BelarusFeed continues its series of texts about famous Belarusians who make us feel proud. We’ve told you about celebrities with Belarusian roots, women who have shaped the world and well-known entrepreneurs and athletes. Politicians from Belarus are no exception, here are just some of them.
*The list is compiled at no particular order.
Many people from Belarus have made a political career in Israel. Three of them even managed to become the leaders of this great country.
Chaim Weizmann, who was born in 1874 in the village of Motal near Pinsk, Brest region, was elected the first president of Israel and served until his death in 1952.
It was Weizmann who convinced the U.S. government to recognize the newly formed state of Israel. Besides, went down in history not only as a politician but also as a biochemist.
During World War I, he invented a new method of producing acetone, which was used in the manufacture of gunpowder. He also founded a research institute, which today bears his name.
The attitude to this controversial politician in the post-Soviet republics will always be ambiguous and there’s more than one reason for that. Chubais is one of the ideologues and leaders of economic reforms in Russia in the 90s and electric power system in the 2000s.
He was a key figure in introducing the market economy and the principles of private ownership to Russia after the fall of the USSR. The emergence of a new class of billionaires – the “oligarchs” is associated with his name.
The father of Russian capitalism was born in 1955 in Borisov, Minsk region
No wonder, supporters of liberal reforms in Russia admire him, while ordinary people don’t share the same views. Chubais still has real power. He is the head of the Unified Energy System, the Russian electricity monopoly.
Thomas Jefferson hailed him as the “purest son of liberty I have ever known.” Kosciuszko was born and raised in the countryside around Kosava, a small Belarusian town 200km away from Minsk.
The political and military figure of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, leader of the rebellion against Russian rule in 1794, he became a national hero of Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and the U.S.
He achieved his greatest military success by defending Warsaw against besieging Russian and Prussian forces. Before that, he fought on the U.S. side in the War of Independence.
A close friend of Thomas Jefferson’s, with whom he shared ideals of human rights, Kosciuszko wrote a will dedicating his U.S. assets to the education and freedom of U.S. slaves.
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There are monuments and statues to Tadeusz Kosciuszko around the world. Islands, counties, cities, museums, bridges, streets and parks bear his name.
Another public and political figure who has Belaruisna blood running in his veins is Zalman Shazar. He served as the third President of Israel from 1963 to 1973.
Shazar was born in Mir, a village in Korelichsky district of the Grodno region, in 1889 and grew up in the town of Stolbtsy. He always spoke with great warmth about his ancestral homeland and Belarusians.
Besides his political activities, Shazar is known for his works as a poet, scientist, writer and translator. Shazar published books, articles, notes and songs. The Zalman Shazar Center in Jerusalem is named after him.
Mr. Nyet (“Mr. No”) or “Grim Grom” is Andrei Gromyko’s moniker for his frequent use of the Soviet veto in the United Nations Security Council.
Andrei Gromyko headed the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs for almost three decades – from 1957 to 1985. He became the first diplomat who happened to represent the Soviet Union in the UN.
Back in the late 40s, the politician was one of the founders of the UN Charter. The diplomat had indisputable authority among the Soviet people and in the West.
During his tenure, he was involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, helped broker a peace treaty ending the Indo-Pakistani War, negotiated the ABM Treaty, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, etc.
This great diplomat of the Soviet era was born to a poor “semi-peasant, semi-worker” Belarusian family in the Belarusian village of Staryya Gramyki, near Gomel.
“If a party leader was honest and incorruptible – and there were category such as Masherov, party boss in White Russia, he acquired the reputation of a saint”, wrote American historian, journalist and political commentator Walter Ze’ev Laqueur.
The first secretary of the Communist Party of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, PyotrMasherov, is the most famous leader of Soviet Belarus who had the love of the people.
In 1994, Masherov was awarded title Hero of the Soviet Union and 34 years later Hero of Socialist Labor for his contributions to the development of the country.
In 1980, Masherov published a book in which he criticized Soviet leadership as arrogant and conceited. After his death, Masherov Avenue (now Praśpiekt Pieramožcaŭ) was named in his honor.
Another head of Israel with Belarusian roots is Shimon Peres, who was born in the village of Vishnyeva, Volozhinsky district, Minsk region. He was the ninth president of Israel (2007-2014).
The Israeli politician also served as the Prime Minister of Israel (twice), and the Interim Prime Minister. In 1994, Peres received the Nobel Peace Prize for the design and implementation of peace agreements with Palestine.
When Perez died in 2016, about 4,000 mourners and world leaders from 75 countries, with the U.S. President Barack Obama among them, attended the funeral to say goodbye to him.