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Country profile for Belarus

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

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General Information

  • Capital: Minsk
  • Major Languages: Belarusian, Russian
  • Currency: Belarusian Ruble
  • Timezone: GMT +2:00

Country Map

Map of Belarus

Aleksander Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994 and under his leadership, the political system has been highly repressive and autocratic. Many have criticised Belarus as 'Europe's last dictatorship' due to Lukashenko's authoritarian style of government. As a consequence, civil unrest and political demonstrations often lead to violent clashes with the police and security forces. The economic downturn affected Belarus severely and continues to be a source of tension among the population. The main location of public unrest is the capital, Minsk, while protests are also reported in Brest, Grodno and other major cities. People in the country are advised to avoid any such demonstrations as they may suddenly turn violent. In the first half of 2020, violent protests broke out ahead of the presidential election. In August, President Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in office after securing more than 80 percent of the votes against Svetlana Tikhanouskaya. The opposition immediately rejected the election's results and accused the process of irregularities. The presidential election came after a wave of protests against President Lukashenko and his policies, especially over his handling of the country's coronavirus crisis. In the months leading up to the vote, several opposition candidates were arrested and banned from running for office, including Tikhanouskya's husband.

The Lukashenko regime has been subject to heavy sanctions by the European Union (EU), although these were partially lifted when the government released a number of the country's political prisoners. However, in February 2020 the Council of the European Union expanded sanctions and an arms embargo against Belarus. In June 2021, further sanctions were imposed following the hijacking of a Ryan Air flight and detention of a pro-democracy journalist. A fifth round of sanctions by the EU was imposed in November 2021 in response to an escalating border row and migrant crisis at the Belarus-Polish border. Belarus has been accused of provoking the crisis in a bid to undermine regional security in revenge for sanctions imposed in June. In recent years, political tensions have also increased with the US and Russia, mainly due to deals in the energy sector. As the US attempt to restore diplomatic relations with Belarus, it has recently sent oil shipments to the country after President Lukashenko got engaged in an oil price dispute with Russia.

Crime levels in Belarus are relatively low, with crime rates gradually decreasing over the last few years. However, accurate crime data from Belarus is often considered unreliable. Opportunist crimes - such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching - are the most likely to affect visitors to the country. Violent crime against foreign nationals is rare, although cybercrime, fraud and scams are on the rise. Belarus has also been considered one of the most repressive countries for independent media in Europe.

Belarus is among a number of countries worldwide which have been hit by the global outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The latest case figures can be viewed here.

News articles

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Alerts for Belarus

President admits helping migrants into EU

Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko has reportedly admitted to migrants being helped into the EU via Belarus, but denies inviting the hoards of migrants who have since flocked to the Polish border, resulting in a major crisis. Lukashenko stated that it was "absolutely possible" that his forces had helped migrants cross into Poland; however, he denied inviting thousands in to provoke a border crisis or undermine stability in the EU - both of which are accusations that have prompted a new round of sanctions on the country.

Migrant camp emptied at Polish border

A migrant camp on the Belarus-Poland border has been emptied following efforts by Belarussian border guards to relocated some 2,000 migrants who had flocked to the border in a bid to enter neighbouring Poland. The group have reportedly been moved to a nearby warehouse. Belarus continues to reject migrants attempting to turn back however, and the border standoff has resulted in a major migrant crisis and row. The relocation of the camp marks a de-escalation in tensions, although Belarus has denied accusations that it orchestrated the crisis to destabilise the EU.

Poland-Belarus border crisis continues

The escalating border row and migrant crisis between Poland and Belarus continues to brew. In  recent developments, Belarus has reportedly relocated stranded migrants from a camp on the border. Belarus claims to have provided temporary shelter for around 1,000 migrants who had been camping at the border, having been effectively pushed towards Belarus's western borders in an alleged bid by Minsk to destabilise the EU. Poland confirmed that the large migrant camp on Belarus's side of the border was emptying on Wednesday.

EU widens sanctions over border row

The EU has widened sanctions on Belarus as the country's ongoing border row with Poland continues to intensify. The decision to step up sanctions against Belarus comes in response to an escalating migrant crisis at the shared border, which many have accused Minsk of provoking. Belarus is accused of pushing migrants towards its borders to undermine security in revenge for existing EU sanctions which were imposed in June - a charge it denies. The latest sanctions will be the fifth round of restrictions - the exact details of which will be confirmed later this week. 

Polish soldier killed in accidental shooting at Belarus border

A Polish soldier has died at the country’s eastern border with Belarus. Poland’s military announced that the death was an “accident” and that “no third parties” were involved as the soldier’s gun accidentally fired. The Polish military was also quick to distance the incident from the migrant crisis at the border.

Body of young refugee found near Belarus border

Polish police have announced that they  have found the body of a “young Syrian man.” The body was found “in the woods, near the border, near Wolka Terechowska," said police in a statement. The cause of death is still being investigated. At least eight migrants have been found dead on the Polish side of the border, while an unknown number have also died on the Belarus side. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that President Alexander Lukashenko's threat to cut off gas supplies to Europe would be a breach of contract.

West condemns Belarus over border row

The West has condemned Belarus over a worsening migrant crisis and border row at the Belarus-Poland border. Western members of the UN Security Council have condemned Belarus, accusing the country of using migrants and provoking the crisis to destabilise the EU's eastern border. Russia, Belarus's main ally, rejected the accusations, which came after Belarus's leader threatened to cut off gas supplies to Europe in the EU imposed new sanctions.

Minsk threatens EU gas supplies

Belarus has threatened to cut off gas supplies to the EU in response to proposed sanctions. Minsk has warned that if the bloc imposes sanctions on Belarus over the escalating migrant crisis at the country's border with Poland, then gas lines running from Russia to Europe via Belarus may be cut off. The comments come amid recent concerns over a shortage of natural gas supplies and high prices in Europe. More EU sanctions could be introduced on Belarus next week.

Belarus accused of state terrorism

Belarus has been accused of state terrorism over the worsening migrant crisis at the Belarus-Poland border. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has made the allegation following days of scuffles at the border as thousands of migrants attempt to illegally enter Poland - leading to an escalating border row between the two countries. "It's clear that what we are confronted with here is a demonstration of state terrorism," stated Morawiecki. The EU has also accuse Belarus of provoking the crisis.

Belarus-Poland border tensions rise

Tensions at the border between Belarus and Poland have risen again following fresh border breaches overnight. Poland claims to have reported multiple attempts to breach the border over the last 24 hours, with some 15,000 troops stationed along the border to repel them. At least 2,000 migrants have become stranded at the border in what the EU has described as a provoked refugee crisis by Belarus's leader Alexander Lukashenko. Both Belarus and Poland have accused each other of using violence at the border.

EU accuses Lukashenko of gangster-style abuse

Belarus's leader, President Alexander Lukashenko, has been accused of gangster-style abuse by the EU. The European Commission has accused Lukashenko of luring migrants into the country with the false promise of providing easing access to the EY, resulting in some 2,000 migrants accumulating at the Polish border. Commission spokesperson Peter Stano called the strategy an "inhuman, gangster-style approach". Lukashenko has denied orchestrating the worsening crisis.

Tensions at Belarus-Poland border escalate

Tensions have heightened over a conflict at the Poland-Belarus border as hundreds of migrants continue to flock the border. Poland has issued warnings of a possible armed escalation at the border, amid fears Belarus is seeking to provoke an incident by allowing hundreds of migrants to access the border region. Additional troops have been deployed to the area on the Polish side.

Poland increases troops numbers on Belarus border

The deployment of soldiers at the border with Belarus has increased to almost 6,000. The move comes in response to a sharp rise in the number of asylum seekers crossing into the country. The new deployment was announced by Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Tuesday, three days after he put the number at more than 3,000. “The soldiers provide support to the Border Guard by protecting the country’s border and not allowing it to be illegally crossed,” said Blaszczak.

French ambassador expelled from Minsk

France's ambassador to Belarus has been expelled from Minsk. According to reports, ambassador Nicolas de Lacoste left the country on Sunday, having been been told he had until Monday 18 October to leave. It's believed his expulsion has been prompted by an apparent failure to present his credentials to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. France has not recognised Lukashenko's claim to the presidency following last year's controversial elections amid widespread claims of fraud.

Two killed in Minsk shootout

Two deaths have been reported following an alleged shootout between police and an opposition movement member in Minsk. The incident apparently occurred at a residential apartment building on Yakubouski Street, during a raid on Andrei Zeltser's flat. Zeltser and a police officer were both killed in the the crossfire, which was allegedly triggered by Zeltser resisting arrest and opening fire on police. One person - Zeltser's wife - has since been arrested.

