The Role of Old Believers in the Uprising of 1863–1864 and the Belarusian Nation-Building Process

The  Uprising  of  1863–1864  provoked  not  only  the  tsarist  reaction  in  the Belarusian lands, but above all the nation-building processes that started here late (compared to the rest of Europe), but led to the formation of the Belarusian nation. The ethnological and historical reconstruction and analysis of ethnographic statistics of the nineteenth century relating to Belarusian Old Believers are very interesting in this regard. On the one hand, Old Believers were strangers from Russia  and Muscovy,  and  therefore  enemies  of  the  idea of  the  Grand  Duchy of Lithuania and committed adherents of the Russian idea.
On the other hand, persecuted and driven from Muscovy, and having found refuge in the territory of Belarus, many Old Believers were integrated, even assimilated, with the Belarusians. During the Uprising of 1863–1864 not all Old Believers supported the tsarist government. Statistics, journalistic and ethnographic data from the nineteenth century illustrate the ambiguity of the role of Old Believers in Belarus. In addition, statistics and the First General Census of the Russian Empire in 1897 recorded a certain ‘Belarusianization’ of Old Believers, their active participation in the Belarusian nation-building process.