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Does Lukashenka want to become Russia’s President?
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In the late 1990s Lukashenka was very popular on the Russian political scene. With aging president Yeltsin who had serious health problems and a large number of communists and nationalists in the Russian parliament, Lukashenka’s plans did not seem...
14 May 2011
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Is Belarusian statehood temporary?

In the early 1990s there were serious concerns that Alyaksandr Lukashenka would try to incorporate Belarus into the Russian Federation. Lukashenka signed a number of treaties with Russia's President Yeltsin, including the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union...

14 May 2011
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Has Belarus always been an authoritarian country?

Until 1994, when Alexander Lukashenka was elected president, Belarusians enjoyed much more freedom. The press was free, opposition parties were present in the Parliament, and the country pursued a cautious pro-Western foreign policy like its neighbours. At that time,...

14 May 2011
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Is Belarus “the last dictatorship in Europe”?

Political freedoms in Belarus are severely restricted, especially in comparison with other European countries. However, the authorities are a long way from controlling all spheres of society, as would happen in a totalitarian state. Elections, however, are not free...

4 April 2011
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Is it very cold in Belarus?

It is warmer in Belarus than in many other European countries, such as Lithuania or Latvia, or most parts of Russia. The average January temperature in Minsk is around −7 °C (19.4 °F). The average July temperature in Minsk...

4 April 2011
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Does Belarus look like a run-down Soviet province?

More than two thirds of the Belarusian people live in cities. Just a fraction of the population is employed in agriculture. For comparison, 67% of Lithuanians and 73% of Russians live in urban areas. Agriculture had dominated the economy...

4 April 2011
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Do Belarusians actually speak Belarusian?

While in the cities Belarusian people predominantly speak Russian, in rural areas people tend to speak Belarusian. Moreover, most of Belarusian Russian speakers consider Belarusian as their native language. According to the 1999 census, 85.6% of over 8,000 Belarusians surveyed...

4 April 2011
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Are the Belarusian and Russian languages very similar?

Although both languages belong to the same group of Slavic languages, the differences between the two are significant. Russians cannot understand the Belarusian language well, especially if authentic Belarusian words are used. Belarusians can understand Russian, however, because almost...

4 April 2011
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Is Belarus’ national religion Russian Orthodox Christianity?

There are no reliable statistics. It is generally considered that more than half of the Belarusian population are Russian Orthodox and about a third of the population are Roman Catholics. Protestants account for about 25% of the population. However,...

4 April 2011
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Is the Belarusian population uninterested in politics?

Information isolation makes the population unaware of the true political situation in the country. Moreover, many people have become disillusioned with political participation because of the history of rigged elections. Some are also afraid of repeating the fate of...

4 April 2011
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Is the Belarusian political opposition weak?

There is no political opposition in Belarus in the Western sense of the word, because the regime’s opponents are de facto not allowed to be elected to representative bodies. However, there are people who disagree with the politics of...

4 April 2011
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Are Belarusians required to ask for permission each time they want to leave their country?

Belarus is one of the few countries of the former Soviet Union that does not require a special passport for foreign travel. In the past, the Belarusian authorities would issue a special stamp to validate a passport for foreign...

4 April 2011
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Is Belarus a dictatorship where all foreigners are followed by state security?

Belarus requires visas for nationals of most Western countries. Visas are not cheap, but foreigners can easily travel to Belarus and within Belarus. Belarus is a safe place to travel and people are generally very friendly to Westerners. The pervasiveness...

4 April 2011
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Are Belarusians pro-Russian?

Most Belarusians do not have access to independent media and as a result public opinion in the country is determined by the state-run media. However, despite the pro-Russian and anti-Western rhetoric which dominates this media, only a minority (albeit...

4 April 2011
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Has Minsk always been the capital of Belarus?

Minsk only became the Belarusian capital in 1918. Navahradak and later Vilna (today, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania) were the capitals of the Belarusian-Lithuanian state the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was a core of today’s Belarus in the...