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No.1(964), 2014

BELARUS Politics, Economy, Culture

Беларусь. Belarus

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Contents

Беларусь.Belarus Monthly magazine No. 1 (964), 2014 Published since 1930 State Registration Certificate of mass medium No.8 dated March 2nd, 2009, issued by the Ministry of Information of the Republic of Belarus

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Founders: The Ministry of Information of the Republic of Belarus “SB” newspaper editorial office Belvnesheconombank Editor: Viktor Kharkov

Plans targeting the future

Executive Secretary: Valentina Zhdanovich

Design and Layout by

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Vivifying source of spiritual wealth still rich  Spirit of classical poem by Yanka Kupala

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soars through Palace of the Republic during solemn ceremony of presentation of awards ‘For Spiritual Revival’ and ‘Belarusian Sport Olympus’ and for people of culture and art

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Demand for innovative ideas  

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Vladimir Shuglya: ‘I have both feet on the ground’’

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From Berestie to Brest

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City of distinctive traditions  It would seem

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that in order to go back one thousand years, a time machine is not needed. It is enough to catch a Minsk commuter electric train and, in half an hour, you will find yourself in the centre of one of the oldest cities in Belarus — Zaslavl 

Life with village colour Cultural outing — to fascinating locations  Minsk and its suburbs offer

many surprises for those willing to be adventurous

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48 In face of urbanisation

Vadim Kondrashov Nadezhda Ponkratova

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Welcome to our home  Simple yet practi-

cal timber five-walled home typical accommodation for Belarusians for centuries

Traditions lead to UNESCO  Each coun-

try celebrates the New Year and Christmas in its own way. However, if we look closely, there are more similarities between European nations than differences  

Brandname of boat master  Nikolay

Yurkevich keeps traditions of wooden boat building for three decades

Grigory Sitnitsa: ‘Art should use the language of art’

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Distributed in 50 countries of the world. Final responsibility for factual accuracy or interpretation rests with the authors of the publications. Should any article of Беларусь.Belarus be used, the reference to the magazine is obligatory. The magazine does not bear responsibility for the contents of advertisements.

Publisher: “SB” editorial office This magazine has been printed at State Entertainment “Publishers “Belarus Printing House”. 79 Nezavisimosti Ave., Minsk, Belarus, 220013 Order No. 141 Total circulation — 1935 copies (including 733 in English).

Write us to the address: 11 Kiselyov Str., Minsk, Belarus, 220029. Tel.: +375 (17) 290-62-24, 290-66-45. Tel./Fax: +375 (17) 290-68-31. www.belarus-magazine.by E-mail: mail@belarus-magazine.by Subscription index in Belpochta catalogue — 74977 For future foreign subscribers for ‘Belarus’ magazine, apply to ‘MK-Periodica’ agency.

Quintessence of beauty  Glubokoe (in the Vitebsk

Region), with its rich history and majestic architecture, is home to just 20,000 people — yet many among them have gained wide recognition, domestically and abroad

Беларусь.Belarus is published in Belarusian, English, Spanish and Polish.

E-mail: info@periodicals.ru

Intrigue in final

Telephone in Minsk: +375 (17) 227-09-10.

© “Беларусь. Belarus”, 2014

2014  беларусь.belarus




editor’s note

Year of hospitality

2014 is the Year of Hospitality in Belarus — a piece of news deserving attention. Hospitable Belarusians are ready to open their souls in welcoming guests: a trait in our blood. The current year promises to be filled with excitement and visitors. Guests will be arriving from every corner of the planet for Minsk’s hosting of the Ice Hockey World Championship in May. Sports fans arriving to watch topclass players will receive a Belarusian ‘Kali laska!’ (Welcome!). It’s an opportunity for us to show the spirit of hospitality and friendship: in private homes, shops, cafes and on the street. As the New Year gains momentum, we cannot help but reflect on the events of the past — including sessions of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and the Supreme State Council of the



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Union State of Belarus and Russia. Negotiations in late December at Moscow’s Kremlin testify to the importance of coming tasks, as you can read in Plans Targeting the Future. Belarus is rich in talent, as well as enthusiasts preserving the traditions of our ancestors while honouring our rich history. As always, the passing year was full of achievements, thanks to people’s enthusiasm and creativity. January is a time for recognising those successes, at the ‘For Spiritual Revival’ awards ceremony. Find out more about the criteria and laureates in Vivif ying Source of Spiritual Wealth Still Rich. Our observer, Nina Romanova, believes that 2014 should be a year of searching for new public and economic strategies, as you can discover in Demand for Innovative Ideas. Our environment is vitally important to our happiness, as you can read in This Is Urban Life. Belarus is evolving from

being primarily agrarian, with many rural residents moving to cities. How does a contemporary Belarusian city look and what do we find there? What creates the attraction of urban living over the rural idyll? As life is diverse, so is this issue. Welcome to Our Home explores the nature of ‘home’. Where this once meant a cottage, it is now a high-rise building for many. How many of us recollect the village home in which we were born or which we visited as children? Naturally, many such houses remain in Belarus, built according to centuries-old traditions and filled with the household utensils of old. Who among us can remember such images without a warm feeling? It can’t be otherwise, since village life is part of our national culture: our ‘genetic cement’. By ViKtor Kharkov


PANORAMA

 Centre of book gravity In 2017, Belarus celebrates 500th anniversary of national book printing

Positions proven by investigation Russians view Belarus as most successful CIS state

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he All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM) has found that half of the Russians polled view Belarus as the most successful country in the Commonwealth, while 35 percent name Kazakhstan and 21 percent name Ukraine. Belarus led in other answers, being named as Russia’s most reliable partner by 51 percent of respondents; 37 percent name Kazakhstan while Ukraine receives 18 percent

of votes and 5 percent of respondents are in favour of Azerbaijan an d A r m e n i a . Ju s t 2 p e rc e nt name Kyrg yzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Georgia. Alexander Lukashenko leads confidence ratings for political leaders, with 41 percent of the vote, while the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaye v, s cores 33 p ercent. Uk raini an le ader Viktor Yanukovych closes the top three, with 10 percent of the vote. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev receives 5 percent while the heads of Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Moldova enjoy the confidence of only a small section of Russians (1 to 3 percent). The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre held the poll in midNovember, interviewing 1,600 people across 130 locations in 42 regions, krais and republics of Russia.

 Excursion in new format Lida Historical and Art Museum launches mobile audio-guide

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udio-excursions are now available for all visitors to the site, using any contemporary mobile device (Android or iOS operational systems); the application can be downloaded immediately,

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olotsk’s Frantsisk Skorina founded a printing house in Prague 500 years ago, releasing the first printed Belarusian book on August 6th, 1517: the Psalter. It’s no surprise that Belarus wishes to be chosen as World Book Capital in 2017: a title annually selected by a committee comprising representatives from UNESCO, the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Madrid was the first city to be awarded this honorary title, in 2001, with Yerevan chosen in 2012 and Bangkok in 2013. Applicant cities submit a prospective programme of events, so Litaratura i Mastatstva (Literature and Arts) newspaper recently organised a round table discussion, to allow ideas to be shared. Naturally, competition for the honour is fierce, so public organisations and state institutions are eager to help with the bid. All agree that Minsk could be the perfect venue for the world book holiday in 2017. near the entrance to Lida Castle, by following displayed instructions and the QR-code. The application also contains photos and text descriptions, thanks to the famous Izi.travel service files, created by museum historian Nikolay Ioda. The download even features access to photo and text information on several dozen museums worldwide. Information is also to be available in Belarusian, English, Polish and Lithuanian.

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CO-OPERATION

Plans targeting the future

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he Moscow meetings have been discussing how to build upon our Belarusian-Russian union, to develop promising models for closer rapprochement of post-Soviet countries. Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan are promoting these in an expanded format, with Armenia and Kyrgyzstan gradually joining the process. Ukraine is observing with great interest, as are some other former Soviet republics. According to the heads of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, the move is far from being a return to the past; rather, their regional integration is a reaction to our 21st century world, creating a geo-political alliance for the future. Presidents Alexander Lukashenko, Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbayev have unanimously confirmed the determination of our three states to sign an agreement on creating the Eurasian Economic Council by May. The necessary inter-state procedures dealing with its ratification are being conducted so that, from January 1st, 2015, the new — trilateral — union will become operational. We can judge prospects by the format of the Moscow summit, at which the heads of the ‘troika’ started work in a narrow format, later joined by the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Armenia and the Ukrainian Prime Minister. They tackled measures relating to Armenia’s



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As the New Year gains momentum, we cannot help but reflect on the events of the past — such as sessions of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. Negotiations in late December at Moscow’s Kremlin testify to the importance of coming tasks.

joining the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space, as well as the development of a similar ‘road map’ for Kyrgyzstan. Undoubtedly, the draft Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union was in the limelight. Previously, the heads of the three states decided that this document should

tion; the President of Belarus notes that it should be ‘an international organisation empowered with the necessary jurisdiction. Such status is necessary to ensure the efficient functioning of the union and to make it transparent to the world community and to our citizens’. He stresses that the decision was adopted a year ago

The Eurasian Economic Council should be ‘an international organization empowered with the necessary jurisdiction’

comprise two sections: institutional and functional. The first envisages the major principles of the would-be union while the second provides concrete details. Belarus believes that the second section is only a third complete, with many issues and, even, whole sections yet to be elaborated. It wishes to see the Eurasian Economic Commission fire up its work, especially focusing on the compatibility of the institutional and functional sections of the draft treaty. Mr. Lukashenko has paid great attention to the principal position of Belarus during the preparation of the document. Minsk views the coming union as a fully-fledged international organisa-

and that any ‘shakiness’ may inspire ‘undesirable rumours among opponents of the Eurasian integration beyond the borders of the Customs Union’. Belarus insists on a clear and detailed distribution of powers between member states. “The more clearly we detail our aims and who is responsible, the fewer disputes we’ll have later. Everyone has agreed the spheres of the union’s competence so it’s logical to take the second step: to stipulate in which spheres our states will have power, realised under an agreed policy and format,” Mr. Lukashenko emphasises. The next logical step is to create an all-embracing definition of the legal force and hierarchy of the union’s acts. Mr.


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CO-OPERATION

Nursultan Nazarbayev, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko met in Moscow in order to discuss new perspectives for co-operation

Lukashenko believes that it’s critical that the decisions of the Supreme Council and the Intergovernmental Council are not just political documents, but legally binding regulatory acts — obligatory for all sides. This will ensure efficient operation and control over the work of the Eurasian Economic Commission. Of course, technical details are also vital. Mr. Lukashenko noted that, during the previous meeting in Minsk, the heads of the ‘troika’ agreed that directors of Eurasian Economic Commission departments and their deputies should hail from various countries. The Eurasian Economic Commission and governments have been charged to study the issue. Mechanisms relating to the Eurasian Economic Union need final adjustment, so that a truly unified economic space becomes operational, based on the workings of the Customs Union. Vitally, there should be no restrictions or exemptions. Most issues regarding free movement of goods have already been solved, while still much needs to be done as regards the free movement of services, capital or labour. In pursuit

of clarifying commodity positions, Mr. Lukashenko emphasises, “Despite our ‘troika’ agreement, exemptions continue to be put forward, including alcoholic and tobacco-based goods, medicine and medical goods, gas, oil and oil products, automobiles and fish. I’m convinced that it’s dangerous — and wrong — to launch a new economic union before our Customs Union has been perfected. Its free movement of goods should be an example for the provision of other freedoms. Otherwise, it’s obvious to all, even those without economic expertise, that the union and its economic purpose are called into doubt.” Minsk is proposing that the treaty on the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union should recognise a unified regime for trade in goods. All member states would view each other’s products as their own, withdrawing all restrictions, fees and export duties, quantitative restrictions and other obstacles. The issue has been fixed in base agreements on the establishment of the Single Economic Space but full realisation of these agreements is yet to be seen.

Legislation also requires attention, with clarification needed regarding member states’ obligations in respect of third states. It’s necessary to avoid contradictions, which would threaten the core of the whole integration process. Bilateral agreements do exist within the ‘troika’ union and some envisage more favourable conditions for trade-economic co-operation than are provided by the treaty on the new union. BelarusianRussian agreements within the context of the Union State are a good example, of which Mr. Lukashenko states, “It’s vital to preserve their activity and to clearly stipulate this in the treaty we’re preparing for signing. I’m convinced that such an approach will further promote integration processes.” The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council has already approved the institutional part of the draft Eurasian Economic Union treaty, which determines its international-legal status, as well as its goals and mechanisms. Its functions now need to be determined, requiring intensive work, so that all is complete by spring. By March 1st, a page

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CO-OPERATION

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list of exemptions and restrictions remaining in the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space will be drawn up, with particular terms defined for their elimination. In May, the draft treaty will be submitted for signing to our presidents before passing to the parliaments of our three states. A ‘road map’ has been approved regarding Armenia’s joining of the Customs Union and the SES of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, with experts continuing to work on a similar document for Kyrgyzstan. At the final briefing, the three presidents expressed similar strategic assessments. Mr. Lukashenko noted, “If we fail to get the Eurasian Economic Union up and running by the chosen date, it’ll be a disgrace for all of us and for our three states. We’ve spoken about this and we’re resolute about creating and signing a complex document within a short period of time. Belarus is proceeding from the fact that the new document should be an important step forward in integration construction. Moreover, we need to fully implement the agreements reached during the formation of the Single Economic Space and borrow the best Customs Union and SES practice, while creating a legal system and structure to ensure high efficiency. Our joint discussion has again proven our readiness to continue integration. We’re able to reach consensus on all issues, even the most sensitive. The trusting partnerships which exist on all sides are guaranteeing further development and mutually beneficial co-operation.” The presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan expressed similar assessments. Vladimir Putin noted, “Russia hopes for further well-coordinated interaction with Belarus and Kazakhstan in the development of this large-scale Eurasian economic project. We’ve agreed with Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Nazarbayev to continue the annual organisation of at least three meetings of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, thus preserving our accumulated high rate of integration work next year.”

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Mr. Nazarbayev underlined, “We’re aware that we’re being attentively watched by all countries. Without exaggeration, the history of our states is being created at the ‘round table’ of the Eurasian Economic Union. We understand this responsibility. The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union is truly a modern innovation project. It’s not an attempt to restore the collapsed USSR, as some wish to do. There will be no return to the past: this is the common and unanimous position of all states. We’re not moving backwards; rather we’re moving forward. Dominating integration trends currently lead the whole world, with globalisation and regionalisation at the core of the 21st

many areas and even setting trends in some.” Work began with a brief summary of the previous day’s work at the Kremlin, with Mr. Lukashenko noting its efficiency, saying, “We’ve conducted a great event and taken another step towards our cherished goal: the creation of our union. I believe this to be a good foundation for the future, while serving as an example to other states. Yesterday and today’s integration events are large-scale, targeting the future. Some may not like this but we’ve decided to go our own way. We’ll definitely achieve the desired result.” In his role as the Chairman of the Supreme State Council, Mr. Lukashenko

The Union State has been and remains a locomotive of all integration processes within the post-Soviet space. We’ll do everything we can to preserve it as an example in our region, and across all space — from Vladivostok to Lisbon century. However, we’re not swimming with the stream and our union isn’t a copy of the EU or any other structure. We’re building our own traditions and history.” The Kremlin meeting continued in a ‘dvoika’ format, including a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Belarus and Russia: the second within the past year. Clearly, the project remains topical against the background of broader integration structures developing. Mr. Lukashenko is convinced, “This fact alone testifies to the intensive development of our relations and of Eurasian integration processes, where Union State construction occupies a special place.” Early in the conversation, Mr. Putin stated, “Everything we’re doing within the framework of the Union State is vital to integration processes within the whole post-Soviet space. We’re advancing in

praised previously launched and new joint Union State programmes, while emphasising the unprecedented level of interaction between the military, diplomats and law enforcement agencies within the post-Soviet space. The strengthening of regional forces and the reinforcement of protection for our external border and air space show the quality of our collaboration. The recent Zapad-2013 joint exercise demonstrated the high efficiency of our military liaisons. Trade-economic collaboration is also progressing at a dynamic rate, although trade turnover has slightly fallen on 2012. Nevertheless it has grown on 2011 by almost $0.5bn: a reasonable result considering the global economic crisis. Mr. Lukashenko notes that our bilateral relationships are at the heart of all work, saying, “Everything may seem routine


CO-OPERATION but this is the major achievement of our project: our close bilateral interaction has become the norm. Such harmony is the result of many years of hard work. Against a background of serious progress regarding Eurasian integration, we need to see significant levels of modernisation to drive forward the Union State. A whole range of decisions has been tried and tested within the ‘dvoika’ format and ideas are now being successfully implemented in the ‘troika’ format. I believe that, in future, the Union State should preserve its role as ‘icebreaker’ in solving complex issues.” The President of Belarus is eager to see full clarity in combining the functions of the Union State and the would-be Eurasian Economic Union, while avoiding simply ‘copying’. As to which aspects require improvement, he is keen to see more interaction in the social sphere, with equal rights for Russians in Belarus and Belarusians in Russia. He stresses, “Equal rights should become the norm: a natural element of our common living space.” The session of the Supreme State Council also tackled the results of tradeeconomic co-operation between our two states, the Union State budget for 2014, joint events dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from the Nazis and a range of other issues — including the fulfilment of a programme of agreed foreign policy. Mr. Putin agreed that the Union State is the most advanced integration structure within the CIS, and notes its recent intensification and substantive working agenda. Investment collaboration is to the fore, alongside strengthening of industrial co-operation and mutual trade. Progress is evident. The two presidents also note that, despite its relatively small size, Belarus occupies fifth place among Russia’s trade partners and is ranked first among CIS states. Moreover, Russian business is actively investing in

our country, providing a good basis for further development. Our presidents negotiated in a narrow format for over an hour, with much to discuss, as ever. Of course, all issues had received prior attention before the extended session of the Supreme State Council, which was conducted in a thorough and business-like manner, according to Mr. Putin. The heads of states announced that decisions have been adopted on all agenda issues, with clarity introduced regarding some issues beyond the agenda. Mr. Lukashenko added that Minsk has no unresolved issues regarding Moscow. At the final briefing, Mr. Putin said that Russia has decided to allocate additional credit resources to Belarus in 2014: up to $2bn. The money will be used to minimise external global influences. Mr. Lukashenko thanked his colleague for this step and clarified, “For those inclined to think that Russia supports Belarus free of charge, they should know that our economy is about 60-70 percent reliant on Russian commodities and components; these are manufactured by enterprises employing up to 10 million

people. Therefore, by supporting finished production in Belarus, Russia is implicitly assisting its own businesses. In other words, this loan will work to the benefit of both countries’ economies.” The heads of state noted the importance of joint projects in nuclear power and space exploration, evidently testifying to the improved quality of our interaction, with focus on high-tech and innovation spheres. The Supreme State Council has approved the Union State budget for 2014, which will stand at almost 5bn Russian Roubles. This money will be used to finance almost 40 joint programmes and events. A new programme of concerted foreign policy has also been approved for 2014-2015, aiming to widely support and stimulate inter-regional interaction. Several inter-governmental agreements have been signed, tackling the joint struggle against corruption, and the provision of international information security and military-technical collaboration. Mr. Lukashenko underlines, “Our adopted decisions again testify to the expansion of Belarusian-Russian interaction across all areas of integration. Although the process of creating conditions for the development and strengthening of the Union State isn’t easy, it is yielding practical results.” He especially emphasised the need to ensure complementarity of all Soviet integration, adding, “The Union State has been and remains a locomotive of a l l i nt e g r at i o n processes within the post-Soviet space. We’ll do everything we can to preserve it as an example in our region, and across all space — from Vladivostok to Lisbon.” By Vasily Kharitonov