Poland accuses Belarus after four migrants found dead at border

Poland has accused Belarus of orchestrating a wave of illegal immigration after four migrants were found dead at the border. “We’re dealing with a mass organised, well-directed action from Minsk and Moscow,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference on Monday. He also claimed that around 7,000 migrants and asylum seekers have travelled to the border since the start of August. Last week Poland imposed a state of emergency due to the rise in migrants.

Russia-Belarus launch joint military drills

Russia and Belarus have reportedly launched large-scale joint military drills. The week-long exercise will take place in both countries and over the Baltic Sea. The formal launch of the joint drill has allegedly sparked alarm amongst a number of NATO countries. The military exercise comes following months of increased tensions between Russia and Belarus and much of Europe over a range of issues including the detention and poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, as well as the suppression of opposition-led anti-government protests in Belarus and the more recent hijacking of a Ryanair flight to arrest an opposition journalist.

Lithuania accuses Belarusian officers of trespassing

Lithuania has accused 12 Belarusian officers of illegally entering Lithuanian territory. The accusation relates to an incident in which Belarusian riot police were recorded pushing a group of migrants over the border from Belarus into Lithuania on Tuesday. Lithuania's border service said the Belarusians were repeatedly told they had violated the border. Belarus has disputed the allegations, instead accusing Lithuanian border guards of violence towards migrants.

Belarus Olympian refuses 'forced' flight home from Japan

A Belarusian Olympic athlete has refused an alleged attempt to force her to fly home by Belarusian authorities. It's claimed that 24-year-old Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was forcefully taken to the airport in Tokyo on Sunday by her national team officials, where she was instructed to fly home early. Belarus said her "emotional condition" was the reason for the move; however, Tsimanouskaya claims it was motivated by her recent criticism of Olympic coaches. Tsimanouskaya reportedly stayed in a hotel near the airport after seeking protection from Japanese police and is now understood to be considering seeking asylum in Europe, where the Czech Republic and Poland have both offered the athlete a visa.

Top Lukashenko critic jailed for 14 years

A prominent critic of President Alexander Lukashenko and former opposition presidential candidate, Viktor Babaryko, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of accepting bribes and money-laundering. Babaryko insists the charges were fabricated and are politically motivated to prevent him from challenging Lukashenko. The sentencing has been internationally criticised. Seven other defendants in the case were also handed jail terms ranging from three to six years.

EU to ban Belarusian airlines from EU airspace

The EU is set to ban Belarusian airlines from flying over EU territory following the recent fallout over Belarus' alleged hijacking of a commercial Ryanair flight last month. It's understood EU leaders plan to enforce the measure over the coming weekend. The ban will prevent Belarusian airlines from flying over EU territory and from landing in any EU airports. The measure is expected to come into effect from midnight.

New travel ban enforced

A new travel ban has been enforced in Belarus which bans most citizens from going abroad. The temporary ban includes many foreign residency permit holders but does not apply to Belarusian civil servants on official trips or state transport staff. The tightening of border controls follows international outrage over the recent forced diversion of Ryanair passenger flight and subsequent arrest of a dissident journalist and his girlfriend.

President hits back at criticism over plane arrest

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has hit back at widespread criticism and international condemnation of the alleged hijacking of a Ryanair flight by the Belarusian authorities to detain an opposition journalist. Lukashenko reportedly told parliament that Western countries had abandoned common sense by imposing sanctions on Belarus as he defended the move to forcibly divert the plane, which was en route from Greece to Lithuania, to land in Belarus over an alleged bomb threat from Hamas - although the Palestinian militant group has denied any involvement. Lukashenko also claimed the threat originated from Switzerland, although Swiss authorities have denied any knowledge. While no bomb was detected, the authorities did arrest Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian journalist and a critic of Lukashenko who was placed on a terrorism list last year and faces the death penalty. Protasevich's Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, was also detained.

Belavia flights to Stockholm cancelled

All Belavia-run flights between Minsk and Stockholm have reportedly been cancelled. The measure is to take effect until the end of October this year and comes in response to the Swedish authorities' decision to temporarily suspend Belavia's permit for flights between Belarus and Sweden. The development comes amid widespread international outrage over Belarus' alleged hijacking of  Ryanair flight to arrest an opposition activist over the weekend.

EU agrees new Belarus sanctions

The EU has agreed new sanctions for Belarus following recent developments involving the alleged hijacking of a commercial Ryanair flight and detention of journalist-turned-activist Roman Protasevich. The sanctions come after international condemnation after Protasevich was arrested on a flight from Greece to Lithuania which was rerouted to Minsk over an alleged bomb threat, prompting accusations from Western countries of Belarus hijacking the Ryanair plane. Major European airlines have already begun rerouting flights away from Belarusian airspace and the UK has suspended the operating permit for Belarusian state airline Belavia, with EU leaders calling on member states to take similar action.

Opposition activist detained in Minsk

An opposition activist has reportedly been detained by the authorities in Minsk. Roman Protasevich was apparently detained over the weekend at Minsk airport. The arrest was made on Sunday after the Belarusian authorities were forcibly diverting a Ryanair Athens-Vilnius flight to land in Minsk by citing an alleged bomb threat. It's understood military aircraft escorted the passenger flight to Minsk, where after five hours of searching, no suspicious materials were found and the flight was ultimately cleared to depart for Vilnius. Western powers have responded to the incident, accusing Belarus of hijacking the commercial passenger flight for the purpose of carrying out a politically-motivated arrest under the pretence of a bomb threat.

Dozens of defence personnel stripped of rank over protests

Dozens of defence and security personnel have been stripped of their rank over their alleged involvement with opposition-led anti-government protests. More than 80 officers and personnel working for national defence, security, and law enforcement agencies have been stripped of their rank after being accused of allegedly inciting protests and fomenting dissent. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko signed the decree on Tuesday as criminal cases continue to be investigated into many of those accused. According to reports, multiple former security personnel could face charges linked to allegations of terrorism as well.

Mass detentions made during protest

A large number of arrests have been made during a recent protest in Minsk. The demonstration was held in the capital over the weekend and was organised to protest against Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko - whose controversial election win last year triggered a nationwide opposition-led protest movement. According to reports, the police made at least 100 detentions during Saturday's protest, including five journalists. The latest batch of arrests came just days after another 200 people were detained during a peaceful Freedom Day protest last week.

Opposition leader detained in Minsk

Opposition leader Nikolai Kozlov has reportedly been detained by the Belarusian authorities in the capital city of Minsk. According to reports, Kozlov - who leads the United Civil Party opposition group - was apparently arrested by police on Tuesday. It's understood Kozlov's arrest is related to criminal charges which were brought against him by the government earlier this month. The detention comes as the government continues to enforce restrictions on opposition rallies and other protests, citing Covid-19 concerns over the risk posed by mass gatherings.

High-risk Covid-19 countries list updated

The government has updated its list of high-risk Covid-19 countries. Amendments to the official list include the removal of four countries, while three countries have been re-added to the list. Those removed include Azerbaijan, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, and Morocco. Additions to the list include Cuba, Finland, and Malaysia - all of which have been re-added to the list due to increasing infection rates. Those travelling from listed high-risk countries will be required to undergo a mandatory quarantine period upon arrival.

Two TV journalists jailed over protest

Two TV journalists have been jailed in Belarus over a protest rally which was held against President Alexander Lukashenko. The journalists - Katerina Bakhvalova, 27, and Daria Chultsova, 23 - both worked for Poland-based Belsat TV and were detained by authorities in Minsk back in November whilst live-streaming an unauthorised anti-Lukashenko protest. They have both been jailed for two years on charges of fomenting protests. Belsat TV has rejected accusations that by broadcasting footage of the rally, the journalists had disrupted bus services in the capital.

Thirty protesters detained in Minsk

A group of 30 protesters have been arrested in Minsk by police officials. According to reports, the group were detained over the weekend for taking part in an unauthorised public demonstration. The protests were organised as part of an ongoing opposition-led protest movement against the results of teh August 2020 presidential election. Demonstrations were held near Zaslavskaja Street and Puskinskaja metro station, where most of the arrests were made.

Protesters detained in Minsk

Dozens of anti-government protesters have been detained in Minsk over the weekend. According to reports, the demonstrations largely took place in the capital city, along with other areas. In total, more than 120 protest marches were held against President Lukashenko over the last 48 hours, and around 135 arrests have been made. Protests have been ongoing in the country since August, when the president won a disputed presidential election. Over the last few months, more than 30,000 protesters have been detained.

Protesters clash with security forces in Minsk

Anti-government demonstrators have allegedly clashed with the security forces in the capital city of Minsk. According to reports, the clashes occurred on Sunday near Pushkinskaja metro station. The police were prompted to use tear gas on the protesters and a number of arrests was also made.

