Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic

Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Russian: Белорусская Советская Социалистическая Республика
Belarusian: Беларуская Савецкая Сацыялістычная Рэспубліка
Soviet Socialist Republic (1922–1991)
Flag of Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
State emblem
Location of Byelorussia (red) within the Soviet Union.
Location of Byelorussia (red) within the Soviet Union.
StatusSoviet Socialist Republic (1922–1991)
Common languagesOfficial languages:
Belarusian · Russian
Minority languages:
Polish · Ukrainian · Yiddish[1]
GovernmentUnitary Marxist-Leninist one-party Soviet-style socialist republic (1920-1927; 1953-1990)
Stalinist one-party totalitarian dictatorship (1927-1953)
Unitary parliamentary republic (1990-1991)
First Secretary 
• 1920–1923 (first)
Vilgelm Knorinsh
• 1990–1991 (last)
Anatoĺ Malafiejeŭ
Head of government 
• 1920–1924 (first)
Aliaksandr Čarviakoŭ
• 1990–1991 (last)
Viačaslaŭ Kiebič
Head of state 
• 1920–1937 (first)
Aliaksandr Čarviakoŭ
• 1990–1991 (last)
Mikalaj Dziemianciej
LegislatureCongress of Soviets (1920–1938)
Supreme Soviet (1938–1991)
Historical era20th century
• Republic declared
1 January 1919
• Soviet republic proclaimed
31 July 1920
30 December 1922
15 November 1939
24 October 1945
27 July 1990
• Independence declared
25 August 1991
• Internationally recognized
26 December 1991
1989 census207,600 km2 (80,200 sq mi)
CurrencySoviet ruble (руб) (SUR)
Calling code7 015/016/017/02
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Second Polish Republic
Reichskommissariat Ostland
Bezirk Bialystok
Reichskommissariat Ukraine
Today part of



The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR, or Byelorussian SSR; Belarusian: Беларуская Савецкая Сацыялiстычная Рэспубліка, translit. Bielaruskaja Savieckaja Sacyjalistyčnaja Respublika; Russian: Белорусская Советская Социалистическая Республика, translit. Belorusskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika or Белорусская ССР, lit. 'Belorusskaya SSR'), also commonly referred to in English as Byelorussia, was a federal unit of the Soviet Union (USSR). It existed between 1920 and 1922, and from 1922 to 1991 as one of fifteen constituent republics of the USSR, with its own legislation from 1990 to 1991. The republic was ruled by the Communist Party of Byelorussia and was also referred to as Soviet Byelorussia by a number of historians.[3]

To the west it bordered Poland. Within the Soviet Union, it bordered the Lithuanian SSR and the Latvian SSR to the north, the Russian SFSR to the east and the Ukrainian SSR to the south.

The Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia (SSRB) was declared by the Bolsheviks on 1 January 1919 following the declaration of independence by the Belarusian Democratic Republic in March 1918. In 1922, the BSSR was one of the four founding members of the Soviet Union, together with the Ukrainian SSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Byelorussia was one of several Soviet republics occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Towards the final years of the Soviet Union's existence, the Supreme Soviet of Byelorussian SSR adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty on 27 July 1990. On 15 August 1991, Stanislaŭ Šuškievič was elected as the country's first president. Ten days later on 25 August 1991, Byelorussian SSR declared its independence and renamed to the Republic of Belarus. The Soviet Union was dissolved four months and one day later on December 26, 1991.


The term Byelorussia (Russian: Белору́ссия, derives from the term Belaya Rus' , i.e., White Rus'. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus'.[4] An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that had been populated mostly by early Christianized Slavs, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, which was predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts.[5]

The latter part similar but spelled and stressed differently from Росси́я, Russia) first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, and the Russian Tsar was usually styled "the Tsar of All the Russias", as Russia or the Russian Empire was formed by three parts of Russia—the Great, Little, and White.[6] This asserted that the territories are all Russian and all the peoples are also Russian; in the case of the Belarusians, they were variants of the Russian people.[7]

Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the term "White Russia" caused some confusion as it was also the name of the military force that opposed the red Bolsheviks.[8] During the period of the Byelorussian SSR, the term Byelorussia was embraced as part of a national consciousness. In western Belarus under Polish control, Byelorussia became commonly used in the regions of Białystok and Hrodna during the interwar period.[9] Upon the establishment of the Byelorussian Socialist Soviet Republic in 1920, the term Byelorussia (its names in other languages such as English being based on the Russian form) was only used officially. In 1936, with the proclamation of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, the republic was renamed to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic transposing the second ("socialist") and third ("soviet") words.

On August 25, 1991 the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR renamed the Soviet republic to the Republic of Belarus, with the short form "Belarus". Conservative forces in the newly independent Belarus did not support the name change and opposed its inclusion in the 1991 draft of the Constitution of Belarus.[10]