Memorial Narratives of WWII Partisans and Genocide in Belarus

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The memory of WWII always played an important role in Belarus, which was characterized as a “Partisan Republic” during the Soviet time. Soviet historiography and memorial narrative emphasized the heroics of the resistance to fascism and allowed only a description of the crimes of the Nazis. New ways of looking at war events appeared during the perestroika and after the independence of the country. But after Alexander Lukashenko came to power as president in 1994, a neo-Soviet version of the past was adopted and spread. The Great Patriotic War (GPW) has become an increasingly publicized event in the official memorial narrative as the culminating moment in Belarusian history. Since the mid-2000s, this narrative tends to be nationalized in order to testify that the Belarusian people’s suffering and resistance behavior were among the highest ones during WWII. Political and academic dissenting voices to the Belarusian authoritarian regime try to downplay this official narrative by pointing out that the Belarusians were also victims of the Stalinist repression, and their attitude towards the Nazi occupation was more than ambivalent. Behind the memorial discourses, two competitive versions of Belarusian national identity can be distinguished. According to the official version, Belarusian identity is based on the East-Slavic identity that incorporates the Soviet history in its contemporary development. According to the opposition, it is based on a national memory that discards the Soviet past as a positive one.

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... At the same time, many other cultural phenomena and forms of Belarusian social and public life have been vastly disregarded, especially in Western academia. Current studies on Belarusian identity have mostly focused on nation-building and national identity (e.g., Marples, 1999;Kuzio, 2001;Ioffe, 2007;Ioffe, 2008;Wilson, 2011, Fabrykant, 2019; politics, identity, and democratic process (e.g., Ioffe, 2008;Wilson, 2011;Becus, 2014;Bedford, 2017;Bedford & Vinatier, 2017); and collective and historical memory (e.g., Ioffe, 2008;Goujon, 2010;Wilson, 2011). The most complete cultural account on Belarusian identity is provided by Cherniyavskaya (2006), where the archetype of "a traditional Belarusian" is shown via folklore data and in Cherniyavskaya (2010), where the historical cultural divides within the Belarusian society are explained. ...
... Chase coat of arms, have been used as one of the symbols of Belarusian national identity by the pro-Western political elites who came to power in 1991, after the Soviet Union collapsed (Wilson, 2011;Ioffe, 2007;Ioffe, 2008). The national identity fostered by these elites contradicts the current official position and the official historical memory focused on WWII, which is reinforced by the neo-Soviet flag and coat of arms (Wilson, 2011;Goujon, 2010;Ioffe, 2007;Ioffe, 2008). ...
... It is here when I talk about the duality of Ruthenian/Russian culture discussed by Uspenskij & Lotman (1996), historical opposition between "state" and "people" discussed by Cherniyavskaya (2010), the relationship between language and identity in Belarus today as discussed by Vasilyeva (2019) and Fabrykant (2019) and in the historical perspective as discussed by Ignatouski (1919), Miller & Dolbilov (2006), Ioffe (2007, Goujon (2010), Cherniyavskaya (2010), and Wilson (2011). It is also at this stage when I introduce Berdyaev's (2008Berdyaev's ( [1948) ideas about the eschatological component of the Ruthenian/Russian culture and its direction toward an ideal future, as well as Berdyaev's (1916; ideas about tvorchestvo ('creativity') as a part of creating unity. ...
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The main intellectual problem I address in this study is how everyday communication activates the relationship between creativity, conflict, and change. More specifically, I look at how the communication of creativity becomes a process of transformation, innovation, and change and how people are propelled to create through everyday communication practices in the face of conflict and opposition. To approach this problem, I use the case of communication in modern-day Belarus to show how creativity becomes a vehicle for and a source of new social and cultural routines among the independent grassroots communities and initiatives in Minsk. On one level, I show how local research participants communicate six cultural identities through a cultural discourse when they speak about public creativity in Belarus. Additionally, I show how these categories of identity are structured as oppositional cultural codes, such as “State” vs. “People” or “Indifferent people” vs. “Talented, really creative people,” and how these discursive oppositions reflect a similar dynamic found in Ruthenian/Russian culture where the continuous interplay of opposing values has been a foundation of cultural unity throughout history. On another level, I show how the participants of these grassroots communities problematize the existing ideas and practices of being a Belarusian and of being a citizen in general. The prevailing cultural myth suggests that Belarus, like many post-Soviet spaces, is inferior to the “progressive” “West” and the “USA.” However, this is not the way Belarus is symbolically constructed in the grassroots communities I studied. The Belarus they envision living within is a place of togetherness, of synergetic cooperation, and with the emergence of alternative mythology and everyday routines out of which cultural, business, and social innovations arise. On yet another level, this research suggests that the process of creativity is, in its essence, a process of innovation, transformation, and change. I argue that such creative transformative processes in the society involve conflict, opposition, a struggle with everyday reality, out of which innovations come to life.
