Piotra Murzionak: Belarusian People’s Republic. II. The first All-Belarusian Congress and the Declaration of Independence
(Abstract, magazine “CULTURE, NATION”, June 2015, issue 10, pp. 24-34)
The first All-Belarusian Congress, which took place 5-17 December 1917 in Minsk and was attended by delegates from all over the region – 1167 delegates with a casting vote and 705 delegates with a consultative vote – demonstrated the desire of the Belarusian people to self-determination. The Congress declared itself the supreme authority in Belarus, and requested the Council (Rada) of congress to manage the country untill the convening of the Constituent Assembly. In this way the Congress did not recognize the illegitimate Bolshevik regime.
The first All-Belarusian Congress was brutally broken up on December 18, 1917 by the Bolsheviks. Similarly, January 7, 1918 in Petrograd, the Bolsheviks dispersed the Russian legislature, which did not recognise illegal, dictatorial power of the Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks decrees.
In 1918, the work of the Council of the 1st All-Belarusian Congress, which took over the responsibilities entrusted by the Congress, was under the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks (December 18, 1917 to February 18, 1918), and then under German occupation (February 21, 1918 – the end of November 1918).
The Rada of the Congress for objective reasons (German occupation) could not convene a Constituent Assembly and under the yoke of unacceptable conditions for Belarus of Brest peace agreement has assumed historical and revolutionary courage to take power (Charter I, January 20, 2018), to declare the existence of the Belarusian People’s Republic (Charter II, March 9, 1918), and then to declare the independence of the BNR (Charter III, March 25, 1918). At the time of voting on the declaration of independence of the BNR, the Rada comprised of 77 members, 36 of them elected by the delegates of the 1st All-Belarusian Congress, 6 – from Vilna Belarusian Council, 15 – from the national minorities (Russian, Polish, Jewish), 10 – from the zemstvos, 10 – from the cities.