07 July 2016
On 3 July, Belarus celebrated Independence Day. The holiday commemorates not only the country’s statehood, but also victory in the Second World War. On this day in 1944, the Soviet army liberated Minsk from German troops.
About 5,000 people participated in the event this year, which included military parades, concerts, and a massive fireworks display. Unlike previous years, many...
07 June 2016
On 30-31 May, some 150,000 Belarusians celebrated the conclusion of their secondary education. Graduation ceremonies, called the “last bell”, took place across the country. Students not only wore festive attire, as is common in Western Europe; they also gave flowers to their favourite teachers and recited poems, in a nod to the traditions Belarusians still associate with the...
24 April 2016
On 26 April 1986, an explosion at Charnobyl Nuclear Power Plant released huge amounts of radiation into the atmosphere contaminating large territories of Europe. Belarus ended up the most badly affected taking 70% of the fallout from the power plant.
The Soviet Union sought to cover up the accident. The news about the explosion came out only two days later, after Sweden registered an...
26 January 2016
In the Belarusian countryside, the religious holidays of Christmas and Epiphany are fused with pagan “Kalyady” rituals. From late December into January, groups of villagers dress up in costumes and go house-to-house singing traditional “kaliadki” songs, for which they are rewarded with treats.
The motley cast of Kalyady characters usually includes “Kaza...
01 December 2015
According to official statistics, 59 percent of Belarusian citizens are Orthodox Christians. Yet many Orthodox churches stand empty, and as few as 18 percent of Orthodox believers regularly attend religious services.
Due to such low levels of religious fervour among the general public, state support has...
11 October 2015
On 9 - 12 October, Belarus Digest provided live online coverage of the presidential elections in Belarus and international and domestic reactions to it.
Below, we feature a collection of stories from international and Belarusian media, videos, pictures, and comments from experts, which we have posted online during these days.
We thank our readers for your kind attention and...
28 August 2015
The billboards in Belarus tell an interesting story about the country. Before 1991, these advertisements were sponsored by the communist authorities and focused on both social and political propaganda.
Even today the majority of billboards throughout Belarusian cities promote healthy and safe lifestyles, or patriotic themes rather than sell products and services. It is therefore not...
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...
24 June 2015
Older Belarusians nostalgic for the Soviet past rather than youth make up President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s natural electorate.
Since the late 1990s, Lukashenka has put considerable effort into building support among younger people. A key role in the process was played by the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (Belorusskij Respublikanskij Sojuz Molodeži, BRSM).
03 June 2015
Belarus Tattoo Fest took place in Minsk on 30-31 May. More than thirty artists participated in the event.
In its third year, the festival adopted Belarusian history and culture as key themes. Visitors tattooed themselves with national symbols, bought skateboards with the Belarus’s historical figures, and painted bodies with patriotic images.
With a $16 ticket (150,000...
23 April 2015
The Belarusian authorities have strived to maintain what they view as the best features of the Soviet past. Twenty years after collapse of the Soviet Union, well-decorated bulletin boards celebrate the accomplishments of overachieving workers in state enterprises, voluntary neighbourhood clean-up days (Subotniki) remain obligatory for all state employees, and a lavish festival (Daszynki) marks...
26 January 2015
The first signs of private enterprise - kiosks at street corners- sprung up in Belarus in 1991 as soon as the country declared independence from the Soviet Union. These kiosks initially sold imported cigarettes, chocolate, coffee, tea, and cheap cosmetics. Later the assortment of goods began to include local produce and clothing.
The authorities have tried limiting these kinds of...