Europe and Eurasia: Belarus
More information about Belarus is available on the Belarus Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Belarus in January 1992, following its independence from the Soviet Union. Belarus has been led by the authoritarian Alyaksandr Lukashenka since 1994. Bilateral relations cooled following a 1996 referendum, which expanded the powers of the president and weakened the parliament, but bilateral engagement has recently increased. The United States provided temporary Treasury Department sanctions relief on nine Belarusian entities in November 2015, which will benefit the Belarusian economy, and was linked to the August 2015 release of political prisoners. The United States continues to call for elections that comply with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s standards, and for progress on political liberalization and respect for human rights. The United States still maintains sanctions against sixteen Belarusian officials for violations of human rights.
U.S. Assistance to Belarus
U.S. Government assistance to Belarus focuses on supporting the Belarusian people in achieving a government that respects democratic rights and fundamental freedoms, and promoting a market economy by strengthening the private sector and stimulating entrepreneurship. A fact sheet on U.S. assistance to Belarus can be found here.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The U.S. Government continues to support the development of the private sector in Belarus and its transition to a free-market economy. Belarusian authorities have yet to initiate basic economic reforms necessary to create a market-based economy, with seventy percent of the economy still under government control. Belarus’ opaque legal and regulatory systems and rule of law deficiencies create a challenging business environment.
Belarus’s Membership in International Organizations
Belarus and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Belarus also is an observer to the World Trade Organization.
There currently is no U.S. Ambassador to Belarus; the U.S. Charge d’Affaires is Scott Rauland. Belarus has capped the presence of U.S. diplomats, stationed or visiting for technical or administrative support, at seven. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Belarus maintains an embassy in the United States at 1619 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-986-1604).
More information about Belarus is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Belarus Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Belarus Page
U.S. Embassy: Belarus
USAID Belarus Page
History of U.S. Relations With Belarus
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information