Books on Belarus
Principal ethnic groups
After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration but, to date, neither side has actively sought to implement the accord.
Update No: 283 - (26/07/04)
Elections in October
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka has set October 17 as a date for elections to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus. Lukashenka has ordered to take organizational steps to prepare and hold elections within a deadline set by election laws.
Lidiya Yermoshina, the head of the Belarusian Central Electoral Commission, approved an election budget worth nearly $7m that was proposed by the Electoral Commission. The budget had been calculated on the basis of one dollar per one voter.
Most deputies of the parliament of the current convocation are expected to take part in the upcoming elections to the House of Representatives. The United Belarusian Opposition nominates 220 candidates for the parliamentary elections. Each election constituency will nominate the main opposition candidate and 110 backup candidates in case the main candidate is denied registration.
The nominations will start in August.
The real opposition is banned and will be unlikely to stand. It consists of very brave men and women, who are risking their lives by opposing the last dictator in Europe. People just disappear. It is that sort of regime.
Lukashenka looks to Russia
Lukashenka has confirmed his country's desire to develop relations with Russia under the Belarus-Russia Union State. "Mildly speaking, it would be inappropriate to joke about some turn or U-turn in our relations within the Union," he told a session of the parliamentary assembly of the Belarus-Russia Union. Lukashenka said that some media outlets in Russia and some Russian politicians believe "the level of union relations can be measured with money."
"If you sell a Belarussian enterprise to a Russian oligarch, then you are an ally. But if you don't agree to sell, for instance, Belgransgaz at a cut-rate price, than you're off the list of allies," he said. Lukashenka said he had received proposals from western countries suggesting that Russian military facilities should be removed from Belarus. "We were offered a huge amount of money for an early-warning radar system, the so-called Baranovichi network, but I said then that I would not trade my friendship with the Russians," he said. Belarus attaches "particular significance to the joint regional unit of Belarussian-Russian troops."
As for economic cooperation problems, Lukashenka suggested that turnover between the two countries could reach US$18bn by the end of 2004. He claimed that bilateral turnover in 2003 exceeded that with China and the United States.
"Does this really mean the two economies are incompatible?" he said. The Belarussian leader said he believes Belarussian and Russian enterprises need each other and this is a reliable guarantee of economic integration. He also pointed to the importance of arms deals with Russia, noting that "once again, just like in the 1940s, a huge military potential is being concentrated along our borders, and the policy they are pursuing is far from peaceful."
Lukashenka said routine organisational interaction and the level of trust between the Belarussian and Russian military are the same as they were in Soviet times. He suggested setting up a proper customs union between the two states and criticised the fact that Russia still keeps customs checkpoints on its border with Belarus.
Lukashenka also said the two countries should pursue a coordinated policy for joining the World Trade Organisation. "The Russian Federation seems to be trying to enter the WTO sooner," Lukashenka said.
"But we agreed that it would coordinate these steps not only with Belarus, but also with Ukraine and Kazakstan," he added.
Coordination in joining the WTO "would be a good reason for consolidation within the CIS if we did not run separately, trying to override each other," he explained.
Internet winning the hearts of Belarussians
The number of Internet users in Belarussian cities increased by 7% in the last year, according to a survey conducted by the MASMI-BY agency. The results were included in the so-called "Project Omnibus," DMEurope reported on June 25th.
According to the survey, 21% of city inhabitants aged 12 to 29 are Internet users. Of them, 7% have been accessing the Web for one year or less, 8% have been using the Internet for one to two years, and 6% have been using the Internet for not less than three years. The majority of respondents access the Internet at their work-places, the survey showed.
Some 6% of respondents access the Internet five days a week. Another 6% have been surfing the Web for not less than one hour, 7% surf from half an hour to an hour, and 8% surf for less than half an hour. People aged 12 to 17 and 18 to 34 are the most active Internet users, but 29% of them answered they "in fact do not use" the Internet or use it for less than 30 minutes. Among 35- to 49-year-old respondents, 53% do not use the Internet or use it for less than 30 minutes.
Velcom to double investment in network
JV MDC-VELCOM, the first mobile operator in Belarus, with more than 800,000 subscribers, has announced plans to double the volume of its investments in the Belarussian economy to US$400m over the next three years, Interfax News Agency reported recently.
In the last five years, the company has invested some US$165m. The investment programme up until 2005 will see another US$185m invested in the country.
"We are very proud of all the achievements of Velcom over these past five years, in which investments have exceeded US$200m. To meet the needs of the dynamically growing cellular market of Republic of Belarus, the investment programme for the years 2004-2007 plans the doubling of the investment volume to reach total of US$400m by the end of the mentioned period. Reasonable tariffs, high quality of connection and service, large network of company's service and sales centres, and attentiveness to subscribers' everyday concerns constitute our success in the conditions of high competition," said Ead Samawi, chairman of the board. In the year 2004 the total volume of investments into Velcom network development will exceed US$60m and over US$50m in following years. The means will be aimed at the network construction, coverage enlargement, introduction of the most advanced telecommunication technologies.
Belarus, Bosnia sign transport agreement
An agreement between the governments of the Republic of Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina on international passenger and cargo transport was signed on July 12th in Minsk. The document was signed by Belarusian Minister of Transport and Communications, Mikhail Baravy, and Bosnian Minister of Transport and Communications, Branko Dokic, Belapan News Agency reported.
As Mikhail Baravy noted at the signing ceremony, Bosnia-Hercegovina has become the 40th state with which Belarus has signed such an agreement. The document is especially important for Belarusian transport workers, taking into account the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina is a member of an international transport corridor. Baravy said the agreement had opened new ways for the two states to work together in the transport sector.
The head of the delegation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Branko Dokic, said the two countries needed to develop the transport of tourists between them. Also, transport officials from Bosnia-Herzegovina expressed interest in the Belarusian experience of the development of river transport.
Our analysts and
editorial staff have many years experience in analysing and reporting
events in these nations. This knowledge is available in the form of
geopolitical and/or economic country reports on any individual or grouping
of countries. Such reports may be bespoke to the specification of clients
or by access to one of our existing specialised reports.
For further information email: