Text 4. Belarus after the Third Division of Rech Paspalitaya

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Text 4. Belarus after the Third Division of Rech Paspalitaya

Read the text. Compare your ideas with what you’ll learn in the text.

The Russians in Belarus immediately started persecuting everything Belarusian. The goal of this persecution was to destroy all thoughts of Belarusian statehood and to russify all Belarusian people. This policy, of course, cared very little of people’s needs and wishes. “People” in the sense of those times were primarily knights, the aristocracy, and merchants; farmers and peasants (serfs) were not considered as representatives of the Belarusian people. Russia announced to other countries that the newly conquered territories were Russian and that the conquest itself did not happen – it was just a reunification of the same people.

Thus, in attempting to destroy Belarusian culture, the Russians closed the University in Polatsk in 1820, in 1832 the same thing happened to the University in Vilnia. In 1839, the Russians forbade using the Belarusian language in churches and schools, and also abolished the Uniate church, which at the end of Rech Pospolitaya started being a defender of Belarusian and Ukranian culture and education. In 1840 the Lithuanian Statut – the Belarusian Code of Laws – was abolished, too, and Belarus was named the “Northwestern Region”. Simultaneously, the glorious historical Belarusian name Lithuania related only to a purely Baltic tribe, the Zmudz, which had never been called Lithuanians; since then, they have kept this name as the name of their country. The rapacious taxes and exploitation of the Belarusian people strongly deteriorated the economic situation of the country; Belarus became a poor and retarded outskirt of the Russian Empire.

In 1812 the war between Russia and Napoleon started. Both the route of Napoleon to Moscow and his escape from there passed through the territory of Belarus, devastating it yet again to ashes. However, Napoleon turned to be a supporter of the idea of the Belarusian state, though in a shape that suited his interests. During the short period of occupation, he created two Belarusian states – "Lithuania" which was on the territory of the Belastok (Bialystok), Harodnia (Hrodna), Vilnia, and Minsk regions (again without Zhmudz), and "Belarus," which occupied the eastern Belarusian lands. In case of a truce. Napoleon was going to give "Belarus" to Moscow leaving "Lithuania" under his power. Belarusians, certainly, did not like these intentions and raised the question of unification of the two states. But this situation did not last too long - still in 1812, Napoleon was defeated and the Russian invasion of Belarus started again even more severely.

The ideas of the French Revolution of 1789 – Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity - reached the souls of all the oppressed peoples of Europe including the Belarusians. Before the closing of Vilnia University, a new wave of Belarusian renaissance started there. Under the influence of its professors and a progressive group of students, other Belarusians also became interested in the history and the idea of Belarusian ethnicity. Since the Belarusian language under the Russians was not allowed to be used in education, Polish was opposed to Russian as a language of the Belarusian intelligentsia. The first Belarusian poets of this period – Yan Chachot who wrote both in Polish and Belarusian and Uladyslau Syrakomlia – also came from the progressive students' organizations. Chachot's close friend poet Adam Mickewicz, a Belarusian from Navahradak who wrote in Polish, greatly enriched Polish culture by his talent. Even the closing of Vilnia University in 1832 could not stop the Belarusian cultural enthusiasm of the 19th century. New cultural artists appeared in Belarus, among whom were Vincent Dunin-Martsinkevich – a very fruitful Belarusian playwright, and polonized Belarusian composer Stanislau Maniushka – the author of the first Belarusian opera.

Together with the cultural renaissance, the spirit of protest against the Moscow occupation was growing among the Belarusian youth. The preparation for revolt was actively taking place and finally exploded into rising in arms in 1863.

