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Country Reports
Belarus, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: On 28 July 2003, Belarus completed the domestic steps necessary to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty with the approval of Presidential Decree 330. Belarus destroyed 22,963 stockpiled antipersonnel mines in 2002. Its moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was extended through the end of 2007.

Mine Ban Policy

On 28 July 2003, Belarus completed the domestic steps necessary to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty with the approval of Presidential Decree 330.[1] The final step is formal deposit of the instrument of accession with the United Nations. Previously, on 12 March 2003, the President of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, had stated that the government was ready to accede to the treaty.[2]

Since the opening for signature of the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1997, Belarus has repeatedly stated its support for the treaty, but has indicated that it could not sign or accede as it lacked sufficient implementation resources, particularly to develop environmentally safe technology to destroy its substantial stockpile of PFM-1 and PFM-1S antipersonnel mines.[3] These concerns have been discussed bilaterally with international institutions, pro-ban governments, and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). In January 2003, Belarus parliamentarians reconfirmed their commitment to support the total ban on landmines as soon as the assistance necessary to destroy existing stockpiles is provided.[4]

According to the government, Belarus “is already implementing the convention.”[5] It has participated in nearly every major Mine Ban Treaty-related meeting since December 1997, including the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002 and the February and May 2003 meetings of the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committees. It sent representatives to regional meetings to promote the Mine Ban Treaty in Yerevan in October 2002, Moscow in November 2002, and Kiev in February 2003. On 22 November 2002, Belarus voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had done on pro-landmine ban resolutions in previous years.

Belarus is a States Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its original Protocol II on landmines. The parliament of Belarus ratified CCW Amended Protocol II, but Belarus has not submitted the instrument of ratification to the depository “due to financial constraints on its implementation.”[6] Belarus did not attend the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2002.

Production, Transfer, Use

According to the Ministry of Defense, Belarus has never produced and will not produce or modernize antipersonnel landmines, or their components, including Claymore-type mines or any other mines, in the future.[7] Government officials indicate that Belarus has not exported antipersonnel mines since 1992. In 1995, a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was established which was extended through the end of 2002. On 13 January 2003, Presidential Decree No. 19 extended the export moratorium through the end of 2007.[8] In addition, a 1998 decree prohibits the transit of antipersonnel mines and certain other goods through the territory of Belarus.[9]

Stockpile Destruction

Belarus inherited its stockpile of antipersonnel mines from the Soviet Union. In 2001, Belarus disclosed details on its stockpiled antipersonnel mines for the first time. It currently has 4.5 million stockpiled antipersonnel landmines, of which 3.6 million are of the PFM and PFM-1S type. Belarus military officials state that the MON series, OZM-72, and POMZ-2M mines can be converted to command-detonated mode and are thus not illegal under the Mine Ban Treaty.[10]

Antipersonnel Landmines Stockpiled by Belarus as of January 2003[11]

Type of Antipersonnel mine
Total Stockpiled
MON-50 directional mine
MON-90 directional mine
MON-100 directional mine
MON-200 directional mine
OZM-72 bounding mine
PMN blast mine
PMN-2 blast mine
POM-2 fragmentation mine
POMZ-2M fragmentation mine
PFM-1 and –1S blast mines

Between 1993 and January 2003, Belarus destroyed 34,422 antipersonnel mines, without any international assistance. This included 22,963 stockpiled PMN-2 antipersonnel mines destroyed in 2002.[12] It plans to destroy another 100,000 antipersonnel mines in 2003.[13] Belarus estimates that it costs $1 to destroy one antipersonnel mine (except PFM-1 mines).[14]

In October 2002, the Belarus Campaign to Ban Landmines appealed to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to establish without delay an EAPC fund for the elimination of antipersonnel mine stockpiles in Belarus and to assist in the country’s continued demining efforts.[15]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

There is an unknown number of German and Soviet mines scattered in World War II-era battlefields in Belarus, in particular in the Vitebsk, Gomel, and Minsk regions. Most of the landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been found in these three regions, as well as in Brest and Mogilev regions. The majority of the affected areas are agricultural land and forests. None are marked or fenced.[16] Every year the combination of low temperatures and soil pressure bring wartime landmines and UXO to the surface, even in areas where post-conflict demining was carried out.

