Ethnic and linguistic changes of the Belarusian population  at the turn of the 21th Century Cover Image

Przemiany narodowościowo-językowe ludności Białorusi na przełomie XX i XXI wieku
Ethnic and linguistic changes of the Belarusian population at the turn of the 21th Century

Author(s): Piotr Eberhardt
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Belarus; Belarusians; Russians; Russification processes; ethnicity; language

Summary/Abstract: The first part of the article presents historical background of the origin of the Belarusian nation, located in the area of a confrontation between Russia and Poland. This rivalry was won by Russia, and in effect Belarusian land was incorporated into the Russian Empire, and later into the Soviet state. The next part presents the 20th century ethnic structure as the consequence of the Bolshevik Revolution and World Wars I and II, resulting in some border changes, war loses and migration movements. The main part of the article deals with the ethnic and language changes which occurred in the last decade of the 20th and in the first decade of the 21st centuries. The statistical analysis and interpretation is based on data from three population censuses (1989, 1999, 2009). An ethnic structure and linguistic situation are presented with the emphasis placed on the status of the two languages commonly used in Belarus, i.e. Russian and Belarusian, as seen in two categories: of mother language and of the language used for communication at home. The conclusions prove the expansion of popularity of the Russian language and gradual decrease of the use of the Belarusian language, both in public and at home. The processes of Russification, which had begun in the Soviet period, are intensifying despite the fact that Belarus regained its political souverianity as a country. On the basis of quantitative data the author defines specific intensity and territorial distribution of the influence of the Russian language. The final part of the article shows political and geo-political consequences of these changes in Belarus.

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 43
  • Page Range: 75-85
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: Polish