The revolt was started in Poland and soon was expanded to Belarus and Lithuania where it achieved its culmination. There were 80,000 rebel troops, and they managed to fight more than 260 battles against 200,000 Russian soldiers. The goals of the rebels were first of all independence of Belarus to the extent of the borders of the Great Lithuanian Principality, freedom and land for the farmers, and free access to education. The soul and the leader of the revolt was Kastus Kalinouski – a national hero of Belarus. In 1863 Kalinouski was only 25, but before the revolt started he and his friends led a wide and active agitation of people in order to convince them to protest against the Muscovites. They talked to farmers, merchants, and artisans and explained the importance of armed revolt. The people who were very tired of and angry with the Muscovites eagerly supported Kalinouski's ideas. For wider publicity, Kalinouski illegally issued a newspaper "Muzhytskaya Prauda"("Peasant's Truth") in which under a pseudonym, he wrote about the ways of liberating Belarus from Russian and Polish oppressors. Few European politicians of that time were brave and prescient enough to claim the reforms in agriculture and the equality of peasants and others as did Kalinouski. The Russian tsar Alexander II sent his general Muravyov to put the rebels down. He literally sank in blood many troops of rebels. Kalinouski started the struggle for total mobilization of the people in Belarus and Lithuania, and soon the revolt embraced the territory of Belarus completely. In response, the Russians sent in a whole network of spies and police in order to capture the leadership of the revolt, and in 1864 they located Kalinouski's headquarters and arrested him. He was soon sentenced to death and hanged in Vilnia on March, 22, 1864. When Kastus Kalinouski was standing under the gallows and heard the hangman calling out "Nobleman Kastus Kalinouski!" he shouted: "We don’t have noblemen, we are all equal!" After his execution the revolt was quickly suppressed; lots of people were hanged, shot, or exiled to Siberia. In order to prevent further riots, the tsarist government forbade any printing in the Belarusian language.

But this interdiction did not stop the Belarusian cultural renascence. Belarusian ethnologists Karski, Nikifarouski, and others who were forced to work for the Russians, but still continued their investigations and proved that in spite of repressions, the Belarusian people, language, and culture goes on in its historical development. Also the political protests of Belarusians kept going on. Thus, the Belarusian student lhnat Hryniavitski made a bomb and blew up the Russian tsar Alexander II in 1881 in St. Petersburg together with himself – a brave, but useless, terrorist action since this could not stop the oppression. The most outstanding representative of Belarusian renaissance of that period was Frantsishak Bahushevich, also a rebel of 1863. In his poems he showed Belarusians their glorious past and claimed them for preserving and restoring Belarusian culture and statehood. He had to print his books abroad. Together with Bahushevich, the enlightenment was led by the writers Yanka Luchyna, Adam Hurynovich, and others. Due to their works, the foundation for the further education and renascence of Belarus was laid, and the county entered the 20th century ready for a new wave in the movement for liberation.


Word Check

Ex. 1. Consult the text and find the English equivalents of the following.

разногласия, разлад
расходиться во взглядах
задерживать, замедлять, тормозить (развитие)
волнение, тревога

Ex. 2. Match words or phrases from A with those from B.

1) to explode a) ухудшать экономическую ситуацию
2) to destroy culture b) приговорить к смерти
3) to deteriorate the economic situation c) хищнические налоги
4) to devastate to ashes d) разрушать культуру
5) to sentence to death e) сжечь дотла
6) rapacious taxes f) разражаться (гневом)
7) a new wave of renascence g) свобода, равенство, братство
8) Freedom, Equality and Fraternity h) упразднить церковь
9) to abolish the church i) новая волна возрождения


Ex. 3.Find sentences and phrases in the text that are close or equivalent in meaning to the following.

1. Начали преследовать все белорусское.

2. Беларусь стала бедной и отсталой окраиной Русской Империи

3. Разразилось восстание.

4. Страстно поддерживали идеи Калиновского.

5. Калиновский нелегально издавал газету.

6. Александр II потопил в крови войска повстанцев.

7. Восстание охватило территорию Беларуси.

8. Их обвиняли в сохранении и восстановлении белорусской культуры и государственности.




Ex. 1.Split the text into parts and think of appropriate titles for each one.

Ex. 2.Are the following statements about the text true or false? Say why.

1. The Russians cared very much of needs and wishes of all Belarusian people and development of Belarusian culture.

2. The Russians closed the University in Polatsk in 1820.

3. The Lithuanian Statut – The Belarusian Code of Laws – was adopted in 1840.

4. Napoleon eagerly supported the idea of the Belarus state.

5. The closing of Vilnia University in 1832 stopped the Belarusian cultural development.

6. There were 200.000 rebels against 200.000 Russian soldiers.

7. The soul and the leader of the revolt was Kastus Kalinouski.

8. The revolt was suppressed.

9. Kastus Kalinouski managed to escape execution.


Ex. 3. What do these numbers in the text refer to?

