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...
02 November 2015
Last week two demonstrations in Minsk commemorated the victims of Stalinism. On 29 October, “The Chain of Remembrance” drew attention to the execution of more than 100 Belarusian cultural leaders on this same date in 1937.
On 1 November, the Conservative Christian Party of Belarus held a street rally in central Minsk to commemorate the dead,...
30 October 2015
In geographical terms, Belarus lies at the heart of Europe. It borders the European Union. Its capital Minsk can be reached from London by plane in less than three hours. Even so, the first time visitor may encounter a number of features of life here that will surprise.
An apparent obsession with Red Tape and Bureaucracy, particularly within Officialdom, can both amuse and infuriate....
28 October 2015
On 21 October, Alexander Lukashenka explained to the Regional Office for Europe Director of the World Health Organisation, Zsuzsanna Jakab, how Belarus had succeeded in improving its health service and received many compliments from her for that.
Belarus has achieved much in the fight against certain diseases and has placed modern medical equipment in many hospitals. But a few...
26 October 2015
According to the World Health Organisation Belarus holds the first place in worldwide alcohol consumption. Yet the authorities ignore this significant national problem; their recent policies may be making it even worse.
At the end of August, Minsk authorities lifted restriction on selling alcohol between 10 p.m. – 9 a.m....
16 October 2015
By any known measure, Minsk paints a vivid tableau of itself as a major European capital city. Vibrant and buzzing with activity, a visitor can nevertheless feel instantly relaxed and at ease upon arrival without even knowing it.
Almost two million people live here. Business and commerce are thriving. Opportunities to experience culture, the arts, entertainment and sport for young and...
13 October 2015
When Svetlana Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature, three countries at once tried to claim her success. Headlines across the post-Soviet space called her a “representative of the Russian literature”, a “writer born in Ukraine”, and a “Belarusian writer.”
Yet not only congratulatory remarks, but also hatred, envy, and accusations followed...
29 September 2015
Belarus Digest starts a series of articles on tourism in Belarus prepared by Nigel Roberts, a a UK-based freelance travel writer specialising in Belarus.
I first visited this extraordinary and much misunderstood country in 2001. I have returned many times since then to explore widely, initially working on sustainable development projects with families in communities blighted by...