Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge
Joint Baltic American National Committee
The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. is a non-profit organization that monitors issues affecting Baltic-American communities in the United States and the nations of Estonia and Lithuania. JBANC functions as the public affairs bureau for its three parent organizations, the Estonian American National Council, the American Latvian Association, Inc. and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.. The organization was founded on April 27, 1961 through a joint proclamation by Estonian National Committee in the U. S. A. Chairman Julius Kangur. President Leonard Simutis. Since its inception, JBANC has worked with members of Congress, the White House, the State Department, other federal agencies to promote the Baltic-American agenda; the group focuses on fostering democratic principles, promoting human rights worldwide, supporting the establishment of peaceful relations among nations, seeking the restoration and maintenance of security throughout Central and Eastern Europe. During the late twentieth century, JBANC worked to secure admission for the Baltic countries into NATO and the European Union.
When Estonia and Lithuania all became full members of both organizations in 2004, JBANC turned its efforts to a host of issues that continue to demand attention today. These include bearing witness to the legacy of communism. S. and abroad. After the Russian belligerence against Ukraine demonstrated Russia’s strategic threat to the United States and Europe to Estonia and Lithuania, the focus of the group shifted back to securing peace in the Baltics. JBANC advocates for the European Reassurance Initiative that enables the U. S. and NATO allies to be better prepared for contingencies that may occur during Russia’s widening aggression against its neighbors. JBANC draws attention to the hybrid warfare in Ukraine and Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea and territories in Georgia, the continuous provocations against the Baltic countries, including the kidnapping of an Estonian intelligence officer, dangerous aerial and maritime incursions around the Baltic Sea, its ceaseless campaigns of disinformation.
The organization hosted a conference, in Washington, D. C. on April 16–18, 2015, which focused on the theme: "History Repeated: Baltics and Eastern Europe in Peril?". Speakers at the event included President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, European parliamentarian Artis Pabriks, along with Ambassador John Heffern, James Kirchick, Liz Wahl, Paul Goble, Paul Joyal, David Kramer, Luke Coffey, others. JBANC held its Twelfth Baltic conference in Washington, D. C. on May 19-20, 2017 under the topic of "New Realities: The Baltic Region in a Changing World." Information about JBANC and its parent organizations can be obtained through the following websites: Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. Estonian American National Council, Inc. American Latvian Association, Inc. Lithuanian American Council, Inc
Viktar Hanchar was a Belarusian politician who disappeared and was killed in 1999. He was born in the village of Slutsk Raion. Hanchar graduated from the Belarusian State University Law faculty in 1979 and worked as law research worker at different major Belarusian institutions. Beginning in May 1991 Hanchar worked as first deputy chairman of Maladzyechna mayor. In May 1994 he ran for the Constitutional Court of Belarus, but did not receive the support of most MPs. During the presidential elections in 1994, Hanchar was one of the most active in the election campaign headquarters of Alexander Lukashenko. In 1994, after the victory of Lukashenko in the presidential elections, Hanchar was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, but soon resigned. Hanchar joined the opposition to the president and joined the United Civil Party, becoming a member of its Political Council. In 1995-1996 he was general secretary of the CIS Economic Court. In 1995 Hanchar was elected to the Supreme Soviet of Belarus.
In 1996 he was appointed chairman of the Central Commission on Elections, was opposed Lukashenka during the 1996 referendum. In 1996 he was dismissed by the president from his position. Hanchar never recognized the results of the 1996 referendum as legitimate. In 1998, Hanchar led an alternative Elections Committee during the presidential elections of 1999, organized by the opposition as a protest against constitutional reforms by Lukashenko. Hanchar disappeared in Minsk on September 16, 1999, along with his friend, the businessman Anatol Krasouski. Pieces of broken glass and blood were found on the supposed site where Hanchar and Krasouski had been seen last. On December 5, 2002 they were declared as missing persons by the Court. In January 2003 the Chief Prosecutor of Minsk suspended the criminal investigation of the disappearance of Hanchar and Krasouski. According to the former head of jail number 1 Oleg Alkaev, Viktar Hanchar was abducted and executed on the order of people close to President Lukashenko.