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LAUREATES

Vivifying source of spiritual wealth still rich Spirit of classical poem by Yanka Kupala soars through Palace of the Republic during solemn ceremony of presentation of awards ‘For Spiritual Revival’ and ‘Belarusian Sport Olympus’ and for people of culture and art

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he awards are a wonderful Christmas tradition, congratulating our outstanding count r y m e n on t h e i r devotion to the spiritual revival of our Fatherland. Each one recognised has contributed to society, strengthening its uniform spirit and promoting patriotic awareness. They glorify our country and those who live in it. Naturally, the nation appreciates such work, inspiring these special awards, presented by the President on stage, joined by the Patriarch Exarch of All Belarus. The tradition began at the time of Metropolitan Filaret, of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, and now continues under Metropolitan Pavel. Early in his speech, the President mentioned the appointment of the new head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, saying, “ The Orthodox Church is a spiritual pillar of society and the only confession with which our Government has concluded a cooperative agreement. It is vital that a wise, experienced person, who has seen the world, takes the role of new primate of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. The cream of our intelligentsia gathered for the event at which Mr. Lukashenko noted the importance of eternal principles in defining our identity and our future path. He urged all those present, and all citizens of Belarus, with



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his short yet poignant speech, “Quite often, we hear that morality is being undermined by ‘wise egoism’, since personal benefit and financial interest seem to lie at the heart of people’s motivation. However, our material welfare is reliant on a strong spiritual base. We reject the idea of giving up our cultural identity for the sake of globalisation.

knows us as Belarusians, which is worth a great deal. The time has come to define our uniting ethos: an idea in which all can believe — from academicians to agricultural workers. It must be based on patriotism and a readiness to protect our heritage. These feelings are not transferred at a genetic level so they need to be nurtured through

The time has come to define our uniting ethos: an idea in which all can believe — from academicians to agricultural workers. It must be based on patriotism and a readiness to protect our heritage Europe is dominated by supporters of ‘neo-liberal’ morals yet, in the East, in particular in China, we see progress based on modern reverence for past legacies. In Russia, the aspiration to move forward is gaining pace, built upon experience and traditions. The destiny of Belarusian people, like a pendulum, has always oscillated between these two geopolitical poles: the East and the West. Our culture has traces of influence from Russian, Western European and Asian cultures. We have always preserved our identity — in some respects more, in others less. Nevertheless, the world

an interest in history and the culture of our people. Our histor y has never been a beautiful fairy tale. Belarus stands at the crossroads of European and Asian roads, which has brought war and intervention. However, no matter how hard others have tried, nobody has enslaved the courageous people who live on this plot of land. Thanks to the belief and spiritual force of our ancestors, Belarus has risen from the ruins, like the Phoenix from the ashes. Our heroic heritage must be the basis for the education of our citizens. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus and


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LAUREATES

Awards ‘For Spiritual Revival’ were presented by the President at the solemn ceremony

the Great Victory should be a powerful stimulus for lifting our patriotic spirit. Our history is not limited to the events of those war years. Think of Polotsk and Turov principalities, from whence shot the buds of our statehood and culture. We have the works and thoughts of such enlighteners as Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya and Kirill Turovsky, and Frantsisk Skorina and Nikolay Gusovsky, as well as modern founders of Belarusian culture, like Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas. Meanwhile, we have the technological and cultural expertise built in the Soviet years — and our hard work in creating our sovereign Belarusian state. We should not ignore the positive elements of this heritage, which can strengthen the spiritual platform of the state. Our national culture cannot be understood simplistically; it is more than folklore or works written in the Belarusian language. Our culture is many-sided, uniting the spiritual experience of various nations and confessions and all art forms through which talented people express themselves. We have no right to ignore this or to throw away the legacy of former generations. Our culture should embrace enlightenment and education. It is necessary to develop the humanitarian traditions of domestic art, and to support our national art schools. As Vladimir Korotkevich said: ‘Each person carries their own sky within’.

It serves no purpose to lament the lack of an ideal or to blame the authorities. The authorities and intelligentsia are equally responsible for the country and the state is always ready to support your initiatives when they aim to improve life in all its aspects. Today, we present the main awards of the year, which reflect two forms of culture: spiritual and physical. Among the winners of our awards ‘For Spiritual Revival’ and our special awards are clerics, culture workers, doctors, social workers and representatives of charitable organisations. The public is sincerely grateful to all of you for your sincere enthusiasm and service to your neighbours. We also congratulate our outstanding coaches: the winners of the ‘Belarusian Sport Olympus’ award. Their ability to nurture champions is a contribution to the spiritual strength of our people.” After Alexander Lukashenko warmly congratulated all laureates, wishing them inspiration in new achievements, we then chatted with some of those awarded. The Head Doctor of the Republican Children’s Hospital of Medical Rehabilitation, Galina Rodionova, commends her colleagues, saying, “The whole team has earned this success; we rely on our brothers-in-arms. After all, the hospital tackles serious challenges: oncological, nephrological and neurological. Our patients are young but have doctors, psychologists, teachers and physiother-

apists helping them overcome illness, physically and psychologically. When we see success, it’s the best reward.” The Chairman of the Belarusian Children’s Fund, Vladimir Lipsky, considers the award to be the highest sign of appreciation, adding, “The award shows appreciation for my life’s work. The word ‘children’ has been written in my heart with a capital letter for 35 years. I had no real childhood of my own, being born just before the war, in 1940. The Fascists burnt my village, so our family lived in the forest. My mother could only sign her name, but taught us to love and protect our Motherland, and to work and respect our elders. Thanks to her, I understood that I wanted to devote my life to children. In creating their world, we create the future.” Olga Chemodanova, the Head of Juvenile Inspection at the Department of Internal Affairs (Minsk District Executive Committee), admits that the award was unexpected. She tells us, “All my life, since the first day after university graduation, I’ve worked in one sphere. I never believed I’d one day join the laureates of such a prestigious award. For me, this is a historical moment not only inspiring me to continue my selfrealisation but spurring me to achieve more and do even better, transferring my experience to others, with dignity.” We only can wish all winners new achievements. Their work is a noble example to us all. By Dmitry Kryat

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New plans New plans New plans Solving managerial equation

T Igor Gancherenok, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Director of the Institute of Public and Business Administration at the Academy of Public Administration, under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Professor

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he new year always brings new hopes, dreams and plans — both for the state and for each individual. Our contemporary, socially-oriented state aims to harmonise national and personal interests. State officials should be patriotic while citizens should take responsibility for their actions. Spiritual unity is also needed, as is a universal readiness to work towards success. Unfortunately, today’s world is filled with examples of social cataclysms, disunity, crisis and an inability to hear others’ opinions. Why is this? Diversity is growing, alongside population, and there is much technological modernisation, as natural resources dwindle. However, I believe the major problem lies in the sphere of management. At a recent Republican session, President Alexander Lukashenko noted, “We need to discuss the principal issue on which everything depends — our life, the functioning of our economy and its state, the successes of modernisation and people’s mood — the labour-force.” Last year, my Vice-Rector responsibilities were expanded by an honorary mission to head the Institute of Public and Business Administration at the Academy of Public Administration, under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus. The post is unique in the Republic regarding its title and its purpose. We understand this and hope for an intensive yet interesting year

ahead. We’ve initiated a new project — School Academy of Public Administration — based at Molodechno Secondary School #10. We’re convinced that some people are born to be leaders, while others can grow to become leaders. However, all need their potential to be revealed. Youngsters need to be inspired — including in the sphere of management. This year will see us launch production internships for our students at Russia’s leading university: Lomonosov Moscow State University. We’ve signed an agreement on cooperation with the Dean of the MSU’s Public Administration Faculty and Chairman of the State Duma’s Education Committee, Prof. V. Nikonov. I’m confident that tomorrow’s managerial elite of Russia — MSU students — will significantly improve their managerial competence by taking internships at the Belarusian Presidential Academy. We also hope to realise new projects at the Institute, including international education programmes such as ‘Electronic Government’, ‘Corporate Management’, ‘Eurasian Construction’, and ‘International Business Management’. These Masters degree programmes embrace the latest methods and technologies, drawing on the expertise of foreign experts and the world’s best experience. They should prepare us for the needs of the future, offering a level of managerial education to drive forward dynamic and sustainable development for our young Belarusian state.


for new year for new year for new year Much work lies ahead

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Mikhail Myatlikov, Chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

eveloping export potential with the aim of improving the Belarusian foreign trade b a l an c e i s at t h e heart of the BelCCI’s work. Encouraging demand abroad is vital, to ensure that production capacity is used to the full. Naturally, this will support a high level of employment and economic growth. The dynamic promotion of Belarusian goods and services to foreign markets is an ongoing task for 2014 and beyond. Taking part in exhibitions and trade fairs in Belarus and abroad is essential: in fact, in the first six months of 2013, over 150 such events were held worldwide. These included the International Green Week Exhibition in Berlin, the trade fair in Hannover Messe, and the International Exhibition of Inventions, Innovations and Technology ITEX-2013 in KualaLumpur (Malaysia). The International Agricultural Fair in Novi Sad (Serbia) and Belagro International Specialised Exhibition in Minsk were also among the main events. Naturally, each fair brought for th ne w contac ts and agreements, with enterprises finding new partners, reaching out to new sales markets and signing contracts.

Our conquering of new markets will continue, with business delegation visits planned to Cambodia, Malaysia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Uruguay and various African states. In addition to helping our enterprises to pursue a more aggressive export policy, the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the building of relationships with foreign partners, including joint ventures, investments and technology transfer. This year, representatives of specialised organisations involved in making import purchases will be visiting Belarus, to tour our enterprises. Without doubt, the Chamber will be doing everything necessary to promote Belarusian exports. The attraction of foreign investments into the Belarusian economy is the second most important task of the BelCCI. Our central office is actively engaged in this, involving all regional structures. A Centre of International Trade is to open in Belarus, embracing an exhibition centre, a business centre with a congress hall, and a hotel to accommodate guests and participants of events organised by the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The experience of other countries is being studied, with the project soon to be launched. Liaisons are now being sought among international companies, to provide foreign investors.

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New plans New plans New plans Pearls of cultural necklace

2014 Boris Svetlov, Belarus’ Minister of Culture

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is the Year of Hospitality, and its first cultural events are primarily those timed to the Minsk Ice Hockey World Championship in May. Among them is a large scale exhibition of modern fine arts, which would showcase the best works of our Belarusian artists painted in recent years. Another important holiday is the Cultural Capital of Belarus event, which is already a tradition. Grodno, one of Belarus’ oldest cities, takes this status in 2014. The Republican Festival-Fair of Folk Crafts — Spring Bouquet — would definitely please lovers of folk applied arts. It is scheduled in Minsk for late 2014. The Great Patriotic War History Museum will be opened to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from fascists. Its exposition is expected to become a bright page in the country’s public-cultural life. I’m convinced that the public will enjoy our traditional events: the Alexandriya Gathers

Friends Festival, the 23rd International Slavianski Bazaar in the Vitebsk Festival of Arts and the 10th Republican Festival of National Cultures (which will widely present the cultural diversity of our Republic). I guess the opening of the mansion-andpark complex in the village of Zalesie (Grodno Region, Smorgon District), once owned by composer Michał Kleofas Ogiński, whose 200th birthday is celebrated in 2015, will also become a landmark event. Minsk will host the 6th Panorama International Festival of Theatre Art and the 3rd Republican National Theatre Award Contest. These festivals — which traditionally present pieces of the national and global theatrical art — are already a brand in the sphere of culture. The International Listapad Film Festival will enjoy its traditional format, pleasing audiences with new works by global cinematographers, which reveal human spirituality and our daily joys and sorrows. The Days of Belarusian Culture abroad and similar days of foreign states in Belarus are also worth mentioning since they, figuratively speaking, are precious pearls in the necklace of our cultural life.


for new year for new year for new year Year of premieres ahead

Oleg Silvanovich, Belarusfilm’s Director General

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elarusfilm National Film Studio — among the leading studios in Eastern Europe — is celebrating the 90th anniversary of Belarusian cinema. A range of landmark events is scheduled to delight cinema fans, including the premiere of Belye Rosy Returns in Februrary. The full-length feature film continues Igor Dobrolyubov’s famous Belye Rosy, with Alexey Dudarev, Alexandra Butor and Yulia Girel having written the new script. In March, Happy Women’s Day, Men! Will hit Belarusian screens. The romantic comedy, shot with Russian Moskit film company, is directed by Artem Aksenenko and has a script written by Anna Krutova. Belarusfilm Studio continues to liaise with foreign cinematographers this year, planning its second Union State venture: an epic adventure entitled The First World War, with a script written by Eduard Volodarsky. Meanwhile, our joint work with Russian STV film company, I Won’t Return, is headed for

international festivals. The film is directed and produced by Ilmar Raag, with a script by Yaroslav Pulinovich and Oleg Gaze. Full-length documentary Norviliškės Border, scripted and directed by Dmitry Makhomet and shot jointly with French ARTURO MIO Studio, is also headed to the festival circuit. The film saw participation from France’s National Centre of Cinematography CNC, alongside the French Producers Society Procirep (French ARTE FRANCE TV Channel). Children’s animated film, The Spoon, based on Belarusian writer Yanka Mavr’s story and dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from Nazi invaders, features a script by Dmitry Yakutovich. The 80th anniversary of the Polesie Robinsons film (1934) is being marked by the release of a two-episode feature film entitled Miracle Island, or the Polesie Robinsons. Directed by Sergey Sychev, it follows Yanka Mavr’s plot, while Fiodor and Yegor Konev’s script is heavily inspired by the original. Popular TV series State Border: Messenger of Fear returns, with two-episode and feature length formats; scriptwriter Valentin Zaluzhny has been helped by director-producer Igor Chetverikov. A short-length feature film entitled The Russian, based on the story by the Belarusian classic literary writer Maxim Goretsky, is also to be broadcast. Victor Aslyuk is scriptwriter and director-producer.

2014  беларусь.belarus

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In the mirror — geopolitics

Demand

for innovative

ideas

Last year was not a year of resounding victories nor a year of crushing defeats. The world financial crisis which began in 2008, fortunately, has not led to the destruction of our world system — as pessimists predicted. However, there are few causes for optimism, as the crisis continues: a crisis of ideas and of development. 2014 needs to be a year of finding new public and economic strategies. 14

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he great minds of mankind are engaged in this search and I can’t help but think that Francis Fukuyama is right in his opinion that public solidarity, trust and social virtue are essential on the path to prosperity. Zbigniew Brzeziński’s latest book Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power has also attracted attention. The well-known ‘American hawk’ has never criticised the policy of the USA as sharply as in this book. Times change and the world is becoming multipolar: Brzeziński asserts that the USA must reconsider its self-view as a ‘God-chosen hegemon in world politics’ to avoid the collapse which has ruined other empires. Well-known Belarusian philosopher, Professor Mikhail Vishnevsky, writes, ‘I don’t agree with Plato, who considered that the world of ideas dominates the material world. I rather believe in the ontological and cognitive status of ideas and see no firm law of social development covering the past and the future of any country — or mankind as a

whole’. He sees nothing terrible in periods of stability being replaced by those of instability, believing that progress is guided by individuals and social groups working together. In Belarusian society, we understand that modern challenges require greater personal initiative and responsibility. We must control economic and social processes. Ideology plays more of a role in such conditions, to motivate choice. This prompts the question: what is the basis of the ideology of the Belarusian state? Professor Vishnevsky views the ideology of the Belarusian state as consent regarding basic values and joint aims. Without such consent, efficiency would be impossible. We need conformity in accepting developmental trends. Naturally, the state must nurture ties with science and encourage collective practice. Last year, Belarus saw these issues discussed at the highest level. The President’s Message to Parliament noted the importance of modernisation,


In the mirror — geopolitics informatisaton and youth involvement in building the state, while raising our competitiveness abroad. He asserted, “Belarus needs its own niche in the global economy of knowledge.” Of course, in encouraging the younger generation, we must promote their creative potential. New ideas and new people help us to push forward. A notable event in the recent public life of Belarus was the Republican meeting in which the President demanded that we improve the training of our managerial personnel. New principles are needed, based on personal initiative and responsibility. In late December 2013, the presidents of our three countries — Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan — approved the institutional part of the draft Agreement on the Eurasian Economic Union. All the avenues of our development — modernisation, reform of state governance and more intensive integration — aim at the same outcome: stronger nationhood and civil initiative. Our post-crisis development means that our formerly inflexible industrial economy must transform into a new network of manufacturing and relations. We need to seek our own new avenues, rather than being passive executors of instructions from above. However, such ‘independent thinking’ must be built upon the proper values, to avoid destructive influences. Alfred Weber notes that our human desire to survive always remains, regardless of external change. Using Weber’s theory to look at geopolitical processes within post-Soviet territory, we can say that most of the world’s recognised experts view economic progress as a ‘reward’ for internal harmony. Without such harmony, economic prosperity remains elusive. Former Soviet states have some way to travel to achieve success, requiring new legislation, new markets and the development of private enterprises. A new system of values is needed, to create a modern society boasting an advanced economy. This new system of values is already being shaped, including via the

draft Agreement about the Eurasian Economic Union. Although yet to acquire its final form, the draft has already been approved by the presidents of our three countries, detailing the international legal status and mechanisms of the union. The final text will be offered to the heads of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan for conclusion in May; by the end of 2014, it should be ratified, to allow the launch of the new union on 1st January, 2015. Naturally, this year will be devoted to improving and creating the final version of the agreement. Before Kazakhstan became an active participant of integration processes, Belarus and Russia were forming their own alliance, with their enterprises achieving a high level of industrial cooperation and economic solidarity. According to the well-known theorist and sociologist Francis Fukuyama, such co-operation is vital to the creation of large industrial corporations able to compete on the world market. The already approved union of Belarus and Russia, with its high level of economic integration and human solidarity, shows what is possible within post-Soviet territory. We can create another centre of global integration, capable of competing with such communities as the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is an ambitious but achievable mission; in our modern world, even the greatest states without allies and partners are viewed merely as big

territories, sources of raw materials and oligarchy. Post-Soviet integration is going far from smoothly, being exposed to destructive selfishness — exacerbated by the world financial crisis. It is selfish to close our markets to strangers, using protective measures. However, the real trouble comes when politicians use unfair methods of market competition. The recognised master of world policy, Zbigniew Brzeziński, has devoted a whole chapter to Belarus in his book Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power. He examines Belarus in the context of American strategy on the continent and quotes Mackinder, the founding father of geopolitics: ‘He who owns Eastern Europe owns the Heartland; he who owns the Heartland owns the World Island (Eurasia); he who owns the World Island owns the world’. To date, the only country in Eastern Europe to avoid the influence of the USA is Belarus. This may be why the West has refrained from taking seriously the creation of the Eurasian Union — comprising Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. The Eurasian Economic Union is such a project as politicians in various countries have dreamt of through the ages. Working onwards from Mackinder’s theories and finishing with today’s plan for a Euroatlantic free trade zone (as offered to the European Union by the United States), Brzeziński stresses that the latter will be incomplete without Russia and its partners. It would seem that we have a chance to page

