In Belarus another European wall fell, but very few have realised it. When President Lukashenko announced that for the citizens of 80 countries a visa was no more needed to enter Belarus, somebody thought this was a kind of a revolution. There was just only one condition: everyone must enter Belarus via the Minsk international airport and stay in the country no more than five days. It was January 9th, 2017.
Since then, this small republic squeezed between Poland and Russia, kept on going with its usual life: the Soviet-era murals are still on their walls, meticulously preserved, the rooms of the immense sanatoria are mostly empty, in the country women still knot their headscarves on their heads and move around with marshrutkas (shared taxis).
The so-called “last dictatorship in Europe” didn’t collapse, just yet, maybe because “dictatorship” is a label EU, USA or OECD use for those countries they don’t know, or understand much.
Seen through the eyes of local artist Darya Golova, Belarus is another world: tattooed youngters walking quietly around towns, kids of the suburbs hanging around with their hoverboards, punk teenagers dreaming of adventure with Hello Kitty in their pink bedrooms.
Today’s Belarus is indeed keeping an eagle eye on its present, as utopia and dystopia live together, and the border that once looked impenetrable, now is looking at the world in search of a new identity. The austere statues of Lenin and Dzerzinskij are now in some repository, but just to be polished, while the severe face of President Lukashenko is everywhere: among the souvenir cards in fishermen’s cabins and near the Kalashnikov guns turned into vodka bottles to be sold to tourists.
( 2017 )