20 September 2016
On 7 September 2016, Andrei Fomachkin from Belarus became famous for appearing with a Russian flag during the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Upon his return to Minsk, the Russian media hailed Fomachkin, a bureaucrat from the Belarusian Ministry of Sport, as a hero.
The reaction of the Belarusian people, however, was more ambivalent. Over the past...
10 May 2016
9 May 2016 in Minsk started with a procession “Belarus Remembers,” which marched through the heart of the city, carrying pictures of the veterans.
Too frail to walk over longer distances, they joined the procession at the Victory Square for the official part. Festivities continued with president Lukashenka laying wreaths at the Monument of the Victory.
03 August 2015
Since 1991, two opposing conceptions of Belarusian national identity have coexisted side by side. One glorifies Belarus’s Soviet past, cultural ties to Russia, and victory in the Second World War (WWII) as the nation's founding moment. Until recently, this has been the preferred identity narrative of the Lukashenka regime.
The alternative conception focuses on the country...
28 January 2015
On 9 January the Economic Court of Minsk charged the Lohvinaŭ book store with unauthorised book sales and ordered the confiscation of its whole year’s profit. This is perhaps the largest fine ever received by civil society in Belarus.
Until 2013 Lohvanaŭ was also the largest independent publisher in Belarus and one of the chief supporters of Belarusian language authors. However,...
18 July 2014
On 17 July, Belarusian state media tried to strike a balance between Russia and Ukraine's respective positions when reporting on the MH17 crash.
Russian media clearly stated that it was Ukraine which had shot down the plane and the majority of Belarusians seem to believe it.
The Russian war against Ukraine has shown that the Belarusian elite and society see the world very...
03 June 2014
May became a momentous month for western media coverage of Belarus. While Minsk was awash with foreign and local ice hockey fans taking in the World Ice Hockey Championship, the international press stuck to almost exclusively covering the matches themselves.
The recent signing of an agreement between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus for the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union...
25 November 2013
Last week, the Belarusian Supreme Economic Court approved recalling the license of a major Minsk-based publishing house. The government apparently shut it down for publications which seemed too political. This decision dealt a serious blow to Belarusian-language culture since few publishers have produced as many books in Belarusian as the Lohvinau ...
09 October 2013
Observers named Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich among favorites for the Nobel Prize again this year. Alexievich's books come out in 35 languages. Her trophies include German, American, Polish, Swedish, Austrian and international awards, but not a single distinction from Belarus.
Instead of cheering for their acclaimed compatriot, the Belarusian blogosphere...
17 September 2013
At the start of September, the Belarusian journal ARCHE reported that two monuments commemorating Konstanty Kalinouski, a revolutionary contested in the official Belarusian history, disappeared in a town near Hrodna.
Konstanty Kalinouski remains a controversial figure, present in Belarusian, Lithuanian and Polish histories. To some scholars he symbolises patriotism, a set of ideals and...
28 June 2013
Last week, the Board of Trustees of the Peace Prize of German Publishers and Booksellers Association have chosen the Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich as the recipient of this year’s Peace Prize.
In a subsequent interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Alexievich said that she did not write in Belarusian as this language was “a rural language...
11 April 2013
On 10 April, in an interview for Radio Svaboda Belarusian historian and a former lecturer at the European Humanities University Aleś Smalianchuk stated that Belarus did not have its own historical policy.
His interview followed several politically-motivated dismissals at Hrodna State University. The dismissals prove that the authorities are...
11 January 2013
In today’s Minsk most of street names refer to the Communist period. The streets named after Lenin, Komsomol, Marx, Communism dominate the historical centre of the city founded in 1067.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union Minsk cultural landscape was one of the most “Sovietized” in the USSR. Unlike in Warsaw, Vilnius, Kiev and even Moscow where...