Solemn meeting in the run-up to Independence Day

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Address of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko at the solemn meeting in the run-up to Independence Day

Dear compatriots, dear veterans,

I wish you a Happy Independence Day!

3 July, a sacred date for the Belarusians, is a national symbol of the people’s unity and victory in the fight for their freedom. The victory, which was the crowning achievement of the centuries-old history of our native land.

The land, on which our ancestors built the first cities and churches 12 centuries ago.

In ancient times the Belarusian people had many names: Krivichi, Dregovichi, Radimichi. “They were united by one faith – the faith in truth and justice; one aspiration to cherish traditions and protect their homes and families; one love for the Motherland, the land where Belarusians were born and became a nation.

We carefully treat the historical memory of each era, the events of which forged the spiritual basis of the nation, tempered the will and character of the Belarusians. We are proud of the chronicle of the Principality of Polotsk, one of the three state-forming centers of Ancient Russia. The names of our compatriots who were born in this holy land - Rogneda, Vseslav the Sorcerer, Euphrosyne of Polotsk, Francysk Skaryna and Simeon of Polotsk – have been forever inscribed in the history of the East Slavic Middle Ages.

It is important for us to remember that the Belarusian ethnos was the backbone of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a unique state association for its time. It was the first Belarusian state. It was the defensive alliance with the Baltic tribes, where the Slavs taught them how to read, introduced them to the philosophy of Christianity.

We admire the spiritual strength and courage of our compatriots who preserved their language, culture and faith through centuries of total Polonization. The people who defended the right to be called Belarusians had a national idea maturing in the hearts: the idea of a free people. The idea of a legitimate desire to be the master of our historical land.

This right was won in historical battles: With the Teutonic Order, where the Slavic regiments demonstrated exemplary bravery; with the army of Napoleon, against which Belarusian peasants unleashed a partisan war; with the Polish insurgents, whom peasants would capture and take to the tsarist authorities because they did not want the Polish oppression to return; with the German invaders, when the entire Belarusian people rose up for the holy war.

In the last war, the Great Patriotic War, Belarusians defended not only their lives but also the memory of past generations who would have been simply erased from world history. It was the war to destroy the Slavic ethnos, culture and entire peoples.

Today we often say that this war is not over yet. It is not over because we still have not reburied the last soldier who died and the last civilian who was brutally murdered in that war.

It is not over yet because not everyone who was involved in the monstrous facts of that war, the genocide of the Belarusian people, has been punished.

That war is not over yet because once again, as at the frontline, we are defending our historical memory. The most dangerous enemy in this ideological war is not an external one. The origins of the Western revanchism are obvious and clear. Betrayal and indifference of your fellows is the most dangerous enemy.

On such a day we do not want to talk about our neighbors who have elevated murderers and maniacs to the rank of national heroes. It is unpleasant to recall those who sympathize with them here, as well as in Russia. Unfortunately, the cause of the policemen and other accomplices of Hitler's murderers still lives on in the terrible creations and political manifestos of today's neo-Nazis. You all see this.

That is why today I would like to thank our Belarusian people in the first place. Looking at the pathetic attempts of modern collaborators to rewrite the history of the Great Patriotic War, our Belarusian people are making the right choice, as always.

I am proud of all those who keep the memory of the heroic generation that performed a feat, the greatness of which knows no bounds.

I am proud of all those who take care of the monuments to soldiers and civilians, who bring their children to them, who gather living memories and facts about the Great Patriotic War and our heroes, who write pictures, songs, books and shoot films. I say thank you to everyone who fight in the information war for our historical memory.

You are the true heirs of the winners!

While the countries that the Soviet army liberated from fascism are destroying the graves of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, we will be building a new Belarus, examining the archives and restoring the story of every soldier, every innocent civilian victim.

These are very painful memories for us. Until now, they have been our quiet sorrowful memory. Now they will become an alarm bell.

Whether the West wants it to or not, we will show the world the truth about all the atrocities committed by the Nazis. They will have to listen and hear again about the murdered people, the unborn, the children, the women pressing infants to their hearts, the babies who, as the examination shows, were buried alive.

We will show the heirs and supporters of the Nazis the evidence of the crimes of their ancestors, so that the whole world understands what will happen to it if modern Nazism grows into fascism. As you can imagine, it's not just our memories. This is again our attempt to shield Europe against from the fascism which claimed about 70 million lives, if not more, in the last war.

