Support the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum

We are raising money for the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum in London, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The library preserves the largest and most comprehensive collection of Belarus-related print publications in Western Europe and needs funds to become more digital.

Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate a little or a lot. Anything helps. Thank you for your support.

Please use Facebook to donate. It sends 100% of your donation directly to our charity.

6th Annual Conference ‘Belarusian Studies in the 21st Century’ – call for papers

UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, Ostrogorski Centre and the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum invite paper proposals from established academics and doctoral researchers discussing various aspects of contemporary Belarusian studies.Belarusian Studies in the 21st CenturyThe conference will take place on 19–20 February 2021 in the online format. The Annual London Lecture on Belarusian Studies will follow the main conference panels.

The conference serves as a multidisciplinary forum of Belarusian studies in the West and offers a rare networking opportunity for researchers of Belarus.

The organisers are interested in papers that discuss history, political science, political economy, literature, sociology and religious studies. Interdisciplinary studies are particularly encouraged. Selected papers will be peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Belarusian Studies in 2021.

To submit a paper please complete this online form no later than 30 November 2020. The working language of the conference is English.

The conference organising committee includes Prof Yarik Kryvoi (co-chair), Prof Andrew Wilson (co-chair), Sasha Belavokaya, Peter Braga, Dr Alena Marková, and Dr Karalina Matskievich.

Please spread the word and use hashtag #BelStudies.

You can read more about past conferences here. For any questions relating to the conference, please email

UNOVIS Centenary Panel Discussion at University of Westminster

The Belarusian Library in London and University of Westminster invite you to a panel discussion with Belarusian art historian and author Siarhiej Chareuski and other expert speakers.

Other speakers:

  • Richard Difford
  • Prof. Christina Lodder
  • Dr. Katie McElvanney (The British Library)
  • Dr. Victoria Watson

UNOVIS was founded in Vitebsk’s People’s Art School of Malevich and his students on 14 February 2020, it went on to become one of the most influential art groups of the 20the century. This panel was assembled by Tszwai So on the occasion of the centenary of the art group, to discuss this significant intangible world cultural heritage of Belarus, one that every Belarusian should know about, and be proud of.

When: Thursday 20 February at 18:30

Where: University of Westminster, School of Architecture & Cities 35 Marylebone Road London NW1 5LS

Event: Chagall, Malevich et al: Fate of the Creators of the New Art

Join us for a talk by the well-known Belarusian art historian and author Siarhiej Chareuski to mark the centenary of the Viciebsk art group UNOVIS.

About the speaker

Siarhej Chareuski is a well-known Belarusian art historian, artist and author who has published extensively on the history of Belarus’ art and architecture, art theory, cultural studies and Chinese studies. His publications include the monographs One Hundred Artefacts of the 20th century: Essays on the History of Belarus’ Art and Architecture and History of Belarus’ Art and Architecture. Belarusian independent media describes him as а ‘Librarian or Curator of names, stories, ideas and artefacts that together make up Belarus’ cultural identity’. Mr Chareuski teaches Art History and Cultural Studies at the European Humanities University, Vilnius.

The event will conclude with a tour of the treasures of the Library’s art collection by Fr Serge Stasievich.

When: Saturday, Feb 22, 15:00-18:00

Where: Marian House Holden Ave London N12 8HY

Belarusian Readers’ Group

Belarusian Readers’ Group at the Skaryna Library is a space for all lovers of Belarusian literature. We read and talk about modern and classical texts and authors together.

We meet approximately once a month at the
Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library.

Venue: The Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library, 37 Holden Rd London N12 8HS

Format: meetings every month to two months in an informal setting with shared drinks and snacks.

Next meeting: Monday, 30 June 2020, 19:30

More information in the Facebook group

Mother Language Day with Valiaryna Kustava in London

On Saturday, the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and the Anglo-Belarusian Society invites everyone to the Mother Language Day celebration, with poetry readings and the special guest appearance of a prominent Belarusian poet, scriptwriter and presenter Valiaryna Kustava.

Read your favourite poem – works of modern poets or old favourites of your choice in Belarusian, English, Scots etc (no need to learn by heart!). Children are very welcome to participate.

The readings will be followed by refreshments.

The event was inaugurated by the late Vera Rich to mark UNESCO Mother Language Day and involves poetry reading in all languages particularly Belarusian and English.

When: 8 February 2020, 4 pm

Where: Marian House, London

5th Annual ‘Belarusian Studies in the 21st Century’ Conference

The Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the Ostrogorski Centre invites to the Annual London conference on Belarusian Studies.

The conference will take place on 21–22 February 2020 at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum in London. The conference reception is sponsored by the Anglo-Belarusian Society.

The conference serves as a multidisciplinary forum of Belarusian studies in the West and offers a rare networking opportunity for researchers of Belarus. The draft programme of the conference is available here.

