Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

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Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

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In Belarus, you can still hear the echoes of protests, which began in August last year and aim to overthrow the current government. The protests have both objective internal reasons and signs of external modeling by foreign forces. Foreign active participation already became evident from the very beginning. It was under the influence of ideas implemented from abroad that the colors WRW (white-red-white) became the official symbol of the protest movement. It includes flags, pennants, posters with a white background horizontally cut by wide red stripe, as well as the “Pursuit” emblem that consists of a horse mounted silver cavalier.

For domestic consumption, the opposition explains the use of WRW symbols by the fact that it dates back to the times of the independence of Belarus. It became the official flag of the Belorussian People’s Republic (1918-1919), and the Republic of Belarus (1991-1995).

Today, opposition symbols are outlawed by official Minsk. Many people wonder what could justify such a sharply negative attitude on the side of the Belorussian authorities.

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The answer can be found in Belorussian events dating mid-20th century. During WWII Paul Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda of National Socialist (NS) Germany, developed standard methodologies for ideological support of collaborationist movements in German occupied eastern territories of the USSR, primarily Ukraine and Belarus. These methodologies were also aimed at creating National Socialist movements among other peoples of the Soviet Union.

These techniques were based on radical nationalist ideology. According to Third Reich propagandists, they were supposed to fuel inter-ethnic conflicts in the enemy camp. For example, in west Ukraine the Galician nationalist movement was methodologically supported by NS Germany. Many ideologists and propagandists of the Ukrainian political party OUN-UPA worked in Berlin, Germany together with their NS German colleagues, creating ideology and supporting symbols for Ukrainian nationalists. This resulted in a wide distribution among Ukrainian collaborators of the symbolism that was later widely used during and after the revolution in 2014.

Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

Nationalist Ukrainian Azov regiment

In contemporary Belarus, a local collaborationist movement was created under White-Red-White flags. In contrast to Western Ukraine, in Belarus it did not receive the necessary support among the population. This lack of local support was explained by different cultural characteristics, as well as the large-scale genocide of the Belorussian population during the war.

During WWII, occupied Belarus lost a significant amount of its population. According to generally accepted data, during the years of occupation Belarus lost approximately 2.29 million citizens. In 1941 the population of Belarus (officially BSSR) was 9 million people.

Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

Soviet prisoners of war shot by fascist soldiers before retreating. July 6, 1944, Borisov. Photo: F. Kislova

 

Moreover, in 1941 less than 10 percent of the population of Belarus were ethnic minorities.

In the summer of 1941, the construction of concentration camps and ethnic minority ghettos in large cities began on the territory of Belarus In the Maly Trostenets camp alone, over 200 thousand people were killed. To some extent, the Belorussian lands became a place for NS Germany to exterminate non-viable (in their opinion) elements of the European population.

One of the bloodiest pages in the history of Belarus under German occupation is the Khatyn tragedy on March 22, 1943. After having sheltered pro-soviet partisans, the entire population of the village was burned alive. Elderly, women, children were kicked out of their homes and driven into a collective farm shed. When all the people were gathered in the barn, the invaders locked the doors, laid the barn over with straw, doused the barn with petrol and set it on fire. This punitive operation killed 149 people, including 75 children in Khatyn. Only three children managed to escape alive.

Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

Punitive operation in Belarus. Source: historic.ru

The village was destroyed by a special Sonderkommando (118th police battalion) unit, which consisted mostly of Ukrainian nationals. This punitive operation was led by the former senior lieutenant of the Red Army, Grigory Vasyura. When the war finished,  Vasyura not only hid the fact of serving in the NS German SS forces but was honored in Ukraine, and even demanded the Order of the Patriotic War. His crimes became known only 43 years after the war ended and was then sentenced to be shot.

The Khatyn massacre has become synonymous with genocide, inhumanity and unbridled cruelty. However, such punitive operations were commonplace. In total, about 200 Belorussian villages were destroyed by soldiers of the 118th battalion.

It was under the WRW flag that the Belorussian collaborationist movement was formed, which helped the invading NS German forces to commit atrocities against Belorussian citizens, Polish intelligentsia and ethnic minorities.

The WRW flag was seen along with NS Germany symbols, Adolf Hitler’s portraits at festive processions and public events. White-Red-white was the official color in the Belorussian Regional Defense – an armed formation created to fight pro-soviet partisans at the end of the foreign occupation.

Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

German authority gives calm and order.

The ideologists of the Third Reich paid special attention to the Belorussian youth. The nationalist organization “Union of Belorussian Youth”, created on the principles of the hitlerjugend (hitler youth), numbered tens of thousands of participants.

Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

Under the native flag, into the better tomorrow.

Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

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Why Opposition Symbols Are Outlawed In Belarus?

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Today, the WRW symbols used by the opposition movement in Belarus demonstrate the poor education of the current young population, ignorance of their own history and ease of foreign manipulation. The WRW cannot, in any way, become a symbol of unification of the scattered people of Belarus.

As a result, WRW promotion as a tool of unification in order to fight the current regime and promote alleged democratic values is an extreme degree of cynicism.

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