1991 The Republic of Belarus becomes independent following the fall of the Soviet Union . The Belarusian capital, Minsk, is the central headquarters for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
1994 Former chairman of the parliamentary anti-corruption committee, Alexander Lukashenko, wins the presidential election. Under communist authority, Lukashenko previously ruled over state-owned farms. As president, Lukashenko outlines the main goals of his administration, namely strengthening ties between Belarus and Russia.
1995 The president signs a cooperation pact with Russia while once again making Russian the official language of Belarus. Belarus adopts a new flag, which greatly resembles the pre-independence version. Lukashenko's powers are expanded, sparking protests. The opposition is quickly subdued.
1996 Belarus signs an economic agreement with the former Soviet Union. In the same month, Lukashenko extends his term in office by two years. His term will now end in 2001.
1997 Belarusian citizens send a pro-democracy petition to Lukashenko entitled, "Charter 97 ." Charter 97 later becomes the name of a human rights watch group based in Minsk.
1998 The BBC reports, The Belarusian rubel's value drops by 50 percent. In response, the government imposes Soviet-style food rationing until the crisis passes. Belarus and Russia establish an accord, which would eventually lead to the merger of the two currencies and the tax systems.
October 2000 Parliamentary elections are denounced by international observers as unfair. The BBC reports that voter participation is so low that thirteen regions are ineligible for consideration, forcing a re-election to occur.
November 2000 President Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin sign a merger which would create a single currency between the two nations by 2008.
March 2001 The BBC reports, "Parliamentary elections are re-run in thirteen constituencies where voter turnout in October 2000 was too low. Belarus officials declare the votes valid. Thousands demonstrate in Minsk against Lukashenko."
September 2001 Lukashenko is reelected for a second term as president. The election is widely viewed as undemocratic.
August 2002 Pressure to further align with Russia intensifies as the Russians propose unifying with the Belarus under one parliament. Lukashenko declines Russia's proposal.
November 2002 Lukashenko and other government officials are banned from travel to 14 E.U. countries, as well as the U.S., following reports of poor human rights standards under the current administration. The U.S. and EU countries also point to Belarus' dismissal of officials from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
April 2003 Following international pressure, Belarus allows OSCE officials back into the country. In response, the U.S. and EU nations lift the travel ban on Lukashenko and others. Despite this move, these nations remain critical of Belarus' human rights record.
July 2003 Human Rights Watch reports, a new law requires the content of all radio news programs to be submitted to Belarus' Ministry of Information one day before broadcast.
April 2004 Belarus receives international criticism when reports of human rights abuses emerge. The allegations stem from the disappearances of four men in Minsk during 1999 and 2000. The government is accused of blocking the investigation into their disappearances. This leads to EU travel bans of several senior officials. The BBC reports that the missing high-profile men were all critical of Lukashenko's increasingly authoritative government upon their separate disappearances.
October 2004 A referendum allows Lukashenko to serve beyond the previous two-term limit. Polling results show him winning more than three-fourths of the vote. However, news sources report grave irregularities in ballots, with some paper ballots already marked with Lukashenko's name prior to their distribution.
In parliamentary elections, not a single seat is won by oppositional parties. Thousands protest in the streets, leading to dozens of arrests and alleged police brutality. Both elections lead to Western criticism of the election as undemocratic and unfair.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports, Veronika Cherkasova, a reporter for the oppositional paper Solidarnost, is found dead with multiple stab wounds. Cherkasova reported on purported Belarusian sales of arms to Saddam Hussein.
November 2004 The E.U. increases its travel restrictions on government officials and the U.S. issues sanctions.
December 2004 Mikhail Marinich is sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly stealing computers from the U.S. embassy, despite the fact that the United States did not file a grievance. Many speculate Marinich, a high-profile opposition member expected to challenge Lukashenko for the presidency, was seen as a threat to Lukashenko. Therefore, the government staged the trial to rob him of chances to run in the March 2006 presidential election.
December 2005 In anticipation of the March 2006 elections, Parliament approves strict penalties for anyone suspected of starting demonstrations or disseminating anti-state propaganda.
