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<ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 4-5">{{Harvnb|Zaprudnik|1993|pp=4–5}}</ref>అదేవిధంగా బెలారస్ లేదా బైలోరసియన్ అనే పదం బెలలెయన్ ఇంగ్లీష్లో భర్తీ చేయబడింది. బెలరూస్కీ అసలు రష్యన్ పదం బెలరారస్కీకి సమీపంలో ఉంది. <ref name="Zaprudnik 1993 4-5"/> స్టాలిన్ శకంలో బెలారసియన్ మేధావులు బైలొరెసియా పేరును రష్యాతో ఉన్న సంబంధం కారణంగా క్రివియాగా మార్చారు. <ref>{{Harvnb|Treadgold|Ellison|1999|p=230}}</ref> కొంతమంది జాతీయవాదులు అదే కారణాల వలన పేరును ఆక్షేపించారు.
<ref>{{cite web |url=http://euroradio.fm/en/swedish-government-urged-change-belarus-official-name |title=Swedish government urged to change Belarus' official name |accessdate=2 February 2010|date=13 July 2009 |work=European Radio for Belarus }}</ref><ref name="levy">{{Harvnb|Levy|Spilling|2009|p=95}}</ref> అనేక స్థానిక వార్తాపత్రికలు వారి పేర్లలో రష్యన్ భాష పాత పేరును ఉంచాయి. ఉదాహరణకి ప్రముఖ రష్యన్ వార్తాపత్రిక ప్రాంతీయ ప్రచురణ అయిన కోమ్సోమోల్స్కాయా ప్రావ్ద్ బై బైలోరుస్సీ. అంతేకాకుండా బెలారస్ను రష్యాతో తిరిగి కలిపించాలని కోరుకునే వారు బెలోరస్సియాని ఉపయోగించుకుంటున్నారు.<ref name="levy"/> అధికారికంగా దేశం పూర్తి పేరు "రిపబ్లిక్ ఆఫ్ బెలారస్" (రిపబ్లికా బెలారస్) <ref name="bynamelaw"/><ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html |title=Belarus&nbsp;– Government |accessdate=22 December 2007 |date=13 December 2007 |work=[[The World Factbook]] |publisher=[[Central Intelligence Agency]] |archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20071211220928/https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html |archivedate=11 December 2007 |deadurl=no }}</ref>
{{Main article|History of Belarus}}
===Early history===
From 5000 to 2000 BC, [[Bandkeramik]] cultures predominated. In addition, remains from the [[Dnieper-Donets culture]] were found in Belarus and parts of [[Ukraine]].<ref>{{cite book|last1=Shaw|first1=Ian|last2=Jameson|first2=Robert|title=A Dictionary of Archaeology|publisher=Wiley|year=2008|pages=203–04|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=8HKDtlPuM2oC&pg=PA203|isbn=978-0-470-75196-1}}</ref> [[Cimmerians]] and other pastoralists roamed through the area by 1,000 BC, and by 500 AD, Slavs had taken up residence, which was circumscribed by the [[Scythians]] who roamed its outskirts. Invaders from Asia, among whom were the [[Huns]] and [[Avars (Carpathians)|Avars]], swept through c. 400–600 AD, but were unable to dislodge the Slavic presence.<ref>John Haywood, ''Historical Atlas, Ancient and Classical World'' (1998).<!-- ISSN/ISBN needed--></ref>
The region that is now Belarus was first settled by [[Baltic peoples|Baltic]] tribes in the 3rd century. Around the 5th century, the area was taken over by Slavic tribes. The takeover was partially due to the lack of military coordination of the Balts but the gradual assimilation of the Balts into Slavic culture was peaceful in nature.<ref>{{harvnb|Zaprudnik|1993|p=7}}</ref>
[[File:Principalities of Kievan Rus' (1054-1132).jpg|thumb|Principalities of Kievan Rus'|334x334px]]
===Kievan Rus'===
{{Further information|Kievan Rus'|Principality of Polotsk|Grand Duchy of Lithuania}}
In the 9th century some principalities arose on the territory of modern Belarus. Among them was the Principality of Polatsk that for most of the time was effectively an independent State (apart from about 20 years when it was a Vassal of Kievan Rus'). The Principality of Polatsk was the first nation state to be established on the land of Belarus.
