At the end of 1991, the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union was
the surprisingly swift result of partially hidden decrepitude and
centrifugal forces within that empire. Of the fifteen "new"
states that emerged from the process, many had been independent
political entities at some time in the past. Aside from their coverage
in the 1991 Soviet Union: A Country Study, none had received
individual treatment in this series, however. Belarus and Moldova:
Country Studies is the second in a new subseries describing the
fifteen post-Soviet republics, both as they existed before and during
the Soviet era and as they have developed since 1991. This volume covers
Belarus and Moldova, two nations on the western border of what was once
the Soviet Union.
The marked relaxation of information restrictions, which began in the
late 1980s and accelerated after 1991, allows the reporting of extensive
data on every aspect of life in the two countries. Scholarly articles
and periodical reports have been especially helpful in accounting for
the years of independence in the 1990s. The authors have described the
historical, political, and social backgrounds of the countries as the
background for their current portraits. However, in general, both
Belarus and Moldova (especially the former) have been written about to a
lesser extent than other former Soviet republics. In each case, the
authors' goal in this book was to provide a compact, accessible, and
objective treatment of five main topics: historical setting, the society
and its environment, the economy, government and politics, and national
In the case of Belarus, providing a definitive spelling of a personal
name or place-name has been a challenge. All names have been
transliterated according to the transliteration schemes devised by the
United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN); which is widely used by
the United States government, although not by the Library of Congress or
in most scholarly works. According to the BGN system, most Cyrillic
letters are transliterated similarly from both Belarusian and Russian.
But some letters are transliterated from the two languages differently
(for example, "e," which remains "e" in
transliterated Russian but becomes "ye" in transliterated
Belarusian), and some letters exist in Belarusian but not in Russian.
Because Belarusian names often differ from the Russian versions that
have been used predominantly by the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union,
and the world in general, the Russian version is given in parentheses at
the first occurrence of a name. Otherwise, the Belarusian names have
been used throughout. The few exceptions to this are well-known names
(Moscow) and words (perestroika) that have acquired a
standardized spelling in English usage.
Another problem in writing about Belarus is what to call it and when.
In its early history, the region was known as "Belaya Rus',"
"Belorussia," "White Ruthenia," or "White
Rus'." (A number of explanations have been proffered for the term
"white.") As if this were not confusing enough, the terms
"Rus'" and "Russia" have often been confused,
sometimes deliberately. The original Rus' was Kievan Rus', which existed
for centuries before Muscovy (which would later become Russia) gained
significance. Russia later claimed to be the sole successor to Kievan
Rus' and often blurred the line between the two. In the Russian
language, both "russkiy" and "rossiyskiy" mean
During the time when Belarus was part of the Russian Empire and the
Soviet Union, it was commonly known as Belorussia, and the language was
known as Belorussian. Occasionally, nationalist groups would form and
take a name that included the word "Belarusian," but this use
of the word was the exception. It was only after the Supreme Soviet
declared the country independent that the name was changed from the
Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Republic of Belarus,
despite the title of the earlier Declaration of State Sovereignty of the
Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. The policy in this volume has been
to use "Belarus/Belarusian" in the earliest historical times;
"Belorussia/Belorussian" while it was a part of either the
Grand Duchy, Poland, the Russian Empire, or the Soviet Union; and
"Belarus/Belarusian" after the country declared independence
in August 1991. The exceptions are names in which
"Belarus/Belarusian" was deliberately chosen over
"Belorussia/Belorussian" by the groups themselves.
The body of the text reflects information available as of May 1995.
Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated. The
Bibliography lists published sources thought to be particularly helpful
to the reader.
Belarus - HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The outbreak of World War I in 1914 turned Belorussia into a zone of
strict martial law, military operations, and great destruction. Large
German and Russian armies fought fiercely and caused the expulsion or
departure of more than 1 million civilians from the country. The Russian
government's inept war efforts and ineffective economic policies
prompted high food prices, shortages of goods, and many needless deaths
in the war. Discontent in the cities and the countryside spread, leading
to strikes, riots, and the eventual downfall of the tsarist government.
The two revolutions of 1917--the February Revolution and the
Bolshevik Revolution--gave nationally conscious Belorussians an
opportunity to advance their political cause. Bolshevism did not have
many followers among the natives of Belorussia; instead, local political
life was dominated by the Socialist Revolutionary Party, the Mensheviks,
the Bund, and various Christian movements in which the clergy of both
the Russian Orthodox Church and the Polish Catholic Church played
significant roles. The Belorussian political cause was represented by
the Belorussian Socialist Party, the Socialist Revolutionary Party, the
Leninist Social Democratic Party, and various nationalist groups
advocating moderate forms of socialism.
In December 1917, more than 1,900 delegates to the AllBelorussian
Congress (Rada) met in Minsk to establish a democratic republican
government in Belorussia, but Bolshevik soldiers disbanded the assembly
before it had finished its deliberations. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in
March 1918 put most of Belorussia under German control, but on March 25,
1918, the Central Executive Committee of the Rada nullified the treaty
and proclaimed the independence of the Belorussian National Republic.
Later that year, the German government, which had guaranteed the new
state's independence, collapsed, and the new republic was unable to
resist Belorussian Bolsheviks supported by the Bolshevik government in
Moscow. The Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Belorussian SSR) was
established on January 1, 1919, by force of arms.
For the next two years, Belorussia was a prize in the PolishSoviet
War, a conflict settled by the Treaty of Riga in March 1921. Under the
terms of the treaty, Belorussia was divided into three parts: the
western portion, which was absorbed into Poland; central Belorussia,
which formed the Belorussian SSR; and the eastern portion, which became
part of Russia. The Belorussian SSR was incorporated into the Soviet
Union when the Soviet Union was founded in December 1922.
The territory of the Belorussian SSR was enlarged in both 1924 and
1926 by the addition of Belorussian ethnographic regions that had become
part of Russia under the Treaty of Riga. The area of the republic was
expanded from its original post-treaty size of 51,800 square kilometers
to 124,320 square kilometers, and the population increased from 1.5
million to almost 5 million persons.
