Minsk(Минск) Belarus, November 2001 - Juli 2009

Last Revised: $Revision: 1.40 $, $Date: 2009/07/21 21:39:10 $ A report from Andreas Haack

Belarussian Flag Honey sold at the Central Food Market Victory Memorial Me in front of the Presidents Residence shadow
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There are only a view train connection I found out. I figured out the busses from Vilnius to Minsk and decided form the one departing at 15:50. For about 25 LTL I purchased a ticket in the bus. The trip suppose to take three hours. It is to late for the apartment today I thought and I could try stay a night in the Sputnik Hotel. The bus had seen better days but OK for me - it always arrived. That was in 2002. In 2007 better busses are in service.
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Circus Fruits sold on teh central food market Newyears tree 2004/2005 Winter 2004 in Minsk shadow
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Following a statement of the Belarussian Embassy one must buy health insurance at the border, as travel health insurance is not accepted. But nobody bothered at the border about this and there was no possibility to buy one. And here is a translation of the custom declaration form. There a insurance offices before the passport control when one enters Belarus by Minsk airport. One must buy insurance . I paid 2 USD for a insurance . In September 2007 the entry document was in Russuan and English as well.


Next to the Palace Republica the Museum of the great patriotic war shadow
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In 2009 the trend continues to more western appearance. People dress more casual and sporty and even more casual then in western cities. So you see even mid-age and older people going out in Jeans and t-shirt. Also it is common to have prints like England or Italy. Now a days you see only new cars rather then the second hand cars that used to be seen , and even motorbikes and mid age man riding bicycles for fun.
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The people are friendly. At the border we must leave the bus for the exit procedure in Lithuania. Stamping the passports takes 35 minutes. Then we proceed to the Belarussian side. Someone imports two Enduros. The friendly customs officers enter the bus and collect the passports to stamp them and the visa. This happens in a record breaking 7 minutes. We do not have to fill in the usual custom declaration. For the Custom procedure we have to leave the bus and our bagage is x-rayed. The officer has a short glance in my laptop bag and I can leave.

The busses from Vilnius to Minsk depart from the bus station next to train station at 1:20, 5:50, 9:00, 12:50, 14:00, 15:50, 17:00 and 18:05 (September 2007) and take 3 to 5 hours depending on border crossing. In Vilnius the ticket cost 34 LTL (9.84 EUR, Sep. 2007) and can be board in the bus. Also in Minsk busses depart normaly from the bus station next to train station. But till April 2008 busses to Vilnius deparrtt from the eastern bus station. There is for example a bus at 7:30 and 11:00. Here you get the ticket at the ticket office in the bus station and you pay 29570 BYR (9.85 EUR, Sep 2007 ) .


Decorated wedding car Wedding couple Dozens of couples come the the Afghanistan memorial Minsk has birthday shadow
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(2007) Seit ich vor 6 Jahren das erste mal hier war ist vieles modernisiert worden. Straßen, Plätze und Gebäude. So ist der Platz der Unabhänigkeit (Nezavisimosti,Независимости) nun kein öder Parkplatz mehr sondern ein Shoppingcenter. Auch heute noch wird das Straßenbild von deutschen Autos dominiert. Aber im Gegensatz zu damals sind es heute neue Wagen. Tatsächlich gibt es natürlich auch fernöstliche Marken in den Straßen. Was fehlt sind die Frauen die Waren anbieten. Dies ist auf eine Dekret der Regierung zurückzuführen die höhere Anfoderungen an die Zustand und Umweltbelastung der Autos stellt. Aber Minsk hat, wie so manche andere Stadt, seine Gesicht nicht verloren. Minsk ist immer noch Minsk. Alles ist noch an seinem Platz: Der Palast der Republik, das zentrale Kaufhaus Universam, die Metro, die um weitere Stationen ergänzt wurde, der zentrale Lebenmittelmarkt.
(2007) ...
(2002) At around 20:00 h we arrive at the cental station. I am searching where I could do a telephone call. I line up and wait half an hour to buy a telephone card. The unfriendly lady does not even look up to me and ask "Which ?" in Russian and does not look interested further. No idea! But with the help of other customers I get by accident the right one.
I reach Irina to organize the apartment for tomorrow, but Irina insists to try to find something for today. Next day Irina did a great job to organize something nice (for Belarus).

To go by Metro is fast and very easy: You buy a giton near the entrance barriers, insert it an pass the barrier. You can go where you like. The trains go often - during the day every 2 minutes to 1:00 a.m. were they go every 8 minutes. The are 2 lines, one from east to west and one from north to south. There meet at the center at station Kupalovskaja. In the beginning one has problems to identify the station names, that are announced and written in Russian only, but it gets easier after some time. A giton costs 600 BYR in 2007



View from Afghanistan memorial to remember the soldiers that died in the war shadow
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(2004) I watched a little confused how people watched a Top and Jerry Film at Metro-Station Pl. Nesavicimocti on a large station screen. I can not image a bigger contrast: The Belarussian people next to the Lenin memorial stare at the the screen that watching these disgusting Symbols of capitalism.
The Festival if friendship between Minsk and Moscow took place at the river at the Prospect Masharova street. A rock concert took place in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere followed by fireworks at this Friday evening. The underpath of the 1999 stampage was blocked by dozens of police man. r
The streets look pretty familiar to me as 60 % of the cars are of German make and 35 % a Russian brand. Far-Eastern brands and other nearly do not exist.

