Rak-Michajłoŭski Symon (also spelled Rak-Mikhailoŭski Symon; Рак-Міхайлоўскі Сымон), teacher, political leader. Rak-Michajłoŭski was born into a peasant family in the village of Maksimaŭka, Radaškavičy township, on April 2 (14), 1885. He died (or was killed by a firing squad) in a Soviet prison in 1937. Rak-Michajłoŭski graduated from the Maładečna Teachers' Seminary in Belarus and Feodosia Teachers' Institute (1912) in Ukraine. His political activities among Belarusian peasants date back to the period of the first Russian Revolution in 1905, when Rak-Michajłoŭski was elected by the peasants of his region to be their lobbying delegate in the State Duma. After graduation, he taught in various schools in Belarus. He was called up for military duty during the war. Rak-Michajłoŭski began to organize Belarusian soldiers into landsman circles immediately after the February Revolution. In subsequent months, he systematically visited virtually all the military fronts, assisting in organizing the Belarusian troops. Rak-Michajłoŭski was the pioneer and the leader in establishing a central Belarusian military organization. He accomplished this in the fall of 1917 by forming the Belarusian Central Military Council of which he was elected chairman. He was also very involved in preparing the First All-Belarusian Congress in 1917 and became a member of the Belarusian Government. Active among the military, Rak-Michajłoŭski also began an intensive campaign for establishing Belarusian schools. He organized the first Belarusian Teachers' Training courses in Miensk, 1918-1919, a Teachers' Seminary in the township of Baruny, and later, Teachers' Courses in Vilnia, 1921. While working in different capacities in the Government of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, he also edited a Belarusian-language daily, Biełaruskaje Słova in Horadnia. Rak-Michajłoŭski did not want to go into exile after the Treaty of Riga, but remained in Poland. He became a teacher in the Belarusian High School in Vilnia. In 1922 Symon Rak-Michajłoŭski was elected to the Polish Sejm, working actively with a number of Belarusian organizations but devoting most of his time to the Society of Belarusian Schools (Tavarystva Biełaruskaj Školy, TBŠ). Soon, however, Symon Rak-Michajłoŭski was arrested by the Poles and sentenced to a prison term of 12 years. In 1931 he was exchanged with the Soviets for another political prisoner, thus finding himself in Soviet Belarus. He settled in Miensk and became director of the Belarusian State Museum. This was not destined to last too long. Rak-Michajłoŭski was arrested in 1933 and sentenced to prison and labor camps, but in 1937 he was killed by the Soviets in an unknown locality.

References: Biełaruski Kalandar, Vilnia, 1923, p. 23; Biełarus, New York, no. 3(49), 1954; BSSR Karotkaja Enc., vol. 5, 1981, p. 509.

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