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All the avenues of our development — modernisation, reform of state governance and more intensive integration — aim at the same outcome: stronger nationhood and civil initiative

2014  беларусь.belarus

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In the mirror — geopolitics

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develop integration from Lisbon to Vladivostok. President Vladimir Putin is keen to liaise with European partners, while Mr. Lukashenko has offered the EU an ‘integration of integrations’. This would bring equal rights and mutually advantageous co-operation between the two largest European integration blocks. Alas, the West sees such cooperation only on its own terms. As Zbigniew Brzeziński writes, America needs to attach Russia to the West, to gain control over Eurasia. The American strategist considers that, in our modern world, the safety of states located close to the main forces in the

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region depends on the international status quo, supported by the global domination of America. Better to say that only America can protect the sovereignty of small states located on strategic world axes. The logic is disputable, especially when we observe current events to gain influence in Ukraine. The struggle to link Ukraine to the West is acute and the end unpredictable. Brzeziński refers to Ukraine as the ‘most geopolitically vulnerable of states’. This vulnerability is obvious, considering Ukraine’s split between the axis of East and West. Belarus differs drastically from Ukraine in having more of a unified public. This creates a true competitive advantage,

since such consensus is rarely seen elsewhere abroad. This lack of public solidarity has led to social protests in the richest EU countries of the European Union. It’s no surprise that the crisis continues, since the world yet lacks a new attitude. B efore we can solve the new problems created by the crisis, many countries need to overcome internal division — as we see acutely in wealthy Ukraine, with its reputation as a resident of Europe and with major volumes of natural resources. It lacks only internal consent, which has brought the country close to collapse. Unlike those countries in which citizens lack agreement, we, Belarusians, can begin to solve our problems. We have a strong platform from which to embrace interstate economic competition. We boast internal solidarity and an ability to embrace change: a well-known sign of success. Belarus enjoys internal consensus regarding its model for economic development. This year, our task is to create an innovative economy, since we lack raw materials and other natural riches. What we do not lack is human capital. Besides our traditional industrial expertise, we are building a niche in the IT sphere, creating software and business models known worldwide. Wargaming.net already has global recognition for its computer game — ‘World of Tanks’: it is the most wellknown Belarusian game, with 75 million users, registered in 209 countries. Belarus was the first in the Eurasian zone to launch software development. We can say with confidence that Belarus has made more progress than other postSoviet states in this direction. Our Park of High Technologies is a new ‘Silicon Valley’. Since its launch 7-8 years ago, the Park has made serious progress. Thankfully, Belarus has always been able to adapt to changing realities: a skill able to help us to reach a new technological and social level. Our Belarusian system of values hinges on our ability to remain united. This will allow us to move


news forward, strengthening our traditional values while embracing new ideas. Today, according to the Co-chairman of the Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship, Viktor Margelov, there is a ‘liberal crisis’. At a certain historical stage, liberalism made a significant contribution to the world’s material well-being. Now, we see materialism pursued at any cost, to the disregard of spiritual harmony, personal development and the balance of nature. Western countries face such a problem while Belarus continues to seek out material development in parallel with other, more lofty, ideals. Analyst Roman Dubovets questions Maslow’s theories on what motivates man to work. While material needs are a strong motivation, they may only inspire us to achieve the minimum necessary. In contrast, those who run their own business are often far more driven, since their success relies solely on their efforts. Clearly, to motivate the labour-force to work at full efficiency, they must feel a personal stake in the success of society. We must all believe in our role: that the prosperity of our country depends upon our efforts. Co-operation is vital. Even those pursuing the most selfish of aims cannot deny that it’s easier to achieve success when working in collaboration with others. Analysts are suggesting that we develop our project system, through discussion, ‘round table’ debate, essays and exchange of experience — including student exchange, so that the younger generation gains a greater sense of involvement, ownership and responsibility. The Academy of Public Administration, under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus, is already implementing such project management and administration, creating innovative platforms for the academic environment. Much more is to come in our transition, creating a community of citizens united in their sense of responsibility for everything that happens.

Optimism inspires confidence Government convinced that Belarus able to maintain currency stability in 2014

D

uring a solemn ceremony aw a rd i n g t h e w i n n e r s and laureates of the Best Entrepreneur 2012 nationwide competition, hosted by the National Library of Belarus, Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich underlined that the Government is convinced that the country can maintain currency stability in 2014. “We’ve absolutely no doubts that the country’s currency market will remain stable, and that gold-and-currency reserves will increase,” noted the Head of Government. He admitted that entrepreneurs are yet to gain access to affordable loans to expand their businesses but that this situation should improve with time, helping small and mediumsized businesses thrive.

The PM noted that external borrowing is vital to Belarus, emphasising that loans provided to Belarus by other countries, primarily by the Russian Federation, are not intended to resolve current economic problems. Mr. Myasnikovich reminded that 2014 will be a year in which major payments will be made on old external debts, estimated at $3.6bn. He believes 2015 will be rather easier. Mr. Myasnikovich stressed that the Government has been trying to minimise external borrowing, using it only to repay and service old debts. “Of course, the rest should be earned by the economy,” he noted. “These loans are not very expensive, but this money should be paid off. Accordingly, we need to optimise spending, so that we spend only what we’ve earned.” He deems it necessary to toughen Belarus’ currency laws, particularly ensuring fair business practices on the currency market. “Today’s domestic currency market is extremely liberal, as is the norm worldwide. However, a liberal currency market works well when the national currency is freely convertible,” explained the Prime Minister. “The Belarusian Rouble is not yet there so certain restrictions are absolutely justified.” He also underlined, “This does not mean that foreign currency won’t be sold at exchange booths or that foreign currency transactions won’t be serviced.”

By Nina Romanova

2014  беларусь.belarus

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own way

Vladimir Shuglya:

‘I have both feet on the ground’ Back in his youth, this successful person, an Honorary Consul of Belarus in Tyumen, decided to build his life relying on the principle — ‘Do what you should and let it be what it should’. His success is the result of a hard-working person’s career, who, when moving towards the peak of his material and spiritual wealth, understood that it’s impossible to conquer this peak and stay there forever. Otherwise, a person won’t see new horizons. Mr. Shuglya is constantly in motion, and he doesn’t lack purposefulness, so he can allow himself such a luxury as becoming a poet. He sees the philosophical implication in ordinary things, and generously shares his experience of life apprehension with others.

Ivan Zhdanovich

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f course, the meeting with Mr. Shuglya was part of our plan for our trip to the remote Siberian land. When talking to him in the Consulate office, we’ve learnt how wide the range of his interests is, and how great a sphere of the Honorary Consul’s application of force is. Moreover, the Consulate branch is more like an embassy, which the Honorary Consul maintains at his own expense, developing trade-economic, humanitarian and cultural ties between Belarus and the Tyumen Region (which unites the Khanty-Mansiysk and YamaloNenets autonomous districts — a vast territory). Learning that we’ll visit the Taiga villages of the Vikulovsky District, the home of descendants of Belarusian migrants who, during the time of the Stolypin agrarian reform in the early 20th century, emigrated to Siberia in search of a better life, Mr. Shuglya proposed to meet with us after we return to Tyumen. We didn’t object. It was rather difficult to object to this person. The president of Mangazeya Holding is very energetic and self-asserting. His charisma is felt both in his appearance, his manner of speech, and even in the atmosphere of his aesthetically decorated office interior.


own way Of course, Mr. Shuglya has organised and filled the interior in his own fashion, with good oak furniture, pictures in expensive frames and rare items in glass-enclosed shelf stands. However, the major pride of this man is that of his genealogical tree. Mr. Shuglya so enthusiastically tells about his search for his ancestors, and meetings with his fellow countrymen in Belarus, that one may feel rather uncomfortable, since we haven’t found time yet to take a deeper look onto our own family mysteries, even though we understand how wonderful it is to know more about our forefathers. Mr. Shuglya presents us with his collection of verses with the same enthusiasm, while beautifully and, suitable for the occasion, reads lines from them, reinforcing with his verses the speculations about particular affairs: life, personal and state. We also speak about the value of business, which should be based on an honest approach. In this way, Mr. Shuglya started, orienting towards the best old Russian traditions of entrepreneurship, which is why he chose the name ‘Mangazeya’ for the trade house, — to honour the city, founded four centuries ago by pioneering merchants who traded sable and fish on a large scale. Mr. Shuglya also has his own price for life in the form of three formulas; we’ll later speak about this. We didn’t have too much time to talk, as he had to attend a galaconcert at the Stroitel Palace of National Cultures, which closed the Days of Belarusian Culture events in the Tyumen Region. This year, they marked 15th anniversary of the Lyanok Belarusian song folk ensemble, headed by Klavdia Zueva. This is a wonderful reason for celebration, when people can heartily rejoice at their creative achievements. Mr. Shuglya was also inspired, since the band considers him to be their godfather. He had what to be pleased with and what to be proud of… Vladimir Shuglya is proud of his parents

Fifth in the family I was a late child, the fifth for my parents. There were seven of us in total but our elder brother died. I was searching for my family roots for around two years and found information in the Borisov civil registry office which, fortunately, had preserved a most precious document for me. Because of this, I’ve learnt where my father came from. At that time it was called: the Korelichi Volost [a traditional administrative subdi-

Probably, each person once wanders who they are, where do they come from and where are they moving to… I’ve come to understanding that the person, who knows their roots, has both feet on the ground. Twenty years ago, I made my family tree, ‘digging’ up to 1680

vision in Eastern Europe], Novogrudok Uezd [district], Minsk Province [region], Rutitsa village. Even now I can’t look at this piece of paper, yellowed with age, without excitement. It is the marriage certificate of my parents, which reads: ‘Anna Usova, a factory worker, single and Fiodor Shuglya, a military man, single, enter into marriage for the first time’. I see my parents signatures, placed as a sign of love and consent. I feel as if I can touch that distant year of 1924. While I was involved in my searches, I visited my father’s homeland and met with my folks. There’s a whole ‘tribe’ of the Shuglya family in the Korelichi District. During this time, I began to look at life in a different way. I even felt that I have both feet on the ground. I’m a son of a military man who travelled all over the world, we didn’t stay very long anywhere, so I didn’t have the feeling of a homeland. However, when I wandered along the cemetery, where I saw around 30 monuments bearing the surname of Shuglya, and when I sat at the same table with four generations of the Shuglya family in the village of Zapolie, I felt this homeland… When I visit Belarus, my mother’s relatives invite me, while those of my father cook draniki. I feel very comfortable in Korelichi, as if some of God’s grace descended upon me… I met, and continue to meet people who were not born in Belarus, reside beyond its borders, yet feel themselves more Belarusian than those who were born and live there. The same goes for me. Probably, this feeling was laid down in my childhood, when I often heard my father’s recollections about the places where he spent his youth. I worked much in childhood. My father, a staff officer, retired, and was building a house in Sverdlovsk, so I helped him. I still remember how his brother-inlaw and he felled trees and did everything, like in Belarus. They hauled, constructed the frame themselves, sanded the rough logs, put them on this frame and made halftimbering. Everything page

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own way

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was done with the least material expenditures, but this greatly assisted in strengthening the relations between the family members. Everybody probably wonders who they are, where they came from and where are they going to… I’ve come to understand that the person who knows their roots has both feet on the ground. Twenty years ago, I made my family tree, ‘digging’ back to 1680. Many are surprised and ask me why I need to do this, since I’m not a descendant of dukes, and I’m not ‘blue-blooded. It’s necessary. These ‘Roots’ oblige us to be human and to have both feet on the ground because of them. I know that currently, there are about 300 people in the world bearing the surname of Shuglya and I feel proud of them. In ancient times, ‘shuglya’ was a big dugout boat made from a solid oak trunk, so my hard-working ancestors are likely to be connected with rivers and lakes. I welcome the present day, when children draw their family cards at school and wonder who their forefathers were. I’m glad that they won’t become people who forget their folks.

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Major life formula I’ve shaped three formulas to guide my life. The first is that of the three S’s: Shame, Sense of conscious and Sympathy. The second formula comprises three more vital elements: labour, creativity and tolerance while the third formula is to not to be afraid, not to surrender and not to trust. Why ‘not to trust’? Because it is impossible to trust anyone in business. It is women who keep us, the men, on the Earth. Scientists have confirmed that intellect is transferred to children through women. It’s necessary to respect a beloved, a friend and a sister in the woman, who’s going together with you in life and who is the mother of your children. Women are multi-faceted. If a man appreciates these features in a woman, she’ll definitely endow him with these. I try to do this. When I go to church, I primarily approach the Mother of God of Kazan icon: this image is closer to me for some

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reasons. There was a time when I had troubles with my heart. I stood near the icon and immediately felt better. My mother is a holy person. She brought up six children: I have four elder sisters who were born in Minsk and Borisov. While my father was at war, she brought up them on her own. She lived in Novosibirsk, where my father’s unit moved 18 months before the war. It’s difficult to imagine what would happen to her if she — a wife of a red officer and commander, stayed in Belarus. Meanwhile, in Minsk, the father’s garrisons were located in Zakharov Street, which was called Proviantskaya Street at that time. My elder sister, Yanya, told me about this. When I was looking for a flat in Minsk, I found it, between Engels and Krasnoarmeiskaya streets, 150m from school #3, where my sister studied. When I visit Minsk and wander along these streets, I think that once people, dear to my heart, also used to wander here. My father used to say that there are many nationalities, yet only two nations: scoundrels and decent people. I agree with him and I often tell about this to my listeners at our poetic meetings and book presentations. They like this thought. Even now, I sometimes wonder whether I’m an internationalist or a nationalist, and I always come to the conclusion that the middle should dominate — ‘love your own and respect others’. I don’t understand avid nationalists or those for whom nationality is merely an empty phrase. For five years I headed the Coordination Council for National Public Associations and National and Cultural Autonomies of the Tyumen Region, and this time has taught me much.

If verses are born… Some may be surprised learning that an Honorary Consul and a businessman is also a poet. But if the verses are born, then it’s necessary to write them. I write my verses because I must. I apprehend life via these artistic images and I’m happy that I publish my verses and that people read them. I’m doubly happy if someone enjoys them, touching their heart. It’s

very precious for me that the Belarusian composer, Igor Luchenok, has written a song ‘Forget-me-Not’ using my verses, and that Tyumen’s Vitaly Serebrennikov has written music for my ‘Darling’ verse. We’ve also recorded a whole CD of songs with Yekaterina Chernyshova. During book presentations, I eagerly meet with young people and tell them about my creative activity, as well as about Belarus, how I discovered and loved my homeland and how much I learnt about my ancestors. I remember that, during one such meeting, with students of the Tyumen State University who were studying the Belarusian language, youngsters were keen to learn why I also became a businessman. I told them a parable about Solomon and a sluggard. This is how it goes: ‘Look at the ant, you lazybones. Consider its ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, or officer, or ruler, it prepares its food in summer and gathers its sustenance at the harvest. How long will you lay there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want, like an armed warrior’. I didn’t want to be poor, so I wasn’t a lazybones. I’ve always enjoyed working. Maybe, this is the reason for my success in life. Therefore, I trust people based on their desire and ability to work, as well as for their entrepreneurial spirit and initiative. I like purposeful people, who work with great devotion. I refer myself to people who are able to work on themselves, deriving benefit from everything I meet on my life way. Therefore, I was always thankful to those who told unpleasant things in my face. I understood that this disappointment will enable me to become ‘pleasant’ in the future. I didn’t become a military man, though I entered Chelyabinsk Higher Military Aviation School for Navigators. Seven months later I wrote a request for dismissal and entered the Moscow Institute of Economics (named after Plekhanov), whose branch is located in


Dozens of Belarusians joined into public associations in the Tyumen Region thanks to Vladimir Shuglya and his colleagues

Sverdlovsk, and this greatly disappointed my father. He, a professional military man, saw me in the same role, but I’ve chosen my own way. It seems to me that for many years I was trying to persuade him and others that it’s not shameful to trade. Rather, it’s complex and interesting, like flying in the sky. I undertook many endeavours. I’m able to organise any production, headed the district consumer union, was deputy chairman of the regional consumer union, a head of the supply department at Sverdlovsk Railways, and thus found my way to Tyumen.

Money tests people It so happens that I have led people since my youth and I enjoyed this. Youth wasn’t a barrier for me. Vice versa, people tried to support me, and I eagerly accepted assistance, not being offended by critical remarks. My respect towards those older than me also helped greatly, as did the ability to get on with everybody. Of course, I had to adapt. At that time, I didn’t know wisdom — If a fact and a notion collide, then change the notion. However, I felt intuitively how to act. Later I also understood one more truth — If a fact repeats several times, it means you’re not right somewhere, so you need to change the approach, your mental orientations, behaviour or attitude towards what’s going on, and finally, your thoughts. It’s necessary to be guided by moral criteria in business, just like in other

professional spheres. Honour, dignity and conscience should be present, always and everywhere. Money tests people. A person needs to clearly determine the area, where to invest the money, and then the result will be apparent. I decided to ‘specialise’ in the Union of Russia and Belarus. I’m confident that, as long as the union of the Slavonic states exists, we’ll be fine. Although I live in Siberia, I often visit Minsk and live there for a while. So, being well aware of Belarus and Russia, I perfectly understand the importance of their Union. When I arrive in Minsk I’m proud to tell everyone that I’ve come from Siberia. Meanwhile, when I return back to Tyumen, I underline with no less pride that I’m a Belarusian. I feel myself to be a connecting link between Belarus and Russia. Heading the Union — Integration of Brotherly Nations public organisation, I try to do everything possible, sparing neither efforts nor money, to promote the strengthening and dynamic development of Belarusian-Russian relations.