The Ministry of Defense has informed Landmine Monitor that 45 antipersonnel mines and 9,500 UXO were cleared during 2002.[17] The Ministry of Defense claims to have cleared over 35 million explosive devices since the end of World War II. Over the past 10 years, some 50,000-80,000 explosive items were detected and defused annually. Of that number, more than 2,500 were antipersonnel mines. In the last decade, 3,330,000 square meters of land were cleared of mines and UXO.[18] The cleared areas were in the district of Krupsky in the Minsk region, in the district of Dubrovensky in the Vitebsk region, and the small town of Titovka in the district of Bobruisk, in the Mogilev region.[19]

The primary responsibility for mine/UXO clearance rests with the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs. Deminers of the Ministry of Defense carry out planned clearance operations at the request of local authorities. The Ministry of Internal Affairs deploys ten Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams of 10-15 personnel to respond to urgent calls. There is limited interaction with other ministries on the issue.[20]

In 2002, Belarus received its first international assistance in humanitarian demining when Canada provided 20 metal detectors valued at $46,000. A new mine detector designed for clearance operations in rivers and lakes is being developed through a joint project among a number of countries, including Belarus, and is being tested in Belarus.[21]

The Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior EOD teams conduct mine risk education (MRE) for the civilian population in affected areas prior to the commencement of clearance operations. This training is conducted by individual EOD team officers, with no standard script or educational materials available, based only on the officer’s personal educational experience with the issues. Films depicting the EOD clearance and interviews with the officers of the Engineer Forces and representatives of the Belarus Campaign to Ban Landmines (BCBL) are shown regularly on national television. In March 2003, the Belarus National Red Cross Society contacted the Belarus CBL with a proposal to cooperate in the development of MRE in Belarus. Mine risk education has not been integrated in the national curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

Landmine Casualties

In 2002, two people were killed and two injured by mines and UXO.[22] On 4 June 2002, a nineteen-year-old student in Berestoviski district, Grodno region, was killed when a UXO he had placed on a fire exploded. On 31 July 2002, a resident of the town of Beshkenkovichi was killed when a UXO he was handling exploded. On 18 September 2002, a twenty-year-old resident of Minsk was injured when the car he was driving detonated a German antivehicle mine in forest near the village of Voroni in Vitebsk region. On 4 June 2002, a junior sergeant was injured during the destruction of PMN-2 mines.

In 2001, three people were killed by UXO and four others injured, including one child.[23]

For the period from 1944-2002, there have been 6,014 mine and UXO casualties, including 3,387 injured and 2,627 killed.[24] The number of incidents within Belarus has been relatively limited, although the figures provided must be considered with caution in the absence of a comprehensive nationwide monitoring and analysis system.

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

Medical, surgical, rehabilitation and reintegration services available through the Ministry of Health network of hospitals and health-care institutions throughout Belarus are ranked favorably in comparison to other CIS countries.[25] There are 20 specialized rehabilitation centers, 286 local branches in outpatient clinics, 20 inpatient clinics, and 26 sanatoriums in Belarus. The military hospital in Minsk acts as a central treatment facility for all trauma victims, including landmine/UXO casualties. No separate record of mine casualties is kept.[26] The majority of mine/UXO casualties reach a surgical facility in less than three hours.[27]

Most prosthetic and rehabilitation facilities are available in Belarus. All persons with disabilities are assisted through individual programs of rehabilitation; however, due to the current economic crisis this care is often not adequate. Physiotherapy and psychosocial rehabilitation resources appear to be very limited. The centers are in need of international expertise and welcome collaboration with international organizations in this respect. Economic reintegration of survivors appears problematic, although companies are requested by law to engage people with a disability.[28] The Belarus Prosthetic Rehabilitation Center is the main supplier and producer of prosthetics in the country. A motorcycle factory in Minsk also produces wheelchairs. In 2002, 1,214 wheelchairs and 501 other assistive devices were produced. The Center also produced 49,337 prosthetic devices.[29]

The main agency responsible for the protection and social reintegration of people with disabilities in the Republic of Belarus is the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection; however, the Ministry is collaborating with NGOs to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in Belarus.[30] NGOs working in this area include the Belarus Foundation for Mercy and Health, Belarus Association of Handicapped, Belarus Association of Veterans of War, Army and Security Forces, Belarus Association of Disabled by War, and “Voluntas.”[31]

