August 1991 coup d'état (see Glossary) in
Moscow and declarations of independence by Estonia,
Ukraine, the Supreme Soviet in Minsk declared the
Belarus on August 25, 1991, by giving its Declaration of
Sovereignty the status of a constitutional document and
the country the Republic of Belarus.
The disorientation that overtook the communists in the
of the coup was used by liberals and nationalist reformers
various structures to advance their cause: the Supreme
forced the resignation of its chairman, Mikalay
for siding with the coup leaders and replaced him with his
deputy, Stanislaw Shushkyevich; all CPB property was
nationalized; the name of the state was officially changed
the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Republic
Belarus; and the CPB was temporarily suspended while its
the coup was investigated.
Shushkyevich's support for the continuation of some
union culminated on December 8, 1991, in his signing of
Appendix C), which established the Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS--see Glossary). On December 21,
former Soviet republics expanded the CIS by issuing the
(see Appendix D).
Minsk became the
After much negotiation and considerable revision, the
Soviet adopted a new constitution, which went into effect
March 30, 1994. The new document created the office of
declared Belarus a democracy with separation of powers,
freedom of religion, and proclaimed Belarus's goal of
neutral, nonnuclear state. The winner of the quickly
election was Alyaksandr Lukashyenka, whose pro-Russian
and policies seemed, however, destined to reunite Belarus
Russia in some way. Treaties were signed with Russia that
political concessions to the latter in hopes of creating
advantages for Belarus. And there were clashes with
over the issue of presidential powers.
In the campaigning for the May 1995 parliamentary
continuing censorship of the media's campaign coverage
demonstrated the less-than-democratic nature of the state.
response to the lack of information and as a consequence
continued political apathy on the part of the populace,
rounds of elections failed to elect enough deputies to
seat a new
Supreme Soviet. And Lukashyenka continued to accumulate
increasing power through his appointments and dismissals.
Data as of June 1995