... Current studies on Belarusian identity have mostly focused on nation-building and national identity (e.g., Fabrykant, 2019;Ioffe, 2008Ioffe, , 2007Kuzio, 2001;Marples, 1999;Wilson, 2011); politics, identity, and democratic process (e.g., Bedford, 2017;Bedford & Vinatier, 2017;Bekus, 2014;Ioffe, 2008;Wilson, 2011); and collective and historical memory (e.g., Goujon, 2010;Ioffe, 2008;Wilson, 2011). The most complete cultural account on Belarusian identity is provided by Cherniyavskaya (2006), in which the archetype of "a traditional Belarusian" is shown via folklore data, and in Cherniyavskaya (2010), in which the historical cultural divides within the Belarusian society are explained. ...
... Belarusian language, along with the alternative historical memory focused on the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, as well as with the corresponding White-Red-White flag and The Chase coat of arms, have been used as one of the symbols of Belarusian national identity by the pro-Western political elites who came to power in 1991, after the Soviet Union collapsed (Ioffe, 2008(Ioffe, , 2007Wilson, 2011). The national identity fostered by these elites contradicts with the current official position and with the official historical memory focused on WWII, which is reinforced by the neo-Soviet flag and coat of arms (Goujon, 2010;Ioffe, 2008Ioffe, , 2007Wilson, 2011). ...
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This study aims to extend the existing academic accounts on Belarus and provides an in-depth cultural discourse analysis of Belarusian meta-cultural commentary on public creativity. I focus on the discursive hub of identity which is expressed and characterized by the informants through the discursive hubs of acting and relating. Additional cultural and historical background on Belarus is considered to capture the complexity of meanings behind the cultural codes and indigenous terms about identity. This approach allows the analyst to show the historical contingency of the oppositional codes underlying the modern-day ideas about identity in the Belarusian discourses about public creativity.
... Critical engagement with the past is absent or overlaid by affirmative identification with official historical interpretations. Indeed, opposition figures barely question the importance of the war, as doing so would offer few advantages (Goujon 2010). The historian Iryna Ramanava (2020, 116) argues that historically charged responses to recent events should be seen as the logical result of the contradiction between the obsession with Belarus' current mnemonic landscape is therefore starkly divided between memories of positive, violent, and traumatic events. ...
... 38 as the Nazi terror is univocally condemned, the criminal nature of the Soviet regime is denied. 39 The prevalence of World War II memories in Belarus relates to the relatively late emergence of the country's national independence movement. given imperial rule over most of eastern europe, and comparatively late changes in agricultural organization and industrialization during the second half of the nineteenth century, Belarusian national consciousness materialized comparatively late. ...
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This article is part of the special cluster, “Here to Stay: The Politics of History in Eastern Europe”, guest-edited by Félix Krawatzek & George Soroka. The Western outskirts of the former Soviet Union suffered huge levels of destruction during World War II. It is for this reason that the memories of the war in countries such as Belarus and the Baltics have centered on the local opposition to the Nazi occupiers in an attempt to bring societies together after the war. This article compares how Latvia and Belarus have represented their involvement in World War II over time and undertakes an analysis of how young people today perceive of this aspect of their country’s history. Of particular interest is the extent to which young people are prepared to admit the existence of collaboration and whether a persona of moral authority is able to shift how young people assess the need for critical engagement with history. To that end, the study relies on an original survey generated in early 2019, which also enquired into questions related to historical memory. I argue that young Belarusians are, on average, more prepared to acknowledge collaboration than young people in Latvia and that the involvement of a moral authority shifts assessments of history in a decisive way in Belarus only. The results for Latvia stress in particular the persistent divide relating to the country’s two linguistic communities.