The New Economic Policy, established by Vladimir I. Lenin in 1921 as
a temporary compromise with capitalism, stimulated economic recovery in
the Soviet Union, and by the mid-1920s agricultural and industrial
output in Belorussia had reached 1913 levels. Historically, Belorussia
had been a country of landlords with large holdings, but after the
Bolshevik Revolution, these landlords were replaced by middle-class
landholders; farm collectives were practically nonexistent. When forced
collectivization and confiscations began in 1928, there was strong
resistance, for which the peasantry paid a high social price: peasants
were allowed to starve in some areas, and so-called troublemakers were
deported to Siberia. Because peasants slaughtered their livestock rather
than turn it over to collective farms, agriculture suffered serious
setbacks. However, the rapid industrialization that accompanied forced
collectivization enabled the Moscow government to develop new heavy
industry in Belarus quickly.
During the period of the NEP, the Soviet government relaxed its
cultural restrictions, and Belorussian language and culture flourished.
But in the 1930s, when Stalin was fully in power, Moscow's attitude
changed, and it became important to Moscow to bind both Belorussia and
its economy as closely to the Soviet Union as possible. Once again, this
meant Russification of the people and the culture. The Belorussian
language was reformed to bring it closer to the Russian language, and
history books were rewritten to show that the Belorussian people had
strived to be united with Russia throughout their history. Political
persecutions in the 1930s reached genocidal proportions, causing
population losses as great as would occur during World War II-- more
than 2 million persons.
Belarus - Belorussian Territory under Poland
In July 1994, an estimated 10,404,862 people (fifty persons per
square kilometer) lived in Belarus, with additional populations of
ethnic Belarusians living in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan,
Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Ethnic Belarusians in the West (living
primarily in Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, the United States,
Canada, and Argentina) numbered more than 1 million.
In 1994 the annual population growth rate was estimated at 0.32
percent, resulting from a birth rate of 13.1 births per 1,000
population, a death rate of 11.2 deaths per 1,000 population, and a net
migration rate of 1.3 persons per 1,000 population. The estimated 1994
average life expectancy at birth in Belarus was 66.2 years for males and
75.8 years for females. The annual population growth rate is expected to
decrease slowly well into the next century as a result of fears of birth
defects caused by Chornobyl' and the difficult economic situation.
Population growth in Belarus has declined because of a rapid drop in
fertility rates (an estimated 1.88 children per woman in 1994) and
because of a sharp increase in infant and child mortality, which had
been in decline before the Chornobyl' accident in 1986. Improvements in
the infant mortality rate, which was estimated at 18.9 per 1,000 live
births in 1994, were further blocked by poor maternal health, poor
prenatal care, and frequent use of abortion as a means of birth control.
Belarus has instituted a pronatal policy to counteract women's
reluctance to have children, but difficult economic conditions and fear
of birth defects caused by environmental pollution continue to be major
causes of the decline in the birthrate.
Falling birthrates have also contributed to the graying of the
population. This will affect the country in a number of ways, including
the allocation of funds from its budget. With fewer workers supporting
more pensioners, the administration will be paying more in pensions than
it collects in taxes.
The population's sex structure was most profoundly affected by World
War II. The large loss of male lives during the war ensured not only
that there would be a surplus of women, but that this surplus would
persist for at least another generation.
A law passed in September 1992 gave the entire population of Belarus
an automatic right to citizenship. This included all the ethnic Russians
who had moved there over the years, not the least of whom were military
personnel, officials, and policy makers. However, many declined to
acquire Belarusian citizenship, so that Belarus was sometimes
represented or administered by ethnic Russians who are residents, but
not citizens of Belarus, as, for example, by its diplomats abroad.
In 1992 Belarus's largest cities were Minsk, the capital, with 1.7
million inhabitants; Homyel', with 517,000; Vitsyebsk, with 373,000;
Mahilyow, with 364,000; Hrodna, with 291,000; and Brest, with 284,000.
The republic included more than 100 cities and towns, twelve of which
had a population of 100,000 or more. Of the total population, 68 percent
lived in cities and 32 percent lived in rural areas in 1994. These
figures resemble those for the former Soviet Union as a whole.
"Language is not only a means of communication, but also the
soul of a nation, the foundation and the most important part of its
culture." So begins the January 1990 Law About Languages in the
Belorussian SSR, which made Belarusian the sole official language of the
The Belarusian language is an East Slavic tongue closely related to
Russian and Ukrainian, with many loanwords from Polish (a West Slavic
language) and more recently from Russian. The standard literary
language, first codified in 1918, is based on the dialect spoken in the
central part of the country and is written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Under Polish influence, a parallel Latin alphabet (lacinka) was
used by some writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and is
still used today by some Roman Catholics in Belarus and abroad.
One early proponent of the Belorussian language, poet Frantsishak
Bahushyevich (1840-1900), the father of modern Belorussian literature
and a participant in the 1863 uprising, was inspired by the fact that
many 200- and 300-year-old documents written in Belorussian could be
read and understood easily in modern times. The theme of the native
language as a repository of national identity and an expression of
aspiration to nationhood has been the leitmotif of Belorussian
literature and polemics beginning in the late nineteenth century.
Although the tsarist government regarded the Belorussians as well as
the Ukrainians as another branch of Russians, not as a separate nation,
the Belorussian language was registered in the first systematic census
of the Russian Empire in 1897. In the early 1920s, Belorussian language
and culture flourished, and the language was promoted as the official
medium of the communist party and the government as well as of
scholarly, scientific, and educational establishments. Most primary and
secondary schools switched to instruction in Belorussian, and
institutions of higher education gradually made the switch as well. The
Belorussian State University was founded in 1921, the Institute of
Belorussian Culture was founded in 1922, and a number of other
institutions of higher learning also opened. The interests of other
minorities in the republic were taken into account in a July 1924 decree
that confirmed equal rights for the four principal languages of the
republic: Belorussian, Polish, Russian, and Yiddish.
With the advent of perestroika, national activists launched
a campaign of restoring the Belorussian language to the place it had
enjoyed during the 1920s. To urge the government to make Belorussian the
official language of the republic, the Belarusian Language Society was
established in June 1989 with poet-scholar Nil Hilyevich as president.
Belorussia's CPSU leadership, consisting almost exclusively of
Russified technocrats, ignored all the government resolutions and
decisions on languages. However, it could not ignore the general
language trend throughout the non-Russian republics of the Soviet Union,
particularly in the neighboring Baltic states and Ukraine, where
national movements were stronger and exerted an influence on events in
the Belorussian SSR. After months of meetings, rallies, conferences, and
heated debates in the press, on January 26, 1990, the Supreme Soviet
voted to make Belarusian the official language of the state, effective
September 1, 1990. The law included provisions for protecting the
languages of minorities and allowed up to ten years to make the
transition from Russian to Belarusian.
