BELARUS – Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko

Lukashenko – Belarus President and Dictator  

Lukashenko need a whole post for himself, i think. I know this is political incorrect but I kind of think he is great. (And I have to option to leave) You are not operating in areas where spin doctors are defining the opinions of the dictator. He has opinions and are not afraid to express them.  And it is easy to judge coming from a democracy.  In Belarus they have this father figure looking into all, big and small. A kind of big brother is  watching you.  It is a surveillance state, and I am sure, that if it was possible Belarus would still be isolated from the vest,  not to give any ideas about freedom of speech and democracy to Belarusians.

But having been in other dictatorships, I think this is maybe better still than even some democracies I seen.  Everything works. Is is clean and neat and people look pretty content. To put it blank, what good is democracy if you starve….And in this context he just continues the thought of Lenin, that wasn’t a great believer of democracy either. I found two quotes that I will look into.

  • No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.
  • A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
                                                                                                                               LENIN

Lenin is talking about capitalism. And it is just pure rhetoric. If we turn the rhetoric around and use it on the former soviet state, history shows, that soviet state did not provide for the hungry masses, and one can maybe think, that keeping the population just hungry enough they will preoccupied themselves with finding food instead of pursuing political agendas. Pure Maslowian, where political agendas is a luxury when basic needs are not met. And here the other quote is coming into play. If you tell the population that they are living in the best of all society often enough, they will begin to believe it, In this way Lenin’s quotes are more true that he ever imagined. Freedom of speech and democracy will only make the lie harder to sustain. This is how dictatorship/Communist state works. Only my two cents.

Ben Zand have made a BBC documentary – “Dictatorland” where he in one episode addresses the Belarussian strong man. It is worth seeing if you can find it anywhere.

Lukashenko is famos for saying

“On 4 March 2012, two days after EU leaders (including openly gay German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle) had called for new measures to pressure Lukashenko over alleged human rights abuses in Belarus at a summit in Brussels, Lukashenko provoked diplomatic rebuke from Germany after commenting that it was “better to be a dictator than gay in response to Westerwelle having referred to him as “Europe’s last dictator” during the meeting.” (WIKI)

 If you want to know more about the president of Belarus try

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Lukashenko

What did you expect, sending half a man to do a mans job. ,o)

After passing by the  circus building there is a huge empty building. It should have been Kempinski Hotel, but there could not be reached consensus between Lukashenko and the investor who where going to manage it. According to rumors, he wanted his son to lead, but the investors didn’t agree. So no hotel….

There was the “Teddy Incident”.

Teddybear Airdrop Minsk 2012 was an aerial event that took place over Belarus on July 4, 2012. An airplane, chartered by the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total, illegally entered the Belarusian airspace on July 4 and parachuted several hundred teddy bears with notes carrying pro-democracy messages. After denying for three weeks that the incident ever took place and calling the footage of the airdrop released by Studio Total a hoax, the Belarus government finally acknowledged on July 26, 2012, that the teddy bear airdrop did happen. (WIKI)

The only thing I can add is a rumor, that the chief of the airforce lost his job after the incident.

So, If you miss with Lukashenko, you get the horn….

Minsk Belarus – Back to the USSR

MINSK BELARUS

Minsk is the cosmopolitan capital of Belarus. It was the most beautiful town of the former East Block. Belarus have been independent from Russia since 1991 but the naval cord with mother Russia is still not completely cut. It is a love/hate relationship. There have been some disharmony with trade sanction on energy and milk. 2 million people live in Minsk.

It is all in the eye of the beholder. I wanted to go to Belarus for ages, and now it is so easy with the new Visa regime that gives most travelers 5 days at arrival in Minsk International. You have to buy health insurance too, but it is very inexpensive. Check it out.

http://mfa.gov.by/en/visa/visafreetravel/c4bbfb78b29bccdc.html

Minsk is a dream city for me. It still looks and feels like it is a  part of the former Soviet union.

Big part of the reason is that Minsk was one of the most bombed cities during WWII and an estimate says that more than 80-90% of the city where  transformed into rubble. Painful rebuilding of this completely destroyed city gave room for the most beautiful Stalinist architecture anywhere. It’s been engineered and carefully planned to impress with grand avenues and big squares and really imposing buildings. Very little of pre WWII buildings exist giving Soviet planner free hands to build this communist utopia. It is demonstration of real power.  No stone is unturned.

A wonderful thing for me as a Soviet nostalgic is the lack of willingness to hide the past. In Ukraine they now have legislation to declutter all the former symbols of power to do with USSR, and all over the former East block these are disappearing fast.  In Belarus Lenin’s and Soviet symbols are still very relevant and show the good relationship with the Putin, even though invasion of Crimea must have put a scare into the heart of Belarusians

STREET SWEEPERS UNITE

Minsk is a street sweepers dream come trough. They roam the streets in packs looking for garbage they can remove. There are so many. And Minsk is the cleanest town I ever been in. You have to look long and hard to find something that in some way is not picture postcard perfect, like these boys outside a metro. Did not see any graffiti anywhere. Everything is clean, neat and tidy.

Felix Dzerzhinsky – IRON FELIX

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Dzerzhinsky

Iron Felix was the inventor of the KGB. I am sure he is not around many places in the former USSR. In Minsk he is still placed in a nice park.

Minsk Tractor Works

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minsk_Tractor_Works

This is a very interesting factory. More than 20000 worked there in the heydays. There is both a tractor stadium and a swimming stadion. Remember Soviet used to be  mostly agricultural.  And tractor where the symbol på the modern society.

Uncle P called this woman worker Tractorina. And that fit perfectly. In Soviet people called their baby girls for Tractorina to commemorate the big rural revolution.

And the tractor are not bad looking. This with track-laying.

It looks a little like a tank. I want to share this wonderful poster reprinted in 1976. This is a mean tractor not to missed with. And shows how important Tractors are (even in war) and commemorates  the historic developement from horse to machine.

MINSK METRO

In the former USSR there where following Metro System available.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metro_systems_in_the_Soviet_Union

As seen Minsk Metro transport 290 mio people making the 4th most important in that respect. and there is a lot of hidden gems to explore.

This is a picture af a proletarian from the proletarian metro Station.

PEOPLE OF MINSK

The unemployment rate in Minsk is below 0,3 % official.  The government discourages official unemployment registration with tiny unemployment benefits ($7 per month) and obligatory public works.

For the outsider it looks like people are quite satisfied, but as this is a dictatorship the dissatisfaction of the people run deep. There is absolutely no Freedom of speech.

The freedom to practice religion make people queue in line for service in front of churches. This newborn christianity revived after being suppressed during the soviet years.

As usual the old people are the ones who have the most difficulty in making ends meet. This old babushka is sitting under a bridge trying to make a few cents.

Minsk was a pleasant surprise for me. My expectations where high, but this place is in many ways like visiting a living museum for time past. Reforms are disparately needed. It seems to me that people are doing fine in general. It seems like the state provides, not in abundance but just enough. Only speaking for myself as a tourist, I love the place. There are little signs that things are changing, but maybe this soviet utopia could disappear. I can only recommend to go there soon.