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Belarus is not well-known in West European, American and other business circles. This is due to the fact that the former USSR was seen in the world as a unitary super-state that emerged in place of the Russian Empire. It was not customary to speak abroad of the separate Republics that constituted the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Many people in the West still consider the former USSR being only Russia. And this is not accidental as the internal and external policy of the USSR was planned in Moscow. The main governmental and non-govermnental organizations that decided the directions of business cooperation with foreign countries were concentrated in Moscow. There were also all foreign embassies and representatives.
Now economic and political situation on the territory of the former USSR has changed drastically. First, there emerged new states. In Eastern Europe they are: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russian Federation. The division of the USSR into several states led to the transformation of unitary economic system into an international one. Between new states there emerged problems that need solving on the interstate level. New states in Eastern Europe are now in the stage of their establishing, so it is difficult to represent themselves in the world yet. This negatively influences the development of business relations of Belarus with other countries, as Belarus has just started to create its diplomacy school, to make its foreign economic policy, to understand its place and role in the world.
Russia is in a better position in the field of international cooperation as it proclaimed itself the legal heir of all the property of the former USSR abroad and refused to share it with any of its former allies. Besides the property abroad Russia got all the diplomatic corps and structures that went into the foreign economic activities.
But the business circles of Belarus do not want to wait for the politicians to decide about their place in the world. Belarusan businessmen want to cooperate. Now Belarus according to many experts presents a great interest for local as well as foreign businessmen. This should be known to businessmen and politicians in neighboring as well as in distant countries.
It should be noted that many business circles in Western Europe, America and Asia are attracted, on the one hand, by the political and social stability in Belarus but, on the other hand, they are cautious because of the uncertainty in the direction of economic development. Now in Belarusan economy one can see elements of liberalism as well as strict state planning. This very open leads to sharp economic problems but they are mostly connected with the illness of making of the independent economic policy of Belarus and with the eagerness of Belarusan government to diminish the influence of internal and external economic and political factors on the living standards. Unfortunately the decisions of the Supreme Soviet and the government on prevention of negative tendencies in economy not always lead to positive results. But Belarusan businessmen and politicians are full of optimism and look forward to the fruitful and equal cooperation. If in Western Europe there is a crisis of goods and services overproduction, in Belarus there's a crisis of underproduction.
Lately there appeared signs of some economic stabilization in Belarus. The further improvement of Belarus' economy depends on the development of its business relations with developed countries, on its integration into the world economic system. So far Belarusan economy is greatly oriented to the Russian market and depends greatly on political and economic situation in that country. But on the other hand, WestEuropean and American companies can use the structures of Belarusan business for the cooperation with the other CIS countries.
Belarusan business circles are ready to offer to their foreign partners a number of long-term joint plans. This involves, first of all, investments into Belarusan economy on mutually beneficial conditions, the creation of joint ventures, cooperation with large Belarusan banks, insurance companies, commercial firms, taking part in projects on modernizing of infrastructure and services. For example, some large Belarusan banks and companies, when implementing big projects, are ready to pay 30 % interest rate to the Western banks for their credits.
One of the prospective fields without which the international cooperation in Belarus will be hardly possible is the creation of joint consulting companies on legal, finance and insurance problems. The great need in such companies is felt by local as well as foreign businessmen who have started joint projects in Belarus.
Nowadays in Belarus there are companies and organisations which help the development of international cooperation. One of such organizations is the International Association BELFRANCE, which initiated the making and publishing of this booklet. The main fields of activities of the Association are development of international economic cooperation, preparation of scientific and cultural exchange, making the seminars, presentations, business studies and the publishing activities.
Belarus as a new state in Eastern Europe invites all to cooperation. For those who want to establish business contacts with Belarusan partners we can give an advice to contact the organisations and representatives given at the end of this booklet.
From the point of view of state interests and economic and agricultural specialization the priorities in Belarusan economy are:
This is not a complete list of fields for mutually beneficial cooperation favored by Belarusan government. Detailed information on prospective fields of investment activities in Belarus you can obtain from Belarusan embassies and representatives abroad as well as in the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations of Belarus.