Belarusian island in Siberia Why did I begin to unite the Siberian Belarusians and become the first chairman of the board in 1997, thus laying the foundation of the organisational establishment of society? I can’t easily answer this question. Probably, this is responsibility before the homeland of my ancestors and the desire to express myself in publicnational movement, as well as a passion

for communication with those who have made a big contribution to the development of the land. There’s a conference hall near my working cabinet, a corner of Belarus, close to my heart. A map with the coats of arms of each Belarusian town, flags, books, albums, framed certificates and letters of acknowledgment, alongside an ancient spinning wheel, brought to Siberia by the first Belarusian emigrants. This is the place where the ‘first’ Belarusians, wellknown and respectful people in Tyumen, have gathered. As I thought, we knew what to speak about and how to start the work of our society. At present, two regional public organisations are functioning in the Tyumen Region — The National and Cultural Society Autonomy of Belarus and the Union — Integration of Brotherly Nations. I’m very pleased that, due to the established ties with the Ministry of Culture of Belarus and the office of the Plenipotentiary for Religions and Nationalities under the Council of Ministers of Belarus, we can do everything to preserve the language, customs and culture of the Belarusian nation in the territory of the region. I also work a lot with Belarusians in Tyumen and with those who aren’t indifferent towards my homeland. Only together will we be able to develop our economies and strengthen our friendship, which guarantees any success. By Valentina and Ivan Zhdanovich

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TOPIC This Is Urban Life

In face of urbanisation Minsk is probably the only city in Belarus which population is growing quickly. At present, a fifth of all Belarusians live here and, in 2013, the figure rose by almost 20,000.

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xp er ts ass ess that Minsk’s density index is among the highest of the former Soviet states. However, it’s yet to be decided whether this is good or bad. Clearly, the process of urbanisation, which is truly multifaceted and ambiguous, comprises positive and negative features. With this in mind, questions arise. Should the process be limited and is it possible to avoid negative consequences occurring as a result of city overpopulation? The Head of the Social-Philosophical and Anthropological Research at the Belarusian national Academy of Sciences’ Philosophy Institute, Tadeush Adulo, shares his views on the urbanisation tendencies, the phenomena of our modern civilisation and its displays in Belarus and Minsk in particular. Mr. Adulo is a Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, acting member of the International Academy of Sciences (Health and Ecology), participant of the World Forum of Spiritual Culture, the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy, three international Globalistics scien-

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tific congresses and many other scientific forums. Mr. Adulo, tell us please about yourself. What inspired you to turn to science and how long have you been studying urbanisation issues? I came to science in the 1970s when a hot dispute between physicists and lyricists was common. As we know, the physicists won, but the latter’s condescending attitude to lyricists was ostentatious. They were lyricists in their souls as loved to travel, worked at students’ construction sites, wrote interesting poems and songs and played the guitar by student fires… I’m a philosopher by speciality, graduating with honours from the Belarusian State University and later completing post-graduate courses. I worked as a senior lecturer for some time and then took a job at the BSSR Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Philosophy and Law (our Institute was named that way then). I worked here until now — becoming a Professor after defending a candidate and doctor theses. I’ve never specially focused on urbanisation problems, but I could hardly pass this topic while working in

the field of social philosophy. Our life and its social aspects are ever changing, so we need to anticipate their dynamics and predict the future. In the 1980s, I travelled across Belarus to study the life of villagers, workers and clerks and published works of my results. During the end of the 20th-early 21st century (which was a difficult period both for cities and villages), I analysed the problem of the villagers’ adaptation to new economic conditions. Later, from 2004-2007, the Russian State Social University realised a project of scientific-research works, ‘Problems of Society’s Social Consolidation in Process of Globalisation’. I represented Belarus in that work and guided the study. As a result, we received valuable i n f o r m at i o n n e e d e d t o u n d e rstand the core and dynamics of the urbanisation process. Specialists assert that Minsk is probably the only Belarusian city whose population has risen by 100,000 in the recent decade. By comparison, other cities’ populations rise by around 4,000. What’s the reason? According to the statistics, from 1999-2009, Minsk’s population rose


AUTHORITATIVE OPINION by 156,300, not taking into account an increased number of pupils and students of secondary special and higher educational establishments, as well as those who daily come to Minsk for work from the suburbs. Minsk boasts the greatest growth of population, which is natural for all large cities, and especially capitals. The latter are characterised by an incredible centralising force. There are many reasons for this trend. Finances concentrate in capitals, alongside enterprises, educational, scientific-research, cultural and entertaining establishments, theatres, trading centres and sports facilities. Clearly, it’s easier to find a job, train a profession and enhance one’s social status in a capital. Although many state that life here is more expensive, many people are still eager to move. In Minsk, there are much more jobs and higher salaries. Mo r e ov e r, i t’s easier to develop

careers here and satisfy spiritualcultural needs. A psychological aspect also matters. No doubt, a capital registration enhances people’s social status. Do you think it's necessary to limit Minsk’s population? As of December 1st, 2013, 1,920,200 people were registered in the city which equates to more than 20 percent of the Belarusian population. According to the Belarusian Statistical Committee’s data, last year, almost 20,000 people came to Minsk, but there were more dynamic years in the city’s history. Population growth changes in waves, but the positive tendency mostly preserves. We’re trying to find out whether this is good or bad. Apart from the problems associated with large cities (of which economists, demographers and ecologists love to speak), such as polluted air or intricate transportation and water supply, there are some other problems. Large cities are subject to natural disasters, terrorist attacks or epidemics. With this in mind, scientists propose several arguments which explain the reasons for

limiting Minsk’s population. Minsk is not simply a beautiful and hospitable city, but a major industrial centre, with all the related negative consequences. The harmful influence of large cities on the environment spreads to a diameter of almost 50km. Moreover, Minsk has no major waterway and is not connected to other regions by water transport. The city is gradually getting older. The number of its pensioners is rising negatively influences the social sphere. A psychological aspect of living in large cities is also present. Stress factors are common here and nobody is able to withstand these. As a result, the problem of limiting our capital’s population remains acute and it’s unreasonable to rely on citizens’ initiative alone. To ‘unload’ cities, economic and administrative leverages are needed. Some countries chose to shift an overpopulated capital to a new place. However, the practice shows that this approach does not solve the problem. A capital remains as attractive for people as before, even after relocation. Does Belarus’ inner migration re f lec t the global urbani sation tendency? Do we observe a reverse process — de-urbanisation? If not, what are prospects for the future? Urbanisation is a global tendency, as industrialisation is progressing worldwide. Major industrial enterprises are in need of a workforce while fewer workers are

Alexander Ruzhechka

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At Pobediteley Avenue in Minsk

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TOPIC This Is Urban Life

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needed in the smaller towns and villages (as powerful machinery is widely introduced there). Accordingly, many move from the rural areas to major cities, finding jobs and becoming residents. The process of urbanisation began in the early 20th century but was most active in the mid-20th century. A similar process was observed in Belarus in late 1920s when the country’s industrialisation was needed. The latter was truly fast-moving in the USSR since the level of its industrial development (and, consequently, of its cities) was much lower in comparison to the West. The Soviet urbanisation had another peculiar feature; villagers were ‘carrying’ that burden. At that time, urban life was not simple but it was much easier than life in the villages. Young people were eager to move to cities to get an education and jobs. In turn, cities needed constructors, qualified industrial staff and engineers and the best villagers were attracted as a result. Urbanisation was extremely active in Belarus in the late 20th century and, from 1950-2000, the share of urbanites rose by 47.5 percent. In the past 12 years, it has increased by another 6.1 percent. The figures indicate that Belarus is already a developed industrial state. On the other hand, agriculture has been developing efficiently as it’s been provided with modern industrial machinery and qualified personnel. At present, Belarus is listed among highly urbanised states, such as the USA, the UK, Sweden, Australia, Japan and Canada. Meanwhile, the process of urbanisation reverses as urbanites move to the suburbs, where more favourable living conditions are available. This de-urbanisation is likely to occur in Belarus soon. The first signs are already being seen. As I’ve already mentioned, capitals are attractive venues for living. However, some people would never dare to move to Minsk. Moreover, some Minsker pensioners, who spent their childhood in villages, leave their city flats to their

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Nadezhda Ponkratova

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Minsk mosaic

children and move back to their native lands, or buy empty houses in the villages. Nowadays, it’s hard to find such houses close to Minsk. Our villagers are returning to life and many cottages have been built there recently. Pleasingly, we have no transport problems as cars are no longer a luxury, but an ordinary means of transport. Urbanites willingly move to well-functioning villages located near forests or lakes. However, there is another tendency — Suburbanisation. The suburbs of large cities, including Minsk, are actively growing. This occurs because of local residents, urbanites and

incoming villagers. As a result, city clusters are formed. With this in mind, the task of limiting Minsk’s population growth on the account of satellitetowns is required. Developing states are following the urbanisation path of the leading states which they passed in the 20th century. Is it possible to somehow avoid urbanisation? I think not. There are common laws of historical processes which we are unable to change. Really, we understand all the negative sides of large cities, including urbanisation. Generally speaking, mankind is worried about the


AUTHORITATIVE OPINION consequences of industrial and postindustrial development. However, no other, more efficient social project has been invented. It’s impossible to achieve the necessary concentration of industry, mental power and culture without large cities to ensure a state’s dynamic development. If the USSR had remained an agrarian state, it would have lost the Great Patriotic War. In our modern times, not agrarian but industrially developed countries outline the policy and conditions of their co-existence. It’s possible to disagree with these principles of the world order but we cannot deny their presence. Villages have been traditionally viewed as goddesses of the authentic folk culture, language and traditions. Do you agree? You are right. This conventional wisdom does exist. However, I guess there is no need to extremely idolise villages. I recall the poem ‘Anna Snegina’ by the Russian poet, Sergey Yesenin, which figuratively describes the neighbouring villages of Radovo and Kriushi. The former could be certainly called a keeper of village customs but nothing of the kind could be said of the latter. Sadly, no Belarusian villages are identical. The problem has another aspect. In our modern times, communication networks spread countrywide and village life, whose customs and traditions are expected to be stable and time-proven, is transforming. Villagers’ behaviour and culture, especially of the young people, are turning to urban standards. Accordingly, cities impose behaviour and thinking samples on villages, rather than vice versa. Like the urbanites, villagers watch the same TV programmes, listen to the same radio and surf the Internet. It’s well known what kind of spiritual culture is promoted on the TV and Internet. Of course, true cultural layers can be found there, but it’s not a simple task. To succeed, a person needs to boast a well formed view on our world to distinguish true culture from its opposite.

While commenting upon the situation in modern Russia, the Rector of the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions, and a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Zapesotsky, noted, “We’ve lost the culture which cultivates in people humanism, artistry and the system of values which have been tested by millennia of our civilisation.” This refers not only to cities, but modern villages which are actually becoming more urbanised and absorbing greatly urban realities. We can regret the present situation but cannot move away from it. Is there a need for ethnographers to hurry in recording and saving samples of our existing folk customs, songs and skills? Definitely! Diverse projects aimed at folk art revival are being launched. Of course, we can revive weaving, pottery, smith-craft or willow weaving, but these would be different crafts

pros and cons? Do other countries introduce a similar ‘bridge’ between cities and villages? In my view, the construction of agro-towns, which are well developed settlements with production and social infrastructure, is the state’s repayment of its debts to villages. The latter took on all burdens of the Soviet industrialization, while contributing to the victory in the Great Patriotic War and restoration of the broken economy. As in previous years, they carried the heavy weight of the hasty reforms of the 1990s; this was especially true in Russia. A Russian practical scientist, Sergey Nikolsky, concluded, “Judging by industrial figures, everything done in the 1990s was a mere destruction of agriculture and villages.” In this respect, we can recall a price disparity on agricultural and industrial produce. Our villages experienced many more troubles as a result of the government’s ill-considered policy. Among them was the speedy creation of farms which resembled previous ‘collectives’.

Urbanisation is a global tendency, as industrialisation is progressing worldwide as a result, lacking the true meaning of their historical epoch. In the past, these objects were vital for everyday life and people widely used them. But now, humankind has withdrawn from hand weaving, the plough or horses as the key driving force in agriculture. It’s impossible to turn our history back… and there is actually no need to do so. Reproduced objects (if any) would lack their authentic spiritual energy and the feelings which its creators (probably not professional) introduced in them. Such objects are well described in legends, songs and poems. Agro-towns are our modern innovation. Have scientists analysed their

It’s necessary to mention here that, in the 70s and 80s, Belarusian villages and agriculture on general were looking good in comparison to Western European states. They had access to good machinery and equipment, while qualified specialists — doctors and teachers — worked there. Socialcultural objects were common. Of course, some problems existed, but they were not as large scale as those of the 1990s. Openly speaking, in those hard times, the Belarusian villages saved Minsk and the other big cities. Moreover, they ‘saved’ our neighbours also. People used to page

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TOPIC This Is Urban Life

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cross the border to buy our food at a low price. As a result, villages were affected. By receiving small salaries, their residents were unable to build new houses, or even to repair their existing accommodation. It was state support which helped the villagers, and the villages to survive. With this in mind, I’d rather talk not of a ‘bridge’ between cities and villages, but of cities’ repayment of their debt to villages. Regarding the pros and cons of agro-towns, certain errors do exist, which is natural for any new initiative. For example, the location of agro-towns was not chosen correctly in some cases, while some houses were probably too ‘modest’. Actually, the state lacked much of the finance

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to construct larger homes, and it was considered that their residents should also contribute to their wellbeing. Dependency must not be encouraged. Agro-towns were aimed to attract specialists, and to boast a well-developed social sphere. Villagers’ labour conditions were supposed to be changed to resemble urban conditions. However, it’s clear that agricultural works would always distinguish them. Meanwhile, the construction of agrotowns has partially solved the problem of disappearing villages in which only elderly people lived. Shall in this case our villages, which inspired artists and poets, lose their uniqueness, turning into standard town settlements? In the West, a different approach to rural development is applied. Farms there might commonly occupy up to 180 hectares in the USA, 50 hectares in the UK, 23 hectares in France, and 13 hectares in Germany. In Russia, similar reforms were undertaken by Piotr Stolypin. Our agro-towns are mostly aimed at collective farming. A farmer would be unlikely satisfied with a modest house in an agrotown; they’d need large estates to accommodate the necessary machinery and cattle.

Generally speaking, much depends on individuals and their conscientious work. Agro-towns will produce enough food for our state if they have assiduous heads and devoted residents. Otherwise, they will fail to meet our expectations. It’s vital to strengthen discipline and enhance the responsibility of each person. This refers to cities and villages alike. Only then the idea of a ‘bridge’ would work. What do you consider natural for Belarusian migrants’ psychology? Do they wish to forget about their village past, or do they prefer to keep in touch with it? I’ve not specially studied the psychology of migrants but, being born in a village myself, I’m not indifferent to its future. In their minds and souls, migrants keep their homeland. We know of many examples when wealthy people make contributions to restore historical monuments in their homeland, or return to their native villages to revive them. Belarusian villages have spawned many industrious and globally recognised personalities, among them have been writers, scientists, military specialists and doctors. We have all grounds to believe that this powerful and pure spring will never run out.

Minsk. Nemiga in the morning

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Alexander Ruzhechka

Interviewed by Valentina Zhdanovich


PANORAMA  Ringing voices sound over the city of Bug 26th International January Musical Evenings Festival of Classic Music takes place in Brest

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he first festival of classic music in Brest took place in 1988. For a quarter of a centur y, musicians and vocalists from 33 countries worldwide have participated in the event, and more than 6 5 , 0 0 0 people have visited the concerts during this time. This year, mezzo soprano, Irina Bogacheva, star of the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theatre and a

 Online city celebrations Vitebsk’s Pobedy Square broadcasts live online via IP-camera

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he Deputy Chair of the Vitebsk City Executive C ommittee, Zinaida Koroleva, tells us that the City Executive Committee has helped to set up the online portal, aiming to promote Vitebsk as a tourist destination. She explains, “The city authorities are supporting the use of the Internet portal to organise online broadcasts from Vitebsk, with contemporary technologies allowing us to advertise

People’s Artiste of Russia, attended the festival for the first time. Solomiya Priymak (soprano), a favourite of Brest’s audience, a soloist from Kiev’s National Academic Operetta Theatre, Luka Gaiduchenya (baritone), laureate of international contests from Great Britain and Vadim Kravets (bass), a soloist of the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theatre, supported the high note of professional art. During the event, guests of the festival could listen to jazz music, including music played by a jazz-quartet from the USA, led by trumpet player Gary Guthman. Performances of another two famous ensembles — the Silesian String Quartet from Poland and New Russian Quartet from Moscow — were also a success.

our destination all over the globe. We hope that the city’s online presence will help us attract even more tourists.” She adds that, this past year, Vitebsk’s service exports growth rate stands at by 133 percent. Andrey Lapin, who heads the website, notes that the first of the city’s IP-cameras has been installed on Pobedy Square, so that the whole world can see how Vitebsk celebrates the coming of 2014. “We plan to install several more cameras across the city, with residents helping us choose locations. We’ll study all proposals and then define the number of cameras: at least five,” Mr. Lapin notes.

 All information in just one call Info dial number for guests of IIHF World Championship, hosted by Minsk this year

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n arrival, tourists will be able to dial a short number to find out anything they might need to know. Moreover, during the World Ice Hockey Championship, volunteers will be invited to work at Minsk Information Centre, which will also sell souvenirs. Minsk Information and Tourist Centre is to release a special tourist brochure especially for the event, giving information on public transport and matches, alongside a city map showing hotels and hostels, parking areas near the rinks and hospitality zones. Buses are to run regularly, connecting Minsk-Arena with Chizhovka-Arena and other sports facilities, as well as with centres of accommodation. During the World Championship, Minsk Infor mation and Tour ist Centre will also be organising excursions, of fer ing audio-guides in seven languages, including those for children (and a version especially for handicapped youngsters). Guests and residents of the capital will have the choice of over 40 tour routes around Minsk, run daily, while bus #1 will, of course, operate across the city, offering a great alternative.