They - all who chose to forget - will have to look again at the grueling evidence of the bloody crimes of their own fathers and grandfathers. I must admit that we were delicately silent. In our Slavic way we believed that children were not responsible for their parents. We still think so. But the time has come for the forgetful Europe to give itself a moral cleansing.

Let them look and draw conclusions. We, while reminding them, will remember that freedom for us is a synonym for the word “to live”. The day of Minsk's Liberation is the second birthday of the Belarusian nation, which was doomed to destruction but survived and saved Europe from fascism together with the brotherly Soviet peoples.

That is why 3 July, Independence Day, is celebrated as a major national holiday in Belarus. There is no other date in our history which the people would so heartily accept. It is so much personal, close and understandable to all the Belarusians. Caring, almost sacred attitude to the memory of that war has become a part of the family tradition for each of us.

Dear veterans and home front workers,

We know that we owe you everything we have. Our life, freedom, independence. You are our pillar and guide into the future. It is on your shoulders our native land stood and reemerged. Many participants in the war were under eighteen when it began, but by their early twenties some of them were already commanding detachments, developing military operations and reviving towns and villages.

You have withstood. Thanks to you the republic became the bastion that held back the blow of fascist hordes and gave the vast Soviet country time to mobilize.

The fact that our beloved Belarus, choking with blood, was dying but did not surrender in the battles was not in vain. Just as it was not in vain that the soldiers of General Russiyanov burned the Nazi tanks with Molotov cocktails near Ostroshitsky Gorodok, when the Brest Fortress was fighting selflessly and the soldiers of Colonel Kutepov did it near Mogilev. “Who knows, maybe the Nazis lacked these tanks to win the main battle near Moscow.

The indisputable fact is that the success of the brilliant Bagration operation was influenced by the resistance movement in Belarus, which was unprecedented in its scope.

Today, on the day that 78 years ago marked the beginning of the liberation of Belarus occupied by Nazi Germany, many people ask how the war veterans and their comrades-in-arms endured these difficulties and trials. Could we have done that? A simple question with has no simple answer.

We, the older generation, look at our youth and think: God forbid they should go through this. At the same time, we believe they have your strength, courage, love for the Fatherland and willingness to defend it.

We pledge to do everything so that your feat will live on for centuries, and every new generation of Belarusians will know that they have no right to forget the feat of their great ancestors.

Happy Independence Day to you, dear war veterans, and we all bow low to you!

Dear Belarusians,

Independence Day is a memory of the most important historical lesson. This date not only returns us to the events of the Great Patriotic War, but also teaches us to appreciate what was done after the Victory.

We are well aware that the independence of Belarus is an opportunity for our friends to come without red tape to Belarus, where there are no empty shelves or food stamps for the poor, where people will not have to give up on heating in winter, save on water or fuel, unlike the European Union.

Who in the West likes this independence of ours? Definitely not those who already have to choose between basic goods of life. Or those who pay for each new package of anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian sanctions, for each new batch of weapons to Ukraine, for all the exorbitant ambitions of the political elites obsessed with the same old idea, namely to wipe out the Eastern Slavs from the face of the earth, to destroy the memory of the unconquered Soviet people.

Therefore, we must face the truth: the new Nazism is no longer just rearing its head, it has become as real as ever. We see it in the geopolitical appetites of our western neighbors, who are greedily eyeing the border territories of Belarus and Ukraine. They even talk openly about possible annexation.

The Baltic countries are so obsessed with the desire to harm the Belarusian economy that they are ready to sacrifice their own people. This is the classic behavior of a fanatic. They have long divided their residents into citizens and aliens, depriving the latter of civil rights. What is this, if not today's segregation, not the elevation of one group over another along ethnic lines? What is this if not a manifestation of racism and Nazism?

As in the last century, these processes are run by the same old civilized Western Europe, which first raised a monster called fascist Germany, and then, in order to survive, threw itself into the arms of those whom it wished a defeat at first. History repeats itself. The monster is being raised of Ukraine. A reasonable idea. They are doing it this time away from home. Simultaneously they are trying create an image of the enemy from Belarus.

This is the world we are living in. We are living in this world and – despite everything – continue to build our state as our ancestors did – taking care of people, respecting other nations, and being ready to defend the truth and justice.

We know that as long as we do not accept the traditions, principles and opinions imposed on us from the outside, we will be independent. We know that as long as we are proud of our history, our people and our country, we will be free. As long as we have a native land and historical memory, we are a people.

We will be Belarusians!

These are not slogans. This is a real status.