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Belarus NEWS

NFE/5.0en-USnews-webmaster@google.com2019 Google Inc.Wed, 16 Jan 2019 03:33:23 GMTGoogle News
Belarus in Talks to Boost U.S. Presence  The Wall Street Journal

Belarus said it was in talks to boost the U.S. diplomatic presence in the former Soviet republic, a move that could exacerbate tensions between Moscow and ...

The Wall Street Journal
Belarus Model Arrested for Thai Sex Seminar Pleads Guilty  VOA News

A model from Belarus who claimed last year that she had evidence of Russian involvement in helping elect Donald Trump president has pleaded guilty in a Thai ...

VOA News
The Belarusian President Won’t Go Down Without a Fight  Foreign Policy

The president of Belarus on Thursday cautioned that Moscow could lose its only ally on its western border if the two countries could not resolve an ongoing ...

Foreign Policy
Belarus president makes new appointments  Belarus News (BelTA)

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko made new appointments on 15 January.

Belarus News (BelTA)
Over 10 million guests from abroad visit Belarus last year  TVR

They are not only residents of the neighboring countries. More and more travelers come from Western Europe and North America, even Argentina and New ...

Lavrinovich appointed aide to Belarus president in Grodno Oblast  Belarus News (BelTA)

Ivan Lavrinovich has been appointed aide to the president of Belarus – inspector for Grodno Oblast, BelTA has learned. Addressing Ivan Lavrinovich, which held ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Belarus’s leader upsets Vladimir Putin by cosying up to the West  The Economist

A GIANT STATUE of Lenin still stands before the forbidding House of Government in Minsk, built by Stalin in 1934 and occupied by the Gestapo a few years ...

The Economist
Why the world should be paying attention to Putin’s plans for Belarus  The Washington Post

On Sept 10, 2001, I published a column about Belarus, the former Soviet republic squeezed between Russia and Europe. It described how the Belarusian ...

The Washington Post
Belarus follows its good Christmas traditions  TVR

The charity event "Our Children" brings together thousands of caring people willing to give faith, fill the hearts of young Belarusians with light and good, ...

Prakapenya and Gutseriyev open first cryptocurrency exchange in Belarus  Belsat

Currency.com has been registered in the High-Tech Park. The investors are VP Capital of Viktar Prakapenya and Larnabel Ventures of Said Gutseriyev.

Meat prices in Belarus continue to rise  GlobalMeatNews.com

Meat prices in Belarus have continued to rise despite attempts by the Government to constrain the trend, according to data released by the National Statistical ...

What 2019 will be like for the union of Russia and Belarus?  TVR

The warm relations between Minsk and Moscow not to be spoiled by omissions and financial squabbles. Our politicians didn't have holidays, even the last days ...

How Russia-Belarus ties evolved over the years  Aljazeera.com

A look at how the neighbours' relations changed in recent years with trade and Belarus' sovereignty under the spotlight.

Putin’s Retirement Plan Depends on Belarus  Bloomberg

To retain power, he is positioning himself as the leader of a closer union between Russia and its dependent neighbor.

Belarus State Chamber to perform Emirati compositions  gulfnews.com

The event will be part of the first Belarus Culture Days in the UAE.

Red defeat in Belarus Xmas 'star wars'  BBC News

A Belarus town replaces the Communist red star on top of its Christmas tree after protests.

BBC News
Oman's National Museum guest of honour in Belarus event  Times of Oman

Muscat: Oman, represented by the National Museum, has been chosen as the guest of honour of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, which is ...

Times of Oman
Belarus, Slovakia celebrate 26 years of diplomatic relations  Belarus News (BelTA)

The ambassador noted that Slovakia and Belarus are connected by a great number of things, including peaceful intentions. “We don't wage wars but want to live ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Here, in the bloodlands of Belarus, I found hope for the future of Europe  The Guardian

In a region that saw some of the worst 20th-century horrors, there is a yearning for democracy, says Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède.

The Guardian
EU Calls On Belarus To Abolish Death Penalty After Latest Sentencing  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

The European External Action *Service* has called on Belarus to abolish capital punishment, two days after Belarusian authorities pronounced their latest death ...

Spent nuclear fuel of Belarusian NPP to be stored in Belarus  Belsat

Belarus has three scenarios for spent nuclear fuel of the Belarusian NPP. All of them provide for its storage on the Belarusian territory in one form or another.

Wall Street Journal: Belarus in talks to boost US presence  Kyiv Post

MOSCOW—Belarus said it was in talks to boost the U.S. diplomatic presence in the former Soviet republic, a move that could exacerbate tensions between ...

Kyiv Post
Belarusian furniture manufacturers featured at IMM Cologne 2019  Belarus News (BelTA)

Belarusian furniture manufacturers are participating in IMM Cologne 2019 with a single exposition. It features Molodechnomebel, Ivatsevichdrev, Gomel ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Belarus Court Cancels Opposition Spokeswoman's Expulsion  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

A court in Minsk has reversed a decision to expel the press secretary of an opposition party in Belarus.

Charity campaign "Our Children" held in Belarus  TVR

The marathon of good deeds or "Our Children" campaign ended on January 11. Dozens of orphanages, thousands of children, including those with special ...

Belarusian NPP: Lukashenka trying to woo Lithuania  Belsat

The Belarusian nuclear power plant that is being constructed in Astravets does not pose a threat to neighbouring countries, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said when ...

Russian politician: I would not wish Ukraine's experience on Belarus  Belsat

The risk of spoiling relations with Belarus is 'in the air', Yevgeny Roizman, a former mayor of Yekaterinburg, politician and social activist, told Echo of Moscow.

Lukashenko says union between Belarus and Russia has been successful  TASS

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reminded that in 2019 Russia and Belarus will celebrate the 20th anniversary of signing the agreement on ...

Pressure against Belarusian independent media: what's next?  Belarus Digest

Since August 2018 till present, the Belarusian authorities put pressure on independent media resources, including the top Belarusian media outlet TUT.BY.

Belarus Digest
'Stupid questions': Belarus president about uniting with Russia  Belsat

“I believe these questions are exceedingly stupid and far-fetched for the sake of discussion in our society,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes him.

Belarus lost ally's trust – Russian Finance Minister  Belsat

There have been regular violations of the-Russian-Belarusian customs regime, Russia's First Deputy PM and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. The official ...

Statement by the Spokesperson on a death sentence in Belarus  Council of Europe

Today we have learned with regret about another death sentence in Belarus, pronounced by the Mogilev Regional Court. We hope that this decision can be ...

Council of Europe
OUTLOOK 2019 Belarus  bne IntelliNews

PoliticsIn the placid pool of Belarusian domestic politics the only thing making any waves is the apparent effort by Russia to wean the republic ...

bne IntelliNews
Belarus president congratulates Pashinyan on his election as Armenian premier  Arka News Agency

YEREVAN, January 15. /ARKA/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko congratulated yesterday Nikol Pashinyan on his election as Armenian prime ...

Arka News Agency
Belarus president's New Year address  Belarus News (BelTA)

Dear friends,. There comes the most wonderful time of the year when the past, the present and the future become one thing. And we have only a few seconds to ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Step up Vladimir Putin, president of Belarus?  The Independent

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is hardly known for soft diplomacy – but his most recent comments on the state of relations with Russia were ...

The Independent
Top 10 events of Belarus Civil Society in 2018 according to Pact  Belarus Digest

Traditionally Pact highlights some of the most prominent developments in and affecting Belarus civil society. Belarus Digest publishes the top ten list below.

Belarus Digest
Democracy Index-2018: Belarus remains authoritarian regime  Belsat

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) considers Belarus an authoritarian regime in its recent Democracy Index. Our country takes 137th place (out of 167) with a ...

World ignoring threat of Russia's swallowing Belarus – Anne Applebaum  Belsat

Vladimir Putin's appetite has grown; as Russia's economy is far from perfect and his popularity is sliding, Putin may set his sights on Belarus, US journalist and ...

