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Belarusian Review

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Kosciuszko Honored At His Birthplace

The estate, where Tadeusz Kosciuszko was born, is situated in the village of Merachoushchyna (the Ivatsevichy district, the Brest region). Opposition leaders, foreign diplomats, cultural figures, historians, public representatives, journalists, local inhabitants and Belarusians from all over Belarus came to pay tribute to the memory of the great son of Belarus.

The local authorities were scared by the visit of the opposition leaders. The traffic police detained a bus with democratic activists near Merachoushchyna. People had to go to Kosciuszko’s estate on foot. The fear was so great that only people from special lists were permitted to enter the estate as officials of the Brest region executive committee and the Ivatsevichy district executive committee were present at the event. Officers of militia and secret services in mufti were guarding the entrance to the museum.

While the officials were marking the event in the museum, an impromptu meeting was held at the memorial sign in honour of Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Leader of the civil campaign European Belarus Andrei Sannikau, historian and writer Uladzimir Arlou, head of the BPF party Alyaksei Yanukevich made speeches. Singer-songwriter Zmitser Bartosik performed his best songs.

Historian Uladzimir Arlou said it was a disgraceful situation when monuments to Tadeusz Kosciuszko are not being erected in Belarus, streets are not called in his honour, but instead, Russian general Alexander Suvorov, who drowned the uprising in blood, is being glorified in the country. Belarusian Tadeusz Kosciuszko is an honorary citizen of France, national hero of the United States and Poland, but he hasn’t officially been recognized national hero of Belarus so far.

Charter97 Biographical note: Tadeusz Kosciuszko was born in Belarus in 1747, graduated from the Corps of Cadets in Warsaw, Paris Military Academy, spent seven years struggling for independence of the United States. He and Thomas Jefferson, the author of the US Declaration of Independence, were friends. He got American highest awards, the rank of general, could have stayed in the US and made a career there. He returned home in 1784 and in 1794, led the uprising against the Russian Empire, which had annexed the territory of Belarus after a partition of the Commonwealth of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Litva. From 40,000 to 50,000 Belarusians took part in the uprising. They were nobles, students, peasants. A month after the beginning of the uprising, the insurgents managed to take Vilnia, Hrodna, Brest, Ashmyany, Braslau, Vaukavysk, Lida, Slonim, Pinsk, Navahradak. However, the uprising was eventually defeated by the overwhelming force of the Russian regular army. Later, Napoleon offered him the rank of general in his army, but Kosciuszko declined to accept it.

This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 22, No. 1
Copyright 2010 Belarusian Review
All rights reserved.
Source: Charter 97 Press Center, February 6, 2010

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