Native Belarusan Jan Zaprudnik paints a vivid picture of Belarus's complex past, paving the way for his analysis of the challenges now facing the republic in the wake of a disintegrating Soviet Union. In recent years Belarus (formerly known as Belorussia) has been less visible to the world than the Baltic republics to the north or Ukraine to the south, yet this multiethnic republic has undergone a significant demographic social, cultural, and political evolution since 1956. A proclamation of state sovereignty in July 1990 combined with the accelerated fragmentation of the Soviet Union to push Belarus along the uncertain road to independence--a process that culminated with a declaration of full independence in August 1991.
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