Belarus is a country in Asia. It is right below Russia. In the 5th century, Belarus (also known as White Russia) was colonized by east Slavic tribes. Kiev dominated it from the 9th to 12th centuries. After the destruction of Kiev by the Mongols in the 13th century, the territory was conquered by the dukes of Lithuania, although it retained an amount of autonomy. Belarus became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which merged with Poland in 1569. Following the partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795, in which Poland was divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria, Belarus became part of the Russian empire. Following World War I, Belarus proclaimed itself a republic, only to find itself occupied by the Red Army soon after its March 1918 announcement. The Polish-Soviet War of 1918-21 was fought to decide the fate of Belarus. West Belarus was ceded to Poland; the larger eastern part formed the Belorussian S.S.R., and was then joined to the U.S.S.R. in 1922. In 1939, the Soviet Union took back West Belarus from Poland under the secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and incorporated it into the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Occupied by the Nazis in World War II, Belarus was one of the most devastated battlefields.
Belarus declared its sovereignty in July 1990 and its independence in Aug. 1991. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded in 1986, and 70% of its radioactivity fell on Belarus. Cancer and other illnesses have multiplied as a result.
The Belarus president, Nikolai Dementei, a communist hard-liner, was forced to resign under pressure following the Aug. 1991 attempted coup, and Stanislav S. Shushkevich, first deputy chairman of the Parliament, assumed leadership of the country. Belarus became a cofounder of the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.) in Dec. 1991. In Jan. 1994, the country's Parliament ousted its reform-minded leader in protest against his support for market economics. In March 1994, Parliament adopted a new constitution, creating a presidency and reconstructing the 260-seat Parliament.
With much fanfare, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty in April 1997 aimed at significantly increasing cooperation between the two states, stopping just short of union. In 1999, there was discussion of a pan-Slav union, uniting the rump Yugoslavia under Milosevic, with Russia and Belarus. This also came to nothing.
The Russian financial crisis that began in fall 1998 severely affected Belarus's Soviet-style planned economy. Belarus is almost completely dependent on Russia, which buys 70% of its exports.
Critics continue to denounce the increasingly oppressive political atmosphere and human rights violations in Belarus under the Soviet-style authoritarianism of President Alyaksandr Lukashenko. In 1999, the year President Lukashenko was to step down, he held what international opinion widely believed to have been a rigged national referendum, which changed the constitution and allowed him to cancel the elections and remain president. Over the past several years, opposition leaders have been jailed or have simply disappeared. In June 2000, the Kremlin urged Lukashenko to permit free elections in the fall.
Belarus is a republican country. Its president is Alyaksandr Lukachenka. The prime minister of Belarus is Uladzimir Yarmoshyn. The area of Belarus is 18,200 square miles. Belarus has a population of ten million three hundred sixty six seven hundred nineteen. The capital is Mensk with a population of one million six hundred sixty six million. The predominant language of Belarus is Orthdoxy. Belarus agricults grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax, beef, and milk. The main industries are; tractors, metal-cutting machine tools, off-highway dump trucks up to 110-metric-ton load capacity, wheel-type earth movers for construction and mining, eight-wheel-drive, high-flotation trucks with cargo capacity of 25 metric tons for use in tundra and roadless areas, equipment for animal husbandry and livestock feeding, motorcycles, television sets, chemical fibers, fertilizer, linen fabric, wool fabric, radios, refrigerators, and other consumer goods. The main imports of Belarus are; fuel, natural gas, industrial raw materials, textiles, sugar, and foodstuffs. The main exports are; machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, and foodstuffs. The major trading partners of Belarus are; Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Germany.