Autocephaly would mean death of Belarus Orthodox church – Metropolitan Pavel  Belsat

Autocephaly would definitely pose a threat to the Belarusian Orthodox church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Pavel (Ponomaryov), Metropolitan of Minsk and ...

A revolutionary 2018? Belarus's government changes its face  Belarus Digest

2018 witnessed huge changes in the Belarusian government. In August, President Alexander Lukashenka dismissed the prime minister, three deputy prime ...

Belarus Digest
Drunk Ukrainians try to drive their way to Belarus  Belsat

Pinsk border guards have prevented an intoxicated driver from entering Belarus.

The Presidential Special Prize - Belarus awarded to Armed Forces Academic Song and Dance Band  TVR

The band is 80 years old. It is popular not only in our country, but also abroad. The band will celebrate its anniversary on January 11 on the stage of the House of ...

Belarus-Russia energy dispute snowballs  bne IntelliNews

Russia has refused to discuss with a high-level delegation from Minsk possible ways of compensating Belarus for its multi-billion losses from ...

bne IntelliNews
Belarus blogger files complaint against authorities to UN  Belsat

Blogger Andrey Pavuk, a resident of Aktsyabrski urban-type village, has filed an individual complaint against the Belarusian authorities to the United Nations ...

Austrian minister who danced with Putin coming to Belarus  Belsat

Karin Kneissl, Austria's Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs will arrive in Belarus on January, 15. “The Austrian minister is scheduled to meet with ...

White-red-white flag may become historical and cultural treasure of Belarus  Belsat

The draft law on the status of the white-red-white flag will be put to a vote of Belarusian deputies at the spring session of the House of Representatives.

Belarus CEC Chair spoke about election dates in Belarus  Belsat

The Chair of the Central Election Commission, Lidziya Yarmoshyna, stated that the presidential election in Belarus is be held no later than August 30, 2020, and ...

Belarusian speed skater Vitaly Mikhailov 10th in Italy  Belarus News (BelTA)

MINSK, 14 January (BelTA) – Vitaly Mikhailov of Belarus finished tenth in the Men AllRound at the 2019 European Speed Skating Championships that ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Russian gray imports destroying Belarusian open markets  Belsat

Open market trading in Belarus is dying before our eyes. Earlier in the Salihorsk market, entrepreneurs fought for places, now they just leave them empty.

Belarus central bank keeps key rate unchanged at 10%  bne IntelliNews

The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) left its key refinancing rate unchanged at 10%, the regulator said in a statement published on December ...

bne IntelliNews
Alexey Venediktov: Kremlin views Belarus just like it viewed Crimea  Belsat

The chief editor of “Echo of Moscow” Alexey Venediktov on the air of his radio station told how Moscow views the possibility of the annexation of Belarus.

Belarus court passes death sentence on murderer of two girls  Belsat

36-year-old Alyaksandr Asipovich has been sentenced to death on January, 9. Last summer the brutal murder of two girls in Babruysk shocked the whole ...

109 MW Belarus PV project commences construction, located on site irradiated in Chernobyl nuclear disaster  pv magazine International

Belarusian civil engineering company ZAO Belzarubezhstroy has been awarded the contract to build a 109 MW PV power plant in in the Cherikov District of the ...

pv magazine International
Belarus at 66th place in world passport rating — worst in region  Belsat

Our country has improved its position in the world ranking. Now Belarusian passport holders can visit 77 countries around the world without a visa.

Weightlifters From Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia Hit After Doping Tests  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Five weightlifters from former Soviet states, including two former Olympic champions, have been provisionally suspended after retests of their samples from the ...

Double homicide: Another death sentence looming in Belarus?  Belsat

On January 8, a double homicide case is being presented in Babruysk court. The defendant is an ex-con who served 12 years for previous crimes.

Hidden threats in Russian Yak-130 supplies for Belarus air force  UNIAN-Economy

In 2019, Belarus plans to procure from Russia four more Yak-130 combat-training aircraft as well as the first group of Su-30SM fighters, produced at the Irkutsk ...

High share of innovative products in sales of Belarusian steel mill BMZ  Belarus News (BelTA)

GOMEL, 15 January (BelTA) – In 2018 the Belarusian steel mill BMZ shipped over 2.36 million tonnes of metal products, 106.2% as against 2017. Innovative ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Blogging For God: Belarusian Priest Makes YouTube His Pulpit  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Alyaksandr Kukhta is an Orthodox priest for a small parish in Belarus, but he has twice as many followers online as in real life. He's earned loyal viewers with his ...

EuroBasket Women 2019: Meesseman, Belgium play Russia, Belarus, Serbia  Bullets Forever

On December 12, FIBA Europe announced the group draws for EuroBasket Women 2019. For Mystics forward Emma Meesseman and the No. 16 Belgium ...

Bullets Forever
Ukraine and Belarus agree to Dnieper river improvements  FreshPlaza.com

FreshPlaza is the number one portal for the *fresh* produce industry, offering the latest news, job advertisements, pricewatching, and photo reports.

President of Belarus to hold talks with Putin in Moscow  Armenpress.am

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 28, ARMENPRESS. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko will pay a working visit to Russia on December 29 to hold negotiations ...

ED HEADS OFF TO RUSSIA, BELARUS newsdzeZimbabweNewsdzeZimbabwe  NewsdzeZimbabwe

President Mnangagwa will next week go on a five-nation working visit as his administration intensifies its engagement and re-engagement drive, Presidential ...

Brunei DPMM sign Belarus star for 2019 Singapore Premier League campaign  FOX Sports Asia

Brunei DPMM have confirmed their three foreign signings for the 2019 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season.

FOX Sports Asia
Belarus Border Guards Detain 2 French Citizens for Accidentally Crossing Border  Sputnik International

MINSK (Sputnik) - Belarusian border guards have detained two French nationals early on Monday when the latter accidentally illegally crossed from Lithuania, ...

Sputnik International
Belarusian schools, toilets and library named after Brazilian stripper  Belsat

Even though it was only limited to the Google Maps, the new flash mob came to Belarus from Russia. There has been no reaction from the Google Maps yet.

Belarus to cooperate with World Bank's Human Capital Project  Belarus News (BelTA)

MINSK, 9 January (BelTA) – On 8 January, Belarus' prime minister signed Resolution No.2р to set up an interdepartmental working group to cooperate with the ...

Belarus News (BelTA)
Belarusian ruble to stay under strong Russian influence in 2019  Belsat

The risk that Belarus in 2019 could face the import of inflation and devaluation processes from Russia is great. This was announced by the Chairman of the ...

Tough Spanish test for Celtic, Arsenal face trip to Belarus and Chelsea to meet Swedish side  The42

CELTIC WILL FACE a Spanish examination, Arsenal will take on opponents from Belarus and Chelsea's focus will be on Sweden after the draw for the last 32 of ...

Belarusian HTP residents reaffirm their high status at world markets  TVR

Belarusian companies, residents of the High-Tech Park have reaffirmed their high status in the world markets. This week Las Vegas has brought together the ...

Belarus belter more focused on Canberra title than Aus Open draw  The Canberra Times

The Australian Open draw came out on Thursday but Belarus belter Ilya Ivashka didn't check who he'll come up against in the opening round at Melbourne Park.

The Canberra Times
Belarusian Koliada held in China  TVR

Belarusian Ambassador to this country Kirill Rudy shared the video on his twitter. For the third year in a row Belarusian Koliada is held in China. This time it was ...

Belarusian enterprises continue to trade with DNR and LNR. Belsat unveils another scheme  Belsat

Throughout the past year, Belarusian goods used various bypasses to get into the Russian-ccupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Trade between ...

Belarusian court sided with Belsat  Belsat

A year and a half ago, our journalists launched an investigation into the mismanagement and nepotism in the energy sector of Belarus. It was followed by the ...

Self-styled 'sex coach' who offered to trade info on US election unexpectedly pleads guilty  CNN

The prostitution trial of a self-styled sex coach who claims to have insider knowledge of Moscow's attempts to meddle in the US elections ended abruptly on ...

Granting benefits to women's businesses will be dead-end – Belarusian economist  Belsat

Not only anti-corruption schemes and improved tax legislation, but also more kindergartens are needed for the further promotion of entrepreneurship in Belarus.

Belarusian Central Bank issues new two-ruble coins  Belsat

On December 28, the National Bank issued commemorative coins of the series “Architectural Heritage of Belarus”, which are legal means of payment in Belarus, ...

Belarus' leader slams Russian talk of taking over his nation  Fox News

The leader of Belarus on Friday accused some politicians in Russia of floating the prospect of incorporating his nation, and vowed that he wouldn't let it happen.

Fox News
The 100 Club: Vera Lapko riding Belarusian boom into 2019  WTA Tennis

The 100 Club honors the players who have made their Top 100 debut in 2018: in this edition, 20-year-old Vera Lapko of Belarus details a season of firsts which ...

WTA Tennis
Belarusian Opposition Party Spokeswoman Ordered To Leave Country  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

The press secretary of an opposition party in Belarus, a Russian citizen, says she has been ordered to leave the country.

Belarus Detains 18 Journalists in Raids at Independent Outlets  The New York Times

MOSCOW — The authorities in Belarus have detained at least 18 journalists, accusing them of unlawfully obtaining information from a state news agency, local ...

The New York Times
Belarus Executes Two Convicted Murderers, Prompting EU Criticism  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Belarus has executed two convicted murderers, the human rights group Vyasna (Spring) said, prompting the European Union to redouble its calls for President ...

Belarusian media is ‘on the edge of survival’ amid crackdown  The Washington Post

MINSK, Belarus — The Belarusian government is cracking down on journalists who report without its permission, issuing the most fines since the country's ...

The Washington Post
Belarus: The Capital Of Cold Hearts?  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

A new survey claims Belarusians are among the least emotional people on Earth. But judging from these moments captured over the years by photojournalists, ...

Lukashenka Says No Need For Russian Military Base In Belarus, Praises U.S. Role In Europe  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said that the U.S. "military and political role" in Europe is crucial to regional security and emphasized that he ...

Hero In Ukraine, Hated In Belarus  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Mikhail Zhyzneuski, who was shot dead during the Euromaidan protests of 2014, is considered a hero in Ukraine. But in his home city of Homel in Belarus, his ...

On the trail of wolves in Belarus  The Guardian

Deep in the vast enchanting forest, visitors track endangered wolves with a zoologist passionate about their survival.

The Guardian
Belarus and Its Neighbors: Ups and Downs in Relations  The Jamestown Foundation

For four days, Minsk did not officially comment on last month's (November 25) Russian-Ukrainian naval conflagration that occurred around the Kerch Strait.

The Jamestown Foundation
Belarusian Authorities Raid Offices Of Independent Media, Detain Three Journalists  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Belarusian authorities have raided the Minsk offices of two independent news outlets and detained three journalists, claiming they illegally obtained information ...

Belarus president fires prime minister after corruption scandal  The Guardian

Belarus's strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko has sacked his prime minister and other key members of government following a corruption scandal that saw ...

The Guardian
Why is Belarus cracking down on independent journalists — and the Internet?  The Washington Post

Last week, authorities in Belarus detained at least 19 journalists from various independent media organizations and confiscated documents, cellphones and ...

The Washington Post
Belarus and Ukraine: Fort Trump’s accidental victims?  European Council on Foreign Relations

"Fort Trump" would further the security spiral in eastern Europe, catching Ukraine and Belarus in the crossfire between Russia and the West. During a recent visit ...

European Council on Foreign Relations
Belarus and Azerbaijan Enhance Their Strategic Military Partnership  The Jamestown Foundation

On November 19, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev paid a long-awaited official visit to Belarus, where he met with his counterpart, President Alyaksandr ...