Despite the provisions, implementation of the law has encountered
both active and passive resistance: many people still want their
children to be educated in the Russian language rather than in
Belarusian, and some government officials agree to give interviews only
in Russian. According to data assembled in 1992 by the Sociology Center
of the Belarusian State University, some 60 percent of those polled
prefer to use Russian in their daily life, 75 percent favor bilingualism
in state institutions, and only 17 percent favor having the government
declare Belarusian the sole official language. One Western source
reported that in the early 1990s, only 11 percent of the population,
most of whom lived in the countryside, were fluent in Belarusian.
Since late 1992, there had been a growing demand that the Russian
language be given the same official status as Belarusian. The results of
the four-question referendum of May 1995, which included a question on
whether Russian should be an official language, put an end to any
uncertainty; the populace voted "yes."
Belarus - Religion
Before 1917 Belorussia had 2,466 religious communities, including
1,650 Orthodox, 127 Roman Catholic, 657 Jewish, thirtytwo Protestant,
and several Muslim communities. Under the communists (who were
officially atheists), the activities of these communities were severely
restricted. Many religious communities were destroyed and their leaders
exiled or executed; the remaining communities were sometimes co-opted by
the government for its own ends, as in the effort to instill patriotism
during World War II.
In 1993 one Belarusian publication reported the numbers of religious
communities as follows: Orthodox, 787; Roman Catholic, 305; Pentecostal,
170; Baptist, 141; Old Believer, twenty-six; Seventh-Day Adventist,
seventeen; Apostolic Christian, nine; Uniate, eight; New Apostolic,
eight; Muslim, eight; Jewish, seven; and other, fifteen.
Although the Orthodox Church was devastated during World War II and
continued to decline until the early 1980s because of government
policies, it underwent a small revival with the onset of perestroika
and the celebration in 1988 of the 1,000- year anniversary of
Christianity in Russia. In 1990 Belorussia was designated an exarchate
of the Russian Orthodox Church, creating the Belarusian Orthodox Church.
In the early 1990s, 60 percent of the population identified themselves
as Orthodox. The church had one seminary, three convents, and one
monastery. A Belarusian theological academy was to be opened in 1995.
Soviet policies toward the Roman Catholic Church were strongly
influenced by the Catholics' recognition of an outside authority, the
pope, as head of the church, as well as by the close historical ties of
the church in Belorussia with Poland. In 1989 the five official Roman
Catholic dioceses, which had existed since World War II and had been
without a bishop, were reorganized into five dioceses (covering 455
parishes) and the archdiocese of Minsk and Mahilyow. In the early 1990s,
figures for the Catholic population in Belarus ranged from 8 percent to
20 percent; one estimate identified 25 percent of the Catholics as
ethnic Poles. The church had one seminary in Belarus.
The revival of religion in Belarus in the postcommunist era brought
about a revival of the old historical conflict between Orthodoxy and
Roman Catholicism. This religious complexity is compounded by the two
denominations' links to institutions outside the republic. The
Belarusian Orthodox Church is headed by an ethnic Russian, Metropolitan
Filaret, who heads an exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian
Orthodox Church. The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Belarus is headed by
an ethnic Pole, Archbishop Kazimir Sviontak, who has close ties to the
church in Poland. However, despite these ties, Archbishop Sviontak, who
had been a prisoner in the Soviet camps and a pastor in Pinsk for many
years, has prohibited the display of Polish national symbols in Catholic
churches in Belarus.
Fledgling Belarusian religious movements are having difficulties
asserting themselves within these two major religious institutions
because of the historical practice of preaching in Russian in the
Orthodox churches and in Polish in the Catholic churches. Attempts to
introduce the Belarusian language into religious life, including the
liturgy, also have not met with wide success because of the cultural
predominance of Russians and Poles in their respective churches, as well
as the low usage of the Belarusian language in everyday life.
To a certain extent, the 1991 declaration of Belarus's independence
and the 1990 law making Belarusian the official language of the republic
have generated a new attitude toward the Orthodox and Roman Catholic
churches. Some religiously uncommitted young people have turned to the
Uniate Church in reaction to the resistance of the Orthodox and Roman
Catholic hierarchies to accepting the Belarusian language as a medium of
communication with their flock. Overall, however, national activists
have had little success in trying to generate new interest in the Uniate
The Uniate Church, a branch of which existed in Belarus from 1596 to
1839 and had some three-quarters of the Belarusian population as members
when it was abolished, is reputed to have used Belorussian in its
liturgy and pastoral work. When the church was reestablished in Belarus
in the early 1990s, its adherents advertised it as a
"national" church. The modest growth of the Uniate Church was
accompanied by heated public debates of both a theological and a
political character. Because the original allegiance of the Uniate
Church was clearly to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the
reestablished church is viewed by some in the Orthodox Church in Belarus
with suspicion, as being a vehicle of both Warsaw and the Vatican.
Before World War II, the number of Protestants in Belarus was quite
low in comparison with other Christians, but they have shown remarkable
growth since then. In 1990 there were more than 350 Protestant
communities in the country.
The first Jewish communities appeared in Belorussia at the end of the
fourteenth century and continued to increase until the genocide of World
War II. Mainly urban residents, the country's nearly 1.3 million Jews in
1914 accounted for 50 to 60 percent of the population in cities and
towns. The Soviet census of 1989 counted some 142,000 Jews, or 1.1
percent of the population, many of whom have since emigrated. Although
Belorussia's boundaries changed from 1914 to 1922, a significant portion
of the decrease was the result of the war. However, with the new
religious freedom, Jewish life in Belarus is experiencing a rebirth. In
late 1992, there were nearly seventy Jewish organizations active in
Belarus, half of which were republic-wide.
Muslims in Belarus are represented by small communities of ethnic
Tatars. Some of these Tatars are descendants of emigrants and prisoners
of war who settled here after the eleventh century.
Belarus - Culture
In 1993 agriculture and forestry accounted for almost onequarter of
the gross domestic product and almost 6 percent of the total agricultural output of the
former Soviet Union (Belarus has 4 percent of the former Soviet labor
force). Agriculture employed 20 percent of the labor force.
