Žyłunovič Źmicier (also spelled Zhylunovich Zmicier; Жылуновіч Зьміцер), writer, journalist, political leader. He is better known by his literary pseudonym Ciška Hartny (Цішка Гартны). He was born in the town of Kapyl, Słucak region, on October 13, 1887. He died in Soviet prison on April 11, 1937. Žyłunovič came from a worker's family and he himself became a tanner. He studied in local schools and when he became a worker, joined various revolutionary groups and the Socialist-Revolutionary party. Hard work and self-education made up his life-style. Looking for jobs, he travelled extensively through the major cities of Belarus and eventually came to St. Petersburg. He joined the leadership of the Belarusian Socialist Hramada and took an active part in organizing Belarusian workers. Hartny became a regular contributor to Naša Niva and assisted greatly in its distribution. During World War I, Hartny was active, together with other Belarusian leaders in organizing Belarusians for political declarations. Always of a leftist persuasion, he collaborated with the Belarusian national leadership because he could not expand his constituency by pursuing leftist ideologies. He took an active part in preparing the Belarusian political conference in March of 1917 and became a member of the Belarusian National Committee which was assigned to organize the All-Belarusian Congress. When a split occurred in the Hramada in 1918, he became a member of the Bolshevik Party and from there on his political career was associated with pro-Communist groupings and parties. Žyłunovič is considered to be the most influential member of the Belarusian Communist group during 1918-1919. It was he who convinced the Bolsheviks to establish the Belarusian Soviet Socialist republic. He became the first chairman of the newly-proclaimed Belarusian Soviet Republic in 1919. Žyłunovič was one of the most visible and influential leaders in Soviet Belarus for almost a decade. He initiated numerous Belarusian programs and was instrumental in building the foundation of a Belarusian (i.e., Soviet Belarusian) administration.
Źmicier Žyłunovič was one of the leaders who attempted in the mid-1920s to persuade the leadership of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Prague to immigrate to Soviet Belarus. He succeeded in luring several of the leaders to return, but he did not succeed in persuading the Council of the Belarusian Democratic Republic to disband itself and recognize the Soviet Belarusian Government. In the final analysis, this mission of Žyłunovič together with Janka Kupała and other Soviet Belarusian leaders must be judged a failure. Hartny's career, often bitter and unpleasant, was terminated in 1937 when he was arrested and imprisoned as an "enemy of the Belarusian people." Eye-witness accounts reveal that his stay in prison was a "living hell" and he committed suicide after losing his mind.
Źmicier Žyłunovič is one of the most tragic personalities in the modern Belarusian movement: a convinced socialist, close to Communist ideas, he was nevertheless totally dedicated to the Belarusian national revival and to the notion of Belarusian statehood as an independent nation.
References: Bieł. Sav. Enc., vol. 3, 1971, pp. 367-368; Ant.Adamovich. Opposition to Sovietization... N.Y. 1958, p. 193; The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, vol. 12, 1979, pp. 87-88; Nioman, Minsk, no. 2, 1988, pp. 7-106.