The Jamestown Foundation
Inside Belarus as Europe's last dictatorship struggles to restyle itself as a Silicon Valley rival  Wired.co.uk

Belarus has plenty of clever software developers. But is that enough for an autocratic nation to reinvent itself as a startup success?

Belarus Receives Alarming Signals From Both East and West  The Jamestown Foundation

Belarus has never lacked for individuals benefiting from either Eastern or Western support. Their actions, however, often left Belarusians disappointed.

The Jamestown Foundation
Belarus Passes Legislation Against 'Fake News' Media  RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Belarusian lawmakers have passed controversial amendments to the country's media laws despite claims by domestic and international groups that the move ...

A Booming Entrepreneurial Heartbeat...in Belarus  Forbes Now

Will Belarus grow into a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Forbes Now
Belarus Finds Itself Between a Rock and a Hard Place  The Jamestown Foundation

The putative detachment of Belarus from Russia as well as a twin topic, the supposed annexation of Belarus by Russia, are never-ending refrains in both ...

The Jamestown Foundation

Belarus Videos

Belarus. Interesting  Facts: Cities People & Nature
Belarus. Interesting Facts: Cities People & Nature
Geography Now! Belarus
Geography Now! Belarus
सुंदर महिलाओं का देश बेलोरूस // Belarus Sundar Mahilaon Ka Desh
सुंदर महिलाओं का देश बेलोरूस // Belarus Sundar Mahilaon Ka Desh
Travel To Belarus | Full History And Documentary About Belarus In Urdu & Hindi | بیلاروس کی سیر
Travel To Belarus | Full History And Documentary About Belarus In Urdu & Hindi | بیلاروس کی سیر
Belarus: Undercover in Europe's last dictatorship | Channel 4 News
Belarus: Undercover in Europe's last dictatorship | Channel 4 News
Blackout Ep. 3: Inside Belarus, Europe's Last Dictatorship
Blackout Ep. 3: Inside Belarus, Europe's Last Dictatorship
Minsk Belarus. City | Sights | People
Minsk Belarus. City | Sights | People
What Belarus people think about India
What Belarus people think about India

Belarus Images

The Best of Culture in Belarus
The Best of Culture in Belarus
Belarus’ Youth Biathlon Championships in Raubichi (January ...
Belarus’ Youth Biathlon Championships in Raubichi (January ...
Lubiniecki Welding & Equipment - Belarus 1025 Gallery
Lubiniecki Welding & Equipment - Belarus 1025 Gallery
Axis Powers: Hetalia - Himaruya Hidekaz - Image #165317 ...
Axis Powers: Hetalia - Himaruya Hidekaz - Image #165317 ...
Belarus 50 Ruble 2000 Banknote
Belarus 50 Ruble 2000 Banknote
Cabbage harvesting | Official Website of the Republic of ...
Cabbage harvesting | Official Website of the Republic of ...
MZKT (Volat) | Official Website of the Republic of Belarus
MZKT (Volat) | Official Website of the Republic of Belarus
Kossovo Palace (2008) | Official Website of the Republic ...
Kossovo Palace (2008) | Official Website of the Republic ...
Fishing on the Volma River in autumn, Minsk region ...
Fishing on the Volma River in autumn, Minsk region ...

Belarus WebSites


Belarus Wiki

Belarus (; Belarusian: Беларусь, IPA: [bʲɛlaˈrusʲ]), officially the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian: Рэспубліка Беларусь, Russian: Республика Беларусь), formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia (Russian: Белоруссия), is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk (11th to 14th centuries), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, which was conquered by Soviet Russia. The Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR). Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921. Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, and were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR.The parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been widely criticized as unfair; and according to many countries and organizations, political opposition has been violently suppressed. Belarus is also the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating is the lowest in Europe, the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, and is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations.In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, forming the Union State. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian. The Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following; nevertheless, Belarus celebrates both Orthodox and Catholic versions of Christmas and Easter as national holidays. Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but nevertheless maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, and likewise participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative.