Christian Democracy In Modern Belarus: Prohibit, Not Register?

5 з'езд БХД_32

Christian democracy is has been in Belarus for 100 years. The first Christian democratic party in our country was the Constitutional Catholic Party of Lithuania and Belarus, headed by the Vilnius bishop Edward Ropp. The party was created in 1906, fared well in elections but was banned by Russian authorities.

In 1908 the place was taken by the organization “Liberation”. In 1913, with support of Duchess Magdalena Radziwill, a Christian democratic newspaper Biełarus began its publishing. In 1915 the party Christian Union was created, headed by prince Sviatapolk-Mirski, baron Schafnagel, Catholic priests Vincent Hadleǔski and Aliaksandar Astramovič, historian Vaclaǔ Lastoǔski. In May of 1918 Lastoǔski expressed his wish to create a national clerical party with prince Sviatapolk-Mirski, father Taločka and baron Schafnagel.

But the widest resonance had been caused by the party Christian Democratic Union, founded in 1917 by Fabijan Abrantovič with participation of priests Adam Stankievič, Vincent Hadleǔski and others. In 1927 it had been reorganized into Belarusian Christian Democracy, which existed in West Belarus before the Bolshevist annexation in 1939 (in 1936 it had been renamed to Belarusian National Association, from which Belarusian National Front splintered).

Mostly Catholic BCD cooperated with such Orthodox organizations as the Union of Belarusian Clergy, founded in 1917 and Orthodox Belarusian Democratic Belarusian Association, found in 1927 and headed by Senator Viačaslaǔ Bahdanovič, priest Lukaš Holad and others.

With the invasion of Bolsheviks and later Nazis, all activities of Belarusian Christian Democrats has stopped for 50 years. Separate organizations existed only abroad, like, for example, Christian association of Belarusian Workers in Great Britain, founded in 1948.

With Perestroika and Belarus becoming independent, Christian democratic movement in Belarus was renewed. Such parties and organizations emerged, as Belarusian Catholic Association (1990), Belarusian Chrostan Democratic Union (1991), Belarusian Christian Democratic Party (1994), Belarusian National Party (1994), Christian Democratic Choice (1995), Young Front (1996), Young Democrats youth social union (1997). But they all had been relieved of registration by the Minstry of Justice in the late 90s – early 2000s. Many of their members either joined other organizations or left political scene.

In 2005 the Belarusian Christian Democracy party’s constituent committee emerged, but its attempts to register as a party or a public association, even on the regional level, failed. It is worth mentioning  that in 2011 Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed in his interview to the Washington Post that Christian Democrats, whom he called “bandits”, will never be registered in Belarus.

Here is the list of 18 failed attempts of registering Christian democratic organizations in Belarus:

May, 7 of 2007: Republican public organization Belarusian Christian Democracy

April 12, 2008: Social public organization Belarusian Christian Democracy

February 28, 2009: Belarusian Christian Democracy party

October 31, 2009: Belarusian Christian Democracy party

May 22, 2010: public organization Young Christian Democrats

September 12, 2010: Belarusian Christian Democracy party

December 17, 2011: Belarusian Christian Democracy party

October 27, 2012: public organization Christian Democrats of Viciebsk region

November 3, 2012: public organization Young Christian Democrats

November 18, 2012: public organization Christian Democrats of Mahilioǔ region

November 6, 2013: public organization Young Christian Democrats of Mahilioǔ

May 26, 2013: public organization Christian Democrats of Mahilioǔ region

June 8, 2013:  public organization Christian Democrats of Brest

November 18, 2013: public organization Christian Democrats of Brest

October 4, 2014: public organization Christian Democrats of Minsk region

June 13, 2015: Belarusian Christian Democracy party

November 14, 2015: republican public association Christian Democratic Movement

December 12, 2015: Belarusian Christian Democracy party

It is worth noticing that during the last year nine public organizations had been registered, among them associations of Aikidokas, craftsmen, rheumathologists and ferret aficionados, but none of them being political or rights-defending. The last party in Belarus had been registered  in 2000. Since that moment the number of parties is only dwindling.

Maksim Hacak