Coordinates : 53°N 23°E / 53°N 23°E / 53; 23
Republic of Belarus
Рэспубліка Беларусь (Belarusian )
Республика Беларусь (Russian )
_ Flag National emblem
* Дзяржаўны гімн Рэспублікі Беларусь
* Dziaržaŭny himn Respubliki Bielaruś _
* (English: State Anthem of Belarus)
Europe (dark grey) –
and largest city
53°55′N 27°33′E / 53.917°N 27.550°E / 53.917; 27.550
* Russian a
* 3.2% Other
Unitary presidential republic
• PRIME MINISTER
• UPPER HOUSE
Council of the
• LOWER HOUSE
House of Representatives
• PRINCIPALITY OF POLOTSK
• GRAND DUCHY OF LITHUANIA
• POLISH–LITHUANIAN COMMONWEALTH
1 July 1569
• RUSSIAN EMPIRE
• INDEPENDENCE FROM THE RUSSIAN SFSR ; BELARUSIAN PEOPLE\\'S
25 March 1918
• LITHUANIAN-BYELORUSSIAN SSR
17 February 1919
• BYELORUSSIAN SSR
31 July 1920
• SOVIET ANNEXATION OF WESTERN BYELORUSSIA
15 November 1939
• STATE SOVEREIGNTY DECLARATION
27 July 1990
• INDEPENDENCE FROM THE USSR
25 August 1991
• INDEPENDENCE RECOGNIZED
26 December 1991
• CURRENT CONSTITUTION
15 March 1994
207,595 km2 (80,153 sq mi) (85th )
• WATER (%)
1.4% (2.830 km2 or 1.093 sq mi)b
• 2016 ESTIMATE
45.8/km2 (118.6/sq mi) (142nd )
GDP (PPP )
• PER CAPITA
• PER CAPITA
low · 11th
high · 50th
Belarusian ruble (BYN )
MSK (UTC +3)
DRIVES ON THE
ISO 3166 CODE
* ^ Constitution of the
Belarus Section 1, Article 17
* ^ "FAO\'s Information System on Water and Agriculture". FAO.
Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 16 February
BELARUS (/bɛləˈruːs/ (_ listen ); Belarusian : Беларусь,
Bielaruś_ or _Biełaruś_, IPA: ; Russian : Беларусь, tr.
_Belarusʹ_; IPA: ), officially the REPUBLIC OF BELARUS (Belarusian :
Рэспубліка Беларусь; Russian : Республика
Беларусь), formerly known by its Russian name BYELORUSSIA or
BELORUSSIA (Russian : Белоруссия), is a landlocked country
Europe bordered by
Russia to the northeast,
Poland to the west, and
Latvia to the
northwest. Its capital and most populous city is
Minsk . Over 40% of
its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its
strongest economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing.
Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled
the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk
(11th to 14th centuries), the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania , the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth , and the
Russian Empire .
In the aftermath of the 1917
Russian Revolution ,
independence as the Belarusian People\'s
Republic , which was
conquered by Soviet Russia. The Socialist Soviet
Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union
in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Belarus lost almost half of its territory to
Poland after the
Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. Much of the
Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of
the Second Polish
Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet
Poland , and were finalized after World War II. During
WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third
of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The
republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the
Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the
United Nations ,
along with the
Soviet Union and the
Ukrainian SSR .
The parliament of the republic declared the sovereignty of
27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the
Soviet Union , Belarus
declared independence on 25 August 1991.
Alexander Lukashenko has
served as the country's president since 1994.
Belarus has been labeled
"Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account
of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government.
Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state
ownership of large sections of the economy. Elections under
Lukashenko's rule have been widely criticized as unfair by the west;
and according to many countries and organizations, political
opposition has been violently suppressed. Belarus's Democracy Index
rating was the lowest in
Europe until 2014 (when it was passed by
Russia), the country is labelled as "not free" by
Freedom House , as
"repressed" in the
Index of Economic Freedom , and is rated as by far
the worst country for press freedom in
Europe in the 2013–14 Press
Freedom Index published by
Reporters Without Borders , which ranks
Belarus 157th out of 180 nations.
Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation,
with some hints of forming a
Union State . Over 70% of Belarus's
population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of
the population is ethnic Belarusian , with sizable minorities of
Ukrainians . Since a referendum in 1995, the
country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian . The
Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion,
although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox
Christianity . The second most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism
, has a much smaller following; nevertheless,
Belarus celebrates both
Orthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter as national
Belarus is the only European country to retain capital
punishment in both law and practice .
Belarus is a member of the
United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent
States , CSTO , EEU and the
Non-Aligned Movement .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 Middle Ages
* 2.3 Within the
* 2.4 Belorussian Soviet Socialist
* 2.5 Independence
* 2.6 Post-independence
* 3 Geography and climate
* 4 Governance
* 4.1 Election controversies
* 4.2 Corruption
* 4.3 Human rights
* 4.4 Foreign relations
* 4.5 Military
* 4.6 Administrative divisions
* 5 Economy
* 5.1 Industry
* 6 Demographics
* 6.1 Languages
* 6.2 Religion
* 7 Culture
* 7.1 Arts and literature
* 7.2 Dress
* 7.3 Cuisine
* 7.4 Sport
* 7.5 Telecommunications
* 7.6 World Heritage Sites
* 7.7 Literature
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 10 Further reading
* 11 External links
The name _Belarus_ is closely related with the term _Belaya Rus'_ ,
i.e., _White Rus\' _. There are several claims to the origin of the
name _White Rus'._ An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name
used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand
Lithuania that had been populated mostly by early
Slavs , as opposed to Black
Ruthenia , which was
predominantly inhabited by pagan
An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing
worn by the local Slavic population. A third theory suggests that
the old Rus' lands that were not conquered by the
Polatsk, Vitsiebsk and Mahilyow) had been referred to as "white".
Other sources claim that, before 1267, the land not conquered by the
Mongols was considered "White Rus'".
