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Belarus: Independent Belarus
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Background > Independent Belarus

INDEPENDENT BELARUS


Following the August 1991 coup d'├ętat in Moscow and declarations of independence by Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine, the Supreme Soviet in Minsk declared the independence of Belarus on August 25, 1991, by giving its Declaration of State Sovereignty the status of a constitutional document and renaming the country the Republic of Belarus.

The disorientation that overtook the communists in the wake of the coup was used by liberals and nationalist reformers in various structures to advance their cause: the Supreme Soviet forced the resignation of its chairman, Mikalay Dzyemyantsyey, for siding with the coup leaders and replaced him with his deputy, Stanislaw Shushkyevich; all CPB property was nationalized; the name of the state was officially changed from the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Republic of Belarus; and the CPB was temporarily suspended while its role in the coup was investigated.

Shushkyevich's support for the continuation of some kind of union culminated on December 8, 1991, in his signing of the Minsk Agreement. Minsk became the headquarters of the CIS.

After much negotiation and considerable revision, the Supreme Soviet adopted a new constitution, which went into effect on March 30, 1994. The new document created the office of president, declared Belarus a democracy with separation of powers, granted freedom of religion, and proclaimed Belarus's goal of becoming a neutral, nonnuclear state. The winner of the quickly organized election was Alyaksandr Lukashyenka, whose pro-Russian sentiments and policies seemed, however, destined to reunite Belarus with Russia in some way. Treaties were signed with Russia that made political concessions to the latter in hopes of creating economic advantages for Belarus. And there were clashes with parliament over the issue of presidential powers.

In the campaigning for the May 1995 parliamentary elections, continuing censorship of the media's campaign coverage demonstrated the less-than-democratic nature of the state. In response to the lack of information and as a consequence of continued political apathy on the part of the populace, two rounds of elections failed to elect enough deputies to seat a new Supreme Soviet. And Lukashyenka continued to accumulate increasing power through his appointments and dismissals.

Data as of June 1995




Last Updated: June 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Belarus was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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