Relations with Russia
Relations with Russia have always been critical for Belarus. The legacy of the Soviet period has been much debated, but there is no question that Belarusians have diverse feelings toward and images of their giant neighbor. The declaration of independence and the 1994 Constitution had stated that Belarus was to be a neutral, nonaligned state. Russia, however, had annexed Belarusian territories in the Soviet period, particularly in the 1930s. After the Second World War, the official policy of Russification had an impact on all facets of cultural life and consciousness. In the Shushkevich era, one of the stumbling blocks for the Speaker vis a vis his political enemies had been the proposal by prime minister Kebich to enter a military and security union with Russia. Arguably this issue was one of the factors behind the downfall of Shushkevich who could not reconcile himself to the loss of sovereignty that such an agreement implied.