After seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991. It has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than have any of the other former Soviet republics. Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration. Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious implementation has yet to take place. Since his election in July 1994 as the country's first and only directly elected president, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place. The situation was somewhat aggravated after security services cracked down on mass protests challenging election results in the capital, Minsk, following the 2010 presidential election, but little protest occurred after the 2015 election.



Eastern Europe, east of Poland

Geographic coordinates

53 00 N, 28 00 E

Map references



total: 207,600 sq km
land: 202,900 sq km
water: 4,700 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Kentucky; slightly smaller than Kansas

Land boundaries

total: 3,642 km
border countries (5): Latvia 161 km, Lithuania 640 km, Poland 418 km, Russia 1,312 km, Ukraine 1,111 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


cold winters, cool and moist summers; transitional between continental and maritime


generally flat with much marshland


mean elevation: 160 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Nyoman River 90 m
highest point: Dzyarzhynskaya Hara 346 m

Natural resources

timber, peat deposits, small quantities of oil and natural gas, granite, dolomitic limestone, marl, chalk, sand, gravel, clay

Land use

agricultural land: 43.7%
arable land 27.2%; permanent crops 0.6%; permanent pasture 15.9%
forest: 42.7%
other: 13.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1,140 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl' in northern Ukraine

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

landlocked; glacial scouring accounts for the flatness of Belarusian terrain and for its 11,000 lakes

People and Society


9,570,376 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Belarusian(s)
adjective: Belarusian

Ethnic groups

Belarusian 83.7%, Russian 8.3%, Polish 3.1%, Ukrainian 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.9% (2009 est.)


Russian (official) 70.2%, Belarusian (official) 23.4%, other 3.1% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities), unspecified 3.3% (2009 est.)


Orthodox 48.3%, Catholic 7.1%, other 3.5%, non-believers 41.1% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 15.65% (male 770,014/female 727,338)
15-24 years: 10.68% (male 525,704/female 496,414)
25-54 years: 45.04% (male 2,118,447/female 2,191,694)
55-64 years: 13.95% (male 589,288/female 745,815)
65 years and over: 14.69% (male 448,135/female 957,527) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 43%
youth dependency ratio: 23%
elderly dependency ratio: 20%
potential support ratio: 5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 39.8 years
male: 36.8 years
female: 42.9 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.21% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

10.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

13.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

a fairly even distribution throughout most of the country, with urban areas attracting larger and denser populations


urban population: 76.7% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.05% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MINSK (capital) 1.915 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.79 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.46 male(s)/female
total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 54,218
percentage: 5% (2005 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

4 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 72.7 years
male: 67.2 years
female: 78.6 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.48 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

63.1% (2012)

Health expenditures

5.7% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

3.93 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

11.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.9% of population
rural: 99.1% of population
total: 99.7% of population
urban: 0.1% of population
rural: 0.9% of population
total: 0.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 94.1% of population
rural: 95.2% of population
total: 94.3% of population
urban: 5.9% of population
rural: 4.8% of population
total: 5.7% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.64% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

35,200 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

1,000 (2015 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

25.2% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

1.3% (2005)

Education expenditures

4.9% of GDP (2015)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

25.4 (2013 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 12.5%
male: 12.4%
female: 12.6% (2009 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Belarus
conventional short form: Belarus
local long form: Respublika Byelarus'/Respublika Belarus'
local short form: Byelarus'/Belarus'
former: Belorussian (Byelorussian) Soviet Socialist Republic
etymology: the name is a compound of the Belarusian words "bel" (white) and "Rus" (the Old East Slavic ethnic designation) to form the meaning White Rusian or White Ruthenian

Government type

presidential republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship


name: Minsk
geographic coordinates: 53 54 N, 27 34 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

6 provinces (voblastsi, singular - voblasts') and 1 municipality* (horad); Brest, Homyel' (Gomel'), Horad Minsk* (Minsk City), Hrodna (Grodno), Mahilyow (Mogilev), Minsk, Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers; Russian spelling provided for reference when different from Belarusian


