The word ‘Belarus’means ‘white Russians’. The Scandinavians who moved in the east were called ‘Rus’ and from them came the word ‘Russia’. During the Mongol era, the Russians were classified into three different groups: Belarussians, little Russians, and great Russians. The name ‘Belarus’ and the country evolved from Belarussians.
Belarus was known as Belorussia or Byelorussia in the days of Russian monarchy headed by tsars to underscore the extent of their empire. Russians occupied this country in 1919 and then it came to be known as Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). Later, BSSR was a founding member of the USSR in 1922. This status continued till July 27, 1990 when BSSR issued a declaration of state sovereignty. In 1991, the Supreme Soviet of BSSR decreed by law that the independent country be called Belarus, henceforth, in Russian and all other languages and its language be known as Belarussian. The country’s name was changed to Republic of Belarus on August 25, 1991. The heads of state of Belarus along with those from Russia and Ukraine jointly announced the dissolution of the USSR and formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991.