Polesia, Polesie or Polesye is a natural and historical region starting from the farthest edges of Central Europe and into Eastern Europe, stretching from parts of Eastern Poland, touching named Podlasie, straddling the Belarus–Ukraine border and into western Russia. One of the largest forest areas on the continent, Polesia is located in the south-western part of the Eastern-European Lowland, the Polesian Lowland. On the western side, Polesia originates at the crossing of the Bug River valley in Poland and the Pripyat River valley of Western Ukraine; the swampy areas of central Polesia are known as the Pinsk Marshes. Large parts of the region were contaminated after the Chernobyl disaster and the region now includes the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, named after the region; the names Polesia/Polissia/Polesye, etc. may reflect the Slavic root les, which means "forest", the Slavic prefix po-, which means "on", "in" or "along". Inhabitants of Polesia are called Polishchuks.
Once part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, following it into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Polesia was part of Poland in the 1921-39 period when the country's largest provinces bore that name. Polesia has been a separate administrative unit. However, there was a Polesie Voivodeship during the Second Polish Republic, as well as a Polesia Voblast in Byelorussian SSR. From 1931 to 1944, it was explicitly mentioned as constituent part of the short-lived Ukrainian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Volhynia and Pidliashia. Since the end of World War II, the region of Polesie or Polesia encompasses areas in eastern Poland, southern Belarus, northwestern Ukraine, southwestern Russia. Polesia is a marshy region lining the Pripyat River in Southern Belarus, Northern Ukraine, in Poland and Russia, it is a flatland within the watersheds of Prypyat rivers. The two rivers are connected by the Dnieper-Bug Canal, built during the reign of Stanislaus II of Poland, the last king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Notable tributaries of the Pripyat are the Horyn, Styr and Yaselda rivers. The largest towns in the Pripyat basin are Pinsk, Davyd-Haradok. Huge marshes were reclaimed from the 1960s to the 1980s for farmland; the reclamation is believed to have harmed the environment along the course of the Pripyat. This region suffered from the Chernobyl disaster. Huge areas were polluted by radioactive elements; the most polluted part includes the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the adjacent Polesie State Radioecological Reserve. Some other areas in the region are considered unsuitable for living as well; the Polish part of the region includes the Polesie National Park, established 1990, which covers an area of 97.6 square kilometres. This and a wider area adjoining it make up the UNESCO-designated West Polesie Biosphere Reserve, which borders a similar reserve on the Ukrainian side. There is a protected area called Pribuzhskoye-Polesie in the Belarusian part of the region; the wooden architecture structures in the region were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on 30 January 2004 in the Cultural category.
The Ukrainian Polesia had its own tradition of folk icon-painting. The images of the saints are stable, having deep eyes; the plots were depicted on the background of landscapes with trees, forests etc. The Ukrainian Polesia's icon collection is the part of the exhibition of the Museum of Ukrainian home icons in the Historical and cultural complex "The Radomysl Castle". Museum of Ukrainian home icons Radomysl Castle Polesian Lowland UNESCO World Heritage Centre Western Polesie Пазинич В. Походження Поліських озер та параболічних дюн Пазинич В.Г. Происхождение Полесских озер и параболических дюн Pazynych V. Origin of Polesie lakes and parabolic dunes The Official Site of the Radomysl Castle Polisia at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine Origin of Polesie lakes and parabolic dunes
Luninets District is an administrative subdivision, a raion of Brest Region, in Belarus. At the time of the Belarus Census, Luninets Raion had a population of 73,200. Of these, 96.2% were of Belarusian, 2.5% Russian and 0.8% Ukrainian ethnicity. 76.8% spoke Belarusian and 21.9% Russian as their native language
Invasion of Poland
The Invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September Campaign or the 1939 Defensive War, in Germany as the Poland Campaign, was an invasion of Poland by Germany that marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union; the Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September following the Molotov–Tōgō agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol in the east on 16 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. German forces invaded Poland from the north and west the morning after the Gleiwitz incident. Slovak military forces advanced alongside the Germans in northern Slovakia; as the Wehrmacht advanced, Polish forces withdrew from their forward bases of operation close to the Polish–German border to more established defense lines to the east.
After the mid-September Polish defeat in the Battle of the Bzura, the Germans gained an undisputed advantage. Polish forces withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited expected support and relief from France and the United Kingdom. While those two countries had pacts with Poland and had declared war on Germany on 3 September, in the end their aid to Poland was limited. On 17 September, the Soviet Red Army invaded Eastern Poland, the territory that fell into the Soviet "sphere of influence" according to the secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all troops to neutral Romania. On 6 October, following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock and Soviet forces gained full control over Poland; the success of the invasion marked the end of the Second Polish Republic, though Poland never formally surrendered.
