Belarus is an Eastern European country between Poland on the west and Russia on the east with a population of almost ten million and capital city of Minsk. In 1986, one third of the country was contaminated by the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine (a country to the south). Belarus now suffers from high cases of birth defects and cancer and 25 percent of the country is considered uninhabitable. 
- The Belarussian authorities have been heavily criticised by human rights and media organisations for suppressing freedom of speech, muzzling the independent press and denying the opposition access to state-owned media. The Committee to Protect Journalists has described Belarus as one of the 10 "worst places to be a journalist". President Lukashenko appears on the Reporters Without Borders organisation's list of "predators of press freedom"; it accuses his government of carrying out a "systematic crackdown" on the private press.
The Central Europe Review wrote:
- On 4 June 1998, the Belarusian legislature approved a bill, which made insulting Lukashenko a criminal offence. The bill states that public insults directed against the President may be punished by up to four years in prison, two years in a labour camp or a fine. Since the definition of "public insult" is not clarified by the legislation, the passage of this bill leaves much open to interpretation - adding significantly to the President's power.
Public relations in Belarus
President Lukashenko now issues orders, replacing the orders previously issued by the Communist Party. One of his orders 'will see enterprises with more than 300 workers and collective farms with over 100 hands introduce the post of "Deputy Director for Information and Public Relations." The motive behind the position is intended to promote government policy among ordinary Belarusians as the country battles an economic crisis. This is comparable to the Soviet era, when every factory and farm had a so-called "ideological" worker to provide pep talks to the workers.'
- Alexander Lukashenko, President
Related SourceWatch articles
- Belarus, National Geographic, accessed February 2008.
- Country profile: Belarus, BBC, accessed February 2008.
- Peter Szyszlo, "Belarusian Paradoxes", Central Europe Review, August 9, 1999.
- "EU extends sanctions on Belarus", BBC, May 18, 2006.
- Timeline: Belarus, BBC, accessed February 2008.
- "British PR guru strikes contract with Belarusian government", BelaPAN (Белорусские новости), August 5, 2008.