No association with it, but I think the main problem is because Belarus and Russia are discussing re-uniting. Even though the leaders aren't that friendly, Russia doesn't like the rapid Nato expansion around it hence funds Belarus with cheap energy.
Conversely, the US is worried that a Russian - Belarussian alliance can put pressure on surrounding republics and cause another pseudo Soviet Union.
Also Belarus is key in transporting Russian oil and gas to Ukraine, Georgia and on to Europe. In the event of a Russian / Belarussian merger, Russia has even more control over energy supplies to the region and can weild more power.
This is a situation that Ukraine and Georgia leaders would be concerned about, given how Russia shut them down earlier in the energy supply row.
Most of them didn't have an option but to switch to 'democracy' after the iron curtain collapsed. If they didn't they didn't get aid packages and with Russia making the switch after the fall of the USSR they were pretty much forced to. They really didn't have the institutions to make the switch so most of the parties that formed were crooks and gangsters along with the con artists.
Where we accuse our politicians of being crooks, most of the former soviet republics can prove it. Belarus however didn't make the switch, its still a poor, radiation polluted, command controlled economy with a dictator who's running the show on dubious election after dubious election.
Its going to take 25 - 30 years at best for most of them.
Belarus gets the ..
“Ditto Much Dubious Election Award”
Yes I know it isn't even May yet but I'm pretty comfortable saying this will be the most crooked election this year.
Belarussian economy is ok actually...They basically have the same social welfare systems in place as during Soviet times. Free healthcare, fully funded pensions. Of course, this is only due to the cut price energy from Russia and not a true reflection of the economy if it was left to fend on it's own.
But that's the split in the country. The countryside and the poor to middle classes support Lucheshenko (sp?) because he's kept them paid up and there hasn't been rampant inflation like in other republics. Economically they're ok. But the opposition draws it's support from the inhabitants of the richest city Minsk. Who don't really care about the delivery of social welfare all that much and want more personal freedoms. Which doesn't occur there. he is a full authoritarian and at least based on election rumours this time...employs death squads.