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Country Reports

Belarus Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

President Alexander Lukashenka, in power since 1994, is very likely to seek re-election on completion of his current term in August 2020. He is unlikely to be challenged seriously: the domestic opposition remains disunited and marginalised. The only realistic threat to Lukashenka’s continued rule would be a potential Russian move to replace him with a more amenable candidate, and this scenario is currently low probability. Lukashenka’s authoritarian government is sustained by the loyal "vertical of power" of appointed officials and the repressive security services. The political system is characterised by weak legal protection and unpredictable policy changes from the top. In May 2019 Lukashenka announced forthcoming but yet unspecified constitutional amendments.The desire to attract foreign direct investment from Russia, China, and Western countries is likely to push the Belarusian government to make further gradual improvements in the operational environment, further simplifying regulation and taxation for foreign investors. However, legal protection is likely to remain weak with courts remaining under strong influence from the executive branch and favour state interests. The Belarusian growth outlook has deteriorated due to increasingly unsupportive base effects, weakening external environment, and the planned changes to taxation of imports of Russian crude oil. Due to fast wage growth and exchange rate depreciation, inflation is projected to remain on an intensifying path. Immediate liquidity pressures have eased for now, with improved access to external financing. In the medium-to-long term, however, financial risks remain high given Belarus' extensive external financing needs. Notwithstanding temporary quarterly surpluses, the current-account deficit remains unsustainably wide, taking into account the country's high debt repayment needs. The exchange rate of the Belarusian rouble remains very fragile and vulnerable in relation to movements of the Russian rouble, and in light of the overall change in international investor sentiment, which is becoming more risk-averse as US interest rates are rising and the US dollar is strengthening.
Last update: September 27, 2019

Operational Outlook

The attraction of Belarus from an investment point of view is in its skilled workforce, proximity to the EU market, which allows for low transit costs, a well-developed transport infrastructure, and participation in the EEU. The main operational constraints are the large bureaucracy and the unpredictability of the government policy. The president controls the state administration tightly, and can use the state bureaucracy to cause problems for unwanted investors. But this tight control also means that investors are likely to experience fewer problems if a venture coincides with the president's economic priorities.

Last update: August 21, 2019

Terrorism

Low

Belarus does not face a significant threat from terrorist organisations. However, the country has suffered some attacks, including an April 2011 bomb attack on a metro station in central Minsk, which left 15 people dead and 203 injured. This attack was linked to previous attacks in Vicebsk in September 2005 and in Minsk in July 2008. Two men were executed for undertaking the plot. Beyond these incidents, the probability of a terrorist attack by an organised group is extremely small. There is, however, an elevated risk from individuals who participated in hostilities in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq and who could be in transit to third countries.

Last update: August 21, 2019

Crime

Crime levels in Belarus remain low compared to the regional average, largely due to the low degree of income polarisation and to the omnipresent police and security forces. As of 2018, Belarus had 550 Ministry of the Interior personnel per 100,000 of population, one of the highest levels in Europe. In 2018, Belarusian police registered 83,813 crime reports, 2.9% less than a year earlier. Only 12.3% of the total number of crimes was qualified as grievous crime. The risk of violent crime remains low. As of 2017, the total penitentiary system population was 35,200 or 5.7% more than a year earlier.

Last update: August 21, 2019

War Risks

The risk of war involving Belarus is small despite recent increases. While Belarus is a part of the CSTO with Russia and Kazakhstan, and its servicemen may be involved in operations of the CSTO collective forces, such as joint exercises, since early 2017 there have been growing Moscow-Minsk political and trade disputes. Small Russian military outposts are stationed in the country, and Moscow is interested in additional military installations, which could potentially be used against Ukraine. The defence ministry is also wary of a potential hybrid war threat from Moscow, similar to the annexation of Crimea as Russia increased its military presence along its Western borders.

Last update: August 21, 2019

Social Stability

Moderate

Weak opposition and civil society groups, and repressive security services make large protests in Belarus unlikely. Small protests are likely to grow if economic weaknesses remain, especially against unemployment, stagnant incomes, increasing charges for household utilities, plans to increase the pension age, and against ad-hoc intrusive regulations affecting the small businesses. There has recently been a trend on co-operation between some opposition figures and leaders of small market traders protesting against the growing regulation for small businesses. Police and security forces are likely to use excessive force and mass detentions against protests deemed by the authorities as destabilising, especially those in Minsk.

Last update: August 21, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccines Required to Enter the Country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Belarus has a continental climate with long harsh winters; snow is present until March-April. Spring begins in the month of May. Summers are mild and rainy (thunderstorms) but sunny days are also common. Autumn comes to the country in mid-September and brings a significant decrease in temperatures.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +375
Local police in Minsk: 102

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019