has awakened to national life. After three and a half centuries of subjugation, the Belarusan nation again declares to the entire world that it is alive and will remain alive. The Great National Assembly the All-Belarusan Congress of December 5-17, 1917, concerned about the fate of Belarus, confirmed a republican government within its territory. Carrying out the will of the Congress and defending the national rights of the people, the Executive Committee of the Council (Rada) of the Congress, decrees the following concerning the political structure of Belarus and the rights and freedoms of her citizens and peoples:

  1. Belarus, within the borders of the numerical majority of the Belarusan people, is declared to be a Democratic Republic.
  2. The fundamental laws of the Belarusan Democratic Republic will be confirmed by the Constituent Assembly of Belarus, convened on the principles of a universal, equal, direct, secret, and proportional voting law without regard to sex, nationality, or religion.
  3. Until such time as the Constituent Assembly of Belarus convenes, the legislative authority in the Belarusan Deratic Republic shall belong to the Council of the All-Belarusan Congress, augmented by representatives of the national minorities of Belarus.
  4. The executive and administrative authority in the Belarusan Democratic Republic shall belong to the National Secretariat of Belarus which shall be appointed by the Council of the Congress and be responsible thereto.
  5. Within the borders of the Belarusan Democratic Republic freedom of speech, press, assembly, and the right to strike and organize unions are proclaimed; as well as unconditional freedom of conscience, and the inviolability of the individual and of residence.
  6. Within the borders of the Belarusan Democratic Republic all peoples have the right to national and personal autonomy; and equal rights for all the languages of the peoples of Belarus are proclaimed.
  7. Within the borders of the Belarusan Democratic Republic the right to private ownership of land is abolished. The land is to be given over without payment to those who till it. Forests, lakes, and natural resources are declared to be the property of the Belarusan Democratic Republic.
  8. Within the borders of the Belarusan Democratic Republic a working day of a maximum of eight hours is established.

Proclaiming all these rights and freedoms for the citizens and peoples of the Belarusan Democratic Republic, we, the Executive Committee of the Council of the Congress pledge to guard the legal order of life in the Republic, ensure the interests of all the citizens and peoples of the Republic, and preserve the rights and freedoms of the working people. We shall also apply all oui, strength to convene the Constituent Assembly of Byelorussia in the very near future.

We call on all faithful sons of the Belarusan land to assist us in our difficult and responsible labors.

The Executive Committee of the Council of the First All-Belarusan Congress
Given in Miensk, Belarus, March 9, 1918.


Third Constituent Charter

A year ago the peoples of Belarus, together with the peoples of Russia, threw off the yoke of Russian tsarism, which had oppressed Belarus most of all and, without asking the people, precipitated our land into the conflagration of war which totally destroyed Belarusan cities and villages.

Now we, the Council (Rada) of the Belarusan Democratic Republic, have’cast off from our native land the last vestige of national dependence which the Russian tsars imposed by force upon our free and independent land.

From this time on, the Belarusan Democratic Republic is proclaimed an independent and free state. The peoples of Belarus themselves, under the aegis of their Constituent Assembly, shall determine the future national relations of Belarus.

By virtue of this, all former national relations lose their force relations which made it possible for a foreign government to sign the Treaty of Brest for Belarus, thus destroying the Belarusan people by partitioning their land.

By virtue of this, the government of the Belarusan Democratic Republic will establish relations with interested parties by proposing to them a review of that part of the Treaty ol Brest which concerns Belarus and the signing of peace treaties with all belligerent states.

The Belarusan Democratic Republic should include all those lands where the Belarusan people constitute a numerical majority, namely: the Mahileu region, the Belarusan parts of the regions of Miensk, Horadnia (including the cities of Horadnia, Bielastok, and others), Vilnia, Viciebsk, Smalensk, and Charnihau, as well adjacent parts of neighboring gubernias, inhabited by Belarusans.

The Belarusan Democratic Republic confirms all those rights and freedoms of the citizens and peoples of Belarus which were proclaimed by the Constituent Charter of March 9, 1918.

Proclaiming the independence of the Belarusan Democratic Republic, its Council expresses the hope that all freedom-loving peoples will assist the Belarusan people to achieve fully their political and national ideals.

The Council (Rada) of the Belarusan Democratic Republic
Given in Miensk, Belarus, on March 25, 1918.

Selected Bibliography of works on the struggle for Belarusian Independence 1900-1921 in the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London

“…We, the Council (Rada) of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, have cast off from our native land the last vestige of national dependence which the Russian tsars imposed by force upon our free and independent land. From this time on, the Belarusian Democratic Republic is proclaimed and independent and free state.”

Those are the words from the Declaration Independence made by the Council of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Minsk on 25 March 1918. The independence did not last long owing to unfavourable political situation. All the same, from that day on Belarusians all over the world keep the 25 March as their Independence Day.

Belarus became part of the Russian Empire as a result of partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772-95. The tsarist authorities regarded it simply as the North-Western province (Severo-zapadnyi krai) of Russia, inhabited by people speaking a kind of peasant Russian dialect. Consequently all signs of individuality were systematically eradicated, including the destruction of the Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church to which the majority of Belarusians belonged. The opposite view was held by Poles, or rather by polonised Belarusian landed gentry, for whom Belarus was a Polish province. Despite this, Belarusian national movement began to manifest itself early in the 19th century, and gathered momentum especially after emancipation of peasants in 1861.

Continue reading Selected Bibliography of works on the struggle for Belarusian Independence 1900-1921 in the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London

Towards Legal Settlement of Communist Crimes: Belarusian Perspective

A presentation by Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs Mikałaj Pačkajeŭ in the European Parliament in 2012.

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The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile Asks Sweden to Investigate the Flag Incident

The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile has asked Sweden to investigate the actions of security personnel who did not allow the Belarusian white-red-white flag to be seen during the World Hockey Championships in Sweden.

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Memorandum of Rada BNR and Belarusian democratic organisations, 2012

CONCLUDING MEMORANDUM OF CONSULTATIVE MEETING OF LEADERS OF BELARUSIAN POLITICAL AND CIVIC ORGANISATIONS AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE RADA OF THE BELARUSIAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN EXILE

ON MEASURES TO SAFEGUARD THE INDEPENDENCE OF BELARUS

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Rada BNR expresses concern regarding repressions in Belarus after presidential elections

Statement

by the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile

28th December 2010

The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic (the BNR Rada) expresses its concern regarding the brutal repressions against opposition activists, political and human rights organisations, as well as journalists of the independent mass media, which have been unfolding in Belarus in the wake of the so-called presidential “elections” of 19 December, and which are currently gaining in scale. These repressions have involved not only the activists themselves but also their family members.

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