Belarus is a presidential republic, governed by a president and the National Assembly. The term for each presidency is five years. Under the constitution, the president could serve for only two terms as president, but a change in the constitution in eliminated term limits. In , Lukashenko called for a controversial vote to extend the presidential term from five to seven years, and as a result the election that was supposed to occur in was pushed back to The referendum on the extension was denounced as a "fantastic" fake by the chief electoral officer, Viktar Hanchar , who was removed from the office for official matters only during the campaign.
The House of Representatives has the power to appoint the prime minister , make constitutional amendments, call for a vote of confidence on the prime minister, and make suggestions on foreign and domestic policy. Each chamber has the ability to veto any law passed by local officials if it is contrary to the constitution.
The government includes a Council of Ministers, headed by the prime minister and five deputy prime ministers. The judiciary comprises the Supreme Court and specialized courts such as the Constitutional Court , which deals with specific issues related to constitutional and business law. The judges of national courts are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Council of the Republic. For criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court.
The Belarusian Constitution forbids the use of special extrajudicial courts.
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In the parliamentary election , of the members elected to the House of Representatives were not affiliated with any political party. Groups such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe OSCE declared the election "un-free" because of the opposition parties' poor results and media bias in favor of the government. Kazulin was detained and beaten by police during protests surrounding the All Belarusian People's Assembly.
When opposition protesters took to the streets in Minsk , many people, including most rival presidential candidates, were beaten and arrested by the state militia. The judicial system in Belarus lacks independence and is subject to political interference. Lukashenko has described himself as having an "authoritarian ruling style". The Belarusian government is also criticized for human rights violations and its persecution of non-governmental organisations, independent journalists, national minorities, and opposition politicians. The law was compared with serfdom by Lukashenko himself.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, under international law, Belarus became the internationally recognized successor state to the Byelorussian SSR, retaining its UN membership. Belarus and Russia have been close trading partners and diplomatic allies since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Belarus is dependent on Russia for imports of raw materials and for its export market. The union of Russia and Belarus , a supranational confederation, was established in a —99 series of treaties that called for monetary union, equal rights, single citizenship, and a common foreign and defense policy.
On 11 December , reports emerged that a framework for the new state was discussed between both countries. The significance of this act was not immediately clear; some incorrectly speculated that Putin would become president of a unified state of Russia and Belarus after stepping down as Russian president in May Bilateral relations with the United States are strained because the U.
Department of State supports various anti-Lukashenko non-governmental organizations NGOs , and also because the Belarusian government has made it increasingly difficult for United States-based organizations to operate within the country. Sino-Belarusian relations have improved,  strengthened by the visit of President Lukashenko to China in October On 15 February the European Union announced the easing of sanctions against Belarus during a meeting by 28 EU foreign ministers at a regular session of the Council of the European Union.
The transformation of the ex-Soviet forces into the Armed Forces of Belarus, which was completed in , reduced the number of its soldiers by 30, and restructured its leadership and military formations. Most of Belarus's service members are conscripts , who serve for 12 months if they have higher education or 18 months if they do not. Belarus is divided into six regions Belarusian: Each region has a provincial legislative authority, called a region council Belarusian: Each raion has its own legislative authority, or raion council, Belarusian: The six regions are divided into raions.
The city of Minsk is split into nine districts and enjoys special status as the nation's capital. Belarus is the only European country still using capital punishment. The number of people employed in industry is The growth rate is much lower than for the economy as a whole — about 1.
At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in , Belarus was one of the world's most industrially developed states by percentage of GDP as well as the richest CIS member-state. In the s, however, industrial production plunged due to decreases in imports, investment, and demand for Belarusian products from its trading partners.
Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, under Lukashenko's leadership, Belarus has maintained government control over key industries and eschewed the large-scale privatizations seen in other former Soviet republics.
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In , Belarus's largest trading partner was Russia, accounting for nearly half of total trade, with the European Union the next largest trading partner, with nearly a third of foreign trade. Due to its failure to protect labor rights, including passing laws forbidding unemployment or working outside of state-controlled sectors,  Belarus lost its EU Generalized System of Preferences status on 21 June , which raised tariff rates to their prior most favored nation levels. The labor force consists of more than four million people, among whom women hold slightly more jobs than men.
Employment is also high in agriculture, manufacturing sales, trading goods, and education. The unemployment rate, according to government statistics, was 1. There were , unemployed Belarusians, two-thirds of whom were women. The unemployment rate has been in decline since , and the overall rate of employment is the highest since statistics were first compiled in The currency was introduced in May , replacing the Soviet ruble. The first coins of the Republic of Belarus were issued on 27 December This led to a proposal that the Belarusian ruble be discontinued in favor of the Russian ruble RUB , starting as early as 1 January A new currency, the new Belarusian ruble ISO code: BYN  was introduced in July , replacing the Belarusian ruble in a rate of 1: From 1 July until 31 December , the old and new currencies will be in parallel circulation and series notes and coins can be exchanged for series from 1 January to 31 December The banking system of Belarus consists of two levels: The depreciation was even steeper on the black market and financial collapse seemed imminent as citizens rushed to exchange their rubles for dollars, euros, durable goods, and canned goods.