Investigation of the disappearance of Hanchar and Krasouski is one of the main issues of the Belarusian opposition, is mentioned in the documents of international organizations. For several years the Belarusian opposition has organized the Day of Solidarity with Belarus on the 16th of every month to commemorate the disappearance of Hanchar, Jury Zacharanka, Dzmitry Zavadski, the mysterious death of Hienadz Karpienka. List of people who disappeared Kidnapping of Hanchar and Krasouski: authorities have something to hide Viktar Hanchar on ciwr.org
The Jeans Revolution was a term used by Belarus' democratic opposition to describe their protests following the 2006 Belarusian presidential election. The Jeans Revolution was referred to as the Cornflower Revolution and the Denim Revolution, in reference to the color blue as a parallel to the other color revolutions; the term was coined after a 16 September 2005 public demonstration against the policies of Alexander Lukashenko. On 16 September 1999, popular opposition leader Viktor Gonchar disappeared; the Belarusian police seized the white-red-white flags used by the opposition and banned in the state, an activist of the youth movement Zubr, Mikita Sasim, raised his denim shirt, announcing this will be their flag instead. This spontaneous incident was recognized to have a symbolic meaning. In the former Soviet Union jeans were a symbol of the Western culture, hence jeans were recognized by Belarusian opposition as a symbol of protest against Lukashenko's Soviet-like policies, as well as the symbol that Belarusians are "not isolated" Subsequently, Zubr suggested to wear jeans on 16th day of each month, in remembrance of alleged disappearances in Belarus.
The term "Jeans Revolution" was brought to worldwide attention in reference to the demonstrations held in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, disputing the elections. Up to 40,000 protesters gathered in October Square on 19 March 2006, it is believed; the protest against the outcome of the 19 March election began as soon as polls closed late Sunday, with more than 10,000 people gathering in the square. The protest dwindled since then; each evening saw 3,000 to 4,000 on Tuesday. As of 23 March, only about 200 youthful protesters remained concentrated around the opposition's tent camp erected on October Square in Minsk. On 24 March, authorities sent in riot police to clear out the makeshift tent camp in October Square and told them to disperse. State television emphasized a report from city police stating; some observers said the gentle treatment of demonstrators suggested that Belarusian president may be attempting to react more sensitively given Western opinion. President Alexander Lukashenko earlier announced that protests similar to what occurred during the Orange and Tulip Revolutions will not take place in Belarus, stating that "force will not be used" to claim the presidency.
Belarus authorities vowed to crush unrest in the event of large-scale protests following the election. Despite the government's prediction, the rally after the election was the biggest the opposition had mustered in years, reaching at least 10,000, according to AP reporters' estimates. On 20 March, Alaksandar Milinkievič told to 7,000 supporters that they faced a long haul with their protests: "We, free people of Belarus, will never recognise the election, they are afraid of us. Their power is based on lies". However, Lukashenko renewed charges that his rivals had planned pro-Western revolts like those in ex-Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia. "Let me say that the revolution that so many people talked about and some were preparing, has failed and it could not be otherwise", he stated during the news conference on his victory. On 25 March, the 45,000 protesters in Belarus met police that did not clash with them, because they were waiting for riot police, but they did not interfere. However, moving on, the protesters clashed with riot police and were driven back.
The riot police arrested more than 100 people along with Alexander Kozulin, a supporter of the protests and a candidate against Lukashenko. Kozulin was assaulted by the police during his arrest and on 14 July 2006, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years imprisonment for his actions in the protests. On the 25, Milinkievič stated that he hoped for a monthlong cease in protests hoping that he could build up opposition and calm angst; the opposition movement the post-election protests, was documented by Belarusian filmmaker Yury Khashchavatski in his film Kalinoŭvski Square. A Lesson of Belarusian is documentary from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, described preceding events, directly Jeans revolution, what was happening in result. Directed by Miroslaw Dembinski; the regime labelled the documentary as extreme material.
