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Belarus' history: interesting facts


USSR disappeared 24 years ago, on December 8, 1991. Act of dissolution
USSR disappeared 24 years ago, on December 8, 1991 The day of 8 December 24 years ago was a landmark in the fate of 250 million people and 15 republics. On that day, in Viskuli, there was signed a document that, in fact, was the verdict of the Soviet state, which occupied the territory equal to one-sixth of the land. It is noteworthy that not so much is known about the negotiations which took place almost 25 years ago. This makes journalists return again and again to this theme.


History club Clio from Nesvizh museum awarded UNESCO status The club of fans of history and culture Clio, which is based at the National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve Nesvizh, has received the status of the UNESCO club. Its members are engaged in research activities: work in the library and over the Internet. At this club, the youth can discuss the problems of the history and culture of the area. The participants repeatedly assisted restorers in working with coins and ethnographic objects. 


After 75 years, KV-1 tank found in Vitebsk region’s marsh
After 75 years, KV-1 tank found in Vitebsk region’s marsh Who knows how many mysteries the Vitebsk region is hiding? One of them was cleared up several days ago. A Great Patriotic War military vehicle was found in the Senno district, Vitebsk region, and locals had to engage into a true rescue mission to dig up some of its parts! A heavy Kliment Voroshilov tank, also known as KV-1, was found in a marsh. It’s the first such finding in Belarus, which is literally sensational. The tank was in the marsh for 75 years.


Edward Voynilovich, Minsk region reformer
Edward Voynilovich, prominent Minsk region reformer The Minsk region reformer, the leading Belarusian and Polish social and political figure of the XIX – early XX centuries and the philanthropist. He brought the agriculture of Belarus to a new level and initiated the famous Red Church construction. Edward Voynilovich was born in 1847 in the village Slepianka near Minsk to a wealthy noble family of Adam Voynilovich and Anna Vankovich. He got education at the St. Petersburg State Technological Institute, and then did the course at Belgian and Dutch factories, from where he brought the modern European experience.


Krasnoarmeyskaya Street in Minsk: hotel Paris and first Belarusian swimming pool
Krasnoarmeyskaya Street in Minsk: hotel Paris and first Belarusian swimming pool Krasnoarmeyskaya Street. Its name is closely connected with the October Revolution events in 1917 and the creation of the Red Army (Krasnaya Armiya). Since 1919, this street has been known as Krasnoarmeyskaya. The architectural design of this city center part is also a result of drastic changes. Now the historical buildings serve for new purposes and the street has been renamed several times. Its first name was Kasharskaya Street – from the Polish “kazarmy” (in English – barracks) as earlier there had been many barracks on this street.


What is October Revolution Day in the 21st century?
What is October Revolution Day in the 21st century? Belarus marked October Revolution Day November 7. The older generation usually say Great October Socialist Revolution. New Belarusians heard much about other kinds of revolutions - "color" or "velvet". But then, in spite of the soft prefixes the word "revolution" cannot be pleasant for reasonable people. Probably, apart from the meaning "scientific and technical revolution".


How did Minsk celebrate October Revolution Day in Soviet times?
How did Minsk celebrate October Revolution Day in Soviet times? It seems that only a few years have passed since Minsk brimmed with flags, portraits of party leaders and public demonstrations. However, now October Revolution Day is actively celebrated only by a small number of people. For the majority this public holiday is a tribute to the past and a good chance to have an extra day of rest with families. Let us try to recollect with Minsk passers-by how October Revolution Day was earlier celebrated in Minsk.


Preparations for 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Minsk
Preparations for 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Minsk 35 years ago the XXII Olympic Games were opened in Moscow. For the first time the Olympics took place in Eastern Europe and for the first time they were held in a socialist country. Minsk, the capital of Belarus, was one of the cities where the competitions were held. It took much effort to prepare the city and improve its infrastructure for the Olympics.


First UNRRA mission memorial plaque opens in Belarus
First UNRRA mission memorial plaque opens in Belarus The memory of the first humanitarian mission of the United Nations created during World War II was immortalized in Minsk. A memorial plaque was opened at a ceremony in the Loshitsky Park on October 19. It is installed on the facade of the house-museum which once housed the office of the UNRRA. This abbreviation is not known widely in Belarus. The mission worked in Minsk a little more than a year. But it is this very mission that helped deliver cargoes from Australia, Britain, Canada, USA and France after WWII.


Election in Minsk in late XIX century: Balls instead of ballot papers and three terms of Count Chapsky
Election in Minsk in late XIX century: Balls instead of ballot papers and three terms of Count Chapsky In 1870 Emperor Alexander II approves the reform of municipal government. He introduced such institutions as the electoral assembly, the Duma and the council, which solved the problems of the improvement of Minsk. All the organs of municipal government became elective. The right to elect was given to all the inhabitants of the Russian empire, regardless of their social status, but they had to own property, be older than 25 and have no criminal record. The City Duma appointed elected officials and established fees and taxes.