During the Soviet era, agriculture in Belarus consisted mainly of
state and collective farms, with a sprinkling of small plots for private
household use. In the early 1990s, the government based its agricultural
policies on that legacy. Instead of disrupting the production of food
for both domestic consumption and export, the authorities decided to
maintain the large-scale farming for which they believed the existing
equipment and capital stock were best suited. In 1994 the Ministry of
Agriculture planned to transform collective and state
farms into joint-stock companies that would be
agriculturally efficient and would keep providing most of the social
services in rural areas.
In March 1993, Belarus added the Law on the Right to Land Ownership
to its Land Lease Law (March 1990). The law on land ownership limited
purchases to small parcels for housing and orchards, stated that farming
would depend on leased land, and allowed private farmers to lease only
up to fifty hectares on long-term leases. This law meant that Belarus
would not develop a private farming sector and that farming would stay
in the hands of the government, which owned the collective and state
In 1993 private agriculture accounted for 37 percent of all
agricultural output, reflecting the increase in the number of private
farms from eighty-four in 1990 to 2,730 in 1993. However, the average
size of private farms remained small: twenty-one hectares in 1993,
compared with 3,114 hectares on average for collective farms and 3,052
hectares for state farms. In addition, private plots on large farms in
rural areas and garden plots in urban areas continue to provide a
significant amount of food, just as they did in the Soviet era.
Belarus can be divided into three agricultural regions: north (flax,
fodder, grasses, and cattle), central (potatoes and pigs), and south
(pastureland, hemp, and cattle). Belarus's cool climate and dense soil
are well suited to fodder crops, which support herds of cattle and pigs,
and temperate-zone crops (wheat, barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes,
flax, and sugar beets). Belarus's soils are generally fertile,
especially in the river valleys, except in the southern marshy regions.
Despite the progress made by the agricultural sector in 1993, it
suffered a set-back in 1994. A drought during the summer contributed to
a decline of 19 percent in the Belarusian crop. Wheat production
declined 35 percent from the previous year, while sugar beet production
declined 31 percent and potato production declined 29 percent. Animal
products declined 11 percent; the number of cows decreased 2 percent,
but the number of sheep declined 30 percent.
The greatest changes in agriculture in the first half of the 1990s
were a decline in the amount of land under cultivation and a significant
shift from livestock to crop production because of the fact that crops
had become a great deal more profitable than before. The sales price for
crops generally increased more than production costs, while inputs for
livestock (such as imported fodder) have increased in price beyond
livestock sales prices. Many private farms faced difficulties, caused
partly by inflation, which wreaked havoc on preset contract prices,
delayed payments, and budget subsidies.
In early 1993, Belarus's government replaced the system of
"recommended" agricultural producer prices with
"support" prices, which were intended as minimum guaranteed
prices and could be adjusted in accord with price increases in
agricultural inputs. Meat prices were deregulated in the summer of 1993,
and direct budgetary subsidies were no longer provided to the
agriculture sector at all.
Basic foods were watched closely, however, and sometimes
"reprotected ." For example, prices were reset on rationed
sugar in February 1994 in response to a sharp increase in its market
price. Another problem was lower food prices in Belarus than in
neighboring countries; the government maintained subsidies on food to
keep prices low for the people of Belarus. Nonetheless, these subsidies
strained the budget while encouraging increased informal exports of
food, or "food tourism," from neighboring countries.
Because the agricultural sector is in critical condition, partly the
consequence of a drought in the summer of 1994 that reduced agricultural
output by nearly 25 percent, the government gave it a special place in
the 1995 budget. President Lukashyenka gave collective and state farms
credits totaling 520 million rubles to facilitate sowing and to purchase
fertilizer. In addition, by implementing sizable price increases for
dairy products, pork products, and beef, the government hoped to
increase production of these commodities.
Forests cover nearly one-third of Belarus and are the source of raw
materials for production of matches, pressboard, plywood, furniture,
timbers for coal mines, paper, paperboard, and sections of prefabricated
houses. However, during the Soviet era, Belarus's forests were poorly
managed and were logged faster than they were replanted. In 1991 the
country produced 5.8 million cubic meters of timber.
An ongoing problem facing agriculture is soil depletion, because of a
severe fertilizer shortage, and a serious lack of equipment. For many
farmers, the answer to the latter, as well as to the cost and shortage
of fuel, is a return to horse-drawn ploughs.
The main enduring problem affecting the agricultural and forestry
sector is the Chornobyl' disaster of 1986. Belarus absorbed the bulk of
the radioactive fallout from the explosion because of weather conditions
on the day of the disaster. Longterm radiation affects 18 percent of
Belarus's most productive farmland and 20 percent of its forests.
Despite the Chornobyl' accident, in 1993 Belarus was still a net
exporter of meat, milk, eggs, flour, and potatoes to other former Soviet
republics, although its exports were routinely tested for radioactive
Belarus - Industry
Belarus's transition from communism to democracy proved to be more
difficult than expected, economically as well as politically. What had
once been a boon to industry in the Belorussian SSR--large volumes of
inexpensive oil, natural gas, and electricity from the Russian
Republic--quickly became a considerable problem for independent Belarus.
Under the communist regime, industry had had no incentive to use fuels
efficiently, modernize equipment, reduce pollution, maintain factories
adequately, recycle, or allot energy resources efficiently. However,
once Russian fuel prices began to approach world levels, Belarusian
industry had to adjust in order to survive. Logic would seem to call for
enterprises improving their industrial efficiency, but the oil
refineries at Navapolatsk (capacity 22 million tons a year) and Mazyr
(capacity 18 million tons a year), as well as many enterprises, cut
their output instead. The 30 percent drop in energy consumption between
1990 and 1993 was the result of a drop in demand for industrial goods
produced in Belarus, partly because of the chaotic state of the Soviet
economy in the last years of the Soviet Union's existence, and partly
because the Soviet Union no longer needed so many goods for its
By mid-1993 Belarus's debt to Russia for oil and natural gas had
reached US$450 million. After several warnings, Russia temporarily cut
off Belarus's supply in August and threatened to do so again on at least
two other occasions. In an attempt to head off a crisis, government
authorities resorted to allocating energy to priority sectors in 1994.