On 8 October, after an initial period of military administration, Germany directly annexed western Poland and the former Free City of Danzig and placed the remaining block of territory under the administration of the newly established General Government. The Soviet Union incorporated its newly acquired areas into its constituent Belarusian and Ukrainian republics, started a campaign of Sovietization. In the aftermath of the invasion, a collective of underground resistance organizations formed the Polish Underground State within the territory of the former Polish state. Many of the military exiles that managed to escape Poland subsequently joined the Polish Armed Forces in the West, an armed force loyal to the Polish government-in-exile. On 30 January 1933, the National Socialist German Workers' Party, under its leader Adolf Hitler, came to power in Germany. While the Weimar Republic had long sought to annex territories belonging to Poland, it was Hitler's own idea and not a realization of Weimar plans to invade and partition Poland, annex Bohemia and Austria, create satellite or puppet states economically subordinate to Germany.
As part of this long-term policy, Hitler at first pursued a policy of rapprochement with Poland, trying to improve opinion in Germany, culminating in the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934. Earlier, Hitler's foreign policy worked to weaken ties between Poland and France, attempted to manoeuvre Poland into the Anti-Comintern Pact, forming a cooperative front against the Soviet Union. Poland would be granted territory to its northeast in Ukraine and Belarus if it agreed to wage war against the Soviet Union, but the concessions the Poles were expected to make meant that their homeland would become dependent on Germany, functioning as little more than a client state; the Poles feared that their independence would be threatened altogether. How can they demand the rights of independent states?"The population of the Free City of Danzig was in favour of annexation by Germany, as were many of the ethnic German inhabitants of the Polish territory that separated the German exclave of East Prussia from the rest of the Reich.
The so-called Polish Corridor constituted land long disputed by Poland and Germany, inhabited by a Polish majority. The Corridor had become a part of Poland after the Treaty of Versailles. Many Germans wanted the urban port city of Danzig and its environs to be reincorporated into Germany. Danzig city had a German majority, had been separated from Germany after Versailles and made into the nominally independent Free City. Hitler sought to use this as casus belli, a reason for war, reverse the post-1918 territorial losses, on many occasions had appealed to German nationalism, promising to "liberate" the German minority still in the Corridor, as well as Danzig; the invasion was referred to by Germany as the 1939 Defensive War since Hitler proclaimed that Poland had attacked Germany and that "Germans in Poland are persecuted with a bloody terror and are driven from their homes. The series of border violations, which are unbearable to a great power, prove that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German frontier."Poland participated with Germany in the partition of Czechoslovakia that followed the Munich Agreement, although they were not part of the agreement.
It coerced Czechoslovakia to surrender the region of Český Těšín by issuing an ultimatum to that effect
Brest Region or Brest Oblast or Brest Voblast is one of the regions of Belarus. Its administrative center is Brest. Important cities within the region include: Baranavichy and Pinsk, it is located in the southwestern part of Belarus, bordering the Podlasie and Lublin voivodships of Poland on the west, the Volyn Oblast and Rivne Oblast of Ukraine on the south, the Grodno Region and Minsk Region on the north, Gomel Region on the east. The region covers at total area of about 15,7 % of the national total. Kametnets District of Brest Region in few kilometers to the South-West from Vysokaye town on the Bug River the western extreme point of Belarus is situated. 2,7% of the territory are covered with Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, 9,8% are covered with 17 wildlife preserves of national importance. It is dubbed the Western gateway to Belarus. Geographically, the Brest Region belongs to the area known as Polesia; the area of the region was part of the Second Polish Republic from 1921 until 1939 as the Polesie Voivodeship, when it was joined to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Northeastern part of it was administrated as part of Nowogrodek Voivodeship. The Brest Region has a population of about 14,7 % of the national total. About 47.2% of the region's population are men, the remaining 52.8% are women. Number of inhabitants per 1 km2 is 43. Of the major nationalities living in the Brest Region, 1,262,600 are Belarusians, 128,700 are Russians, 57,100 are Ukrainians, 27,100 are Poles. 53.7 % of the population speak 42.6 % speak Russian as their native language. Brest is the province with the highest birth rate in all of Belarus; as of 2008, the birth rate was 12.0 per 1000 and death rate was 13.4 per 1000. The region was formed in 1939 after reunification of Western Belarus and the Byelorussian SSR. Today it comprises 16 districts, 225 selsoviets, 20 cities, 5 city municipalities, 9 urban-type settlements, 2178 villages; the sixteen raions of the Brest Region are: There are about 70 travel agencies in Brest Region, most of them provide both agent and operator activities.
Main tourist attractions in the region are Brest Fortress. Subdivisions of Belarus Poland’s Polesie Voivodeship Poland’s Nowogrodek Voivodeship / Brest Regional Executive Committee
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
Belarus the Republic of Belarus known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres is forested, its major economic sectors are manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, conquered by Soviet Russia; the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Belarus lost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921.
Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources; the republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR; the parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy.
Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been criticized as unfair. Belarus is the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating is the lowest in Europe, the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Russian; the Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following.
Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative; the name Belarus is related with the term Belaya Rus', i.e. White Rus'. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus'. An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, populated by Slavs, Christianized early, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts. An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population. A third theory suggests that the old Rus' lands that were not conquered by the Tatars had been referred to as "White Rus'"; the name Rus is conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, thus Belarus is referred to as White Russia or White Ruthenia.
