Independence Day (Belarus)

Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian: Дзень Незалежнасці Рэспублікі Беларусь, Russian: День Независимости Республики Беларусь), also known as Republic Day or Liberation Day is a public holiday, the independence day of Belarus and is celebrated each year on 3 July. Independence Day is a non-working day.

Independence Day
Belarusian: Дзень Незалежнасці
1997. Stamp of Belarus 0232.jpg
A 1997 commemorative stamp of Belarus honoring the sixth anniversary of independence
Observed by Belarus
TypeState
SignificanceThe day of the liberation of Belarus from the Wehrmacht.
CelebrationsFireworks, Concerts, Parades
Date3 July
Next time3 July 2021 (2021-07-03)
Frequencyannual

HistoryEdit

 
Soldiers on Victors Avenue during a parade in honor of independence day in 2017
 
A speech by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during the Independence Day celebrations on Victory Square in 2010

3 July 1944 was the day of Soviet liberation of Minsk from the Wehrmacht during the Minsk Offensive (code-named "Bagration"). The decision to celebrate Independence Day on 3 July, the day of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazis, from 27 July, the day of the Declaration of Sovereignty of Belarus in breaking away from the Soviet Union, was made during a controversial national referendum held in 1996 proposed by President Alexander Lukashenko.[1]

Since waves of unrest began in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, particularly in Poland, the countries in those regions sought independence from the Soviet Union. In Belarus, from 1991 to 1995 Independence Day was celebrated on 27 July, the day of the Declaration of Sovereignty of Belarus. This event was Belarus' declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.[2] On 25 August 1991, after the August events in Moscow, the Byelorussian SSR gave the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Republic constitutional status.[1]

On 19 September 1991, the Permanent Representative of the Byelorussian SSR Hienadz Buraukin informed the office of the Secretary General of the United Nations that the country would officially henceforth be known simply as "Belarus".[3]

On 10 December 1991 the Supreme Soviet of Belarus ratified the Belavezha Accords, which formally declared the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[4] Independence was formally received 26 December 1991 in connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union.[citation needed] Belarus is currently one of two post-Soviet countries to not associate its Independence Day with the collapse of the USSR.[citation needed]

ControversyEdit

There is a public debate in Belarus regarding the appropriate date to be considered Independence Day.[2] Since the early 1920s, various Belarusian political movements and the Belarusian diaspora have been celebrating Independence Day on 25 March as the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of independence by the Belarusian Democratic Republic.[2][5] The date is still widely celebrated by members of the democratic opposition in Belarus and by the Belarusian diaspora as Freedom Day.

Minsk bombing took place just after midnight on 4 July 2008, in Minsk, Belarus and wounded 54 people. The explosion happened near the Hero City Memorial at a concert to celebrate Belarus independence. The concert had been attended by Belarus President, Alexander Lukashenko, who was not hurt and who officials said was not the target.

A second, larger bomb was discovered before the blast.

No clear motive for the blast has been revealed. However, Belarusian government detained four members of the White Legion, a nationalist group, in the days following the attack.

EventsEdit

 
A sign commemorating Independence Day on the building of the Maxim Tank Belarusian State Pedagogical University.

The main event of Independence Day is a solemn military parade of the Belarusian Armed Forces's Minsk Garrison. Parades are also held in Barysaw, Gomel, Brest, Dzyarzhynsk, Haradok, Vitebsk and Mogilev. After the official part, the holiday social events start. A solemn ceremony headed by the President of Belarus is held in the Independence Palace the preceding day. Throughout the country celebrations and festivities are held. In the evening in Minsk fireworks are arranged. A series of concerts and events are held in Gomel, with a special emphasis on the Belarusian identity.[6]

Recently, in 2014 and 2019, the holiday has been celebrated with even more importance due to it celebrating the 70th and 75th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus respectively. In both instances, the annual parade took place at nine o'clock in the evening and included cadets form the Military Academy dressed up as Soviet-era Belarusian Partisans. In the latter celebration, the Russian Defence Ministry conducted a fireworks display in Moscow in honor of the anniversary. A national campaign called Let's Sing the Anthem Together (Russian: Давайте споем гимн вместе) for everyone capable to sing the a national anthem (My Belarusy) at a certain time has occurred annually in recent years.[7]

State visits associated with the holidayEdit

 
Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko attending the inauguration of a new building in the museum in 2014.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon of the United States arrived in Minsk during a state visit to the Belarusian SSR to attend celebrations in honor of the 30th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus.[8] Attending the 2013 parade were the Presidents of Venezuela and Laos, Nicolás Maduro and Choummaly Sayasone, respectively.[9][10] In 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Belarus on the eve of Independence Day, attending the inauguration of the Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum.[11] During the 2019 celebrations, Azerbaijani defense minister Zakir Hasanov, Commander Russian Western Military District Viktor Astapov, and Uzbek army chief Pavel Ergashev were in attendance.[12]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Balmforth, Tom (August 25, 2011). "Belarus And The Independence Day That Wasn't". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Belarus' Three Independence Days Archived August 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine by Paula Borowska. BelarusDigest, July 28, 2014
  3. ^ "History, Belarus". Government of Belarus. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  4. ^ "Belavezha Accords, signed by Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, also violated by Russia". Unian Information Agency. December 8, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  5. ^ "Belarusian Independence Day in New York – proclamation by Mayor Rudi Giuliani | Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic".
  6. ^ "Independence day celebration in Gomel". Independent Travellers. independent-travellers.com. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  7. ^ https://www.tvr.by/eng/news/obshchestvo/v_22_50_ezhegodnaya_aktsiya_spoem_gimn_vmeste_/
  8. ^ Times, John Herbers Special to The New York (July 2, 1974). "Nixon, in Minsk, Calls for Amity" – via NYTimes.com.
  9. ^ "Minsk celebrated Independence Day with a parade of tanks, tractors and athletes - EuroBelarus". en.eurobelarus.info. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  10. ^ "Belarus in pictures | Belarus in photo | Belarus in images | Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro | Belarus in pictures | Belarus in photo | Belarus in images". www.belarus.by. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "70th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from Nazi occupation". President of Russia.
  12. ^ "В рамках празднования 75-летия освобождения Беларуси — Военный информационный портал Министерства обороны Республики Беларусь". www.mil.by.