Belarus profile - Timeline


A chronology of key events:

1918 - Towards the end of World War I, Belarus proclaims its independence as the Belarusian National Republic.

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Image caption,
Agriculture is still an important feature of the economy in Belarus

1919 - The Russian Red Army conquers Belarus, and establishes communist rule.

1921 - The Treaty of Riga divides Belarus between Poland and Soviet Russia.

Stalin's purges

1930s - Belarus suffers heavily from the purges of intellectuals and political opponents ordered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. More than 100,000 people are executed in Belarus, and thousands more sent to labour camps.

1941 - Nazi Germany invades during the course of World War II. More than one million people are killed during the occupation, including most of the large Jewish population. 1944 - The Soviet Red Army drives the Germans out of Belarus.

1945 - At the end of the war, western Belarus - previously part of Poland - is amalgamated into the Soviet Union.

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Image caption,
Belarusian, Polish veterans meet at the Lenino Second World War battle site

1960s - A policy of Russification relegates the Belarusian language and culture to second-class status.

1986 - Belarus is heavily affected by the fall-out from the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl in neighbouring Ukraine. Around 20% of agricultural land is contaminated and rendered unusable.

1988 - The Belarusian Popular Front formed as part of nationalist revival prompted by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's political liberalisation. 1990 - Belarusian becomes the official state language.


1991 - Belarus declares its independence as the Soviet Union breaks up.

1994 - Alexander Lukashenko wins the first presidential election on a campaign of fighting corruption and re-establishing close ties with Russia.

1995 - Friendship and cooperation pact signed with Russia, and referendums restore Russian as co-official language and boost the president's powers.

1996 - An agreement to create an economic union is signed with Russia. President Lukashenko increases his powers again and extends his term in office.

1997 - Lukashenko opponents agree a pro-democracy manifesto entitled Charter 97. Belarus's observer status in the Council of Europe is suspended.

1998 - The Belarus rouble sees its value halved. Food rationing is imposed. Belarus signs an accord with Russia, which would see their currencies and tax systems merge, although this ultimately does not come about.

Tension with West

2001 September - President Lukashenko re-elected to serve second term. Opposition and Western observers say elections were unfair and undemocratic.

2002 August - President Lukashenko rejects Russian proposals for a tighter form of union under the Russian constitution, with a unified government and parliament.

2004 April - Council of Europe condemns human rights abuses after report accuses authorities of blocking investigation into the fate of four men with opposition links who disappeared in Minsk in 1999 and 2000. EU imposes travel restrictions on number of senior officials.

2004 October - Referendum backs change allowing president to serve more than previous limit of two terms. Opposition parties fail to win a single seat in parliamentary elections held at same time. Western observers say vote is neither free nor fair.

Street protests ensue. Demonstrators clash with police and dozens are arrested.

2004 November - EU extends travel restrictions on senior officials. US imposes sanctions.

2005 August - Diplomatic row with Poland over treatment of ethnic Poles accused of stirring up unrest in a bid to overthrow President Lukashenko.

Poll protests

2006 March - President Lukashenko declared winner by landslide in elections condemned as unfair by Western observers.

Opposition arrests reported as protesters in capital demand fresh vote.

2006 April - EU imposes visa ban on President Lukashenko and numerous ministers and officials.

Defeated presidential election candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich jailed for 15 days after attending rally to mark anniversary of Chernobyl disaster in neighbouring Ukraine.

2006 July - Defeated presidential election candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin convicted of hooliganism and incitement to mass disorder. He is jailed for five and a half years.

Gas and oil row

2006 December - After tense negotiations during which Moscow threatened to cut supplies, a new gas deal is signed with Russia which more than doubles the price and phases in further increases over four years.

2007 January - Russia cuts the supply along an oil export pipeline to Europe amid a row with Belarus over taxation and allegations of siphoning. The dispute ends after Russia agrees to cut the oil duty it will charge Belarus.

2007 May - Belarus fails in its bid to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, a result hailed by rights groups as lending credibility to the council.

2007 August - Russia says it will almost halve gas supplies to Belarus over unpaid debt.

2008 March - US Ambassador Karen Stewart leaves country indefinitely after Belarus asks her to leave. Belarus withdrew its own ambassador from Washington the previous week in a row over US sanctions. US denies Belarussian accusations that US diplomats recruited citizens as spies.

2008 May - Belarus expels 11 US diplomats in row over US criticism of Belarus' human rights record.

Media curbs

2008 June - International tender launched for nuclear power plant.

Parliament passes new media law that independent journalists say will restrict online reporting and private media funding ahead of the autumn parliamentary elections.

