The Economy: 1986 1996
This chapter examines economic development in Belarus over the course of the decade 1986 1996. Though Belarus was considered relatively success ful in terms of industrial development as a Soviet republic, it was ill equip ped both for the processes of economic reform and-particularly-for life as an independent state. The decade saw a decline in a number of spheres, such as gross domestic product, labor productivity, and balance of trade. Price rises led to increased wages and very high inflation levels. None of these problems were unique to Belarus in the post-Soviet era, but the country suffered more than most because of its lack of natural resources and its depend ence on Russia. The period saw the buildup of debt, more than half of which was owed to Russia. In addition, Belarus also saw a notable demo graphic decline, which led to dire predictions of the ultimate extinction of the nation. The decade began with an equally catastrophic event, namely the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant just south of the Ukrainian border.