How did Lukashenka become a Polenophobe?
Poland is the number one enemy for Lukashenka today.
She "sheltered the fugitives", "is hatching plans of aggression against Belarus", and the Poles themselves are "bewildered", "sat on the American mare" and they need to "break the horns" (all these are expressions from Lukashenka's recent speeches).
The choice of the main enemy is obviously to some extent subconscious.
Three decades ago, when both Poland and Belarus were just starting to emerge from the post-communist quagmire, their starting opportunities were approximately the same.
Many people remember how in the late 80s, many Poles, in order to earn an extra penny, went to the commodity markets of Belarus in whole buses.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Belarusians switched roles with them: in the same way, they themselves traded various trifles in the markets of Warsaw, Bialystok, and Bialystok.
So we started from approximately one point.
It's just that they chose completely different models of the future.
Demonstration of the trade union Solidarity in Poland, Warsaw, 1989
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A harmful and dangerous example for Belarusians
Today's Poland is perceived by Lukashenka as hostile, disgusting, unpleasant if only because it is a living example of how successful and prosperous Belarus could be if it were not for him.
With rapid economic growth, with a clear European future, with salaries three times higher than those of Belarusians, with an efficient agriculture that relies entirely on farmers and has completely abandoned the communist legacy in the form of "state farms".
In the same way that Ukraine, with its freedom, democracy, independent press, and change of power, was sedated by Putin for many years, Lukashenka is sedated by Poland for all three decades of his presidency.
For him, it is also a kind of "anti-Belarus" - a harmful and dangerous example for its own subjects, where votes are counted in elections, presidents change every four years, and people can freely say what they think about the government.
During the NATO summit in Warsaw, 2016
If this Poland were somewhere across the ocean, God would be with it.
But she is here, behind Bug.
Tens of thousands of Belarusian citizens go there every day - some goods are cheaper than in Belarus, some for wages (because they pay three times more than in their homeland), some for studies (education in state universities is, as a rule, free, including for foreigners).
And they return from there - with observations, comparisons, and some with conclusions.
(A. Lukashenka, August 24, 2021: "They are brainwashing them and sending them to us as an agent, brainwashed. They are already ideological, well, if not enemies, then opponents of our state. And we have to fight with them. They are already are difficult to re-educate").
Demonstration of migrants on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland, November 2021
Just as Putin called Ukraine an "anti-Russian enclave" a week ago, for the destruction of which the war was started, Lukashenka could obviously call Poland an "anti-Belarusian enclave."
With the only difference that it is still too scary to send tanks against it.
We have to limit ourselves to "hybrid" attacks: sometimes throwing crowds of Middle Eastern migrants to storm the Belarusian-Polish border, sometimes closing Polish schools in Belarus and arresting Polish activists, sometimes destroying the graves of Polish soldiers of the Second World War.
Another, the freshest initiative, voiced the other day by propagandist Hygin, is to demand reparations from Poland (for the 20-30s, when Western Belarusian lands were part of Poland and only thanks to this thousands of local residents escaped the fate of their Eastern Belarusian tribesmen, condemned to starvation by the Stalinist regime , collectivization and political repression).
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Poles in the empire are second-class people
Polenophobia of Lukashenka and his assistants has deep historical roots.
The embers of anti-Polish sentiments in the Russian Empire were always smoldering and fanned by state propaganda depending on the political situation.
On the territory of the Belarusian provinces, this happened with special momentum: throughout the 19th century, the tsarist regime exterminated "Polishness" in order to permanently join the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the "Russian world".
Anti-Russian rebels from Hrodna, picture of 1863
Especially intensive Russification developed after the uprising of 1863-1864.
Authorities, administration, courts were completely translated into Russian.
The Polish language was banned in schools.
It was not allowed to speak it in public places, even on the street or in a tavern.
Poles on the territory of Belarus were forbidden to buy estates (they could only inherit them).
The lands that remained in the hands of the Poles were subject to a contribution of 10 percent of the income.
Non-Russians did not have access to many government positions.
A Pole in the Russian Empire felt like a second-class person.
This does not mean that Belarusians on the territory of Belarus felt better in that period.
Printing and distribution of printed materials in the Belarusian language in the empire were prohibited.
Education in the native language did not exist.
In 1859, the entire circulation of the Belarusian edition of Mickiewicz's "Mr. Tadevush" translated by Dunin-Martsinkevich was destroyed in Vilnius.