Many early Russian principalities were virtually razed or severely affected by a major [[Mongol invasion of Rus'|Mongol invasion]] in the 13th century, but the lands of Belarus avoided the brunt of the invasion and were eventually absorbed by the [[Grand Duchy of Lithuania]].<ref>{{cite book|last=Robinson|first=Charles Henry|title=The Conversion of Europe|publisher=Longmans, Green|year=1917|pages=491–92}}</ref>
[[File:GDL_Map,_15cent.png|thumb|A map of the [[Grand Duchy of Lithuania]] in the 15th century. Belarus was fully within its borders. |271x271px]]
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania developed from [[Kingdom of Lithuania|Lithuanian Kingdom]] ([[Mindaugas|King Mindaugas]], 1253) which territory started its existence between Nemunas and Neris rivers and existed in the center of Europe in the 13th–18th centuries and comprised entire territories of contemporary Belarus, Ukraine, partially Poland, Lithuania and Latvia and stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
Incorporation into The Grand Duchy of Lithuania resulted in an economic, political and ethno-cultural unification of Belarusian lands.<ref>{{cite book|last=Ermalovich|first=Mikola|title=Pa sliadakh adnago mifa (Tracing one Myth)|publisher=Minsk: Navuka i tekhnika|year=1991|url=http://www.books-by-isbn.com/5-343/5343008763-Pa-sliadakh-adnaho-mifa-M-Ermalovich-5-343-00876-3.html|isbn=978-5-343-00876-0}}</ref> Of the principalities held by the Duchy, nine of them were settled by a population that would eventually become Belarusian people.<ref name="zaprudnik">{{Harvnb|Zaprudnik|1993|p=27}}</ref> During this time, the Duchy was involved in several military campaigns, including fighting on the side of Poland against the [[Teutonic Knights]] at the [[Battle of Grunwald]] in 1410; the joint victory allowed the Duchy to control the northwestern borderlands of Eastern Europe.<ref>{{cite book|last=Lerski|first=George Jan|author2=[[Aleksander Gieysztor]]|title=Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966–1945|publisher=[[Greenwood Press]]|year=1996|pages=181–82|isbn=0-313-26007-9}}</ref>
The [[Grand Duchy of Moscow|Muscovites]], led by [[Ivan III of Russia|Ivan III of Moscow]], began military campaigns in 1486 in an attempt to incorporate the lands of Kievan Rus', specifically the territories of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/197/Nowak.html|title=The Russo-Polish Historical Confrontation|accessdate=22 December 2007|last=Nowak|first=Andrzej|date=1 January 1997|work=Sarmatian Review&nbsp;XVII|publisher=[[Rice University]]|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20071218110551/http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/197/Nowak.html|archivedate=18 December 2007|deadurl=no}}</ref>
===Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth===
{{Further information|Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth}}
On 2 February 1386, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the [[Kingdom of Poland (1025–1385)|Kingdom of Poland]] were joined in a [[personal union]] through a [[Union of Krewo|marriage of their rulers]].<ref>{{cite book|editor-last=Jones|editor-first=Michael|last=Rowell|first=S.C.|contribution=Baltic Europe|title=The New Cambridge Medieval History (Vol. 6)|publisher=Cambridge University Press|year=2005|page=710|isbn=0-521-36290-3}}</ref> This union set in motion the developments that eventually resulted in the formation of the [[Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth]], created in 1569 by the [[Union of Lublin]].
In the years following the union, the process of gradual [[Polonization]] gained steady momentum. In culture and social life, both the Polish language and Catholicism became dominant, and in 1696, [[Polish language|Polish]] replaced Belarusian as the official language—with the Belarusian language being banned from administrative use.<ref>[http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=103&menu=00 "Belarusian": UCLA Language Materials Project], ucla.edu; accessed 4 March 2016.</ref> However, the local Ruthenian peasants, continued to speak their own language and remained faithful to the Eastern Orthodox church.
