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Oksana Volkova

Belarusian opera star about her New-York breakthrough, further plans and has dispelled the myths concerning special diets for artists.

Behind the catwalk

Eastern European fashion is becoming more and more fascinating. Brief review of new names in the insdustry

9 Dec 2012

Belarus review: November 2012

In November, Belarusian authorities have continued to discuss the topic of modernization. However, at the moment there are no specific proposals in what it may be made. Moreover, the plans that have already been announced, mainly belong to the category of just small changes. Generally, the longer the authorities discuss the subject, the more clearly it seems that talk of modernization is an attempt to repair relations with the West without fundamental changes in internal policy. Actually it is the repetition of the liberalization of 2008-2010.

30 Nov 2012

The Garden of Stones in Minsk

Minsk sightseeings

There is one place on the outskirts of Minsk that is not very famous even among Minsk residents but it is definitely a must-see. This place is the Museum of Boulders in the Uruchie district. More than 2 thousand boulders were brought to one place in the mid-1980s and now it is one of two museums of such kind in Europe. Lithuania has a similar “stone garden” but it is twice smaller and doesn’t have a systematic approach. So one can even say that Minsk Boulders Museum is unique. It is also an unusual park recreation area.

NBB keeps the refinancing rate stable

Belarus finance system

The refinance rate has not been changed in November, and the devaluation of the Belarusian ruble by the National Bank is not planned at the moment.

“Today we have such a situation that there is no possibility to reduce the re-finance rate. This situation does not allow such a step, so we neither reduce the rate, nor increase it,” reported at the press conference on November 21 Nadezhda Ermakova, the Chairwoman of The National Bank of Belarus

27 Nov 2012

Visitors of Minsk prefer economy-class rooms

Minsk hotels

The number of hotels in Minsk will have increased to 62 by 2016.

On November 1th, there were 29 hotels in Minsk. Two of these hotels ("Oktyabrskaya " and "Belarus") are being reconstructed now. This information has been given during a press conference by the Deputy Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee Vladimir Koltovich.

12 Nov 2012

New kids in the banking block

Mergers and acquisitions in banking

In the following six months in the Belarusian banking sector, several credit institutions will merge, while others find new owners. Currently, very likely that Alfa Bank will buy Belrosbank.

"Every week, representatives of the Moscow office of Alfa-Bank are in Minsk, doing  something like due diligence of Belrosbank. They said they will close a deal in the end of the year" - a source close to the management of Alfa Bank said. On his opinion, Rosbank for long time wanted to get rid of assets in Belarus under the pressure of the main shareholder of French’s Societe Generale.

8 Nov 2012

Fight and then reconcile

Oil dispute between Belarus and Russia

The problem of Russian oil delivery to Belarus in the fourth quarter seems settled. On November 2 meeting of the Council of Ministers of Belarus First Vice Premier Vladimir Semashko, who just returned from Moscow, said that Belarus should receive 5.3 million tons before the end of the year, and the annual volume of imported oil is expected to reach 21.5 million tons, as provided the fuel and energy balance of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. However, the issue of oil supply in 2013 is not yet resolved.

30 Oct 2012

Belarus to ask new credit from IMF

Negotiations with IMF

On October 29, the last day of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission in Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich met with David Hoffman, the head of the IMF delegation. As noted by Hoffman, because of "a long meeting," he almost missed the briefing for journalists. Based on the appeared soon after the press release of the Belarusian government, it is clear that official Minsk is trying to aggressively persuade the IMF to give a new loan. The Fund though remains adamant in its demands.

Mikhail Myasnikovich said that Belarus had successfully implemented recommendations of the IMF to stabilize the economy and can therefore count on a new program with the Fund. "We believe that Belarus considering the hard work done by us can count on a program with the IMF – Myasnikovich said - I think it should be reported to the executive directors and to the political leadership of the fund."

25 Oct 2012

Our own Monako

Business of gambling in Belarus

Honest, profitable and safe - so the Belarusian government officials and businessmen see gambling business in Belarus. To support it, the Association of Development of Gambling Business was created and it means that the government has no objection to this kind of leisure activity in Belarus.

While in neighboring states gambling is either prohibited or strictly limited, Belarus continues to practice "fair and open system with strict responsibility." How is it going to be achieved, entrepreneurs and government officials spoke on October 9 at a press conference for Belarusian and foreign journalists.

24 Oct 2012

"Can't buy me love!" Or not?

