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 president.
According to countryaah, Minsk is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Belarus. 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.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym BY stands for the country of Belarus and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
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 strange grounds.
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 independent republic.
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 Lukashenko).
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 duties.
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.