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15. Belarus


To the limits of bureaucracy

Although we have had several visits before to this country, and although it borders to the EU and several Dutch cities have a friendly realtion with cities in this country, still Belarus is an unknown story.
It is like meeting people; there are always reasons why first meetings turn out to be more reserved or more spontanious. And actually, without noticable reasones, things took a course and that first impression will remain. You never have a second chance for a first impression.
Belarus is a country that seriously needs more time to introduce itself then only one spontanious visit. The layers of society are more unvisable, yet more important to understand the situation and the peoples behaviour. Some call Belarus the bureaucartic dictatorship of Europe, and indeed the rules are enormous in quantity. For example at the border you will get a little paper and you need to get 9 stamps in order to be able to leave the country. And that paper is not bigger then 3x4 cm, like a ticket at the boucher while waiting in line. These rules do help people to support their local income, since the economy is weak. Belarus never was a country before untill the Soviet Union fell apart. There are few natural resources, there is no tradition nor experience with running an independent state and the independence came unexpected.
The result is a difficult situation in which new leaders could take control. So it happened. Since Lukashenko became president, several diplomatic incidents took place, in some cases human rights were violated, a few journalists ended up missing for the rest of their life. And when leaders adept particular behaviour, so will the people.
Not only unawarness or the easyness and the need to be corrupt made living in this country difficult. The Cernobyl disaster happened at the Belarus border while the wind came from the south. The diggest devastation of that disaster appeared in south east region of Belarus.

Now we came for something completely different. We were at the festival 'No Culture Without Subculture' that took place in November of this year 2004. Young people from all over Europe gathered in order to share ideas of 'Do It Yourself' mentality. And indeed we had to make sure we did most of the things ourselves.
Although there are very capable people in Belarus, ithappens that uncapable people are in charge of things (also this phenomenom can be observed elsewhere). We have had discussions if this is related to other isseus like corruption. There is such a strugle for power, such a non respect towards individuals and such a need to fight as hard as possible in order to get something really done, that we can understand a boss or chief prefers to have someone less capable but trained to walk in line, above someone more capable but more critical towards the situation.
This is why the great Russian scientists are getting history, why the great Russian spirits are getting ancient and also why many simple things seems to be impossible in this otherwise rustique country. And that is a pity, because for sure the inhabitants do have much more capaceties then possibilities. Let's hope Europe will also have this country under it's wings in the future so the people of this country have some form for future perspective.


See some impresions.

Name : Sputnik
Objectives : bus stop
kilometer : error

In relation with 80 questions : get to the center of town

Name : Minsk
Objectives : get to the trainstation
kilometer : error

In relation with 80 questions : bus stop check up

Name : Dinamik, Minsk
Objectives : Painter exhibition meeting
kilometer : error

In relation with 80 questions : No culture without Subculture festival

related website


Name : Minsk
Objectives : the old town
kilometer : error

relation with 80 Questions : History.

Minsk was completely destroyed after the seocnd world war. Now two million people live in a modern city with braod streets and living compartments.

Name : Belarus
Objectives : catch the country
kilometer : error

As we can see Belarus is divided in 6 regions. The green area in the south east is where the Cernobyl disaster had major impact on daily life. NOw refugees from the Caucasus area life in these regions.

Name : Minsk
Objectives : street art
kilometer : error

Huge keramic mosaic art is made on the sides of many of these flats. Extremely good made, estaticaly but also practicaly. These mosaic are made almost 50 years ago,

Name : Troitsa
Objectives : meet friends
kilometer : error

Relation with 80 Questions : music

Ivan Kirchuk and Yuri Dmitriev are two members of the etno trio Troitsa. We have spend many years on the road and on stage together, but this wa sonly the second time we met in Belarus.

Name : Brest
Objectives : going home
kilometer : error

Relation with 80 Questions : We just travelled up and down Belarus for this festival while having other things on mind then traveling.
We took the train because the great yello machine broke down.
We have only more and more thing on mind

Name : Brest
Objectives : lift the train
kilometer : error

Relation with 80 Questions : passing this border took a while. the train had to get new wheels. All compartments are lift up, old wheels are removed and smaller wheel are placed.



Next : Germany