Belarus Research Paper

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Belarus: a country suffering at the hands of its own authoritarian leadership

Table of Contents
Republic of Belarus’ Overview………………………………………………………………….3 Russia and Belarus: Friend or Foe?..............................................................................................4 Is Alexander Lukashenko “Europe’s Last Dictator?” …………………………………………...5 Lukashenko: Political Control…………………………………………………………………...5 Lukashenko: Economic Control…………………………………………………………………6 How can Lukashenko be stopped?................................................................................................7 In Conclusion…a more peaceful Belarus………………………………………………………..9 Republic of Belarus’ Overview

Belarus is a beautiful country nestled in the heart of Eastern Europe, surrounded by Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, and Ukraine. Belarus is “landlocked”, meaning it is completely surrounded by land and has no coastline. The CIA World Factbook states that Belarus’ size is slightly smaller than the size of Kansas (CIA World Factbook, 2010: Geography section). The climate is very cold in the winters with cool and moist summers. (CIA World Factbook, 2010: Geography section). These climate conditions are favorable for growing grains, vegetables, fruit trees and potatoes (UN, 2002, About Belarus section). There are more than 100 nationalities represented in Belarus. However, more than 75% of the entire population is native Belarusian. Living among the natives are significant numbers of Russians, Poles, and Ukrainians (UN, 2002, About Belarus section). The two official languages of Belarus are Belarusian and Russian. The religious make-up of Belarus is 80% Eastern Orthodox, with the remaining 20% a combination of Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim (CIA World Factbook, 2010: Population section). As of July 2010, Belarus’ population was 9,612,632, ranking 87 in the world (CIA World Factbook, 2010: Population section). The capital of Belarus is Minsk, which is the biggest political, economic, scientific, and cultural center of the country (UN, 2002, About Belarus section). The population of Minsk is 1.729 million people (UN, 2002, About Belarus section), approximately 17.9% of Belarus’ total population. Belarus was part of the Soviet Union for 70 years, but claimed its independence on August 25, 1991 after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Although it’s independence from Russia was claimed on August 25, 1991, Belarus reserves its national Independence Day as July 3rd, the day Minsk was freed from the German troops. This occurred in 1944, shortly before the end of WWII (CIA World Factbook, 2010: Government section). The conventional long form of the country name is “Republic of Belarus.” Although republic is in the name, Belarus is in fact a dictatorship (CIA World Factbook, 2010: Government section), as I will discuss in more detail throughout this paper. Russia and Belarus: Friend or Foe?

According to About.com (2010), “Belarus has struggled for decades to establish an internationally recognized identity. Known as Belarussia in Soviet times, the people of Belarus find this name an unpleasant reminder of Russification” (Kubilius, 2010, National Identity section). Since independence, Belarus has chosen to remain politically and economically closer to Russia than any other former Soviet Republics. However, recent news suggests tensions between Russia and Belarus. First, there was a big debate over natural gas fees and transit fees. Russia’s energy company, Gazprom, was demanding payment for natural gas delivered to Belarus. Belarus was refusing to pay, claiming that Russia owed Belarus transit fees. Russia transports 6.25 percent of Europe’s natural gas via a pipeline that runs through Belarus (CNN Wire Staff, 2010, para. 6). This issue was recently resolved on June 24, 2010, with both countries finally settling the monetary difference. CNN quotes, “If unresolved, the payment...
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