Opposition supporter dies after protest in Minsk

An opposition supporter has died after being injured during a demonstration in Minsk. According to reports, the 31-year-old man succumbed to his wounds after hours of surgery. He was reportedly injured in clashes with the police. It is estimated that four people have died in Belarus since demonstrations broke out in early-August. The EU has already imposed sanctions on Belarussian officials and President Aleksandr Lukashenko for violation of human rights. Protests started after President Lukashenko claimed victory in the vote against a united opposition front.

UK expels two Belarusian diplomats in tit-for-tat move

The UK government has expelled two Belarusian diplomats in a tit-for-tat move. The measure came after Belarus declared two British diplomats persona non-grata. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "We have sent a clear message today... that their unjustified expulsion of British diplomats has consequences." Since violent protests broke out in Belarus, the UK government has stepped up pressure against President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who was re-elected in August. 

Two British diplomats expelled

Belarus has reportedly expelled two British diplomats. News of Minsk declaring the diplomats persona non grata emerged on Monday. According to Reuters, Belarus' foreign ministry said the decision was taken due to "destructive activity" of the diplomats in question - who have not yet been identified. 

President Lukashenko hit with EU sanctions

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has been officially added to the EU sanctions list for his role in repressing the opposition and journalists in Belarus. The EU has sanctioned President Lukashenko as protests continue to be reported in the aftermath of the presidential election held in August. In addition, Lukashenko's son, Viktor Lukashenko, and more than a dozen officials were also sanctioned. Dozens of officials have already been slapped with EU sanctions. As part of the restrictions, they are forbidden from entering the EU and have had all of their assets in the EU frozen.

Operations at Astravyets nuclear plant kicks off

Operations at the Russian-built Astravyets nuclear plant has started amid political tensions with neighbouring Lithuania. After years of delays, operations at the Astravyets have reportedly kicked off on Tuesday. The plant has been the target of criticism from the Lithuanian government that alleged a number of irregularities on both human rights and safety. The nuclear plant was built by the Russian-based Rosatom and is located just 40 kilometres out of the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Lithuania's government has already signed a law to ban all purchases of energy from Belarus.

Police fire warning shots during protest in Minsk

Police have reportedly fired warning shots after thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minsk as anti-government protests continue to be reported across Belarus. Demonstrators marched in the capital to demand the resignation of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who was declared the winner of the presidential election held in August. Protests have intensified after the opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called for a nationwide strike. Thousands of people have already been arrested.

US national released after three months detained in Belarus

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that a US national arrested in Belarus has been released. Vitali Shkliarov was arrested three months ago while travelling to visit this family. Shkliarov, who is also a Belarusian citizen, was accused of inciting opposition-backed protests. Pompeo said that he has already returned to the US. CNN reported that Shkliarov worked as a political consultant and was involved in high-profile campaigns linked to the Democratic Party. Thousands of people have already been arrested in Belarus since protests kicked off in August.

Government labels arson attack in Mozyr as a terrorist incident

The government has considered an arson attack against a police officer an act of terrorism. The state security committee has condemned the incident that happened in Mozyr, southern Belarus. Belta reported that the incident occurred during a protest. Belarus continues to face demonstrations that broke out in the aftermath of the presidential election back in August. Protests intensified this week after the opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya called for a nationwide strike.

Opposition-led nationwide strike to go ahead

A nationwide strike, led by the opposition, is due to go ahead in Belarus. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has reportedly called for strike action on Monday after police fired stun grenades at crowds marching against President Alexander Lukashenko. The protest comes after Tikhanovskaya issued the president an ultimatum earlier this month, threatening a strike if he didn't step down. Recent posts on social media indicate the strike has already begun. Yesterday, more than 200 arrests were made as tens of thousands of people took part in demonstrations for the 11th successive Sunday of protests against Lukashenko.

Opposition leader added to Belarusian wanted list

Opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya has been put on a wanted list over allegations of calling for the overthrowing of the constitutional order in Belarus. RIA reports that the news emerged in a statement from the Russian interior ministry. Tsikhanouskaya is currently in Lithuania. She was already placed on a wanted list in Russia. Earlier this week, she threatened to call for a nationwide strike after giving an ultimatum to President Aleksandr Lukashenko to step down from office.

Belarus to use Russian port to ship fuel

Belarus is planning to ship gasoline via Russian ports amid disputes with its European Union neighbours. Belarus has been historically known for cooperating with Lithuania and Latvia in shipping fuel overseas but, due to recent diplomatic tensions and sanctions, Belarus had to find alternatives. Among them include the use of the Ust-Luga port in the Russian enclave of Leningrad. Sources told Reuters that 37,000 tonnes of fuel will be shipped from the country's Mozyr refinery. Belarus has a high dependence on Russian energy infrastructure and has recently strengthened relations with the Kremlin due to political turmoil in the aftermath of the presidential election.

Opposition leader issues ultimatum to President Lukashenko

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has reiterated calls for protests if President Aleksandr Lukashenko refuses to step down. Sviatlana is currently in neighbouring Lithuania, where she fled to in the aftermath of the presidential election in early-August. She gave an ultimatum to President Lukashenko to step down until 25 October. She said: “On Oct. 26, all enterprises will begin a strike, all roads will be blocked, state-owned stores will no longer have any sales." As protests continue in Belarus, President Lukashenko is already facing sanctions from the EU, the UK and Canada.

Police officers allowed to use lethal force to curb protests

Police officers have been authorised to use lethal force to control protests in Belarus. A senior government official said that the decision comes as protests are increasing across the country. Officials claim that demonstrators are responsible for fuelling violence in some protests. First Deputy Interior Minister Gennady Kazakevich said: "On behalf of the interior ministry, I say that we will not leave the streets and will guarantee the law in the country. Law enforcement personnel and interior troops will use special equipment and lethal weapons if need be."

EU approves sanctions against President Lukashenko

EU ministers have agreed on introducing sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko as protests continue to be reported across Belarus. Foreign ministers of the EU have voted in favour of sanctioning President Lukashenko and several of his ministers. The EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell said: “There has not been any kind of signal from the Belarus authorities to engage in any kind of conversation". Among the sanctions may include travel bans and the freeze of assets. Canada and the UK have already imposed sanctions on both President Lukashenko and high-level government officials. On Sunday alone, more than 700 protesters were detained in Minsk.

Dozens of protesters arrested amid clashes

Dozens of anti-government protesters have been arrested amid clashes with the police in Belarus. Riot police were apparently dispatched in response to recent demonstrations against President Alexander Lukashenko, with police officers using water cannons and stun grenades to break up crowds on Sunday. According to reports, the police blasted protesters with coloured water in Minsk, to identify them for arrest. Opposition protests have continued for the tenth weekend in a row as the EU, the UK, and the US refuse to recognise Lukashenko's new term in office amid allegations of vote-rigging.

President Lukashenko plans to create people's assembly

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has announced intentions to call for an election to choose members of a constituent assembly in Belarus. In attempts to amend the constitution, the creation of a people's assembly would be considered a power consolidation move as protests continue. President Lukashenko claimed victory in the presidential elections held in early-August. Since then, he and several officials have been targeted with sanctions from several EU member states. Thousands of people have been arrested while opposition leaders have been forced to leave the country.

Lithuania blocks funds of EU-backed programme to Belarus

Lithuania has blocked millions of euros from an EU-backed cross-border development programme to Belarus. The government said that the decision was taken due to the continuous crackdown on protests that broke out in early-August. An interior ministry spokeswoman said: "All payments were ceased until we receive clarification from the European Commission on the apparent risks." Among the EU programmes that involve both Belarus and Lithuania include the Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus ENI CBC, which contributes to development projects in those countries. The withdrawal of funds comes just after the Lithuanian ambassador in Minsk was recalled.

Opposition leader added to wanted list in Russia

Russian media has reported that the Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is currently on a wanted list of the Russian interior ministry. It is still unclear when she was added to the list and what she is wanted for. Tsikhanouskaya is currently exiled in Lithuania after she took part in the presidential elections last August. She has recently met with several EU leaders and has openly called for the resignation of President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Hundreds detained amid latest protests

Hundreds more anti-government protesters have reportedly been detained over the last 24 hours as mass unrest continues across the country. According to reports, at least 317 people have been arrested amid nationwide protests against President Alexander Lukashenko as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital city of Minsk, along with other major cities, including Brest, Grodno, and Mogilev. The anti-government protest movement has now entered its ninth consecutive week of demonstrations following August's disputed presidential election results. Overall, more than 13,000 arrests have been made amid protests so far.