1820, 1932, 1839, 1840, 1863, 80.000, 260, 200.000, 25, March 22, 1864, 1881.


Ex. 4.Arrange the part in the chronological order.

1. The revolt under the leadership of Kastus Kalinouski exploded.

2. The Belarusian student Ihnat Hryniavitski blew up the Russian tsar Alexander II.

3. The Russians closed the University in Vilnya.

4. The Russians closed the University in Polatsk.

5. The Russians forbade using the Belarusian language in churches and schools.

6. The Lithuanian Statut – the Belarusian Code of Laws – was abolished.

7. Kastus Kalinouski was sentenced to death and hanged.


Ex. 5.Answer the following questions.

1. What were the consequences of the third division of Rech Paspalitaya?

2. What was the policy of the Russians after this division?

3. Did the Russians succeed in destroying Belarusian culture?

4. Did Napoleon support the idea of the Belarusian state?

5. Why did the Polish language become the language of Belorusian intellegentsia?

6. What did the spirit of protest against Moscow explode into?

7. What were the goals of the rebels?

8. The leader of the revolt Kastus Kalinouski was only 25. Why did people support Kalinouski’s ideas?

9. Did the political protests of the Belarusians keep going on?

10. Who are the most outstanding representatives of Belarusian renascence?




Ex. 1.Express your point of view on the following statement:

Kastus Kalinouski is a legendary hero.

Ex. 2.Imagine you are Kastus Kalinouski. Describe the events from his point of view.

Ex. 3. Discuss the following quotation:

“There is no more happiness in the world, brothers, than if a man has intelligence and education. Only then will he manage to live in wealth and only then, praying God, will he deserve Heaven, for once having enriched his mind with science, he will develop his heart and love his people.”

Kastus Kalinouski.

Ex. 4.Some people think that after the third division of Rech Paspalitaya the conquest itself didn’t occur – it was just a reunification of the same people. Are you of the same opinion?

Ex. 5. Choose a time in the history of your country that interests you and do some research into the kind of lives people used to lead them. Try to find out information about the following topics:

a) homes and food b) health c) pastimes d) education and culture



A Walk Along Old City Streets.

Ann’s friend from London has come to see her. At the moment Ann is showing her around Minsk and its outskirts. Read the dialogue and say whether Ann is a good guide and if she knows her city and its outskirts very well. What historic places would you show your foreign guest if he/she came to your hometown?


