In Belarus, unlike other post-Soviet countries, Independence Day is not connected with the collapse of the USSR. In fact, July 3 is the date of Minsk’s liberation from the Nazis in 1944.
Why was this choice made? In 1996, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka moved the main holiday to July 3 fighting with the nationally oriented opposition which he squeamishly called “conscious”.
Before that, since 1992, Independence Day had been celebrated on July 27, the day of the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Belarus. But Lukashenka set a course for “brotherly integration” with Russia and began to destroy the “nationalists’ achievements”.
According to the Soviet pattern
The choice of July 3 for this holiday is criticized by the opponents: on this day only Minsk was freed, but not the whole Belarus, and most importantly — the Stalinist regime returned here. Repressions continued, everything was ruled by Moscow. That is, there was nothing like true freedom and independence of the Belarusian nation.
But the leadership of Belarus stubbornly adhered to the truncated, cramped Soviet version of the national history. Lukashenka is a Soviet man himself, and he wanted to please the Kremlin. For the sake of “brotherly integration”, the actual Russification continued for the sake of cheap Russian resources.
Now the relations between the “sworn allies” have become strained, the Kremlin is forcing the so-called deep integration which smells like a soft acqisition. Lukashenka is resisting but the claw of the Belarusian bird is sitting too tight.
Moscow “marks” the Belarusian foothold
This year’s parade on July 3 in Minsk will begin with aviation. And the eye of the connoisseur will immediately note that the Belarusian Air Force lacks modern combat aircraft. And in general, Russia is not burning with the desire to supply the ally with the latest weapons and equipment. And what is offered is incredibly expensive.
Lukashenka has repeatedly accused Moscow of being mean in this respect. But in light of the current coercion to integrate, one should not count on the Kremlin’s generosity.
Some observers believe that Moscow favors the aging arsenal of the Belarusian army in order to impose its military bases: you have no potential to protect the borders of the Union State, they could say.
Russian Iskander missiles will also participate in the ground part of the parade. This will not be a plus for the image of Minsk in the eyes of Western observers. After all, Moscow is threatening its NATO neighbors with Iskander missiles every now and then.
In addition, the appearance of these missile systems on Minsk streets strengthens the arguments of those who consider the Belarusian army only an appendage of the Russian army. But Lukashenka and the Foreign Ministry try hard to prove to Europe that Minsk pursues an independent policy and is a donor of stability in the region!
To be multi-vector, the Chinese and other soldiers from several post-Soviet countries were also invited to the upcoming parade. But Moscow is also looking sideways at Minsk’s military-technical cooperation with Beijing. Every alley is a dead end.
The authorities do not respect ‘Freedom Day’
The democratically-minded and nationally oriented part of the Belarusians considers the unofficial Freedom Day on March 25 as the best date for celebrating independence. It is connected with a short but important for the formation of statehood phenomenon — the appearance of the Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918.
In recent years, when relations with the Kremlin have deteriorated, the Belarusian authorities have been trying to change the official historical narrative to a certain extent and have started to turn to pre-Soviet dates and events. But they are afraid to unfold the Belarusianization so that the Kremlin wouldn’t get angry. Here it is, the trap of “brotherly integration”!
But it’s not just about Moscow. For Lukashenka, a former Soviet political worker, the Freedom Day remains an ideologically alien holiday of the “fifth column”.
Last spring, the authorities refused the organizers to visit the best venues in the capital. And sometimes even housewives with vegetables and pensioners with canes were dispersed on that day. Let the opposition know what country they live in.
Story by political observer Alyaksandr Klaskouski for belsat.eu
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of belsat.eu