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Yearbook 2004

Flag - BelarusBelarus. 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 supplies.

2004 Belarus

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.

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