25 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday

Independence Day, 3 July (1944); note - 3 July 1944 was the date Minsk was liberated from German troops, 25 August 1991 was the date of independence from the Soviet Union


history: several previous; latest drafted between late 1991 and early 1994, signed 15 March 1994
amendments: proposed by the president of the republic through petition to the National Assembly or by at least 150,000 eligible voters; approval required by at least two-thirds vote of members in both chambers or by simple majority of eligible voters in a referendum (2016)

Legal system

civil law system; note - nearly all major codes (civil, civil procedure, criminal, criminal procedure, family, and labor) have been revised and came into force in 1999 or 2000

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Belarus
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: president Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (since 20 July 1994)
head of government: prime minister Andrey KOBYAKOV (since 27 December 2014); first deputy prime minister Vasily MATYUSHEVSKIY (since 27 December 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (no term limits); first election took place on 23 June and 10 July 1994; according to the 1994 constitution, the next election should have been held in 1999, however, Aleksandr LUKASHENKO extended his term to 2001 via a November 1996 referendum; subsequent election held on 9 September 2001; an October 2004 referendum ended presidential term limits and allowed the president to run in a third (19 March 2006), fourth (19 December 2010), and fifth election (11 October 2015); next election in 2020; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
election results: Aleksandr LUKASHENKO reelected president; percent of vote - Aleksandr LUKASHENKO (independent) 83.5%, Tatsiana KARATKEVICH (Tell the Truth) 4.4%, Sergey GAYDUKEVICH (LDP) 3.3%, other 8.8%; note - election marred by electoral fraud

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly or Natsionalnoye Sobraniye consists of the Council of the Republic or Sovet Respubliki (64 seats; 56 members indirectly elected by regional and Minsk city councils and 8 members appointed by the president; members serve 4-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Palata Predstaviteley (110 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 4-year terms); note - the US does not recognize the legitimacy of the National Assembly
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 11 September 2016 (next to be held in 2020); OSCE observers determined that the election was neither free nor impartial and that vote counting was problematic in a number of polling stations; pro-LUKASHENKO candidates won virtually every seat with only the UCP member and one independent forming opposition representation in the House; international observers determined that the previous elections, on 28 September 2008 and 23 September 2012, also fell short of democratic standards, with pro-LUKASHENKO candidates winning every seat
election results: Council of the Republic - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KPB 8, Belarusian Patriotic Party 3, Republican Party of Labor and Justice 3, LDP 1, UCP 1, independents 104

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chairman, deputy chairman, and organized into several specialized panels including economic and military; number of judges set by the president of the republic and the court chairman); Constitutional Court (consists of 12 judges including a chairman and deputy chairman)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president with the consent of the Council of the Republic; judges initially appointed for 5 years and evaluated for life appointment; Constitutional Court judges - 6 including the court chairman appointed by the president and 6 elected by the House of Representatives; judges can serve for 11 years with an age limit of 70
subordinate courts: provincial (including Minsk city) courts; first instance (district) courts; economic courts; military courts