Thousands rally in Minsk

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered in the capital city of Minsk over the weekend to call for the release of more than 70 political prisoners, who have allegedly been detained by the authorities amid the ongoing opposition-led anti-government mass protest movement, which broke out in August following disputed election results. Police apparently met protesters with water cannons and are understood to have made further arrests. The protests marked the eighth consecutive weekend of unrest. 

President Lukashenko hits EU officials with sanctions

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has announced retaliatory sanctions against several EU officials. A list of those included on the Belarusian sanctions list has not been released. The foreign ministry has already said that more than 300 officials from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were sanctioned. International pressure on President Lukashenko has increased since the presidential vote in early-September. Since then, protests have taken place in Minsk and thousands of people have been arrested.

UK and Canada impose sanctions against President Lukashenko

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has been slapped with sanctions from Canada and the UK. In a joint statement, the Canadian foreign ministry confirmed that 10 other senior officials were also sanctioned for rights violations. Since the presidential elections in early-August, daily protests have been reported in Belarus. In response to increasing sanctions against Belarusian officials, the foreign ministry announced sanctions against 300 officials from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Nobel prize writer leaves Belarus

A prize-winning writer has left Belarus to take part in literary meetings in Germany. Svetlana Aleksievich claimed that she left Belarus for 'literary motives' and for medical treatment. Aleksievich is a member of the opposition council, which has been slapped with a criminal investigation on national security grounds. Aleksievich's aide said that she is leaving the country for professional reason and did not confirm when she will return. Of the seven members of the opposition council, Aleksievich was the only one that was neither exiled nor arrested.

Mass arrests reported on seventh weekend of protests

Mass arrests have been reported following another weekend of anti-government protests in Belarus. The security forces reportedly detained more than 50 people and used tear gas on protesters on Sunday, as tens of thousands gathered for the seventh consecutive weekend of demonstrations calling on leader Alexander Lukashenko to step down following last month's disputed presidential election. Police admitted to using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse what they described as "disobedient" protesters in the eastern city of Gomel yesterday; however, local media footage shows officers spraying an unidentified substance directly into protesters' faces. The latest protests come just days after Lukashenko held a secret inauguration, which prompted the EU to state it does not recognise Lukashenko as the country's legitimate leader, while other countries have threatened sanctions.

Belarus facing sanctions after inauguration

Belarus is facing international sanctions after an unannounced inauguration ceremony was held for President Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday. Lukashenko claimed victory in last month's elections; however, opposition protesters have been gathering en masse to cal for the president's resignation over allegations of election rigging. The US, Britain, and Canada are reported to be among countries considering sanctions on Belarus. The news comes after the EU issued a statement yesterday, clarifying that the bloc does not recognise Lukashenko as the country's leader, due to a lack of democratic legitimacy surrounding the last election. Over the last seven weeks, mass unrest has engulfed the country and more than 12,000 protesters have been arrested, with hundreds still in jail.

Lukashenko not recognised by EU

The EU has decided that it will not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as the president of Belarus. The decision comes a day after Lukashenko was sworn in during a secret unannounced ceremony in Minsk as widespread unrest enters its seventh consecutive week following last month's disputed election. The opposition in Belarus claim the poll was rigged in Lukashenko's favour - enabling him to claim a sweeping majority of 80 percent. The EU's diplomatic chief stated that the unannounced inauguration, as well as the results of the disputed election, lacked "any democratic legitimacy". The EU is understood to be reviewing its relations with Belarus "in light of the current situation". Belarus is one of the few states in eastern Europe to have never requested membership to the EU.

Mass protests after president sworn in

Mass protests have taken place again in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in during a secret ceremony in Minsk yesterday. The latest street protests come amid a growing anti-government protest movement in Belarus, which has seen the country become embroiled by weekly mass protests calling for Lukashenko to resign following last month's disputed election. Recent reports indicate that last night's demonstrations were met with beatings and detentions by the police, with video footage emerging online of police officers using water cannons against protesters.

President inaugurated in Minsk

President Alexander Lukashenko has reportedly been inaugurated in a secret ceremony in Minsk. The ceremony allegedly took place on Wednesday in the Palace of Independence. The inauguration comes amid widespread unrest as a growing anti-government protest movement continues to call for the president's resignation following last month's disputed election. A heavy security presence was deployed around the premises and surrounding areas.

Protesters detained following mass protests in Minsk

At least 10 arrests have been made following a recent mass protest against the government of President Alexander Lukashenko, which took place in the capital city of Minsk on Sunday. The demonstration caused widespread disruption, due to metro station closures and a considerably police presence throughout the city. Over the last few days, hundreds of female protesters have been arrested after 2,000 women joined a march on Saturday, including opposition icon, 73-year-old Nina Bahinskaya. Yesterday was the sixth Sunday in a row, that a mass protest has taken place, calling for longtime President Lukashenko to resign, following what has widely been seen as a rigged election last month.

Army oh high alert as borders close

The Belarusian army has been placed on high as President Alexander Lukashenko orders for all western borders to be closed. According to Al Jazeera, the move comes as widespread unrest continues across the country. President Lukashenko has reportedly claimed that anti-government protest have been driven by the West. The closure will affect borders between Belarus and neighbouring Poland and Lithuania.

Protesters clash with masked men making arrests

Anti-government protesters in Belarus have reportedly clashed with masked men who have been making arrests amid demonstrations. Thousands of protesters have been detained in recent weeks, and many of the arrests have been made by masked men in plainclothes or unaffiliated uniforms - thought to be members of the Belarusian security forces, although it's unclear to which organisation the men making arrests belong to. This week, female protesters clashed with these men as they tried to unmask them to identify them and hold them accountable for their actions. The unmaskings have led to further confrontations, while some demonstrators have criticised unmasking attempts as being overly aggressive.

Protest organiser charged with incitement

Leader protest organiser, Maria Kolesnikova, has reportedly been charged with incitement to undermine national security. Out of three leading protest figures heading a mass opposition movement, Kolesnikova was the only one not to go into exile and was reported to have ripped up her passport earlier this month when security officials allegedly tried to force her to leave the country. Over the course of the last few weeks, around 100,000 people have joined anti-government protests calling for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko following last month's disputed election results.

Russian President pledges $1.5bn loan amid talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledge a sum of $1.5bn in the form of a loan to Belarus amid talks with the embattled Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko. Putin and Lukashenko have convened for face-to-face talks at a Black Sea resort whilst a joint military exercise gets underway. The talks come amid widespread anti-government protests and unrest in Belarus over disputed election results, with many calling for Lukashenko's resignation amid allegations of electoral irregularities. Putin has backed Lukashenko as the legitimate leader of Belarus and offered to military intervention if protests get out of hand.

Lukashenko to meet with Russian president amid unrest

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as a widespread anti-government protest movement continues in Belarus. The meeting will be their first face-to-face meeting since unrest broke out in Belarus last month following the disputed presidential election results. Putin has stated that he recognises Lukashenko as the legitimate leader and has offered to lend military support to keep Lukashenko in power. The talks will take place in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi as a joint military exercise begins near the western Belarusian city of Brest. It's speculated Putin hopes to establish closer ties with Belarusian leadership in exchange for his support.

President Lukashenko to make official visit to Russia

President Aleksandr Lukashenko is expected to visit Russia next week to hold talks with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Lukashenko's ties with Russia has strengthened since the presidential elections were held in early-August. Putin has already supported Lukashenko's victory and previously said to be ready to assist Belarus if necessary. His visit to Russia will come days after the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin made an official visit to Belarus. Demonstrations are still being reported in Minsk, leading to violent clashes and the arrest of hundreds of people.

Second opposition figure detained in Minsk

A second opposition figure has been detained as demonstrations against President Aleksandr Lukashenko continue across Belarus. Maxim Znak is a member of the opposition coordination council, which was created in the aftermath of the presidential election held last month. Reports indicate that he was taken by masked men to an undisclosed location. Znak's detention comes days after the arrest of Maria Kolesnikova, another prominent opposition politician. Several opposition politicians, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, are either exiled or detained.

Russia and Serbia to join military drills in Belarus

Russia and Serbia are expected to join military exercises in Belarus. State media RIA said that the defence ministry has announced that the drill will start on Thursday and will last for five days. As daily mass protests continue to be reported in Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko has already ordered a military build-up on the country's western borders with Poland and Lithuania. Last month, Belarus launched a series of military drills in the region. President Lukashenko has already accused the EU and the US of plotting against him. He has already received the support of Russia and China.

