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THE POSSIBILITIES OF BUSINESS COOPERATION
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
banking and insurance;
oil and chemical industries;
energy saving technologies;
infrastructure and services;
computing machinery and its components, materials for
technologies and equipment for the storage and processing
of agricultural products, etc.
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:
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
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
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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