Sex tourism in Belarus

All quite on Belarusian sex market. At least, citing official statistics. Number of prostitutes in comparison to last year has grown, but not that big, police informs. Visa cordons still help slow down the flow of sex tourists. Comparing with such well-known sex destinations like Thailand, Belarus is lagging far behind. But sex tourism in Belarus does exist. Journalists talked to foreigners who came over to Belarus looking for sex. According to them, Belarus has long built reputation as a sex-friendly country.

22 Oct 2012

Wheels for wings

Air force of Belarus
Belarusian-Russian relations still depends on military strategic and geopolitical interests of Moscow in exchange for economic benefits and preferences for the Belarusian regime.

As President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko clearly stated on October 16 at a press conference for Russian regional media, Belarus intends to use Russia's support to accelerate technical modernization of the army.

18 Oct 2012

Belarus – EU border: let them go?

The largest amount of smuggled cigarettes from Belarus was detained by Lithuanian customs officers. The total amount seized is over two million dollars, Internet portal reported

In the night from 14 to 15 October at the checkpoint Raigardas Lithuanian customs officers detained two trailers with cigarettes, which houses about 1,600 cartons of smuggled cigarettes. As it turned out, there were three trucks, one of which managed to enter Poland. This information is communicated promptly by Lithuanians to Polish colleagues who then detained cargo 150 kilometers away from the Lithuanian border. In the truck were another 600 boxes of cigarettes.

17 Oct 2012

Mikhail Gutseriev to build a new potash plant in Belarus

Russian businessman Mikhail Gutseriev  begins construction of a new potash plant in Belarus in March 2013 as he told reporters on October 11 in Sarapul.

"In Belarus, projects go, they are alive. Potash project there - in March we are starting to build the mine," - he said, adding that construction of the new plant will take three years.

According to him, it comes to producing 1.8 million tons of potash annually. Mikhail Gutseriev said that the project will be financed under the scheme 70 to 30. "We give 30% , there somewhere 500 million USD, and USD 1,5-1,3 billion provided by the bank," - he said, noting that the final decision on which bank will fund the project, was not yet made . "Either it (Sberbank..) or other banks," - said Mikhail Gutseriev discussing  participation of Sberbank in the project.

Time to build and sell

After fall of the real estate market in 2011 outlook is getting better and there is potential for developers to improve volume of sales, and for price increase.

This year Minsk real estate market has seen departure of several big investors. The result was that some of the projects such as Minsk City was canceled. Not enough own money and lack of bank credits were main reasons to stop building activities.

But there is another group of developers - those who remain on the market. They continue to build and sell. After a significant (around 25%) reduction of number of buildings sold last year, now this segment demonstrates stability. In September 2012, the primary real estate market included more than 70 projects.

17 Sept 2012

“People of Minsk can be very rude”

Politeness is not a very popular thing in Belarus, Olga Laryvonenka, a successful American photomodel, says. Born in Minsk she moved to the USA and first settled in Boston. Then she went to Miami and since then she enjoys there a wonderful lifestyle full of sun, sea and parties.  Now when she is in her native Minsk she shares her impressions about the both cities: Minsk and Miami.

Let’s start from you. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?  What do you do in Belarus? And what do you do in Miami?

OK. My name is Olga. I live in Miami. I am a model there. My main work there is just lay down on the beach :) . Here I am visiting my mom, because I was born here.

Official and unofficial holidays in Belarus

      Belarus has a rich and interesting culture. The main part of population of Belarus are Christians. That’s why the main national holidays are connected with Christian traditions. In addition to Christian holidays, national holidays are celebrated in Belarus, which came from pagan traditions. The most important of them  are  Kupalle and Maslenitsa. At these holidays people dance folk dances, sing special songs, make folk rituals.     

Public transport in Minsk

No wonder that public transport is much in demand in Minsk for the city’s population exceeds 1,5 million inhabitants. Thousands of passengers travel daily by different means of transport including buses, trolleybuses, tramways, city shuttles, commuter trains. At the moment Minsk keeps on widening its boundaries and, therefore, the city’s public transport network expands its coverage. New routes emerge together with new residential areas.

Of all types of public transport the buses prevail in today’s Minsk. According to some sources the first buses appeared in Minsk in the 20s but they were not popular among city dwellers at that time due to comparatively high fare charged for a trip. So, buses started playing a significant role in the city’s public transport system after the Second World War only. The buses you may observe in Minsk streets are mostly produced at the MAZ (Minskiy Avtomobilny Zavod, Минский автомобильный завод cyr. Minsk Automobile Plant); you can easily recognize them for majority of them are painted green. However these vehicles are not fully Belarus produced due to obvious technological gap. Thus Belarusian producers have to equip the vehicles with imported from abroad details and mechanisms.