The name Rus\' is often conflated with its Latin forms
Ruthenia , thus
Belarus is often referred to as _White Russia_ or
_White Ruthenia_. The name first appeared in German and Latin medieval
literature ; the chronicles of
Jan of Czarnków mention the
imprisonment of Lithuanian grand duke
Jogaila and his mother at "Albae
Russiae, Poloczk dicto" in 1381. In some languages, including German
and Dutch , the country is generally called "White Russia" to this day
(_Weißrussland_ and _Wit-Rusland_ respectively).
The Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by
Pope Pius VI
Pope Pius VI in 1783
to recognize the
Society of Jesus there, exclaiming "Approbo
Societatem Jesu in Alba
Russia degentem, approbo, approbo." The first
known use of _White Russia_ to refer to
Belarus was in the late-16th
century by Englishman Sir
Jerome Horsey , who was known for his close
contacts with the Russian Royal Court. During the 17th century, the
Russian tsars used "White Rus" to describe the lands added from the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Stamp with the Cross of St. Euphrosyne
The term _Belorussia_ (Russian : Белору́ссия, the latter
part similar but spelled and stressed differently from Росси́я,
_Russia_) first rose in the days of the
Russian Empire , and the
Tsar was usually styled "the
Tsar of All the Russias", as
_Russia_ or the _Russian Empire_ was formed by three parts of
Russia—the Great , Little , and White . This asserted that the
territories are all Russian and all the peoples are also Russian; in
the case of the Belarusians, they were variants of the Russian people.
Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the term "White Russia"
caused some confusion, as it was also the name of the military force
that opposed the red Bolsheviks. During the period of the
Byelorussian SSR, the term _Byelorussia_ was embraced as part of a
national consciousness. In western
Belarus under Polish control,
_Byelorussia_ became commonly used in the regions of
Grodno during the interwar period.
The term _Byelorussia_ (its names in other languages such as English
being based on the Russian form) was only used officially until 1991,
Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian SSR decreed by law that
the new independent republic should be called _
Republic of Belarus_
(Республика Беларусь spelled in Russian), as well
its abridged form should be "Belarus". The law decreed that all the
forms of the new term should be transliterated into other languages
Belarusian language forms. The use of Byelorussian SSR and
any abbreviations thereof were allowed from 1991–93. Conservative
forces in the newly independent
Belarus did not support the name
change and opposed its inclusion in the 1991 draft of the Constitution
Accordingly, the name _Byelorussia_ was replaced by _Belarus_ in
English. Likewise, the adjective _Belorussian_ or _Byelorussian_ was
replaced by _Belarusian_ in English. _Belarusian_ is closer to the
original Russian term of _bielaruski_. Belarusian intelligentsia in
Stalin era attempted to change the name from _Byelorussia_ to a
form of _Krivia_ because of the supposed connection with Russia. Some
nationalists object to the name for the same reason. Several local
newspapers kept the old name of the country in Russian in their names,
for example _
Komsomolskaya Pravda v Byelorussii _, which is the
localized publication of a popular Russian newspaper. Also, those who
Belarus to be reunited with
Russia continue to use
_Belorussia_. Officially, the full name of the country is "Republic
of Belarus" (Рэспубліка Беларусь,
Республика Беларусь, Respublika
(help ·info )).
History of Belarus
From 5000 to 2000 BC,
Bandkeramik cultures predominated. In addition,
remains from the
Dnieper-Donets culture were found in
Cimmerians and other pastoralists roamed through
the area by 1,000 BC, and by 500 AD,
Slavs had taken up residence,
which was circumscribed by the
Scythians who roamed its outskirts.
Invaders from Asia, among whom were the
Huns and Avars , swept through
c. 400–600 AD, but were unable to dislodge the Slavic presence.
The region that is now
Belarus was first settled by Baltic tribes in
the 3rd century. Around the 5th century, the area was taken over by
Slavic tribes. The takeover was partially due to the lack of military
coordination of the
Balts but the gradual assimilation of the Balts
into Slavic culture was peaceful in nature. Principalities of
Further information: Kievan Rus\' ,
Principality of Polotsk , Grand
Lithuania , and
In the 9th century on the territory of modern
Belarus arose some
principalities among them was the Principality of Polatsk that almost
all its time was factually independent State (except of app. 20 years
it was Vassal of Kievan Rus'). The Principality of Polatsk was the
first statehood beginning on the land of Belarus.
Many early Russian principalities were virtually razed or severely
affected by a major Mongol invasion in the 13th century, but the lands
Belarus avoided the brunt of the invasion and were eventually
absorbed by the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania . A map of the Grand
Lithuania in the 15th century.
Belarus was fully within its
Grand Duchy of Lithuania developed from Lithuanian Kingdom (King
Mindaugas , 1253) which territory started its existence between
Nemunas and Neris rivers and existed in the center of
Europe in the
13th–18th centuries and comprised entire territories of contemporary
Belarus, Ukraine, partially Poland,
Latvia and stretched
from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
Incorporation into The
Grand Duchy of Lithuania resulted in an
economic, political and ethno-cultural unification of Belarusian
lands. Of the principalities held by the Duchy, nine of them were
settled by a population that would eventually become Belarusian
people. During this time, the Duchy was involved in several military
campaigns, including fighting on the side of
Poland against the
Teutonic Knights at the
Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Grunwald in 1410; the joint victory
allowed the Duchy to control the northwestern borderlands of Eastern
On 2 February 1386, the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of
Poland were joined in a personal union through a marriage of their
rulers . This union set in motion the developments that eventually
resulted in the formation of the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth ,
created in 1569 . In 1696, Polish replaced Belarusian as the official
language and Belarusian was outlawed.
The Muscovites , led by Ivan III of Moscow , began military campaigns
in 1486 in an attempt to incorporate the lands of Kievan Rus',
specifically the territories of Belarus,
Russia and Ukraine.
WITHIN THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
Further information: Belarusian history in the
The union between
Lithuania ended in 1795 with the
Poland by Imperial Russia,
Prussia , and
During this time, the territories of
Belarus were acquired by the
Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine II and held until their
occupation by the
German Empire during
World War I
World War I .
