The Borderline State

Belarusian Wars of War Memories since 2020

  • Oxana Gourinovitch (Autor/in)


The article examines the recent phenomenon of the Belarusian politics of memory, focusing on its unique mode of dealing with the legacy of Soviet memorials. This mode diverges significantly from the reaction usually associated with the post-Soviet region. The catalyst for this phenomenon was the fraudulent August 2020 election, which sparked unparalleled mass protests in Belarus, historically considered the “last Soviet republic”. For the first time in the Belarusian history, a great number of Belarusians felt courageous enough to embrace the vision of a de-Sovietised future. However, the segments of Belarusian society challenging the “Soviet” status quo did not follow the typical post-Soviet trend of iconoclastic actions against Soviet monuments. Instead, they positioned themselves as contenders for the legacy of Soviet remembrance practices, leading to their contestation across the Belarusian polarised political spectrum. By analysing events which were widely publicised on social media platforms or reported in popular periodicals, this article examines manifestations of this struggle, tracing its evolution from the onset of the 2020 protests to the present day. Furthermore, the article seeks to reveal the reasons for the enduring acceptance of Soviet monuments and memorial sites, which persist in Belarusian society irrespective of political affiliations. It delves into the intricacies of Belarusian national self-narration and its entanglements with memorial practices forged during the Soviet era.