In the wake of the burial ceremony of the 20 January Uprising insurgents in Vilnius, PolandIN’s political correspondent Chris Mularczyk discussed the meaning of this event in the context of the history and the future of East-Central Europe.
After being partitioned by Russia, Austria and Prussia, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth disappeared from the map of the world for 123 years. At the moment of the outbreak of the January Uprising in 1863, already 68 years had passed since Poland was partitioned, and since then, neither France led by Napoleon Bonaparte, nor the 1830 November Uprising brought Poland durable independence.
Chris Mularczyk pointed out that the January Uprising was an attempt undertaken by the Poles, but also Belarusians and Lithuanians, to regain some form of independence, as well as to rebel against the continuous Russification process on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth lands partitioned by Russia. On Friday, in his speech given in Vilnius, President Duda stressed the importance of the uprising, as it was a demonstration of resistance against Russian imperialism.
Due to the fact that the fall of communism in Central-Eastern Europe happened relatively not so long ago, the topic of potential threat coming from Russia is much more alive nowadays in this region than in Western Europe. The Soviet domination after the end of WWII saw the incorporation of the Baltic States and Belarus into the Soviet Union, and the introduction of communist rule in Poland. After the demise of the USSR in 1989, these countries had to reassess their history which had been muffled by censorship for 50 years. That resulted in a process in which history helped shape national identity again.
After years of ups and downs, relations between Poland and Lithuania, but also Belarus are improving in many fields. The “fear factor”, impersonated by Russia, is one of the issues that brings these states together. The participation of officials from Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Latvia at the burial of the January Uprising insurgents in Vilnius might be confirmation that the cooperation is moving in the right direction.
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