Friday, January 18, 2019

Residents of Village Moscow Transferred from RSFSR to Belarus in 1964 Don’t Want to Be Part of Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 18 – In one of his last acts before being removed from office, Nikita Khrushchev in 1964 transferred a village from the RSFSR to the Belarusian SSR. (Indeed, official notification of this change in the border between the two republics only occurred after his ouster.) Now, residents say they have no desire to be part of Russia or controlled by Moscow.

            Aleksandra Dynko and Dzmitry Gurnevich of Radio Svoboda’s Belarusian Service visited the small village of Oslyanka near the Belarusian-Russian border to find out how its 25 residents feel about the possibility of Belarus being absorbed by Russia or the two countries uniting in some common state (

                The village is an old even ancient one, mentioned in histories as early as 1654. A mill was built in 1667 and a church in 1737, but now there is not even a store. Instead, residents get their food from a tuck that comes three times a week.  Many of the houses are deserted, although some of those fill up in the summer months with vacationers.

            Dmitry Ovchinnikov, 89, who taught in the local school from 1952 to 1996, recalled that the residents of the village actually petitioned Moscow to be transferred from the RSFSR to the Belarusian SSR because at that time, Russian law gave villagers far less land for cultivation than did Belarusian.

                Another resident, Dmitry Yegorovich, has a Russian passport and a daughter living in Smolensk. He could easily have moved to Russia, but he said he didn’t want to. “If things were better there, then he would have gone long ago.” But for the moment at least, life is better in Belarus than in Russia and so he has no interest in moving or becoming part of Russia.

            And a third resident, Vasily Zakharovich says that life in the village became worse “’after Gorbachev,’” as a result of which, many villagers left. His children, he said, have lived in Minsk for a long time already.  He and they visit each other frequently.

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