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TOPIC This Is Urban Life

From Berestie to Brest Berestie, Brest-Litovsk, Brest over Bug: all names for modern Brest — the self-sufficient regional centre

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he thousand-year-old city with a turbulent past is crossed by the River Mukhavets, which runs into the Western Bug near the Terespol Gate of Brest Fortress, dividing modern Brest into two. On the right bank is the old city: on the left, there is the young, growing, new part. More than 300,000 residents live in the regional centre and the population is rising, notes the Chairman of the Brest Regional Executive Committee, Konstantin Sumar. He tells us, “The trend has been growing over the past decade, as a result of improving conditions and standards of living.” Brest is a comfortable city for living, protected by God: it is here that the Brest Bible w a s published. It is also known for the Union of Brest and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, as well as the Brest Fortress. Even now, the ancient city has much to surprise visitors.

Fortress. Reloading Until the 19th century, the city stood where the River Mukhavets joined the River Bug. Residents were moved to allow the building of the magnificent fortress, known worldwide for its heroic defenders. Every

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Belarusian pupil has visited the citadel, yet we don't know what the future holds for the fortress. In December, Brest residents were introduced to the ambitious new concept for developing Brest Fortress: Brest 2019. An international historical and cultural tourist centre is planned, with the aim of attracting up to two million visitors annually. It may yet become a UNESCO World Heritage site: a title which would secure the economic success of the city and attract a great many tourists. The inventory of fortress objects is complete and the archives for future restoration remain. It is suggested that the fortress be connected with the city via a visitor centre offering full information to tourists. Seven excursion routes are planned: across the ramparts and fortified areas, as well as memorial, ecological and bicycle routes. Those wishing to submerge themselves in the history of ancient Berestie can visit the Archaeological Park, while those seeking respite and tranquillity can enjoy the Silence Garden. The Bernardine Monastery’s ruins (the oldest in thousand-year-old Brest) are to be restored and opened to the public. Meanwhile, a multimedia patriotic installation is to open in the central monument of Brest Fortress, hosting modern art and cultural activities. All these plans are to be achieved within the next few years, rather than decades. An aerostat will transport tourists 80m above the city, being among the first of the facilities to be constructed. The fortress’ ramparts will open to tourists over the next two years. The open-air museum may be completed by 2017. It’s an exciting thought. Last spring, visitors to Brest had the opportunity to enter Pogranichny Island for the first time: the only territory of Belarus to the left of the Western Bug. Once on the island, you can almost imagine that the war ended


REGION only yesterday. You can see caponiers, fragments of powder warehouses, and shell cases cast over earthen mounds. The most important observation platform is installed on an embankment from which Terespol Bridge once joined the Island and Brest Fortress. It is planned to restore the bridge by 2015.

128 years down the ages and distances If the fortress stands at the heart of Brest, the railway station is its eyes and ears. Having opened in 1886, the station was the gateway to the Russian empire, then to the USSR. The building resembled a huge medieval castle with numerous arches and merlons and has since endured three reconstructions — the first in 1929. Today, the station is again being restored, with the Moscow part receiving attention first, followed by new platforms and a new entrance tunnel to the station’s main hall. Engineering networks, tracks and communications have been modernised, as have international ticket offices and the customs hall. The renovated waiting room opened in December. The full modernisation of Brest-Tsentralny Station is costing $36 million. As Brest railway station is second only to Minsk in passenger numbers (over 11,000 daily) modernisation has been essential. All work should be completed by May, in time for Belarus’ hosting of the World Ice Hockey Championship. In fact, it will soon take just three hours to travel between Minsk and Brest by electric train, with the new timetable available within the next six months.

Temples of the soul The soul of the city is found in its places of worship. Many Brest residents still remember when St. Nicholas Brotherly Church of Brest held archives. The garrison church in the fortress fell into ruin, while majestic Holy Resurrection Cathedral became a place for dog walking. Today, most city suburbs have their own Orthodox or Roman Catholic or Protestant church. Nearly twenty years ago, it would have been hard to believe. In the 18th century, the old part of the city was home to over two-dozen places of worship: Orthodox and Catholic. Most were demolished in order to build Brest Fortress, including St. Nicholas Church, where the Church Union of Brest was signed. Of course, most have been revived today, with St. Nicholas Church inside Brest Fortress being one of the most beautiful. St. Nicholas Church is also impressive. Built by seamen of the Russian Imperial Pacific Fleet and natives of the Brest Region, it actually resembles a ship. In 2005, a monument to seamen was erected in the grounds, in the shape of an anchor. Another beautiful Brest church listed among the nation’s historical and cultural treasures is St. Reverend Simeon Stolpnik’s Cathedral, founded in 1862. It is, perhaps, the only city church to have held divine services at all times. After Belarus gained independence, not only small churches and majestic cathedrals, but also convents and monasteries appeared in page

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Bird’s-eye view of Brest

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Brest. Saint Athanasius of Brest-Litovsk Monastery stands in the suburban village of Arkadiya. Meanwhile, Gospitalny Island’s former military barracks is home to the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God Convent.

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Open border Every Brest resident will tell you that the border is one of the city’s main features: this year sees the 75th anniversary of the customs point. A street is being renamed Mytnaya (meaning customs), having existed on the map of Brest-Litovsk in 1824, where the memorial of Brest Fortress now stands. Brest customs has already established a ‘monument’ for itself: the Museum of Rescued Art Treasures. It already boasts a thousand icons, pictures, pieces of furniture and other exhibits, saved from being illegally smuggled out of the country. Almost every Brest family is connected with the customs service in some way: the Brest border’s operating zone protects the frontier with Ukraine and Poland.

Festival and university city The Mus eum of Rescued Art Treasures is not the only such site of which Brest residents are proud. There’s the Berestie Archaeological Museum, Brest Regional Museum, the City Museum and the Museum of Railway Machinery. Cultural traditions also deserve attention. In January, the city will host the 26th International Festival of Classical Music: January Musical Evenings. Musicians from Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Poland, the UK, the USA, Chile, Lithuania and Kazakhstan will appear on Brest stages. For many years, the festival has set standards in music, led by famous musician Sviatoslav Richter. September sees the Belaya Vezha Drama Festival, attracting artistes from dozens of countries. It always enjoys great popularity among Brest residents, whose city boasts two theatres: one academic and one puppet. The latter, in the centre of Brest, is gaining a new building — currently under construction. Meanwhile, there are plans to reconstruct the regional library (named in honour of Gorky). Of course, the Brest Bible is a symbol of the city. Its Old and New Testaments were published from the printing house once located in the old part of the city. Various confessions co-existed without conflict in Brest, making it a sensible location for the project.

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Nikolai Kuzmich is known for having recreated the Cross of Saint Yevfrosiniya of Polotsk, a depository for the Cross and a reliquary for the hallows of Belarusian Saint Yevfrosiniya. He uses the lost art of cloisonné in his beautiful works. Brest has a wealth of talented musicians, performers, artists, writers and poets, businessmen, builders, engineers and doctors. Many graduated from Brest State Technical University or from Brest State University named after A.S. Pushkin.

Removing our pain Health care deserves a mention, with the first liver transplant having been successfully performed at Brest Regional Hospital. Its Transplantation Department opened in May, 2011, and has conducted 96 surgeries for renal transplantation to date. Surgical master-classes have been held at the regional hospital for several years, attended by world experts in cardiac surgery. Last year, Brest City Hospital #1 marked its 115th anniversary, opening a tomographic room, as well as departments of cardiology and gynaecology. The surgical departments are now to be reconstructed and re-equipped and a new oncological clinic is being built and equipped. Brachytherapy and radiotherapeutic complexes have appeared, as well as apparatus for close-focus roentgen therapy. Patients from the Brest Region and six districts of the Grodno Region are being served by this high technology. An MR-imaging unit and gamma camera are soon to be installed, and a new 220-bed ward opened.

Crowded city Brest needs to expand; although a number of suburban villages have been annexed to the city already, satellite towns are necessary for development. Infrastructure is being built in Zhabinka, including new housing, to help the situation in crowded Brest. Malorita may also become a satellite town. Accommodation is key, as is employment. A chalk deposit is being developed in Malorita, as are processing enterprises. Zhabinka already has a sugar plant. Of course, residents of these two settlements have long been working at Brest enterprises: processing fish and making fish products, and working at Brest FEZ, as well as at sports facilities, schools and for the border service. The traffic is excellent, despite Brest having the most vehicles on its roads of any city countrywide, besides Minsk. By Valentina Kozlovich


SMALL TOWNS

It would seem that in order to go back one thousand years, a time machine is not needed. It is enough to catch a Minsk commuter electric train and, in half an hour, you will find yourself in the centre of one of the oldest cities in Belarus — Zaslavl

City

of distinctive traditions

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n 2015 it will turn 1030 from the moment of the first mention of it in historical chronicles. However, ancient settlements have appeared here much earlier. The city is not big even today, just 14.5 thousand residents, but its role in the destiny of Kievan Rus, and later, the Old Russian state, is huge. Cruel prince Vladimir, who forcedly took the beautiful Rogneda of Polotsk for his wife and then exiled her with their son, Izyaslav, sent her to this city. And so, the city was named after this son of Rogneda and Vladimir. Such classics of Belarusian appear in page

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Ukrainian literature, like Yakub Kolas and Taras Shevchenko, who were inspired by their drama destinies and devoted poetic lines, full of pathos, to Rogneda. In the middle of the 19th century, the opera Rogneda was successfully shown on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The princess gave birth to the legendary Kievan Prince, Yaroslav the Wise, while her son Izyaslav became the founder of a new dynasty of influential Polotsk princes, among which is the well-known soldier, Vseslav the Magician (Vseslav Charodey), and legendary Orthodox enlightener, Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya. That was a very important chapter in the formation of Belarusian statehood. So, what signs of those, almost mythical times remain in the ancient city? Together with the Director of Zaslavl History and Culture Museum-Reserve, Nikolai Pogranovsky we walk around the most significant places. Of course, we start with the ancient settlement known as ‘Zamečak’ (meaning ‘small castle’) on a slope of a hill which towers over the Chernitsa River. According to legend, this was the place where Rogneda and Izyaslav settled. Now, only the remaining earth mounds and a memorial stone cross on round pedestal, erected on

the occasion of 1000 anniversary of Christianity in Russia, remind us of those times. Grateful descendants gave credit to the memory of Rogneda as a devout adherent of Orthodoxy. She was the first on the territory of today’s Belarus who was baptised and became a nun, calling herself Anastasia. She constructed a convent on Chernaya Mountain and was buried near this monastery in the year 1000. The following centuries also left a lot of interesting things in Zaslavl. The Calvinist church of the 16th century, which was later transformed into Transfiguration Church, is the only part of the castle-fortress of Glebovich, a distinguished dignitary of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which has remained in good condition. The ancient Roman-Catholic Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary is located opposite the Transfiguration Church. After visiting these majestic locations, you feel the simple human warmth of the ethnographic museum, which instructs its visitors about life of the Belarusian peasantry. Mr. Pogranovsky invites me to examine the mlyn, a well-preserved, two-storeyed wooden mill constructed in 1910 and shows me the stone millstones and other original objects. He comments, “In those days it was a huge construction, its owner, Mekhedko-

Artur Prupas

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There're a lot of interestng exhibits at the museum in Zaslavl

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Savitsky, even took credit for its construction. He maintained strict discipline. If a worker came to work drunk, or tried to smoke, the penalty could reach as much as half of the cost of one cow. The mill stands in its original location, while the ancient barn we brought up from the Vitebsk Region. The smithy, with a complete set of clamps, hammers, anvil and the other tools, were brought from the Volozhin District. Until recently it has been used for excursions, with the Zaslavl resident, metal artist, Larisa Kostyukevich worked here as a smith. Her works are also exhibited in our museum.” During the time when grain was milled, peasants passed time in the house of the Handler. They had to give him a tenth part of their milled grain as payment. The Handler’s house was originally a rural hotel consisting of two big rooms, a kitchen, hall and dormitory. Though it was built anew and now is a part of the museum, its former place and ancient ware, various utensils, furniture and clothes preserve the colour of the past. Lodgers did not get under their feet, having sold their crops; they gave themselves a treat — gorelka (vodka) — in the neighbouring tavern, the public catering establishment which, by the way, is nearby even today. After that, not all of them managed to take off their boots — lenivki — without the use of special devices. They slept on hay mattresses filled with dried grass and when it was cold, they got warm near a stove lined with tiles. The keeper of the museum, Svetlana Nosevich informs me that today’s children are especially impressed with ancient way of life, “Children from the whole of Belarus, and other countries, come to us. We treat them with mint tea with spiced-cakes. The children become silent and listen attentively.” Nearly 36,000 tourists visit Zaslavl annually, so this town is not lost against the background of younger places neighbouring Minsk. But how does this ancient city feel today on the outskirts of a twomillion population mega-city? I talk about this with the Chairman of Zaslavl City Executive Committee, Svetlana Kartasheva.


“Our city has its own history and a quiet, measured way of life. For example, in January, maestro Mikhail Finberg held here the republican festival of chamber music for the 15th time. It is a spiritual supply for the whole year. But at the same time Zaslavl is also a big industrial centre. About 800 enterprises, basically private and foreign, are registered here. Construction mixtures, natural parquet and glass production are sold in Belarus and abroad. Since Minsk is nearby, where construction services are always in demand, the building industry is well developed,” she noted. 800 enterprises, including large ones, with 14 just thousand residents? Is Zaslavl such an attractive place for business? The theme of favourable conditions for the development of business in Belarus needs a separate discussion, but the fact that such countries as Germany and Russia willingly invest in this ancient city is indisputable. It even creates certain problems with the recruitment of qualified staff. In order to attract them, the administration of the city develops new housing. It is one of the concerns of the governor. What to do with the historical constructions protected by the state? In total, they occupy a lot of space — 113 of around 1800 hectares of the total city area. Yes, the state takes upon itself the main burden,

allocating means and attracting contractors, but the opinion of local authorities is also taken into account. For example, in the central street of Zaslavl there are several wooden one-storeyed houses from the 19th century which attract attention. The plaques on these houses testify that they are of historical value. However people live there even today. How can the state and the local authorities keep these habitations in good condition? Probably, it is better to resettle their inhabitants and to present these rare, small houses to the museum. But where do those finances come from? Svetlana Kartasheva’s main concern is about children, and about the future of the city. “Zaslavl has great potential. Thanks to the high birth rate for last several years, the city is growing. We now have 3,000 children and teenagers living in the city. There are two secondary schools and one grammar school. Many of the pupils achieve good results in sport and art. They are our future. But we do not forget about the veterans. This is our gold fund, and we can always rely on it. Our city is small, I know practically all the residents. And if I’m in a shop, clinic or school people approach to me with housing and municipal problems. Now, people are more interested in the questions of development of the region,” she added.

Zaslavl in winter

One of the ideas prompted by local residents is to recreate the castle of the nobleman Glebovich? One more significant tourist objective, where it is possible, is to place an ethnographic museum of Zaslavl which would appear near Minsk. The income gained from visitors would allow the creation of new workplaces and would top up the regional budget. Svetlana Kartasheva and Nikolai Pogranovsky support this idea and have thought it over in the Ministry of Culture, district and regional executive committees. The idea is being prepared to be introduced to the Council of Ministers. There is also the need to construct a modern hospital with polyclinic in Zaslavl, as well as a modern, cultural-entertainment centre. The fact that all this is available in the neighbouring Minsk is not an argument for local residents, because it is not convenient. Culture, public health services, as well as shops and public catering, should be located nearby, Svetlana Kartasheva is sure. Many plans will come true soon. In 2014, Zaslavl will host the Day of Slavonic Written Language for the second time. By tradition, for this international event, the state allocates additional means for beautification and the putting in order of historical constructions. It means that the ancient city will acquire a new face. By Vladimir Bibikov

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Quintessence of beauty

Glubokoe (in the Vitebsk Region), with its rich history and majestic architecture, is home to just 20,000 people — yet many among them have gained wide recognition, domestically and abroad 34

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he town is to celebrate its 600th anniversary this summer, inspiring a host of festivities. Its traditional Cherry Festival is held from June through to July, welcoming guests to try the sweet ‘Her Majesty’ variety, take part in cooking contests and buy hand-made souvenirs: berry-shaped earrings and brooches. People come from all over the district to buy cherries, planning to make jam to sustain them on cold winter nights. Last September, the town gathered guests for its Day of Belarusian Written Language, which I attended happily. Each year, various towns host the event, promoting themselves as centres of culture, science and book printing. The Glubokoe District boasts a rich culturalhistorical and spiritual heritage, with 61 architectural monuments, in addition to ancient settlements and hills. Writer Vatslav Lastovsky was born here, as was aircraft designer Pavel Sukhoy, Belarusian theatre founder Ignat Buinitsky and fantasy writer Yazep Drozdovich. Some born in Glubokoe have gained recognition far beyond Belarus: Eliezer BenYehuda founded modern Hebrew in Israel, while

Tadeush DolengM o s t o v i c h’s Witchdoctor was screened with much international success. To u r i s t s love coming

SMALL TOWNS to the Glubokoe District, enjoying its virgin beauty and fishing at local lakes and rivers. Five lakes are situated within the town: called the ‘second Venice’. For those seeking rejuvenation, a better spot cannot be found.

Yazep Drozdovich’s dream It takes just a couple of hours to travel the 160km from Minsk to Glubokoe by bus. On reaching this small district centre, I immediately headed for the Local History Museum, to see its Wonderful World of Uncle Yazep exhibition. The many pictures by this ‘star wanderer’ made me quite dizzy. His Welcoming Spring on Saturn depicts outlandish aliens, while his Roman Catholic Church (in the village of Zadorozhye) is still open to believers. His portrait of Polotsk Grand Duke Vseslav Polotsky actually seems alive, watching as you pass by. Although Drodzovich is known as a writer, folklorist and ethnographer, he’s commonly viewed as a fantasy artist. His cycle of space-themed pictures

still lights the imagination of fine arts lovers. Moreover, his theories regarding the origin of the Solar System and mankind’s presence on Earth are fascinating. His Celestial Run book focuses on astronomy, sharing his dreams of Belarus as a small galaxy. He imagines each resident hosting their own inner universe, with an artistic thirst for improvement. Being a journalist, such ideas inspire me greatly.