National disability laws exist in Belarus.[32] On 18 August 2002, the Ministry of Health approved, “Instructions on how to determine the group and the cause of disability.” One of the causes of disability listed is “Disability since childhood that is a result of injury, shell-shock or battle during the Second World War (or is a consequence of war such as explosion of UXOs).”[33]

[1] Email from Iouri Zagoumennov, Belarus Campaign to Ban Landmines, to Landmine Monitor (HRW), 28 July 2003; “Belarus bans anti-personnel landmines,” Agence France Presse (Minsk), 30 July 2003.
[2] The President made this statement while receiving the credentials of the new Canadian Ambassador to Belarus. Belarus National Television news, 12 March 2003.
[3] Statement by H.E. Mikhail Khvostov, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Canada, at the Landmines Treaty Signing Conference, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.
[4] Interview with Olga Abramova and Vladimir Novosiad, Members of Parliament, Minsk, 29 January 2003.
[5] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina, Chief of Army Engineer Corps, Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 16-21 September 2002.
[6] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina at a press conference “Engineers Groups – the last stage of reform: problems of landmines destruction,” Minsk, 15 January 2003.
[7] Belarus Ministry of Defense Letter #18/17, to Support Center for Associations and Foundations (SCAF), 20 January 2003.
[8] Decree #19 of the President of the Republic of Belarus, “About the Prolongation of the Moratorium on Export of Landmines Till the End of 2007,” 13 January 2002.
[9] Decree #27 of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus, “About State Control Over Transit Through the Territory of the Republic of Belarus of Specific Goods,” 10 January 1998.
[10] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina, Press Conference, Minsk, 15 January 2003.
[11] Belarus Ministry of Defense Letter #18/17, to SCAF, 20 January 2003.
[12] The 34,422 destroyed include: PMN-2 (27,423), POMZ-2M (3,908), MON-90 (1,088), MC-3 booby trap (965), PMN (551), MB-2 (151), MON-50 (90), MON-100 (21), MON-200 (15). Letter from Belarus Ministry of Defense, 20 January 2003; UNMAS, “Belarus Assessment Mission Report,” 2000.
[13] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina, Standing Committee on the Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003.
[14] Letter from Belarus Ministry of Defense, 20 January 2003.
[15] Appeal to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council by the Belarus Campaign to Ban Landmines, 17 September 2002.
[16] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina, Press Conference, Minsk, 15 January 2003.
[17] Letter from Belarus Ministry of Defense, 20 January 2003.
[18] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina, Press Conference, Minsk, 15 January 2003.
[19] Letter from Belarus Ministry of Defense, 20 January 2003.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Statement by Col. Sergei Luchina, Press Conference, Minsk, 15 January 2003.
[22] Letter from Belarus Ministry of Defense, 20 January 2003; confirmed through interviews with local authorities conducted by the Belarus CBL representatives.
[23] Interview with Col. Luchina, 5 February 2002; letter no. 18/197 from the Ministry of Defense to SCAF, 11 February 2002; interviews with survivors.
[24] Letter from Belarus Ministry of Defense, 20 January 2003.
[25] Assessment Report of Belarus Healthcare system by the WHO mission in January 2003, Evening News shown on Belarus National TV, 25 January 2003.
[26] Interviews with Viacheslav Cherenok, Director of Hospital #3, Minsk, 15 September 2003, and Tamara Martusevich, Department of Rehabilitation, Ministry of Health, Minsk, 26 March 2003.
[27] Statement by Colonel Sergei Luchina, Press Conference, Minsk, 15 January 2003.
[28] Interview with Rita Sushko, Head of Department on Disabled, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Minsk, 23 January 2003.
[29] Interview with Larisa Andreeva the Head of Planning Department in the Belarus Prosthetic Rehabilitation Center in Minsk, 24 January 2003.
[30] Interview with Rita Sushko, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, 23 January 2003.
[31] Interview with Franklin Swartz, President of International Charity “Voluntas,” 27 December 2002.
[32] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 869-870.
[33] Instructions were approved by the Ministry of Health on 18 August 2002.