Political parties and leaders

pro-government parties:
Belarusian Agrarian Party or AP [Mikhail SHIMANSKIY]
Belarusian Patriotic Party [Nikolai ULAKHOVICH]
Belarusian Socialist Sporting Party [Vladimir ALEKSANDROVICH]
Communist Party of Belarus or KPB [Igor KARPENKO]
Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sergey GAYDUKEVICH]
Republican Party [Vladimir BELOZOR]
Republican Party of Labor and Justice [Vasiliy ZADNEPRYANIY]
opposition parties:
Belarusian Christian Democracy Party [Pavel SEVERINETS] (unregistered)
Belarusian Liberal Party of Freedom and Progress [Vladimir NOVOSYAD] (unregistered)
Belarusian Party of the Green [Anastasiya DOROFEYEVA]
Belarusian Party of the Left "Fair World" [Sergey KALYAKIN]
Belarusian Popular Front or BPF [Aleksey YANUKEVICH]
Belarusian Social-Democratic Assembly [Stanislav SHUSHKEVICH]
Belarusian Social Democratic Party ("Assembly") or BSDPH [Irina VESHTARD]
Belarusian Social Democratic Party (People's Assembly) [Nikolay STATKEVICH] (unregistered)
Christian Conservative Party or BPF [Zyanon PAZNYAK]
United Civic Party or UCP [Anatoliy LEBEDKO]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs [Sergey MATSKEVICH] (unregistered)
Belarusian Association of Journalists [Andrei BASTUNETS]
Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions [Aleksandr YAROSHUK]
Belarusian Helsinki Committee [Aleh HULAK]
For Freedom Movement [Aleksandr Milinkevich]
Malady Front (Young Front) [Zmitser DASHKEVICH] (unregistered)
Vyasna (Spring) human rights center [Ales BELYATSKIY] (unregistered)
Perspektiva [Anatoliy SHUMCHENKO] (small business association)
"Tell the Truth" Movement [Tatsiana KARATKEVICH] (unregistered)
Women's Independent Democratic Movement [Ludmila PETINA]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant; recalled by Belarus in 2008); Charge d'Affaires Pavel SHIDLOVSKIY (since 23 April 2014)
chancery: 1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 986-1606
FAX: [1] (202) 986-1805
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant; left in 2008 upon insistence of Belarusian Government); Charge d'Affaires Robert RILEY (since 22 August 2016)
embassy: 46 Starovilenskaya Street, Minsk 220002
mailing address: Unit 7010 Box 100, DPO AE 09769
telephone: [375] (17) 210-12-83
FAX: [375] (17) 334-7853

National symbol(s)

no clearly defined current national symbol, the mounted knight known as Pahonia (the Chaser) is the traditional Belarusian symbol; national colors: green, red, white

Flag description

red horizontal band (top) and green horizontal band one-half the width of the red band; a white vertical stripe on the hoist side bears Belarusian national ornamentation in red; the red band color recalls past struggles from oppression, the green band represents hope and the many forests of the country

National anthem

name: "My, Bielarusy" (We Belarusians)
lyrics/music: Mikhas KLIMKOVICH and Uladzimir KARYZNA/Nester SAKALOUSKI
note: music adopted 1955, lyrics adopted 2002; after the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarus kept the music of its Soviet-era anthem but adopted new lyrics; also known as "Dziarzauny himn Respubliki Bielarus" (State Anthem of the Republic of Belarus)


Economy - overview

As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to

Economic output, which had declined for several years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, revived in the mid-2000s due to the boom in oil prices. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil, though it imports most of its crude oil and natural gas

Little new foreign investment has occurred in recent years. In 2011, a financial crisis began, triggered by government directed salary hikes unsupported by commensurate productivity increases. The crisis was compounded by an increased cost in Russian ener

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$165.4 billion (2016 est.)
$170.5 billion (2015 est.)
$177.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$48.13 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

-3% (2016 est.)
-3.9% (2015 est.)
1.7% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$17,500 (2016 est.)
$17,900 (2015 est.)
$18,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

21.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
30.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
28.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 54.6%
government consumption: 15.8%
investment in fixed capital: 30.1%
investment in inventories: 2.6%
exports of goods and services: 57.2%
imports of goods and services: -60.3% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 9.2%
industry: 40.9%
services: 49.8% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

grain, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beets, flax; beef, milk


metal-cutting machine tools, tractors, trucks, earthmovers, motorcycles, televisions, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, textiles, radios, refrigerators

Industrial production growth rate

-3% (2016 est.)

Labor force

4.546 million (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 32.7%
services: 58% (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate

0.7% (2014 est.)
0.5% (2013 est.)
note: official registered unemployed; large number of underemployed workers

Population below poverty line

6.3% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.9% (2008)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

26.5 (2011)
21.7 (1998)


revenues: $21.21 billion
expenditures: $20.92 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

44.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

60.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
48.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

14% (2016 est.)
13.6% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

20% (13 August 2014)
10.5% (31 December 2010)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

18% (31 December 2016 est.)
18.08% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$2.232 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.301 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$5.651 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.608 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$24.09 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$2.379 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.074 billion (2015 est.)