Opposition politician reportedly taken to Ukrainian border

Opposition politician Maria Kolesnikova has reportedly been taken to the Ukrainian borderto be deported. Kolesnikova was taken from the streets of Minsk during an anti-government protest. She and two other opposition supporters were snatched and put into a van by hooded men. Ukrainian media reported that Kolesnikova ripped up her passport in an attempt to avoid deportation from Belarus. Conflicting media reports suggest that she either crossed over into to Ukraine or she was taken to an undisclosed location in Belarus. Her whereabouts remain unknown. Kolesnikova is a close ally of opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is currently exiled in Lithuania. Protests in Belarus broke out after President Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed victory in the elections.

Opposition politician detained during protest in Minsk

An opposition politician has been detained and pushed into a van during a protest in Minsk. Maria Kolesnikova was taking part in a major demonstration in the capital when she was seized by masked men. Koleniskova is a close associate of opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, who lost the presidential election held in early-August. Several opposition politicians and activists have already left the country over claims of political persecution. Tsikhanouskaya is expected to meet the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw. She fled to Lithuania just after the election's results were announced. Reports showed that more than 100,000 people took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to pressure President Aleksandr Lukashenko to step down from office.

President Lukashenko reshuffles security services

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has ordered a reshuffle in the country's security services. State-owned Belta reported that changes include the leadership of the KGB, the security council and the state control committee. Reports show that the head of the security council, Ivan Tertel will become the new head of the KGB. In addition, the Russian-based TASS reported that a number of regional executive bodies will also have new nominees. Changes to the security services come as Belarus has been facing a deep political crisis since the presidential elections were held in early-August.

Russia's Prime Minister Mishustin to visit Belarus

Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is expected to visit Belarus to hold talks with President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Belarus has been facing a wave of protests since the presidential vote was held last month. Russia has already congratulated President Lukashenko for his victory but a number of European countries and the US are preparing sanctions. Mishustin's visit will come after the Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei went to Moscow for high-level talks. Despite political grievances with Belarus, Russia is one of the closest allies of President Lukashenko.

EU to impose sanctions on Belarusian officials

Dozens of Belarusian officials are expected to be issued EU sanctions over allegations of election fraud and violence. EU foreign ministers have agreed to expand sanctions against Belarus to pressure the government of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Since the vote was held earlier this month, protests have been reported nationwide. It is estimated that some 7,000 people have already been detained. It is still unclear if President Lukashenko himself will be sanctioned. The EU and the US have rejected the election results, while Russia is currently supporting Lukashenko.

Russia's Vladimir Putin sets up police force to assist Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that a police force is prepared to be deployed in Belarus if necessary. In an interview with Rossiya 1TV, President Putin said that the force was set up after requests from his Belarusian counterpart, Aleksandr Lukashenko. He added that it would only be deployed if the "situation gets out of control". President Putin has already condemned reports of the EU and other countries against the re-election of President Lukashenko. Since the presidential vote earlier this month, widespread protests are being reported in Minsk. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is currently in Lithuania, set up an opposition council to challenge the results.

Twenty protesters detained in Minsk

At least 20 anti-government protesters have been detained in the capital city of Minsk. According to reports, the arrests were made on Wednesday, when hundreds of protesters had congregated in Independence Square to demand the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, following the contentious election results from earlier this month. It's estimated as many as a thousand attended the protest, which marked the 18th consecutive day of demonstrations since the election. So far, thousands of protesters have been arrested and there have also been reports of widespread abuse and torture of detained protesters.

Three leading activists detained in Minsk

Three leading opposition activists have been detained by the Belarusian authorities in the capital city of Minsk. According to reports, the arrests were made on Monday amid ongoing unrest as the anti-government movement continues to grow there, following the disputed re-election of long-running President Alexander Lukashenko earlier this month. Two of the three activists detained have been identified as Olga Kovalko and Sergei Dylevsky - both members of an opposition group called the Coordination Council, which was set up to negotiate a transfer of institutional power. The third detainee was union leader Alexander Lavrinovich, who has played a lead role in recent worker strikes. So far, thousands of arrests have been made as protesters continue to call for Lukashenko to resign.

Mass rally held in Minsk despite ban

A mass rally has been held in Minsk despite a ban on large public gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters filled the capital's central square on Sunday, where there was a heavy police presence. Protesters have accused long-running President Alexander Lukashenko of winning the recent election through irregularities and vote rigging. Demonstrators are calling on him to resign; however, Lukashenko has vowed to crush unrest and has blamed dissent on "foreign-backed revolutionaries". The security forces have been deployed in response to the protests and recent clashes have left at least four dead and thousands arrested, with multiple reports of detained protesters being tortured in prison. On Saturday, Lukashenko declared a "high alert" for the country's military forces in response to an alleged build-up of NATO forces at the border. NATO has denied any such movement in troops.

President Lukashenko orders military build-up on Belarusian borders

President Alexander Lukashenko has reportedly ordered his defence minister to reinforce security along the border over allegations of a build-up of foreign troops. NATO and neighbouring countries have already dismissed allegations of military tensions. Last week, Belarus launched a major military exercise near the borders with Lithuania and Poland. Protests in Belarus are still being reported following the disputed presidential elections earlier this month. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has called on her supporters to keep demonstrating until new elections are held.

Opposition candidate calls for further protests in bid for new elections

Opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called on her supporters in Belarus to continue a wave of protests and launch further strikes to pursue a new presidential election. Tsikhanouskaya is currently in Lithuania, where she fled to after President Aleksandr Lukashenko was re-elected. The government has already said that it will move against protests as civil unrest continues since the vote was held on 09 August. President Lukashenko was claimed to have secured 80 percent of the votes against Tsikhanouskaya, who is currently part of an opposition coordination council.

Criminal probe launched into opposition council

A criminal probe has been opened against a new opposition council which was launched after the presidential elections in early-August. RIA reported that the general prosecutor's office opened the case over claims that the body would compromise national security in its attempt to seize power. Earlier this week, President Aleksandr Lukashenko accused the council of attempting to steal power. Belarus has been facing a deep political crisis since President Lukashenko was declared the winner. Street protests are still being reported in Minsk, with thousands of demonstrators already detained.

EU does not recognise results of Belarusian presidential vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the EU does not recognise the results of the presidential elections in Belarus, where President Aleksandr Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in office. After an emergency meeting with EU leaders, Merkel said: "There is no doubt that there were massive rule violations in the election. The election was neither free nor fair. And that's why the result of the election cannot be recognised". She added that the EU is already considering imposing sanctions on several individuals in Belarus. Russia has traded accusations with the EU and the US over alleged interference in the process and for fueling the current wave of civil unrest.

President Lukashenko orders police to end protests in Minsk

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has ordered the police to put an end to street protests in Minsk. For more than a week, demonstrators have taken to the streets of major cities in Belarus to protest against the results of the presidential election, in which President Lukashenko was re-elected. Reuters reported that the borders will be reinforced to prevent the arrival of foreign combatants; before the elections, dozens of alleged Russian contractors were arrested in Minsk.

President Lukashenko accuses opposition of power grab

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has accused the opposition of attempting to forcefully remove him from power. Reports suggest that the allegations were made after a meeting of the opposition coordination council. President Lukashenko said that the council's demands can only be interpreted as an attempt to seize power. Political tensions in Belarus have been high since the presidential election was held earlier this month. While several countries have recognised the legitimacy of the electoral process, the EU and the US are currently considering whether to impose sanction on Belarus.

Belarus launches military drill near western border

Belarus has launched military exercises near the borders with Lithuania and Poland as protests across the country continue. Lithuania's Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said that the government is currently monitoring the situation alongside its NATO allies. President Aleksandr Lukashenko has already accused NATO of a building up near the border - NATO dismissed the allegations. Reports previously showed that President Lukashenko secured the support of the Russian military after he held talks over the weekend with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia resigns

The Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia has handed in their resignation in support of anti-government protesters. The ambassador made the announcement on Tuesday, stating that the decision to stand down came in solidarity with protesters who have been rallying against disputed election results, which saw President Alexander Lukashenko re-elected again. The ambassador's resignation is symbolic of growing dissent at high levels of government.

President heckled by factory workers

President Alexander Lukashenko has been heckled by factory workers during a visit to a tractor plant in Minsk on Monday. Workers reportedly booed Lukashenko as he spoke at the factory. The incident comes amid severe political unrest in the country following Lukashenko's disputed re-election. Last week, state-run factories saw workers walk out in solidarity with anti-government protesters. A huge protest rally took place in Minsk on Sunday and further strikes have also been planned for the coming week as pressure mounts on the long-term President. Lukashenko has insisted he won't allow a new vote after allegations of ballot fraud, while exiled opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has asserted that she won majorities in areas where the votes were properly counted and that she is ready to become the nation's leader. Police brutality against protesters has become another issue amid the unrest, while a number of police officials and the Belarusian ambassador to Slovakia have resigned in solidarity with protesters. Meanwhile, EU leaders are preparing new sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for "violence, repression, and the falsification of election results".

