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Descendants of Belarusians from Siberian diaspora visit their native Belarus

The village Shvedy in Belarus was hardly founded by the Vikings. But Belarusian villages in Siberia were created by real Belarusians - the cogs of the Stolypin reform. From literature, we know about the difficult peasant life at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. Hunger and arbitrariness of zemstvo heads drove Belarusians in search of a better life to America, Siberia and other corners of the Earth. Immigrants to Siberia were exempt from taxes for 5 years! Entire villages moved and peasants, including Belarusians, appeared in the remote unexplored regions of Russia. A hundred years later, they have retained the language, ancient recipes, traditions and the desire to touch their native land. Grateful descendants of Belarusians from the Siberian diaspora came to the Gomel region. Now they were met not by a deserted village but by an agro-town. Our correspondent Alexander Dobriyan also met them.

Here they are - the first steps in the land of ancestors. The way home took these Belarusians no less than three generations!

Valentina Vorobyeva, a resident of the village of Ermaki (Tyumen region, Russia):
A very long journey, exciting. The river flooded our village and we were accompanied by rescuers. It was very cold, it was cold. But we got here. Because we really wanted to.

The 21st-century family covered the 3,500 kilometers in two days. Their great-grandfathers had to tolerate weeks and weeks of difficulties to do the same.

This story began exactly here 120 years ago. After Easter, having received the blessing of a local priest, the family went to the unknown Siberia. There were 23 other families with them: Novikovs, Melnikovs, Chernyakovs, Vorobyevs, Kovalevs...

Elena Novikova, a descendant of Siberian Belarusians:
Just from the doorstep I began to ask these lovely women their names. And they call all those names of immigrants who went to Siberia. I really wanted to understand the reason: why go to the unknown land from such a paradise? To this day it was not clear to me, but it was clear to them, the landless peasants.

Belarus is her Atlantis. All her childhood Elena Novikova heard from grandmother mysterious stories about the distant motherland of her ancestors. The dream of the girl came true only now.

The guests were given a tour of Rogin. Shockingly, it turns out that 120 years ago, Belarusians found a place in vast Siberia similar to their small homeland like two drops of water.

Valentina Vorobyova:
Here this bridge across the river. That's very similar to the entrance to Ermaki. It's exciting. Very exciting. This all is like my own. It's like we've been here a long time. As if we did not go anywhere.
Still people left this place. The local museum stores the story about the large migration of people from Rogin.

Elena Borodavchikova, head of the local history museum of Roginskaya secondary school:
At the end of the 19th century, there were crop failures, and the peasants were forced to apply with a petition to move to another locality.

Among other things, Siberian frosts have preserved the traditional way of life of the Belarusians. In a new place, the settlers lived in a friendly community: they spoke their own language, sang songs and celebrated rituals, raised flax, wove rushnyks (towels) and carefully stored everything related to their distant Motherland.

Nadezhda Vychuzhanina, a resident of the village of Ermaki (Tyumen region, Russia):
This is all preserved in grandmothers' attics. And here from our museum, we return to you what we took from your land.

The Siberians returned home the recipe of homemade beer. In Ermaki this beer is still an integral part of any feast, from christenings to Easter. Belarusian beer is always on the table too. This is an almost non-alcoholic drink: a tribute to ancestors.

It's amazing how much Belarusians saved in remote Siberia. Much of what was saved there has not survived in Belarus itself.

Aleskandr Dobriyan, correspondent:
Rogin residents never forgot their small homeland. This tree is a living confirmation of this. In 1928, when the village was burnt to ashes, those same immigrants from Siberia came to restore the settlement and with them brought seedlings of Siberian larch. Then a whole alley was planted, but only this tree survived.

Elena Novikova:
I grew up on the stories of my grandmother. And I promised her that I would grow up, go and find this village. And bring back a handful of earth, which she so much wanted to hold in her hands. Now I'm here. Now I will take a handful of the earth. Unfortunately, I will bring it only to my mother's grave.

Descendants of Belarusians from Siberian diaspora visit their native Belarus