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.