Russia to give back Smolensk lands to Belarus? (video)

Amid the annexation of Crimea a lot of people wonder if Russians are ready to give back lands which did not belong to them in the past. In Russia’s Smolensk region even the issue of merger into Belarus has been raised.

Signatures for holding a referendum on Smolensk’s Shumyachi district joining Belarus are being collected on the Internet. They are eager to put the historical record straight, initiators of the campaign explain their actions.

English subs:

{movie}Russia to give back lands to Belarus (ENG subs)|right|15692{/movie}

It was not until 1939 that the larger half of Shumyachy district was part of Belarus. We consider the seizure of these Belarusian lands from the time immemorial to be illegal, they say.

Even the official website of the local paper ‘Workers’ Path’ have published an article on signatures’ collection. The residents of Smolensk region repeatedly emphasize that they don’t mind merging into Belarus. But territorial belonging is not a key issue, a local official believes.

NATALLIA KOSHANSKAYA, district state administration:

‘Belarus is in perfect order, our people say. But I say over and over again: nobody comes to us and drops litter. It is us who make a mess. If we fail to change no good will come even if we join Washington.’

The signatures collected will be directed to the district administration and governing bodies of Smolensk region. But Russia’s law does not stipulate for both holding local referendums and any part’s seceding. That is why Smolensk governor’s initiative to pass some lands to Belarus which was published by ‘Workers Path’ seems intriguing. However, the top official just meant to invite Belarusians to run businesses and cultivate farmland in Smolensk, the governor’s press office said.

Yury Salodki, In Focus

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