chapter
Biographical Dictionary (A–Z)
Pages 1170

A ABAKANOWICZ Magdalena (20 June 1930, Falenty, near Warsaw), Polish artist. Abakanowicz studied in Gda´nsk and Warsaw, where she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1954. She took part in the First Tapestry Biennial in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1963, which helped her get a scholarship from the French government. While in France she studied the traditional art of weaving in the Gobelin style. After returning to Poland she started to create and exhibit original spatial tapestries, soon called the abakans. A gold medal at the Second Tapestry Biennial in Lausanne and a grand prix at the São Paolo Biennale in Brazil in 1965 opened the way to an international career. From the late 1960s Abakanowicz exhibited in the most prestigious galleries throughout the world, from Amsterdam and Stockholm to Venice and New York. In the early 1970s she concentrated on sculpting human figures (“Heads,” 1973, and “Alterations,” 1974), in the 1980s she partly returned to traditional sculpting (“War Games,” 1987), and in the 1990s she developed the idea of “arboreal art,” aiming at a transformation of the human habitat. In 1999 she received the prestigious Leonardo da Vinci Award, granted by the World Cultural Council. (WR)

ABDI¤C Fikret (29 September 1939, Dolni Vidovec, Bosnia), Bosnian political and economic activist. Born into a Muslim family, Abdi´c made a career in the Communist Party. In the mid-1980s he was involved in a huge financial scandal, when it appeared that Agrokomerc, the company of which he was the director, had drafted unprotected bills of exchange. The collapse of “Agrokomerc” cost the Yugoslav economy the equivalent of about half a billion dollars. Arrested and sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment, Abdi´c was released in 1990, and owing to his old connections and accumulated wealth, he became an influential politician. In the first presidential election in Bosnia in 1990 he gained most of the votes (868,000) but ceded the presidency to Alija Izetbegovi´c in exchange for the position of minister of interior. In 1993, during the war among the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims and after prolonged discord with Izetbegovi´c Abdi´c established the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia in the region of Biha´c. This led to further fighting

against Muslim forces loyal to Izetbegovi´c. In August 1994 Abdi´c’s troops were defeated and retreated from the Biha´c pocket, but returned there in November 1994 thanks to the support of the army of the Serb Republic of Kraina and the Bosnian Serbs. NATO air raids on Bosnia forced Abdi´c to flee to Croatia in August 1995. Considered by many Bosnian Muslims to be a traitor, Abdi´c did not return to the political arena of Bosnia-Herzegovina after losing in the first postwar parliamentary election of 1996. Accused by the Hague Tribunal of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, he went into hiding, where he remains. (WR)

ABETSEDARSKY Laurentsi (12 July 1916, Gorki-6 July 1975, Minsk), Belorussian Soviet historian. In 1946 Abetsedarsky graduated from the Belorussian State University in Minsk, where he began his scholarly and pedagogical career. He was head of the Department of Soviet History between 1950 and 1958. For the following ten years he headed the Department of History of the Belorussian SSR. In 1966 he became a full professor of history. Abetsedarsky treated the history of Belarus strictly as a part of the history of Russia. According to him, the peasant movements in Belarus in the middle of the seventeenth century were a manifestation of the Belorussian peasants’ aspirations to incorporate a part of the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania into the Muscovite state. He described the mass displacements of the population of eastern Belarus to the territories beyond the Urals in 1654-55 as actions corresponding to the will of those people, and resulting from their desire to escape the reign of the Polish nobility. He considered the unification of the eastern Slavic lands under Moscow’s dominance as a natural process that served the vital interests of the populations of Belarus and the Ukraine. He emphasized the right of tsarist Russia to possess these lands. He considered the Grand Duchy of Lithuania an alien state structure imposed on the Belorussian people by external forces. He considered the twentieth-century Belorussian national movement a nationalist degeneration. Abetsedarsky authored many supplementary materials for teaching the history of Belarus in the secondary schools; they were published in thirteen editions (1960-74). He also wrote a textbook that was reissued eleven times (1975-87). He was one of the authors of a five-volume official history of the Belorussian SSR. His works contributed to the Sovietization and Russification of the Belorussian intelligentsia. (EM)

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ABRAMCHIK Mikalay (16 August 1903, Sychaviche, county of Vileika-29 May 1970, Paris), Belorussian émigré pro-independence activist, publicist. In 1920 Abramchik graduated from a Belorussian high school in Radoszkowicze. In 1924 he won a scholarship from the Czechoslovak government and the opportunity to study in Prague. (Such scholarships were funded to assist Belorussian youth and the Ukrainian citizens of Poland.) When the headquarters of the Belorussian People’s Republic was moved from Berlin to Prague in 1925, Abramchik became a close associate of the leaders of the Belorussian government-in-exile, Vasil Zakharka and Pyotr Krecheuski. At the beginning of the 1930s Abramchik went to France to organize Belorussian groups that were dispersed there. However, the Union of Belorussian Working Émigrés, which Abramchik established, did not play any major role. The day before the outbreak of World War II he left for Berlin, obtaining the consent of the government of the Third Reich to publish Ranitsa, a weekly in the Belorussian language. Initially addressed to Belorussian émigré circles, the weekly was later distributed in all the countries subjugated by Germany. As the editor of the weekly between 1939 and 1944, Abramchik promoted the idea of building a Belorussian state allied with Germany. In 1940 he established Belorussian committees in the Third Reich, Bohemia, and occupied Poland. The committees were to be rudiments of the Belorussian government if Germany was victorious in the expected war against the USSR. In mid-1944, in the face of the defeat of the German armed forces, he left Berlin for Paris. In 1945 he became involved in organizing help for Belorussians who had worked as forced laborers in Germany or who had been released from concentration camps and for refugees from the USSR. At a conference in Paris on 28 November 1947 Abramchik was elected president of the Council of the Belorussian People’s Republic, an émigré government that was in conflict with the Belorussian Central Council of Radaslau Astrouski. He held the position until the end of his life. In 1950 he published a brochure I Accuse the Kremlin of the Genocide of My Nation. In the 1950s and 1960s he also presided over the League for the Liberation of the Peoples of the USSR. (EM)

ABRAMOWSKI Edward (17 August 1868, Stefanin, near Vasilkov, Ukraine-21 July 1918, Warsaw), Polish philosopher and social activist. Abramowski was born into a landowner’s family. After his mother died the family moved to Warsaw where he had private tutors; one of them was the famous poet Maria Konopnicka. At fifteen Abramowski published his first article in Zorza. In 1885 he began natural science studies in Kraków, and in 1886-89 he continued his studies in Geneva. There he became active in the Socialist movement, co-founding the Library of a Polish Socialist. At the beginning of 1889 Abramowski returned to Kraków, from where he went to Warsaw. In Warsaw, he was a co-founder of the Second Proletariat Party. In 1891 he established the Workers’ Union (Zjednoczenie Robotnicze), promoting Socialist ideology among workers. He wrote a series of brochures, such as Rewolucja robotnicza (The workers’ revolution; 1892), and an extensive sociological study, Spo³ecze´nstwo rodowe (Ancestral society; 1890). After the death of his new wife, Stanis³awa, in 1892 Abramowski suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to Geneva, where he took part in the formation of the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna [PPS]) and joined the party central (Centralizacja). He was the author of a proposed PPS program that set the independence of Poland through class struggle as a party goal. At that time, however, this program was not accepted.