Belarus. According to
CountryAAH, the total population in Belarus is 9,449,334 people in 2020. Belarus's relationship with Russia remained
tense during the year. An acute energy crisis occurred when
Russia stopped its gas deliveries in the middle of winter,
citing Belarus not paying the bills. The Minsk regime
believed that the decision had political reasons and that
Moscow wanted to take control of the pipeline transporting
gas through Belarus to markets in the west. President
Aljaksandr Lukashenka reacted very harshly, accusing Russia
of "top-level terrorism" by allowing his country to freeze
in a 20-degree cold. In February, Belarus succeeded in
reaching an agreement on the resumption of Russian gas
In April, the Council of Europe strongly condemned the
situation of human rights in Belarus. The Council accused
high-ranking Belarusian government officials of involvement
in the disappearance of four people - including opponents of
President Lukashenka. The Council called on its Member
States to consider sanctions on Belarus. However, the
Russian delegation voted against and warned against
isolating Lukashenka and thus provoking him into worse
actions. Later in the year, four Belarusian officials were
banned from entering the EU countries and the US.
During the summer, Belarus closed the Russian television
station's office in Minsk in retaliation for reporting
protests against Lukashenka in Minsk. The Belarusian regime
had previously tried to stifle the Russian media's critical
monitoring of Belarusian politics.
In the fall, President Lukashenka called for a referendum
on a constitutional amendment that would allow him to stand
for a third term in 2006. The referendum was held in
connection with the parliamentary elections in October, when
the opposition virtually disappeared from parliament.
According to the Election Commission, the constitutional
proposal was supported by over three-quarters of the
participants in the referendum. But independent data
indicated that less than 50% would have voted yes.
Journalists and opposition groups reported on electoral
fraud, and the OSCE declared that the referendum had not
gone right. The United States reacted to the referendum by
imposing financial sanctions. In Minsk, hundreds of
opponents of President Lukashenka went out in protest
demonstrations, claiming that Lukashenka cheated victory.
The police arrested about 30 people.