Belarus. After the peaceful revolutions in Georgia and
neighboring Ukraine, President Aljaksandr Lukashenka
declared at the beginning of the year that there will be no
popular revolution in Belarus, neither "pink, orange nor the
banana". Lukashenka, who is usually referred to as Europe's
last dictator, claimed that his job is to ensure peace and
security "at any price".
In the spring, two opposition politicians were sentenced
to three years of criminal work, each accused of
participating in an illegal demonstration the year before.
The protest then concerned the referendum that abolished the
constitution's restriction on two terms of office for the
countryaah, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met a group of
Belarusian dissidents in April in connection with a NATO
meeting in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius near the Belarus
border. Rice declared it was "time for change in Belarus",
she defended the opposition's right to public protests and
called for freedom of the press and free elections in the
country. The statements caused sharp reactions in Minsk. At
the same time, the Russian security service suspected that
foreign pro-democracy activists were secretly planning a
revolution in Belarus.
In the summer, Lukashenka accused Poland of interference
with Belarus's internal affairs and attempted to provoke
mass protests against the regime for overthrowing him.
Poland had in turn accused the regime of persecuting the
Polish minority in Belarus. The conflict led to the
expulsion of several Polish diplomats and Poland to call his
ambassador. Belarusian police made a scare against an
organization representing the Poles in the country, and
Polish minority leaders were imprisoned for short periods on
In August, the regime imposed new tough restrictions on
foreign support for political activity in the country,
according to authorities to prevent the collapse of state
power. In practice, the rules meant that it became
impossible with foreign-supported conferences, seminars,
student exchanges and research trips.
In October, the opposition in Belarus agreed on former
professor Aljaksandr Milinkevich as candidate for Lukashenka
in the 2006 presidential election. As a result, previous
legislation was tightened which prohibits criticism of,
among other things, President. The head of the Security
Service said the new law was intended to stop waves of
protest similar to those in Ukraine the year before.
Contemporary history of Belarus
Belarus's contemporary history is the story after 1991.
Belarus became subject to the Soviet Union when this
Commonwealth was established in 1922. Following the
dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus became an
Following the unsuccessful coup in Moscow 19-21. August
1991 Belarus declared itself independent on August 25 of the
same year. Stanislaw Shushchevich was elected new President
of Parliament and thus also head of state. In December,
together with Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kravchuk, he signed
an agreement on the establishment of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (SUS). This meant the formal death knell
for the Soviet Union.
However, the old Soviet power elite remained strong in
Belarus. The government of Vyacheslav Kebich (Russian
Vyacheslav Kebich) was still dominated by communists, and
political and economic reforms were slow. In January 1994,
Shushchevich was dismissed following a motion of
no-confidence and replaced by one of Keshevich's supporters.
That summer, however, Keshevich surprisingly lost the
election to the newly created presidential office. Belarus'
new president became the populist former kolkos director and
corruption hunter Aljaksandr Lukashenka (Russian Aleksandr
Relationship with the outside world
Belarus's most important partner is Russia, not least
financially. The countries have agreed to enter into a
common union, but it is unclear when this union will be
seriously established and to what extent it should be. The
relationship between Belarus and Russia has been somewhat
tense because of the controversy over gas and customs
The relationship with western neighboring countries is
problematic because of their strong criticism of Belarus's
domestic political and human rights conditions. Not least,
Poland is critical of the treatment of the significant
Polish minority in Belarus.
Since 2002, the EU has denied Lukashenka entry because of
the systematic human rights violations in Belarus, and in
2004 US authorities imposed financial sanctions on Belarus,
citing negative democratic developments.