Convenient town ‘P l a n e t G lu b o k o e’ w a s f i r s t mentioned in 1414, being located on the Old Smolensk road — between Vilno and Polotsk. It was a ‘bridge’ connecting Western and Eastern Europe, bringing established trading ties with Riga, Konigsberg, Vilno and Warsaw. As the town became wealthier, it gained many stone homes and other buildings. Among them were Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and Carmelite and Basilian monasteries; these survive even today. The town is now quickly developing, with a district library opening recently, and the quay revamped. A summer amphitheatre and a stadium have been built and many industrial enterprises are working successf u l ly. Glubokoe

Pupils of a new school in Glubokoe demonstrate their artworks

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Dairy has received an award f rom the Belarusian Government for its top quality p r o d u c e . Po s i t i v e achievements are evident and worthy of emulation. These positive changes are now influencing demographics: from JanuaryAugust, 2012, there were 250 children born in the Glubokoe District while, in 2013, the figure rose to 290. More families are registered with several children, while local salaries have reached Br4m ($450) on average per month: sixth highest in the

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Vitebsk Region. Young specialists are much valued in the town, being encouraged to stay with housing and privileged loan terms (to buy or construct their own accommodation). Unsurprisingly, many are returning after graduating from educational establishments in Vitebsk or Minsk.

Cranberry as force for progress S t at e r u n c o mp a n i e s successfully operate in Glubokoe, working with private firms. Investment forums are commonplace; an event last

summer gathered over 200 Latvian, Lithuanian and Belarusian businessmen. Among the diverse projects on show were a Belarusian Venice water system in Glubokoe and a Golden Crucian fishingtourist complex for Ozerki, alongside a Park of Europe for Ivesi. L o c a l ent repreneurs are not merely waiting for foreign investors but are working independently. Some truly successful businessmen live in Glubokoe. Anatoly Brilenok was the first to introduce sugar-glazed cranberries: now widely sold in Belarusian shops. Until my trip to the town, I hadn’t realised that the delicacy came from Glubokoe. Mr. Brilenok set up his business after a long career at the Dairy Plant’s repair workshop. In 1988, he began developing a line to process


SMALL TOWNS berries and, a decade later, decided to launch his own production. He rented premises and made repairs before installing equipment. By 1996, the first sugar-glazed cranberries were being produced. Of course, they now enjoy great popularity among Belarusians, as do those glazed with chocolate, coconuts, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts. His berry syrups and cans are also in demand.

village of Mosar, attracting thousands of tourists and hosting diverse regional and republican events. The reconstructed House of Culture contributes to city life, hosting wonderful concerts and shows. It now boasts the latest lighting equipment (several dozen colour programmes) plus sound-amplifying systems. Local soundman Sergey Polyakov is a true ‘lord of musical worlds’ at his sound desk.

Tourists love coming to the Glubokoe District, enjoying its virgin beauty and fishing at local lakes and rivers. Five lakes are situated within the town: called the ‘second Venice’ In 2012, the company paid Br350m of tax into the district budget and, by late 2013, profits exceeded 30 percent: an impressive result. “My father used to say: ‘Continue sowing, even if you plan to die’. Accordingly, we do, so that everything happens for the best,” muses the businessman.

I promenaded Glubokoe’s Avenue of Famous Countrymen, which features busts of Drozdovich, Lastovsky, Buinitsky and many other outstanding personalities born in the district. A special atmosphere reigns — especially when walking alone. You can feel the breath of history and our interconnectedness.

Promoting cultural brands

Instead of postscript

It’s truly convenient to live in a town rich in cultural events. In this respect, Glubokoe is exemplary. Apart from the above mentioned Day of Belarusian Written Language and the Cherry Festival, the town hosts the globally famous International Festival of Christian Films: Magnifiсat. In addition, an arboretum is located in the

looks smart and cosy, inspiring me to stay longer. The town unites the past and the present in an enchantingly attractive manner. I drop into a small café, to try a cup of green tea and a strudel. Students nearby are ordering pizza — as popular here as in Minsk. I sit watching passers-by until stirring myself to my next excursion: the SU-17M3 bombardier aircraft, which sits near the main road outside the town. For over 30 years, it was serviced by Soviet and Russian air forces: it’s more than a military symbol: it’s an indication of residents’ love for the sky. The plane was designed by Pavel Sukhoy (also born in Glubokoe); the engineering pioneer dedicated himself to flight safety and was called ‘the quintessence of Soviet aviation’ by famous Soviet plane designer Oleg Antonov (who designed the AN planes). Echoing Mr. Antonov, I’d say that Glubokoe is the quintessence of beauty in Belarus’ northern lands. It is a shining example among our many charming small towns. By Yuri Chernyakevich Minsk-Glubokoe-Minsk

On snow y w inter d ays, Glubokoe is elegant and festive — resembling a bride. Walking through Tsentralnaya Square, you see neighbouring streets with 19th-early 20th century buildings. An Orthodox church is on one side and a Roman Catholic church is on the other. Small cafes are common and everything

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Life

with village colour Family chronicles

Yevgeny Malikov is an expert on historical and cultural heritage. A historian, candidate of art history, the teacher of the Belarusian State University of Transport, he is well-known in Gomel. Yevgeny is very proud of the fact that his family originates from rural remote places. The basic part of the life and work of the young scientist is connected with the big city; however ‘rural motive’ remains a priority for him, as he explains. 38

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hen I was a chi ld I happened to be in the homeland of my mother in the Vetka District near Gomel, I was surprised at the unusual names of my great-grandmothers — Lyudviga and Ulita. Later I learnt that great-grandmother Lyudviga reckoned herself as being a ‘Pole’ and frankly speaking, this fact puzzled me. After all, it did not coincide with the exclusively local Belarusian origin of all my maternal ancestors. According to family legends, nobody from them moved more than a distance of 40 kilometres from their places of residence. At that time I, being a student-historian, knew that there were no ethnic Poles in the east of the Gomel Region, just 30 kilometres from Russia. In principle they could not be here. The crucial point came, when workers of the Vetka Museum of National Creativity, having learnt, whence my mother comes, asked me again: ‘From Garisty village? After all, it is gentry!’ Clearly, I did not hide my surprise: ‘What gentry? They were peasants! They everything did themselves — sowed, reaped, dug potatoes…’, I said trying to counter their claim. However, the workers of the museum answered ‘Ask your grandmother who is gentry, she will explain it to you’.

My g r an d m ot h e r, Na d e z h d a Sivakova, helped me as much as she could ‘Well, there are simple people, and there are gentry people. Gentry did not marry simple people, gentry married only gentry. Gentry lived in the village Garisty, while simple people lived in Khlusy. Since childhood, my parents told me ‘We… are gentry people’. Only now I gradually realise why my great-grandmother Tereza Drobyshevskaya, who had five sisters — Alena, Yuzefa, Rusya, Frantsiska and Anna and two brothers — Martin and Grigory, became wife of Anton Abukhovich in 1880, with whom was born my greatgrandmother Lyudviga (Catholics). And why another great-grandmother Ulita became wife of Mitrofan Yazersky (Orthodox Christians). This history of the origin of my family which had settled down on the rural crossroads in the dense forests of the Vetka District of the Gomel Region, led me to the history of my profession, an interest I’ve had all of my life.

Wooden style

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am sure, that the time has come now when it is necessary to preserve the village in the city. It is especially important for Gomel. I will explain why. Many years ago, in my small Motherland I became interested in wooden architecture. In my childhood,


COMING FROM CHILDHOOD rural houses, thanks to their carved decor, looked very elegant and alive, but now, at the background of modern urban architecture. When, more than ten years ago, I went deeper into this theme, I found that such unique constructions still remained, even in Gomel. So I believe that they are worthy to represent ancient architecture. They are characteristic only of our city. It is part of Gomel’s DNA, a feature inherent in Gomel, and this feature, with such detail, cannot be found in other regions of Belarus, Russia or Ukraine. The main point is that the tradition of unique carved decor appears in the southeast of the Gomel Region. The most expressive samples of folk architecture and wooden decor today can be seen on Gomel houses from the late 19th-first half of 20th century. This is unique to Gomel. 70 such constructions still remain in the city today. But these carvings are not simply beautiful. The symbolism of wooden house decor reflected the imagination of the ancient farmer, with the house being a three-storied representation of the World in a water-solar code. He tried to organise his living space, fight the chaos and anarchy of nature and thus guarantee the protection of his home against natural evil. Therefore it is desirable to leave this visual language of our ancestors, the ancient art of architecture, for new generations and for centuries to come. For this purpose we work on a reconstruction project of the ‘old city’ in Gomel, a project filled with wooden architecture. It is possible to carry out such a project within five modern streets. In the centre of the city, several dozen monuments of architecture, which are officially under protection of the state, remain. The house, transferred from other parts of the city, would become a good addition to the existing quarters. I think, that the rich historical originality of Gomel would allow for an increase of tourists. After all, people basically come to look at the city as a whole, instead of its separate monuments. The main thing is that the interest in the

‘magnificent Gomel wooden architecture’ by townspeople and visitors to the city grows every year, with pedestrian excursions along Spasovaya Sloboda and other districts of Gomel where historical wooden building remained, are popular today. And nowadays nobody says that narrow specialists, historians and museum workers, clutch at the old, trying to defend the appearance of the village in a city. Everybody understands it today: it is a basis of bases, our past for future.

Ideas coming from childhood

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ver the years of work I have travelled through hundreds of villages. And every time, appearing in this almost unreal time-like dimension where all is subordinated to the rest, deliberateness and regularity, I plunge into a parallel world. It resembles my childhood. At times, just several days are enough to become impregnated with the energy of this land. Time and again I noticed that new ideas arise immediately. The ‘sandy’ open air project was born in the same way. Once I was on business in a rural settlement, Chenki near Gomel. I was looking at the bank of the Sozh River and was impressed, because here it was possible to create sandy masterpieces! After all, all of us in our childhood liked to make cakes and castles from sand. Everything started since then. During the last several years, I, together with the students of the Belarusian State University of Transport and volunteers, have made creative trips to Chenki’s bank. Ideas of sculptures come on their own. Several tonnes of sand, water (obviously), free days off and dozens of hands and we had a knight’s castles, a dragon, a sandy beacon and a fern flower. Two years ago we erected the oldest monument on the territory of the eastern Gomel Region, the church in Staraya Belitsa of the 18th century. Last year we also ‘put into operation’ the first station of the Gomel metro ‘Chenki-Tsentralnye’. By Violetta Dralyuk

“Old town” full of wooden architecture

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Minsk’s cultural life is rich and varied, with some real surprises for those who know where to look.

Cultural outing — to fascinating locations Minsk and its suburbs offer many surprises for those willing to be adventurous

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odern Minsk is a huge megapolis, surpassed by Berlin and Kiev by just a million residents.

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Minsk boasts a larger population than several other countries’ capitals, although naturally lags behind Moscow. The Belarusian capital has grown through the expansion of its industrial districts and major enterprises, with many constructed in the second half of the 20th century.

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Sacred family of organs: at Roman Catholic churches and at the Philharmonic Society Minsk residents once travelled to Riga Cathedral to listen to organ music played by true masters; Minsk’s churches were closed and their organs destroyed. Now, everything is different, with today’s faithful able to enjoy beautiful organ music in the Belarusian capital. Every Roman Catholic church has been restored, inside and outside, with their organs revived. Well-known firm Johannus installed the organ at St. Simon and Helena’s Church: almost the same instrument as can be found in St. Mary’s Church, in London. Minsk’s Cathedral of the Virgin Mary boasts a seven-octave mechanical organ, comprising more than a thousand pipes. It was made by Pflüger Orgelbau and was donated to Belarus’ foremost Catholic church by the Episcopate of Austria. It plays at mass daily. St. Roch’s gained an electric organ in 1984, installed by Czech masters. Meanwhile, the city’s only such ‘secular’ instrument is located at the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society. As tall as a three-storey building, it was created by Czech Rieger-Kloss.

Flying to cinema on ‘Rocket’ Minsk’s only cinema to show arthouse films is located in the old ‘Soviet’ part of the city, near Proletarskaya metro station, at 3, Rabochy Lane. Raketa (Rocket) cinema honours the time when all Soviet citizens idolised


Alexander Ruzhechka

ADDRESSES OF HOSPITALITY

One can always have a nice rest in Minsk cafes

In the southwest — 19th century The historical centre of Minsk is located near Nemiga metro station, with the city having gradually swallowed its village suburbs through the 20th centur y. Natura l ly, many of these

settlements existed for centuries, filled with ancient sites. In the southwest, on Lyubimov Avenue, there’s a 4m tall burial mound believed to date from the 9th-12th century. It’s not known who’s buried there, but it’s clear that it’s the resting place of someone notable. Excavations are yet to be carried out. In winter, the mound becomes a sledging hill, while summer attracts picnickers. From the top, you can see all southwest of the capital.

Sausages for burghers in former home of noble family Svobody Square recently witnessed the opening of a classically styled building, of 19th century design, although archivist Vladimir Denisov has found documents showing 18th century origins. Privately held at first, it then housed a spiritual school, before becoming home to the National Commissariat of Education of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic. Later still, a military commissariat took residence. After restoration, the building has been adapted to house a branch of the Museum of Minsk, featuring a gallery showing works by artist Mikhail Savitsky, alongside restored interiors with frescos, ancient furniture and other objects: dishes for serving burgher sausages, beer glasses, tureens, Chinese vases and, even, a birdie-saltcellar.

Kurasovshchina’s White Dacha Another modern suburb with an historical past is Kurasovshchina, with its 19th century manor, nicknamed the ‘White Dacha’, due to its colour. A pond nearby is home to elegant swans, making it an idy llic summer location. In winter, the house merges with the snow, becoming a fantastic castle.

How to find Pivnaya (beer) Street

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cosmonauts and retains a reverent attitude towards the traditions of world cinema. Its recently installed equipment allows screening of digital media and celluloid film; many films are shown in their original language, with subtitles. R a k e t a’s e n t r a n c e i n t o t h e International Confederation of Art Cinemas is now being considered. Of course, Minsk’s International Film Festival, Listapad, has embraced independent film making in recent years. Minsk could certainly become as popular as Berlin for fans of alternative film.

While the centre of Minsk has long boasted a wide variety of wonderful eateries, some suburbs are only now gaining a choice of places to go. One such venue is Bavarian beer restaurant BierStrasse, on Orlovskaya Street. Its founder loves to visit Bavarian flea markets, picking up souvenirs, which now have a place in his eclectic establishment: small ceramic houses, beer mugs, page

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Municipal buildings remain

The oldest engineering construction in Minsk is located on Aerodromnaya Street: the former water tower, built in 1910 of solid red brick. It no longer functions and is enclosed by a fence, but can be easily seen from the pavement. On the other side of the street, are the early 20th century buildings of the former railway hospital; these now belong to the 11th city clinical hospital and have been recently restored, with a modernist facade.

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dishes and, even, waiters’ outfits. Uruchie suburb’s latest coffee house, Cool Coffee, tempts us to try Belgian chocolate-laced cappucino, served with truffles made from Belgian or French chocolate. Meanwhile, Partizansky Av e n u e i s h o m e t o CoffeeLab; a favourite with students, it serves Napoleon’s coffee of choice. Wake Up Coffee, on Dzerzhinsky Avenue, serves decaffeinated coffee and a range of beverages at affordable prices, aiming to encourage Minsk residents to pay regular visits. Yezhednevnik Bistro, on Kalvariyskaya Street, has a similar ethos, with plenty of seating and a vegetarian menu, including pancakes, salads and various tasty garnishes.

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Feeding the soul Having filled our stomachs, it’s time to feed our souls and stir our minds. The Museum of Gas-filling Stations has opened on the А-100, near Borovaya village, bordering Minsk. Besides a collection of old refuelling pumps, there are cars and a range of machinery from the past. The rarest exhibit is a Soviet gasoline tank truck, dating from 1936 and still drivable. The oldest gasoline pump is f rom 1947 but there is a German fuel can from 1936 and German fuel drum from 1943. The fuel can is one of the first to use a particularly convenient handle, inspiring our modern day designs.

Snowy avenues await visitors

Rare gasoline tank truck, dating from 1936

Going beyond Minsk’s ring-road, to the village of Annopol (named after noblewoman Anna Khaletskaya) we can explore the former park’s avenues. Korolishchevichi, on the bank of the River Svisloch, evokes the film Indiana Jones with its ruined manor and arched cellars, once home to the Pruszyński family. It’s easy to imagine finding treasure, but be careful on those ruins! Priluki’s silvery poplars remain from the former park, as do its palace, brewery and carriage house. The nearby spring brings forth the purest of water. The Czapski family once owned the estate, which became home to Hitler’s deputy in Belarus, Wilhelm Kube, during Nazi occupation. The only way to discover the city’s unique corners and suburbs is to put on your boots and begin the adventure. By Viktor Korbut


PANORAMA

 Ruzhany meteorite joins Sapegi Castle exhibits Unique artifact added to Sapegi Castle museum, in the Pruzhany District’s Ruzhany

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he stone mete or ite is of t he most common type: a chondrite. Weighing around 25kg, it’s as large as two footballs and is now on show in the history hall at Ruzhany. “This meteorite differs from other stones, being black, with a solid mass and containing much ferrum, as well as other alloys. Moreover, it shows evidence of having burnt through the atmosphere,” notes Museum Director Ruslan Kniga. The artefact was discov-

 Traditional tea ceremony Visitors to Nesvizh can now learn about the history of the samovar and tea traditions in various countries, thanks to the castle’s museum exhibition, entitled History of Samovars and Traditions of Tea-Parties.

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amovars and bouillottes are on display: 51 unique items from a private collection, with

e r e d a c c i d e n t l y, during the relaying of a wall at St. Peter and Paul’s Church. It w a s l y i n g l i k e any rock, alongside other stones, in the foundations. A church superior a s k e d R u z h a n y ’s museum staff to take a look at the meteorite and the y are now awaiting an official letter from the National Academy of Sciences. Mr. Kniga comments, “In 1894, Grodno Province residents, especially those from Slonim, Svisloch, Volkovysk and Ruzhany, saw an object streak through the sky. The phenomenon is mentioned in all chronicles of the time. It is described by astronomic sources as the Ruzhany meteorite but we hadn’t discovered its location until now.” Ruzhany Castle was built by the Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Lev Sapega, and is one of the largest Belarusian palaces from the 17th-18th century. Restoration began in 2008, with five display halls now open to tourists, located in the Eastern and Western wings. Since early 2013, around 20,000 people have visited the complex. most from the 19th century (t he ‘golden age’ of s a m o v a r s ) . M a ny factories have designed their own samovars over the years, resulting in a wide range. By the late 19th and early 20th century, samovars had been given common names denoting from what they were made — such as tin or glass.

 Traditions, topical for modern times Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture, of National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, hosts exhibition of Belarusian State Academy of Arts student works, from Costume and Textiles Department - Malyavanka: Traditions and Modern Times

M

alyavanka is a traditional kind of Belarusian folk art, using glue paints on uncoated canvas or oilcloth. The best collections are held at Zaslavl’s Historical-Archaeological Cultural Preserve and at the Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture. Of course, it’s no mere chance that the Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture is hosting the exhibition. Annually in summer, for a whole month, Belarusian State Academy of Arts students learn the history and technology of colouring and explore its creative possibilities. Each is required to copy from an original and to create their own original, for exhibition. There’s no doubt that this distinctive decorative genre offers huge possibilities to contemporary artists.

