Belarus as an Independent State Part I

After the failed putsch by the Orthodox Communist forces in Moscow (August 19-21, 1991), the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, ruled by the communists, proclaimed independence from Belarus on August 25, 1991 (renamed “Republic of Belarus” in September 1991). The chairman of parliament was the nuclear physicist Stanislau Schuschkewitsch (* 1934) on September 18, 1991.

On December 8th, 1991 Belarus participated in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the administrative seat of which was Minsk.

Increasingly, Shushkevich came into conflict with the Orthodox-Communist majority of the Supreme Soviet because, in contrast to the restorative currents in this body, he exercised a greater distance from the Russian Federation, v. a. when he refused to agree to join the CIS Defense Pact, decided by the Supreme Soviet in February 1993. Belarus, on whose territory a large nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union was stored, opted for future nuclear freedom (already in 1992, nuclear weapons were placed under the control of Russia) and in February 1993 ratified the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Nuclear Weapons (START). In January 1994, the Shushkevich parliament set upby a vote of no confidence; his successor (and thus head of state) was the former police general Mjachislau Hryb (* 1938), who later transferred to the camp of the democratic opposition.

After a new constitution was passed, the population elected A. Lukashenka, an old communist advocate of orientation towards Russia, as president on July 10, 1994; In the period that followed, the latter sought to establish a presidential dictatorship and, supported by a large security apparatus (including KGB, presidential security service, state control committee), increasingly suppressed the opposition (including the ban on free trade unions in August 1995, extensive press censorship).

In November 1996, Lukashenka pushed through a constitutional referendum against fierce opposition, which authorized the introduction of a bicameral parliament and a stronger position for the president; at the same time, Lukashenka had his term of office extended to 2001. The domestic political situation then worsened. The attempt of the Supreme Soviet, disempowered by Lukashenka, to hold presidential elections on May 16, 1999 (according to the electoral commission, participation of 53% of the electorate) failed not only because of state repression (numerous arrests, disappearance of prominent personalities), but also because of the disagreement among the opposition.

In the controversial parliamentary elections on October 15/29, 2000, boycotted by various opposition parties, a majority of Lukashenka’s followers prevailed. In the presidential elections on 9.9.2001 (viewed as manipulated by the OSCE), incumbent Lukashenka settled downconfirm in office for another five years (according to official information with 75.6% of the votes). Announced economic and political reforms did not materialize afterwards either; the opposition and the trade unions continued to be massively hindered and intimidated (including tightening of the right to assemble in May 2003, crackdown on critical media). Lukashenka secured himself through the (state-controlled) constitution-amending referendum on October 17, 2004, which, according to computerminus, achieved 77.3% positive votes with almost 90% participation the possibility of running for presidential elections after two terms have expired; In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, only candidates close to the government prevailed; the opposition received nothing. This endeavored in the following period (among other things with foreign help) to improve their cooperation. In November 2004, the most important opposition groups founded the coalition »10 plus« in Vilnius; At a Congress of Democratic Forces in Minsk in early October 2005, she and Aleksandr Milinkievich (* 1947) agreed on a common candidate for the 2006 presidential elections.

Under the influence particularly of the “orange revolution” in neighboring Ukraine, where it had come to rigged elections (2004) with the help of mass protests to a change of power in 2005, reinforced the – often referred to as “Europe’s last dictatorship” primed in Western countries – Regime Lukashenka to administrative pressure on the opposition and non-state media (in June 2005 changes in the law made it more difficult to establish and operate parties and organizations, previously tightening of media law). Lukashenka decided the internationally criticized presidential elections on March 19, 2006with officially 82.6% of the vote for himself; afterwards, protests in Minsk broke out in Minsk (many participants were arrested) on charges of electoral manipulation and obstruction of the opposition, whose joint presidential candidate Milinkievich received 6% of the vote. The 2008 parliamentary elections also fell short of democratic standards. All seats in parliament went to candidates who were close to the regime. In the presidential elections on December 19, 2010, the heavily fragmented opposition was able to send seven candidates into the running, but the electoral process remained inadequate and the vote count remained opaque. The official final result of 79.7% of the vote for incumbent Lukashenka was questioned by the opposition. A protest rally organized by her on election evening in Minsk was broken up by security forces with violence. Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested.

Lukashenka was sworn in for a fourth term on January 21, 2011. Despite the considerable weakening of the opposition, there were repeated rallies against the Lukashenka regime in Minsk and other cities in 2011 as well. On September 23, 2012, elections to the Chamber of Representatives took place, which were boycotted by the most important opposition parties and which, according to the observations of the OSCE, did not meet international standards. Nominally independent but actually supporting Lukashenka candidates won 105 seats.

Belarus as an Independent State 1

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