Belarus in the Lukashenka Era: National Identity and Relations with Russia

  • Per Anders Rudling


The political development in the Republic of Belarus differs sharply from that of Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, and Lithuania during the past decade. While her neighbors have ascended on a path toward democracy and greater transparency, Belarus has been descending into authoritarianism. Politically, Belarus shows more similarities with the republics of post-Soviet Central Asia than with its neighbors in Europe. In fewer than fifteen years, Belarus has gone from being a new and fragile democracy to a pariah state, which the United States refers to as an “outpost of tyranny” and the European Union (EU) calls “the last dictatorship in Europe.”1 Belarus’ political evolution during the post-Communist period can be divided into three phases: independence, liberalization, and establishment of democratic national institutions (1991–94); conflict between president and parliament, strengthening of the presidential powers, and weakening of democratic institutions and independence (1994–96); and one-man authoritarian rule (since 1997).2 Why and how did this happen in Belarus? This article seeks to find some of the answers in the absence of a strong national identity and in the public’s weak identification with the national institutions.


European Union National Identity Presidential Election State Symbol Soviet Republic 
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Copyright information

© Oliver Schmidtke and Serhy Yekelchyk, eds. 2008

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  • Per Anders Rudling

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