... Dziady, rooted in the tradition of remembering those who have passed away, has been historically celebrated on the first Sunday of November, in opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church celebration of Radunica (Day of Rejoicing). Prior to and during the first years of Belarus' independence, political and civic groups used Dziady to commemorate victims of Stalinist repressions at the Kurapaty memorial site (Bekus, 2019;Goujon, 2010). Thus, during the 90s, this commemorative practice obtained historical and political significance for Belarusian society. ...
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National celebrations have been defined as manifestations of collective identities that glorify the nation and strengthen the national community. However, the magnitude and design of celebrations in autocratic states indicate a different ideational function that these symbolic events play in an autocratic political system. Autocratic elites have the administrative capacity to distort everyday routines and impose ideological principles of how people participate in state celebrations. How citizens engage in official celebratory practices in an authoritarian political context formulates a valuable contribution to the conceptualisation of national celebrations. Drawing on focus group discussions and ethnographic observations, I investigate how people negotiate meanings of celebratory and commemorative practices in the context of autocratic Belarus. I discuss how volatile the symbolic politics is when the invention of new symbolic traditions or the reinvention of old narratives does not appeal to all social groups and lacks authenticity.
... A large number of the latest memory studies also focus on the memory of World War II, commemorative practices and related traumas, such as the memory of the Holocaust (Waligórska 2018), genocide of civilians and the partisan movement ('partisan republic') (Ganzer 2019;Goujon 2010;Lewis 2017;Lewis 2019;Marples 2012;Marples 2014). ...
Belarusian institutional historical memory (as defined by Richard Ned Lebow) and the interpretation of Belarusian national history have experienced radical shifts in the past several decades. The first shift (1990–1994) was characterized by radical rejection of the interpretational and methodological patterns of the Soviet period, resulting in the creation of a new concept of Belarusian national history and historical narrative. The second shift in the existing historical narrative and institutional memory followed rapidly. It came with the transformation from a parliamentary republic into a parliamentary-presidential (1994) and then presidential republic (1996). The second wave demonstrated a clear shift towards a methodological, theoretical approach and terminological framework typical of the historiography of the Soviet period. These changes were in response to the growing demands for ideological control of institutionalized historical research supported by the government in the same decade. One of the characteristic features of recent Belarusian state-sponsored historiography (Lyč, Chigrinov, Marcuĺ, Novik and others) is the linking of post-Soviet national initiatives to Nazi occupation and collaboration in World War II. Another typical feature is simplifying historical explanations and often using undisguised pejorative terminology. The last shift in institutional historical memory also resulted in further re-interpretations of many symbolic centres and milestones of Belarusian history (for example, the period of the first years of post-Soviet independence, the introduction of new national symbols (Pahonia coat of arms and white-red-white flag) and the interwar nationality policy of Belarusization of the 1920s.)
... (Toisen maailmansodan muistelukontekstista ks. Goujon 2009.) Myös lapsuuden ja nuoruuden muisteluun liittyvät omat erityistekijänsä. ...
... Up to 80 per cent of buildings and infrastructure were destroyed, with 209 out of 270 cities left in ruins. The various guerrilla groups which conducted partisan warfare from the Belarusian forests would later become an important part of the national myth and can today be invoked by both the authorities and the opposition (Goujon 2010). ...
This book explores the nature of the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, and who is often characterized as "the last dictator in Europe". It discusses how Lukashenka came to power, providing a survey of politics in Belarus in early post-Soviet times, examines how power became personalized under his regime, and considers how he coerced opponents, whilst maintaining good popular support. The book discusses all aspects of politics, including presidential power, the ruling elites, elections, the opposition, and civil society. The author characterizes Lukashenka's rule as "adaptive authoritarianism", and demonstrates how the regime's avoidance of any ideology, even nationalism, permits great freedom of manoeuvre, enabling pragmatic adaptation to changing circumstances.
