Belarus, Elections? 2015. Minsk, the city of Lukashenko or Stalin? Photo Reportage

High tower with a Communist Star on the top

It’s election time in Belarus, in Europe there is maybe not much discussion on the media.

The Belorussian folk I met was not really keen to say much about this topic, they didn’t trust much the voting system and their point was: “we already know the winner, there should be not even need of making elections”. I even heard someone saying: “Lukasheko is good for stability”.

EPIDEMIC OF VOTING ADS

Minsk is full of posters, and any kind of advertising, to remind everyone about voting on 11 of October 2015, but nowhere to see the candidates, except for him…

Judging from the amounts of sings and election ads, it looks like the only problem of Belarus is that people may forget to go to vote. You should be blind not to notice any of those signs/ads/videos/posters/decorations/flags etc… Even sms’s on your phone. Actually a blind can notice it because there are non stop audio propaganda too, also in the metro.

During some walks in the city I see stands with ‘activists-like’ individuals giving information’s, I go to talk with them, one of them speaks English, I ask about who are the candidates – after receiving some suggestions from the others – he tells me he does not speak English(anymore) and therefore he can’t tell me about the other candidates.
In a short while I see another stand,  they are young boys and girls speaking English, they look like alternative, genuine persons. I get to know it’s the stand of Lukashenko and they can’t give me any information’s about the other candidates. I ask how to know who else is candidate and why there is nowhere any information about them, the answer is: I have to go on in the internet and find it out by myself.

COMMUNISM OR CAPITALISM

It’s a monumental city, where they keep Christmas decorations all year round, both in the streets and in cafes, almost to keep the place from changing, quite soviet style.
Shopping malls become more and more popular in Minsk, but here you have to pay even for the WC, and not just in the shopping malls, public toilets are all for paying.

Many private places, such as casinos, luxury hotels, restaurants, discotheques, have an extremely posh style, in high contrast with the communistic ideology. This maybe shows a reaction of the rich people trying to show – as much as they can – that they don’t belong to the average-low class.

It’s quite paradoxical for me to see that here in Minsk, being communist means to be from the side of the government. I remember when I was a teenager, I was often in environments where the Italian communist party people was involved, because it represented the alternative and the freedom of expression – in Minsk is not the case.

In the Baltic states (ex USSR) I had chance to hear quite many locals talking extremely negatively about the Soviet time. I though they where just complaining because of the appealing modern  consume-capitalist society. Now that I am in Belarus I understand what they were talking about. I understand how frustrating it feels to not have freedom of speech.

Often the most important thing people want to have is not money or power, but an identity.

OVER-SUPER-EXTRA BUREAU-CRAZY SYSTEM AND PEOPLE CONTROL

To just get inside a library they needed all your data, passport, telephone number, exact address and you have to pay.
I asked to just have a look to the library, after almost half hour of BUREAUCRAZY, they asked me to pay fix membership. Okay, I can’t complain, I was born in Italy, there were BureauCrazy was born too, and now is still strongly alive!

Belorussian Police officers don’t look like to be annoying or arrogant.
They are quite professional and even pay the ticket to enter the metro. Many other police agents in other countries, Italy especially (which are the specialists of taking advance of being in a uniform),  could learn a lot from them.
Maybe they are a bit too strict, but I didn’t have much interaction with them, except for the registration at the migration office, which was quite annoying (because of the wild queue).

 

BELORUSSIAN WOMEN AND THE BELORUSSIAN ARMY

Women spend a lot of time and energy in dressing up like models, the same does the Government, in dressing up the city and the army. Waste of time, resources and energy.

Friendship and marriage are used in  conservative societies, to support each other in any field, even for legal matters, political or economical. Having often people selecting partners and friends based on non-affective interests.
Northern, and progressing society, have strong, accessible, public services that supports people, that’s why friendship and love are more selective and genuine in those cultures. More rare as consequence.

Even if people seems at first a bit cold and distant, they are approachable, just remember to say the following first : “Disvinize Pajalusta” – which I wrote completely wrongly!

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION vs PROPAGANDA

One easy sign regarding the limitation of expression is the internet upload speed, it’s almost impossible to find anywhere a connection with an higher speed than 0.5mbs, which means that it’s really hard for anyone to broadcast or upload videos or audio…

While everybody looks the TV, state owned, the ‘distraction’ mass tool.


SQUARES AND PUBLIC PLACES IN MINSK, NOT EVEN ARTISTS IN THE STREET

In Belarus you feel to be in an unreal place, out of the time. Back to the history.
Many public places look majestic, imposing and clean but, at the same time, they are mostly empty and sterile.
It looks like that the public authorities don’t really like the gathering of a persons in squares, they see it as an “unauthorized manifestation”. This gives as result people gathering in really ugly and hidden spaces, just to have a chat, drink or picnic.

Even street artists are not really welcome, because it seems that the governments sees them as ‘non tax payers”
This is such a big contrast, I even find it back inside myself, where is in me a fight between two characters of me, one side, as my big brother, always shy and submissive. The other part of me, like my other brother, really proud and ambitions…

UNIVERSITIES, WORK and UNEMPLOYMENT

University buildings are simple, they look like hospitals.
The most students seem to come from upper classes.
After asking around I find out that if you get good points, studies maybe for free, otherwise you have to pay for it.

If you don’t find a job you can join the army (which always welcome people) or clean the streets (almost for free). If you decide to not do any of those, being unemployed, you will have to pay a tax (240$/Year).

You can evaluate the welfare of a government from how much weak individuals and animals are treated. Here homeless people is not well seen. Meat is eaten in every meal.

ALTERNATIVE PEOPLE & MONO-LIFE

Some of non aligned, artistic and anti-conformist persons may be found in McDonald or “west-style” bars. Maybe as form of ‘rebellion’ to the system.

I noticed that the still-soviet-style cafes and restaurants where I go to eat, play always the same music (soviet pop mostly). I don’t know if people likes it or realize this situation, but I am almost able to sing like the Ramazzotti-of-Minsk.

CYCLING & ARCHITECTONIC BARRIERS IN MINSK

The urbanistic structure of the city is definitely capitalistic.
I have to admit that I loved the “countdown timer” on the traffic lights, it’s so practical, you always know what time to cross! (except once that the countdown didn’t show green after the red and I was almost killed by the speeding cars).
Although Public transportation is cheap and efficient, the cars are king here. Or maybe more thank king.
Often as pedestrian you have to take tunnels or longer ways in order to cross the huge car road.
As cyclist you don’t even have possibility to cross big roads, because pedestrian tunnels are totally bike-(or wheels)-unfriendly, you have to carry your bike by hand.
Also at home I have to carry the bike up to my place, for three floors, cause nobody leaves bicycles outside and they may get stolen.

I didn’t even see one person on wheelchair or with handicap, this means one of the two:

  • Everybody is perfectly healthy in Belarus;
  • They are ashamed and not supported by the local welfare, to move or be independent, because there is not even one proper wheelchair-friendly ramp in the whole country.

THE TITLE MAY BE NOT APPROPRIATE

I apologize if anyone find that the title is not appropriate, actually I should have written it in a different way, not -Minsk, the city of Lukashenko- but -Belarus, the country of Lukashenko-.
The thing is that, expect Minsk, the rest of the country looks pretty much forgotten by the administration, that’s why I didn’t bother to write “the country”.

Do you think I wrote any bull***t?
Comment please!

(due limited connectivity in Belarus I was not able to edit and upload the videos I wanted to…)

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