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Borderland Forever: Modern Belarus

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Chapter Summary

The reforms started by Mikhail Gorbachev were originally intended to make the Soviet Union stronger without changing its political system. The electoral rhetoric of nationalist movements in the Baltic states was more nationally assertive than that of the BPF and yet they managed to be consistently victorious at the polls. The vast majority of voters believed the Soviet-style official propaganda, or did not care for the attempts by the opposition to set the record straight, or simply was not moved by the opposition message of reforms and national revival. Experience of generations of Belarusians acquired throughout the Soviet era naturally prompted them to compare their country with its eastern, rather than western, neighbors. The imperatives of economy and politics might force post-Soviet Belarus to stay in Russia's orbit, but it is the institutionalized memory of the Soviet past that makes Belarusians comfortable in a borderland.

Keywords: Baltic states; Belarus; Borderland; Mikhail Gorbachev; Soviet Union



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