May 30, 2022
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Without partitions of the Commonwealth, there would be no Belarusian statehood

Russia, interfering in the internal affairs of the Commonwealth, acted as a guarantor of law and order

Article One

Article two

Concluding the consideration of the “historical lesson” from the Belarusian deputy Valery Voronetsky, let’s turn to his main idea that the Russian Empress Catherine II had no right to consider the Belarusian lands “hers”.

What to say to this?

Recall that Valery Voronetsky tried in every possible way to substantiate that, starting from the time of the Principality of Polotsk, there was a “Belarusian statehood”, that it continued in the form of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and Belarusians are direct descendants of Lithuania and Russia, that is, “one people”, divided only confessional to Catholics and Orthodox. The author ignores the significant difference between Lithuania and Russia, contrary to direct historical evidence, because in addition to an important confessional difference, there is also an ethnic one, expressed, for example, in language. Lithuanian writer of the 16th century Mikhalon (Mikhail) Litvin argued that “the Russian dialect is alien to us Lithuanians”, that the Lithuanians subordinated neighboring peoples, in particular, “Roksolans or Rutens, who, along with the Muscovites, then submitted to the power of the Trans-Volga Tatars.”

The Baltic (and not Slavic!) origin of the Lithuanians is proved by numerous data of linguistics, history and ethnography, therefore the opinion that the ancestors of the Belarusians (Slavs) used the name “Lithuania” in ancient times is a historical myth.

On the contrary, in historical sources, the Russian self-consciousness of the Slavic population of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is clearly visible. Despite subjugation to the Lithuanian princes, first to the pagans, and then to the Catholics, in Western Russian cities they continue to remember the unity of the Russian land. So, in the “Chronicle of Bykhovets” Kyiv of the time of Batu is called the capital “all the Russian lands”, the Lithuanian rati go “to Russia to Braslavl and to Polotsk”, the Grand Duke Vitovt, concluding an agreement with Khan Tokhtamysh, cherishes plans to sit down “on the whole Russian land” and even when he fails, his possessions in the east are so vast that in Praise of Vitovt he is called the ruler of “the whole Russian land.” Under the Grand Duke of Lithuania Svidrigail (1430–1432), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania split up in an internecine war, during which the Russian lands separated from Lithuania formed the “Great Russian Principality” with the cities of Polotsk, Vitebsk, Mstislavl and Kyiv. And even later, when during the wars with the Moscow princes, the idea arose of a foreign “Moscow land” lying in the east, the consciousness of a common relationship did not disappear. In the Chronicle of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Zhomoytsky, the geography of the “Russian land” extended far beyond the boundaries of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, for example, it says: “The great pestilence was strong in Moscow, and in Ladoga, and in Porkhov, and in Pskov, and in Torzhok, and in Tver, and in Dimitrov, in all Russian volosts. Orthodox churches, according to custom, continued to be called “Russian”, whether they were in Moscow or Mogilev (“Barkulabov Chronicle”).

Repeatedly in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, projects arose to separate the Western Russian lands and go under the control of Moscow. So, in 1481, the GDL uncovered a conspiracy of princes Ivan Golshansky and Mikhail Slutsky, who were preparing an assassination attempt on King Casimir, in order to later annex the lands of the GDL along the Berezina to the Moscow principality. In 1507–1509 Prince Mikhail Glinsky tried to do the same, deprived of the court positions that he held under King Alexander (1492-1506).

During military conflicts between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Muscovite State, which had gained strength, which filled the 17th and 16th centuries, candidates for Russian rulers to the throne of the Commonwealth were periodically considered. In 1568, during the negotiations for a truce with Moscow, the Lithuanian ambassadors showed their readiness to make Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible the successor to the childless King Sigismund-August. In 1573, the candidacy of Ivan the Terrible again became relevant in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1587, a significant part of the Lithuanian and Western Russian gentry at the electoral diet made their choice in favor of the Moscow Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich. “Lithuania voted for the Prince of Moscow,” the Barkulab Chronicle says on this occasion. During the war for Little Russia 1654-1667. Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky came up with the idea of ​​dividing the Commonwealth between Moscow and Sweden, and the Polish embassy, ​​at the conclusion of the Vilna truce in 1656, undertook to elect Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich to the throne of the Commonwealth after King Jan Casimir. Although none of these attempts were successful, one can speak of the existence of a stable political tradition in favor of joining the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Moscow and even electing Moscow sovereigns to the throne of the Commonwealth. Representatives of the local Lithuanian and Western Russian nobility invariably turned out to be on the side of such attempts.