And what did Lukashenko mean when, in his recent "open lesson" on September 1, he praised the Russian Empire for the fact that "it was in this state that Belarusians were formed as a nation" and that they were "part of the triune state-forming people"?
SEE ALSO: Do not oppose the empire and wait for its end.
"Finnish" tactics of victims of the "Russian world"
"Man's Poland is no more..."
Anti-Polish propaganda was rampant in the Stalinist USSR in the second half of the 1930s.
"Man's Poland" is enemy number one for the red Stalinist empire.
July 11 ("the anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from the White Poles in 1920") was declared the main public holiday in the BSSR.
Children in Belarusian schools are taught by the patriotic examples of grandfather Talash from Yakub Kolas's story "Tremble" or "Palesky Robinsons" by Yanka Maur.
The first fights with "White Poles" in the partisans and cooperates with the GPU;
others expose Polish spies and smugglers.
Coat of arms of the BSSR 1927-1937 with an inscription in 4 languages, including Polish
However, in the 1920s and early 1930s, the communist regime made certain curtseys towards the Polish minority.
For some time, the Polish language was formally declared one of the state languages in the BSSR.
Polish schools worked, there was a State Polish Theater (in the building of the Red Church).
There were several Polish national village councils and even one Polish national district (Dzarzynski, also known as Koidanawski).
In the second half of the 30s, all this was destroyed.
Almost all heads of Polish organizations and institutions (and these were, as a rule, ideological communists) were recognized as "enemies of the people", shot or thrown into the Gulag.
The nationality "Poles" almost automatically meant the accusation of espionage for the benefit of Polish Poland.
Whole villages of Poles were sent to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
At the same time, a struggle was launched against the Catholic Church, which was associated with Polish influence and culture.
At the end of the 1920s, there was only one functioning church left in the entire USSR - in Moscow.
Soviet poster with Stalin's words justifying the USSR's attack on Poland.
The peak of the anti-Polish campaign was September 1939, when, as a result of the conspiracy between Hitler's Germany and the Stalinist USSR, Poland was once again erased from the world map.
On October 31, 1939, Stalin's People's Commissar Molotov boasted about the power of German and Soviet weapons: "It turned out that a short strike on Poland by first the German army and then the Red Army would be enough to leave nothing of this ugly brainchild of the Treaty of Versailles."
Molotov and Ribbentrop, authors of the Soviet-German Pact on the Partition of Poland in Moscow, 1939
In those days, Soviet newspapers published poems full of hatred for Poland, such as this one, written by Stalin's poet Lebedev-Kumach:
Man's Poland is no more,
The cunning witch is not alive,
Poland will not be captured
Our labor brothers!
SEE ALSO: First euphoria from "imperial greatness", then - disappointment and apathy.
When fatigue from war sets in
According to Abetsedarsky's textbooks
After the Second World War, when Poland fell into the sphere of Moscow's dominance and entered the "socialist camp", the onslaught of anti-Polish propaganda in the USSR was, of course, weakened.
True, from time to time there were books or films such as the 1956 Belarusian film "The Red Leaf" directed by Korsh-Sablin, in which heroic underground communists on the territory of Western Belarus fight against the hated Polish masters.
But it was rather an exception.
Soviet propaganda in that period tried not to emphasize the contradictions of Russian-Polish history.
And even the date of September 17, 1939, in order not to tease the Poles, was not particularly advertised in the USSR.
At least, this day was not considered a holiday.
Lukashenko-a schoolboy and Lukashenka-a student studied "correct Soviet history", like all Belarusian youth at that time, from the textbooks of the consistent pro-Russian historian Lavrentiy Abecedarsky, many of which he repeats in his public speeches.
For example, about the fact that Belarusians in the Commonwealth of Nations suffered from the oppression of Polish feudal lords and only dreamed of becoming slaves to Russian landlords as soon as possible.
True, even Abetsedarski did not think of dishonoring the memory of Kastus Kalinowski as a "fighter for Polish interests" or glorifying the role of the Russian Empire in the progressive development of the Belarusian nation.
SEE ALSO: Can the struggle with Polishness turn into a struggle with Belarusianness
Since 1994, President Lukashenka has had reasons to mistrust Horaden Region, the region with the highest concentration of Polish population in Belarus.
In those elections, when votes were still counted, he had the least support in the Horaden region.
