Astroŭski Radasłaŭ (also spelled Ostrowski; Астроўскі Радаслаў), teacher, political leader. Radasłaŭ Astroŭski was born on the estate of Zapolle, Słucak region, on October 25, 1887. He attended grammar and secondary schools in neighboring towns. Astrouski entered the University of St. Petersburg, to study mathematical and physical sciences in 1908. However, he did not finish the university course because he was expelled for his revolutionary and Belarusian national activities. Astroŭski was exiled to the town of Pružany, on Belarusian territory, and after some time was able to enroll once again in the University of Derpt, where he completed his studies in 1913. After graduation, he taught in various schools in Belarus and Poland and in 1914 he became professor at the Miensk Teachers Institute. He spent World War I in Russia where he met the Belarusian poet Maksim Bahdanovič and worked with him on a Russian newspaper. After the February Revolution he returned to Belarus and took part in Belarusian activities, convening a Conference of Belarusian Organizations and Parties in March 1917. Following that conference, Astroŭski went to the town of Słucak where he began organizing a Belarusian administration and the local Belarusian Gymnasium which began classes in 1917, with Astroŭski as its first director. This Gymnasium initiated many Belarusian programs, especially theatrical shows, throughout the entire region. Astroŭski was also the editor of the Belarusian-language newspaper, Rodny Kraj. He participated in the All-Belarusian Congress held in Miensk in December 1917. With the advance of the Red Army, Astroŭski went south to Ukraine and joined the Army of Russian General Denikin. He returned to Belarus after the Russo-Polish War and became active in Belarusian political life. Astroŭski was appointed an administrator for the American Relief Administration and assumed various positions in Belarusian organizations. He also taught at the Belarusian Gymnasium in Vilna, being later appointed director of this school. Astroŭski became one of the top leaders in the Society of Belarusian Schools (Tavarystva Biełaruskaj Škoły, TBŠ) and in the Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Hramada. When the Poles began their pogrom against the Hramada, Astroŭski was imprisoned, tried, and exiled to Polish territory. With the outbreak of the Soviet-German war in 1941, Astroŭski collaborated with the Germans and was active in organizing the Belarusian administration. He also headed numerous Belarusian organizations. Radasłaŭ Astroŭski was appointed President of the Belarusian Council (Biełaruskaja Centralnaja Rada, BCR) in 1943. This council was the prototype of a Belarusian Government under German occupation. After World War II. Astroŭski lived in West Germany, Argentina, and, from 1956 on, in the United States. He died in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on October 17, 1976.
Although Astroŭski was involved, throughout his long career, in a number of questionable programs and unpopular enterprises, one cannot deny his skills, energy, and dedication to Belarus, his desire to advance the Belarusian cause and his numerous accomplishments.
References: Bieł. Sav. Enc. vol. 1, 1969, p. 543; Biełaruskaja Dumka, South River, N.J., no. 20, 1976, pp. 16-17; Vestki InstytutuBelarusavedy, Leimen, West Germany, 4, 1989, pp. 46-48; Carkoŭny Śvietač, South River, N.J., no. 25, 1976, pp. 11-16; V.Kalush, In the service of the people for a free Belarus; biographical notes on Professor Radaslaŭ Ostrowski, London, Abjednańnie, 1964, 92 p.