Minsk treasures: from II-V century coins to Jesuit hoard
Minsk treasures: from II-V century coins to Jesuit hoard On August 4, 1988, one of the largest and most interesting treasures was found in Minsk. That day, a pipeline system was installed at the intersection of Volodarskogo and Gorodskoy Val streets. In the afternoon, the work was stopped, as an excavator pulled out a bag full of silver.


Director, actor and TV host Alexander Gordon about President Lukashenko
Alexander Gordon: There would be no Belarus without Lukashenko Director, actor and TV host Alexander Gordon was the guest of the TV program Simple Questions with Egor Khrustalev. In the interview, Mr Gordon answered a number of questions relating to his work, TV, poetry, love and also mentioned Belarus.


First Vice-Premier of China to President Lukashenko: China admires your achievements in Belarus
First Vice-Premier of China to President Lukashenko: China admires Belarus' achievements The working visit of the Belarusian President to China continues on September 2. Alexander Lukashenko is now holding bilateral talks with the Chinese leadership.  At a meeting with Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, the President stated that Belarus is not a situational partner of China but a long-time reliable partner.


Niamiha or Svislach? The most troublesome river in Minsk Minsk can be called not only a green city, but also a blue one. While strolling through the city center you can’t help visiting the river bank and picturesque water reservoirs. At first, it is worth recalling the Nyamiha River. The first mentioning of Minsk in the “Primary Chronicle” (“Tale of Bygone Years”) and in “The Tale of Igor's Campaign” is connected with it. Ancient Minsk was founded at the Nyamiha and Svislach’s confluence.


Minsk beauty salons of Soviet period The first Hairdressing World Championship was held in Paris in 1947. It was the time when the first beauty salons appeared in Minsk. Back then, the city was just beginning its recovery after WWII. The first hairdresser’s opened in Nezavisimosti Square, the second one appeared close to the Pobeda cinema, and the third one was located near the railway station. Those buildings were wooden, without hot and cold running water. After the war, people weren’t ready to sacrifice a lot for beauty.
Red Church near the House of Governtment
Minsk’s prominent women of the 19th -20th centuries In the 19th century, women played an essential role in public affairs of Minsk. It’s not common knowledge that a wooden brewery at the crossroads of Bogdanovicha Street and Kiseleva Street was opened on January 29, 1864 thanks to Rokhlya Frumkinova.


Minsk inns of 18-19th centuries The first mention of Minsk inns dates back to 1494. Inns were divided into 2 types: “lodging” (close to modern hotels), with accommodation and a stable, and “non-lodging”, where you can only have a meal. At the end of the 15-16th centuries “non-lodging” inns prevailed. They were simply built and contained 2 or 3 bedrooms, a brick oven for cooking, tables and benches. Inns were built at drive ways, at important trade roads crossing, at town gates and markets.


From Kruglaya Square to Victory Square
What you did not know about houses in Victory Square Houses with turrets, which are located on both sides of Victory Square, continue a solemn system of buildings along Nezavisimosti Avenue and are familiar to every citizen of Minsk. The architectural complex around Victory Square (up to November 1958, it was called Kruglaya Square) was already formed to the mid-1950s. Houses were built gradually. And the houses №34, 36 and 38 were built much faster than the twins on the opposite side.


Minsk between WWI and WWII
The history of Minsk between WWI and WWII Unfortunately, there is not enough information about interwar Minsk. We can learn about the period of the 1920s-1940s with the help of several documents. For example, Sergey Pisetsky, a Polish writer who was a spy, made a very interesting and accurate description of interwar Minsk. Minsk became the center of belligerent Europe. Initially destroyed by war, Minsk was lawless. Goods were in short supply in stores. Markets were empty, too. A kilo of salt was sold for a kilo of sugar and butter. A monthly salary of a working man was not enough to pay for a meal.
Nazis in Minsk
Wilhelm Kube and Heinrich Himmler in Minsk during WWII We are still not aware in full about Wilhelm Kube’s stay in Minsk. Few people know that Heinrich Himmler, who was considered the most fearsome after Adolf Hitler, visited Minsk. Arthur Nebe, the commanding officer of Einsatzgruppe B, welcomed Heinrich Himmler, the leader of German punitive instrument, at the Minsk airport. Heinrich Himmler had a rich program of his stay in Minsk. He visited the Soviet State art gallery, the Opera House and the village of Novinki. Himmler expressed a desire to observe the execution of the Minsk Ghetto prisoners.