Russia's suspension of fuel shipments to Belarus yet again in
September 1994 over unpaid fuel bills was the impetus for Belarus to
sign an agreement giving the Russian state gas company ownership of its
Belarusian counterpart, Beltransgaz, in exchange for the resumption of
gas deliveries, but the agreement was not ratified by the Supreme Soviet
of Belarus. Beltransgaz made additional offers of means of repayment,
and Russia countered with conditions of its own and hinted that failure
to meet these conditions would result in Russia's rerouting pipelines to
Western Europe through either Lithuania or Latvia--a blow to Belarus.
Because delivery of natural gas in 1995 at lower-than-world prices
was made contingent upon Belarus's timely payment of its bills, Belarus
felt the need to diversify its sources of fuels. The government's
long-term energy program, in place in early 1995, aimed to diversify its
sources of fuels from such countries as Poland, Australia, Turkmenistan,
In 1993 Belarus imported some 90 percent of its fuel from Russia via
the Druzhba (Friendship) oil pipeline and the Northern Lights natural
gas pipeline, both of which pass through the country en route to Central
Europe. Refineries at Polatsk and Mazyr processed some of the crude oil
for fuel, and the Polatsk refinery also provided raw material for
fertilizer, plastics, and artificial fibers. In 1992 Belarus had 1,470
kilometers of pipeline carrying crude oil, 1,100 kilometers of pipeline
carrying refined products, and 1,980 kilometers of pipeline carrying
In January 1995, Russia and Belarus signed an agreement under which
Russia was to deliver some 66 percent of Belarus's yearly required crude
oil at prices that did not exceed domestic Russian prices (which were
set to rise significantly over the course of the year). In exchange,
Belarus would export products to Russia, although finding enough
products that Russia wants could be a problem.
Although Belarus imports most of its fuels, it has small deposits of
oil and natural gas close to the Polish border, as well as oil shale,
coal, and lignite. Belarus's production of 13 percent (2 million tons)
of its crude oil production and 2 percent (2.4 million tons) of its
natural gas consumption was stable in 1994.
Belarus also has a large supply of peat (more than one-third of the
total for the former Soviet Union), which is used to power industry,
heat homes, and fuel boilers at electric power plants. In 1993
thirty-seven factories produced about 2 million tons of peat briquettes.
In 1994 Belarus's twenty-two thermal power plants had a production
capacity of 7,033 megawatts and produced 31,400 million kilowatt-hours
of electricity. Additional small power plants had a total capacity of
188 megawatts. There were also nine small hydroelectric power plants
with a total installed capacity of some six megawatts. All but three
plants produced heat as well as electricity.
The country's power grid is connected to the grids of Lithuania,
Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. Most electricity imports come from
Lithuania (the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant) and Russia (the Smolensk
Nuclear Power Plant), but even here, Belarus has had problems in paying
for its imports. In May 1995, Lithuania resumed electricity exports
after more than two years; Belarus agreed to make payment in Russian
During the Soviet era, nuclear energy was promoted as an inexpensive
source of electricity, but after the Chornobyl' accident, many people in
Belarus were opposed to nuclear power. A nuclear power plant was under
construction near Minsk in the early 1990s, and the country had no
nuclear generating capacity at that time.
Belarus - Labor Force
Under the communist regime, the currency of the Soviet Union was the
ruble, and the banking system was owned and managed by the central
government. Gosbank (Gosudarstvennyy bank--the State Bank) was the
central bank of the country and its only commercial bank as well. It
handled all significant banking transactions, including the issuance and
control of currency and credit, management of the gold reserve, and
oversight of all transactions among economic enterprises. Gosbank had
main offices in each of the republics, and, because the banking system
was highly centralized, it played an important role in managing the
After independence, Belarus restructured its banks into a two-tier
system consisting of the National Bank of Belarus and thirty-six
commercial banks (including four specialized banks: Byelagroprombank,
Byelpromstroybank, Byelvnyehsekonombank, and Sbyerbank) with a total of
525 branches in 1994. Of these banks, Sbyerbank is wholly state owned,
another bank is owned by an individual, and the rest are organized as
either limited liability companies or joint-stock companies.
Belarus's securities market was created at the end of 1992 and is
licensed and controlled by the state inspectorate for securities and the
stock exchange. The over-the-counter market dominates the securities
market, with Russian corporate shares and bonds the most actively traded
items. The country has three commodity and stock exchanges.
The Belarusian ruble was introduced in May 1992 in response to a
shortage of Russian rubles with which to pay fuel and other debts to
Russia. The zaychyk (hare), as the Belarusian ruble is known
colloquially, was officially tied to the Russian ruble, but Russia would
not accept the new unsecured currency in payment, forcing Belarus to dip
into its hard-currency reserves. In September 1993, Belarus and five
other CIS countries agreed to create a joint monetary system based on
the Russian ruble.
Although Belarus and Russia continued to work at creating a monetary
and economic union by signing an April 1994 treaty, only a customs union
was actually realized. Moscow postponed implementation of the union
itself, although it would have given Moscow significant control over the
Belarusian economy, for fear of jeopardizing its own fragile economic
reforms. Belarus's completely unreformed economy and accompanying high
rate of inflation would have forced Russia to print large amounts of
money to keep the Belarusian economy going, thereby fueling inflation in
In early 1995, Belarus's monetary policy was so loose that the
National Bank of Belarus came under fire from the International Monetary
Fund when it lowered the country's key financing rate despite the
country's high level of inflation. Belarus was in danger of jeopardizing
other IMF loans by its actions. Despite the logic of the IMF's
reasoning, President Lukashyenka's view of these difficulties is that
they were the result of the IMF's dislike of Belarus's close
relationship with Russia.
In November 1994, the Supreme Soviet declared that the country's sole
legal tender would be the Belarusian ruble as of January 1, 1995, when
the Russian ruble could no longer be circulated. Although the zaychyk
was convertible, the National Bank of Belarus used multiple exchange
rates that depended on the nature of the transaction, thus setting
limits on the convertibility of the zaychyk.