Although under Nicholas I and Alexander III the national cultures
were repressed due to the policies of de-
Russification , which included the return to Orthodoxy, the 19th
century witnessed the rise of the modern Belarusian nation and
Russification drive in the 1840s, Nicholas I prohibited use of
Belarusian language in public schools, campaigned against
Belarusian publications and tried to pressure those who had converted
to Catholicism under the
Poles to reconvert to the Orthodox faith. In
1863, economic and cultural pressure exploded in a revolt , led by
Kalinowski. After the failed revolt, the Russian government
reintroduced the use of
Cyrillic to Belarusian in 1864 and no
documents in Belarusian were permitted by the Russian government until
During the negotiations of the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk , Belarus
first declared independence under German occupation on 25 March 1918,
forming the Belarusian People\'s
Republic . Immediately afterwards,
Polish–Soviet War ignited, and the territory of
Poland and Soviet Russia.
BELORUSSIAN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC
Further information: Byelorussian Soviet Socialist
A part of
Belarus under Russian rule emerged as the Byelorussian
Republic (Byelorussian SSR) in 1919. Soon thereafter
it merged to form the Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR . The contested
lands were divided between
Poland and the
Soviet Union after the war
ended in 1921, and the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. The western part of
Belarus remained part of Poland.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Soviet agricultural and economic policies,
including collectivization and five-year plans for the national
economy , led to famine and political repression. Khatyn
Memorial. The Nazis murdered civilians in 5,295 different localities
in occupied Soviet
Belarus . Soviet partisan fighters behind
German front lines in
Belarus in 1943
Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland, marking the
World War II
World War II . At their counterattack, Soviets expanded
to much of northeastern Poland, which had been part of the country
Peace of Riga two decades earlier, was annexed to the
Byelorussian SSR, and now constitutes
West Belarus . The
Soviet-controlled Byelorussian People's Council officially took
control of the territories, whose populations consisted of a mixture
of Poles, Ukrainians,
Belarusians and Jews, on 28 October 1939 in
Nazi Germany invaded the
Soviet Union in 1941. The Brest
Fortress , which had been annexed in 1939, at this time was subjected
to one of the most destructive onslaughts that happened during the
war. Statistically, the Byelorussian SSR was the hardest-hit Soviet
republic in World War II; it remained in Nazi hands until 1944. During
Germany destroyed 209 out of 290 cities in the republic,
85% of the republic's industry, and more than one million buildings.
The Nazi _
Generalplan Ost _ called for the extermination, expulsion or
enslavement of most or all
Belarusians for the purpose of providing
more living space in the East for Germans.
Casualties were estimated to be between 2 and 3 million (about a
quarter to one-third of the total population), while the Jewish
Belarus was devastated during the
Holocaust and never
recovered. The population of
Belarus did not regain its pre-war
level until 1971. It was also after this conflict that the final
Belarus were set by Stalin when parts of Belarusian
territory were given to the recently annexed Lithuania.
After the war,
Belarus was among the 51 founding countries of the
United Nations Charter and as such it was allowed an additional vote
at the UN, on top of the Soviet Union's vote. Vigorous postwar
reconstruction promptly followed the end of the war and the
Byelorussian SSR became a major center of manufacturing in western
USSR, creating jobs and attracting ethnic Russians. The borders of
the Byelorussian SSR and
Poland were redrawn and became known as the
Curzon Line .
Joseph Stalin implemented a policy of
Sovietization to isolate the
Byelorussian SSR from Western influences . This policy involved
Russians from various parts of the
Soviet Union and placing
them in key positions in the Byelorussian SSR government. The official
use of the
Belarusian language and other cultural aspects were limited
by Moscow . After Stalin's death in 1953,
Nikita Khrushchev continued
his predecessor's cultural hegemony program, stating, "The sooner we
all start speaking Russian, the faster we shall build communism."
In 1986, the Byelorussian SSR was exposed to significant nuclear
fallout from the explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in the
Ukrainian SSR .
In June 1988, the archaeologist and leader of the Christian
Conservative Party of the BPF
Zyanon Paznyak discovered mass graves of
victims executed in 1937–41 at
Kurapaty , near Minsk. Some
nationalists contend that this discovery is proof that the Soviet
government was trying to erase the Belarusian people, causing
Belarusian nationalists to seek independence. Leaders of Russia,
Belarus signed the
Belavezha Accords , dissolving the
Soviet Union , 8 December 1991
In March 1990, elections for seats in the
Supreme Soviet of the
Byelorussian SSR took place. Though the pro-independence Belarusian
Popular Front took only 10% of the seats, the populace was content
with the selection of the delegates.
Belarus declared itself
sovereign on 27 July 1990 by issuing the Declaration of State
Sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist
With the support of the Communist Party, the country's name was
changed to the
Belarus on 25 August 1991. Stanislav
Shushkevich , the chairman of the
Supreme Soviet of Belarus, met with
Boris Yeltsin of
Leonid Kravchuk of
Ukraine on 8 December
1991 in Belavezhskaya Pushcha to formally declare the dissolution of
Soviet Union and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent
A national constitution was adopted in March 1994 in which the
functions of prime minister were given to the
President of Belarus .
Alexander Lukashenko has ruled
Belarus since 1994, and is Europe
's longest currently ruling heads of state .
