A Soviet Success Story?: Petr Masherau and Late Socialist Belarus

black and white photo of Petr Masherau

Wednesday 27 April 2022, 4.30pm
SAB004, University of Winchester King Alfred Quarter, SO22 4NR

The war in Ukraine has placed the spotlight on Belarus, yet little is known about its history. In this talk, organized by the Modern History Research Centre (MHRC), Dr. Natalya Chernyshova will focus on the figure of Petr Masherau, a Belarusian peasant’s son, a village schoolteacher, a partisan war hero, and, eventually, a successful political operator in the treacherous world of Soviet post-war politics. From his humble origins in the western backwaters of the former Russian Empire, Masherau rose through the ranks of the Belarusian Communist Party to become in 1965 its First Secretary and, thus, the most powerful man in Belarus. In this post between 1965 and 1980, he presided over the most prosperous and stable years of this Soviet republic. He died in a car crash in 1980 but remained the most highly respected politician in Belarus for decades after the Soviet Union itself had collapsed. But Masherau was more than just a popular leader of a Soviet republic. His extraordinary life story paralleled that of Belarus as a new nation. The forces, which shaped and defined his life and career, also shaped and defined the path of Belarus during the twentieth century. This makes Masherau’s biography an excellent window into the history of modern, and especially post-war Belarus, this little-studied but important republic on the western border of the Soviet Union.

Dr Natalya Chernyshova is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Winchester. She has published on Belarusian and late Soviet history. Her research project on Petr Masherau and Soviet Belarus is funded by the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2020-22). 

Chairs and discussants: Prof Chris Aldous (University of Winchester) and Dr Graciela Iglesias-Rogers (University of Winchester).  

This event is free and open to the public 

For more information, please email MHRC@winchester.ac.uk 

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