The government's lax monetary policy failed to support financial
discipline, which caused the average monthly inflation rate in 1993 to
increase to 45 percent in the last quarter. Even though monthly
inflation was down to 10 percent by March 1994, it rose again in 1994
and frightened off investments from abroad, including Russia. The
consumer price index rose by 1,070 percent in 1992, by 1,290 percent in
1993, and by 2,221 percent in 1994. In 1995 inflation seemed to abate
somewhat, with the monthly inflation rate of "only" 22 percent
Belarus - Foreign Economic Relations
Under communism, the Belorussian SSR had net industrial and
agricultural export surpluses within the Soviet Union until 1990, thanks
to the relatively high productivity of the Belarusian labor force.
Belarus shipped trucks, tractors, tractor trailers, elevators, lathes,
bearings, electric motors, computer equipment, synthetic yarns and
fibers, tires, linoleum, flax, textiles, carpets, potatoes, meat, dairy
products, eggs, flour, and various consumer goods to the other
Apart from Belarus's energy situation, little had changed in the
direction of independent Belarus's trade from its previous centralized
planning system. In 1994 Belarus's major trading partners were still
former Soviet republics (mainly Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova,
Lithuania, and Latvia), which accounted for 93 percent of its exports.
Exports to these countries totaled approximately US$2.5 billion, a
decrease of 36 percent by volume over the previous year. Exports
included gasoline (198,000 tons), diesel fuel (147,000 tons), meat and
meat products (53,000 tons), milk and milk products (256,000 tons),
refrigerators, tractors, and trucks. Belarus had a trade deficit with
CIS countries amounting to US$614 million in 1994.
Belarus's main non-CIS trading partners in 1994 were Germany (21
percent of non-CIS trade), Poland (9 percent), the United States (7
percent), Switzerland (4 percent), Austria (4 percent), Italy (3
percent), the Netherlands (3 percent), Hungary (3 percent), China (3
percent), Brazil (3 percent), Britain (2 percent), and Lithuania (2
percent). Exports to non-CIS countries consisted mainly of energy
products and heavy machinery. Belarus had a trade surplus of US$434
million with non-CIS countries in 1994.
After independence and continuing into 1995, Belarus's trade
deteriorated because import prices for energy and for raw materials
began to rise to world market levels, and demand for the country's
exports by its major trading partners (especially Ukraine and Russia)
declined. Payment problems within the former Soviet Union made the
situation worse, and limited access to foreign financing caused the
domestic economy to decline by further decreasing the volume of trade.
Restrictions on export quantities, imposed by the new government to
prevent low-cost Belarusian goods from being sold abroad in large
quantities to the detriment of the Belarusian consumer, were relaxed in
March 1994, and only certain goods continued to be restricted: oil and
gas, electricity, fertilizers, timber and wood products, nonferrous
metals, cereals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and leather. Exports of
precious metals and gems had to be licensed by the State Committee on
Precious Metals and Precious Stones, and an export ban applied to
certain medicinal herbs, animals, and some artworks and antiques. An
agreement between Belarus and the EU set export quotas on textiles.
As part of Belarus's pursuit of economic and monetary integration
with Russia, interstate trade regulations and taxation were harmonized
with those of Russia, and most export and import fees on mutual trade
with Russia were abolished by June 1, 1994. In May 1995, Belarus and
Russia eliminated customs checkpoints along their joint border.
Belarus - Imports
The series of events that led to Belarus's independence began with
the explosion at the Chornobyl' nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986.
The foot-dragging of the government in Moscow in even announcing that
the accident had occurred, let alone evacuating people from affected
areas and providing funds for the cleanup, greatly angered the
Belorussian people, most of whom had no political aspirations for
In 1988 Zyanon Paznyak, an archagologist who would later play a role
in national politics, revealed the discovery of mass graves of some
250,000 of Stalin's victims at Kurapaty. Many Belorussians were deeply
shaken by this news, and some demanded accountability from the central
authorities in Moscow. Reformers created the Belarusian Popular Front
(BPF) in October after several mass demonstrations and clashes with the
authorities. Paznyak became the spokesman for the reform movement and
nationalist aspirations, and he emerged as the BPF chairman.
The March 4, 1990, elections to the republic's Supreme Soviet gave
the country a legislature that was little different from previous
legislatures: only 10 percent of the deputies were members of the
opposition. But for the most part, the populace seemed satisfied with
the new deputies, and the BPF's calls for independence and efforts at
nation-building failed to stir up the same strong emotions as movements
in neighboring Ukraine and the Baltic republics. Although the Supreme
Soviet of the Belorussian SSR adopted the Declaration of State
Sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic on June 27, 1990
(some two weeks after Russia had declared its own sovereignty), the
March 1991 referendum held throughout the Soviet Union showed that 83
percent of Belorussians wanted to preserve the Soviet Union.
Political change in Belarus came about only after the August 1991
coup d'état in Moscow and a display of satisfaction by the Central
Committee of the CPB at the coup attempt--it never issued a condemnation
of the coup plotters. Following the coup's collapse and declarations of
independence by Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine, Belarus declared its own
independence on August 25 by giving its declaration of sovereignty the
status of a constitutional document. On August 28, Belarus's prime
minister, Vyachaslaw Kyebich, declared that he and his entire cabinet
had "suspended" their CPB membership. The next day, both the
Russian and the Belarusian governments suspended the activities of the
Liberals and nationalist reformers used this period of political
confusion to advance their cause. On September 18, the parliament
dismissed its chairman, Mikalay Dzyemyantsyey, for siding with the coup
and replaced him with his deputy, Stanislaw Shushkyevich. The next day,
pressed by the small but vocal democratic opposition, the parliament
changed the state's name from the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
to the Republic of Belarus. A new national flag (three horizontal
stripes, white- red-white) was adopted, along with a new coat of arms (a
mounted knight, St. George, Patron Saint of Belarus, with a drawn sword,
the emblem of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). On December 8, Belarus
joined Russia and Ukraine in signing the Minsk Agreement to form the CIS, which formally put an end to the Soviet Union.