Liberation of Minsk in 1944 During three years of WWII, Minsk suffered under the Nazis. The city was damaged and desecrated. Nevertheless, the citizens were undaunted. All the cultural and scientific institutions, theatres, museums – everything was destroyed and deliberately desecrated by the Nazi barbarians. The German occupation lasted 1,100 days. In order to crush the German Army Group Centre, the Supreme High Command devised a plan of the Operation Bagration – the USSR’s largest summer military operation during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).


Motol: Royal Palace of Bona Sforza   The first mention of Motol (Motaĺ) in the Lithuanian chronicles goes back to 1422. This area belonged to the Duke of Pinsk - Prince Fyodor Yaroslavovich. After his death, the land came into possession of the Kingdom. In those days, Sigimund I was The King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He had a wife - a young Italian Bona Sforza, who was placed in charge of Pinsk lands.


Ruchitsa: summer residence of Belarusian composer Ogiński The summer residence of the famous Belarusian composer Mikhail Kleofas Oginski was located in the village Ruchitsa, the Vilejka district, where once the manor of the Oginski family Ganuta was also located. Tadeusz Oginski was not an ordinary man. He was just twenty-one when he got involved in politics as a deputy to the two-week Sejm in Warsaw and already in his 30’s, he became a senator and castellan of Trakai.  In those days Tadeusz Oginski had a lot of estates, but the manor Ganuta was his favorite one.
Holy Trinity Church in Volno
Volno village: Holy Trinity Church Volno village in the Baranovichi district, the Brest region, was founded by resilient people who could and were good at making their own choices. Together with Belarusian monuments, antique names such as “Volno” were preserved. “Volno” comes from the old word “will” and “will” sounds the same way in the different languages and means “strength”, “expectation”, “power”, and “choice”.


First mills appeared in Minsk only in late 15th century Once a sorcerer, named Menesk, settled on the river Svisloch and built a mill here. Nobody has ever seen him and people just spun stories about his heroic strength. They said that he could grind stones into flour and believed that at night, travelling around the Svisloch land, he gathered his own army. As a result, a separate nation appeared and this place, near the Svisloch river, was named after its legendary founder - Menesk.
Druya Village
Druya Village, Vitebsk region Druya is a village situated on the left bank of the Zapadnaya Dvina, near the confluence with the river Druyka. It is not known exactly when the village was created: in the Stryikovsky chronicle, it dates back to 1386, while in other chronicles the beginning of the 15th century is mentioned.
Kreva Castle remains
Kreva Village: The place of Grand Dukes' intrigues The history of Krevskiy Castle [Kreva Castle] is quite rich but one can find only its ruins at present. In 1338 Gediminas, The Grand Duke of Lithuania, handed over the reins of government to his son Olgerd [Algirdas]. This is the first documented mention of Kreva Castle and it is considered the first construction date. After the death of Olgerd, Yagaylo became the owner of castle. One of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania - Kęstutis - was strangled in the basement of this very castle.


Suvorov Military School in Minsk From the Niamiha metro station to the Suvorov Military School   *** The story of all Cadet-type institutions starts with the main entrance. However, the main entrance to the Seminary, the predecessor of Suvorov Military School, was the same - three doors and a facade facing a busy street. As cadets say, from this entrance they make first steps in apprehending the mystery of the military profession.


Former Minsk racetrack: The place where 14 Nazis were executed in public The first and the only Minsk racetrack was located at the site of the present Park of the 40th Anniversary of the October Revolution. It has a short but eventful history. A great number of military barracks (called “koshary”) were situated in this area. That’s why the district was called “Kosharski” and the present Krasnoarmeyskaya Street – Kosharskaya Street.   Location of the racetrack on the present-day map. The nearest metro station is Pieršamajskaja  


Staryye Dorogi: First bus station in Belarus People say that all roads lead to Rome. One of such roads has led us to the town of Staryye Dorogi [in Belarusian: Staryja Darohi]. Ages and ages ago, there was a huge swamp where today’s town is situated. And those people who inhabited this place were called The Dregoviches (“drehva”, or “dryahva” means "swamp" in Belarusian). It is said that these people were strong as bears. They could walk all along the swamps just like a tank; there was nothing they could be afraid of.
Rozhanka: First neo-gothic church in Belarus Rozhanka [Ražanka] village, Schuchinsky raion [in English: Schuchin district], Grodno region.  In former times, a Polish landowner was living there. He travelled a lot and from each trip he brought amazing roses. As time goes by there was collected a great number of roses at the estate. So the place got the name Rozhanka or Ruzhanka (“ruzha” means a rose in Belarusian). It is a really ancient place. The first reference to it dates back to 1537, to the letters of the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the King of Poland Sigismund I the Old.
Retro. Minsk in 1973 A Belarusian TV report about how Minsk is developing and growing (1973). More about Minsk in the past.
Berezhnoe: Home to glorious Olesha family The Berezhnoe village is situated in the Brest region in the south-west of Belarus and occupies a bank of the Horyn River. The 659 km long Horyn River takes its source in Ukraine and flows into the Pripyat River and then to the Black Sea. Supposedly, first inhabitants journeyed either from the Black Sea, or even from the Danube.  From 1508, a noble family of the Oleshas owned Berezhnoe for four centuries. The surname Olesha derives from the family’s ancestor’s name Alexander, whose child’s nickname was “Olesha.”
Radomlya: Village of Belarusians’ ancestors Let's take a look at the former capital of the Slavic tribe Radimichi - the town that dates back to the time when the tribe’s forefather Radim lived. Welcome to the Radomlya village in the Mogilev region. In the 10th century, Radimichi journeyed to the left bank of the Raducha river and established the town that became the capital of their tribe’s territory and was named after them. 


