Republican Reference - Area (sq.km) 207,600 - Population 9,577,552 - Capital Minsk - Currency Rubel - President Alexander Lukashenko - Principal ethnic groups Belarusians 81.2%, Russians 11.4%, Poles 3.9%, Ukrainian 2.4%, Other 1.1%

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2012 2009 2008 Ranking(2012)
GDP
Millions of US $ 63,267 48,984 60,313 66
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 6,530 5,540 5,360 101
Ranking is given out of 213 nations - (data from the World Bank)

  

Background:
Although all important decisions had been taken in Moscow 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. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place.
The relationship with Russia is not very smooth partly because of the irascible personality of their effective dictator of Belarus (Europe's last), Alexander Luka Shanka. He has unsubtly 'fixed' a referendum to ensure that he can stand again for the presidency, even though he is on his final constitutional term.
His presence at the top of the Belarusian hierarchy deters FDI and indeed this country is immobilized from progressing in the international community.

UPDATE - FEBRUARY 2014

Europe's only current dictatorship
Belarus, neighbouring both Ukraine and Russia, back in 1991 moved from being an SSR of the Soviet Union into independence, 'with Soviet characteristics.' Lukashenko, the dictator has demonstrated how to keep power, by replacing the function and title of 1st Secretary of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, with that of (unremovable) President of Belarus with absolute powers (every parliamentary seat is occupied by a party crony).

Lukashenko earlier incorporated the former local branch of the KGB to become his own state security. He has elections punctiliously which are quite fraudulent, indeed Belarus has until now, been recognised as the last and only dictatorship in Europe - indeed he uses all the old Soviet tricks to terrorise his population.

Now Ukraine his neighbour, is close to joining the ranks of the FSU dictatorships*, in spite of large scale continuing street protests to the contrary, the difference being that Ukraine has tasted democracy - remember the Orange Revolution?

As can be seen there is powerful resistance 'on the street' to the prospect of a return to Moscow's hegemony. Physical thuggery, even murder is being deployed against some of the leaders. But Belarus never enjoyed any democratic option, since Lukashenko had his grip on all the levers of power before the failure of the USSR.
*others include: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan.

 

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