"Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko snuffed out Belarus's modest progress toward democracy and a free market economy and created an authoritarian regime shortly after being elected as president in 1994. His regime is in rhetoric and policies a throwback to the Soviet era. Those advocating a stronger U.S. role in trying to bring democratic change to Belarus say that the country is important to the United States because Belarus is an obstacle to the U.S. goal of making Europe 'whole and free.' Another concern is Belarus's support for pariah regimes, including through arms sales. Relations between Belarus and the United States have been particularly poor since Lukashenko's brutal repression of the opposition after fraudulent presidential elections in December 2010. In response, the EU and United States have imposed strengthened sanctions against key Belarusian leaders, businessmen, and firms. Russia has taken advantage of this situation to increase its political and economic influence in Belarus."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32534