The author engages with the politically loaded turbulent processes of national memory building in the decolonized context vis-à-vis a concept of cosmopolitan ethics in coming to terms with the past, inspired by the legacy of the Polish-Jewish lawyer and refugee Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959). Moses considers the question why the notion of genocide, instead of forming a transnational reference for solidarity among societies experienced by colonialism, has been instrumentalized by predominantly nationalist approaches. He discusses the potential of transnational concepts of memory and identity vis-à-vis national instrumentalization.The winning of national independence after imperial rule entails a memory regime indentured to the cast of the liberation drama: wicked occupiers and fanatical settlers, heroic indigenous resistors and opportunistic collaborators. The redemptive culmination of the liberation struggle promised to end the “terror of history” that drove the resistors because they now possessed a state that was the vehicle for their people’s fate. They controlled the future and the past. All too often, though, we see that the contaminating presence of settlers who remained and of collaborators who were not purged has dashed the redemptive hope for national renewal. The situation is structured for civil war, waged with arms or with words, about the meaning of the past and direction of the future. The conflict inflicts or threaten to inflict untold suffering on the citizenry.An alternative “terror of history” was endured by Raphael Lemkin. He suffered nightmares about the suffering of all peoples in history, and invented of the genocide concept to highlight their common experience. His was an ethic of cosmopolitan solidarity that originated in his layered identity as Jew and Pole, lawyer and refugee. Yet his concept is usually put to nationalist rather than cosmopolitan uses because genocide, as he conceived it, was an extreme policy of conquest and occupation that provoked anti-colonial struggle. Claiming to be a victim of genocide becomes a weapon of the liberation movement. What would resistors make of his layered identity? This paper explores the various modalities of post-colonial memory regimes in global context to show how the “terror of history” continues to haunt contemporary generations with the legacies of empire long after independence.
This article examines the current memorialisation of the Holocaust in Belarus through the example of the Maly Traścianiec camp, established by the Nazi occupation regime just outside Minsk. It traces the changing interpretations of the site’s history, from neglect of its Holocaust dimension to a partial recognition of this in the past few years and the establishment of two significant memorials, opened in Maly Traścianiec (2015) and Blahaŭščyna Forest (2018). Building on previous studies, it asks whether Belarus may finally recognise the transnational nature of the Holocaust and Maly Traścianiec as a key component of the Holocaust in Belarus. Such recognition may eventually change the government’s longstanding focus on victory in World War II as the founding stone of modern Belarus.
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Across Eastern Europe how the past is remembered has become a crucial factor for understanding present-day political developments within and between states. In this introduction, we first present the articles that form part of this special section through a discussion of the various methods used by the authors to demonstrate the potential ways into studying collective memory. We then define the regional characteristics of eastern europe's mnemonic politics and the reasons for their oftentimes conflictual character. Thereafter we consider three thematic arenas that situate the individual contributions to this special section within the wider scholarly debate. First, we examine the institutional and structural conditions that shape the circulation of memory and lead to conflictive constellations of remembering; second, we discuss how different regime types and cultural rules influence the framing of historical episodes, paying attention to supranational integration and the role of technological change; third, we consider the different types of actors that shape the present recall of the past, including political elites, social movements, and society at large. We conclude by identifying several promising avenues for further research.
The article analyzes public commemorations of the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina with regard to the naming of the war, the causes and the character of the war, and collective sentiments. My main argument is that the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s memory landscape is discursively simplified and that its diversity remains peripheral in our analysis of war memory sites.
The article addresses the emerging memorial spaces on the fault lines of the post-Soviet and Western memorial cultures. Taking as a case study the Memorial Complex in Trastsianets, located on the fourth biggest site of Nazi mass killing in Europe, it analyses the way Belarus revisits its memorial paradigms and factors the Holocaust into its national narrative. Looking at the political underpinnings of the project, rivaling artistic visions and the transnational diplomatic efforts involved, the article examines how different stakeholders negotiate the symbolic significance and material appearance of this major but little known Eastern European Holocaust site.
Since coming to power in 1994, Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka has made considerable efforts to consolidate the young republic. Two main periods can be identified: between 1994 and 2001 the Lukashenka government officially promoted moves towards ever-closer integration with Russia, while after 2001 the regime has put a heavier emphasis on independence and statehood. Whereas the legacy of the Belarusian SSR retains a central role in the history writing and memory production of the Lukashenka government, the regime has in recent years also shown increasing interest in appropriating at least some of the oppositional symbolism. This chapter surveys the official rhetoric, historical references, and the expanding base of historical symbolism of official Belarusian patriotism under Lukashenka.