Jailed protesters allegedly tortured

As a sixth day of consecutive protests continues, jailed protesters in Belarus have allegedly suffered 'widespread torture' after being detained amid rallies following Sunday's disputed presidential vote. Recently freed detainees who were given medical treatment outside the Minsk detention centre gave details of beatings whilst in custody. Belarus' main opposition figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has called for an end to violence against protesters, whilst also urging more rallies this weekend. The Belarusian authorities have agreed to release the 6,700 protesters who have been detained since protests erupted on Sunday evening; however, at least two people have died and many other have been wounded.

Opposition urges international community to recognise Tshikhanouskaya as president

Members of the opposition have called on the international community to recognise the opposition candidate Svetlana Tshikhanouskaya as the country's legitimate president. Tshikhanouskaya recently fled to Lithuania after losing to President Aleksandr Lukashenko in the presidential election held on Sunday. One of her allies, Veronika Tsepkalo, urged the international community to support Tshikhanouskaya. Elections in Belarus were criticised by the EU and the US, which are currently considering whether to impose sanctions. China and Russia are among the countries that congratulated President Lukashenko for his victory. Protests have been taking place for four consecutive days.

Gunmen raid Yandex offices in Minsk

Armed individuals have raided offices of the Russian-based tech company Yandex in Minsk. The company confirmed the raid in a statement to NBC News but did not give further details. The raid happened as widespread protests are being reported in the aftermath of the presidential elections. TASS reported that the local Uber office was also targeted - the office is related to Yandex. It is still unclear if the raids are government-sanctioned or related to an outlawed organisation.

Opposition presidential candidate flees to Lithuania

Opposition candidate Sviatlana Tshikhanouskya has reportedly fled to Lithuania after the presidential election held on Sunday. Tshikhanouskya said that she took the decision to preserve her wellbeing and that of her children's. She said: "What is happening now is not worth any life. Children are the most important thing we have in our life." Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius confirmed on social media that Tshikhanouskya has arrived in the country. The opposition rejected the results of the presidential vote, where President Aleksandr Lukashenko was on track to secure more than 80 percent of the votes. Widespread protests are being reported across Belarus, with more than 3,000 people already arrested and several others injured.

Protests break out after President Lukashenko's landslide win

Protests have broken out across Belarus after President Aleksander Lukashenko was declared the winner of the presidential elections held on Sunday. Official results suggest that President Lukashenko secured more than 80 percent of the votes against the main opposition led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. The opposition immediately rejected the results and claimed they were affected by election irregularities. Local media reported that more than 100 people have been detained. Demonstrations are expected to continue this week. Protests have taken place in Minsk, Grodno, Brest and other major cities. With the victory, President Lukashenko was elected to serve a sixth term in office.

DW journalist arrested days before presidential election

A journalist working for the German-based DW has been arrested days before the presidential election in Belarus. Reports show that Alexander Burakov worked for DW's Russian-language service and was arrested in his hometown of Mogilyov. He was detained after a police stop over allegations that he was transporting counterfeit alcohol and later due to claims that his vehicle was stolen. Although Burakov was released, he was detained again moments later. Belarus is preparing to hold its presidential election on Sunday, where President Aleksandar Lukashenko seeks a sixth term in office. President Lukashenko has previously threatened to expel foreign journalists from Belarus if they cause problems. He said in a cabinet meeting: “The BBC, Liberty, Free Europe, and so on... I am not just talking how biased they are, they are calling for mass disturbances!”.

Ukrainian and Russian prosecutors invited to discuss mercenaries

President Aleksandar Lukashenko has called on Russian and Ukrainian prosecutors to head to Minsk to discuss the arrest of several alleged Russian mercenaries. State-backed Belta reported on President Lukashenko's intentions ahead of the presidential vote on Sunday. Ukraine has recently called on the extradition of several of the suspects due to their alleged involvement in crimes committed in eastern Ukraine. The suspected mercenaries are accused of being part of the infamous Wagner Group.

Ukraine requests extradition of Russian mercenaries arrested in Minsk

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked his Belarusian counterpart, Aleksandar Lukashenko, to extradite dozens of alleged Russian mercenaries to Ukraine. In the countdown of the presidential elections in Belarus, 33 members of the Russian-based Wagner Group were arrested in Minsk. President Zelenskyi claimed that 28 of them had previously committed crimes in eastern Ukraine while fighting with Russian-backed separatists. They were charged with terror offences in Belarus.

President Lukashenko accuses opposition of plotting a massacre in Minsk

President Aleksander Lukashenko has accused the opposition of attempting to organise a massacre in the centre of Minsk. As opposition supporters continue to stage demonstrations in the capital, President Lukashenko said in a speech: “So far there is no open warfare, no shooting (...) but an attempt to organise a massacre in the centre of Minsk is already obvious.” He based the allegations on last week's arrest of dozens of alleged Russian mercenaries. Belarus is holding its presidential election on Sunday. President Lukashenko will face a united opposition led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. People in Belarus are advised to exercise extreme caution in the days before and after the election, especially in areas around Minsk where tensions may escalate and suddenly turn violent.

Dozens of alleged Russian military contractors arrested near Minsk

The government has claimed to have arrested dozens of Russian nationals accused of being military contractors. State-owned Belta reported that 33 members of the infamous Wagner Group were arrested near Minsk. Reports said that the arrests came after 200 people entered the country. Wagner Group is accused of operating as a proxy for Russian interests in some regions. Earlier this year, a UN report said that they were operating in Libya in support of General Khalifa Haftar. The arrests come amid increasing tensions in Belarus ahead of the presidential elections in August.

President Lukashenko claims to have recovered from coronavirus

President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed to have already recovered from the coronavirus after contracting it at an earlier date. Addressing military officials in Minsk, he said: “Today you are meeting a man who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet. This is what doctors concluded yesterday. Asymptomatic." President Lukashenko has largely downplayed the coronavirus threat. He resisted introducing preventative measures and made unusual recommendations to address the virus. Officially, Belarus has confirmed more than 68,000 coronavirus cases and 543 deaths. His approach has led to a number of protests across Belarus ahead of the presidential vote in August.

Banned opposition candidate flees country due to safety concerns

Opposition leader Valery Tsepkalo has fled the country with his two children due to safety concerns. Tsepkalo was banned from running in the upcoming presidential election, where he would be a candidate against President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Tsepkalo's move comes just days after the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya sent her children abroad over anonymous threats. Belarus is holding its presidential election in early-August. President Lukashenko is running for a sixth term in office. Another opposition candidate, Viktor Babarico, was also banned from running.

Opposition candidate sends children abroad after threats

Opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya has said that she has sent her children abroad after receiving threats. Tikhanouskaya is the main opposition candidate to challenge President Aleksandar Lukashenko, who seeks a sixth term in office. She became one of the main candidates after two other opposition candidates were banned from running in the 09 August vote. Local media reported that Tikhanouskaya sent her young children to an unnamed EU country.

Thousands march in Minsk to support opposition candidate

Thousands of people took part in a major opposition-led protest in Minsk. Protesters marched in the capital to support the opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Belarus is holding its presidential elections in early-August, where President Aleksandr Lukashenko is running for a sixth term in office. Several opposition candidates, including Viktor Babariko and Valery Tsepkalo, have been banned from running in the vote. Tikhanovskaya expects to secure their support. Several protests have broken out in Belarus amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reports indicate that 1,000 people have already been detained nationwide since protests became more frequent. President Lukashenko has largely downplayed the coronavirus threat. So far, 66,000 cases have been confirmed in the country.

Hundreds target of criminal case amid civil unrest in Minsk

More than 250 protesters have been targeted in a criminal case after they took to the streets to protest against the government of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Demonstrators marched across Minsk after two opposition presidential candidates were banned from running for office. Growing political tensions are being reported in Belarus as the country is scheduled to hold its presidential vote on 09 August. Viktor Babryko and Valery Tsepkalo were recently excluded from the race. President Lukashenko, who is running for a sixth term, dismissed criticism from the EU.

Opposition candidate banned from running in August election

The Central Electoral Commission has ruled that the opposition presidential contender Victor Babariko is banned from running in the upcoming election in August. Babariko was recently detained for embezzlement and fraud. He has reportedly been detained in Minsk since mid-June. A spokeswoman of Babariko's campaign told Euronews that they are waiting for the confirmation that he will not be allowed to run. The report comes weeks after another opposition candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, was also excluded from the electoral process. A number of protests are being reported in Minsk against President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who is running for a sixth term in office. 