Dmitry Alexandrovich Zavadsky or Dzmitry Alyaksandravich Zavadski was a Belarusian journalist who disappeared and was murdered in 2000. Zavadsky worked as cameraman for Russian Public Television Channel One. From 1994 to 1997, he was the personal cameraman of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. In 1997, Zavadsky and ORT reporter Pavel Sheremet were arrested and imprisoned after filming a report about security vulnerability on the Belarus–Lithuania border. Zavadsky filmed the report with Sheremet crossing illegally from Belarus to Lithuania and back again, to demonstrate the ease with which smugglers could cross the border, they were charged with Article 17 of the Criminal Code and Article 80, which carried a maximum five-year prison sentence. The arrests resulted in a diplomatic fallout between Belarus. Russian authorities criticized Belarus over the arrests and Russian President Boris Yeltsin cancelled Lukashenko's scheduled trip to Moscow in protest. Lukashenko's invitation was revoked after he had left Belarus.
The trial began on 17 December 1997 in Ashmyany, 55 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. The selection of the location was publicized in both Belarus and Russia. Ashmyany, as a border city, required special permission to access, which complicated the situation for journalists wishing to cover the case. Additionally the courtroom was too small to accommodate all the interested parties, but the request to transfer the trial to a larger location was denied. Sheremet and Zavadsky were represented by Belarusian public defenders and Russian attorney Viktor Kuznetsov from ORT, their attorneys argued there was no evidence of any crime, as the only evidence they had crossed the border illegally was a sign Zavadsky filmed reading "Republic of Lithuania", technically located in Belarus. The attorneys accused the state of arresting the journalists not for any crime but for the fact that they criticized the border security. Attorney Mikhail Pastukhov urged the court to seek "justice, not violence."On 28 January 1998 the court found Sheremet and Zavadsky guilty on all charges.
Sheremet and Zavadsky were sentenced to 36 months in prison. From October 1999 to May 2000, Zavadsky and Sheremet were in Chechnya filming Chechen Diary, a four-part documentary series for ORT. On 7 July 2000, Zavadsky drove to the Minsk National Airport to meet Sheremet. Witnesses saw Zavadsky in the airport and his car was found in the parking lot. Zavadsky has not been seen since. Zavadsky had received threatening phone calls before his disappearance, his neighbors saw two men trailing him near his apartment building on the day he disappeared; the witnesses helped police artist compile composite drawings of the two men, but the police refused to release them to the public. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, its sources in Belarus suspect that Zavadsky was murdered because he had footage showing Belarusian security agents fighting in Chechnya alongside Chechen rebels. Belarusian officials, including Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Mikhail Udovikov, suggested that Zavadsky was abducted either by his colleagues at ORT, including Sheremet, or by members of the local opposition, related to his "pro-Russia" coverage of the Chechen war.
On 20 November 2000, independent Belarusian media received an anonymous email from a person who identified himself as an officer of the Belarus State Security Committee working on the Zavadsky investigation: "The writer claimed that nine suspects had been arrested, seven of whom were either current or former officers of the Presidential Security Service, that the suspects had confessed to killing Zavadsky and had named the place where his body was buried. According to the e-mail, the investigators had found a shovel stained with Zavadsky's blood. Additionally, the e-mail claimed that President Lukashenko refused to allow investigators to exhume the body, that the case was transferred from the Prosecutor's Office to the Interior Ministry to sabotage the investigation." —report from Committee to Protect Journalists The following day, Lukashenko blamed Zavadsky's disappearance on Chechen kidnappers. A week Lukashenko fired four of his top officials: his security issues adviser, the chairman of the Security Council, the prosecutor general, the head of the State Security Committee.
