Belarus has officially adopted a new national emblem that carries slightly more Western and less Russian references despite the European Union and the United States having refused to recognize Alyaksandr Lukashenka as the winner of last year's presidential election.
The law on new state symbols signed by Lukashenka on January 4 was published on the official document website on January 7.
The national anthem, flag, and several other symbols have remained unchanged. However, the updated national emblem now displays subtle differences compared to the previous, Soviet era-rooted one.
Most notably, the globe on the new emblem has been slightly rotated eastward, making Western Europe and the Atlantic Ocean more visible compared to the previous one, where Russia and Eurasia were featured more prominently.
Other changes include a larger contour of Belarus at the center of the emblem and a slightly bigger red star on top, still reminiscent of Soviet times.
The changes were initiated in early 2020, when Russia was persistently pushing Lukashenka for closer ties.
Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994, had resisted pressure from Moscow in recent years to agree to deeper integration under the unification agreement which envisaged close political, economic, and military ties but stopped short of forming a single nation.
However, facing months of protests demanding his resignation following the disputed August 9 presidential election, Lukashenka has reverted to his old rhetoric recently, again praising Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has supported him during the ongoing political crisis.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.
Nearly 30,000 people have been detained, and hundreds beaten in detention and on the streets, in the postelection crackdown by the Belarusian government.
The EU and United States refuse to recognize Lukashenka as the country's legitimate leader and imposed sanctions on him and other senior officials.
The vote, which handed the 66-year-old Lukashenka a sixth term, was widely dismissed as having been rigged. Opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, largely seen as the real winner of the election, was forced to flee to Lithuania shortly afterward.