Other large cities are Mogilev , , Vitebsk , , Hrodna , and Brest , Like many other eastern European countries, Belarus has a negative population growth rate and a negative natural growth rate. In , Belarus's population declined by 0. As of [update] , Its population is also aging; the median age of 30—34 is estimated to rise to between 60 and 64 in According to the census of as of November [update] , Belarus's Catholic minority is concentrated in the western part of the country, especially around Hrodna , is made up of a mixture of Belarusians and the country's Polish and Lithuanian minorities.
But since the midth century, the number of Jews has been reduced by the Holocaust , deportation, and emigration, so that today it is a very small minority of less than one percent. According to Article 16 of the Constitution , Belarus has no official religion.
While the freedom of worship is granted in the same article, religious organizations deemed harmful to the government or social order can be prohibited. The Belarusian government sponsors annual cultural festivals such as the Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk ,  which showcases Belarusian performers, artists, writers, musicians, and actors. Several state holidays, such as Independence Day and Victory Day , draw big crowds and often include displays such as fireworks and military parades, especially in Vitebsk and Minsk.
Belarusian literature  began with 11th- to 13th-century religious scripture, such as the 12th-century poetry of Cyril of Turaw. It was published in Prague and Vilnius sometime between and , making it the first book printed in Belarus or anywhere in Eastern Europe. After Belarus was incorporated into the Soviet Union, the Soviet government took control of the Republic's cultural affairs.
This policy was reversed in the s, and the majority of prominent Belarusian intellectuals and nationalist advocates were either exiled or killed in Stalinist purges. Several poets and authors went into exile after the Nazi occupation of Belarus and would not return until the s. An influential author who devoted his work to awakening the awareness of the catastrophes the country has suffered, was Ales Adamovich. He was named by Svetlana Alexievich , the Belarusian winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature , as "her main teacher, who helped her to find a path of her own".
Music in Belarus largely comprises a rich tradition of folk and religious music. The country's folk music traditions can be traced back to the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At the end of the 19th century, major Belarusian cities formed their own opera and ballet companies. The ballet Nightingale by M. After the Second World War , music focused on the hardships of the Belarusian people or on those who took up arms in defense of the homeland. Since , Belarus has been sending artists to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Marc Chagall was born in Liozna near Vitebsk in He spent the World War I years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde and was a founder of the Vitebsk Arts College. The traditional Belarusian dress originates from the Kievan Rus' period. Due to the cool climate, clothes were designed to preserve body heat and were usually made from flax or wool. They were decorated with ornate patterns influenced by the neighboring cultures: Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Russians, and other European nations.
Each region of Belarus has developed specific design patterns. Belarusian cuisine consists mainly of vegetables, meat particularly pork , and bread. Foods are usually either slowly cooked or stewed. Typically, Belarusians eat a light breakfast and two hearty meals, with dinner being the largest meal of the day.
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Wheat and rye breads are consumed in Belarus, but rye is more plentiful because conditions are too harsh for growing wheat. To show hospitality, a host traditionally presents an offering of bread and salt when greeting a guest or visitor. Belarus has competed in the Olympic Games since the Winter Olympics. Receiving heavy sponsorship from the government, ice hockey is the nation's second most popular sport after football.
The national hockey team finished fourth at the Salt Lake City Olympics following a memorable upset win over Sweden in the quarterfinals, and regularly competes in the World Championships , often making the quarterfinals. Darya Domracheva is a leading biathlete whose honours include three gold medals at the Winter Olympics. Other notable Belarusian sportspeople include cyclist Vasil Kiryienka , who won the Road World Time Trial Championship , and middle distance runner Maryna Arzamasava , who won the gold medal in the m at the World Championships in Athletics.
Belarus is also known for its strong rhythmic gymnasts. The Belorussian senior group earned bronze at the London Olympics. The state telecom monopoly, Beltelecom, holds the exclusive interconnection with Internet providers outside of Belarus. Beltelecom is the only operator licensed to provide commercial VoIP services in Belarus. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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This article is about the European country. For other uses, see Belarus disambiguation. State Anthem of Belarus. Show map of Europe. Archived from the original on 26 January Retrieved 16 February Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Human rights in Belarus. Foreign relations of Belarus. Armed Forces of Belarus. Regions of Belarus and Districts of Belarus. Capital punishment in Belarus. Largest cities or towns in Belarus http: Religion in Belarus  Eastern Orthodoxy. Belarus at the Olympics.
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