This paper studies the Belarusian nation as envisioned by the president in his political speeches delivered on the country’s Independence Day. The theoretical framework of the paper rests upon an understanding of the discursive construction of national identity. This analysis of the presidential speeches utilizes principles of the Discourse Historical Approach (DHA). As a special genre of texts, political speeches aim to offer normative guidance and a sense of societal consensus to the public. The paper reveals that in the construction of a national community in Belarus, the presidential speeches ambiguously refer to historical memory, socio-economic development, the political system and the country’s foreign relations.
This book is the first in English to explore both Belarus's complicated road to nationhood and to examine in detail its politics and economics since 1991, the nation's first year of true independence. Andrew Wilson focuses particular attention on Aliaksandr Lukashenka's surprising longevity as president, despite human rights abuses and involvement in yet another rigged election in December 2010. Wilson looks at Belarusian history as a series of false starts in the medieval and pre-modern periods, and at the many rival versions of Belarusian identity, culminating with the Soviet Belarusian project and the establishment of Belarus's current borders during World War II. He also addresses Belarus's on-off relationship with Russia, its simultaneous attempts to play a game of balance in the no-man's-land between Russia and the West, and how, paradoxically, Belarus is at last becoming a true nation under the rule of Europe's "last dictator.".
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Social uses of the past and social order in Belarus The article deals with the singular story of a priest in a Belarusian parish, who was recently caught up by his past and accused of collaborating with the Soviet security services; the paper analyses the disorders raised by this event and explores the confrontation between this historical and conflictual past and the patrimonalized and depoliticized past which the priest, both a moral and memorial entrepreneur, had locally staged.
The brutal March 1943 massacre in the Belorussian village of Khatyn, commemorated in a 1969 memorial, has come to symbolize the horrors of the German occupation. Given the continuing centrality of the massacre to Belarusian memory politics, the details of the event remain under-studied. For political reasons, Soviet authorities and Ukrainian diaspora nationalists alike had an interest in de-emphasizing the central role of collaborators in carrying out the massacre. Using German military records, Soviet partisan diaries, and materials from Belorussian and Canadian legal cases, the author of this article revisits one of the most infamous, yet least understood war crimes committed on Soviet territory.
Between 1987 and 1990, simultaneous with "glasnost' and perestroika" and the rehabilitation of the victims of Stalin's crimes, execution sites were discovered, particularly in the European regions of the former USSR. One such discovery at Kuropaty (formerly Brod) about twelve kilometers north of Minsk, elicited widespread publicity, and was a serious embarrassment to the communist authorities.
This eye-opening book shows how Communist state and party authorities stage-managed the Soviets memory of World War II, transforming a national trauma into a heroic exploit that glorified the party while systematically concealing the disastrous mistakes and criminal cruelties committed by the Stalinist tyranny..
This paper examines how the issue of collaboration was presented and dealt with in Soviet, Western and post-Soviet Russian and Belarusian writings. Furthermore the paper discusses the national, socioeconomic and political preconditions of collaboration with the German occupation forces in Belarus. The author highlights the relationship of collaboration with the prewar Soviet policies and analyses the politics of Belarusian nationalists and independentist émigrés from 1917 to 1941. The Nazi recruitment of Belarusian exiles of different military, political and intelligence organisations and the funding of Belarusian pro-German oriented right-wing organisations are described. The reactions of the Belarusian civilian population and its attitudes vis-à-vis the German occupation authorities and Soviet partisans at the initial stage of the war are then discussed. The paper underlines the complexity of motives and the variety of forms of collaboration. The collaboration movement in Belarus was far from homogeneous: some people supported the Germans on the basis of their political principles, nationalistic ideas and state-building aspirations; some collaborated because they rejected Soviet economic and cultural polices, while the majority just wanted to survive the war and improve their postwar chances. Particular attention is devoted to the nature and peculiarities of Nazi polices in the occupied territory of Belarus. The harsh measures introduced by Germans (requisitions by the troops, forced labour program, collective reprisals and the genocide of Belarusian Jewry etc.) jeopardised the positive or neutral attitude of the local population toward the Germans, aroused hostility and became one of the main factors that caused the change in attitude. Finally, the paper analyses the transition from collaboration to resistance in late 1943–1944 on the basis of several considerations: the change in the course of the war, the influence of propaganda, and an emerging understanding that the Soviets would emerge victorious.
