BELARUS, C.I.S. republic. For the region's earlier history, see *Belorussia.
Developments from the 1970s
In 1979 Belorussia's Jewish population amounted to 135,400 and in 1989 to 112,000 (with 39,100 in Minsk, 31,800 in Gomel province, and 18,400 in Mogilev province). Nearly 70,000 emigrated
One Jew was elected to the republic's Supreme Soviet in 1990. Antisemitism within the Belorussian national movement militated against its receiving support from Jewish organizations. Antisemitic propaganda was rife in such publications as Politicheskii sobesednik, Slavianskie vedomosti, Sem'dnei, My I vremia, and Prognoz. The year 1991 saw the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Borisov and in 1994 cemeteries were desecrated in Gomel, Mogilev, and Haradok, Vitebsk region. Antisemitic incidents continued to occur sporadically throughout the decade. Right-wing organized antisemitic activities in Belarus came mainly from pan-Slavic organizations which advocated a close union with Russia and were supported by their counterparts there. Such organizations included "Slaviane" (The Slavs), "Bratsva Slavian" (Brotherhood of Slavs), "Slavianskii Sobor – Belaia Rus" (Slavic Council – White Russia), On Independence Day in 1994 about 1,000 extremist nationalists marched through Minsk bearing slogans such as 'Belarus only for the Belorussians."
The monthly Jewish newspaper Aviv began to appear in 1992 and by 1993 there were five Jewish periodicals appearing in Belarus. In 1992 Rabbi Yitzḥak Volpin came from New York to occupy the long vacant pulpit in the Minsk synagogue. In the spring of the same year Belarus established diplomatic relations with Israel.
U. Schmelz and S. DellaPergola, in: AJYB, 1995, 478; S. DellaPergola, "World Jewish Population 2002," ibid. (2002), 623ff.; Supplement to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, 2 (1995); Y. Florsheim, in: Jews in Eastern Europe, 1:26 (1995), 25–33; M. Beizer and I. Klimenko, in Jews in Eastern Europe, 1 (24) 1995, 25–33; Anti-Semitism Worldwide (1994), Tel Aviv University, 132–134. WEBSITE: www.worldjewishcongress.org; www.fjc.ru.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.