Staunton, March 16 — A Russian nationalist with a long track record of hatred toward Belarus says that, on the basis of the logic Moscow has used to annex Crimea, Moscow should take back the portions now within the borders of the Belarusian Republic that were once part of the RSFSR.
Not only does his argument ignore the extent to which the borders of Belarus were changed numerous times by Stalin, particularly at the end of World War II, but it lays a delayed action mine not only under the Belarusian Republic but also under Kazakhstan which in the 1920s was part of the RSFSR as well.
And the threat to Belarus is underscored by Kirill Averyanov-Minsky’s suggestion that if Minsk does not give the territory back voluntarily, Moscow could help set up peoples republics in eastern Belarus much as it has in eastern Ukraine.
Averyanov-Minsky, a nationalist with ties to many close to the Kremlin, says that “everyone knows that in 1954 Crimea was illegally transferred from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR, and some know that in 1918, Moscow handed over the Donetsk-Krivorog Soviet Republic to Soviet Ukraine.”
But “few know that in the 1920s,” Moscow transferred from the RSFSR to the Belarusian SSR Vitebsk, Mohilev and Gomel oblasts without any ceremony at all.
According to Averyanov-Minsky, these were never Belarusian lands and should not belong to Belarus now or in the future.
“Comrade Lukashenko,” the commentator continues, is promoting the Belarusianization of these territories in order to hold them forever, apparently out of the belief that those who “sit in the Kremlin today” are “precisely such Soviet multi-nationalists as [sat there] in the 1920s.” One can understand why he might think that, Averyanov-Minsky says, but it need not be that way.
If the Belarusian leader continues in his misconceptions, the Russian nationalist commentator says, “it is impossible to exclude the possibility of the appearance of peoples republics in the east (and then possibly in the west as well) of the present-day Republic of Belarus.”
Averyanov-Minsky says that all these changes could happen quickly: He says that the new law the Russian Duma is considering concerning the “illegality” of the transfer of Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 could be amended to include Russian areas given to Belarus as well.