At the beginning of the 1990s, when the former Soviet republics declared sovereignty, the questions of their national histories, long neglected in the Soviet period, once again became important. In taking up the national and cultural traditions of the pre-Soviet era, as well as a literary language that had been reduced to folklore, the post-Soviet national intelligentsias began to develop their own versions of the Belarusian past. As the old Soviet empire declined, new “historical” nations developed against a background of diverse ethnicity and political struggles for power. Western scholars have discussed in detail the changes in historical writing since the emergence of glasnost '. The post-Soviet intelligentsia not only faced a crisis in historical writing and history generally within the late Soviet Union, but were confronted with what Aaron Gurevich has called a “vacuum of historical vision.”
Journal of Democracy 16.4 (2005) 83-97 In 2001, ten years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the prospects for democracy in its successor states (outside the Baltic) seemed increasingly bleak. Even countries that had begun their independence from the USSR in relatively promising fashion seemed to be sliding back toward autocracy. But then things suddenly seemed to change. A series of dramatic events—Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution, Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, and the Tulip Revolution that ousted Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev following rigged February 2005 parliamentary elections—created a very different set of expectations. Many thought that this new wave of change would spread democratic impulses throughout the region, leading to the ouster of autocrats in other countries. In reaction to the events in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, politics is indeed changing in postcommunist Eurasia—but in many places it is changing for the worse. Several of the region's surviving autocracies have tightened the reins: Kazakhstan recently outlawed its major opposition party; Tajikistan introduced new regulations restricting contact between foreign diplomats and local civil society groups; Azerbaijan's opposition groups and independent press face a new round of attacks in advance of the November 2005 parliamentary elections; in Uzbekistan, a May 2005 rebellion against President Islam Karimov was violently suppressed; and Russian president Vladimir Putin recently announced an upcoming ban on civil society assistance from abroad and implemented an electoral reform that makes it impossible for parties independent of the presidential administration to win representation in parliament. Although not all of these actions are directly related to the aforementioned revolutions, they demonstrate how far authoritarian incumbents are willing to go to protect their power. Veteran leaders of former Soviet republics have openly vowed to avert democratic revolutions in their own countries. They directly attribute the downfall of their Georgian, Ukrainian, and Kyrgyz counterparts not only to activities orchestrated by the international democracy-promotion community, but also to the inherent weaknesses of unconsolidated authoritarian regimes. As many surviving autocratic leaders see it, the great mistake of their fallen colleagues was to tolerate social and even political pluralism, believing that it would furnish them with a respectable democratic façade without endangering the stability of their regimes. The lesson drawn by the autocratic survivors is simple: They must step up repression. In the post-Soviet countries that have recently experienced democratic breakthroughs, incumbents did try to crack down on political rights and civil liberties, but they were unable to foreclose change. For opposition political and social forces, which had developed earlier in the relatively liberal environment of competitive authoritarianism, were able to withstand the pressure. In contrast, hard-line authoritarian regimes ensure their continued stability and survival not just by sporadic reactions to already existing political and social challenges, but by preemptive attacks that eliminate threats before they arise. Preemption aims at political parties and players that are still weak. It removes from the political arena even those opposition leaders who are unlikely to pose a serious challenge in the next election. It attacks the independent press even if it reaches only small segments of the population. It destroys civil society organizations even when these are concentrated in a relatively circumscribed urban subculture. Last but not least, it violates the electoral rules even when the incumbent would be likely to win in a fair balloting. Although these actions may destroy the regime's democratic image abroad, the public at home may still perceive its leaders to be duly, if not fully democratically, elected. By uprooting political and social alternatives well before they develop into threats, incumbents can win elections long before the start of the campaign. And the validity of their victory is less likely to be contested when the strongest challengers have already been denied entry into the race by disqualification or other more nefarious means. Preemption has an enormous psychological impact on both the political and social opposition; such systematized repression instills in them a sense of hopelessness and imposes the perception that political change is far beyond reach. One Eurasian country in particular has brought the policy of preemption to perfection—Belarus...