Even more can be said about the common people. It is no coincidence that the gentry, who fled when the Moscow army approached in 1654, testified: “The peasants pray to God that Moscow come.” To this we can add church ties, which became stronger after the accession of the Kyiv Metropolis to the Moscow Patriarchate in 1686. Cultural ties also continued, recall, for example, the departure to Moscow of Hieromonk Simeon of Polotsk, who received a position at the royal court and was engaged in composing poems, sermons and writing theological treatises. Belarusian craftsmen worked in artels in Moscow and the Moscow region. In particular, the Moscow church of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea on Polyanka and the Resurrection Cathedral of the New Jerusalem Monastery on Istra were decorated with ceramic tiled belts made by Stepan and Osip Ivanov, Ignat Maksimov and other craftsmen from Vilna, Shklov, Mstislavl and Kopys. Let’s not forget about the trade and economic ties between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Moscow state that have existed for centuries.

Empress Catherine II

The Russian Empress Catherine II at first sought to restore the “Russian party” in the Commonwealth through the return of political rights to the Orthodox. This attempt, brought to completion in 1768, however, ran into the Catholic intolerance of the Poles and was actually nullified. It is known that the very idea of ​​dividing the Commonwealth belonged not to the Russian Empress, but to the Prussian King Frederick. During the First Partition of 1772, according to which the lands of eastern Belarus were transferred to the Russian Empire, the Russian government was not talking about collecting Russian lands, but more and more about compensation for military expenses and the “pacification” of the Commonwealth. For the first time, the idea of ​​​​returning to the Russian Empire the lands that “were once its property” with a “single-tribe population” was voiced during the Second Section of 1793, according to which central Belarus, Kiev Voivodeship and Podolia ceded to Russia. On this occasion, a medal was even issued with the words “Rejected Returner.”

Silent Diet

Valery Voronetsky claims that the Russian Empress had no right to the Belarusian lands. The question of law is debatable here, since Russian troops entered the Commonwealth at the invitation of the Poles themselves, who were dissatisfied with the Constitution of May 3, 1791 and formed the Targowice Confederation against it. Territorial concessions to Russia in 1772 and 1793 were approved by the Seimas of the Commonwealth. Moreover, the last Sejm (the so-called “Mute”), which was held in Grodno surrounded by Russian troops and under pressure from the Russian envoy, yielded to Russia’s demands without much resistance in the hope that by satisfying it, it would be possible to avoid the approval of the territorial claims of Prussia, which was taking away ethnically Polish people in the west. earth. It was at the second stage of the discussion in Grodno that the Sejm deputies took it into their head to remain silent, then they tore their clothes on their chests, regretting Poland, and not the ON. In the name of the restoration of Poland, the Poles then raised an uprising, headed by Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Having suffered a severe defeat, they had to submit to the Third Partition in 1795, according to which the western part of Belarus and Lithuania went to Russia. Empress Catherine II did not take the Polish lands proper. Ethnic Polish territories became part of Russia only as a result of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, but that was another story with the participation of other European powers.

Medal 1793

Returning to the problem of “law”, it must be said that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the partition era was a state that experienced one turmoil after another and at the same time provoked its strong neighbors. First one, then another warring party turned to Prussia, Russia and Turkey in the hope of help in solving internal problems. Did the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, in particular, Belarusians, suffer from this? There is no need to talk much about the violence against the common people by various confederations, guided by the principle “who is not with us is against us.” Russia, interfering in the internal affairs of the Commonwealth, acted as a guarantor of law and order by right, approved by the Sejm in 1768. loyalty. Subsequently, it became possible to liberate the Belarusian peasants from the serfdom, establish public schools, the emergence of teachers’ seminaries and the formation of local intelligentsia.

If Belarus remained a part of the Polish-Lithuanian state, there would be no question of any Belarusian statehood, which the modern political elite of Belarus cherishes.

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