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120 years of Belarusian Social Democracy

On December 9, Vilnius hosted an international conference dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the Belarusian Social Democracy. The event gathered leaders of social-democratic parties and movements from Belarus and other countries, as well as representatives of democratic trade unions of Belarus.

Deputy chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Narodnaya Hramada Yauhen Vilski
Deputy chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Narodnaya Hramada Yauhen Vilski

To date, most social democratic parties in Belarus are forced to operate in exile, while the leader of Narodnaia Hramada, Mikalai Statkevich, is in a high-security colony. Nevertheless, despite the risks and pressure from Lukashenka's regime, delegates from Belarus took part in the conference.

The opening of the event began with a welcoming speech by one of the organizers, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Narodnaya Hramada Yauhen Vilski and other leaders of social democratic parties in Belarus, Ihar Barysau (Belarusian Social Democratic Party "Hramada") and Siarhei Cherechen (Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada). The meeting was opened by Lithuanian MEP Juozas Olekas and International Secretary of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party Remigijus Motuzas. Delegations from Latvia also took an active part in the conference.

Historian Ales Pashkiewich told about the birth and formation of social-democratic movements in Belarus and Lithuania, as well as about the influence of social-democracies of neighboring countries on the formation of the left-wing movement in our territories.

Maksim Pazniakou, Acting Chairman of the BKDP, spoke about the role and importance of the trade union movement both in the past and in the present. He also focused on the current state of the labor movement in Belarus and its de facto ban by the authoritarian regime.

The conference participants took part in panel discussions on the current state of social-democratic parties and political forces in Belarus, and discussed the possibilities of releasing political prisoners.

Former political prisoner Lanid Sudalenka shared information about the conditions of detention of political prisoners in Belarusian prisons. Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk's husband noted that even behind bars, political prisoners continue to fight despite persecution and violence against them.

The emotional speech of the representative of the Belarusian Association of Political Prisoners "Da Voli!", Mr. Aleh Kulesh, concerned the conditions of the prisoners' detention. Aleh Kulesh touched upon labor conditions in prisons and the problems of rehabilitation of political prisoners after their release.

He told about how political prisoners work without personal protective equipment and get injured. He also touched upon the issue of their rehabilitation after release.

The conference was also addressed by Ion Sula from the European Social Democratic Party of Moldova, Lithuanian Seimas deputy Kastutis Vilkauskas, Ihar Maslouski from the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), and Zhanna Semiantovich from Narodnai Hramada. They shared ways of further development of their parties and discussed prospects of cooperation for the future.

Maksim Pazniakou, Acting Chairman of the BKDP
Maksim Pazniakou, Acting Chairman of the BKDP

Youth representatives of social democratic movements discussed the political activity of youth in Eastern Europe, the impact of Russia's war against Ukraine and the place of youth in the leftist movement.

As a result of the conference, two resolutions drafted by the participants were formulated and adopted.

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