Semyon Shapiro has been elected President of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association ©BIHA

The Belarusian Ice Hockey Association (BIHA) has elected Semyon Shapiro as its new chairman for a four year term after Igor Rachkovski left the role.

At an Extraordinary Meeting in Minsk, which was attended by several high-ranking government officials according to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), Rachkovski announced his intention to stand down after three years in the role.

Shapiro was then elected as chairman.

He was also elected as a vice-president of the country's National Olympic Committee.

The 55-year-old was the country's former Minister of Agriculture and Food from 2008 to 2010.

He was also a Parliamentarian in the Council of the Republic of Belarus, the upper house in the Belorussian Parliamentary system from 2008 to 2016. 

Following his election, Shapiro claimed that greater emphasis will be placed on using young players and developing the national coaching system.

"The work must be collegial," said Shapiro following his election.

"It is necessary to listen to all points of view.

"Of course, they will be different.

"I understand this, and in ice hockey, it's always been like this.

"Of course, it was necessary to strengthen the team, and coach more young athletes.

"Development, improvement, and strengthening is an endless and continuous process."

Alexander Lukashenko criticised the Belarus national team last week ©Getty Images
Alexander Lukashenko criticised the Belarus national team last week ©Getty Images

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko recently slammed the country's ice hockey team and demanded future performances at major tournaments must improve.

At a session dedicated to the development of the sport in the country, Lukashenko was highly critical of his nation's team following a string of poor performances.

“If we decided to develop this sport let's do our best for it," he said according to BelTA.

"But the results are bad.

“We saw a disastrous performance at the Olympic qualification tournament where we lost to Slovenia.

"We have been on the edge of being relegated for the second year in a row [at the IIHF World Championships].

"The players gave an interview before the last two games and they said one thing: no one was thinking about playoffs, they only hoped to stay in the top division.

"This is the attitude of our players."

Belarus, currently ranked 10th in the world, narrowly avoided relegation at the recent IIHF World Championships in Paris and Cologne.

They finished seventh out of eight teams in Pool B with Slovenia relegated after they failed to win a single match.

To add further misery, one of the Pyeongchang 2018 qualification group stages was held in Minsk in September, but the host nation failed to reach next year's Winter Olympic Games.

They also failed to qualify for Sochi 2014, with their last Olympic appearance coming at Vancouver 2010 where they finished ninth.

Belarus narrowly missed out on a medal at Salt Lake City 2002, where they were beaten 7-2 in the bronze medal match by Russia.