Geography of Belarus• Location: Eastern Europe, east of Poland• Official name: Republic of Belarus• Area: ▫ Total: 207,600 sq km ▫ Country comparison to the world: 86 ▫ Land: 202,900 sq km ▫ Water: 4,700 sq km• Area – comparative: Slightly smaller than Kansas• Land boundaries: ▫ Total: 3,306 km ▫ Neighboring countries: Latvia 171 km, Lithuania 680 km, Poland 605 km, Russia 959 km, Ukraine 891 km
Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and Resurrection Church of Brest
Introducing Belarus’ political system• The political system of Belarus functions in a structure of a presidential republic with a rubber stamp parliament.• The President of Belarus serves as the head of state.• The government exercises executive power; at the top of the government sits the PM, named by the President.• Legislative power is de jure vested in the bicameral parliament, the National Assembly.• Conversely, the president may pass declarations that are carried out in the same manner as laws, for unquestionable time.• Belarus’ statement of independence (dated 27 July 1990) did not result from long- held political ambitions, rather from responses to domestic and foreign events.• Ukraine’s statement of independence especially convinced the government of then Belarusian SSR to recognize that the Soviet Union was close to collapsing, which it did in December 1991.
Introducing Belarus’ political system –cont.• After a Republic was established on 25 August 1991 – four months ahead of the Soviet Union’s termination – Stanislav Shushkevich was chosen to be the first Belarusian leader, holding the position until the first presidential election in 1994; during that brief time frame, Shushkevich led his nation in a manner that would liberate it from its Soviet past and attempt to look towards the West.• His successor, Alexander Lukashenko, overturned those reforms when he took office in 1994, and turned his interest away from the West and back to Russia.• During his tenure, Lukashenko also restored Soviet era functions, reinstating the icons of Soviet Belarus.• Still in power, Lukashenko has caused increased attention on his country by reason of his governing, which is regarded as authoritarian by some and a dictatorship by others.
Government of Belarus• Capital (and largest city): Minsk• Official languages: Belarusian, Russian• Demonym: Belarusian• President: Alexander Lukashenko• Prime Minister: Mikhail Myasnikovich• Legislature: National Assembly• Upper house: Council of the Republic• Lower house: House of Representatives
List of Belarus’ political parties• Belaya Rus (Белая Русь)• Agrarian Party (Аграрная партыя, Agrarnaya Partya; ртия)• Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party (Беларуская сацыяльна-спартыўная партыя, Belaruskaya Satsyialistychna-Spartywnaya Partyia)• Communist Party of Belarus ( сі, Kamunistychnaya Partyia Belarusi; Коммунистическая партия Белоруссии, Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Belorussii)• Liberal Democratic Party (Лібэральна- дэмакратычная партыя; Либерально- демократическая партия, Liberalno- Demokraticheskaya Partiya)• Republican Party of Labour and Justice (Рэспубліканская партыя працы і справядлівасьці; Республиканская партия труда и справедливости)• Belarusian Patriotic Party (Belaruskaya Patryiatychnaya Partyia)
National Assembly of Belarus• The National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus is the bicameral parliament that rules Belarus.• The National Assembly’s two chambers are: ▫ Council of the Republic – The upper house ▫ House of Representatives – The lower house• Though every chamber has certain responsibilities, both chambers have the ability to prohibit the decrees of local governments that move away from the Constitution of Belarus.• The National Assembly’s chambers are assembled to two usual sessions per year: the first sessions begins on 2 October and its length may not be over 80 days; the second session begins on 2 April and does not meet for over 90 days.• Both the House of Representatives and the Council of the Republic can be called together to an unexpected session; unexpected sessions are called under a specific outline by a proposal of the President or by a demand of at least a two-thirds majority of the full membership of every chamber.• Any bill must be initially judged in the House of Representatives and in the Council of the Republic afterwards.• According to the Constitution, any bill that affects the state budget must be signed by the president or by the government before it is voted on.• It replaced the Supreme Soviet of Belarus in 1996.
National Assembly of Belarus: FractionFraction Number of Deputies• Block Alexander Lukashenko • 102• Communist Party of Belarus • 8
Alexander Lukashenko• Born 30 August 1954 in Kopys.• 1st President of Belarus; took office on 20 July 1994.• Prior to his political career, he worked as supervisor of a state-owned agricultural farm, spending time with the Soviet Border Troops and the Red Army.• When he first entered political life, he was regarded as a victor against corruption; he was the only delegate to vote against Belarus’ independence from the Soviet Union.• Under Lukashenko’s rule, the Belarusian government’s behavior has been condemned in reports by global non- government organizations for violating human rights and international law.• Belarus has been described as “the last true remaining dictatorship in the heart of Europe” by both former and current European and American leaders.• He and other Belarusian leaders are also the target of sanctions inflicted by the European Union and the United States for human rights violations off and on since 2006.• His domestic policies resemble those of the ex-Soviet Union, preserving government ownership of major industries and slowing the privatization seen in other ex- Soviet republics.
Mikhail Myasnikovich• Born 6 May 1950 in Novy Snov.• Current PM of Belarus, having been nominated by President Alexander Lukashenko after the 2010 presidential election.• Graduated from the Brest Engineering and Construction Institute in 1972 and from the Communist Party School in Minsk in 1989.• Has a PhD in economics and has worked as an engineer in the construction industry.• Also speaks English and has a son, daughter, and two grandchildren.• Served as head of the Administration in the President’s Office (1995-2001) and chairman of the National Academy of Sciences (2001-2010).
Communist Party of Belarus• Communist political party in Belarus.• Founded in 1996; backs President Alexander Lukashenko’s government.• Its leader is Igor Karpenko.• Proposed merging with the Party of Communists of Belarus (PKB) on 15 July 2006.• While it is a pro-Lukashenko party, it is one of Belarus’ key opposition parties.• According to Sergey Kalyakin, the PKB’s leader, the “re- unification” of the two parties was a plot to expel the opposition PKB.• As an affiliate of the world Communist movement, the KPB benefits from ties to other communist parties in the region and in the world to a bigger degree than the PKB, which many in the region have judged as “pro-Western.”• Won 5.99% and 8/110 seats in the House of Representatives during the 2004 parliamentary election, but only won 6 seats in 2008 and even less in 2012 with 3 seats.• Yet, due to the party’s endorsement for President Lukashenko, 17 of its affiliates were nominated by him in the upper house, the Council of the Republic, in 2012.
Liberal Democratic Party• Pan-Slavist, right-wing populist political party in Belarus.• Was founded in 1994 as the Belarusian successor of the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union.• Backs President Alexander Lukashenko.• Acquired 1/110 seats in the 13-17 October 2004 legislative election.• Adheres to an ideology similar to that of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and supports unification of Russia and Belarus.• Sergei Gaidukevich, its nominee at the 2006 presidential election and its leader, obtained 3.5% of the vote.• Notwithstanding its name, Pippa Norris portrayed the party as a radical organization committed to restoring the U.S.S.R. and has no democratic characteristics.