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TRADITIONS

Welcome to our home Simple yet practical timber five-walled home typical accommodation for Belarusians for centuries

F

or many of us, a ‘faceless’ urban flat is home. However, when our thoughts turn to a traditional countr y cottage, located in a picturesque village, our hearts glow. Perhaps we were born in such a home, or we have fond memories of visiting relatives or friends. Belarus boasts few such houses and not many are in good repair but their essential elements remain. These homes are part of our heritage, handed down through the generations. Moreover, such cottages come with the old-fashioned utensils used by our grandmothers.

In surrounding of five walls In choosing a location for a home, our ancestors considered many factors. The house and its surroundings are known as ‘dzyadzinets’ — the legacy of our ‘dzyady’ (forefathers) — while our ‘dzyatsinets’ is the place where we spend our childhood. Rural lifestyle influenced houses’ planning, interior and

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decorations, with four exterior walls and one dividing interior wall being the most common configuration for ‘middle-class villagers’. Other interior walls could be present, made from round logs or square timber. The lowest levels were called ‘padvalina’: originally laid directly on the soil but later on stones or on foundations and, being the thickest of all logs, also served as a sill. Double-sloped roofs were common and usually thatched, although thin boards, called ‘dranki’, were later used. Entrance doors were wide, with a latch (‘klyamka’) or simple lock; the small key was usually placed above the door-frame or in a small hole between the logs in the side wall. In bad weather, the hole could be blocked from the inside but, in good weather, was used for ventilation. House doors were thick, also having a latch, while interior partitions were made from thin board, with doorways. As a rule, old houses had a mud room, called a ‘seni’, and a ‘kamora’ (storeroom), with a straight ladder leading to the ‘garyshcha’ (attic).


TRADITIONS

Stove at the heart of the home A late 19th-early 20th village home was divided into certain zones, with furniture and utensils placed in particular locations, in line with their functionality. Everything was well thought out. The ‘red corner’ held the stove and was the heart of the home: this ‘chyrvony kut’ was the most honoured place, including icons hung above a dining table where the family gathered for all meals. Meanwhile, family portraits were placed on the opposite wall. A folk proverb exists regarding these three attributes of the red corner: ‘There’s a pine, with linen on this pine and grain on the linen’. The diagonal orientation of the interior space preconditioned an asymmetric placement of windows. The stove occupied about a quarter of the interior space, with other items placed accordingly around its warmth. Of course, it also served to cook food and was a place of relaxation. It was a place for making vows and concluding agreements. The ‘uslon’ bench was situated close by, being used to knead and rest bread dough: bread being the major part of their diet. Women spent much time working near the stove, inspiring the place to be called the ‘babin kut’- the women’s corner.

Handicrafts on high Naturally, utensils tended to be handmade, with the secrets of making them passed from one generation to another. One particular folk riddle is pertinent, recalling the process of a ‘sagan’ pot being made: ‘I was in the smoke house, in the fire place, on the table, in the fire and at the market before feeding anyone’. We can imagine the pot’s life from the clay mine to the potter’s wheel, to the kiln and so on.

Most household utensils and dishware were made from clay, although many techniques existed in making the various types of tableware and pots: ‘gladyshy’, ‘zbanki’, ‘glyaki’ and ‘sparyshy’ for storing and transporting food; ‘miski’ (bowls) and ‘paumiski’ (shallow-bowls); ‘kubki’ (cups) and ‘buketniki’(flower vases). Rich diversity remains at the heart of these traditional crafts, which are being kept alive and revived by today’s folk masters. Belarusian carpentry tended to be more functional than decorative, although fretwork and carving might be seen on house facades, window surrounds and doorsteps. Woven straw items have been found dating from Neolithic times, alongside the remains of lime bast nets, and weaving was certainly among the most widespread of folk crafts, with embroidery often decorating woven textiles.

Live traditions Village homes would have been filled with articles linking them to a particular period. Besides this material legacy, a system of labour skills, folk knowledge, traditions and customs existed, relating to our economic, social and family life. Intermixed, these elements created our spiritual culture, passed on from one generation to the next — through storytelling and teaching. We hope this article inspires our readers to gain greater understanding of their spiritual and material heritage. Perhaps, you may like to introduce some of the ageold elements of home arrangement in your own house. Your dwelling may be modern, but you can make it a place of warmth and tenderness: functional yet symbolic. Invite guests and welcome them into your home with all happiness and sincerity. By Rozalia Tufkreo

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RITES

Traditions lead to UNESCO

'Kaliadnyja tsary' custom in the village of Semezhevo

Each country celebrates the New Year and Christmas in its own way. However, if we look closely, there are more similarities between European nations than differences.

B

el ar us i an t r a d itions are diverse, having developed at the junction of the West and the E ast, combining paganism, Catholicism and the Orthodox faith. Ancient customs remain too in Germany, with local enthusiasts proposing to register them on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Belarus has already managed to register one custom on this prestigious list: ‘Kaliadnyja tsary’, which exists in the village of Semezhevo in the Kopylsky

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District. Meanwhile, Ded Moroz’s residence is located in Europe’s oldest nature reserve — the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which is also already registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The German initiative to preserve Christmas customs opens huge prospects for tourism across several European states. Many travellers particularly like to visit countries with UNESCO sites and, during their trips, become acquainted with other customs. Let’s compare how Germans may be interested in Belarusian customs and how Belarusian traditions may tempt Germans.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Christmas all year round

Santa Klaus is known worldwide thanks to advertising, being a reincarnation of St. Nicholas. He is associated primarily with American popular culture but, of course, most Americans have European roots, while Santa Klaus originates from German lands. The oldest prototype of Santa Klaus is pan-Christian St. Nicholas Mirlikiysky, known for giving gifts to the poor. In days gone-by, December 6th was a day for honouring St. Nicholas (in line with the church calendar) and Europeans


RITES gave gifts to children on behalf of this saint. During the Reformation, when such honouring of the saints was disapproved of, Germans and those in neighbouring states adopted Christkind as their character giving gifts. The day was shifted from December 6th to the 24th: the time of Christmas fairs. During the Counter-Reformation, presents were again given to children on behalf of St. Nicholas, but this happened on December 25th. St. Nicholas continues to be honoured in Germany today and one of his incarnations is Weinachtsmann. At the initiative of the Deutsches Weinachtsmuseum (German Christmas Museum), located in the ancient city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, images of St. Nicholas, Weinachtsmann and Christkind (part of folk culture) have been submitted for inclusion on the UNESCO List. Museum Director Felicitas Hoptner hopes that, with attention from UNESCO, ‘traditional and historical treasures will be protected’. He asserts, “It’s very important, since many German children are no longer aware of who St. Nicholas is, or the other traditional Christmas characters in our country. We need to ensure the continuation of ancient traditions.” Undoubtedly, this tradition will continue, supported in Germany by Käthe Wohlfahrt stores, which offer German-style Christmas gifts all year round.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha: Ded Moroz will fulfil any wish Belarus has a place where the Christmas atmosphere reigns all year round: the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which is home to the residence of Belarusian Ded Moroz. The enchanting site opened in the wilds of the forest in 2003, welcoming children and their parents from around the world. Ded Moroz is asked to fulfil Deutsches Weinachtsmuseum (German Christmas Museum), located in the ancient city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

our dearest wishes, while we sample Belarusian cuisine and enjoy a stroll along eco-routes. Ded Moroz welcomes guests in his throne room, alongside his granddaughter, Sniahurka. Meanwhile, children’s letters, drawings, photos and hand-made items given to Ded Moroz are kept in special storage — in his Skarbnica. Europe’s tallest fir tree (40m high) also grows in the residence and is 120 years old. Sculptural and wooden compositions are installed nearby, depicting characters from fairytales: including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Twelve Months. Each month has a depiction of a corresponding horoscope sign and it’s said that touching your own sign will allow your wish to come true.

Semezhevo: a ‘tsary’ village Before the 1940s, on the night of the old New Year (celebrated from January 13th to 14th), the village of Semezhevo in the Kopylsky District celebrated the ‘Tsary’ custom. Sadly, by the late 20th century, the ritual had all but disappeared, remembered only by a few local residents and ethnographers. Enthusiasts have now

united their efforts to restore the tradition. In 2009, the custom was registered on UNESCO’s World Intangible Cultural Heritage List and, for Christmas 2011, the ‘Tsary’ group from Semezhevo was given the Special Prize of the President of Belarus. Curiously, Imperial Russian soldier uniforms inspired the ‘Tsary’ costumes, while the plot was taken from the Biblical story about Tsar Maximilian. On this night, villagers dress as various characters and parade through the village with torches, dropping into houses and singing songs, receiving something tasty.

Naviny: let’s meet near the oak Nina Klimovich is famous in the Berezensky District for preserving the ancient custom of Tsiahnuts kaliadu na duba in her native village of Naviny. Each year, from January 6th-21st, a magical Christmas mystery is repeated in the village, with a wheel or sheaf — a kaliada — placed in an old linden or willow tree at either end, to summon luck and a good harvest. The ‘mission’ is entrusted to a strong young boy while the women dance around the tree and sing. Tsiahnuts kaliadu na duba is registered on the State List of Historical and Cultural Heritage: the only such countrywide and worldwide. In pagan times, oaks were widely honoured as sacred, symbolising power and health. Probably, many Belarusian customs are to be found in other regions of Europe, with traditions inter-crossed from ancient times, especially among neighbouring nations. By Viktor Korbut

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MASTERS

O

n asking the first person I met on the outskirts of Braslav, near the lake, it wasn’t difficult to find out where the boats are made. They directed straight towards the farmstead, which is surrounded by timber boards and mountains of shavings. A special trestle holds a construction rather like the skeleton of a fish and over this, I found Nikolay Yurkevich, bent in concentration. Before my eyes, he worked magic with axe and plane, turning the ‘skeleton’ into a boat. Mr. Yurkevich has earned his reputation as a master following 35 years of boat building: some as ‘work horses’ for fishermen and others as elegant pleasure boats for wealthy customers. How many has he made over the decades? He long ago lost count but more than a third of those in the dry dock at Lake Drivyaty were made at his hand. They number hundreds.

From ‘ship’s boy’ to ‘captain’ As I ask questions, Nikolay Pavlovich continues working, answering with some deliberation. Occasionally, he strokes his grey beard, pushes a lock of hair from his forehead, or sets his cap straight. “When did my hobby begin? While I was at sea, I think. I studied, worked and then entered the army, before going to sea. After five years on the waves, visiting Africa, Canada, America and Cuba, I knew about ships! I was very interested in them, studying in my free time. I remember wondering how this piece of iron managed to keep afloat and began to notice the edges, bracing, covering and ballast. Each had its place, supporting the others.” After his ‘long-swim’, the Master returned to Braslav, where he had grown up, having moved there with his parents as a child, in 1950. He did not forget the water though, being able to see Lake Drivyaty from his window (one of the

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biggest of the local lakes). Of course, where there is water, there are boats, so he soon made enquiries with the boatbuilding carpenters, sharing his own knowledge with them. “At that time, those ‘seniors’ called me a greenhorn,” he smiles, continuing with his plane along the bottom of the boat, producing long, golden shavings. Nikolay bends down to survey his work and runs his hand over the surface. “They laughed at me a little, saying: ‘Oh, greenhorn, what can you understand?’ They only looked at me differently when I began to speak with some understanding and make useful remarks.”

bulky and in need of regular maintenance. They are reliable and silent, which is appreciated by hunters and fishermen, who are growing in number annually. Nikolay asserts that the key to his success is correct measurement, tried and tested over the decades. He smiles that an ordinary roulette, ruler and sliding calliper are all that are needed to master his secret. “Just take measurements and make a copy. Whether your boat will float or capsize is another matter!” he laughs, then indicates his planks, saying, “They look like good boards, being straight and without knots, but they are useless for my work. You may not know why but I do...”

Brandname of boat master Nikolay Yurkevich keeps traditions of wooden boat building for three decades His current work is a commission from the Braslav Lakes National Park, to be used for commercial fishing. He tells me that it’ll be strong enough to dance upon without fear of capsizing, regardless of the number of nets or the strength of the wind or waves. He is long past making errors of judgement.

Dugout which cannot be forged Today, the Master has his own style and, like all experts, he jealously keeps his secrets, willing to pass them on only to his pupils, in order that they might continue his legacy. Sadly, he is yet to acquire such pupils, which worries him. Few boast his skills and knowledge; it’s a dying art. Some might question whether we need such expertise, since modern technologies use aluminium and fibre-glass. However, traditional wooden boats remain revered by true sailors, despite being heavy and

Special wood for special vessels

It takes four to five days for Nikolay to produce a large fishing boat, although it takes longer to locate good timber. “I’ve been gathering tools for years, choosing those which suit me. Your hands remember everything and your eyes do too, but it can happen that wood lets you down, splitting when bent, either across or along its length.” The old man has long known which kind of timber is perfect. Most choose durable fir, being dense and resinous, but Nikolay prefers pine, saying, “Fir is resilient and flexible but fragile, being prone to cracking when you insert a nail. It’s happened to me. You can make a boat from fir but pine is less capricious — although harder to match. I respect pine ‘abzu’ [outer boards received during sawing of timber assortment] greatly; you can’t ask for better.”


MASTERS

Quality mark The navigation season has ended, so the Master will now be able to rest a little but, even in winter, he’s never bored. He has some orders for next year, and meets regularly with those wishing to have a boat built in time for spring. “Every order is individual, since everyone wants their vessel to be unique, unusual and easily recognisable,” admits Nikolay. He sits to rest a moment, but his eyes continue to examine the skeleton of the vessel on his trestle. He seems to be thinking about his next move, assessing the quality of

his own at the moment. An 11-yearold vessel sits near his home but its boards are long-cracked with age, so it no longer floats. It needs replacing but Nikolay has no time. “This season, my companions and I tried three times to build our own boat,” he recollects. “However, so many people came to place orders that we even had to resort to using some inferior grade timber, which will last only a couple of years; this didn’t stop people from requesting such boats though!” Nikolay continues working, knowing the value of his vocation.

There’s little he doesn’t understand about boats. His own are instantly recognisable, having a nail driven into the bottom in a certain place, between the boards. It is impossible to remove, so its head is his calling card. By Sergey Muravsky

Like all experts, he jealously keeps his secrets, willing to pass them only to his pupils, in order that they might continue his legacy the planks. “About five years ago, people from Miory District asked me to make a boat able to pull cargo, so I made them something akin to a barge: very wide and 7.5m long. It was a real challenge! A military commissariat once asked me to make a huge sailing vessel, following designs he’d drawn. I managed to do so — and perhaps it’s still afloat. You’ll find my boats near Minsk and even near Moscow.” When the real winter frosts arrive, Nikolay spends time preparing timber. The best wood is felled in winter, when the sap is still and the tree frost-bound. In his free time, he goes ice-fishing: his favourite hobby. He tells us, “I fish on the ice with my boys! First, we set the live-bait, then we place ‘flags’ and sit on the bank, trying to catch a pike.” It’s obvious that fishing is his passion, so it’s surprising that he has no boat of

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dialogues

Grigory Sitnitsa:

C

reative unions have existed for a long time. Anyway, in the second half of the 20th century — during the Soviet Union existence — these were quite influential organisations. However, national creative unions continued their existence even later — on the post-Soviet territory. Belarus has not become an exception. The Union of Artists has been the most mass in the country for a long time. Its congress was held just at the very end of last year. At the congress Grigory Sitnitsa was elected as a new Chairman of Belarusian Union of Artists public organisation. He has held a post of the first Deputy Chairman for last six years. We had an interview with Grigory Sitnitsa. The 21st Congress of the Union of Artists appeared to be rather resonant. How do you think, why it was so? It was resonant because part of the union members — no more than 20 percent, refused to subordinate to statute norms of the union for some reasons. The statute reads the following: the representation for the congress is decided by the council. Thus, the council has made a decision. It voted and chose the next variant of representation: one — from four. By the way, we raised this quota. Earlier it was one — from five. However, it is not easy to gather all. It

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means to put up big sums of money for rent of the hall, hotel, as well as journey. If not to gather the congress — it means to waste this money. That was the problem. That’s why, as it is said, we adhered to the letter of the law. And when our opponents disagreed, they applied to the auditing committee. Meanwhile, the auditing committee confirmed absolute legality of actions. We even took special explanation in the Ministry of Justice, just to be on the safe side. In total, it is necessary to observe all accepted rules. If you entered the organisation and signed documents confirming that you were familiarised with the statute and undertook to fulfil obligations — so do it. If you do not agree with the rules, you can leave the organisation or change the rules. Thus, it was offered to submit offers into the statute, because congress has the right to change these rules. Then we will live by new rules if the majority supports them. All people are hot-tempered and impulsive. Several meetings were wrecked as well as the last one. It was like ‘pseudoMaidan’. And I say at once — we do not need any ‘Maidan’. We will cope with problems without it. It is necessary to sit down and come to an agreement. Some people at the congress even tried to carry out provocation. They called their supporters to attend the congress. Thus, according to the statute, people have the right to participate in it, even without being elected. However, they created a ‘group of chanting’. Any remark was met with sudden exclamation.

Vitaliy Gil

‘Art should use the language of art’

There was an offer: to recognise all those who had come at the congress as delegates. But the idea was ludicrous. After all, 80 percent of the Union supported the quota — one from four. Then I explained that if we follow this appeal, the Ministry of Justice won’t simply recognise the congress, because it means unequal representation. In the end, common sense prevailed. Probably, some behaved too bodacious at the congress while literate people should not behave like this. However, there were also sensible offers, weren’t they?


dialogues

Certainly, there were a lot of good constructive speeches and wishes. When I put myself up for the post of the chairman, I told about my plans, taking into account reasonable offers. First of all, the issue is how to preserve the organisation. Nowadays we have unfavourable conditions: both economic, and others. Moreover, moral environment is not always good. However, the improvement of moral environment is very important for me. So, when I was elected I said at once: I thank all who supported me, but I also understand those who did not. I assured that I would try to be a chairman

for everyone, regardless of whether they support me or not. It is necessary to find mutual understanding with everyone. After all, there are problems which are common for all. First of all, it is the expansion of co-operation with state institutes. It is obligatory, since we all represent a public organisation. Without co-operation with state bodies it will be very difficult for us to survive. Furthermore, it is not reasonable. We work for the benefit of our nation and national culture; eventually, we represent the state. Wherever we exhibit, especially abroad, and whatever private projects we have, an artist is always a representative of their state, country and nation. All this is very important, and we should realise it. However, we would like to have a corresponding support, though we have certain preferences from the state. Certainly, everyone would like to have more of them, and I am not an exception either. I will discuss and try to achieve what I need. First of all, our biggest problem is payment for workplaces in creative workshops, especially during winter. After all, it is very difficult to understand (for example my workshop is on the 9th floor) why water from the 8th floor, rising in my workshop, suddenly increases in price — almost tenfold. It cannot be so; after all, I am not a tractor plant. We do not ask for easing for our particular organisation and for our unitary enterprises. We ask for individuals. I, certainly count on co-operation with state institutes in this and other issues. When the Palace of Independence was being built, our union and our unitary enterprises were entrusted with it. More than 15 artists worked there. I think that we fulfilled everything brilliantly; we did everything that was required in time. And, as it is said, we want that all these be estimated properly. We are ready to cooperate at any level, we are ‘state people’, if it comes to that. None of us is a private entrepreneur. Even the most private artist is anyway a representative of the state.

