--- Independence Day
Unlike the other countries that formed the part of the erstwhile Soviet Union, Belarusian does not celebrate its Independence Day to honor its freedom from the USSR. Instead, it celebrates the liberation of its capital city, Minsk from the Nazi forces in 1944. Each year the country commemorates this occasion on July 3.
Until 1996, Belarus celebrated its Independence Day on July 27, the day in 1990 when Belarus' Supreme Council official declared the country free from USSR. That changed in 1996 when, through a referendum, people voted to make July 3 the Independence Day of this landlocked country in Eastern Europe. The day was chosen in honor of those who fought to free Minsk from German forces during the Second World War. Belarus saw widespread destruction during the Second World War, with third-largest Nazi concentration camp set up in the outskirts of Minsk, where about 200,000 people were cruelly killed. As Nazi Germany invaded Russia in 1941, Belarus became embroiled in bloodbath, which continued until 1944. The Red Army drove the Germans out of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (formed at the end of World War I as the Red Army took control of Belarus) and Minsk finally became free on July 3, 1944. The western part of Belarus, which was under Poland after the Treaty of Riga was signed in 1921, was official recognized as the part of Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic at the end of the war in 1945. The 1990s saw many important developments including the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the collapse of the USSR, which lead to the creation of independent Republic of Belarus in 1991, and Alexander Lukashenko became the country's first President.