History of Belarus

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Belarusian History from the Middle Ages to the Modern Time

In the early period of Middle Ages the lands of our modern country were populated by the tribes of Balts that Slavs started to assimilate actively. From the sixth to the ninth centuries Slavic tribes formed the first tribal unions that became the first political associations in that region. 

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Polotsk principality, as was mentioned in the chronicles of that time, was situated on the lands of modern Vitebsk region and a part of Minsk area and is dated by the ninth century. In the tenth century Kiev united almost all the Eastern Slavic tribes and their territories under its rule. After that there was a feudal fragmentation and separation till the fourteenth century. At that time Christianity appeared at Belarusian lands as the official religion and replaced paganism though its remnants are present till today. Its vestiges remain to this day and are preserved in ancient, primordially Belarusian traditions, rituals and holidays.
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The Establishment and Development of Grand Duchy of Lithuania

In the end of the thirteenth century Duke Mindaugas started the construction of a huge state that later received the name of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Samogitia and became one of the most popular and strongest countries. The Grand Duchy consisted of modern Belarusian, Lithuanian and partially Ukrainian and Russian territories.

Until the 16th century the GDL was very strong and played a significant role among European states, but after a number of wars it lost its strength and power. 
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The Establishment of Rzeczpospolita

In the late 16th century the Grand Duchy signed an agreement named the Lublin Union with the King of the Polish state. Two countries made a decision to be united in one state named Rzeczpospolita though despite of the union foundation, the state suffered a lot from internal wrangling and foreign wars. The military actions between the Grand Duchy and Moscow and the Northern War were the most devastative for the territories of our modern country. These events resulted in three partitions of Rzeczpospolita: in 1772, in 1793 and in 1795. That country was partitioned by Russian, Prussian and Austrian states.

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Belarusian History at the period of The Russian Empire (1772-1917)

In the 18th century after the three partitions of Rzeczpospolita most of the territories of Belarus were a part of the Russian Empire. During the 18th and the 19th centuries several huge military actions took place there. In 1794 Tadeusz Kosciuszko headed the action against the partition of Rzeczpospolita. The leader wanted the Polish state to be united and wished to obtain its independence. This uprising was suppressed by Russian General Suvorov.

In 1806 Poland was occupied by Napoleon and French troops were welcomed as liberators and fighters for independence of Rzeczpospolita. In 1812 Belarus became the main site of a battle between Russians and French. On 26 August 1812 the major action of the War took place near Borodino village wh ere Russian troops were defeated. During the war against Napoleon a great guerrilla warfare appeared and acted on those territories. Although French troops lost the war the consequences were rather hard for these places: a lot of casualties, destroyed settlements, famine, poverty and diseases.

In 1863 Kastus Kalinovsky and his young followers organized an uprising against Russia. However there was a split among the rebels named a split to "The Whites" and "The Reds". For this reason the protest of Belarusian people against the Russian Empire failed.

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After these hard events the peace was finally recovered on the territory of Belarusian lands and was interrupted only by the 1st World War in 1914.

During the 4-year war Belarusian territories again became the war line between Russia and Germany. On 3 March 1918 the peace treaty was signed in Brest-Litovsk. It finished Russian participation in the military actions.

The Revolutions and the Territory of Our Country

In 1917 Tsar Nikolay the Second abdicated the throne of the Russian Empire and then the October Revolution started. When the Bolshevist Party came to power in 1918 The Belarusian Republic was declared. At that period of time the lands of our country were occupied by German troops. In 1919 the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed and Minsk became its capital.

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In 1921 in the end of the war the Treaty of Riga was signed. It set the borders of Western Belarus within Polish territories.

The territories of Eastern Belarus remained on behalf of the USSR. From 1921 to 1939 in Western Belarus Polish government promoted the active colonization policy and the Eastern part of Belarusian lands suffered from hunger and economic breakdown. From 1936 to 1940 more than eighty six thousand people living on Belarusian territories were eliminated during Stalin`s reprisals.

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The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)

This war is a significant historical part of the Second World War that lasted from 1939 to 1945 and took place between the USSR with Belarus as a part of it and Germany with its allies. On the territory of our country the actions began on the 22nd of June 1941 following  the German troops` invasion of the Brest region territory and a six weeks' defense of Brest Fortress. By September 1941 all the territories of our country had been occupied by German troops. During the entire war German soldiers massively killed Jews living on Belarusian lands. In late 1941 a guerilla movement was actively formed on these territories and was the largest one in Europe till 1944. In July 1944 Belarusian lands were liberated as a result of the Operation «Bagration». After the war Western Belarusian territories stayed in the BSSR.

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The Latest History of Belarus

In 1945 Belarus became one of the United Nations members. In 1954 Belarus joined UNESCO.

In 1986 Chernobyl disaster at the Nuclear Power Plant happened in the Ukraine. It brought hard consequences for all the nearby territories especially for Belarus and its lands.

In 1990 the sovereignty of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was declared, and in 1991 the country was named as "The Republic of Belarus". That is the name that our state has now too.

In 1994 the first presidential elections were held and as a result Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko was elected the President of the Republic of Belarus.

The history of our state has a series of hard events and challenges for Belarusian people resulting in independence and sovereignty of Belarus.