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.
20 July 2015
Two months ago dozens of prominent Belarusian intellectuals and civil society leaders called for the establishment of a Belarusian national university. This push followed realisation by leaders of Belarusian civil society that they were powerless to influence the election of the rector of the European Humanities University – the largest donor-sponsored independent educational project...
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).
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...