On December 21, Belarus signed the Alma-Ata Declaration, which expanded the CIS membership from the original three
signatories of the Minsk Agreement to eleven states. And it was agreed
that the headquarters of the CIS was to be in Minsk, a move that the
government of Belarus welcomed as a means of attracting foreign
The democratic opposition in the Supreme Soviet, led by the
twenty-seven-member BPF faction and some of its allies, continued
pressing for a referendum on the dissolution of the Supreme Soviet and
for new elections. The electorate seemed to be responsive. More than
442,000 signatures in support of the move were collected within three
months, but the initiators had underestimated the conservativism of the
Meeting in mid-October 1992 and encouraged by the electoral victory
of former communists in Lithuania and growing resistance to President
Boris N. Yeltsin's reforms in Russia, the Supreme Soviet solidly
rejected the demand for a referendum. Claiming violations in the
signature collection drive, 202 deputies voted against the referendum;
only thirty-five deputies supported it, and another thirty-five
abstained. In view of the fact that in May 1992 the Central Referendum
Commission had validated 384,000 of the 442,000 signatures collected
(exceeding the 350,000 signatures required by law), the BPF opposition
accused the Supreme Soviet's conservative majority of an open violation
of the republic's constitution and of an attempt to retain power by
illegal means. Nonetheless, the opposition won a small victory in this
tug-of-war: the parliament agreed to shorten its five-year term by one
year and scheduled the next elections for the spring of 1994.
The Belarusian government headed by Prime Minister Kyebich consisted
of former CPB functionaries and took a very conservative approach to
economic and political reforms. Kyebich himself characterized his policy
as "traditional" and warned about taking "extreme"
Belarus's conservative Supreme Soviet continued to put obstacles in
the path of reform. A privatization law was finally passed in July 1993,
but it allowed collective and state farms to continue to exist and
operate. Privatization of state-owned enterprises had barely begun in
mid-1995, despite earlier efforts by Shushkyevich, who was largely a
figurehead, to move along reform efforts. Conservative Kyebich, who
actually controlled the ministries, was a temporary victor, when, in
January 1994, he survived a no-confidence vote that ousted Shushkyevich
and replaced him with a Kyebich crony, Myechyslaw Hryb.
In the meantime, the Supreme Soviet adopted a constitution that went
into effect on March 30, 1994, and created the office of president, who
would now be the head of government instead of the prime minister. A
quickly organized election was held in June, and a runoff election
between the two highest vote-getters was held in July; in a surprise
result, Kyebich was soundly beaten by anticorruption crusader Alyaksandr
Lukashyenka. Both Kyebich and Lukashyenka took pro-Russian stands on
economic and political matters, and both supported a quick monetary
union with Russia. Lukashyenka even called for outright unification with
Russia, but it was his anticorruption stance that won him more than 80
percent of the vote.
After Lukashyenka achieved his victory, the BPF granted him a
three-month grace period during which it did not openly criticize his
policies. Because his campaign promises had often been vague, he had
great latitude within which to operate. And because Kyebich resigned
after the election, taking his government with him, there were no
problems in removing ministers.
Lukashyenka's presidency was one of contradictions from the start.
His cabinet was composed of young, talented newcomers as well as Kyebich
veterans who had not fully supported Kyebich. As a reward to the
parliament for confirming his appointees, Lukashyenka supported the move
to postpone the parliamentary elections until May 1995.
Lukashyenka's government was also plagued by corrupt members.
Lukashyenka fired the minister of defense, the armed forces chief of
staff, the head of the border guards, and the minister of forestry.
Following resignations among reformists in Lukashyenka's cabinet,
parliamentary deputy Syarhey Antonchyk read a report in parliament on
December 20, 1994, about corruption in the administration. Although
Lukashyenka refused to accept the resignations that followed, the
government attempted to censor the report, fueling the opposition's
criticism of Lukashyenka.
Lukashyenka went to Russia in August 1994 on his first official visit
abroad as head of state. There he came to realize that Russia would not
make any unusual efforts to accommodate Belarus, especially its economic
needs. Nevertheless, Lukashyenka kept trying; in February 1995, Belarus
signed the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation with Russia, making many
concessions to Russia, such as allowing the stationing of Russian troops
in Belarus, in hopes that Russia would return the favor by charging
Belarus lower prices for fuels. However, because the treaty included no
such provision, there was little hope of realizing this objective.
Lukashyenka had several disputes with parliament, mainly over the
limits of presidential power (such as whether the president has the
right to dissolve parliament). A hunger strike by opposition deputies,
led by Zyanon Paznyak, began on April 11, 1995, after Lukashyenka
proposed four questions for a referendum and then stated that the
referendum would be held regardless of parliament's vote. The protest
ended when the striking deputies, forcibly evicted in the middle of the
night during a search for an alleged bomb, found that the national
television and radio building had been cordoned off as well because of
another alleged bomb threat. After this incident, the parliament gave in
on a number of matters, including the four referendum questions, because
word of their strike now could not be publicized.
The parliamentary elections held in May 1995 were less than
successful or democratic. The restrictions placed on the mass media and
on the candidates' expenditures during the campaign led to a shortage of
information about the candidates and almost no political debate before
the elections. In several cases, no one candidate received the necessary
majority of the votes in the May 14 elections, prompting another round
on May 28. The main problem in the second round was the lack of voter
turnout. After the second round, parliament was in limbo because it had
only 120 elected deputies--it was still short of the 174 members
necessary to seat a new legislature. Another round of elections was
discussed, probably near the end of the year, but the government claimed
to have no money to finance them.
Belarus - Problems of Democratization
With the exception of the new office of the president, the government
structure of independent Belarus had changed little from that of the
Belorussian SSR. Within the government, the communist-era mindset also
persisted, even though the names of office-holders were often different.
Because Lukashyenka and the legislature were frequently at odds, there
was little agreement or initiative in changing or improving the
The national government consists of three branches: legislative,
executive, and judiciary. Under the constitution, the size of the Supreme Soviet (elected
for a term of five years) was reduced from 360 to 260 members. It is the
highest legislative body of state power. Its functions include calling
national referenda; adopting, revising, and interpreting the
constitution; scheduling parliamentary and presidential elections;
electing members of high-level courts, the procurator general, and the
chairman and members of the board of the National Bank of Belarus;
determining guidelines for domestic and foreign policy; confirming the
state budget; supervising currency issues; ratifying international
treaties; and determining military policy. The role of the Presidium of
the Supreme Soviet was reduced to that of an agenda-setting and
administrative body. The legislature's two subordinate state committees
are the State Customs Committee and the State Security Committee.
Any Belarusian citizen who has the right to vote and is at least
twenty-one years old is eligible to stand for election as a deputy. The
parliament is elected by universal suffrage.