February 2006 The U.S. State Department reports, "In February 2006 authorities arrested four leaders of the independent election monitoring NGO Partnership: Nikolay Astreyko, Timofey Dranchuk, Aleksandr Shalayko, and Enira Bronitskaya. They were held incommunicado in pretrial detention until their July 2006 trial in a closed courtroom. Astreyko and Dranchuk were sentenced to two years and one year in prison, respectively, for operating an unregistered NGO. Shalayko and Bronitskaya were sentenced to six months in prison on the same charge."
March 2006 Lukashenko is elected for a third term with more than 80 percent of the vote. Following the election results, thousands protest in the streets of Minsk. Hundreds of protestors are arrested and report police brutality, including beatings and tear gas. Western authorities condemn both the election and police actions.
April 2006 Alexander Milinkevich, a key opponent of Lukashenko in the March 2006 presidential election, is arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for attending a rally commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
May 2006 Belarus is named one of the "Ten Most Censored Countries" by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
July 2006 According to the BBC, Another Lukashenko opponent during March elections, Alexander Kozulin, is sentenced to five and a half years in prison on charges of "hooliganism" and "incitement to mass disorder".
November 2006 President Lukashenko holds a press conference during which he states the March election results were actually underreported to appease Western audiences. He claims that he actually won more than 90 percent of the vote. Belarusian police arrest youth group leader Dmitriy Dashkevich for the group's oppositional ideology. He is denied family contact and is sentenced to 18 months in jail.
December 2006 Russia threatens to cut off supplies to Belarus. After weeks of negotiations, a deal is reached. In the agreement, Belarus will pay more than two times its previous rate for natural gas.
January 2007 Parliament passes a new anti-corruption law that punishes government officials for holding foreign asset accounts. It also criminalizes nepotism. Just before the new law is passed, President Lukashenko appoints his son, Viktor, to the nation's Security Council . The law also gives the Prosecutor General's office control of all anti-corruption activities.
March 2007 Thousands protest President Lukashenko. They call for an end to his undemocratic reign. Police take actions to quell the opposition . A demonstration organizer Kristina Shatikova is arrested and placed in a psychiatric hospital. While detained, she is reportedly drugged and interrogated.
May 2007 The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) denies Belarus a seat on the Council, a move which is applauded by international human rights groups, who say the country has violated international standards. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Belarus and discusses an energy partnership with President Lukashenko.
June 2007 Two high-profile corruption arrests take place. Aleksandr Barovskiy, CEO of the Belarusian chemical corporation Belneftekhim, is charged with corruption. Sergey Dmitryev is sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for accepting bribes and organizing customs agents in a criminal ring. Dmitryev is the former head of a division of the State Customs Committee.
July 2007 Opposition politician Andrey Klimov receives a two-year sentence for publishing criticisms of the government on the Internet.
October 2007 The BBC reports, Lukashenko states that Belarus needs to build a nuclear power plant to supply the nation with enough affordable energy. This comes two months after Russia threatens to cut half of the energy supplies to Belarus.
December 2007 Despite disagreements with Russia over the supply of energy, Lukashenko says he will support Russia by housing missiles if the U.S. follows through with placing missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Police violently break up a Minsk demonstration. They beat youth leader Dmitriy Fedaruk and leave him unconscious. Belarussian authorities have a long history of targeting opposition youth groups, with dozens of arrests since Lukashenko was first elected President in 1994.
March 2008 In protest of U.S. sanctions, Belarus removes its ambassador from Washington, D.C. Belarus also asks U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, Karen Stewart, to leave the country, after the government accuses the U.S. of recruiting Belarussian citizens as spies.
April 2008 Despite international pressure, Belarus refuses to release former presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin from prison.
May 2008 The BBC reports, Belarus orders the removal of eleven U.S. diplomats after the United States is again critical of Belarusian human rights violations.
August 2008 Parliament further restricts media in anticipation of parliamentary elections in the fall. The new measures prevent the majority of private media funding as well as Internet reporting. President Lukashenko signs the bill, defying international opposition to the bill.