President Lukashenko accuses Russia and Poland of meddling

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has accused Russia and Poland of interfering in the upcoming presidential vote, where he is running for a sixth term in office. Belta reported that Lukashenko is expected to request clarifications from President Vladimir Putin on the issue. Russia has denied any of the allegations. Last week, the government claimed that it had thwarted a foreign-backed rebellion in Belarus. Protests have been reported in major cities against the president and his approach to the coronavirus pandemic. The presidential vote is scheduled for 09 August.

President Lukashenko claims to have thwarted foreign-backed rebellion

President Aleksandr Lukashenko claims that the government has thwarted a foreign-backed rebellion in Belarus. As the country approaches its presidential election in August, President Lukashenko made allegations of foreign interference in the country. President Lukashenko is running for a sixth term in office. In recent months he has suffered a fall in support due to his mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, a prominent opposition contender, Viktor Babariko, was arrested as part of a corruption investigation. Another contender, Sergei Tikhanosvsky, was also arrested this month on charges of public disorder.

Opposition presidential contender detained in Minsk

Opposition presidential candidate Viktor Babariko has been detained after the police intercepted his vehicle in Minsk. Babariko is considered to be one of the main opposition contenders against President Aleksandr Lukashenko in the upcoming presidential vote in early August. According to his lawyers, he was taken by police for questioning, while no further details were released. Babariko emerged as a political opponent of President Lukashenko after resigning from the board of the Belgazprombank, a local branch of the Gazprombank. Belgazprombank offices were targeted in a tax evasion case last June. It is still unclear if Babariko's alleged detention is linked to the case.

Blogger behind anti-government protests charged

A blogger who was behind mass protests against President Aleksandr Lukashenko has been charged. State prosecutors said that Segei Tikhanouski was charged with disrupting public order and attacking a police officer. Seven other protesters were also charged for organising demonstrations. Tikhanouski could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Protests have become frequent in Belarus ahead of the presidential election, which is scheduled for 09 August. Demonstrations have also spread to major cities against the government coronavirus response.

Roman Golovchenko nominated as new PM

President Aleksandr Lukashenko has nominated Roman Golovchenko as the country's new prime minister. Golovchenko's nomination comes after the Belarusian government was dissolved ahead of the presidential elections on 09 August. Golovchenko was previously leading the state military-industrial committee. President Lukashenko will run for his sixth term in office. He has been in power since 1994. In the months leading up to the elections, demonstrations have erupted across Minsk and other cities. Earlier this week, the opposition leader Nikolai Statkevich was detained during a protest.

Hundreds protest against President Lukashenko

Hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Minsk to protest against President Alexander Lukashenko. The protests come just weeks before the presidential election, where President Lukashenko will run for a sixth term in office. Both the parliament and government have refused to change the election date, which is set for 9 August. Contrary to neighbouring countries, Belarus has not imposed restrictions on gatherings, travel or movement. According to reports, Belarus has so far confirmed more than 38,000 coronavirus cases, including over 200 deaths.

Belarus to open Ostrovets nuclear plant in July

Belarus is scheduled to start operations at its western Ostrovets nuclear facility in July. This is the first nuclear plant to come into operation in Belarus since the Chernobyl disaster in neighbouring Ukraine. Although the facility is being built using Russian capital, Belarus is shifting to nuclear energy to lower its dependency on Russian oil. The plant is located just on the border with Lithuania, nearly 45km from Vilnius. In an interview to Euronews, Lithuania's former energy minister raised concerns over the possible violation of international treaties regarding safety standards at Ostrovets.

Over 900 new coronavirus cases confirmed

More than 900 new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Belarus in the last 24 hours. According to reports, some 922 new cases of infection have been recorded - taking the national total number of confirmed covid-19 cases up to 30,572. The country's death toll for covid-19 has also increase, after an additional six virus-related deaths were registered over the last 24 hours. The death toll now stands at 171.

US sends oil shipment to Belarus

A major US oil shipment is expected to arrive in Belarus. According to the government, 80,000 tonnes of oil will be delivered in Lithuania before heading by rail to Belarus. Belarus has been engaged in an oil price dispute with Russia, a country that is responsible for nearly 80 percent its oil imports. Recently both countries reached an agreement to transport half of the previous years' shipments to Belarus. Diplomatic relations between the US and Belarus improved in September when the US sent an envoy to meet President Alexander Lukashenko.

Military parade to move forward despite coronavirus concerns

A military parade scheduled for later this week is expected to move forward despite coronavirus threats in Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko has largely downplayed the coronavirus threat and said that the events on 9 May will move forward as scheduled. Neighbouring Russia has already cancelled its Victory Day celebrations due to coronavirus concerns. More than 17,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Belarus, one of the highest rates in Europe. Unlike other eastern European countries, most activities in the country continue as normal. President Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and is up for re-election, has also said that he still plans to hold the presidential election until August.

First coronavirus death officially confirmed in Belarus

The first coronavirus death has been officially confirmed in Belarus. According to reports, the case concerns a 75-year-old man who reportedly suffered from pneumonia. Official data on the effects of the pandemic in Belarus are extremely limited as the health ministry has not released timely reports. In total, 152 cases have officially been confirmed. Belarus' government leads a relaxed approach towards the risk of spread of the virus, where President Alexandr Lukashenko has mainly downplayed its impact. He said that the presidential election in late-August will move forward as scheduled. Schools and venues continue open, while public and sporting events are still occurring. 

First case of coronavirus announced

Belarus has announced its first confirmed case of the coronavirus infection. The Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare has confirmed the case and while few details concerning the patient have been released, they are understood to be a student from Iran, where an outbreak has killed at least 26 people.

EU extends arms embargo and sanctions against Belarusian officials

The EU has announced the extension of a current armed embargo on Belarus until February 2021. In a statement, the Council of the EU said that the measure will be implemented against the trade "on equipment that could be used for internal repression". In addition, four individuals linked to the disappearance of four people have been slapped with travel bans. Among the victims were two opposition members, a journalist and a businessman, who went missing in 2000. The measures were first introduced in 2004 and have been subsequently prolonged. President Alexander Lukashenko has been engaged in diplomatic clashes with Russia due to failed oil negotiations. Since then, he had promoted a closer political approach to the US and the EU.

Belarus to import oil from Norway after failed negotiations with Russia

Belarus's state-owned oil company Belneftekhim has announced that they have purchased a major oil shipment from Norway. The decision to comes after Russia blocked oil supply to Belarus after both countries failed to renegotiate oil prices. Belarus widely relies on Russia for oil - more than 80 percent of oil imports in the country come from the neighbouring country. Belneftekhim said that 80,000 tones of crude oil will arrive by rail.

Russia resumes delivery of crude oil after temporary suspension

Crude oil delivery from Russia has resumed after it was suspended over contractual issues involved the Russian-based Russneft. Reuters reported that Russia temporarily halted the delivery of oil through the Druzhba pipeline over tensions regarding oil transit prices. State-owned company Belneftekhim confirmed the agreement. Belarus widely relies on Russian crude oil and gas, an issue which has led to several diplomatic spats between both nations. Although both countries have a good relationship, President Alexander Lukashenko has resisted further economic integration with Russia.

International observers criticise parliamentary election process in Belarus

International observers have claimed that the latest parliamentary election in Belarus was marred by irregularities. The head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) electoral mission, Margareta Cederfelt, has said: “These elections have demonstrated an overall lack of respect for democratic commitments." Official results show that no opposition parties managed to secure a single seat in the country's National Assembly. All of those elected are members of parties loyal to long-time President Alexandr Lukashenko, who will run for re-election in 2020. Belarus has recently attempted to deepen ties with the US after years of diplomatic tensions. President Lukashenko has been also pressured by Russia.

US secretary heads to Minsk in attempt to normalise diplomatic relations

Belarus and the US are expected to announce plans to bring back ambassadors after more than 10 years of strained diplomatic relations. US Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale is currently in Minsk to hold a meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko. Back in 2008, Belarus expelled 10 US diplomats stationed at the US Embassy in Minsk. Diplomatic relations suffered a downturn after the US criticised the government of President Lukashenko over alleged rights violations and the detention of a US lawyer in Minsk. The move came two years after the US introduced sanctions against the government over the arrest of dozens of protesters. Actions included the freezing of assets of the notorious energy and chemical giant Belnesftkhim.

Prime Minister and other key government figures removed

Leader Alexander Lukashenko sacked his Prime Minister on 18 August, and also removed several other key members of government in connection with a corruption scandal.  Former development bank head Sergei Rumas will take over the post of Prime Minister, and several vice premiers as well as the ministers for economy and industry will also be replaced.  He said that "certain programmes would be announced, but another programme would be carried out", and that he could not permit this to continue. Over the summer, a corruption scandal also rocked the health service with top health officials, medics and drug companies accused of siphoning off millions of dollars in state funding.  Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994.  

