Harun Aleś (Гарун Алесь), poet, journalist, political leader. The pseudonym of Alaksandar Prušynski (also spelled Prushynski). Prušynski was born in Miensk on March 11, 1887. His father was a manual worker who earned little and his large family lived in relative poverty. From an early age Alaksandar demonstrated high intelligence. At the age of five he could read Polish and Russian. He soon finished parochial school in 1897 and entered a trade school in Miensk. At the age of 15 in 1902 he graduated as a joiner. His first job brought him into contact with clandestine revolutionary activists and he became involved in the socialist movement. Prušynski was arrested for his revolutionary activities and placed in solitary confinement. This was the turning point in his life; from then on Prušynski began to write poetry. He was first imprisoned in Miensk, then transferred to a prison in Vilna. In 1908 Prušynski-Harun was sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, but the sentence was reduced to exile in the Irkutsk region. For six years he worked as a joiner in Kirensk (Siberia), then in the gold mines of the river Lena region, Badajbo mines. From Siberia Prušynski contributed to Naša Niva and began collecting his poems. In Siberia he met and befriended another exiled Belarusian patriot and leader, Jazep Losik. As Harun remembered later, it was in Siberia that he prepared for publication his collection of poetry entitled Matčyn Dar (A Mother's Gift) which was published originally by the Belarusian Democratic Republic in 1918. After the February Revolution, Prušynski returned to Miensk in September 1917, unfortunately in broken health. The state of his health, however, did not deter him from pursuing Belarusian work. He became actively engaged in the organization of the All-Belarusian Congress of 1917, addressing himself primarily to the working people and the peasants and assisting in the selection of numerous delegates to the Congress from various localities. Harun became the chairman of the political committee of the Supreme Belarusian Council which was responsible for the program of the Congress. At the Congress, Harun was elected vice-president of the proceedings. Meanwhile, he contributed to various Belarusian journals and newspapers under different pen-names. He was one of the founders of the Belarusian Social Democratic party in the Spring of 1918. He was the editor of the Belarusian daily Biełaruski Šlach. During the Polish occupation of Miensk, 1919-1920, Harun was active in Belarusian political and military affairs and he greeted Piłsudski (in Belarusian) when Piłsudski visited Miensk on September 19, 1919. It is noteworthy that Piłsudski's reply to Harun's greetings was also in Belarusian. Aleś Harun retreated with the Polish Army and died in Cracow on July 28, 1920. A tombstone was recently installed on his grave by his compatriots. His works were once published in Soviet Belarus — in 1929. Since then (up to March 1988) he has been banned in the BSSR.
References: Arnold B. McMillin. A History of Byelorussian Literature, Giessen, 1977, pp. 161-174; Ant.Adamovich. Aleś Harun. Matčyn Dar, 1962, pp. 7-53; Ed. Budźka remembers... Harun. Biełaruskaja Hazeta, Miensk, no. 17(37), March 16, 1942; Bieł. Sav. Enc., vol. 3, 1971, p. 368; Biełaruski Ściah, Kaunas, no. 1, April 1922, pp. 19-21; Hołas Vioski, Miensk, March 13, 1942; Biełarus, New York, no. 350, 1988.