Belarus has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics. The President since 1994, Aleksandr Lukashenko has steadily consolidated his power through authoritarian means and a centralized economic system. Government restrictions on political and civil freedoms, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly, and religion have remained in place.
For a profile of the country we suggest the BBC website on Belarus.
In 2016, Belarus became the last country in Europe to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. New law in 2019 aims to improve the situation of those living with disabilities. The negative attitudes towards people with disabilities which were prevalent in the Soviet Union still persist today. The conditions under which most people with disabilities in Belarus live remain difficult. Young people with disabilities form one of the most marginalised and deprived groups in the country.
With a minimum wage of £120 (2019) and average salary of £370 (2019) the benefits for a child under 18 with extensive disabilities can be as low as £100 (2019). Bearing in mind that many families with such a child are single parent families, with fathers often leaving, the sole carer is unable to work as they provide the 24 hour needed for their child.
The limitations for children and young people living with disabilities are being transformed by our two partners in the capital, Minsk – Isle of Hope and the Sisters of St Elizabeth.