Lukashenko asserted that the four had been plotting a coup d'état and had abducted Zavadsky to implicate the president. On 14 March 2002, Minsk Regional Court convicted four men of five murders, plus the kidnapping of Dmitry Zavadsky. Two of the men, Valery Ignatovich and Maxim Malik, were former members of the elite Belarusian police unit Almaz. Despite the conviction, Zavadsky's body was never recovered and the circumstances of his disappearance and ultimate fate were not explained. In addition to Zavadsky, Belarusian authorities failed to determine the fates of leading opposition figures Jury Zacharanka and Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatoly Krasovsky, who vanished in 1999 and 2000. Belarus came under international criticism and human rights monitors regarded the behind-closed-doors trial and convictions as flawed. Journalists were banned from observing the proceedings except for the sentencing. In September 2002, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that it was “seriously concerned about the lack of progress” and established an investigative sub-committee to probe into the multiple “disappearances
Bronisław Maria Komorowski is a Polish politician and historian who served as President of Poland from 2010 to 2015. Komorowski served as Minister of Defence from 2000 to 2001; as Marshal of the Sejm, Komorowski exercised the powers and duties of head of state following the death of President Lech Kaczyński in a plane crash on 10 April 2010. Komorowski was the governing Civic Platform party's candidate in the resulting presidential election, which he won in the second round of voting on 4 July 2010, he was sworn in as President on 6 August 2010. Komorowski thus became the second person to serve on two occasions as Polish head of state since 1918, after Maciej Rataj. On 25 May 2015, Komorowski conceded the presidency of Poland to the rival candidate Andrzej Duda, after the latter won the second round of the 2015 presidential election. Bronisław Maria Komorowski was born in Oborniki Śląskie. Born as a son of Zygmunt Leon Komorowski, professor of African Studies at the University of Warsaw and Jadwiga Komorowska.
From 1957 to 1959 he lived in Józefów near Otwock. From 1959 to 1966 he attended elementary school in Pruszków. In 1966 he transferred to Warsaw and graduated from Cyprian Kamil Norwid High School no. 24. For many years he was affiliated with the Scout Movement. During his studies he was a Scout instructor in 208 WDHiZ "Parasol" Battalion in Mokotów, he met his future wife through Scouting. In 1977 he finished his studies in history at the University of Warsaw. From 1977 to 1980 he was an editor at the journal Słowo Powszechne. In the People's Republic of Poland, Komorowski took part in the democratic movement as an underground publisher and co-operated with Antoni Macierewicz on the monthly Głos. In 1980, he was sentenced along with activists of the Movement for Defense of Human and Civic Rights to one month in prison for organizing a demonstration on 11 November 1979. From 1980 to 1981, he worked in the Centre of Social Investigation of NSZZ "Solidarity". On 27 September 1981, he was one of the signatories of the founding declaration of the Clubs in the Service of Independence.
He was interned. From 1981 to 1989, he taught at the Lower Seminary in Niepokalanów. From 1989 to 1990, he was the manager minister Aleksander Hall's office, from 1990 to 1993, the civil vice minister of national defence in the governments of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and Hanna Suchocka. In the early 1990s he was involved with the Democratic Freedom Union. From 1993 to 1995, he was the general secretary of these parties; as a candidate of the Democratic Union he was elected to parliament in 1991 and in 1993. In 1997, during the 2nd Sejm, together with a group of Warsaw University activists under the management of Jan Rokita he created Koło Konserwatywno-Ludowe. In the same year Koło Konserwatywno-Ludowe joined the newly created Conservative People's Party, which joined Solidarity Electoral Action. In September 1997 Komorowski was elected as a candidate of AWS. From 1997 to 2000 he presided over the Parliamentary National Defence Committee, from 2000 to 2001 served as the minister of national defence in the government of Jerzy Buzek.