Baran village: Birthplace of first rail transport radio stations Baran village, Orsha raion [Orsha district], Vitebsk region. In 1873, the nobleman Menzhinsky finds out that ages and ages ago there was a place in the estate of Baran, Vitebsk region, where ore was mined, iron was smelted and bullets and cannon-balls were produced. That is why he decides to establish there a nail producing factory. He brings the first steam-engine as well as manufacturing machines from Germany and Switzerland and the factory begins to produce not only nails but also springs.
Drysviaty: Legend of Treasure Island Scientists believe that the name of this village located in Braslaw raion [Braslav district] in the Vitebsk region means “lake” or “water”. Isn’t it wonderful that the village lies on the shore of the lake with the same beautiful name Drisvyaty? Drisvyaty is situated at the border with Lithuania. As people say it is right at its doorstep; if one goes by lake, Lithuania is just two paddle strokes away. Scientists say that the word “drisvyaty” came from Lithuanian and means “to have the courage”, “to dare”.


Ischalna village: The only sundial in Belarus The Ischalna village is located in the west of Belarus. Even scientists don’t know where this name came from. But what they do know is that this word is of a Baltic origin and that the village was founded by the Balts. The village has existed since the end of the 15th century as a princely possession owned by prince Alexander.


When did Joseph Stalin monuments disappear from Minsk? Former leaders descend from pedestals. 62 years ago, a huge monument to Joseph Stalin was erected in Minsk. Now we can see it only in the photos.  Do Minsk citizens know where the Father of All Nations stood in Minsk? Minsk residents:I know. Here, in the corner, in October Square. Sorry, I can't help you. I cannot even remember. Here, in the square, in the middle. If this was ​​Stalin Square, probably it stood here.


Korma village: Unsuccessful uprising against Soviet power Korma [in Belarusian: Karma village] is located in the Gomel region.  Formerly, it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At present, it is located in the Republic of Belarus. There are a lot of settlements in Belarus called Korma. As for the name of the settlement, people living in the Gomel region say “korma” referring to a creek. And this creek comes from the Sozh river near the village. A lot of ancient burial mounds and sites of the settlements survived on the banks of the river.
Perebrodye: Village with own coat of arms Perebrodye is located in the Miory district, the Vitebsk region. Formerly, it was the part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Today it is located in the Republic of Belarus. The Vitebsk region is very rich in mysterious boulders. There is one of these boulders near the village. You can find human footprint on it. No one knows who left it, but there is an interesting fact: when the boulder is covered with moss, the footprint is always clean. Belarusian pagan ancestors believed that almighty God of the Sun left this footprint.


Zamoshye village Zamoshye is located in the Braslov district, the Vitebsk region.  Formerly, it was the part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Today it is located in the Republic of Belarus. There are more than 50 settlements with the name Zamoshye in Belarus, and most of them are located in the Vitebsk region (more than 30). The name derives from the word “moss” [“mokh” in Russian]. All these villages probably appeared on the upland near the waterlogged lowland where moss grew.


Bolteniki village: Nobleman Wawrzyniec Puttkamer's story Bolteniki village is located in the Voronovo district, the Grodno region. Formerly, it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Today it is located in the Republic of Belarus. The name of the village has a Baltic origin. The Baltic tribe Dainova once lived on the territory of the village. In the early 18th century, the village belonged to the Protestant family Schroeder. From 1723 till 1932, the village became the property of the Puttkamer family.


Minsk origin: new version “In 1067, Izyaslav, Svyatoslav, Vsevolod, having gathered soldiers, went to a battle against Vseslav in cold weather. They approached Minsk, and the citizens shut themselves inside the city. The brothers captured Minsk, killed all men, took women and children with them as the spoils of war and went to the river Nyamiha. And Vseslav finally came to fight against them. They met at Nyamiha on March 3; it snowed heavily, and the troops approached each other, and there was a severe fight, and many people fell…”