A Real «League of Nations»

This event stood out for its brightness and its extraordinary character. For the first time representatives of almost all the country’s national communities gathered at a common feast. It became possible thanks to the efforts of the Committee on Religions and Nationalities under the Council of Ministers
While the world is torn by severe international and interconfessional conflicts, a small enclave of public peace and mutual understanding carefully cherished in Belarus may seem to someone a real miracle. Etery Sytchinova is Georgian. She has been living in Belarus for more than 10 years. It was not her goodwill to leave home and travel far away from her native land: Etery is a refugee. What a frightful word! But today Etery and her family are at home. At home in Belarus. Her younger son, a schoolboy of one of Minsk gymnasia, says straightforwardly: “I don’t want to go anywhere from here. Here I have everything: my school, my friends…” But most important is peaceful life that instils hope for a happy future. By the way, during our conversation Etery proudly said: “Our Georgian children do not give up the Georgian language here in Belarus, but my son is the best one in the gymnasia in learning the Belarusian language”. A wonderful performance was presented at the New Year’ feast by the children from the Georgian singing and dancing group with the Centre of Children’s Art “Evrica” of the Frunzensky district of Minsk. However, their director Maya Tobagary, a beautiful and delicate lady, looking at the cheerful and self-confident children uttered this heart-lacerating word: “Refugees…” It is strange and incomprehensible to hear something of the kind when you are surrounded by festal sounds of music and children enwreathed in smiles. It is even more difficult to comprehend the terrible essence of what Maya was talking about. Any hatred is blind. But the national one is hundredfold more ruthless and desperate. That is why people’s kindness is so precious – the kindness that our country so generously bestows to these people.

The honourable bibliographer Galina Kalyuzhnaya is Ukrainian. Her story is of a different kind. Thanks God, with no extreme. It was not misfortune or disaster, but peaceful family circumstances, profession and even romanticism that drew many Soviet Union’s citizens away from home in the soviet times. But people even many years after do not forget their roots. “And you needn’t do it”, they are told in Belarus. And that is why the State opens national kindergartens and schools, helps to set up national NGOs to support the native culture and traditions. Alongside with the protection of each person’s rights as the rights of citizens of the Belarusian state where everyone is equal irrespective of the skin colour, eye shape and faith.

Azeri, Lithuanians, Moldavians, Jews, Armenians, Germans, Palestinians, Afghani, Gypsy… Indeed, that snowy winter night the Palace of Culture of the Tractor Works gathered a real “league of nations”. Our, Belarusian one. The atmosphere was easy and sparkling. But everyone understood that behind the seeming nonchalance there is a lot of work and responsibility: of the authorities, of every participant, of every one of us. It cannot be otherwise. Peace and calm at home are reliable things, but, unfortunately, still very fragile.

by Galina Bratko
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