Explore Belarusian Culture

In this section, you will find articles on well-known people and places from the Belarusian cultural scene, as well as interesting facts about the past and present Belarus that remain unknown to the Western audience.

Tue, 2008-01-15 10:37

Western and Eastern Belarus – why are they different? Sociologists have long since discovered that people living in the western part of Belarus are more likely to support democratic changes than their fellow countrymen from the east. The latter are also less keen on keeping their houses neatly painted and fences fixed – the further you drive to the east of Belarus, the less active people become in their private initiatives, the more hope they put into the state. This phenomenon has its historic reasons. In 1920-30s the territory of Belarus was cut in two pieces. Eastern Belarus belonged to the totalitarian Soviet Union, while Western Bealrus was part of the bourgeois-democratic Poland. In 1939 Belarus reunited under the Soviet rule. Citizens of the Belarusian Soviet Socialistic Republic rejoiced to see their western brothers liberated from the “Polish capitalistic exploitation“. However, for western Belarusians who got used to living in a relatively free country, Soviet collective farm system and Stalin’s brutal rule became a major shock.

Thu, 2007-12-13 16:57

Remember in your childhood you receiving about getting a present from Santa Claus? Perhaps, you still do? Then you should definitely come to Belarus, the country, where people celebrate not just one, but two Christmases!

Wed, 2007-12-05 14:29

Vladimir TseslerVladimir TseslerIf you happen to dig through the Louvre collection of modern prints, you will come across some sheets signed with letters “T & V”. They stand for “Tsesler & Voichenko”, which has already become the brand name of the Belarusian design. Sergej Voichenko and Vladimir Tsesler created their first poster in 1979, and have been inseparable since then. In 2004 Sergej Voichenko passed away, but it is still impossible to think about them separately.

Vladimir Tsesler

Sergej Voichenko       


Wed, 2007-11-21 13:45

Virginie SymaniecVirginie Symaniec is co-founder of the association Perspectives Biélorussiennes, which promotes Belarusian culture in France. Mrs. Symaniec was born in France, but speaks Belarusian fluently. Together with Larissa Guillemet she translated selected chapters of the book “Minsk. The Sun City of Dreams” by Artur Klinau into French. Belarus Headlines talks to Virginie Symaniec about her work and the situation Belarusian culture has found itself today. 

Mon, 2007-11-19 15:33

Artur Klinau is a new star of the Belarusian cultural scene, but certainly not a newcomer in the art sphere. He is an architect, conceptual artist, photographer, writer, and publisher of the cultural magazine “pARTisan”. In his project “Minsk. The Sun City of Dreams” Artur Klinau combines literary texts with photography experiments. His ultimate goal is to present a new, unexpected image of the Belarusian capital as a city, which embodies the utopian idea of the society of happiness. In 2006 “Minsk. The Sun City of Dreams” was printed in the German language by the Suhrkamp publishing house.

Below you can find several chapters of his book translated by the Office for a Democratic Belarus. Enjoy your trip to the Sun City of Dreams!


If you arrive in Minsk by the train coming from Europe, the Sun City will welcome you with the spacious Square of Gates. But before that your train car will meander through the factory suburbs. Still, you will hardly see the factories. Only their long corridors of brick fences, warehouses, and some other strange buildings face spectators. There is a main train station on the Square of Gates. There used to be two major train stations in the Sun City, but then the south-north railway line died off. The west-east direction, on the other hand, has gained so much importance, that the Square of Gates and its train station are now whirling with all kinds of life round-the-clock.

The never-ending cavalcade of trains crosses the Square of Gates. They are going from west to east, heading from Berlin, Paris, Brussels, and Prague to Moscow, the capital of the former Empire. Some time ago the main train station occupied another building, constructed in the 50’s. However, when it was not able to cope with the scope of local life anymore, the building was demolished. A Hall resembling a giant crab was built instead. Its many floors host dozens of twenty-four-hour cafes, restaurants, passenger waiting rooms, and shops.

The Square greets you with a Gate of two pyramidal towers. At the corners of their middle tier stand eight statues of the Sun City Guards. Only recently have these Keepers of the City returned to their usual places. They were gone from the towers when I was still a child. But I remember that during hot summer days, when we wandered aimlessly along the dusty nooks of the City, the Guards still startled us with their presence. Some of them lay idly under the huge arches, which connected the Square to the sub-palace park, spread out behind the towers.

Mon, 2007-11-05 18:29

Animal Dances

Innovative theatre “InZhest” from Minsk challenges Belarusian public with its performances

People in Minsk are not used to surprises. “Looking normal” is the basic rule of life in this city of clean streets and vigilant police patrols. Don’t stick out, behave yourself, dress like everybody else – the echo of this Soviet-era mantra is still very powerful. However, even in Minsk there’s place for the unexpected. The outdoor performances of “InZhest” theatre are something even a spoiled Westerner would remember for a very long time, let alone a Minsk resident.

Mon, 2007-10-22 16:30

Uladzimer ArlouUladzimer Arlou discovers the past, present and the future of Belarus in his books

With his thick beard, he looks like a Bronze Age bison hunter, or a Viking wearing a sweater instead of a hauberk. Uladzimer Arlou is one of the most talentedcontemporary Belarusian authors, with his literary interests ranging from poetry to historical thrillers.

Wed, 2007-10-03 12:12

г. Минск. КуропатыA wave of terror swept over the Soviet Union 70 years ago. 1937 became the bloodiest year in the history of the Soviet-era repressions. Why did the communist regime resort to the policy of massive executions and deportation? How big was the scale of the repressions? Which place do they have in minds of the Belarusians today? These and many other questions are answered by Dr. Ihar Kuzniatsou, coordinator of the Belarusian branch of the International historic and educational charitable association “Memorial”, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

Wed, 2007-10-03 12:03

Writing Freedom

Vasil Bykau: WWII veteran, famous author and dissident, praised by people and hated by their oppressors

He was first buried in 1944. One day a postman brought an envelope to the relatives of the junior lieutenant Vasil Bykau, which contained a letter telling them about his death on the battlefield of the WWII. His name was even inscribed on the obelisk near Kirovograd in the list of the buried soldiers. Miraculously, Vasil Bykau returned home, with two wounds and a full load of bitter war memories. This was how his story of fame and suffering began.

Mon, 2007-09-24 17:57

Free Theatre in Belarus: all the country’s a stage and cops merely players.

The stage is set up in a private house on the outskirts of Minsk. The spectators (about 50 people) sit on improvised benches made of car tires covered with wood boards. “Eleven Vests” by Edward Bond is just about to be performed. The French theatre group Alfortville, invited to Minsk by the Belarusian Free Theatre, will play in “the last European dictatorship” for the first time.

Performance “Generation Jeans” by Nikolai Khalezin by Free Theatre