A British Academy-funded project to write the first scholarly biography of Soviet Belarus's charismatic former leader

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About the project

In 1965, Petr Masherau (in Russian: Masherov), a charismatic war hero and former partisan, became First Secretary of the Belarusian Communist Party. As leader of Soviet Belarus, Masherau presided over a period of unprecedented prosperity and modernisation in the republic, and his sudden death in a car crash in 1980 brought forth an outpouring of national grief - as well as rumours of Moscow’s involvement. His memory has proven remarkably enduring.

Funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, Dr Natalya Chernyshova (Department of History, Modern History Research Centre) is currently writing the first scholarly biography of Masherau, his life and leadership. This will constitute the first detailed exploration of late socialist Belarus, an important borderland republic of the Soviet Union. The project, and a host of associated public engagement activities (see below), aim to improve our understanding of this strategically critical and politically volatile country today.

Masherau's Soviet identity document (image Wikimedia Commons) 

Open-access articles for wider public and policy-makers

'The West needs to appreciate how the protest movement in Belarus has been shaped by the Soviet past.' Policy paper with History & Policy at the Institute for Historical Research in London. 5 March 2021.

'Belarus remembers'. Article in the January 2021 issue of History Today, the Leading popular history magazine in the UK.

Policy memos for PONARS Eurasia

PONARS Eurasia links academic researchers with policymakers on Russia and Eurasia. Based at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs, they publish open-access Policy Memos series and podcasts on security, politics, economy and society in Russia and Eurasia.

Public Engagement

Podcasts

Discussing Stalin’s heir apparent Malenkov and Soviet politics with Katie Puckrik and Tom Fordyce (Crowd Network) in their history podcast series ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, 9 August 2021. Listen to the Malenkov episode on Spotify or Apple.

screenshot of Tweet about podcast by Winchester modern historian Dr Natalya Chernyshova about Stalin’s heir apparent Georgy Malenkov,

Discussing the eruption of protests in Belarus alongside Nikolai Petrov (Chatham House) with Maria Lipman for PONARS Eurasia Podcasts (Lipman Series 2020) on 11 September 2020. Listen to the podcast 'Understanding the Protests in Belarus'.

Talks

A public lecture on 'Belarus protests, national identity and the Soviet past' at the Havighurst Centre for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University, Ohio, USA, 7 April 2021. (video link forthcoming).

Webinar 'Protest and Repression Around the Globe: A roundtable discussion on Hong Kong, Thailand, Russia, & Belarus'. Organised by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in partnership with the UCI Forum for the Academy and the Public, Wende Museum, CEU Democracy Institute and the Index on Censorship. 10 March 2021.

'The crisis in Belarus: A discussion with Dr Natalya Chernyshova', a public lecture at the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, 25 September 2020