In 2001, while still a minister in the minority AWS government, along with some activists from SKL, became a member of Civic Platform. He stood for election to the 4th Sejm as a candidate of PO. Again he was elected, this time for the Warsaw constituency. After the inauguration of the new parliament he resigned from SKL. Since 2001 he has been a member of the National Civic Platform Board. In the 4th Sejm he was the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee and a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, he won election to the 5th Sejm in a district outside Warsaw. On 26 October 2005, he was elected Vice Speaker of the Sejm. 398 MPs voted in favour of his candidacy. His party had earlier recommended him as a candidate for Speaker, his candidacy, in defiance of precedent, was rejected by Law and Justice which voted for Marek Jurek. This created an unfavourable climate further discussions regarding a PO-PiS coalition. After the resignation of Marek Jurek as Speaker of the Sejm on 25 April 2007 Civic Platform announced Komorowski's candidacy for Speaker.
On 27 April 2007 the Sejm rejected his nomination, Ludwik Dorn from PiS became a new marshal. 189 MPs voted for Komorowski. Komorowski became Vice Speaker. Komorowski took first place on the PO list for the Warsaw constituency in the 2007 parliamentary election and received 139,320 votes. On 5 November 2007, in the first session of the 4th Sejm of the Polish Republic Bronisław Komorowski was elected Speaker by 292 votes, he stood against Krzysztof Putra from PiS. Stefan Niesiołowski, Krzysztof Putra, Jarosław Kalinowski, Jerzy Szmajdziński were elected Vice Speakers. On 27 March 2010, he was chosen by PO members to be their candidate in 2010 presidential election. Komorowski became acting president on 10 April 2010 following the death of President Lech Kaczyński, his first decision was to announce seven days of national mourning beginning on 10 April. According to the Constitution of Poland, Komorowski was required to set a date for the next presidential election within 14 days of assuming the position, the election date coming within 60 days of that announcement.
On 21 April, his office announced. In the election, he got 41.54% of votes in the first round and faced Jarosław Kaczyński, who got 36.46% of votes in the first round. In the runoff Komorowski was elected president and formally too
Belarus the Republic of Belarus known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres is forested, its major economic sectors are manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian People's Republic, conquered by Soviet Russia; the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Belarus lost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921.
Much of the borders of Belarus took their modern shape in 1939, when some lands of the Second Polish Republic were reintegrated into it after the Soviet invasion of Poland, were finalized after World War II. During WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources; the republic was redeveloped in the post-war years. In 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR; the parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy.
Elections under Lukashenko's rule have been criticized as unfair. Belarus is the last country in Europe using the death penalty. Belarus's Democracy Index rating is the lowest in Europe, the country is labelled as "not free" by Freedom House, as "repressed" in the Index of Economic Freedom, is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations. In 2000, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation. Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Russian; the Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The second-most widespread religion, Roman Catholicism, has a much smaller following.
Belarus is a member of the United Nations since its founding, the Commonwealth of Independent States, CSTO, EEU, the Non-Aligned Movement. Belarus has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but maintains a bilateral relationship with the organisation, participates in two EU projects: the Eastern Partnership and the Baku Initiative; the name Belarus is related with the term Belaya Rus', i.e. White Rus'. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus'. An ethno-religious theory suggests that the name used to describe the part of old Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, populated by Slavs, Christianized early, as opposed to Black Ruthenia, predominantly inhabited by pagan Balts. An alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population. A third theory suggests that the old Rus' lands that were not conquered by the Tatars had been referred to as "White Rus'"; the name Rus is conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, thus Belarus is referred to as White Russia or White Ruthenia.
The name first appeared in Latin medieval literature. In some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is called "White Russia" to this day; the Latin term "Alba Russia" was used again by Pope Pius VI in 1783 to recognize the Society of Jesus there, exclaiming "Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo." The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the late-16th century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey, known for his close contacts with the Russian Royal Court. During the 17th century, the Russian tsars used "White Rus" to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the term Belorussia first rose in the days of the Russian Empire, the Russian Tsar was styled "the Tsar of All the Russias"