Ann: Although the Belarusian capital lacks that special historical charm that other European cities are endowed with, it still can be proud of its appearance. Year by year Minsk grows increasingly beautiful. New buildings are erected, gardens and squares laid, and streets improved. Now we are in Nemiga Street. Minsk was founded more than 900 years ago. It was first mentioned as a town in the Principality of Polotsk in a chronicle in 1067 in connection with a battle on the Nemiga between Prince Yzaslav, Vseslav and Svyatoslav. As a result of this battle Mensk was ruined with all men killed, women and children taken to prison. Here the city offers the view of its 17th century cathedral of the Holy Spirit and Sts. Peter and Paul Church.
Barbara: It is most exciting! … We can see Troitskoye Predmestye (Trinity Suburb) can’t we? I recognize it from the picture!
Ann: You are quite right. You know, the upper City, the Trinity and Rakov suburbs are mere fragments of Minsk historical centre.
Barbara: Why is this so? Berlin, Dresden and Leningrad were also bombed during the war.
Ann: However, it is the wooden buildings that were burnt down. And the majority of stone edifices were devastated. Unfortunately not all monuments of the Belarusian antiquity survived through to present day.
Barbara: I’d like to see Minsk Independence Square. Is really Minsk Independence Square the largest in Europe?
Ann: It is hard to believe, but it is the largest in Europe. It occupies the area of about seven hectares. Now we are in the heart of the city.
Barbara: It must be admitted that the square is utilised improperly. Similar squares in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev have entire “cities” of stores, parking lots and other public objects.
Ann: Minsk officials have decided to launch something of the like in Minsk. The plan includes construction of a huge underground complex, reconstruction of the over-ground part of the square.
Barbara: Will it change the look of the square?
Ann: Though, some renovations will be put into operation the Government Building (1929-1933) and Red (Krasny) Roman Catholic Church of the early 20th century, the Pedagogical University building will be preserved. Now we are moving along Fr.Skaryna Avenue. The Avenue is named after Dr. Fr.Skaryna, the first printer and the first translator of the Bible into the native Belarusian language. You can see numerous shops, banks and restaurants on both sides of the avenue.
Barbara: We are coming to Victory Square. Am I right?
Ann: You are quite right. There’s a bus stop over there. We’ll get off and see Victory Square with its 38 metre obelisk and the Eternal Flame commemorating the heroes of World War II.
Barbara: That’s fine. It is just what I had in mind.
Ann: Now I’d like to take you to the outskirts of Minsk.
Barbara: That sounds like a good idea. Thank you.
Ann: We are going to see Glory Mound Monuments. It is 21 km from Minsk.
Barbara: I know that this 35 metre high man-made hill crowned with the obelisk was built on the site where in 1944 Belrusian operation successfully completed the liberation of Minsk and Belarus from Nazi occupation during World War II.
Ann: I’d like to add, together with the symbolic handful of earth laid on the date of its foundation, the Mound also has these from every Hero City of the former USSR and from sites of major battles on the territory of the USSR during WWII.
Barbara: I have read much about the WWII. I know many names of the heroes of WWII. I appreciate highly their courage.
Ann: What are your first impressions of Minsk?
Barbara: Wonderful! It is most fascinating! So many impressions! That’s really more than enough for one day.
Ann: I’m glad you liked it. Then we’ll spend the rest of the day in the Botanical Garden. It’s a good place to have a rest. Everything is green and fresh. And tomorrow we’ll continue our tour about the outskirts of Minsk.
Barbara: Thank you ever so much. I’ve heard a lot about Zaslavl. What about going there?
Ann: You seem to know a lot about Belarus and its history. We are sure to see the place. It is worth visiting. It is 22 km from Minsk. It was founded in 989 by Ysyaslav, the Prince of Polotsk (son of Vladimir the Great, the Prince of Kiev). Now Zaslavl is a town-monument of old Belarusian culture. There are a lot of places worth to be seen. Historical-Cultural Reserve of Zaslavl includes the Site of Ancient Settlement (the 11th century), the Church of Tranfiguration of the Saviour – the monument of the architecture of the 16-17th centuries has features of renaissance style. There is a museum of handicrafts in the church now. The Farny Catholic Church (of St. Mary) is the monument of architecture of the 18th century. It was built in 1774 in Baroque style.
Barbara: That would be very nice to see all these monuments. I’m looking forward to visiting Zaslavl. Thank you ever so much. It was so kind of you to accompany me.


Ex. 1. Give a brief account of the dialogue.


Ex. 2. Practise the dialogue.


Ex. 3. On the basis of the dialogue make another one concentrating your attention on museums.

Ex. 4. In groups, hold a discussion on the following situations:

a) You are a guide. Give a short commentary on any well-known place of interest in Minsk

b) Suppose you wanted to show a visitor some of the most interesting places in Minsk. Where would you take him?


Ex. 5. Speak about the most interesting sights in Minsk. What is worth seeing in Minsk.

Ex. 6. In pairs, talk about your hometown. Ask your partner:

a) what his hometown is like, what things he likes (doesn’t like).

b) if it is an interesting place.


Ex. 7. Think of a place you have visited recently or which you would like to visit soon. Imagine you are there now. Write a postcard to your friend. Be sure to cover all these points:

a) Say where you are and describe something you have seen or done.

b) What are your impressions of this place?

c) What do you like or dislike about it?

d) What are you looking forward to doing?


Ex. 8. Choose …

a) Bring to class the pictures of a city you visited. Tell your classmates about the city.

b) get information from other sources about one of the big cities which you would like to visit. Prepare a talk about the city.



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