The name first appeared in Latin medieval literature. In some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is called "White Russia" to this day; the Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by Pope Pius VI in 1783 to recognize the Society of Jesus there, exclaiming "Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo." The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, known for his close contacts with the Russian Royal Court. During the 17th century, the Russian tsars used "White Rus" to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the term Belorussia first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, the Russian Tsar was styled "the Tsar of All the Russias"
Pinsk is a city in Belarus, in the Polesia region, traversed by the river Pina, at the confluence of the Pina and Pripyat rivers. The region was known as the Marsh of Pinsk, it lies south-west of Minsk. The population is about 138,202; the historic city has a restored city centre full of two-story buildings dating from the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The city centre has become an active place for youth of all ages with summer theme parks and a newly built association football stadium that houses the town's football team, FC Volna Pinsk. Pinsk is first mentioned in the chronicles of 1097 as Pinesk, a town belonging to Sviatopolk of Turov; the name is derived from the river Pina. Pinsk's early history is linked with the history of Turov; until the mid-12th century Pinsk was the seat of Sviatopolk's descendants, but a cadet line of the same family established their own seat at Pinsk after the Mongol invasion of Rus in 1239. The Pinsk principality had an important strategic location, between the principalities of Navahrudak and Halych-Volynia, which fought each other for other Ruthenian territories.
Pinsk did not take part in this struggle, although it was inclined towards the princes of Novaharodak, shown by the fact that the future prince of Novaharodak and Vaišvilkas of Lithuania spent some time in Pinsk. In 1320 Pinsk was won by the rulers of Navahrudak, who incorporated it into their state, known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. From this time on Pinsk was ruled by Narymunt. Afterwards, for the next two centuries the city had different rulers. In 1581 Pinsk was granted the Magdeburg rights by the Polish king, in 1569 – after the union of Lithuania with the Crown of the Polish Kingdom – it became the seat of the province of Brest within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From 1633 on Pinsk had a secondary school, the so-called brothers' school. During the Cossack rebellion of Bohdan Khmelnytsky against Polish king John II Casimir, it was captured by Cossacks who carried out a pogrom against the city's Jewish population. Eight years the town was burned by the Russians. In 1648, on the eve of the Russo-Polish War, Pinsk was occupied by Ukrainian Cossack army under commander Niababy and could only be reconquered with great difficulty by Polish prince Janusz Radziwiłł, a high-ranking commander in the Polish-Lithuanian army.
During the war between Moscow and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the city suffered from the attacks of the Muscovite army under Prince Volkolnsky and its allied army of Ukrainian Cossacks. Charles XII took it in 1706, burned the town with its suburbs. In spite of all the wars the city recovered and the town developed with the existence of a printing workshop in Pinsk from 1729 to 1744. Pinsk fell to the Russian Empire in 1793 in the Second Partition of Poland, it was an uyezd center in Minsk Governorate except brief occupation by Napoleon in 1812. Pinsk was occupied by the German Empire on 15 September 1915 during the First World War. After the German defeat, Pinsk became the subject of dispute between the short-lived Belarusian People's Republic and Ukrainian People's Republic. Pinsk was taken over by the advancing Red Army on 25 January 1919 during the Soviet westward offensive of 1918–19, it was retaken by the Polish troops on 5 March 1919 during the Polish–Soviet War, than regained by the Red Army on 23 July 1920, taken over by Polish Army on 26 September 1920.
Pińsk became part of the reborn sovereign Poland in 1920 at the time when the Polish-Soviet War was coming to an end with the Peace of Riga signed in March 1921. Like many cities in Eastern Europe, Pinsk had a significant Jewish population before World War II and the Holocaust. According to the Russian census of 1897, out of the total number of 28,400 inhabitants, Jews constituted 74 percent of the population, making it one of the most Jewish cities under the Tsarist rule. During the Polish-Soviet War of liberation, in April 1919, thirty-five Jews from Pinsk were executed by the Polish Army under the charge of being the Bolshevik collaborators who fired at the Polish soldiers; the incident, known as the Pinsk massacre, created a diplomatic crisis noted at the Versailles Conference. Pińsk was a provincial capital of the Polish Polesie Voivodeship; the civic centre was moved to Brześć-nad-Bugiem after the city-wide fire of 7 September 1921. The population of Pińsk grew in the interwar Poland from 23,497 in 1921 to 33,500 in 1931.
Pińsk was a bustling commercial centre with 70 percent of the population being Jewish in spite of considerable migration. During the Soviet invasion of Poland, on 20 September 1939 Pinsk and the surrounding territories were occupied by the Red Army of the Soviet Union in accordance with the Hitler-Stalin pact against Poland that started World War II. Following Operation Barbarossa, from 4 July 1941 to 14 July 1944, Pinsk was occupied by Nazi Germany as part of Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Most of the Jews were killed in late October 1942, during the liquidation of the Pińsk Ghetto by the German Ordnungspolizei and the Belarusian Auxiliary Police. Ten thousand were murdered in one day. In 1945 with the new post–World War II border adjustments of Poland, Pinsk became part of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, it was the center of Pinsk Oblast between 1940 and 1941 and again between 1944 and 1954 before joining the Brest Voblast. Pinsk has been part of the Republic of Belarus