Foreign investments in Belarus are not the subject of confiscation in any situation. The laws of Belarus guarantee the foreign investors a free transfer from Belarus all of their income or other sums of money in hard currency. In case of liquidation of companies with foreign capital invested, a foreign Investor has the right to get his part of company's property in cash or in goods at residual value at the moment of company's liquidation.
When Gorbachev came to power in 1985 he had initiated the processes of democratization in social, political and public life of the Soviet society. Those processes were later named perestroika. Perestroika in its turn became the basis of state and economic changes on the territory of the USSR. Belarus as one of the former Soviet republics had also been involved in those changes and now is playing the role of a new independent state in Eastern Europe.
The Belarusan politicians understand well that the proclamation of independence is just the beginning of creation of an economically and politically viable state. To reach that goal one must conduct the firm state policy. First of all such policy should be aimed at making reforms that will provide the formation of a statehood and will make provisions for the normal development of the economy.
Belarus is rather a highly industrially developed country. The industry produces nearly 70% of GNP. Belarus proper consumes only 13% produced goods. A great amount of goods produced by Belarusan industries and agriculture is oriented towards the CIS countries' markets.
The main branches of Belarusan industry are machine building, instrument making, chemical, wood processing, light and food industries. Over 100 large enterprises are the basis of Belarusan economy. These are such large plants as Minsk Tractor Plant, the Refrigerator Producing Amalgamation Atlant, the Television Sets Producing Amalgamation Gorizont, Belarusan Amalgamation of Heavy-load Trucks Production BelavtoMAZ , Novopolotsk and Moor oil -processing plants , artificial fibres producing plants, Zhlobin metallurgy plant and many others. There is a number of enterprises in Belarus that produce unique goods. Among them are Smorgon optical machine building plant, Belarusan optic and mechanical amalgamation, Minsk plant of wheeled prime movers, Bobruisk tire producing plant and some others.
The share of Belarus in the former USSR production industries was rather high. For example, it produced 20% of all the tractors, 20% of motorcycles, 19% of mineral fertilizers, 16% of artificial fibres, 15% of TV sets, 11% of refrigerators, 10% of metal-cutting machines, 5% of trucks. To evaluate the economic potential of Belarus it is sufficient to mention that in 1990 it produced over 100 thousand "Belarus" tractors, 42 thousand trucks including heavy-weight dump trucks BelAZ with the carrying capacity of 110 and 180 tons, 730 thousand household refrigerators, 1.3 million color TV sets, 15 thousand of metal-cutting machines, 450 thousand tons of artificial fibres, 6 million tons of mineral fertilizers, 40 million tons of oil were processed.
Belarus is a country with a well-developed agriculture. Its agricultural lands formed only 0.6% of all agricultural lands of the former USSR but they gave 6% of overall production of meat and milk, 16% of potatoes, 24% of flax. According to 1989 figures the grain production per capita in Belarus was 832 kg, beetroots-176 kg, potatoes-1085 kg, meat-117 kg, milk-726 kg.
Belarus possesses a great scientific and technical potential the basis of which constitute the Academy of Sciences, 30 higher education institutions, numerous scientific research institutes and laboratories. In these institutions a lot of fundamental and applied research in different branches of science such as physics, chemistry, electronics, machine building, cybernetics, biology and other spheres is made. Over 300 institutions, organizations, special engineering offices and scientific institutes with more than 100 thousand specialists are engaged in these research projects.
It must be noted that until recently the greater part of the scientific and industrial potential of Belarus worked for the military-industrial complex of the former USSR. In 1991 25 % of Belarusan industrial goods were produced for the military needs of the USSR. 250 thousand workers and 50 thousand scientists and engineers were employed in the war industry. Now enterprises and institutions of the military-industrial complex of Belarus are being converted for the production of consumer goods. This conversion needs large investments which the state lacks. Therefore this lately flourishing sector of Belarusan economy is going through hard times linked with the conversion and diversification of industry.
