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...
19 January 2016
On 15 January 2016, the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka commented on the refugee crisis in the EU, noting that the latter is “drowning in the streams of migrants, accompanied with terror and criminality.”
The numbers of the asylum seekers from the Middle East in Belarus remains rather modest...
14 January 2016
For many first-time visitors to Belarus the limit of ambition and adventure often extends no further than the boundaries of inner city Minsk, yet a voyage of discovery exists elsewhere in the other major cities, museum towns and the natural world.
This article, the first of a two-parter, introduces a number of these treasures in the Western half of the country, where the elegance of...
07 January 2016
Summing up the results and achievements of 2015, Belarusian TV proudly mentioned the Nobel Prize in literature, awarded to a Belarusian author, Sviatlana Alexievich. Although several other Nobel laureates in the past had Belarusian roots, Alexievich's award was the first one for a Belarusian citizen.
The Nobel Prize for Alexievich...
- 05 January 2016
21 December 2015
The 47th Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), held on 19 – 22 November 2015 in Philadelphia, offered new interpretations of the contemporary situation in Belarus.
Reflecting on the presidential campaign of 2015 and a lack of genuine interest from the West in its outcome, discussions highlighted the impact of the unstable...
17 December 2015
The 2015 issue of the Journal of Belarusian Studies released today is almost entirely about history. It focuses on the Belarusian-Polish-Lithuanian borderland and the period stretching from the uprising of 1863 to the inter-war period of the 20th century when the territory of today’s Belarus was split between the...
14 December 2015
Until a decade or so ago, the choice of hotels here was limited to one out of one; Soviet-style brutalist concrete monoliths, crumbling and ill-cared for, often with brutalist standards to match.
Yet as Belarus reaches out to establish a foothold in the Western tourism market, so consumer choice has increased.
This article presents details of the options available and adds a few...
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...
30 November 2015
Students of the Belarusian State University (BSU) plan to hold a demonstration near the university administration building on 2 December to protest against re-examination charges.
The university recently introduced these to incentivize students not to fail exams. The decision to protest was taken after a series of other initiatives which the administration ignored.
13 November 2015
In 2015, prices for Belarusian apartments fell by about a quarter. Yet few Belarusians can afford to purchase an apartment even at this cheaper price. Interest rates are incredibly high, reaching 30-35% per annum. Banks also impose loan requirements that are hard to satisfy for an an average citizen.
An average flat is just 26 m2 of space, according to the National...
11 November 2015
For the first-time visitor from the West, a scheduled flight to Minsk provides the most direct means of access to Belarus. Some venture no further than the capital itself, yet getting out of Minsk and beyond the façade of tourism offers the traveller a glimpse of the way of life of ordinary Belarusians.
Whether sharing food and vodka with strangers on a five-hour train journey...