Under Polish−Lithuanian rule, power was held by local [[szlachta]] (''nobility''), often of Polish or Lithuanian (Polonized) descent. Trade and commerce was mostly undertaken primarily by Jews{{fact|date=December 2017}}, who formed a significant part of the urban population, along with Poles who filled in administrative and government positions.
===Russian Empire===
{{Further information|Belarusian history in the Russian Empire}}
The union between Poland and Lithuania ended in 1795 with the [[partitions of Poland|partitioning of Poland]] by Imperial Russia, [[Prussia]], and [[Austria]].<ref>{{cite book|last=Scheuch|first=E.K.|author2=David Sciulli|title=Societies, Corporations and the Nation State|publisher=BRILL|year=2000|page=187|isbn=90-04-11664-8}}</ref> The Belarusian territories acquired by the Russian Empire under the reign of [[Catherine II of Russia|Catherine&nbsp;II]]<ref>{{harvnb|Birgerson|2002|page=101}}</ref> were included into the [[Belarusian Governorate]] ({{lang-rus|Белорусское генерал-губернаторство}}) in 1796 and held until their occupation by the [[German Empire]] during [[World War I]].<ref name="olson95">{{harvnb|Olson|Pappas|Pappas|1994|page=95}}</ref>
Under [[Nicholas I of Russia|Nicholas I]] and [[Alexander III of Russia|Alexander III]] the national cultures were repressed due to the policies of de-[[Polonization]]<ref>{{ru icon}} [http://www.pravoslavie.ru/arhiv/050513111111 Воссоединение униатов и исторические судьбы Белорусского народа] (''Vossoyedineniye uniatov i istoričeskiye sud'bi Belorusskogo naroda''), [http://www.pravoslavie.ru/ Pravoslavie portal]</ref> and [[Russification]],<ref name="zytko-1">Żytko, ''Russian policy&nbsp;...'', p551.</ref> which included the return to [[Eastern Orthodox Church|Orthodox Christianity]] of Belorusian [[Union of Brest|Uniates]].
In a [[Russification]] drive in the 1840s, [[Nicholas I of Russia|Nicholas I]] prohibited use of the Belarusian language in public schools, campaigned against Belarusian publications and tried to pressure those who had converted to Catholicism under the Poles to reconvert to the Orthodox faith. In 1863, economic and cultural pressure exploded in a [[January Uprising|revolt]], led by Kalinowski. After the failed revolt, the Russian government reintroduced the use of [[Cyrillic script|Cyrillic]] to Belarusian in 1864 and no documents in Belarusian were permitted by the Russian government until 1905.<ref>{{cite book|author=D. Marples|title=Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=evVZCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA26|year=1996|publisher=Palgrave Macmillan UK|isbn=978-0-230-37831-5|page=26}}</ref>
During the negotiations of the [[Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (Russia–Central Powers)|Treaty of Brest-Litovsk]], Belarus first declared independence under German occupation on {{Nowrap|25 March}} 1918, forming the [[Belarusian People's Republic]].<ref name="birgerson">{{harvnb|Birgerson|2002|pages=105–106}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|last=Ioffe|first=Grigory|title=Understanding Belarus and How Western Foreign Policy Misses the Mark|publisher=Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc|date=25 February 2008|page=57|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=00B6wxgftH8C&pg=PA150&dq=west+belarus#v=onepage&q=west%20belarus&f=false|isbn=0-7425-5558-5}}</ref> Immediately afterwards, the [[Polish–Soviet War]] ignited, and the territory of Belarus was divided between Poland and Soviet Russia.<ref>{{cite web|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=QJhMhTKw-vgC&pg=PA282&dq=belarus+partition&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiH9L3Cj8nLAhVM-2MKHWhcCPUQ6AEIPjAE#v=onepage&q=belarus%20partition&f=false|title=The Reconstruction of Nations|publisher=}}</ref>
===Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic===
{{Further information|Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic}}
A part of Belarus under Russian rule emerged as the [[Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic]] (Byelorussian SSR) in 1919. Soon thereafter it merged to form the [[Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic|Lithuanian-Byelorussian SSR]]. The contested lands were divided between Poland and the [[Soviet Union]] after the war ended in 1921, and the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922.<ref name="birgerson"/><ref>{{cite book|last=Marples|first=David|title=Belarus: A Denationalized Nation|publisher=Routledge|year=1999|page=5|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=EMCYfOSaLSgC&pg=PA8&dq=Belarusian+People%27s+Republic|isbn=90-5702-343-1}}</ref> The western part of modern Belarus remained part of Poland.<ref name="ocu1">{{cite book|title=The global and the local: understanding the dialectics of business systems|last=Sorge|first=Arndt|year=2005|publisher=[[Oxford University Press]]|isbn=9780191535345}}</ref><ref name="ocu2">{{cite book|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=RSxt-JB-PDkC&pg=PA37&dq=occupation+of+Western+Belarus|title=Miniature empires: a historical dictionary of the newly independent states|last=Minahan|first=James|year=1998|publisher=[[Greenwood Publishing Group|Greenwood Press]]|isbn=978-0-313-30610-5}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|author1=Nick Baron|author2=Peter Gatrell|title=Homelands|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=FCBVPqAWuUsC&pg=PA19|accessdate=18 September 2015|date=10 August 2004|publisher=Anthem Press|isbn=978-1-84331-385-4|page=19|chapter=War, Population Displacement and State Formation in the Russian Borderlands 1914–1924}}</ref>
In the 1920s and 1930s, Soviet agricultural and economic policies, including [[collectivization]] and [[Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the Soviet Union|five-year plans for the national economy]], led to famine and political repression.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.belarus.by/en/about-belarus/history|title=Belarus history|publisher=Official website of the Republic of Belarus|accessdate=17 March 2017}}</ref>
[[File:Khatyn Memorial, Belarus.jpg|thumb|[[Khatyn]] Memorial. During World War II, Germany murdered civilians in 5,295 different localities in [[Occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany|occupied Soviet Belarus]].|250x250px]]
[[File:Soviet guerilla.jpg|thumb|[[Soviet partisans#Belarus|Soviet partisan]] fighters behind [[Nazi Germany|German]] [[front line]]s in Belarus in 1943|250x250px]]
In 1939, [[Nazi Germany]] and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Poland, marking the beginning of [[World War II]]. The Soviets invaded and annexed much of eastern Poland, which had been part of the country since the [[Peace of Riga]] two decades earlier. Much of the northern section of this area was added to the Byelorussian SSR, and now constitutes [[West Belarus]].<ref name="uni1"/><ref name="uni2"/><ref name="uni3">
*Клоков В. Я. Великий освободительный поход Красной Армии. (Освобождение Западной Украины и Западной Белоруссии).-Воронеж, 1940.
*Минаев В. Западная Белоруссия и Западная Украина под гнетом панской Польши.—М., 1939.
*Трайнин И.Национальное и социальное освобождение Западной Украины и Западной Белоруссии.—М., 1939.—80 с.