Two-round elections for the presidency on (24 June 1994 and 10 July
1994) catapulted the formerly unknown
Alexander Lukashenko into
national prominence. He garnered 45% of the vote in the first round
and 80% in the second, defeating Vyacheslav Kebich who received 14%
of the vote. Lukashenko was re-elected in 2001 , in 2006 , in 2010 and
again in 2015 . Western governments,
Amnesty International , and
Human Rights Watch have criticized Lukashenko's authoritarian style
Since 2014, following years of embrace of Russian influence in the
country, Lukashenko has pressed a revival of Belarusian identity,
following the Russian annexation of Crimea and military intervention
Ukraine . For the first time, he delivered a speech in
Belarusian (rather than Russian, which most people use), in which he
said, “We are not Russian — we are Belarusians,” and later
encouraged the use of Belarusian. Trade disputes, a border dispute,
and a much relaxed official attitude to dissident voices are all part
of a weakening of the longtime warm relationship with Russia.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Geography of Belarus
Strusta Lake in the Vitebsk
Belarus lies between latitudes 51° and 57° N , and longitudes 23°
and 33° E . Its extension from north to south is 560 km (350 mi),
from west to east is 650 km (400 mi). It is landlocked , relatively
flat, and contains large tracts of marshy land. About 40% of Belarus
is covered by forests.
Many streams and 11,000 lakes are found in Belarus. Three major
rivers run through the country: the Neman , the Pripyat , and the
Dnieper . The Neman flows westward towards the Baltic sea and the
Pripyat flows eastward to the Dnieper; the Dnieper flows southward
Black Sea .
The highest point is
Dzyarzhynskaya Hara (Dzyarzhynsk Hill) at 345
metres (1,132 ft), and the lowest point is on the
Neman River at 90 m
(295 ft). The average elevation of
Belarus is 160 m (525 ft) above
sea level . The climate features mild to cold winters, with average
January minimum temperatures ranging from −4 °C (24.8 °F ) in
southwest (Brest ) to −8 °C (17.6 °F) in northeast (
Vitebsk ), and
cool and moist summers with an average temperature of 18 °C (64.4
Belarus has an average annual rainfall of 550 to 700 mm (21.7
to 27.6 in). The country is in the transitional zone between
continental climates and maritime climates .
Natural resources include peat deposits, small quantities of oil and
natural gas, granite , dolomite (limestone ), marl , chalk, sand,
gravel, and clay. About 70% of the radiation from neighboring
Ukraine's 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster entered Belarusian
territory, and about a fifth of Belarusian land (principally farmland
and forests in the southeastern regions) was affected by radiation
United Nations and other agencies have aimed to reduce
the level of radiation in affected areas, especially through the use
of caesium binders and rapeseed cultivation, which are meant to
decrease soil levels of caesium-137 .
Belarus borders five countries:
Latvia to the north,
Lithuania to the
Poland to the west,
Russia to the north and the east, and
Ukraine to the south. Treaties in 1995 and 1996 demarcated Belarus's
Latvia and Lithuania, and
Belarus ratified a 1997 treaty
establishing the Belarus-
Ukraine border in 2009.
Lithuania ratified final border demarcation documents in February
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for the six largest
Politics of Belarus Victory Square in
Belarus is a presidential republic, governed by a president and the
National Assembly . The term for each presidency is five years. Under
the 1994 constitution, the president could serve for only two terms as
president, but a change in the constitution in 2004 eliminated term
Alexander Lukashenko has been the president of
1994. In 1996, Lukashenko called for a controversial vote to extend
the presidential term from five to seven years, and as a result the
election that was supposed to occur in 1999 was pushed back to 2001.
The referendum on the extension was denounced as a "fantastic" fake by
the chief electoral officer,
Viktar Hanchar , who was removed from the
office for official matters only during the campaign. The National
Assembly is a bicameral parliament comprising the 110-member House of
Representatives (the lower house) and the 64-member Council of the
Republic (the upper house).
The House of Representatives has the power to appoint the prime
minister , make constitutional amendments, call for a vote of
confidence on the prime minister, and make suggestions on foreign and
domestic policy. The Council of the
Republic has the power to select
various government officials, conduct an impeachment trial of the
president, and accept or reject the bills passed by the House of
Representatives. Each chamber has the ability to veto any law passed
by local officials if it is contrary to the constitution.
The government includes a Council of Ministers, headed by the prime
minister and five deputy prime ministers. The members of this council
need not be members of the legislature and are appointed by the
president. The judiciary comprises the Supreme Court and specialized
courts such as the Constitutional Court , which deals with specific
issues related to constitutional and business law. The judges of
national courts are appointed by the president and confirmed by the
Council of the Republic. For criminal cases, the highest court of
appeal is the Supreme Court. The Belarusian Constitution forbids the
use of special extrajudicial courts.
In the 2012 parliamentary election , 105 of the 110 members elected
to the House of Representatives were not affiliated with any political
Communist Party of Belarus won 3 seats, and the Agrarian
Republican Party of Labour and Justice , one each. Most
non-partisans represent a wide scope of social organizations such as
workers' collectives, public associations, and civil society
organizations, similar to the composition of the Soviet legislature.
There has been ongoing formation of a future
Union State with Russia
Neither the pro-Lukashenko parties, such as the Belarusian Socialist
Sporting Party and the
Republican Party of Labour and Justice , nor
the People\'s Coalition 5 Plus opposition parties, such as the
Belarusian People\'s Front and the
United Civil Party of Belarus , won
any seats in the 2004 elections . Groups such as the Organization for
Security and Co-operation in
Europe (OSCE) declared the election
"un-free" because of the opposition parties' poor results and media
bias in favor of the government.
In the 2006 presidential election , Lukashenko was opposed by
Alaksandar Milinkievič , who represented a coalition of opposition
parties, and by
Alaksandar Kazulin of the Social Democrats. Kazulin
was detained and beaten by police during protests surrounding the All
Belarusian People\'s Assembly . Lukashenko won the election with 80%
of the vote; the Russian Federation and the CIS deemed the vote open
and fair while the OSCE and other organizations called the election
After the December completion of the 2010 presidential election ,
Lukashenko was elected to a fourth straight term with nearly 80% of
the vote in elections. The runner-up opposition leader Andrei Sannikov
received less than 3% of the vote; independent observers criticized
the election as fraudulent. When opposition protesters took to the
Minsk , many people, including most rival presidential
candidates, were beaten and arrested by the state militia. Many of
the candidates, including Sannikov, were sentenced to prison or house
arrest for terms which are mainly and typically over four years. Six
months later amid an unprecedented economic crisis, activists utilized
social networking to initiate a fresh round of protests characterized
by wordless hand-clapping.
