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National consciousness is our weapon and our shield

Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

Speech by Pavel Latushka during participation in the festive events in Warsaw on the occasion of Freedom Day:

National consciousness is our weapon and our shield. 

This is the reason why we, Belarusians, a relatively small nation (compared to the Eastern Empire, next door to which we were "lucky" to exist in quotation marks) - managed to save itself, managed to survive, despite centuries of Russian-imperial and Russian-Soviet occupation. In spite of violent Russification, in spite of terror, in spite of everything.

We rebelled, suffered defeats, and rebelled again. Our leaders and our national elite were executed on the scaffold, shot at night in Kurapaty, and yet we rose again. Our statehood was destroyed, but we rose again.

It was national consciousness that brought more than 1,800 delegates from all over Belarus to Minsk for the first All-Belarusian Congress 107 years ago. And despite the fact that the congress was dispersed by the Bolsheviks, a few months later, the BPR, the Belarusian People's Republic, was declared and formed—the first independent Belarusian national state. Because that was the will of Belarusians. At least those who managed to keep their national consciousness, who did not lose hope, and who were determined enough to seize the historical moment and opportunity of that time.

106 years have passed since that date, March 25, 1918. But that seed of national consciousness, that seed of desire for our own statehood, having survived the Bolshevik terror, the Stalinist repressions of the 1930s, Kurapaty, and the decades of the USSR, that seed let sproot.

The truth about Kurapaty, the first Chernobyl Pass demonstration, the national rise and movement of the late 80s and early 90s, the proclamation of the Republic of Belarus. And then, unfortunately, Lukashenko came to power with the support, once again, of Russia. The beating of deputies of the Supreme Council, shameful referendums, murders of political opponents, "integration" with Russia, the formation of the Union State. But the resistance of Belarusians continued. 

Election protests “Ploshcha 2006” and “Ploscha 2010”, demonstrations of “parasites”... And finally, the revolutionary events of 2020, which, contrary to the ideas that existed at that time about the secondary nature of the national component of the protest, were held under the national white-red-white flag.

And what do we have today? Yes, there is backlash and mass terror in Belarus. There are thousands of political prisoners. There are more than 136,000 victims of the Lukashenko regime's crimes against humanity. There is a war against Ukraine, in which Lukashenko's regime is participating on the side of Russia against the will of the Belarusian people. There is a new threat to our independence and the very existence of our statehood from Russia through the activities of the pro-Kremlin Lukashenko regime.

But we still have our national consciousness. We have the will for freedom. The will for independence. Both inside Belarus and outside its borders, because the Belarusian diaspora does not lose this will and consciousness even in forced emigration. And we have the support of the civilized world.

And I thank all our partners for this. I thank the authorities of Poland, where we are today, for all the support that Belarusians receive on your land.

But most importantly, I thank all Belarusians, wherever you are today, for not giving up, not surrendering, and continuing the struggle. Everyone is in their place and acts to the extent of their capabilities. Thank you for not losing our national consciousness, for not losing our language, for preserving these precious grains from which Belarus has repeatedly risen, even in the face of the most difficult challenges.

And of course, I pay homage and express gratitude to our partisan heroes for stopping the movement of Russian trains. I thank our heroes from the Kalinouski Regiment, who have been defending Ukraine from the Russian invasion for 2 years. My eternal gratitude, honor, and glory goes to Belarusian heroes, living and dead.

Our country and our nation have seen many difficult times. But we continue to live. Our consciousness continues to live. Our will continues to live. And Belarus continues to live.

Belarus lives and will definitely be free. Free and independent.

Happy Freedom Day! Long live Belarus!


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