‘The hidden land of Europe’. ‘A communist hermit republic’. ‘A time warp country ruled by an old style communist dictator.’
The lurid descriptions of Belarus in the western media are legion. Most of them are wrong or at the least, only partially accurate. Products of a fevered imagination.
The capital city is Minsk (population 2 million and increasing). This is what most of the tourists who come to Belarus see, 5 days being the maximum permissable stay without a visa. Most people opt not to go through the process of obtaining a visa. I can understand this, taking into account the extraordindary lengths Anya and I had to go to get one.
Wander around Minsk and you have to wonder about how communist Belarus is. Minsk is a modern city – one of the most modern cities in Europe. Lots of shopping centers, restaurants, luxury apartments and cars, and everyone armed with a smart phone.
Outside of Minsk, the country begins to look different. The gap between the cities and the rural areas is stark.
The following photos were taken whilst travelling and staying in small towns in the north-east of Belarus. A different country, one which in reality is a province of Russia.