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Byelorussia changes name to Byelarus


MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Soviet Byelorussia changed its name yesterday to the Republic of Byelarus and adopted a new flag, anthem and coat of arms to reflect its ethnic identity.

News reports from the republic of 10 million on Russia's western border said the parliament voted to drop the formal title, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, in favor of Byelarus -- the region's name in the Byelorussian language.

The parliament also replaced the hammer-and-sickle banner of Soviet Byelorussia with a pre-Communist flag of red and white horizontal stripes, which until recently was the symbol of the opposition Popular Front.

The new name and symbols were adopted three weeks after parliament declared its independence, a largely defensive move following the failed Kremlin coup.

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