Under the walls of the prison, thousands of townspeople demanded the release of police prisoners and those illegally detained during the protests.
Hrodna, August 23, 2020
And in 2020, a traumatic year for the dictator, the most massive (after Minsk) public protests against the falsified elections took place in Hrodna.
At one point, it even seemed that the protest in Hrodna had won: the local authorities made concessions to the people, released the detainees, and allowed rallies to be held in the central squares.
Opposition protests were broadcast live on one of the local TV channels (a phenomenon unheard of in Belarus after 1994).
There was nothing similar in other regions of Belarus.
And Lukashenka clearly did not forgive the people of Hrodna.
During the 2020 protests, Alexander Lukashenko came to Hrodna, August 22, 2020
Lukashenka usually speaks of the Belarusian Poles in the same way as some Russian tycoon spoke of his serfs in the 19th century: "my Poles" (the last time - in an interview with AFP on July 21, 2022:
"We have ethnic Poles, but they are mine Poles").
"My" is apparently supposed to mean "obedient, speechless, supporters of the dictatorship", not at all like their relatives across the Bug.
"My Poles" do not need national Polish schools (they were all liquidated this year by order of the regime);
they silently agree when they arrest activists of Polish organizations (Andrzej Pachobut is still in prison, and Anzhalika Borys is under house arrest);
finally, they should not be worried that the regime decided to destroy the graves of their heroes who fought for Poland's independence.
The only thing for which you can praise "my Poles" is their hard work: for order in the fields and high harvests.
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Opinion of a Russian expert
"The best region in the USSR"
And here it is important to note one important detail from Lukashenka's biography.
Before his presidency, he was always jealous of his colleagues - collective farm leaders of the Horaden region.
He always remembers this even now when visiting Panjamonje.
(The last time was on August 18, 2022:
"It was the best region in the Soviet Union. I admired you, how you work. And I tried to drag it to the far east. I studied here, in the Horaden region"
Alexander Lukashenko with his sons, a frame from a 1994 video
Whether there was then, in the 70s and 80s, this envy of the "white" is a controversial question.
In those years, gold rain fell on the millionaire collective farms of the city and on their leaders - orders, awards, funds, equipment and building materials that were in short supply at that time.
Mogilev region has always been among the outsiders - with backward collective farms, low harvests, neglected villages.
The young and ambitious director of the Shklov State Farm "Horadets"
Alexander Lukashenko, no matter how much he studied with the citizens of the city and no matter how much he tried to "drag it to the far east", he did not achieve any special success.
It would be necessary to "drag" not "advanced experience", not technology and not managerial officials, but the attitude of local residents themselves to the land, to work, to their future.
The young Shklov director could not help but know: all the most advanced urban millionaire collective farms were mainly concentrated in the northeastern regions of the region, where the share of the Polish population was from 35 to 80 percent.
Well, the second important factor: these territories, unlike Mogilev, did not undergo collectivization in the 1930s, and two decades later, they switched to the "Soviet" economy.
There they still remembered what their own land was and work on it.
"They are sitting, because the Poles," is the inscription on the poster with portraits of Belarusian political prisoners, leaders of the Union of Poles of Belarus Anzhalika Boris and Andrzej Pachobut.
Warsaw, September 8, 2022
Before Lukashenka, the share of the Polish population in the Horaden region reached 30 percent — more than 300,000 people.
Under Lukashenka, the number of Poles in the Horaden Region decreased by 70,000, and their number continues to decrease.
During all the decades of his presidency, Lukashenka actively moved his compatriots, "vertical workers" from Mogilev region, to managerial positions.
The destroyed monument on the grave of AK soldiers in Strievka near Horadnaya, 2022
One of his last assignments concerning Belarusian Poles is to "deal with" the holders of the "Polish card" (which means to discriminate against almost half of the Polish population: over 140,000 people in Belarus received such a card, and judging by the latest comments of Minister Kubrakov, all of them must be registered with the "competent authorities" and will be limited in rights).
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There is no doubt that this will greatly contribute to the "de-polarization" of Belarus.
The process of resettlement of Belarusian Poles to Poland (already active) will only intensify.
Then, obviously, the old dream of the director of Shklov will come true: Mogilev region will be no different from Horaden region.
From Hrodna to Shklov express will be one big Mogilev region.
The opinions expressed in the blogs represent the views of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editors.
The opinions expressed in the blogs represent the views of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editors.
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