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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. Since his election in July 1994 as the country's first president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means. Government restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion remain in place.


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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Republic of Belarus
Conventional short form Belarus
Local long form Respublika Byelarus'
Local short form Byelarus'
Former
Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type
Republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship

Capital
Name Minsk
Geographic coordinates 53 54 N, 27 34 E
Time difference
UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March and will continue throughout 2011

Administrative divisions
6 provinces (voblastsi, singular - voblasts') and 1 municipality* (horad); Brest, Homyel' (Gomel), Horad Minsk* (Minsk City), Hrodna (Grodno), Mahilyow (Mogilev), Minsk, Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk)
Note
Administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers; Russian spelling provided for reference when different from Belarusian

Independence
25 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday
Independence Day, 3 July (1944); note - 3 July 1944 was the date Minsk was liberated from German troops, 25 August 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union

Constitution
15 March 1994; revised by national referendum 24 November 1996 giving the presidency greatly expanded powers; became effective 27 November 1996; revised again 17 October 2004 removing presidential term limits

Legal system
Civil law system; note - nearly all major codes (civil, civil procedure, criminal, criminal procedure, family and labor) have been revised and came into force in 1999 or 2000

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
President Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994); note - the United States does not recognize the results of the 19 December 2010 elections under which the Central Election Commission of Belarus declared LUKASHENKO president
Head of government
Prime minister Mikhail MYASNIKOVICH (since 28 December 2010); first deputy prime minister Vladimir SEMASHKO (since December 2003)
Cabinet Council of Ministers
Elections
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term; first election took place on 23 June and 10 July 1994; according to the 1994 constitution, the next election should have been held in 1999, however, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO extended his term to 2001 via a November 1996 referendum; subsequent election held on 9 September 2001; an October 2004 referendum ended presidential term limits and allowed the president to run in a third (19 March 2006) and fourth election (19 December 2010); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
Election results
Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO 79.7%, Andrey SANNIKOV 2.6%, other candidates 17.7%; note - election marred by electoral fraud

Legislative branch
Bicameral national assembly or natsionalnoye sobraniye consists of the Council of the Republic or Sovet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members elected by regional and Minsk city councils and 8 members appointed by the president, to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms); note - the United States does not recognize the legitimacy of the national assembly
Elections
Palata Predstaviteley - last held on 28 September 2008 (next to be held no later than 23 September 2012); international observers determined that despite minor improvements the election ultimately fell short of democratic standards; pro-LUKASHENKO candidates won every seat
Election results
Sovet Respubliki - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Palata Predstaviteley - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KPB 6, AP 1, no affiliation 103

Judicial branch
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); Constitutional Court (half of the judges appointed by the president and half appointed by the Chamber of Representatives)

Political parties and leaders
Pro-government parties
Belarusian Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKY]; Belarusian Patriotic Movement (Belarusian Patriotic Party) or BPR [Nikolay ULAKHOVICH, chairman]; Communist Party of Belarus or KPB [Tatsyana HOLUBEVA]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]; Republican Party of Labor and Justice [Vasiliy ZADNEPRYANYY]
Opposition parties
Belarusian Christian Democracy Party [Pavel SEVERINETS] (unregistered); Belarusian Party of the Left "Fair World" [Sergey KALYAKIN]; Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Aleksey YANUKEVICH]; Belarusian Social-Democratic Hramada [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party Hramada ("Assembly") or BSDPH [Anatoliy LEVKOVICH]; Belarusian Social Democratic Party People's Assembly ("Narodnaya Hramada") [Nikolay STATKEVICH] (unregistered); Christian Conservative Party or BPF [Zyanon PAZNIAK]; European Belarus Campaign [Andrey SANNIKOV]; Party of Freedom and Progress [Vladimir NOVOSYAD] (unregistered); "Tell the Truth" Campaign [Vladimir NEKLYAYEV]; United Civic Party or UCP [Anatoliy LEBEDKO]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs (unregistered) [Sergey MATSKEVICH]; Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions [Aleksandr YAROSHUK]; Belarusian Association of Journalists [Zhana LITVINA]; Belarusian Helsinki Committee [Aleh HULAK]; Belarusian Independence Bloc (unregistered) and For Freedom movement [Aleksandr MILINKEVICH]; Belarusian Organization of Working Women [Irina ZHIKHAR]; BPF-Youth [Andrus KRECHKA]; Charter 97 (unregistered) [Andrey SANNIKOV]; Perspektiva small business association [Anatol SHUMCHENKO]; Nasha Vyasna (unregistered) ("Our Spring") human rights center [Ales BYALYATSKI]; "Tell the Truth" Movement [Vladimir NEKLYAYEV]; Women's Independent Democratic Movement [Ludmila PETINA]; Young Belarus (Malady Belarus) [Zmitser KASPYAROVICH]; Youth Front (Malady Front) [Zmitser DASHKEVICH]

International organization participation
BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CEI, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SCO (dialogue member), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer), ZC

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Oleg KRAVCHENKO
Chancery
1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
Telephone [1] (202) 986-1604
FAX [1] (202) 986-1805
Consulate(s) general New York

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Michael SCANLAN
Embassy
46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
Mailing address PSC 78, Box B Minsk, APO 09723
Telephone [375] (17) 210-12-83
FAX [375] (17) 334-7853

Flag description
Red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half the width of the red band; a white vertical stripe on the hoist side bears Belarusian national ornamentation in red; the red band color recalls past struggles from oppression, the green band represents hope and the many forests of the country

National symbol(s)
Mounted knight known as Pahonia (the Chaser)

National anthem
Name
"My, Bielarusy" (We Belarusians)
Lyrics/music
Mikhas KLIMKOVICH and Uladzimir KARYZNA/Nester SAKALOUSKI
Note
Music adopted 1955, lyrics adopted 2002; after the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus kept the music of its Soviet-era anthem but adopted new lyrics; also known as "Dziarzauny himn Respubliki Bielarus" (State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus)


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  Belarus (Minsk):


  GPS points from Belarus (Minsk)

Chaplitsy Mahilyowskaya Voblasts'

Krzywoszyn Brestskaya Voblasts'

Jagodnowo Hrodzyenskaya Voblasts'

Stantsiya Ratmirovichi Belarus (general)

Rabechyn Vitsyebskaya Voblasts'

Zarudnoye Mahilyowskaya Voblasts'

Duncy Mahilyowskaya Voblasts'

Kamenka Belarus (general)




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