Meanwhile, only 0.2 per cent of university students study in the Belarusian language, according to a recent survey. The lack of pride in national values is a well-known feature of Belarusians, and this situation has a historical explanation.
Perestroika and the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s gave rise to mass nationalist organisations in Belarus. Compromising with the Soviet bureaucracy looked likely to prevent the establishment of an authoritarian regime, but nationalists took an uncompromising position and lost the game.
Because of Lukashenka’s pro-Russian politics, they became the chief enemies of the first president and saw a decline throughout the 2000s. Today, nationalist organisations are few and they do not impact upon Belarusian politics. . . .
Anti-Nationalist Strategy of the First President
A strategic alliance with Russia, supported by cheap hydrocarbons and wider markets, made Lukashenka a prime anti-nationalist in Belarus. As the strongest among opposition forces and nationalist by ideology, the BPF party became enemy №1 for the newly elected president.
Lukashenka started his first term in office with notorious anti-national steps: he replaced national symbols with slightly modified Soviet ones, initiated the introduction of the Russian language as second official language, and stopped and reversed support of the Belarusian language in education, media, government and virtually everywhere. This policy led to the continuation of the denationalisation policy started by communists.
During his speeches, Lukashenka liked to remind Belarusians about the 1990s, the time when “wild nationalists” raged.