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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, was declared the winner of the 9 August 2020 presidential election with more than 80% of the vote. The EU, UK, and Canada did not recognise the results, citing evidence of widespread electoral manipulation. The ongoing protests and strikes elevate the likelihood of Lukashenka’s departure, in which case the opposition and its candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, currently in forced exile abroad, would be likely to take over.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. This “vertical of power” is still mostly loyal to Lukashenka despite several resignations of mid-ranking officials.Ongoing political instability is likely to harm the operational environment as the government is becoming increasingly hostile to private-sector firms, including foreign investors. In addition, legal protection is likely to remain weak, with courts remaining under strong influence from the executive and favouring state interests. The ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Belarus in 2020–21 is likely to increase tax inconsistency and regulatory uncertainty.The Belarusian growth outlook has deteriorated owing to a weakening external environment and the announced changes to Russian oil import taxation. We currently project that the economy will contract by 7.1% in 2020, and grow by 2.3% in 2021; a far cry from the government's previous unrealistic target of 2.8% for 2020. External financing risks going into 2020-21 are high, as Russia is calling for closer political, security, and economic integration in return for economic and financial assistance. A detailed bilateral tax and regulation integration plan has been prepared but not yet finalised. Trade disputes between Belarus and Russia, such as the oil dispute in January–March 2020, serve as an indicator of further bilateral disagreements.
Last update: September 11, 2020

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. Labour strikes, which began in August 2020 following the disputed presidential election, are currently affecting state-owned enterprises.

Last update: August 26, 2020

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 22, 2020

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 2020, Belarus had 520 Ministry of the Interior personnel per 100,000 of population, one of the highest levels in Europe. In 2019, Belarusian police registered 83,378 crime reports, 41% fewer than in 2009. Only 12.1% of the total number of crimes was qualified as grievous crime. The risk of violent crime remains low. As of 2020, the total penitentiary system population was 32,500 or 6.9% fewer than a year earlier.

Last update: August 22, 2020

War Risks

The risk of war involving Belarus is moderate 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 22, 2020

Social Stability

Moderate

In August 2020, unprecedented mass protests broke out in Minsk and other cities and towns across Belarus due to the contested presidential election’s results. Protests are decentralised and effectively leaderless, but involve dozens of thousands of peaceful protesters nationwide. Police and security forces are likely to use excessive force, including water cannons, rubber bullets and stun grenades, and mass detentions against protests deemed by the authorities as destabilising, especially those in Minsk. Use of live ammunition, as witnessed on 12 August in Brest, further elevates death and injury risks for protesters and bystanders.

Last update: August 22, 2020

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