2008 August - Former opposition presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin and two other dissidents freed from prison.

2008 September - Government candidates win all 110 seats in parliamentary polls; European observers say the vote fell short of international standards but note improvements since last election.

2008 October - EU lifts its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko in an attempt to encourage democratic reform, a month after US does the same.

2009 April - President Lukashenko visits the Vatican in his first official visit to Western Europe since 1995.

Tensions with Russia

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Belarus experiences frost for five or six months of the year

2010 January - Belarus threatens to cut electricity supply to Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad in dispute over Russian oil supplies to Belarus. 2010 June - President Lukashenko orders the shutdown of transit of Russian gas to Europe after Moscow slashes supplies to Minsk in a debt dispute. Russia's Gazprom state gas company later resumes supplies after Belarus pays the outstanding debt.

2010 July - Belarus signs up for customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan despite objections to continued Russian duty on oil and gas exports.

2010 September - European Union Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton calls for probe into death of Aleh Byabenin, founder of opposition website Charter '97, who was found hanged.

2010 December - Presidential elections. President Lukashenko declared winner. Opposition and western observers allege vote rigging. Mass protests in Minsk are broken up by force, with 600 arrests.

International sanctions

2011 January - President Lukashenko is inaugurated for a fourth term in office. The EU reinstates a travel ban on him and freezes his assets, while the US imposes stricter financial controls and widens its travel bans on senior officials.

2011 April - Explosion hits a busy metro station in Minsk, killing 15. President Lukashenko alleges a plot by "fifth columnists" to destabilize the country. Two suspects are executed.

2011 May - Opposition leader Andrey Sannikau is sentenced to five years in prison for organising protests over the December elections. His wife, the journalist Iryna Khalip, receives a suspended prison sentence.

Belarus cuts the official value of its rouble currency against the dollar by 36%, leaving it still less than half of the freely-traded interbank rate. This follows its most serious balance of payments crisis since independence, which drains its hard currency reserves.


2011 June - Belarus asks the IMF for an emergency loan of up to $8bn over a balance of payments crisis. Russia halves electricity supplies to Belarus over unpaid bills and in an effort to persuade the government to privatise lucrative assets. Belarus seeks a Russian-led $1.2bn bailout, which is conditional on reforms.

2011 July - Hundreds are beaten and arrested after a month of nationwide anti-government protests.

2011 September - The Belarusian rouble falls sharply after the government allows a limited flotation in a bid to ease the financial crisis.

2011 November - Russia agrees to sell Belarus gas at 60% below the price charged to other European countries, in return for the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom taking full ownership of the Belarusian gas pipeline firm Beltranshaz.

2012 January - A new law restricts access to foreign websites and forces internet clubs and cafes to report users visiting sites registered abroad, prompting the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders freedom monitor to list Belarus as an Enemy of the Internet.

2012 February - The European Union recalls its ambassadors from Belarus after the government expels the EU envoy and Polish ambassador in protest at further sanctions.

2012 April - Opposition activists Andrei Sannikau and Zmitser Bandarenka are released from prison early, but others remain in jail.

2012 August - President Lukashenko sacks the foreign minister and the air defence and border guard commanders, and expels the Swedish ambassador after human-rights activists fly into Belarusian airspace to drop teddy bears with pro-democracy messages.

2012 September - Major opposition parties boycott parliamentary elections, complaining they are rigged. Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe observers say election not free.

2014 March - Belarus asks Russia to deploy extra fighter jets and military transport aircraft to its territory after NATO boosts its forces in the neighbouring Baltic countries. The moves come amid increasing tension caused by the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Overtures to West

2015 August - President Lukashenko pardons six jailed opposition leaders, including former presidential candidate Mykalay Statkevich, in move widely seen as attempt to persuade European Union to open up trade.

2015 October - President Lukashenko wins fifth presidential term. No significant opposition candidate was allowed to stand.

2016 September - Two opposition candidates win seats in parliamentary elections in what is otherwise a clean sweep for pro-government forces, although activities say the pair's success was engineered by the authorities.

2017 February - Around 2,000 protesters rally in the city of Gomel, and more in three other cities, calling for the repeal of an unpopular tax targeting people whom the government deems to be under-employed.

2018 August - After a scandal involving embezzlement of funds from the health service, President Lukashenko dismisses Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakow and several key ministers. Development Bank chief Syarhey Rumas, an advocate of economic liberalisation, takes over.

2020 August - Mass protests follow allegations of rigging in the presidential election, which had officially given President Lukashenko 80% of the vote.