*Гiсторыя Беларусi. Том пяты.—Мінск, 2006.—с. 449–474
</ref><ref name="uni4">{{cite book|url=https://books.google.com/?id=jZJntMQtkSYC&pg=PA106&lpg=PA106&dq=Belarus+map+1945|title=Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship|author=Andrew Wilson|year=2011|isbn=978-0-300-13435-3}}</ref> The Soviet-controlled Byelorussian People's Council officially took control of the territories, whose populations consisted of a mixture of Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Jews, on 28 October 1939 in [[Białystok]]. Nazi Germany [[Operation Barbarossa|invaded the Soviet Union]] in 1941. The [[Brest Fortress]], which had been annexed in 1939, at this time was subjected to one of the most destructive onslaughts that happened during the war. Statistically, the Byelorussian SSR was the hardest-hit Soviet republic in World War II; it [[Occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany|remained in Nazi hands]] until 1944. During that time, Germany destroyed 209 out of 290 cities in the republic, 85% of the republic's industry, and more than one million buildings.<ref name="axell"/> The Nazi ''[[Generalplan Ost]]'' called for the extermination, expulsion or enslavement of most or all Belarusians for the purpose of providing more [[Lebensraum|living space]] in the [[Drang nach Osten|East]] for Germans.<ref>[[Timothy Snyder|Snyder, Timothy]] (2010). ''[https://books.google.com/books?id=ks0WBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA160 Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin]''. Basic Books. p. 160. {{ISBN|0465002390}}</ref>
[[World War II casualties of the Soviet Union|Casualties]] were estimated to be between 2 and 3 million (about a quarter to one-third of the total population), while the [[History of the Jews in Belarus|Jewish population of Belarus]] was devastated during [[the Holocaust]] and never recovered.<ref name="axell"/><ref name="warpop">{{cite web|url=http://countrystudies.us/belarus/11.htm|title=Belarus&nbsp;– Stalin and Russification|accessdate=26 March 2006|last=Fedor|first=Helen|year=1995|work=Belarus: A Country Study|publisher=[[Library of Congress]]}}</ref> The population of Belarus did not regain its pre-war level until 1971.<ref name="warpop"/> It was also after this conflict that the final borders of Belarus were set by Stalin when parts of Belarusian territory were given to the recently annexed Lithuania.<ref name="uni4"/>
After the war, Belarus was among the 51 founding countries of the [[United Nations Charter]] and as such it was allowed an additional vote at the UN, on top of the Soviet Union's vote. Vigorous postwar reconstruction promptly followed the end of the war and the Byelorussian SSR became a major center of manufacturing in the western USSR, creating jobs and attracting ethnic Russians.<ref name="Soviet-era">{{cite web|url=http://www.iexplore.com/travel-guides/europe/belarus/history-and-culture|title=Belarus History and Culture|accessdate=26 March 2006|publisher=iExplore.com}}</ref> The borders of the Byelorussian SSR and Poland were redrawn and became known as the [[Curzon Line]].<ref name="olson95"/>
[[Joseph Stalin]] implemented a policy of [[Sovietization]] to isolate the Byelorussian SSR from [[Western world|Western influences]].<ref name="warpop"/><!--He aimed to expunge Belarus's cultural identity and have Russian culture take its stead.--> This policy involved sending Russians from various parts of the Soviet Union and placing them in key positions in the Byelorussian SSR government. After Stalin's death in 1953, [[Nikita Khrushchev]] continued his predecessor's [[cultural hegemony]] program, stating, "The sooner we all start speaking Russian, the faster we shall build communism."<ref name="warpop"/>
In 1986, the Byelorussian SSR was exposed to significant [[nuclear fallout]] from the explosion at the [[Chernobyl disaster|Chernobyl]] power plant in the neighboring [[Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic|Ukrainian SSR]].<ref name="Gorby">{{cite web|url=http://countrystudies.us/belarus/12.htm|title=Belarus- Perestroika|accessdate=26 March 2007|last=Fedor|first=Helen|year=1995|work=Belarus: A Country Study|publisher=[[Library of Congress]]}}</ref>
In June 1988, the archaeologist and leader of the [[Conservative Christian Party – BPF|Christian Conservative Party of the BPF]] [[Zyanon Paznyak]] discovered [[mass grave]]s of victims executed in 1937–41 at [[Kurapaty]], near Minsk.<ref name="Gorby"/> Some nationalists contend that this discovery is proof that the Soviet government was trying to erase the Belarusian people, causing Belarusian nationalists to seek independence.<ref name="massgraves">{{harvnb|Birgerson|2002|page=99}}</ref>
[[File:RIAN archive 848095 Signing the Agreement to eliminate the USSR and establish the Commonwealth of Independent States.jpg|thumb|Leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the [[Belavezha Accords]], [[Dissolution of the Soviet Union|dissolving the Soviet Union]], 8 December 1991|250x250px]]
In March 1990, elections for seats in the [[Supreme Soviet]] of the Byelorussian SSR took place. Though the pro-independence [[Belarusian Popular Front]] took only 10% of the seats, the populace was content with the selection of the delegates.<ref name="byind">{{cite web|url=http://countrystudies.us/belarus/39.htm|title=Belarus&nbsp;– Prelude to Independence|accessdate=22 December 2007|last=Fedor|first=Helen|year=1995|work=Belarus: A Country Study|publisher=[[Library of Congress]]}}</ref> Belarus declared itself sovereign on {{Nowrap|27 July}} 1990 by issuing the [[Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic]].
