Belarusian People’s Republic’s white-red-white flag may become historical value

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June 19, 2017 12:27

The Liberal Democratic Party has proposed to award the white-red-white flag with the status of a historical and cultural value, which may become an additional argument to legitimize the national symbols of the first Belarusian state. Most likely, next year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People's Republic, the government could legitimise its national symbols.

It is unlikely that the leader of the LDPB was the mouthpiece of the authorities and in some way coordinated his proposal. However, as an experienced politician, Sergei Gaidukevich could see the desire of the authorities to add stability to the Belarusian state, including by co-opting national symbols and otherwise ignored fragments of the national history.

The white-red-white flag, the state flag of the first Belarusian state, the Belarusian People's Republic (1918), was proclaimed the national flag of Belarus in 1991 until 1995. In 1995, President Lukashenka held a referendum, which replaced the white-red-white flag with a red-green flag and a coat of arms designed after the state symbols of the Byelorussian SSR. Lukashenka changed the state symbols in order to strengthen his positions in the struggle against the parliament, and after the Soviet symbols were returned, the white-red-white flag became personified with the democratic opposition. As authoritarianism strengthened in Belarus, the law enforcement agencies started interpreting the white-red-white flag as an "anti-state symbol”.

However, in recent years, the Belarusian authorities, in line with the common desire to strengthen state independence, have taken some steps (albeit inconsistent) towards national reconciliation, including the recognition of some historical fragments and national symbols. The Belarusian opposition also insists on recognizing the national symbols - the flag and the coat of arms - as a historical and cultural value. For example, former presidential candidate Tatyana Korotkevich in 2015 handed over a white-red-white flag to the Museum of Belarusian Statehood and started a petition to recognise it as a historical and cultural value. In 2016, Young Front leader, Dzmitser Dashkevich, collected 10,000 signatures with a similar petition. Now LDPB leader and MP Sergei Gaidukevich has made the same appeal.

Next year, Belarus marks the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People's Republic. The Belarusian authorities could make concessions and recognize the white-red-white flag as a national historical value.

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