The judicial system in
Belarus lacks independence and is subject to
political interference. Corrupt practices such as bribery often took
place during tender processes, and whistleblower protection and
national ombudsman are lacking in Belarus's anti-corruption system.
However, there is a political will to fight against corruption in the
government, and the government has made some progress in combating
corruption, such as minimizing tax regulations in order to improve
transparency in the tax office.
A symbol of Belarusian opposition, this flag served as the
national flag from 1991 to 1995. Main article: Human rights in
Lukashenko has described himself as having an "authoritarian ruling
style". Western countries have described
Belarus under Lukashenko as
a dictatorship; the government has accused the same Western powers of
trying to oust Lukashenko. The Council of
Europe has barred Belarus
from membership since 1997 for undemocratic voting and election
irregularities in the November 1996 constitutional referendum and
The Belarusian government is also criticized for human rights
violations and its persecution of non-governmental organisations,
independent journalists, national minorities, and opposition
politicians. In a testimony to the United States Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations , former United States Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice labeled
Belarus as one of the world's six "outposts
of tyranny ". In response, the Belarusian government called the
assessment "quite far from reality". The Viasna Human Rights Centre
lists 11 political prisoners currently detained in Belarus. Among
them is the human rights activist
Ales Bialiatski , Vice President of
International Federation for Human Rights and head of Viasna.
Lukashenko announced a new law in 2014 that will prohibit kolkhoz
workers (around 9% of total work force) from leaving their jobs at
will—a change of job and living location will require permission
from governors. The law was compared with serfdom by Lukashenko
himself. Similar regulations were introduced for the forestry
industry in 2012.
Foreign relations of Belarus President Alexander
Lukashenko , right, shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir
Putin , left, in 2012
The Byelorussian SSR was one of the two Soviet republics joined the
United Nations along with the
Ukrainian SSR as the one of the original
51 members in 1945. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, under
Belarus is the internationally recognized successor
state to the Byelorussian SSR, retaining its UN membership.
Russia have been close trading partners and diplomatic
allies since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Belarus is dependent on
Russia for imports of raw materials and for its export market.
The union of
Belarus , a supranational confederation, was
established in a 1996–99 series of treaties that called for monetary
union, equal rights, single citizenship, and a common foreign and
defense policy. However, the future of the union has been placed in
doubt because of Belarus's repeated delays of monetary union, the lack
of a referendum date for the draft constitution, and a dispute over
the petroleum trade .
On 11 December 2007, reports emerged that a framework for the new
state was discussed between both countries. On 27 May 2008,
Belarusian President Lukashenko said that he had named Russian Prime
Vladimir Putin the "prime minister" of the Russia-Belarus
alliance. The significance of this act was not immediately clear; some
incorrectly speculated that Putin would become president of a unified
Belarus after stepping down as Russian president
in May 2008.
Belarus was a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent
Belarus has trade agreements with several European
Union member states (despite other member states' travel ban on
Lukashenko and top officials), including neighboring Latvia,
Lithuania, and Poland. Travel bans imposed by the
European Union have
been lifted in the past in order to allow Lukashenko to attend
diplomatic meetings and also to engage his government and opposition
groups in dialogue. Leaders of Belarus, Russia, Germany, France,
Ukraine at the summit in
Minsk , 11–12 February 2015
Bilateral relations with the United States are strained because the
U.S. Department of State supports various anti-Lukashenko
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and also because the Belarusian
government has made it increasingly difficult for United States-based
organizations to operate within the country. Diplomatic relations
remained tense, and in 2004, the United States passed the Belarus
Democracy Act , which authorized funding for anti-government
Belarusian NGOs, and prohibited loans to the Belarusian government,
except for humanitarian purposes. Despite this political friction,
the two countries do cooperate on intellectual property protection,
prevention of human trafficking, technology crime, and disaster
Sino-Belarusian relations have improved, strengthened by the visit
of President Lukashenko to China in October 2005.
Belarus also has
strong ties with
Syria , considered a key partner in the Middle East.
In addition to the CIS,
Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic
Community , the
Collective Security Treaty Organisation , the
Non-Aligned Movement since 1998, the Organization on
Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE), and the UN since its
founding in 1945. As an OSCE member state, Belarus's international
commitments are subject to monitoring under the mandate of the U.S.
Helsinki Commission .
Belarus is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood
Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer.
On 15 February 2016 the
European Union announced the easing of
Belarus during a meeting by 28 EU foreign ministers
at a regular session of the Council of the
European Union .
Armed Forces of Belarus Soldiers patrol in the
Białowieża Forest on the Belarusian border with Poland.
Andrei Ravkov heads the Ministry of Defence, and
Alexander Lukashenko (as president) serves as Commander-in-Chief. The
armed forces were formed in 1992 using parts of the former Soviet
Armed Forces on the new republic's territory. The transformation of
the ex-Soviet forces into the Armed Forces of Belarus, which was
completed in 1997, reduced the number of its soldiers by 30,000 and
restructured its leadership and military formations.
Most of Belarus's service members are conscripts , who serve for 12
months if they have higher education or 18 months if they do not.
Demographic decreases in the
Belarusians of conscription age have
increased the importance of contract soldiers, who numbered 12,000 in
2001. In 2005, about 1.4% of Belarus's gross domestic product was
devoted to military expenditure.
Belarus has not expressed a desire to join
NATO but has participated
in the Individual Partnership Program since 1997, and Belarus
provides refueling and airspace support for the
ISAF mission in
Belarus first began to cooperate with
NATO upon signing
documents to participate in their Partnership for Peace Program in
Belarus cannot join
NATO because it is a member of the
Collective Security Treaty Organisation . Tensions between
Belarus peaked after the March 2006 presidential election in Belarus.
Regions of Belarus
Belarus is divided into six regions (Belarusian : вобласць,
Russian : о́бласть), which are named after the cities that
serve as their administrative centers.
