The current borders of Belarus were carved out following the carnage of World War II in which over 2.2 million people were killed during the Nazi occupation of the country. Belarus is currently described by the US government as an ‘outpost of tyranny’ and President Lukashenko is widely referred to as the ‘last dictator in Europe’.
Politically, Belarus is very close to Russia and there has been talk of a union between the two countries. Stewart Parker’s The Last Soviet Republic goes into more detail about the political climate of the nation.
There are many novels set in Belarus during World War II. Defiance, by Nechama Tec, is a gripping historical account of the Bielsky Partisans's resistance to the Nazis in what is now Western Belarus. Some managed to save not only their own lives during the war, but a large number of fellow Jews as well. Defiance was made into a feature filmof the same name by actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber in 2008.
During the Soviet era, several Belarusian folk bands composed popular music. Folk rock act Pesniary, formed in 1969 by guitarist Vladimir Mulyavin, became the most popular folk band of the Soviet Union, and often toured Europe.