The Belarusian city of Orša (Orsha) is currently celebrating the 940th anniversary of its founding. The celebration is entitled "An Orthodox Christian Orša" a "spiritual and educational" fair called "An Orthodox Christian Belarus". Several Orthodox parish choirs were due to perform at the Orša Centre of Culture.
The festivities, which stretch over several days, also include art exhibitions, a conference entitled "Orša in the Historico-Cultural and Religious Development of Belarus", an air show, horse rides, a Medieval reenactment, and a concert (BELTA).
The question is: why are the celebrations emphasising only one aspect of Orša's diverse religious heritage, and creating the impression that the city has been entirely Orthodox for the 940 years of its existence? What about the fact that Orša became a centre of Calvinism in the 16th century? What about the city's rich Catholic and Jewish history?
I don't know if Aliaksandr Lukašenka (Lukashenka) is personally responsible for the decision to marginalise non-Orthodox groups from Orša's celebrations, but he has certainly set the tone of the official promotion of Orthodoxy in the country, a position only a third of Belarusians agreed with in a 2002 poll (while 67% of the population is Orthodox). Interestingly enough, the President describes himself as an "Orthodox Christian atheist".