With the support of the Communist Party, the country's name was changed to the Republic of Belarus on {{Nowrap|25 August}} 1991.<ref name="byind"/> [[Stanislau Shushkevich|Stanislav Shushkevich]], the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, met with [[Boris Yeltsin]] of Russia and [[Leonid Kravchuk]] of Ukraine on {{Nowrap|8 December}} 1991 in [[Białowieża Forest|Belavezhskaya Pushcha]] to formally declare the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the [[Commonwealth of Independent States]].<ref name="byind"/>
A [[Constitution of Belarus|national constitution]] was adopted in March 1994 in which the functions of prime minister were given to the [[President of Belarus]].
[[File:Alexander Lukashenko, opening of Slavianski Bazar 2014.jpg|thumb|[[Alexander Lukashenko]] has ruled Belarus since 1994, and is [[Europe]]'s longest currently ruling [[heads of state|head of state]].|250x250px]]
Two-round elections for the presidency on ({{Nowrap|24 June}} 1994 and {{Nowrap|10 July}} 1994)<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.umsl.edu/services/govdocs/wofact94/wf950026.txt|title=World Factbook: Belarus|accessdate=21 December 2007|date=20 October 1994|format=TXT|publisher=Central Intelligence Agency}}</ref> catapulted the formerly unknown [[Alexander Lukashenko]] into national prominence. He garnered 45% of the vote in the first round and 80%<ref name="byind"/> in the second, defeating [[Vyachaslau Kebich|Vyacheslav Kebich]] who received 14% of the vote. Lukashenko was re-elected [[Belarusian presidential election, 2001|in 2001]], [[Belarusian presidential election, 2006|in 2006]], [[Belarusian presidential election, 2010|in 2010]] and again [[Belarusian presidential election, 2015|in 2015]]. Western governments,<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2012/09/25a.aspx?view=d|title=Standing up for Free and Fair Elections in Belarus|accessdate=7 January 2013|authors=Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada|date=25 September 2012|publisher=Government of Canada}}</ref> [[Amnesty International]],<ref name=amnesty>{{cite web|url=https://www.amnesty.org/en/region/europe-and-central-asia/eurasia/belarus |title=Human rights by country&nbsp;– Belarus |accessdate=22 December 2007 |year=2007 |work=Amnesty International Report 2007 |publisher=[[Amnesty International]] |archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20071212011715/http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/europe-and-central-asia/eurasia/belarus |archivedate=12 December 2007 |deadurl=no |df=dmy }}</ref> and [[Human Rights Watch]]<ref name="HRW"/> have criticized Lukashenko's [[authoritarian]] style of government.
Since 2014, following years of embrace of Russian influence in the country, Lukashenko has pressed a revival of Belarusian identity, following the Russian [[Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation|annexation of Crimea]] and [[Russian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present)|military intervention in Eastern Ukraine]]. For the first time, he delivered a speech in [[Belarusian language|Belarusian]] (rather than Russian, which most people use), in which he said, "We are not Russian—we are Belarusians", and later encouraged the use of Belarusian. Trade disputes, a border dispute, and a much relaxed official attitude to dissident voices are all part of a weakening of the longtime warm relationship with Russia.<ref>[https://globalvoices.org/2017/02/21/the-strange-death-of-russias-closest-alliance/ The Strange Death of Russia's Closest Alliance], [[Global Voices Online|Global Voices]], 21 February 2017</ref>
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