Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine commemorate January Uprising

Photo: PAP/Andrzej Lange

“Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians and Ukrainians were fighting together to throw off Russian shackles and Tsarist oppression as well as for their freedom and the rebirth of an independent state,” President Andrzej Duda said during an official ceremony on the 160th anniversary of the January Uprising on Monday, where he was joined by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, Belarussian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Ukrainian officials.

Speaking at the Warsaw Citadel, the President said that the January Uprising was the biggest and longest-in-lasting uprising against Russia, Prussia and Austria, in regaining a free, sovereign and independent Republic.

“The uprising lasted more than two years, and more than 200,000 people took part in it, participating in active combat. 20,000 insurgents died, hundreds of thousands later suffered the fate of Siberia, the fate of wandering, were deprived of their property, chances for a decent life, chances to get an education, were persecuted and crushed,” Duda said.

He also thanked those gathered at the ceremony: the President of Lithuania, the leader of the Belarusian opposition, and representatives of the Ukrainian community.

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The President pointed out that the slogans accompanying the uprising - “for our freedom and yours”, “freedom, equality, independence” and “gloria victis” - brought forth the sentiment of prevailing greatness, a sense of duration, survival and societal indestructibility, a belief that the Republic would one day be reborn.

Supporting Ukraine

Duda further expressed his belief that “Ukraine will defeat its aggressor, that Ukraine will overcome the Russian onslaught, that it will not only stop it permanently but, above all, that it will repel it.”

“I believe that the Ukrainian people will prevail and that also with our support, but also with the support of other brotherly nations, Lithuanians, Belarusians, and other neighbours and friends, they will be able to rebuild their homeland even more beautiful and modern than the one invaded by the Russian barbarians,” the president said.

“Long live Poland, long live victorious Ukraine, long live victorious, free, independent and sovereign Belarus,” the head of the Polish state concluded.

Ideals of freedom from 160 years ago are being realised today

The January insurgents defied the Russian empire, and the uprising unveiled the vitality of the society of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda during Monday's ceremonies at the Warsaw Citadel. He added that the ideals of freedom from 160 years ago are being continued today in aiding Ukraine.

The Lithuanian president described Warsaw, which had been the seat of the National Government during the January Uprising, as an “invincible city”.

“In this city, the eternal desire for freedom was realised,” he added. He stressed that the January Uprising “thwarted the efforts of the Tsarist regime to finally subjugate the Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples.”

President Nauseda compared the struggle waged by the peoples of the then-former Commonwealth to the present-day defence of Ukraine against Russian imperialism. He added that Russia’s policy towards its neighbouring nations clearly seems to stem from the history of Russia’s imperialistic traditions.