$22.65 billion (2016 est.)
$26.19 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners

Russia 39%, UK 11.2%, Ukraine 9.5%, Netherlands 4.3%, Germany 4.1% (2015)


$25.44 billion (2016 est.)
$28.33 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

mineral products, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, metals

Imports - partners

Russia 56.6%, China 7.9%, Germany 4.6% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.206 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.176 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$34.75 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$34.85 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$10.17 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

Belarusian rubles (BYB/BYR) per US dollar -
18,500 (2016 est.)
15,926 (2015 est.)
15,926 (2014 est.)
10,224.1 (2013 est.)
8,336.9 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

33 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

33 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

4.5 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

7.8 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

9.2 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

99.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

26,080 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

31,810 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

439,200 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

200 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

444,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

170,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

284,200 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

1,334 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

30 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

20.08 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

20.05 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

2.832 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

70 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 4,540,678
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 47 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 11.448 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 119 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: Belarus lags behind its neighbors in upgrading telecommunications infrastructure; modernization of the network progressing with roughly two-thirds of switching equipment now digital
domestic: state-owned Beltelcom is the sole provider of fixed-line local and long distance service; fixed-line teledensity is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; multiple GSM mobile-cellular networks are experiencing rapid growth; mobile-cell
international: country code - 375; Belarus is a member of the Trans-European Line (TEL), Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line, and has access to the Trans-Siberia Line (TSL); 3 fiber-optic segments provide connectivity to Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; worldwi (2015)

Broadcast media

4 state-controlled national TV channels; Polish and Russian TV broadcasts are available in some areas; state-run Belarusian Radio operates 3 national networks and an external service; Russian and Polish radio broadcasts are available (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 5.968 million
percent of population: 62.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 30
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,489,035
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1.807 million mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

EW (2016)


65 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 33
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 20
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 32
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 28 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 5,386 km; oil 1,589 km; refined products 1,730 km (2013)


total: 5,528 km
broad gauge: 5,503 km 1.520-m gauge (874 km electrified)
standard gauge: 25 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)


total: 86,392 km
paved: 74,651 km
unpaved: 11,741 km (2010)


2,500 km (major rivers are the west-flowing Western Dvina and Neman rivers and the south-flowing Dnepr River and its tributaries, the Berezina, Sozh, and Pripyat rivers) (2011)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Mazyr (Prypyats')


Military branches

Belarus Armed Forces: Land Force, Air and Air Defense Force, Special Operations Force (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation is 12-18 months, depending on academic qualifications; 17 year olds are eligible to become cadets at military higher education institutes, where they are classified as military personnel (2012)

Military expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2015)
1.3% of GDP (2014)
1.3% of GDP (2013)
1.2% of GDP (2012)
1.27% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland has implemented strict Schengen border rules to restrict illegal immigration and trade along its border with Belarus

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 126,407 applicants for forms of legal stay other than asylum (Ukraine) (2015)
stateless persons: 5,635 (2015)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Belarus is a source, transit, and destination country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; more victims are exploited within Belarus than abroad; Belarusians exploited abroad are primarily trafficked to Germany, Poland, Russian, and Turkey but also other European countries, the Middle East, Japan, Kazakhstan, and Mexico; Moldovans, Russians, Ukrainians, and Vietnamese are exploited in Belarus; state-sponsored forced labor is a continuing problem; students are forced to do farm labor without pay and military conscripts are forced to perform unpaid non-military work; the government has retained a decree forbidding workers in state-owned wood processing factories from leaving their jobs without their employers’ permission
tier rating: Tier 3 – Belarus does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and was placed on Tier 3 after being on the Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years without making progress; government efforts to repeal state-sponsored forced labor policies and domestic trafficking were inadequate; no trafficking offenders were convicted in 2014, and the number of investigations progressively declined from 2005-2014; efforts to protect trafficking victims remain insufficient, with no identification and referral mechanism in place; care facilities were not trafficking-specific and were poorly equipped, leading most victims to seek assistance from private shelters (2015)

Illicit drugs

limited cultivation of opium poppy and cannabis, mostly for the domestic market; transshipment point for illicit drugs to and via Russia, and to the Baltics and Western Europe; a small and lightly regulated financial center; anti-money-laundering legislation does not meet international standards and was weakened further when know-your-customer requirements were curtailed in 2008; few investigations or prosecutions of money-laundering activities (2008)