Each region has a provincial legislative authority, called a region
council (Belarusian : абласны Савет Дэпутатаў,
Russian : областно́й Сове́т Депутатов), which
is elected by its residents, and a provincial executive authority
called a region administration (Belarusian : абласны
выканаўчы камітэт, Russian : областно́й
исполнительный комите́т), whose chairman is
appointed by the president. Regions are further subdivided into
_raions _, commonly translated as _districts_ (Belarusian : раён,
Russian : район).
Each _raion_ has its own legislative authority, or _raion_ council,
(Belarusian : раённы Савет Дэпутатаў, Russian :
районный Сове́т Депутатов) elected by its
residents, and an executive authority or _raion_ administration
appointed by higher executive powers. The six regions are divided into
The city of
Minsk is split into nine districts and enjoys special
status as the nation's capital. It is run by an executive committee
and has been granted a charter of self-rule.
REGIONS (WITH ADMINISTRATIVE CENTERS):
Brest Region (Brest )
Gomel Region (
Grodno Region (
Mogilev Region (
Minsk Region (
Vitebsk Region (
SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT:
A graphical depiction of Belarus's product exports in 28
colour-coded categories Belarusian annual GDP and CPI rates
2001–2013 Main article:
Economy of Belarus
In 2014 the share of manufacturing in GDP was 37%, more than two
thirds of this amount falls on manufacturing industries. The number of
people employed in the industry – about 32.7% of the working
population. The growth rate is much lower than for the economy as a
whole – about 1.9% in 2014.
At the time of the dissolution of the
Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus
was one of the world's most industrially developed states by
percentage of GDP as well as the richest CIS member-state. In 2015,
Belarusians were employed by state-controlled companies,
57.2% were employed by private companies (in which the government has
a 21.1% stake) and 3.5% were employed by foreign companies. The
country relies on
Russia for various imports, including petroleum.
Important agricultural products include potatoes and cattle
byproducts, including meat. In 1994, Belarus's main exports included
heavy machinery (especially tractors ), agricultural products, and
energy products. Economically,
Belarus involved itself in the CIS,
Eurasian Economic Community , and Union with
In the 1990s, however, industrial production plunged due to decreases
in imports, investment, and demand for Belarusian products from its
trading partners. GDP only began to rise in 1996; the country was
the fastest-recovering former Soviet republic in the terms of its
economy. In 2006, GDP amounted to US$83.1 billion in purchasing power
parity (PPP) dollars (estimate), or about $8,100 per capita. In 2005,
GDP increased by 9.9%; the inflation rate averaged 9.5%.
In 2006, Belarus's largest trading partner was Russia, accounting for
nearly half of total trade, with the
European Union the next largest
trading partner, with nearly a third of foreign trade. As of 2015,
38% of Belarusian exported goods go to
Russia and 56% of imported
goods come from Russia.
Due to its failure to protect labor rights, including passing laws
forbidding unemployment or working outside of state-controlled
Belarus lost its EU
Generalized System of Preferences status
on 21 June 2007, which raised tariff rates to their prior most favored
Belarus applied to become a member of the World Trade
Organization in 1993.
The labor force consists of more than four million people, among whom
women hold slightly more jobs than men. In 2005, nearly a quarter of
the population was employed by industrial factories. Employment is
also high in agriculture, manufacturing sales, trading goods, and
education. The unemployment rate, according to government statistics,
was 1.5% in 2005. There were 679,000 unemployed Belarusians,
two-thirds of whom were women. The unemployment rate has been in
decline since 2003, and the overall rate of employment is the highest
since statistics were first compiled in 1995.
Until 1 July 2016, the currency of
Belarus was the Belarusian ruble
(BYR). The currency was introduced in May 1992, replacing the Soviet
ruble . The first coins of the
Belarus were issued on 27
December 1996. The ruble was reintroduced with new values in 2000 and
has been in use ever since. As part of the Union of
Belarus , both states have discussed using a single currency along the
same lines as the Euro. This led to a proposal that the Belarusian
ruble be discontinued in favor of the
Russian ruble (RUB), starting as
early as 1 January 2008. The National Bank of
Belarusian ruble to the
Russian ruble in August 2007.
A new currency, the new
Belarusian ruble (
ISO 4217 code: BYN) was
introduced in July 2016, replacing the
Belarusian ruble in a rate of
1:10,000 (10,000 old rubles = 1 new ruble). From 1 July until 31
December 2016, the old and new currencies will be in parallel
circulation and series 2000 notes and coins can be exchanged for
series 2009 from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021. This
redenomination can be considered an effort to fight the high inflation
The banking system of
Belarus consists of two level: Central Bank
(National Bank of the
Republic of Belarus) and 25 commercial banks.
On 23 May 2011, the
Belarusian ruble depreciated 56% against the
United States dollar. The depreciation was even steeper on the black
market and financial collapse seemed imminent as citizens rushed to
exchange their rubles for dollars, euros, durable goods, and canned
goods. On 1 June 2011,
Belarus requested an economic rescue package
International Monetary Fund .
Belarus _ tractor
BelAZ 75600 *
Demographics of Belarus
According to the National Statistical Committee, as of January 2016,
the population is 9.49 million people. Ethnic
83.7% of Belarus's total population. The next largest ethnic groups
Poles (3.1%), and
Ukrainians (1.7%). Belarus
has a population density of about 50 people per square kilometer (127
per sq mi); 70% of its total population is concentrated in urban
Minsk , the nation's capital and largest city, was home to
1,937,900 residents in 2015 .
Gomel , with a population of 481,000,
is the second-largest city and serves as the capital of the Homiel
Voblast . Other large cities are
Hrodna (314,800) and Brest (298,300).
Like many other eastern European countries,
Belarus has a negative
population growth rate and a negative natural growth rate. In 2007,
Belarus's population declined by 0.41% and its fertility rate was
1.22, well below the replacement rate . Its net migration rate is
+0.38 per 1,000, indicating that
Belarus experiences slightly more
immigration than emigration. As of 2015 , 69.9% of Belarus's
population is aged 14 to 64; 15.5% is under 14, and 14.6% is 65 or
older. Its population is also aging; the median age of 30–34 is
estimated to rise to between 60 and 64 in 2050. There are about 0.87
males per female in Belarus. The average life expectancy is 72.15
(66.53 years for men and 78.1 years for women). Over 99% of
Belarusians aged 15 and older are literate .
Largest cities or towns in Belarus
Languages of Belarus
Belarus's two official languages are Russian and Belarusian ;
Russian is the main language, used by 72% of the population, while
Belarusian, the official first language, is spoken by 11.9%.
Minorities also speak Polish , Ukrainian and
Eastern Yiddish . It is
however, worth noting that although it is not in as widespread use as
Russian , Belarusian is the mother tongue of 53.2% of the population,
whereas Russian is the mother tongue of only 41.5% of the population.
Religion in Belarus
RELIGION IN BELARUS (2011)
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk
According to the census of as of November 2011 , 58.9% of all
Belarusians adhere to some kind of religion; out of those, Eastern
Orthodoxy (Belarusian Exarchate of the
Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church ) makes
up about 82%. Roman Catholicism is practiced mostly in the western
regions, and there are also different denominations of Protestantism.
Minorities also practice
Greek Catholicism , Judaism, Islam and
Neopaganism. Overall, 48.3% of the population is Orthodox Christian,
41.1% is not religious, 7.1% is Catholic and 3.3% follows other
Belarus's Catholic minority is concentrated in the western part of
the country, especially around
Hrodna , is made up of a mixture of
Belarusians and the country's Polish and Lithuanian minorities. In a
statement to the media regarding Belarusian-Vatican ties, President
Lukashenko stated that Orthodox and Catholic believers are the "two
main confessions in our country".
Belarus was once a major center of European Jews, with 10% of the
population being Jewish . But since the mid-20th century, the number
of Jews has been reduced by the
Holocaust , deportation, and
emigration, so that today it is a very small minority of less than one
percent. The Lipka
Tatars , numbering over 15,000, are predominantly
Muslims . According to Article 16 of the Constitution ,
Belarus has no
official religion. While the freedom of worship is granted in the same
article, religious organizations deemed harmful to the government or
social order can be prohibited.
Culture of Belarus
ARTS AND LITERATURE
The Opera and Ballet Theater in
Minsk Slavianski Bazaar
The Belarusian government sponsors annual cultural festivals such as
the Bazaar in Vitebsk, which showcases Belarusian performers,
artists, writers, musicians, and actors. Several state holidays, such
as Independence Day and Victory Day , draw big crowds and often
include displays such as fireworks and military parades, especially in
Vitebsk and Minsk. The government's Ministry of Culture finances
events promoting Belarusian arts and culture both inside and outside
Francysk Skaryna , developer of the Belarusian
language, and one of the first people to print in the Cyrillic
Belarusian literature began with 11th- to 13th-century religious
scripture, such as the 12th-century poetry of
Cyril of Turaw .
By the 16th century,
Francysk Skaryna translated the
Bible into Belarusian. It was published in
between 1517 and 1525, making it the first book printed in
anywhere in Eastern Europe. The modern era of Belarusian literature
began in the late 19th century; one prominent writer was Yanka Kupala
. Many Belarusian writers of the time, such as
Uładzimir Žyłka ,
Yakub Kolas ,
Źmitrok Biadula , and
Maksim Haretski ,
wrote for _
Nasha Niva _, a Belarusian-language paper published that
was previously published in
Vilnius but now is published in Minsk.
Belarus was incorporated into the Soviet Union, the Soviet
government took control of the Republic's cultural affairs. At first,
a policy of "Belarusianization" was followed in the newly formed
Byelorussian SSR. This policy was reversed in the 1930s, and the
majority of prominent Belarusian intellectuals and nationalist
advocates were either exiled or killed in Stalinist purges. The free
development of literature occurred only in Polish-held territory until
Soviet occupation in 1939. Several poets and authors went into exile
after the Nazi occupation of
Belarus and would not return until the
The last major revival of
Belarusian literature occurred in the 1960s
with novels published by
Vasil Bykaŭ and
Uladzimir Karatkievich . An
influential author who devoted his work to awakening the awareness of
the catastrophes the country has suffered, was
Ales Adamovich . He was
Svetlana Alexievich , the Belarusian winner of the Nobel
Prize in Literature 2015, as "her main teacher, who helped her to find
a path of her own". Poet and librettist Vintsent
Belarus largely comprises a rich tradition of folk and
religious music. The country's folk music traditions can be traced
back to the times of the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania . In the 19th
century, Polish composer
Stanisław Moniuszko composed operas and
chamber music pieces while living in Minsk. During his stay, he worked
with Belarusian poet
Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich and created the
opera _Sialanka_ (_Peasant Woman_). At the end of the 19th century,
major Belarusian cities formed their own opera and ballet companies.
The ballet _Nightingale _ by M. Kroshner was composed during the
Soviet era and became the first Belarusian ballet showcased at the
National Academic Vialiki Ballet Theatre in Minsk.
Second World War
Second World War , music focused on the hardships of the
Belarusian people or on those who took up arms in defense of the
homeland. During this period,
Anatoly Bogatyrev , creator of the opera
_In Polesye Virgin Forest_, served as the "tutor" of Belarusian
composers. The National Academic Theatre of Ballet in
awarded the Benois de la Dance Prize in 1996 as the top ballet company
in the world. Rock music has become increasingly popular in recent
years, though the Belarusian government has attempted to limit the
amount of foreign music aired on the radio in favor of traditional
Belarusian music. Since 2004,
Belarus has been sending artists to the
Eurovision Song Contest .
Marc Chagall was born in Liozna (near
Vitebsk ) in 1887. He spent the
World War I
World War I years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's
most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde
and was a founder of the
Vitebsk Arts College.
The traditional Belarusian dress originates from the Kievan Rus\'
period. Due to the cool climate, clothes were designed to preserve
body heat and were usually made from flax or wool . They were
decorated with ornate patterns influenced by the neighboring cultures:
Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians, and other European nations.