Belarus is an energy-dependent country. For example, in 1992 Belarus extracted 2 million tons of oil, 4.2 million tons of peat, 0.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas, which in whole constitutes 5 million tons of conventional fuel. That same year Belarus imported 20.6 million tons of oil, 17.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 2 million tons of coal which totals 50 million tons of conventional fuel. So Belarus self provision with energy which is the ratio between extracted or produced energy resources and the volume of consumed resources was in 1992 only 10%.
The problem of energy provision is one of the most urgent for the Belarusan government. In 1993 because of the sharp rise in the price of imported (mainly from Russia) power resources, Belarus could import only 11.8 million tons of oil. This negatively influenced not only the power consumption in Belarusan industry and agriculture but also the work of the oil-processing enterprises. In 1993 the volume of oil processed in Belarus lessened threefold if compared with 1990.
Belarusan power stations which work mainly on heavy fuel or natural gas produced in 1990 nearly 40 billion kilowatt-hours of electric power. In 1990 Belarus also imported nearly 9 billion kilowatt-hours for the complete provision of its needs. In 1993 the electric power production dropped to 33 billion kilowatt-hours and import to 6 billion kilowatthours. The drop in power production and import is also connected with the sharp price rise of imported power resources. The sharp rise in oil price is explained by imposing high export duty on crude oil by Russia-30 ecu. So Belarusan consumers paid for the oil twice as much as their Russian counterparts, which influenced greatly the competitiveness of Belarus' goods. On that account one can say that in 1993 Belarus suffered a Power shocks similar to that in Western Europe in 1973-1974.
Besides electric power heat plants and power stations produce about 100 million gigacalories of heat used for industrial purposes and house heating. Since Belarus has rather a long and cold winter the drop in heat production can be allowed only after taking large-scale measures on introduction of power-saving technologies and energy-saving household devices. After the Chernobyl disaster all the work in the field of nuclear power engineering in Belarus was stopped. Now Belarusan industry feels great need for economical spending of power resources. The Belarusan government started seriously to solve the problem of energy saving. According to the data provided by Belarusan and Western European experts, in the nearest future it is possible to drop the power consumption by 20 % which could save on the import over I billion USD a year. With a possible export of 3-4 billion USD a year this will be a great relief for Belarusan economy. It is worth mentioning that the cost price of 1 kWh of electric power in Belarus is near 0.05 USD, 1 gigacalory of heat-5 USD.
According to the new political and economic status of Belarus the Supreme Soviet and the government started to introduce economic reforms on liberalization and structural reconstruction of the economy. After transformation of the former USSR into several independent states the unitary economic system turned into international economic system.
As has been actually mentioned, in the Soviet times in Belarus there was mainly concentrated processing, assembling oil and chemistry, science capacious industries while the power and raw materials base was mainly in Russia. After the USSR's disintegration most power and material consuming branches in Belarus became dependent on the deliveries and orders from their partners in different CIS countries. Now the Belarusan government as well as other CIS governments faces the problem of the renewal of finance and economic integration, the creation of a common market for their producers. Unfortunately the acceptable integration forms built on equal partnership of all the CIS countries have not yet been found.
From 1990 in Belarusan economy there started to develop free-market relations. Denationalization and privatization of state industrial enterprises is one of the main aims of the Belarusan government. The Supreme Soviet of Belarus has adopted privatization laws and approved the programmed of privatization of the state property. In the near future there is expected a drop of state property in the industry to 40%. In 1990 state-owned enterprises constituted almost 100%. The most popular privatization form is the creation of stock holding companies on the basis of the former state enterprises. The state enterprises privatization is conducted in two stages. The first one is the privatization in exchange for privatization vouchers which are given to all Belarusan citizens as the right to a share of the state property. The second stage is the privatization through auctions. The first stage began on the 1st of July 1994.
The second important trend in the work of the Supreme Soviet and of the government of Belarus in the area of economic reforms is the creation of favorable conditions for foreign investments. To that end, the Supreme Soviet has adopted the law on foreign investments which guarantees privilege conditions for foreign investors. According to this law it is very easy now to create joint ventures in Belarus, to open companies with a 100% foreign capital. These enterprises are to have a 100% tax holiday for the first three years of their work and they can transfer their profits abroad without any limitations.
Alongside the energy problems Belarus' economy has a number of other difficulties, connected mainly with the creation of a new political and economic status and with the beginning of the economic reforms.
Politically Belarus has become a new independent state in Eastern Europe. Economically it should conduct its own independent economic policy not counting on the help of a rich uncle from abroad.
As a result of several objective and subjective reasons there's now a drop in the volume of production and a high inflation rate in Belarus. All that is connected with the transfer from the administrative economic system to the market economy, with the conservatism of the Belarusan government, which in its majority consists of the old system specialists, and with the lack of normal economic relations between CIS countries as well as the lack of such relations with developed European, Asian and American countries.
The overall production volume in 1993 as compared with 1992 dropped in Belarus by 15 % . It should be noted that this is the best result in the ClS. According to the Belarusan government this is the utmost result that can be reached in the present economic conditions. The production drop can be explained as a reaction to external factors, an attempt of the economic structures to adapt to the new conditions, which is impossible without losses. If we exclude from the production volume oil processing and some other power and material consumption industries and also enterprises that undergo conversion then the production drop will constitute only 6-8 %.
The drop in agriculture in 1993 was by 17% as compared with 1992. This drop was due to the changes in the structure of agriculture and to the agricultural goods prices, lack of power and fuel and of course to the slowdown of land reforms coupled with economic changes in agroindustrial complex. Now practically all the land formally belongs to the state, though the real land owners are kolkhozes and local authorities.
The Supreme Soviet has adopted a law "On the Land Property" which makes it possible to give land to private owners. But the right to private land property is still limited. For example, Belarusan citizens have the right to buy land into private property to build houses or produce agricultural goods but they cannot buy land for the construction of industrial enterprises. The laws on land property for the construction of industrial enterprises, administrative, cultural and other buildings are to be adopted by the Supreme Soviet in the near future.
It is natural that the state of economy should influence the Belarusan people's well-being. The Belarusan GNP in relative prices dropped by 22% from 1991 till 1993, which worsened the financial state of the country and of the people, limited the possibilities of investments and slowed down the fulfillment of social programmes. In 1993 GNP in Belarus was 8.9 trillion Belarusan roubles.
In 1992 the revenue of the budget was 37 % (41 % in 1991) of GNP. The lessening of production volume is mainly caused by the delay in money transfer for goods delivered to other CIS countries and first of a11 to Russia. In spite of the high inflation rate and the changes in the budget caused by it, the main proportions and ratios in the budget remain unchanged. The Supreme Soviet approved the state budget for 1994 with the 6% deficit though the credit part of it is 20% higher.
So Belarusan economy, if we view it on a macrolevel, is relatively stable: now it can sustain the necessary proportions between the produced and spent GNP. That makes its functioning acceptable in the present conditions. In any case the purposeful state programme which is now being realized by the Belarusan government should reveal the main causes of the crisis and then remove them.
It should be noted that great damage to Belarusan economy was caused by the so called Agreement on the union of monetary systems of Belarus and Russia signed by the countries' Prime Ministers on the 8th of September 1993. In ten months after the document was signed the Belarusan rouble dropped against the US dollar by 1000% while the Russian rouble only by 350%. After signing this Agreement and later on the Treaty on the monetary systems union including the conditions of the existence of the joint monetary system, also signed by Belarus' and Russia's Prime Ministers on the 12th of April 1994, the monetary policy of Belarus is now not controlled by the Supreme Soviet which leads to grave financial problems in Belarus.
In the privatization programme adopted by the Supreme Soviet it is not only proposed to liquidate the state monopoly on the property rights but also to change the industrial relations as well as mass psychology. It is no secret that ideological organs of the Communist party had always cultivated the psychology of the universal equality. It was assumed that everyone should work according to his abilities and got paid according to his needs. But the reality was far from this, quite the other way round. The person who achieved an outstanding financial success was usually condemned by ideological and law-enforcing organs The vast majority of people could be either state employees or employed by state enterprises or offices. Therefore they depended upon the state's favors. As the Communist party had constantly tried to separate the person from property, now there is the opposite aim-to inculcate the sense of property, to create a man of property. Until this has been done, the process of economic reforms in Belarus will be slowed down because of the conservatism of mass psychology.
If we make a resume of the analysis of the economic situation in Belarus we will see that despite some crisis features, mistakes and inopportune decisions of the Supreme Soviet and the government on the economic and political reforms, Belarus is a fairly stable, both economically and politically, state. It is most vividly seen against the background of the other country-members of the CIS. In Belarus there are no ethnic or religious conflicts, there is no open confrontation between political opponents, though there are different political trends in the society. All this makes us sure that the economic crisis will be overcome in the near future. The introduction of the Presidential office and the election of a professional Parliament will contribute to that.
Infrastructure and service as a complex of transport and telecommunication systems as well as the service system for the population are developed in Belarus unevenly and are inferior to the European ones. Infrastructure and services are more developed in the big cities of Belarus. The majority of the establishments and organizations of the service system were in the state sector until recently. Lack of normal competition, strict state regulations and, what's still more important, lack of the ownership feeling created in this important sphere an atmosphere of discomfort and red tape. Besides, the artificially kept-low prices for the infrastructure and services use led to constant financial problems in this important branch of economy. The infrastructure and service enterprises that worked well had to share their profits with those that worked worse. That meant that one and the same service could be rendered differently by different enterprises but the price was the same. Only a small number of service organizations, catering mainly for foreigners for hard currency, kept up relatively high level of services.
The transport infrastructure of Belarus includes a fairly developed network of automobile, rail, air and pipe communications. The transport infrastructure of Belarus is well integrated into similar infrastuctures of the CIS countries as in the recent past these projects were realized as a united system. All transport communications of Belarus are well matched to those of Westem Europe with the exception of the railway. This means that the standards for transport means and communications in Belarus are similar to those of Europe but the railway has a broader gauge than European. That is why on the western border of Belarus all the trains change at special points their bogeys. In future the cars that carry passengers and cargoes between the CIS and Westem Europe will have adjustable wheels, which will greatly simplify the border crossing for trains
International airport Minsk-2
The autotransport system of Belarus includes public and departmental transport. The public transport carries any cargoes and any passengers; the departmental one carries cargoes and passengers of a particular ministry, establishment or organization only. The automobile public transport in Belarus is well developed and plays a great role in passenger transportation. By the end of 1993 in the public transport system of Belarus there worked over 40 thousand trucks, 10 thousand buses, 2.5 thousand taxi cabs and 30 thousand office automobiles. All the public transport is assigned to 106 state transport companies many of which, though, are now in the process of privatization. Besides in Belarus there are over 750 thousand private cars. In 1994 hard-surface automobile roads made 50 thousand kilometers.
Public railways in Belarus make 5.5 thousand km including 900 km electrified. The railroad and the railroad transport are monopolized by the state.
Belarus is in the crossroads of air routes from Asia to Westem Europe. Nowadays Belarus has 7 well-equipped airports including 4 international ones. Airport Minsk-2 is the largest in Eastem Europe. It can serve 1800 passengers an hour but now uses only 10-20% of its capacities. The Belarusan civil air fleet is equipped mainly with Soviet-made airplanes of Yak-40, TU-134, TU-154, IL-76 and other out-of-date types. Belarusan passenger and cargo airlines connect Belarus with many countries of the world. For example, the largest Belarusan transport airline TRANSAVIAEXPORT which has over a dozen of transport planes IL-76 can easily bring cargo to any point of the globe. And the largest passenger airline BELAVIA connects Belarus with many large airports of Europe, America and Asia. Besides Belarusian airlines in Minsk there are representative offices of such famous airlines as LUFTHANSA, SWISSAIR, AUSTRIAN AIRLINES, LOT, El-AI, TRANSAERO and others. Minsk-2 international airport is a member of the European Airports Association.
A great perspective for international transport has the western border junction in Brest. Here is an excellent international airport, the biggest automobile cargo company of the former USSR SOVTRANSAVTO, a large railroad junction. In the future it is planned to create a free economic zone around Brest where transit cargoes from Asia to Western Europe will be served without paying customs. The crossing at one transport junction of international air, rail and automobile routes permits to organize fast and quality cargo delivery from the supplier to the customer on a transcontinental level.
Belarus possesses a powerful pipeline transport. By the end of 1993 it had 2906 km of oil pipelines, 5036 km of gas pipelines. In 1993 through those pipelines there were transported 66.6 million tons of oil and 33.8 billion cubic meters of gas.
Postal Service and Telecommunications
By the end of 1993 in Belarus there were 2 million telephone numbers. At present there are 44 private telephone numbers per 100 households, of those in urban areas 54 numbers, in rural-23. In 1994 there were about 700 thousand unsatisfied applications for the telephone number installation.
Now in Belarus there are projects being realized on the development of an international telephone network. Thanks to credits from EBRD in Belarus the works on the modernizing of a telephone network have started, including satellite and radio-telephone communication. Now businessmen from Western Europe coming to Belarus can rent a mobile phone of the radiotelephone communication system BELCEL and have same high quality telephone service as in the U.S.A. or in Europe.
Postal services in Belarus are the state monopoly. They provide quality and timely delivery of post to addresses.
Trade and Public Catering System
Until recently trade and the public catering system were the state monopoly and its level of quality of services and goods was rather low. By the end of 1993 in the retail sale network there were 23 thousand shops and 7.4 thousand small trade stands. The majority of shops are specialized for providing particular kinds of goods but there are also large supermarket-type shops.
The number of public catering establishments in Belarus was 11.5 thousand by the end of 1993. They could serve over 800 thousand people at a time. This number includes the canteens at enterprises, organizations, and at educational establishments which permits the organization of normal catering in industry and educational establishments. But the number of public cafes and restaurants is only a little above 1000 with the number of seats just above 70 thousand which is absolutely insufficient for a country with a 10 million population. Even by the Belarusan standards it is only 40% of the seats needed. In 1994 the process of public catering enterprises privatization started, people began to open private cafes and restaurants. There appeared competition in trade and public catering which positively influences the service level there.
Hotels in Belarus as well as other infrastructure elements were mo nopolized by the state. Now their privatization has started. In 1994 in Belarus there were 243 hotels which could accommodate 24.5 thousand guests. 164 hotels belonged to the Ministry of Municipal and Housing Economy. The rest of the hotels belong to various enterprises, organizations and departments. Besides there are 14 rather comfortable tourist hotels. The most comfortable hotels belong to the organizations that are specialized in catering for foreign tourists.
In Belarus hotels are not classified by stars (**, ***, ****) instead there are five categories: highest, first, second, third and fourth. The highest category corresponds to a three-star (***) hotel. Unfonunately there are not many such hotels in Belarus, that is why capital investments in hotel service are very profitable as there is great demand in high class hotels as well as in cafes and restaurants.
The independent bank system of Belarus came to existence only in 1991 after the Supreme Soviet has adopted the law "On the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus" and the law "On Banks and Banking Activities". According to these laws in Belarus there was established a two-level bank system: the National Bank and commercial banks as well as other credit establishments. The National Bank of Belarus is the central bank and reports only to the Supreme Soviet acting exclusively in the interests of Belarus.
In 1994 in Belarus there were 35 commercial banks. The commercial banks of Belarus have created a public organization Commercial Banks of Belarus Association which coordinates their activities, works out their strategy of actions and is engaged in lobbyism of banking laws in the Supreme Soviet.
Many commercial banks of Belarus have the correspondents accounts in Western European and American banks and are connected to the SWIFT system which permits to make international transfers very quickly. In 1994 the Commercial Banks Association started to create a centre on credit cards payments. So far using VISA, Eurocard/Mastercard, American Express and other cards one can only withdraw cash in banks as the creation of the cards payments processing centre is only being planned.
The largest commercial banks of Belarus by the size of authorized capital in millions of Belarus roubles by the 1st of January 1994 were:
    BELARUSBANK 10410.2
    PRIORBANK 6907.9
    DUCAT 3516.2
    VITKOMBANK 1737.8
In Belarus there start to emerge banks with private capital in authorized capital. Among the commercial banks mentioned above the authorized capital of BELARUSBANK is by 100 % formed by the private capitals.
For the defence of interests of private and artificial persons including foreign ones in Belarus there is a large network of insurance associations and companies. In 1993 the Supreme Soviet of Belarus has adopted the law "On Insurance" which permitted the existence together with state insurance organizations the private and mixed ones. In Belarus there is a voluntary and compulsory insurance which are defined by the law. The compulsory insurance is provided only by the state insurance companies. The insurance fee is 2-7 % of the insurance sum.
Foreign private and artificial persons that invest their capitals in the economy of Republic of Belarus can insure their property interests only in Belarusan insurance companies. In Belarus there may be organized international insurance companies but the share of foreign partners must not exceed 49 % of the authonzed capital.
The value criteria of insurance companies is defined by the authorized capital, insurance reserves, reserved profits that according to the law should not be less than 15%. By the beginning of 1994 in Belarus there were 77 insurance companies.
The major insurance companies of Belarus by the size of the authorized capital in billion of Belarusan roubles by the beginning of 1994 were:
    TASK 3.0
    BELBRIT 1.6
    ALVENA 1.3
    WESTASKO 1.2
    ELSTRA 1.2
    BELASKO 1.1
    BTA 1.0
According to Belarusan laws the insurance companies can insure risks only if the total sum does not exceed ten times their authorized capital and insurance reserves. This is controlled by the State Insurance Control at the Cabinet of Ministers of Belarus and by the Belarusan Insurance Union.
"Litva","Belaya Rus"?...
There were several words used for referring to Belarusans and Belarus throughout the centuries. Perhaps, the oldest one, which surprisingly survived to the present time, is "Kryvichi". This was the name of one of the earliest Slavic tribes living on the territory of Belarus. In the 12th century its meaning was expanded to denote most of to-be-Belarusan tribes. This trend was still extant in the 13th century but the use was gradually diminishing and eventually came to refer to the people living in a certain part of Belarus, who supposedly were descendants of the original tribe. Yet Latvians(Letts) employed the word up to the 18th century(Krews) to embrace inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania(GDL) so, when the Commonwealth was forcibly disintegrated, they started applying the word to Russia as well.
About "Litva": historically two similar words were in existence -- "Litva"(one -- Licwin) and "Letuva"(one -- Letuvis). The former developed through the 13th century to represent people living in the GDL, the latter was applied to Baltic tribes occupying approximately one fourth of the territory of present-day Lithuania. The word "Litva" also possessed an ethnic meaning since since it was not used for Jews, for instance, living in the GDL. Therefore, during the epoch of Belarusan statehood (13-17 centuries) and later the inhabitants of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania were called "licwiny". Nonetheless, the word was not employed for Ukranians or Zhmudzians despite their being in the GDL for more than a hundred years.
The word Rus appeared in Eastern Europe with advance of Varyagans(Scandinavians) to the south. "Ruotsi" was a common name of Suomi Finns. Later the word spread to all Finns. Hence, in the 10th century the word was used to describe Scandinavian newcomers in contrast with Slavic people. After a number of Ukrainian tribes(e.g. Palyane) had been conquered by Scandinavians, they adopted the names of their victorers, and eventually word "Rusi" meant mainly inhabitants of Ukraine, which, consequently, was called "Rus". At the same time people living in the lands around Moscow were referred as Maskouci or Maskali. Similar derivatives were common for other principalities. Litwa was NOT included in Rus in the same sense as Zhmudz(present-day Lithuania) was different from Litva.
One of the most important aspects that has led to the current naming conventions is that of religion. As known, in 988 Christianity was introduced by prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus and spread quickly to Litva, Moscovy, etc. Moreover, this religion was labeled as Rusian religion because of its Rusian origination in Slavic lands. This created a phenomenon when people in Litwa and Moscowy were called Russians based on their religious beliefs. These happenings resulted into a paradoxical situation with the written language. Since most writings in that period of time were of religious nature followers of Rusian religion had to "write in Rusian". On the contrary, creation of the strong Lithuanian state induced the use of "Lithuanian" language. For this reason we have "Biblia Ruska" by Fr. Skarina and a number of other books where the language used in the GDL is termed as Rusian. On the other hand, "Litouskaya mova"(Lithuanian language) was also very common expression and is still used by few Belarusans. Ukranians also used the same Rusian literary language but referred to the folk language in the GDL as Lithuanian.
Belays Rus( White Rus ) -- this expression was mainly used to refer to Moscovy after Tatar yoke had ended as well as to the Novgorod principality in the 14th-15th centuries for it had been less dependent on Tatars. The meaning of the word stems from Tatars using word "white" to mean "free", "non-taxable", etc. Then it is clear that this expression could be used in Moscovy for the GDL as having religious connotations; however, it is nowhere to be found within the GDL up to the 17th century. During the war of 1654-1667 between Moscovy and the GDL the tzar Alexei I proclaimed himself "The emperor of Great, Minor, and White Rus". Here we have a precise reference to the lands of the GDL as "Belaya Rus" inspired by etymological and religious reasons. "Belaya"(White) appeared because the lands of the GDL were deemed by Moscowy as occupied(and now "freed"?!) whereas Rus was associated with Rusian church. These naming was enforced by Alexei's decree to guarantee its rapid proliferation. During the next one hundred years the expression was used widely by Moscovians and others. Still it should be emphasized that inside the Commonwealth Rus' and Belaya Rus' had mostly religious meaning.
After the divisions of 1773, 1793, 1795 the GDL part of the Commonwealth was incorporated into Russia(Moskovy); the terms "Litwa" and "Licwiny" were banned from use and replaced officially by "Belarus" and "Belarusi". "Litva" was applied just to Zhmudzian lands. The reaction of original Lithuanians was not uniform. A part of intelligentsia started using the word "Kryvichi" since it had been used for long time to refer to a part of Lithuanian people. Yet, despite all the decrees, the name "Litwa" was very common not only among ordinary people in the former GDL but also in Russia and Poland. What then happened to the name "Belarus" by the end of the 20th century? It almost disappeared! How come the word resurfaced anew?
After annulment of the Uniat church in 1839 use of Lithuanian language was forbidden in schools. After the revolt of 1863-64 even publishing in Lithuanian became impossible. Also, after the uprising of 1831 Nikolai I started using "West Russia" for Litwa, which was superseded in the 1860s by "North-Western Region". The policy of russification promoted by czarism deemed Belarusan inadequate for its purposes and used Russian instead. Partially for this reason and because of the danger to use "Lithuanian" the period of Belarusan national renaissance started with "Nasha Niva" came with name "Belarus". Fr. Bagushevich also used this word in his poem collections ("Belarusan fife"). As a former participant of an anti-regime uprising Bagushevich did not want to attract attention of Russian police by using "Litwa". In such a way the word "Belarus" replaced "Litwa" and was widely used in literature by the 1920. However, in the 1920s a trend was developed among the Belarusan intelligentsia to use "Kryvichi" but the movement was nipped in the bud with a wide-scale terror in the 30s, when the word served as one of the labels of "enemies of people". During the 1930s the national intelligentsia in Belarus was virtually annihilated. The word "Belarus" or, even better, "Byelorussia" has stuck and is very likely be used in the future.
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