More than a decade after acquiring statehood, Ukraine is still struggling to define the qualitative content of its national identity. To what extent is the Ukrainian nation to be conceived in political and territorial terms? To what extent is the Ukrainian nation to be grounded in ethnicity and culture? These are central topics of debate in contemporary Ukraine. A related issue is obscured by the civic/ethnic dichotomy, which directs attention toward the contest between civic and ethnic identities, and away from the conflict over which type of civic or ethnic identity the nation should pursue. Indeed, in the Ukrainian case the question of which, or rather, whose, ethnicity and culture should be at the core of the Ukrainian nation is more salient than the one over the relative priority of civic and ethnic identity. This article proposes that two versions of ethnic national identity are prominent today and compete for supremacy: an Ethnic Ukrainian national identity and an Eastern Slavic national identity. The goal of this article is to discover the degree of support among the masses in Ukraine for a civic national identity and for these two variants of ethnic national identity. It argues that the two ethnic national identities are embedded in a broader set of beliefs and policy preferences, forming what are labeled here 'national identity complexes'. Using survey data, the article shows that civic national identity is stronger than ethnic national identity, and that on most measures the Eastern Slavic national identity complex is stronger than the Ethnic Ukrainian national identity complex.
The new states emerging from the break-up of the Soviet Union not only had to manage the task of political and economic reforms but were also forced to develop a suitable national state ideology in order to ensure their achieved independence. The existence of a national consensus is essential for the stability of every state and society, and during periods of transition the question how national identity is defined becomes especially important. Thus, on the one hand, the dominance of a concrete national state concept may facilitate the transformation process because people are ready to bear the social costs of economic reforms in the name of state sovereignty, as was the case in Lithuania. On the other hand, a continuing Soviet cultural hegemony can also block necessary modernization in the post-Soviet period.
This article is among the first to challenge traditional Soviet interpretations of the history of the Belorussian Republic during the Second World War. The author explains the biases that predominated in Soviet historiography concerning the region and explains why they prevailed. After summarizing recent efforts by scholars to set the record straight, he offers a brief reassessment of many controversial issues that dominate in Belorussian historiography. These include the origins and nature of the Belorussian partisan movement, the response of Belorussians to German occupation, the degree to which the population collaborated with the German regime, and the impact of Stalinist repression on the Belorussian population during and after the war.
This article pursues two aims. On the empirical level, it challenges the view of Belarus as a ‘denationalised’, or ‘failed’ nation, and exposes the country as an area of intensive nation-building. The article demonstrates that, unlike most post-communist states, two versions of national identity have been advanced in Belarus since 1989, with divergent results for their proponents. On the theoretical level, such an atypical experience places qualifications on the instrumentalist approach, that regards nation-building as a political tool. The analysis of identity creation in Belarus suggests that nation-building as a political strategy may be limited by the existing attitudes in the society in question, the socio-economic structures, as well as by the influence of foreign actors.
Over the past decade, a number of elections in postcommunist regimes perched between democracy and dictatorship have led to the triumph of liberal oppositions over illiberal incumbents or their anointed successors. The international diffusion of these electoral revolutions reflects the interaction among five factors: the long term development of civil society, expanded opportunities for democratic political change, the rise of collaborative networks among international democracy promoters, regional exporters of democracy and local oppositions, and, finally, careful application of an electoral approach to regime transition. The cross-national diffusion of the electoral model in this region, however, may have run its course, largely because of less supportive local and international conditions.
Review of Sowjetische Partisanen in Weißrußbland. Innenansichten aus dem Gebiet Baranovici 1941-1944. Eine Dokumentation
  • Chodakiewicz Marek Jan
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Belarus: Film about Partisans Goes against Official Grain
  • Jan Maksymiuk
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Velikaia Otechestvennaia Voina Sovetskogo Naroda (v kontekste Vtoroi mirovoi voiny
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Memorial Narratives of WWII Partisans and Genocide in Belarus 23 26 Democratic Revolutions in Post-Communist States
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Vystuplenie Lukashenko na tseremonii vozlozhenia venkov k monumentu Pobedy 9 maia Ofitsialnii internet-portal Prezidenta Respubliki Belarus
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For a Heroic Belarus!': The Great Patriotic War as Identity Marker in the Lukashenka and Soviet Belarusian Discourses
  • Anders Rudling Per
Per Anders Rudling, " 'For a Heroic Belarus!': The Great Patriotic War as Identity Marker in the Lukashenka and Soviet Belarusian Discourses, " Sprawy Narodowooeciowe/Nationalities Affairs 32 (2008): 43-62.
The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field
  • Norman Davies
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