In the opinion of philosopher A. de Jasay, “A state usually begins with someone’s defeat”. The Republic of Belarus owes its appearance on political maps to “the greatest catastrophe of the XX century”, i.e. to the defeat of the USSR in the “cold war”. The same defeat allowed A. Lukashenko to turn from a director of a decayed sovkhoz “Gorodets” into a head of state within several years. It might seem that monuments to initiators of the “Belovezhsky collusion” that registered the outcome of the catastrophe de jure should have been erected in Belarus already within their lifetime; however, everything happened quite the opposite way. In order to delete the real date of birth of the national state from the memory of Belarusians, in 1996 a referendum was held. Let us cite the wording of the first question: “Carry Independence day of the Republic of Belarus (Day of the Republic) over to July, 3 – the day of liberation of Belarus from the Nazi invaders in the Great Patriotic war”. According to the official data of the CEC, 88.1% of citizens who had participated in voting supported the carrying over of Independence Day.

It is clear, that the referendum of 1996 was a debut for L. Ermoshina in the office of the CEC head; nevertheless the very fact of including the question about carrying of Independence Day over to July, 3 into ballot papers testifies to the effect that A. Lukashenko counted on the positive for himself response on the part of the majority of the population. And he did not miscalculate. Even 16 years later the Victory in the Great Patriotic war (liberation of Belarus is an integral part of the victory) remains beyond comparison, as far as its importance is concerned, among various events of the XX century (Table 1).

Table1. Distribution of answers to the question: “What events of the XX century can Belarusians be proud of to the greatest extent, in your opinion?” depending on the attitude to the authorities, % (more than one answer is possible)

Variant of answer

All respondents

Attitude to the authorities



Victory in the Great Patriotic war




Acquisition of state independence in 1991




Postwar reconstruction and subsequent industrialization




Formation of the Belarusian People’s Republic




Electing A. Lukashenko president of Belarus in 1994




Formation of Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic




October revolution of 1917




It is important to note that attitude to the Victory does not possess any political connotation, that is why supporters as well as opponents of the authorities are proud of it to almost equal extent. In principle there is no difference in assessments depending on gender, education and age of respondents.

If anyone does try to load the attitude to the victory politically, it is A. Lukashenko himself. For him it is first of all “our Victory”. For a person dividing all people into friends and foes the Victory, too, can be only ours. To support what has been mentioned above, let us cite and extract from the report made at the II All-Belarusian assembly: “Speaking about the Great Patriotic war I cannot but admonish our society. Many politicians say: “we do not want to take the Victory for ourselves; we are ready to share it with someone”. I am not ready to do it. I am not ready, and although I did not fight, I am not ready to give someone the Victory of my father and grandfather! This is us – the Soviet people who have done everything for others to live well today, including in the West. This is us – the Soviet people – who have preserved the world and ensured development of civilization. And these are not simply emotions. Sometimes I want to say: “As long as we saved you, gentlemen, you should be thankful for it your entire life (applause). And if you cannot do it and more likely don’t want to do it, then please don’t teach us, and don’t interfere with our life”.

As a “historical” reference let us mention that the process of transformation of the attitude to the Great Patriotic war as to the Victory in the first place began already under L. Brezhnev. After dismissal of N. Khrushchev L. Brezhnev needed to improve his own status, and victory in the war was made at that time the core of the Soviet propaganda. Understanding the whole complexity of the war (daily fear, horror of mass death, poverty, and forced labor) was pushed to the background, and only the triumphant side was purposefully drummed into people’s mind. Such propaganda fell onto the fertile ground as the atomized Soviet society simply did not have any other solidarity symbols (victory in the revolution and the civil war could not act as a legitimacy source for another generation of party functionaries any longer).

There is a characteristic detail – grandeur of the Victory is measured by the number of casualties. A. Lukashenko constantly reminds people about it, too. He turned the Victory into the central element of not only Belarusian, but also of world history; and this historical construction is accepted today by supporters of the authorities, as well as by their opponents.