The president, a position created by the new constitution, is elected
by popular vote for a five-year term of office and is the head of state
and of the executive branch of government. He or she adopts measures to
guard the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, appoints and
dismisses the chairman and members of the Cabinet of Ministers, appoints
judges, heads the country's National Security Council, and serves as
commander in chief of the armed forces.
The president can be removed by a two-thirds vote in the parliament
under certain circumstances, such as violating the constitution or
committing a crime. However, the president cannot dismiss the parliament
or other elected governing bodies.
The executive branch also includes the Cabinet of Ministers, composed
of the heads of Belarus's twenty-six ministries: administration of state
property and privatization; agriculture; architecture and construction;
CIS matters; communications and information technology; culture and the
press; defense; economy; education and science; emergency situations and
the protection of the population from the aftermath of the Chornobyl'
nuclear power station disaster; finance; foreign affairs; foreign
economic relations; forestry; fuel and energy; health care; housing and
municipal services; industry; information; internal affairs; justice,
labor; natural resources and environmental protection; social
protection; statistics and analyses; trade; and transportation and
Judicial power is vested in a court system headed by the
Constitutional Court, which consists of eleven judges who are nominated
by the president and appointed by the Supreme Soviet. The Constitutional
Court receives proposals from the president, the chairman of the Supreme
Soviet, the permanent committees of the Supreme Soviet, at least seventy
deputies of the Supreme Soviet, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Economic
Court, or the Procurator General to review the constitutionality of
international agreements or obligations to which Belarus is a party. The
Constitutional Court also reviews the constitutionality of domestic
legal acts; presidential edicts; regulations of the Cabinet of
Ministers; the constitution; laws; legal documents; and regulatory
decisions of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Economic Court, and the
Procurator General. The Constitutional Court's decisions are final and
not subject to appeal.
The mid-level courts are regional courts, and below them are district
courts. These are presided over by judges appointed directly by the
president. Trials in all courts are open. The parties involved in a case
have the right to appeal judicial decisions, sentences, and other
rulings. However, the appeal consists merely of a higher court's review
of the protocol and other documents of the original trial. In actual
practice, decisions are rarely overturned.
There is a separate system of military courts. Military judges are
appointed directly by the president.
The Procuracy functions like a cross between a police investigative
bureau and a public prosecutor's office. It investigates crimes, brings
criminals to trial and prosecutes them, supervises courts and penal
facilities within its jurisdiction, reviews all court decisions in both
civil and criminal cases, supervises investigations conducted by other
government agencies, and ensures the uniform application of law in the
The Procuracy is headed by the procurator general, who is appointed
by the Supreme Soviet. The procurator general then appoints each officer
of the Procuracy, known as a procurator. The constitution states that
the procurator general and his subordinate procurators are to function
independently, yet the procurator general is accountable to the Supreme
Soviet. Procurators are independent of regional and local government
bodies because they derive their authority from the procurator general.
Procurators are generally quite influential because they supervise all
criminal investigations; courts are extremely deferential to the
procurators' actions, petitions, and conclusions.
Belarus - Local Government
Stanislaw Shushkyevich observed at the beginning of 1993 that almost
60 percent of Belarusians did not support any political party, only 3.9
percent of the electorate backed the communist party, and only 3.8
percent favored the BPF. The influence of other parties was much lower.
The Communist Party of Belarus (CPB), part of the Communist Party of
the Soviet Union (CPSU), claimed to rule the Belorussian SSR in the name
of the proletariat for the entire duration of the republic's existence.
For most of this period, it sought to control all aspects of government
and society and to infuse political, economic, and social policies with
the correct ideological content. By the late 1980s, however, the party
watched as Mikhail S. Gorbachev attempted to withdraw the CPSU from
day-to-day economic affairs.
After the CPB was banned in the wake of the August 1991 coup d'état,
Belarusian communists regrouped and renamed themselves the Party of
Communists of Belarus (PCB), which became the umbrella organization for
Belarus's communist parties and proRussian groups. The PCB was formally
registered in December 1991. The Supreme Soviet lifted the ban on the
CPB in February 1993.
The most active and visible of the opposition political groups in
Belarus in the first half of the 1990s was the Belarusian Popular Front
(BPF), founded in October 1989 with Zyanon Paznyak as chairman. The BPF
declared itself a movement open to any individual or party, including
communists, provided that those who joined shared its basic goal of a
fully independent and democratic Belarus. The BPF's critics, however,
claimed that it was indeed a party, pointing out the movement's goal of
seeking political power, having a "shadow cabinet," and being
engaged in parliamentary politics.
The United Democratic Party of Belarus was founded in November 1990
and was the first political party in independent Belarus other than the
communist party. Its membership is composed of technical intelligentsia,
professionals, workers, and peasants. It seeks an independent Belarus,
democracy, freedom of ethnic expression, and a market economy.
The Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly (Hramada) emerged in March
1991. Its members include workers, peasants, students, military
personnel, and urban and rural intelligentsia. Its program advocates an
independent Belarus, which does not rule out membership in the CIS, and
a market economy with state regulation of certain sectors. The assembly
cooperates with other parties and considers itself part of the worldwide
social democratic movement.
The Belarusian Peasant Party, founded in February 1991, is
headquartered in Minsk and has branches in most voblastsi. The
party's goals include privatization of land, a free market, a democratic
government, and support of Belarusian culture and humanism.
The Belarusian Christian Democratic Union, founded in June 1991, was
a continuation of the Belarusian Christian-Democratic Party, which was
disbanded by the Polish authorities in western Belarus in the 1930s. Its
membership consists mainly of the intelligentsia, and it espouses
Christian values, nonviolence, pluralism, private property, and peaceful
relations among ethnic groups.
The "Belaya Rus'" Slavic Council was founded in June 1992
as a conservative Russophile group that defends Russian interests in all
spheres of social life, vociferously objects to the status of Belarusian
as the republic's sole official language, and demands equal status for
the Russian language.
In 1995 other parties included the Belarusian Ecological Party, the
National Democratic Party of Belarus, the Party of People's Accord, the
All-Belarusian Party of Popular Unity and Accord, the Belarusian United
Agrarian Democratic Party, the Belarusian Scientific Industrial
Congress, the Belarusian Green Party, the Belarusian Humanitarian Party,
the Belarusian Party of Labor, the Belarusian Party of Labor and
Justice, the Belarusian Socialist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of
Belarus, the Polish Democratic Union, and the Republican Party.
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