Each region of
Belarus has developed specific design patterns. One
ornamental pattern common in early dresses currently decorates the
hoist of the Belarusian national flag , adopted in a disputed
referendum in 1995.
Draniki , the national dish
Belarusian cuisine consists mainly of vegetables, meat (particularly
pork), and bread. Foods are usually either slowly cooked or stewed .
Belarusians eat a light breakfast and two hearty meals,
with dinner being the largest meal of the day.
Wheat and rye breads
are consumed in Belarus, but rye is more plentiful because conditions
are too harsh for growing wheat. To show hospitality, a host
traditionally presents an offering of bread and salt when greeting a
guest or visitor.
Belarus at the Olympics
Belarus has competed in the Olympic Games since the 1994 Winter
Olympics . Its
National Olympic Committee
National Olympic Committee has been headed by President
Lukashenko since 1997.
Receiving heavy sponsorship from the government, ice hockey is the
nation's second most popular sport after football . The national
football team has never qualified for a major tournament; however,
BATE Borisov has played in the Champions League . The national hockey
team finished fourth at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics following a
memorable upset win over
Sweden in the quarterfinals, and regularly
competes in the World Championships , often making the quarterfinals.
Numerous Belarusian players are present in the Kontinental Hockey
League in Eurasia, particularly for Belarusian club HC Dinamo
and several have also played in the
National Hockey League in North
Darya Domracheva is a leading biathlete whose honours include
three gold medals at the
2014 Winter Olympics .
Victoria Azarenka became the first Belarusian to win a
Grand Slam singles title at the
Australian Open in 2012. She also won
the gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max
Mirnyi , who holds ten Grand Slam titles in doubles .
Other notable Belarusian sportspeople include cyclist Vasil Kiryienka
, who won the 2015 Road World Time Trial Championship , and middle
Maryna Arzamasava , who won the gold medal in the 800m
at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics .
Belarus is also known for its strong rhythmic gymnasts. Noticeable
Inna Zhukova , who earned silver at the 2008 Beijing
Liubov Charkashyna , who earned bronze at the 2012 London
Melitina Staniouta , Bronze All-Around Medalist of the
2015 World Championships. The Belorussian senior group earned bronze
2012 London Olympics .
Andrei Arlovski , who was born in
Babruysk , Byelorussian SSR , is a
current UFC fighter and the former UFC heavyweight champion of the
Telecommunications in Belarus See also: Censorship in
* Country code:
The state telecom monopoly, Beltelecom, holds the exclusive
interconnection with Internet providers outside of Belarus. Beltelecom
owns all the backbone channels that linked to the Lattelecom, TEO LT,
Tata Communications (former
Teleglobe ), Synterra,
Transtelekom and MTS ISP's. Beltelecom is the only operator licensed
to provide commercial VoIP services in Belarus.
WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Belarus has four
UNESCO -designated World Heritage Sites : the Mir
Castle Complex , the
Nesvizh Castle , the Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Poland ), and the
Struve Geodetic Arc
Struve Geodetic Arc (shared with nine
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Maksim Bahdanovič (1891–1917) – one of the classics of
Belarusian literature was formed on the basis of Old Russian
literature , and the process of its separation took place in the
14th–15th centuries. The heyday came in the 16th–17th centuries
(the so-called "Golden Age"). Old
Belarusian language was the official
language of the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania (ON Statutes 1529, 1566 and
1588, polemical religious literature ). Since the beginning of the
16th century, the books in Old Belarusian were printed. The first
printed book in the Old
Belarusian language – "Psalms" – was
Prague in 1517 by
Francysk Skaryna . It was the first
book printed in the language of the East Slavic group. In the 16th and
17th centuries there was a Baroque syllabic poetry and drama school
under the influence of Polish culture (Symeon of
Polotsk ). In the
18th century numerous wars caused the decay of scholars. The
literature gradually fell into disrepair; its revival began in the
last quarter of the 17th century, when a professor of Dominican
college Kajetan Marashovski wrote the first untitled comedy that
featured Belarusian language. Revitalization process of creativity in
Belarusian language continued at the beginning of the 19th
century. (Anonymous satirical poem "Taras on Parnassus", the first
romantisty: Paŭluk Bahrym and the
Polish language poets Jan
Jan Czeczot ,
Adam Mickiewicz and Alexander Rypiński .
Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich was the first author, who wrote mainly
in Belarusian. He created of the first Belarusian comedy "Idyll" in
1846. Books were printed mostly using Latin script . In the second
half of the 19th century realism was present the works by Francišak
Adam Hurynowicz , Jan Lucyna . New stage of development
Belarusian literature started after 1905
Russian Revolution . In
1906 the first newspapers in
Belarusian language "Nasa Dolia" (Our
share) and "Nasha Niva" were issued in
Vilnius . They united writers
who advocated the strengthening of national identity (Maksim
Bahdanovič , Sergei Paluyan,
Źmitrok Biadula ,
Maksim Haretski ,
Yadvigin Sh, Yanka Kupala,
Yakub Kolas ,
Alés Harun , Andrew Ziazulia
Belarusian literature had a syncretic character,
combines elements of romanticism and realism , impressionist and
modernist . In particular
Maxim Bogdanovich developed impressionism
and symbolism in Belarusian poetry,
Źmitrok Biadula – in prose,
Yanka Kupala developed romanticism and modernism in poetry. Belarusian
Svetlana Alexievich became the winner of Nobel Prize for
Literature 2015. Aleksievich works devoted to the life of the late
Soviet and post-Soviet era, imbued with a sense of compassion and
Soviet Union portal
List of Belarus-related topics
Outline of Belarus
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Principality of Polotsk
Principality of Turov
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
* Byelorussian Soviet Socialist
* Protected areas
* Biosphere Reserves
* National parks
* Administrative divisions
* Foreign relations
* Human rights
* Law enforcement
* LGBT history
* Political parties
* Prime Minister
* Union of