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Reburial of Bahdanovich in Belarus

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

Maxim Bahdanovich could have been reburied in Minsk. During my tenure as Minister of Culture, this was a topic that we made a sincere effort to address. 

But first, let me share how Bahdanovich influenced me. I vividly recall my days as a first-year student at the Faculty of History of the Belarusian State University, strolling along Masherov Avenue in Minsk, now known as Peramozhcau Avenue. I frequently visited a bookstore located in the Ministry of Culture building, where I eventually had the opportunity to work as a minister. It was there that I often purchased Belarusian-language literature. I particularly remember coming across a three-volume collection of poems by Maxim Bahdanovich.

Bahdanovich’s legacy, as a poet who lived only 25 years yet managed to become a true literary classic, is a remarkable phenomenon in Belarusian literature.

Maxim Bahdanovich passed away in Yalta, which is in Ukraine. One of my esteemed predecessors as minister, a well-respected figure in cultural circles, approached me with the idea of reburial for Maxim Bahdanovich. We engaged in discussions and agreed that the reburial could serve as a restoration of historical justice and a significant, uplifting event for Belarusian society. 

There were numerous arguments both in favor and against the idea, and I believe that representatives of both opinions still exist today. However, this presented an opportunity for Belarusian culture to lay Bahdanovich to rest in his homeland, a place he wrote so passionately about. I recall raising this topic during negotiations with Ukrainian ministers. Unfortunately, it proved to be a complex process that couldn't be realized at that time.

Preserving national culture within Lukashenko's system has always been a challenge. It's hard to fathom, but even the esteemed classics included in the conventional "star five" of Belarusian literature, which personally includes Kupala, Kolas, Bahdanovich, Karatkevich, and Bykau, faced difficulties in being included in government events. Even their works required defending and significant efforts to ensure their inclusion in such occasions. This struggle was not uncommon. What was once inconceivable for the Minister of Culture during the times of the BSSR became a reality for the Minister of Culture in an independent Belarus.



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