Referendum of 1995 that changed Belarus

The first referendum in the history of sovereign Belarus took place on May 14, 1995. At the initiative of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, four questions were put to the popular vote concerning state symbols, language, integration with Russia and the president’s right to dissolve the parliament (the Supreme Council).

According to the CEC of Belarus, 83.3% voted in favor of giving the Russian language an equal status with the Belarusian language, and 83.3% voted in favor of the new flag and coat of arms, 83.1% said ‘yes’ to “the actions of the President of the Republic of Belarus aimed at economic integration with the Russian Federation,” and 77.7% voted in favor of the Lukashenka’s right to dissolve the parliament.

On April 11, 18 deputies who opposed the referendum went on a hunger strike. On the night of 11 to 12 April 1995, the riot police and security forces of Lukashenka forcefully removed the deputies from the building.

Two days after the referendum, the white-red-white flag was torn to pieces on the roof of the presidential administration, and the Pahonya (Pursuit) coat of arms was removed from the Government House.