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The suggestion to establish a new national holiday was voiced at the 6th Belarusian People's Congress in February 2021. It was on this day, 17 September, when the Polish campaign of the Red Army began in 1939, which resulted in the reunification of Western Belarus and the BSSR.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko supported the idea. He signed the corresponding decree to institute a new national holiday on 7 June. “The Day of People's Unity will be celebrated on 17 September (not a day off). This date symbolizes restoration of historical justice and reunification of the Belarusian nation that was forcibly divided in 1921 in line with the Treaty of Riga. The reunification of the Belarusian nation in 1939 helped the country prevail in the Great Patriotic War, take its rightful place in the international community, and become one of the founding member states of the United Nations Organization,” the press service of the Belarusian leader said.
“Belarusian people unanimously support the strategy towards a strong sovereign and prospering country. The establishment of the Day of People's Unity on 17 September highlights the continuity of generations, the stability and self-sufficiency of the Belarusian nation and statehood,” the press service added.
During the Big Conversation with the President press conference on 9 August 2021 Aleksandr Lukashenko explained why the new national holiday would not be a day-off.
“In accordance with the Constitution, the president makes decisions on holidays and days-off. But let's be honest: I have been to many countries, and none of them has as many holidays as we have. It is the same in Russia when you celebrate New Year, for example,” the head of state said.
Speaking about Day of People's Unity, the president remarked that when he decided to institute the holiday he was thinking whether it should be a day-off or not. A decision was made that 17 September will be a workday. “As a person from the production sector who is used to working hard without days-off, I, probably, was a little bit greedy,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president added, however, that this remains an open question. “I am ready to hand over these powers to the legislative branch, and they will announce national holidays. This question remains open and can be revised any time,” he said.
The president is convinced that it was a fair decision to institute Day of People's Unity on 17 September. This date can be considered the day of the reunion for the Belarusian nation. “Therefore, do not criticize us. This is a true holiday. Our country would have been non-existent without this day. This is a sacred holiday for us,” the head of state stressed.
As BelTA reported earlier, a large number of social, political, patriotic and cultural events are planned in Belarus on Day of People's Unity.