Belarus Country Report
President Alexander Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was comfortably re-elected until 2020 in October 2015. His authoritarian government is sustained by the loyal "vertical of power" of appointed officials, the repressive security services, and the political system is characterised by weak legal protection, and frequent and unpredictable policy changes, often by presidential decree. Protest and government instability risks have been marginally increased by a poor economic conditions due to contagion from the economic weaknesses in Russia. However, a marginalised and disunited opposition and civil society combined with repressive police and security forces mean that the protests in the one-year outlook are unlikely to attract more than 10,000 participants in Minsk and even smallerrallies in regional cities.
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.
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 increased risk from individuals who participated in hostilities in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq and who could be in transit to third countries.
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.
Weak opposition, civil society, and repressive security services make large protests in Belarus unlikely. Small protests are likely to grow if economic weaknesses remain, especially against unemployment, falling 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 leading 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 against protests deemed by the authorities as destabilising, especially those in Minsk.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
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.
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Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz