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Yearbook 1998

Belarus. Belarus is increasingly becoming a European child of grief. During the year, despotic President Aljaksandr Lukashenka continued to oppress political opposition and prevent freedom of speech and demonstration.

1998 Belarus

According to Countryaah, Russia's economic crisis came to hit the Union partner Belarus with high food prices for the already hard-hit population. The queues that were part of everyday life in Soviet times became a common sight again. To cure the economic crisis, the president had more banknotes printed - to withdraw from the foreign exchange reserve proved impossible because none of them existed. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) closed its office in the capital Minsk during the summer.

Belarus's relationship with Poland deteriorated during the year, including after the Belarusian regime accused NATO of building large spy centers in Poland. After a meeting with Polish and Belarusian civil rights activists in Poland, Minsk decided to call his ambassador for consultations. The bad relations are also linked to the fact that Poland, in its EU adaptation, tightened the visa rules for Belarusian citizens.

In April, without warning, Lukashenka ordered a number of country ambassadors to evacuate their residences outside the capital, according to the president, for the housing to be renovated. The ambassadors protested because the homes were newly repaired. In fact, the president wanted to reserve the renovated area for himself and his faithful yes-sayers and associates. The EU responded by allowing its ambassadors to leave home and refused to issue visas to President Lukashenka and a long list of Belarusian politicians and diplomats. It was not until the end of the year that a settlement was reached and the already isolated Minsk was for a half year a city without foreign ambassadors.

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