BLS branches and divisions operate in 76 Belarusian towns and villages as well as in Moscow, Irkuck, Vilnia, St. Petersburg and Riga.
The Belarusian Writers’ Union is the oldest of today’s creative organizations of Belarus. It was founded in 1933 – 1934. Previously it used to be called the Union of BSSR’s Writers and the Union of Belarus’ Writers.
This professional NGO takes an active part in social and cultural life of the country, fostering promotion and development of the Belarusian language. The union’s objectives are protection of copyright and representing authors’ interests, promotion of the freedom of speech and defence of literary heritage.
The union numbers more than 400 members. 19 members of the union were conferred the rank of Popular Writers and Poets. 3 more were conferred the rank of Popular Actors. 41 members were given ranks of Meritorious Artists, while 10 – of Meritorious Scientists of the Republic of Belarus. 101 union members were awarded the State Prize of Belarus. 4 writers were conferred a life-time title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus. Dozens of the union members were elected MPs of the BSSR and Belarus Supreme Soviets. A lot of academicians and PhDs are among its members.
The union contributed to establishing of quite a lot of NGOs, civil society movements and political parties, like “Martyraloh Belarusi”, the Belarusian Popular Front, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Hramada”, the Belarusian Language Society, the Belarusian Intelligentsia Council.
The most famous Belarusian writers and civil activists were the union members, such as Janka Kupala, Jakub Kolas, Kuźma Čorny, Kandrat Krapiva, Michaś Lyńkoŭ, Piatruś Broŭka, Maksim Tank, Arkadź Kuliašoŭ, Pimen Pančanka, Ivan Melež, Uladzimir Karatkevič, Alieś Adamovič, Vasił Bykaŭ, Ivan Šamiakin, Ryhor Baradulin, Nil Hilevič, etc.
Resolutions passed at the unions’ meetings are directed at defence of the freedom of speech and support for democratic transformations in Belarus.
The union’s heads were Maksim Klimkovič, Piatruś Broŭka, Maksim Tank, Vasił Zujonak, Uladzimir Niakliajeŭ, Vołha Ipatave, Alieś Paškevič. The present head is Barys Piatrovič.
The union is a devoted supporter of Belarus’ independence which has entailed repressive attitudes of the present authorities for the last 12 years. In 2007 the Head of the State’s decree deprived the union of its Writers’ House. In 2006 authorities violently threw the union away from its premises. In 2002 the organization was deprived of the periodicals it had published. All the editorial staff disloyal to the authorities were fired.
The Ministry of Justice has recently brought an action against the union attempting to close it down. The union won the case.
Some works of the union’s members have been withdrawn from school textbooks on literature as far as their authors are considered nationalists.