Several journalists detained during police raids in Minsk

At least 18 journalists have been detained during police raids to three independent news outlets based in Minsk. Reports revealed that police officers also seized documents and hard drives. Belarus's Investigative Committee accuses the suspects of illegally obtaining access to the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency. The raids were condemned by the Council of Europe - of which Belarus is not a member. In June, lawmakers approved a bill which prohibited the publication of the so-called 'fake news', raising issues over the country's approach to press freedom.

Media law amendment approved

An amendment to media laws has been approved, prohibiting the distribution of 'fake news'. The amendment will enable the police to prosecute those suspected of spreading false information online. The new law has been criticised for being repressive, with some international groups claiming it could lead to government censorship and infringe on free press.

Nationwide protests scheduled on Sunday

The US Embassy in Minsk has announced that nationwide demonstrations are scheduled to take place on Sunday afternoon. Protesters are set to gather in Minsk's National Opera and Ballet Theatre, while other rallies are expected to occur in Brest, Grodno, Vitebsk, Baranovichi and Kobrin. Caution has been advised as protests in the country may turn violent. Additional police officers will be deployed in areas surrounding popular tourist attractions. Travellers have been recommended to carry their respective documents due to potential identification checks.

Belarus and Russia launch joint military exercise

Belarus and Russia have launched a massive joint military drill in western and northern Belarus on Thursday. The military exercise is known as 'Zapad 2017' and will include armoured vehicles, aircraft and 12,700 soldiers - 7,200 Belarussian and 5,000 Russian. NATO members and Ukraine raised concerns over the exercise's transparency and assertiveness due to its proximity to NATO members such as Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The Zapad is scheduled to last until 20 September. Meanwhile, Sweden - which is not a NATO member - is undertaking the NATO-backed military drill 'Aurora' involving nearly 20,000 troops.

Opposition leader briefly jailed ahead of protests

Opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich has been arrested ahead of planned anti-government protests on Monday. According to Statkevich's wife, the former 2010 presidential elections candidate was arrested due to undisclosed reasons for five days. Statkevich had been previously arrested for five years in 2010 after being blamed for organising protests against the authoritarian rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Hundreds arrested in anti-government protest in Minsk

At least 400 people have been arrested amid a wave of protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The detention happened as pro-opposition demonstrators marched on the streets of Minsk in an unauthorised protest on Saturday morning. The Belarussian Journalists' Association told AP that at least 20 journalists were also arrested. Belarus has been facing several protests since the government introduced a controversial labour tax in early 2017.

Nationwide rallies to take place

Nationwide rallies are due to take place in Belarus on Saturday 25 March in commemoration of Freedom Day. Large rallies are expected to take place in the capital, Minsk, and other main towns and cities, such as Brest, Mogilev and Grodno. Various rallies have been organised by opposition parties and have been approved by the authorities; however, some have not been approved and may be met with police resistance should they go forward. Travellers have been advised to remain vigilant and avoid large demonstrations which could become violent. Traffic disruption should also be anticipated.

Scores arrested over potential armed provocation

Over 20 suspected militants planning what was described as an 'armed provocation' were arrested by Belarusian authorities. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the suspects had cross-border training in Poland and Lithuania - where they also received funds for their activities. The crackdown comes as the government has been facing political pressure over a controversial labour law.

Three arrested amid ongoing nationwide protests

Three people have been arrested amid ongoing nationwide protests. The arrests were made on Sunday 19 March; however, the protests have been ongoing since early March as hundreds of people have rallied across the country to protest against the proposed 'parasite tax' which has proven widely unpopular with the Belarusian public. Since the start of the protests, approximately 150 protesters have been arrested by the police.

Protest march against labour law in Minsk

Thousands of people have stormed the streets of the capital Minsk in protests against a controversial labour law proposed by President Alexander Lukashenko. Although the proposed bill - which planned to charge those working less than six months a year a fee - being initially scrapped, protests have continued to call for Lukashenko's resignation. Lukashenko has been in office since 1994 and has been the target of criticism over the economic downturn and his crackdown on independent media.

Protests held against labour law, Brest

Protests have taken place against labour laws in Pinsk of the Brest region. Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday to protest against the proposal that those who have worked less than 6 months throughout a year should pay 5 million ruble ($250; £204; €234) to the government. Those travelling in the area should be aware of the potential for further demonstrations and be cautious of any large gatherings.

Belarus-Russia train travel update

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (British FCO) has issued advice for those wishing to travel from Belarus to Russia via train. Due to the plans of the Russian government to introduce biometric fingerprint scanning as a security measure to enter the country, there is expected to be a change in procedure in train travel between the two countries. The British FCO had advised all foreign travellers to contact train companies to enquire after the expected security procedures and to ensure they have all the appropriate travel documents prepared and ready for travel.

Hundreds protest against controversial labour law in Gomel

Over 2,000 people gathered on the streets of Gomel, south-eastern Belarus, to protest against a controversial labour law. The bill, commonly known as 'anti-sponging law', aims to charge a fee for people who work less than six months a year. The government claims that the measure is set to compensate unpaid taxes and avoid social dependence. Similar protests took place in the capital Minsk on Friday as the country faces a deep economic downturn.

Travel visa requirements updated

Travel visa requirements have been updated for entry into Belarus. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a statement clarifying the precise requirements for British passport holders. Until Sunday 12 February, a visa will need to be obtained from the Belarus Embassy for all travel into Belarus. From Sunday 12 February onward, all British passport holders will be allowed five days of visa-free travel. Visa-free travellers will be only be allowed to enter and exit via Minsk International Airport, and will be required to present evidence of valid medical insurance of up to €10,000, as well as evidence that they hold sufficient funds of at least €25 a day (or the equivalent in other currencies) in cash, card or cheque form.

Visa-free travel granted to 80 countries

President Alyaksandr Lukashenko has confirmed visa-free travel to Belarus for 80 countries. Lukashenko signed the decree on Monday, which will grant up to five days of visa-free stay to citizens of the EU, the US, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and 48 other countries. The decree will come into next month.

Two pro-Russian activists arrested

On 6 December, two pro-Russian columnists were arrested for inciting ethnic discord online. Dmitry Alimkin, 45, was arrested in Brest and Yuri Paulavets, 37, was arrested in Minsk. Belorussian authorities are reportedly planning to join the two cases into one, with both men facing up to 12 years in prison. Both men are known in Belorussian and Russian media for their critical stance towards what they claim are pro-European policies of the Belorussian government. 

Long queues of trucks at the border

On 25 November, long queues of trucks were reported at the Belarusian border waiting to enter Lithuania. Traffic was reported at border checkpoints in Kamenny Log, Kotlovka, Benyakoni and Privalka. 

Road access between Belarus and Russia not authorised to third country nationals

On 18 November, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stated that they had been informed by the Russian government that there are no legal grounds to allow third country nationals, including British nationals, to cross between Belarus and Russia by road. Any travellers planning on entering Russia by road must do so through a different country. The FCO is not aware of any difficulties encountered by British nationals when travelling between Belarus and Russia by air or rail, but urge travellers to ensure that they have all the necessary visas required for the duration of their travel. 

Woman killed in shopping centre attack in Minsk

A woman has been killed and another person wounded in an attack at a shopping centre in the Belarus capital, Minsk.  An 18-year-old man targeted shoppers with a chainsaw and an axe at the Europa centre on Saturday before he was arrested by police.  The motive behind the attack has not yet been established.

Some foreign nationals prevented from crossing Russia-Belarus border by road

Some foreign nationals have been prevented from crossing the border between Belarus and Russia when travelling by road, especially on the M1 Highway to/from Smolensk. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises that those travelling by road should consider seeking an alternative route. 

Bomb threat grounds planes in Minsk airport

An unknown man called in a bomb threat on board a Belavia flight due to fly from Minsk to Milan. Flight B2-881 was scheduled to depart at 11:50am local time, but was grounded. Bomb disposal technicians have been called to the airport.

Belarus Data Sheet

Population:
9.5 million
Major Religion/s:
Christianity
International dialing code:
+375
International dialing prefix:
810
Emergency services:
Police 102, Medical 103, Fire 101
Drives:
Right
Voltage:
220V
Climate:
Continental
Ohter Major Cities:
Gomel, Mogilyov, Vitebsk, Grodno, Brest
Borders:
Russian Federation, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania

Mobile networks:

Local News

SB

Belorousskaia Delovaia Gazeta (BDG)