Volume 4, Fascile 1/2 (6/7) December 1997

"Krajovasc" in Belarusian and Lithuanian history

Alies Smaliancuk

"Krajovasc" is a social and political movement regarding as its basis the idea of formation of the political nation of the whole population of the Belarusian-Lithuanian territory or "kraj". As a phenomenon of social and political life of Belarus it appeared during the period of the revolution of 1905-1907. The essence of this movement's ideology was the assertion of the priority of the common territorial interests as compared to the interests of separate ethnic and social groups.

Under the conditions of aggrevation of social and ethnical conflicts, the adherents of that ideology (or "krajoucy") attempted to apply and to defend the concept of the political nation. "Krajovasc" arose amidst the Poles of Belarusian and Lithuanian origin. In the elaboration of the fundamental tenets of the "kraj" (or territorial-political) ideology Raman Skirmunt, Baliaslau Jalavecki, Michal Romer and Canstancyja Skirmunt played the main role.

After the so-called "dispersal" of the Second State Duma (1907), the chauvenistic mood among the Poles of Belarus and Lithuania became stronger. Mainly representatives of the democratic circles from Belarusian-Lithuanian territory (or "kraj") preserved their adherense to "kraj ideology". In 1910-1914, the eminent place in that movement side by side with such Polish political figures as M.Romer, B.Kryzanouski etc. took the political figures of Belarusian, Lithuanian and Jewish movements (Ivan Luckievic, Anton Luckievic, Mikolas Slezevicius, Jety Rom etc.). Freemasson's lodges became the main form of activities of "krajoucy": "Unity" (1910), "Lithuania" (1911), "Belarus" (1914).

In 1915, the Confederation of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania came into existence. It united the political figures of Polish, Belarusian, Lithuanian and Jewish movements who regarded as a basis the idea of formation of an independent state with capital in Vilnia. However, the Confederation couldn't resist the aspiration of the Poles and Lithuanians to form their own national states.

"Krajovasc" as a phenomenon of social and political life vanished in 1920-1921. It was cancelled by the Riga Peace Treaty and by the formation of a new state, so-called "Middle Lithuania".

"Krajoucy" contributed to the adjustment of ethnical and social contradictions. They resisted the ideology and practice of ethnical chauvinism.

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