This year’s Annual London Lecture on Belarusian Studies will be delivered by Professor Thomas Bohn from Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany. The title is ‘Bagpipe Player and Painted Birds. Belarusian Histories of the People in the Marshes.’

To register for the conference please register on Eventbrite no later than 19 February 2020. The working language of the conference is English.

The conference organising committee includes Peter Braga, Dr Stephen Hall, Dr Alena Marková, Prof Yarik Kryvoi (co-chair) and Prof Andrew Wilson (co-chair). The conference is supported by the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies. Please use hashtag #BelStudies.

The speakers and moderators include:

  • Dr Ryhor AstapeniaChatham House, United Kingdom
  • Yahor AzarkevichUniversity of Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Prof Thomas BohnJustus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany
  • Paula BorowskaSchool of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL, United Kingdom
  • Peter BragaUCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, United Kingdom
  • Jim DingleyAnglo-Belarusian Society, United Kingdom
  • Dr Aleh DziarnovichNational Academy of SciencesBelarus
  • Dr Sándor FöldváriDebrecen University, Hungary
  • Dr Joanna GetkaUniversity of Warsaw, Poland
  • Tadeusz GiczanSchool of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL, United Kingdom
  • Dr Yuras HetsevichNational Academy of SciencesBelarus
  • Prof Grigory IoffeRadford University, United States of America
  • Ekaterina KedingLudwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
  • Prof Yarik Kryvoi (conference co-chair), Ostrogorski Centre, United Kingdom
  • Dr Karalina Matskevich, Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum
  • Dr Alena MarkováCharles UniversityCzech Republic
  • Prof Arnold Barratt McMillinSchool of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL, United Kingdom
  • Dr Angela Espinosa RuizComplutense University of Madrid, Spain
  • Dr Anton SaifullayeuUniversity of Warsaw, Poland
  • Dr Nataliia SteblynaDonetsk National University, Ukraine
  • Yuliya YarmakYanka Kupala State University of Grodno, Belarus
  • Prof Andrew Wilson (conference co-chair), UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

For any questions relating to the conference, please email

Shirin Akiner (1942-2019)

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Shirin Akiner (1942-2019) came to the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of London University in 1965 as one of several ‘mature’ students as they were quaintly known at that time. As I was only in my second year of teaching and more or less the same age as these students I became friendly with several of them. Shirin was a brilliant student, recently widowed with a small child, Metin, after her husband had been killed in a car crash. She was born to a Pakistani diplomat and Welsh mother, but brought up in a British school and spoke and wrote impeccable English. I got to know Shirin quite early on, as we shared an interest in classical music, although this is a serious understatement in her case, as she had studied the fiddle in Moscow and Amsterdam under the outstanding Soviet violinist David Oistrakh; I believe that after the tragedy of her husband’s death she never played the violin again. She remarried in the 1970s a scholarly businessman, David Mitchell, and moved from Willesden to Chelsea, and became known in non-academic life as Shirin Akiner Mitchell.

I am sure that it was I who aroused her interest in Belarus in the late 1960s and introduced her to the Francis Skaryna Library and Fr Alexander. With the latter’s help she wrote an article, ‘Contemporary Young Byelorussian Poets (1967-1975)’, published in the Journal of Byelorussian Studies (hereafter JBS), III, 4 (1975), pp. 342-53, which was subsequently taken up by the Belarusians of eastern Poland who produced a Polish-language booklet from this article. Earlier, inspired no doubt by the excellent piece by Fr Nadson in collaboration with G.M. Meredith-Owens, a Professor in the Department of Islamic Studies, University of Toronto and well-known specialist in Persian miniatures, ‘The Byelorussian Tartars and Their Writings’, JBS, II, 2 (1969), pp. 141-76, she also wrote an article on a cognate subject: ‘The Vocabulary of a Byelorussian K’it’ab in the British Museum’, JBS, III, 1 (1973), which later was expanded and revised, becoming a first-class book published by a prestigious German publisher: The Religious Language of the Belarusian Tatar Kitab, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 2009. On a lighter note, when occasionally we were invited to lunch with Fr Alexander who was an excellent cook in addition to his many other achievements, I would bring a bottle of wine whilst she, more sensibly, contributed some excellent coffee.

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Always interested in Near and Central Asia, after an excellent degree in Russian with subsidiary Turkish, Shirin turned mainly to study of Central Asia, becoming a Research Associate at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where she had mainly faithful postgraduates, and also an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Despite a glittering career in this field of study, she was loyal to her links with Belarus and Belarusians who, in turn, valued her work. For instance, in 1983 at the International Congress of Slavists in Kyiv, the Belarusian delegation insisted on my bringing her to meet them.

In London she regularly attended various launches, celebrations and other events. In fact, the last time I saw Shirin and her husband was at an exhibition of Belarusian art less than a year ago. She will be sorely missed by her son and husband, and by many scholars round the world, as well as by the Belarusian community in London that she supported so well.

Emeritus Professor Arnold McMillin