The move is aimed at bolstering the cause of “democracy” in the country, says Oslo’s top diplomat.
Norway has adopted a new name for Belarus to be used in official documents, Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt announced on Sunday. The country will now be called Belarus instead of Hviterussland, a historical Norwegian name for the region that literally means “White Russia.”
“From today, International Day of Solidarity with Belarus, we will no longer use the name Hviterussland in the Norwegian language,” Huitfeldt announced on Twitter.
The decision was made during a visit by Belarusian opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claims to have won the country’s 2020 presidential election. She finished second in the election that sparked massive protests and went unrecognized in the West amid claims the polls were neither free nor fair.
“Yesterday I was happy to tell this to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of the democratic movement. We support the struggle of the Belarusian people for freedom and democracy”, Huitfeldt added.
Tikhanovskaya fled her home country in 2020 after publicly rejecting the election result, which handed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory. Since then, she has toured Western countries, rallying support for the Belarusian opposition and its presidential bid.
It was not immediately clear how Norway’s move would help Tikhanovskaya’s cause, given that “Belarus” has been the country’s official English name since it gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The name was adopted in place of the word ‘Belarus’, which, in the Soviet era, replaced the name ‘White Russia’ used to refer to the region during the time of the Russian Empire.
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