MINSK, 3 July (BelTA) – Today Belarus celebrates Independence Day, the main holiday of Belarusian statehood.
The decision to celebrate Independence Day on 3 July was adopted during a nationwide referendum on 24 November 1996. In December 1996 Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko signed an ordinance to establish a state holiday – Day of Independence of the Republic of Belarus (Day of the Republic). It is marked on the day Minsk was liberated from the Nazi invaders – 3 July 1944. Belarus celebrated the first Independence Day in 1997.
Belarus was the first to bear the brunt of the Nazi war machine. Minsk suffered from merciless bombing and artillery bombardment on the second day of the war. Hitler's armies met fierce resistance on approaches to the city. The 100th and 64th Rifle Divisions fought particularly courageously against the enemy. But the Nazi managed to capture Minsk on 28 June. Since the very first days of the occupation Minsk residents fought against the enemy. 1,100 days of occupation equal 1,100 days of selfless, heroic fight against the Nazi invaders. Minsk was occupied but not conquered.
The Belarusian capital city was liberated from the Nazi invaders on 3 July 1944 as a result of the brilliant Belarusian strategic offensive operation through joint efforts of the 1st and 3rd Belarusian Fronts assisted by partisans. The day is celebrated as the day of liberation of the entire country. Belarusians know the price of freedom: every third resident of Belarus died in the course of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
On 3 July the Belarusian nation traditionally pays tribute to heroism and tenacity of soldiers, brave struggle of underground fighters and partisans, and the unparalleled labor deeds of those who rebuilt the country from the ruins.