Saturday, January 19, 2019

Belarusians and Russians Aren’t One People and Nothing will Change That, Nikitenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 19 – Belsat has reposted a commentary by Russian blogger Viktor Nikitenko to make a point that should not have to be argued but that must be because Vladimir Putin and so many people in Russia and the West think otherwise: Belarusians and Russians aren’t one people and no political arrangements will change that.

            Nikitenko posted on Facebook his observations about the differences between the two nations in 2017 (; but as the editors of Belsat say in reposting them now, they may be even more important now than they were then (

            The blogger stresses that what he argues reflects his personal observations and experiences rather than “doubtful texts from thick books about the history of the appearance of the two peoples.” Such observations and experiences are far more important for an understanding of how members of each actually behave.

            “The chief facto distinguishing a Russian from a Belarusian,” Nikitenko says, “is the powerful emotionalism of the former and in addition his maximalism and extremes in judgement.” The Belarusian in this sense is “the antipode of the Russian: he is pragmatic, quiet,, doesn’t like extremes, and seldom gives way to radical changes in his point of view.

            Russians are far more inclined that Russians to following ideas and slogans blindly without considering where they are headed. Belarusians, in contrast, are skeptical about all such ideas and slogans and seldom change, being deeply conservative and as such suspicious not only of other ideas but often of other people.

            The two people do share a tendency to deify their leaders, but even in this regard, the blogger says, there are important differences: the Russian is “an anarchic and unstable” worshipper of power; the Belarusian in contrast tends to give his loyalty more slowly and give it up more slowly as well – another aspect of his conservatism.

            “Russians,” Nikitenko says, “very much love to destroy everything old and build on the ruins something new and are inclined to adventurism and a revolutionary method of solving problems.” Belarusians are more inclined to stick with what they know even if they are unhappy with it.

            “It is a mistake to say that laziness and slavery came to Belarus and Russia from Muscovy,” the blogger observes. The personal qualities of reserve and suspiciousness among Belarusians came not from Moscow but from neighboring Baltic nations, known for their phlegmatic approach.

            “Submissiveness, fear of truth, and latent xenophobia are the foundation on which autocratic power in Belarus is built. Infantalism dominates the personality of the Belarus and is immanent,” something Belarusians often try to conceal by engaging in xenophobia,” Nikitenko argues.

            These various differences are so profound, he continues, that it is ridiculous to talk about Belarusians and Russians being one people. They “never were but simply lived under one big occupation roof. The myth of unity was dreamed up by the Bolsheviks who didn’t focus on the details of the various ethnic groups” under their control.

             “Spiritual simplicity and hospitality are an organic and inalienable part of the Russian character which is expressed more strongly among them than among Belarusians.” The latter are more accustomed to reserve, having been influenced in that regard by Roman Catholicism and the Poles.

            “Beyond any doubt,” he says, “Belarusians and Russians are two different peoples; and therefore, the nationalists from Belarus are absolutely right when they speak about the cultural-social identity of their country.” But they sometimes neglect to note that Belarusians have taken from the Russians some good things as well as bad.

            But “in the final analysis,” Nikitenko concludes, “Belarusians will remain Belarusians and Russians will continue to be Russians; and this circumstance will only be strengthened by the fact that these peoples were never a single whole and will not become one.”

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