From the Publisher
The political map of Eastern Europe changed dramatically in December 1991 when the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine huddled together in a Bielavieza Forest retreat and decided to dissolve the 15 union republics, which composed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). One of those republics was the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). A United Nations member since 1945, Belarus has a rich cultural heritage that is seen as a promising base for the development of a solid national identity and for real independence. It is this cultural heritage and sense of history that nourish the ongoing efforts of the nationalist minority, as well as the larger democratic opposition, to resist the regime of President Alaksandr Luka?enka who is bent on restoring ties to Russia. Thus Belarus, with its burdens of the past and potential for the future, finds itself in a struggle that will affect not only its own destiny, but also the international structure of Eastern Europe.The A to Z of Belarus—through its chronology, introductory essays, appendixes, map, bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on important persons, places, events, and institutions and significant political, economic, social, and cultural aspects—traces Belarus' history and provides a compass for the direction the country is heading.