This is Belarus, babe! The illustrated guide on how to survive and thrive in Belarus

Heta Belarus, Dzietka: the Book to Be Presented at Ў-Gallery

All interested readers are invited to the launch of Heta Belarus, Dzietka: the book, a colourfully illustrated humorous survival guide on Belarus, written in English and Belarusian. The book has been created on the basis of a popular blog “Heta Belarus, Dzietka!"  (This Is Belarus, Babe!)”

The event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, the 7th of November (Minsk time), at the Ў- Gallery. The venue is located at: Minsk, Niezalezhnasci ave., 37a (underground station "Ploscha Pieramohy").

At the presentation you will have a chance to meet the book's authors, find out the results of previously held competitions, including a funniest photo contest of pictures posted online under a themed hashtag. Read more here (in English and Belarusian). The book can be purchased and signed there and then by the authors, or you can buy it beforehand at the LogvinaU Bookstore or other bookshops around the city.

The authors, Maria Cheryakova and artist Marta Chernova, are two Belarusians who happened to have moved abroad at a very young age, yet they have not stopped loving their motherland and are eager to discover "this endlessly interesting country" both for themselves and for foreigners. The book's creators will share personal stories and describe how the book got to the readers. Visitors are guaranteed to be in excellent mood and have fun!

As the capacity of the venue is limited, please sign up for the event no later than 12.00 on the 6th of November by sending an email to

Information support for the event is provided by ODB Brussels.
You can enjoy a short book review here - and don't forget to be there on Saturday! Please visit event page on Facebook.

This is Belarus, babe! The illustrated guide on how to survive and thrive in Belarus

By Ales Bondar for the ODB

Once upon a time, there were two fair-haired young ladies, Masha and Marta.
Masha lived in the Netherlands, amidst fields of tulips, narrow channels, and Van Gogh paintings. Marta lived in the USA, the country of skyscrapers, cowboys and juicy burgers.  They could have lived happily ever after. But they also shared a secret.

Even though Masha and Marta lived in Europe and America, they were born in a totally different, magic country. This is land where streets are being swept by fairies in orange vests. In this country, policemen drive tractors, and in summer the cold water is running from the shower, and people are ‘so poor’ that they are all millionaires.
A day had come when Masha and Marta decided to find out what was this country is all about. They bought plane tickets, arrived, and the first thing they heard was:
Heta Belarus, dzietka! This is Belarus, babe!”
So, a book was born.

To be more exact, this is a survival guide for those foreigners who want to keep safe, sound and retain the good sense of humor upon arrival in Belarus. Close to a hundred pages are full of day-to-day observations and pieces of advice regarding the language, habits, beauties and absurdities of the Belarusian way of life.
This book is very unlike those standard writings of foreign journalists who sweep on Belarus for a couple of days and lock themselves up in a hotel room to write a story on “the last dictatorship in Europe” where everything is grey and Soviet. This has some grain of truth in it, even though there are worse dictators around. And yet, such things are taking up rather a small portion of daily lives of common Belarusians.

However, what does a local guy do when he steps into a pile of dog’s shi*t? Why one is not allowed to whistle a tune while sitting at home? And what do you do when a shower runs cold all of a sudden?
The book even contains advice on how to use a squat toilet in a fancy theatre or how to act in a long queue of patients at a hospital, where people try to sneak into the doctor’s room before your nose because “they only need to ask a little something”.

The authors also make universal observations. Belarusian men are the luckiest people in the world, they say, but all because of Belarusian women. The ladies in this country are superwomen, similar to those Indian goddesses with many pairs of hands, one of which cradles a baby, another one dresses the kid to school, the third one makes breakfast, the fourth one hammers a nail into a wall, and the fifth one puts on the makeup on its owner.

There are some things missing from the book, though. The authors, for some reason, have taken notice of neither the omnipresent police, nor Mr. Lukashenka, in power for more than 20 years. They barely touch on political issues, including the controversy of the country’s national symbols. And yet, perhaps, this makes sense. After all, such things immediately take up only a small portion of people’s daily lives. The authors looked at the country with the eyes of average young ladies who are much less concerned with politics than with a sign reading “Must Have Husband to Enter” on the gate to a castle called “Bright Future”.

Illustration by Marta Charnova from


The true uniqueness of the book is that it is not just a view of a foreigner on Belarus, but rather a look at the country with Belarusian eyes from afar. A friendly look, in fact.  The authors described their book as “celebrating Belarusian uniqueness” and called the country “endlessly fascinating”. One can’t help be fascinated with the authors as well who found a way back to their country after all the years abroad.

In fact, they have been dealing with Belarus for a while. By the local standards, Masha Cheryakova has a unique job. She is social entrepreneur, and has developed a training programme for Belarusian social entrepreneurs called SocStarter. With this program more than 60 social entrepreneurs finished this program and eight of those had the chance to visit the Netherlands for a business trip.

Marta Chernova is a designer who provided the comics-like illustrations for the book. They make it an easy read. One can flip the book open at any page and even read at random, without losing the thread.

All in all, the book provides easy answers to tough questions, and never fails to entertain. If you plan to come to Belarus, make sure to get a copy. And, whatever happens to you, don’t worry.  It’s Belarus, babe!
P.S. If you come to Belarus and run out of money, do as Belarusians – go exchange some dollars!


Marta Chernova (to the left) and Masha Cheryakova (to the right). Photo from archives.

ODB Brussels