Taraškievič Branisłaŭ (also spelled Tarashkevich Bronislaw; Тарашкевіч Браніслаў), scholar, linguist, historian, political leader. Branisłaŭ Taraškievič was born in the village of Čarnuliški, Vilnia province, on January 20, 1892. He went to grammar school in the village of Łavaryški, and graduated from a gymnasium in Vilnia. Taraškievič established close contact with the Belarusian leadership and activists who were centered around the newspaper Naša Niva. From Vilnia Taraškievič went to St. Petersburg where he enrolled at the University and remained there from 1911 to 1916. His professional interests lay in Belarusian language and literature. His talent was noticed by the famous Russian linguist and scholar, Aleksei Shakhmatov. Under the guidance of Professor Shakhmatov, Branisłaŭ Taraškievič began to write a Belarusian Grammar. His Grammar, published in Vilnia in 1918, marks an important milestone in Belarusian linguistics. After graduating, Taraškievič was appointed to the faculty of the University of St. Petersburg. However, his Belarusian political interests won out and he left St. Petersburg to go to Miensk. Taraškievič entered totally into Belarusian activities: he was one of the organizers of the Belarusian National Committee and was an important administrator in the convening of the All-Belarusian Congress in 1917. Branisłaŭ Taraškievič held numerous important administrative and diplomatic posts in the Government of the Belarusian Democratic Republic. After the partition of Belarus in 1921, Branisłaŭ Taraškievič remained in Western Belarus where he was elected to the Polish Sejm. Taraškievič became one of the most important Belarusian political leaders in Western Belarus. He became the head of the most powerful and numerous Belarusian political party — the Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Hramada. Unfortunately, through Soviet intrigues and Polish shortsightedness, this organization was crushed by the Polish Government, its leaders were imprisoned or fled the country. Taraškievič was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 1933 Taraškievič was exchanged for another Belarusian political prisoner in the Soviet Union - Francišak Alachnovič. For a few years Taraškievič worked in Moscow in various capacities connected with the International Communist movement, but in 1938 he was arrested and executed in 1941. However, various Soviet Belarusian reference tools give different dates of his death: thus according to Bieł. Sav. Enc., vol. 10, 1974, pp. 235-236 his dates are - Jan. 8(20), 1892 - September 22, 1941; and according to the BSSR Abridged Enc., vol. 5, 1981, pp. 596-597 the dates are: January 20, 1892 - November 29, 1938. An American reference work states that Taraškievič was arrested on May 7, 1937 and died in prison soon after.

References: Biełarus, New York, nos. 74, 1962; 134, 1968; 178, 1972; Baćkaŭščyna, Munich, no. 588, February 11, 1962; Biełaruski Kalandar, Vilna, 1923, pp. 33-34; The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 38, 1984, p. 177.

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