What preferences does the Union have today from the state? First of all, we have a reduced coefficient for rent. Part of the workshops belongs to the Union of Artists, and we do not pay for rent, only for public utility services, though they are very expensive. As far as the workshops which we rent from the city are concerned — nearly 150 —we have to pay for rent there. We have a reduced coefficient, and it is really big support because those who do not have it, pay much more. However, we need to pay the value-added tax and it goes specifically on exhibition activity and on everything that is connected with exhibitions. Thus, we cannot say that we are forgotten by the state. State order is also financial support for us: both for our unitary enterprises and for particular individuals. You stood for elections, probably, guided by experience, since during the last six years you had worked as the First Deputy Chairman. Certainly. I will tell you exactly: if I had not worked here, moreover, if I had been by myself, I would be afraid to do that. I would never saddle myself with a lot of such responsibility. It is a hard job, and, unfortunately, it is rather thankless. After being elected as Chairman you said that the main task of the Union would be aspiration to preserve the organisation. Of course. Nevertheless, what do you mean by saying this? At first, it is necessary to once again remind members of the organisation that they have not only rights, but also responsibilities. Each member of the organisations of the country, of any collective, should fulfil this: at least to pay fees in time, at least to pay for a workshop in time. After all, there are huge debts which we, scraping the bottom of the barrel, return into the Union. Moreover, the Union pays for everyone in one day, and after that an artist returns the expenses of the Union. Here an artist is like a subtenant. However, we pay for everything at once. The simplest way is to improve discipline. It does not mean to page

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51

make everyone stand at page attention; however, in order to survive in difficult conditions, it is necessary to be disciplined. It is necessary to observe those rules which we all have recognised and accepted. I will demand this from everyone. I will try to be more demanding to chairmen of the sections, to the auditing committees and to the Presidium in order that they worked more actively and that there were fewer such problems. In this case, certainly, the organisation will be stronger. It is also necessary that people remember about moral responsibility for their actions. Maybe, we will create such commission and invite the most authoritative and most respected artists to become its members. These should be such people who could tell me if I do something wrong. Much has been said about household problems of the artists, particularly, about their difficulties with keeping workshops. For certain, these are important issues. However, is it possible that somewhat different appeal of the speech was lost behind them, e.g., the role of an artist in modern society? For whom does an artist write pictures and make sculptures? Whether these things

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At the exhibition of the Belarusian Union of Artists' members in Minsk's Palace of Arts

are in demand today? Whether they correspond to expectations of those people who are potentially ready to buy works of art? These are very reasonable questions. I doubt whether we will return that importance of an artist which we had in the Soviet period, when artists were in close attention of the state, and when financial help from the state was really considerable. Certainly, the role of an artist, in general, of a creative person, is underestimated today in the society. There are many reasons for that, but we should return this role or at least raise it significantly in co-operation with state institutions. We should return our authority through participation in public activities, through expansion of information-advertising production on television and radio. Taking this into account, we have an agreement on cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, as well as with Belteleradioсompany and with the Ministry of Information. We need to participate in charity activities, enabling people to see that we exist. We did it, but maybe insufficiently. Yes, it is a pity that our status has reduced as of today, because for the last twenty years people did not have time for art. People

thought where to earn money. Now, the situation has more or less stabilised. We will seek that the subject ‘World Art’ was returned to schools. Now school leavers even do not know such artists as Repin and Shishkin, let alone our painters. It is not good. Belarus-3 TV Channel has been launched recently, and I pin big hopes on it. It is necessary that there were intellectual talk-shows on problems of culture and art. We should reflect our events, our problems and our prospects. However, it is difficult to recall even one TV programme, where people discuss cultural events occurring in our country and in the world. It is not good; after all, we represent a European country. We should do this because we work for the public good. When people from my village and my relatives called me I was keen to speak to them. The whole village monitored the art congress, and it was interesting why they did it. They worried about me, and then congratulated me on the election. It is very pleasant, but village should monitor not only scandalous events, but also cultural events. We should not forget that people live there and they are sometimes even much better, than those who live in the capital. After all, they are not spoilt in


dialogues moral sense, they are healthier. But on the other hand, sometimes they are deprived of cultural events. And when they started calling me, I clearly felt: I have obligations to them. After all, I was born there and I appreciate this place. I always visit village with pleasure. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of villagers, for that they had more relation to events of high cultural taste. The Union intends to expand creative contacts. In what way are you going to do this? The Belarusian Union of Artists is included into the International Confederation of Unions of Artists, headquartered in Moscow. Each chair, as it is said, is a member of this organisation. Next year, Belarus will preside over the Confederation. There is an executive committee with which we closely cooperate and, personally knowing all chairs of the Unions of Artists of the CIS, I will use this potential. It is necessary to involve our ambassadorial services, because there is a problem with transportation of exhibition from one country into another. We’ve managed to establish close contacts with Lvov organisation of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine. However, there're some difficulties with Kiev in establishing contacts. Now, we also have an offer from Smolensk to exchange exhibitions. Two years ago, I was in St. Petersburg with the exhibition and it is necessary to expand it. Earlier we knew what occurs and where. All-Union exhibitions were always very interesting. Even today I can name two dozen Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian artists who were popular in the Soviet times. As far as modern artists are concerned, I will not name anyone. Probably, I will recall one or two names. You see, it is not good. As of today, we are on friendly terms with Moldovan artists. We invited them in our country. We’ve also organised an exhibition ‘Belarus and Neighbours’, inviting representatives of the neighbouring countries. It was a really interesting exhibition, and we even issued a catalogue at our own expense. Now Chisinau invites us to come. Being part of the Confederation, we’ve issued a splendid album ‘Modern Art of Belarus’.

All were delighted with it. This album became the best book of 2011. And now all Unions of Artists of the CIS try, as it is said, to make their albums to our samples. We’ve made an exclusive album, that’s why this became interesting to all. Now Chisinau invites us to bring our exhibition. However, there are problems — it is not right next door. We need to come to an agreement with our Embassy in Moldova regarding assistance. Once I came to Vilnius with my exhibition — the then Ambassador Vladimir Drazhin helped me very much. They came by car, loaded it, and there were no problems: neither at customs, nor at border. At that time, our President was on a visit in Vilnius, and within the limits of the cultural programme we’ve made our exhibition in the lobby of the Vilnius Philharmonic Society. It sounded beautifully, and this was for the common benefit. As it is said, it is time for us to gradually gather stones together. We already had time to cast away stones — now it’s time to stop doing this, particularly, when we are interesting to each other. The congress announced the possibility of implementation of quite an ambitious project — transformation of Minsk’s Palace of Arts into National Art Centre. Could you tell about this in details? As of today it is a dream, but it is not groundless. I had a conversation with one serious investor who also wants to have such an art centre. By the way, the Palace has an internal court which is tenantless... If such intentions remain — we will meet again. When we met for the first time and discussed the intentions for actions, there were interesting and ambitious offers. Another thing is that it is expensive. Certainly, if investors have interest in this project, it will be necessary to apply to city and state authorities to make the procedure legal and to receive a construction licence. It is necessary to make the project and to prepare legal base. Meanwhile, an attempt — is not a promise, yet the prospect is quite real. Certainly, if such project appeared in the city, we would get out all our funds... After all, we have gold artistic funds. Just

imagine what kind of centre it would be. Meanwhile, being a European country, Belarus is obliged to have such centre. Of course, I’m like that Kremlin dreamer, and my dreams and wishes still settle down in such initial offers. Anyway, it is necessary to make them more concrete. As far as I understand, investors are people who invest money, aiming to receive profit. However, the National Art Centre is primarily a state institution. Isn’t this some contradiction in the approaches towards the implementation of the idea? I meant the nationwide in its importance. Our gallery also belongs to the Union of Artists but is called ‘Republican’, since it performs the functions on a nationwide scale. If such centre appears in Minsk, it doesn’t matter for the cultural environment whether it will be a state institution or not. For example, there’s Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, which belongs to one of Ukrainian oligarchs. However, this is a nationwide centre, since it performs the nationwide function. Moreover, this is entrance to Europe. Undoubtedly, it’s necessary to bring to the state that this is a vital function. We’ll be hosting the Ice Hockey World Championship and foreigners will arrive not only to see hockey matches. The world event will over and what then? As they say it’s necessary to ‘enrich’ ourselves with sports and cultural facilities, etc. We’re ready for such dialogue and are ready to conduct it. Will the Union of Artists continue its activity in organising exhibitions, expositions or other forms of acquaintance with creativity of Belarusian painters? Of course, we’re not going to cut this activity. Moreover, I’d like to mention that over six years we’ve considerably expanded the exhibition activity of Belarusian painters: both in the terms of quantity and geography. We’ve brought today works from Polotsk, where we’ve been organising various shows for several times already jointly with the Polotsk Art Gallery. Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia participate in these events. This is a concrete example of cultural page

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dialogues page

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exchange. A triennial of the applied arts has just

finished there. Once we’ve made an experiment with the Berlin Tacheles Centre (exhibiting ultra-modern art) and twice organised these thematic exhibitions at the Palace of Arts. Both events gained great popularity, taking into account that this happened in August, when few attend exhibitions. Meanwhile, there were crowds of people and these were more than simply exhibition. This was a true festival, with musical bands and some patriotic actions. Why not to involve this? It’s necessary to show diverse art while giving an opportunity to express themselves both to traditional masters and contemporary painters. This is a decisive task. Aren’t you concerned about the fact that few attend exhibitions, e.g. at the Palace of Arts, after their solemn opening? Are people unaware of such exhibitions or something else hinders the dialogue of the creator and the spectator? However, the problem of such communication does exist and how can it be solved? Of course, there’s such a problem. Each is keen to see increasing numbers of visitors at the Palace of Arts. Moreover, I was surprised to see several excursion groups during the latest exhibition — a rare case. It turned out that tourist groups were brought to our capital and their programme included acquaintance with the Belarusian art. It’s here that we need to work. If there’re tourist agencies that show Minsk to tourists, why not to plan the visit to the Palace of Arts? There’s no problem is reducing the cost of tickets. We need to work in this direction and, of course, the necessary advertising support is required. I’ve already said that we’ll be speaking with the Belarusian State TV and Radio Company and the Ministry of Culture. There’s an agreement to maximum expand information space. The Palace of Arts needs to return its good name to it and we’ve achieved this to a large degree. Until 2008, nothing has been injected there. However, now, we increase these investments from year to year and the Palace

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earns money itself. We’ve already replaced the whole heating system and windows, with interiors and exhibition equipment being next in line. It has become warm in the Palace and, as people say, it’s possible to walk there without coats. This is also the return of the Palace’s attractive image. Moreover, we need to set up an art-cafe. There’s much work to do and we’ll pay attention to every detail. Doesn’t the Union abridge the freedom of the painter in any way? As you’ve said, artists need to conform to overall rules, existing in the Union… There’s currently no abridgement in the Union. I’m a censor for myself,

because I put forward maximum requirements for myself: both professional and moral. If I see that I lag behind something in the professional context, I will not better exhibit the work. However, this is not because somebody forbids me to do this. It’s another matter that a painter must be responsible for their works, as well as for the organisation I order not to harm it. Yes, there’s provocative art, when a person acquires a famous name through some artistic provocation. There’re various painters and today the range of the Belarusian Union of Artists is almost the widest: from traditional painters, who are moving in the stream of the realistic art, to people who call themselves acute painters. These are contemporary trends and no one bans. What bans there can be? There’s legislation and there’s moral restriction. Of course, if a painter promotes violence through their art, this won’t be art to me. This breaks my

moral principles legislation, and we definitely won’t allow this. Let they call this censorship or something else, we won’t ever allow this. People may say that a painter was banned because of some personal or political motifs. There hasn’t ever been such a situation. Painters exhibit their works and there’re no problems. Vice versa, once we had to abolish a youth exhibition because of a very simple reason — inactivity. Then I myself called my pupils and ask them to exhibit, saying that we’re ready to give them exhibition grounds. When I opened that exhibition I reproached them that they aren’t ‘young’. I expected they astonish us with something, but they had nothing so far. I appeal to surprise me. You’re allowed even to outrage but don’t violate what shouldn’t be violated. An artist should bear responsibility for themselves. I’m also keen to expand the artistic range and none restricted it in the Union. Probably, this was during the Soviet period but now we have complete freedom — you’re welcome to create. There’s ‘Ў’ Gallery and I don’t always agree with its projects. For example, there was a project, dedicated to the memory of Chikatilo — this is recklessness beyond the borders of my moral priorities. This is inadmissible. Moreover, they’ve made a hero from a student painter, presenting him with a luxurious catalogue and organizing PR-campaign in the Internet. I’m against this. Probably, this can’t be banned within the limits of legislation but it was nastily for me to see such an exhibition from the moral point of view. Nevertheless, I frequently visit this gallery and many of its projects are rather interesting to me, and I would be the first to oppose if they wanted to close this gallery. By no means. Let they express themselves; finally, something will be born in the struggle. I could even exhibit something from this gallery at the Palace of Arts and invite some of these painters to create on our premises. There will be a youth exhibition in SeptemberOctober, so you’re welcome to create. We’re preparing an exhibition, devoted to Kastus Kalinovsky. I’m afraid that again


dialogues it will be traditional and arousing little interest. Therefore, I tell my pupils to make some video-art to this topic. Finally, you can make some interesting installation. However, there’s no need to say that people have done something and this was banned. There’re also such approaches: to deliberately create something so that to be banned, thus achieving the necessary result. However, this is no art at all. Art uses the language of art rather than that of scandals. I suppose the life of creative community of painters is nowadays different from that seen 10-20 years ago. Of course. In what way? The space has become more informative, since people travel and see much. We’re located in the centre of Europe, so are open to information. How can we be closed from it if there’s Internet, enabling people to get everywhere they wish… Undoubtedly, art is changing. The city is changing and we ourselves are changing; apparently, so does the art. However, it doesn’t always change for the better, though these are my personal

conviction. I won’t ever agree with something that works for the destruction of pan-human moral values or with someone who mocks at what has been created by the humanity over the last time. There’s was a very popular painter in Moscow, who cut an ancient icon with an axe in public, thus organising an artistic event. What kind of artistic event can it be? This is barbarism, which should be prosecuted under criminal law. He

has destroyed a very precious item. Art should use the language of art whatever wide the range of the arts is. However, when this goes over the lines, excuse me, but I refuse to recognise this as art. You likely have little time for personal creativity, being busy with civil, organisational or administrative issues.

Artworks of graphic artist Grigory Sitnitsa

Nevertheless, you’re an artist. What are you working over when you have such an opportunity? I do have an opportunity. The work with civil issues disciplines me. Previously I could sometimes be artistically idle while now I have neither desire nor opportunity to waste time. Undoubtedly, when I do have this time — on Saturday, Sunday or just any evening — I spend it very thriftily for myself and my creativity. I’ve exhibited at the latest exhibition my ‘Artefact 6’. Why 6? This is sixth in number. In total, it should be a project, which probably will be entitled ‘Belarusian Atlantis’, encompassing artefacts from our past time. By taking them from the oblivion, I create a work of art, which speaks a contemporary language, although these artefacts are very old. At the same time, I also plan to launch one more graphical series, which will be entitled ‘Doors of Fate’. These will be various doors: doors of sadness, doors of laughter, doors of tragedy, doors of joy, doors of childhood, doors and death… This is a philosophical and artistic work. I have enough material but I now need to gradually start implementing these

works. Some of them have been already created, with the whole series comprising some 15-17 works. When it’s ready, it can be exhibited. In total, I have lots of ideas but little time. However, I won’t ever agree to stay simply an administrator or a civil figure and stop to be an artist. Moreover, I’m a friend of the Union of Belarusian Union of Writers and this helps me greatly. When I have little time for drawing I write much as a literary man. I write and I’m published; as they say, I have what to be involved in. By Viktor Mikhailov

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contests

Gunesh awarded at “TurkVision” Belarusian singer wins second place at 1st International Song Contest

Belta

T

Intrigue in final

moments in favour of singer TEO

Yuri Vashchuk, performing under the nickname of TEO, to represent Belarus at Eurovision-2014 in Denmark

A

composer, arranger and soloist with the Academic Concert Orchestra (conducted by Mikhail Finberg) has won the national selection round for the international Eurovision song contest.

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Following jury voting and that of the TV audience, TEO scored 20 points, as did the duo of Max Lorens and DiDuLa. The jury voted again to choose between the two entrants and was unanimous in selecting TEO, settling the grand intrigue. TEO’s Cheesecake is a lighthearted song, explaining the singer’s indignant feelings at his girlfriend calling him a cheesecake. The threeminute song has its own video for promotional purposes. Yuri Vashchuk was born in 1983 and studied the bayan at musical school as a child. He won the Proleska international contest and his first serious competition was Zornaya Rostan (Star Crossroads) — a TV show. He received his professional musical education at Grodno College of Art and at the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts. In 2000, he was invited to work with the National Academic Concert Orchestra of Belarus, led by Mikhail Finberg. Yuri has liaised with many Belarusian and foreign performers, as arranger and composer, and has co-written music for two Russian films. He is a laureate of the National Musical Award.

he finals of the competition were recently hosted by Turkish Eskisehir, with Azerbaijan’s Farid Hasanov taking the main prize, having earned 210 points. Gunesh was just five points behind and third place went to Ukraine’s Fazile Ibrahimova (200 points). Taking part in the international festival were singers from 24 countries, but just 12 qualified for the final, where the jury comprised representatives of all participating countries. TurkVision is an alternative to Eurovision, with each contest hosted by the cultural capital of the Turkic world, rather than by the country of the winning artist. Unlike the Eurovision Song Contest, all songs are performed in the state language of the host country.


Belarus (magazine #1 2014)