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July 30, 2008

Daily Life in Belarus

Belarus is a country of 10 million citizens in the heart of Europe. Its president, Alexander Lukashenko, has been in power since 1994, and U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain recently described him as a "brutal dictator" and supports continued U.S. sanctions, imposed in reaction to rigged elections in 2006. This September, over 700 international observers will be on hand to monitor new parliamentary elections, and Lukashenko may be trying to warm up to the West. Here is a look at some recent scenes in and around Belarus. (19 photos total)

A Belarus Interior Ministry soldier runs through an obstacle course during rigorous physical examinations for the "Madder Beret" outside Minsk in Volovshchina on June 5, 2008. Troops who pass the examinations receive a burgundy colored Madder Beret and become members of the special forces. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Tatiana Litvinchuk holds her cat at an international cat exhibition in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, May 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A girl practises gymnastics at a sports school in Minsk June 03, 2008. (REUTERS/Vladimir Nikolsky)

A man greets Border Patrol Servicemen as they walk through Minsk on May 28, 2008. The Belarus Border Patrol Service recently celebrated its 90th anniversary. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

A Belarusian police officer stops photographers from taking pictures of a bomb blast site in downtown Minsk, Belarus, early Friday, July 4, 2008. More than 50 people were injured in a rare bomb attack at an outdoor concert in the capital of Minsk. The stage for that concert is visible at center right. To date, no claims for responsibility have been made, and those arrested initially have been released. Investigations are ongoing. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Bones of a mammoth are displayed near workmen digging the foundation of a building in Minsk on July 25, 2008. The workmen dug up the bones during construction. Scientists estimate that the remains are approximately 12,000 years old. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Belarusian neo-pagans carry a wheel as a symbol of the sun celebrating the summer solstice in small town Rakov, some 45 kilometers (28 miles) northwest of Minsk, Belarus, Monday, June 23, 2008. The festivities of Ivan Kupala, or John the Baptist, is similar to Mardi Gras and reflects pre-Christian Slavic traditions and practices. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

The woman at right is a Lithuanian citizen, standing in the Lithuanian village of Norviliskes. She is speaking with her Belarusian relatives, behind a fence that is built on the border between Belarus and Lithuania, while a Belarusian border guard watches over the scene on Friday, May 2, 2008. The border between the two countries runs right through the middle of this village. The diverging paths taken by the two countries since the 1991 Soviet collapse have left former neighbors in this border village separated not only by an imposing fence but by increasingly different ways of life. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A Belarusian border guard patrols along the border with Lithuania in the village of Pyatskuny, Belarus, Friday, May 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus Interior Ministry troops dodge fire in an obstacle course during rigorous physical examinations for the "Madder Beret" outside Minsk in Volovshchina on June 5, 2008. Troops who pass the examinations receive a burgundy colored Madder Beret and become members of the special forces. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

A serviceman of a special unit from the Interior Ministry takes part in a test near the village of Volovshchina, 25 km (16 miles) west of Minsk, June 5, 2008. Servicemen have to pass several tough tests before being awarded entry to the ministry's elite "Red Beret" unit. (REUTERS/Vladimir Nikolsky)

A Belarussian soldier places wreath into a river near the ruins of Brest fortress on the Belarus-Polish border early on June 22, 2008 to mark the Day of Memory and Mourning for victims of World War II. On June 22, 1941 the Brest fortress was on the frontline of the German Nazi army invasion of the then-Soviet Union. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Fireworks explode over a medieval castle and are reflected in a lake during a Festival of Fire in small town Mir, 95 kilometers (60 miles) west of Minsk, Belarus, early Saturday, June 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Catholic faithful from Belarus and neighboring countries attend a religious festival marking the miracle-working icon known as the Mother of God of Budslav in the Belarus village of Budslav, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Minsk, early Wednesday, July 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarusian honor guard soldiers perform during a parade marking Independence Day in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, July 3, 2008. The holiday was set on July 3, in Nov. 1996 to mark the day when Minsk was liberated by Soviet army from the Nazi invaders in 1944. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Athletes perform during a parade marking Independence Day or Day of the Republic celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, July 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Members of the Belarus Olympic team visit a church for a blessing in Minsk on July 18, 2008 the day of their departure to participate in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Belarus will be sending a total of 80 athletes to the games this year. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Artists wearing Belarusian national dresses hold traditional bread-and-salt as they meet participants of a cultural festival of various ethnicities living in Belarus, in the town of Grodno, Belarus, Friday, June 13, 2008. Representatives of more than one hundred nationalities live in Belarus.(AP Photo/Sergey Grits)

Eugene Yanovich tries to keep his horse back from his wife Yanina's potatoes. Yanina is sorting the potatoes for planting in the Belarusian village of Pyatskuny, on the border between Belarus and Lithuania, Friday, May 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

More links and information
Belarus - Wikipedia entry
Blast shatters Belarus' peaceful facade - BBC 7/4
Construction workers unearth mammoth bones in Minsk - AP 7/26
Over 700 international observers to monitor Belarus elections - RIA Novosti 7/29

 
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