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...
21 September 2015
On 18 September morning, cycling activists handed out fruits to Minsk residents who travelled to their job or university by bike. In this way they wanted to thank people for their choice and to draw attention to the lack of a cycling environment.
In recent years Belarusian cities have truly flourished with cyclists. According to the estimates of the Belarusian Association of Experts 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
Belarus has never had anything resembling the number of migrants it has recently experienced. Over the past 12 months the Belarusian population, thanks to the 100,000 refugees from the Donbas, has increased by 1%. Indeed, Belarus has more Ukrainian migrants per capita than any other country.
Belarus is not a particularly attractive destination for migrants, since it does not offer much...
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...
30 July 2015
For many foreigners the Latinised spellings for Belarusian places and names continue to present real difficulties or just appear unpronounceable.
Belarusians themselves feel annoyed about the ways their names are transliterated from Cyrillic into Latin script. It has become even more complicated with Belarus having two official languages - Belarusian and Russian.