Ich habe eine große Auswahl an Restaurants zu Abendessen. Auf der Franciska Skorini Strasse (Франциска Скорины ), die seit 2005 Nezalezhnaszi (Незалежнасци) Strasse heißt gibt es Cafe Klimpart (Климпарт) macht hervorragende Torten. Noch bekannter für leckere Torten ist das Cafe Pakobskij Vrovar (Раковский Бровар) in der Nähe des Yubileinaya Platz (Юбилейная Пложа). hier gibt es immer eine lange Schlange von Leuten die sich die Torten mit nach Hause nehmen.

Scenery downtown shadow
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Near the Red Church we went to is the Pizza Kipriana, at Bersona 14 (Пицца Киприана) where student go out some time. Although not the most exclusive place, I like it very much.
Karchma (Карчма) is a nice little restaurant in the old town (Starovilenskaya 2) The meal was really delicious and we would have paid 21000 BYR (13 EUR) for two if there would not be the exorbitant wine price on listed the bill. I ask the waiter "Why are there 8 glasses of wine on the bill we only had two?". Well says the waiter "The price listed on the menu is for 50 ml so a glass of wine is 4 times that price". So we ended up paying 18800 BYR (12 EUR) for two glasses of wine.

Everybody knows that the Mafia rules in the wild East (in general). Carjacking is dayly buissness and if you don't get shoot at once, your propperty will be stolen. At least this are the propagandistic statements of western media and travel guides. In fact this statements match better a description of Ney York, Italy or Amsterdam. In contrast to this places you don't need to worry about crime in Minsk. Those statements are made to fool you about the low standars your goverment goverments supplies.



Residential area The central food market Independent square after renovation Celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Pioneer Organization shadow
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Minsk has been destroyed compleatly during WW2. One intuitively realizes that Minsk is artificial build a example of soviet planing. On the Place of the Republic there is a mile stone with distances and direction of other European cites. Often it is claimed that this is center of Minsk or Belarus. But this is not true - it is the point zero or reference point of the city planers of Minsk. In one direction there is the park and the residence of the president. In the other end is the Palace of culture and Art the museum of "the great patriotic war". The metro lines cross here at Aktjabrvskan (Октябрвскан) station and the great supermarket "Universe" is located here. The 23 km long main and business street Franciska Skorini (Франциска Скорины) that was renamed in 2005 to Nezalezhnaszi (Незалежнасци) Street, passed this point.
Outside the center Minsk is made up of rather nasty batteries of housing blocks. But these are supplemented with parks.
Prices in Restaurants 2004 BYR(EUR) 2007 BYR(EUR)
Good Meal 7000(4.50) 34000
Big Mac at Mc Donald 2600(1.70) 4900
Pizza 4500(2.95) 12000
Beer (0.5 Liter) 600-2000 ( 0.375 - 1.25) 5000
Cup of Coffee 1915 ( 1.25) 3150
Wine is very expensive at restaurants. There are two units in which wine is sold: A bottle and a unit of 50 milliliter, which is carefully measured. If one orders a glass of wine (200 ml) four times this price will be charged. A bottle of cheap French red wine cost e.g. 33000 BYR (20 EUR) und 50 ml 2200 BYR (1.375 EUR). Makes 5.5 EUR for a glass. After all Belarus is a beer and Vodka country.



Unterfürung der Tragödie von 1999 shadow
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Es gibt Supermärkte, Tagesmärkte und Kiosks überall in der Innenstadt und in den Wohngebieten. Diese habe ein breites Angebot an westlichen und russischen Produkten.
(2007) Die meisten Leute haben inzwischen eine mobiles Telefonnummer bei einen der vier Operatoren : MTS, Velcom, Best .... Roaming mit westlichen Operator ist nicht immer möglich. Speziell Prepaid-System stellen ein Problem dar. Doch es gibt zwei noch viele öffentliche Telefone die mit Telefonkarten funktionierne. Wenn man eine Mobilnummer wie z.B. 6541234 bekommt muss man noch 80 (für anders Netz/Stadt) und für Mobilnetz vorwählen, also 80-29-6541234. Wenn man von öffentlichen Telefonen anruft wartet man bis die Gegenseite abhebt. Dann drückt man den entsprechen den Knopf und erst dann kann man sprechen und werden Gebühren gezählt.


(2001) Das meiste kommt aus direkt oder indirekt Deutschland. Man bekommt Salamander-Schuhkreme, Schauma-Schampoo u.s.w. zu sagen wir 2/3 bis 1/1 des Preises wie im Westen oder billige russische Produkte. Brot und Milch stehen unter Preiskontrolle der Regierung und sind sehr billig. Fleisch und Aufschnitt kosten zwischen 1.5 bis 6 EUR. Bier gibt es ab 0.375 EUR die 0.5 Liter Flasche, für die ganz verzweifelten gibt es 1.5 Liter Flaschen.
Die Preise sind überall gleich egal ob man am Kiosk, Super- oder Tagesmarkt kauft. Erstaunt war ich über das breite Angebot und 1a Obst und Gemüse das aus dem Westen via Deutschland importiert wird und zu gleichen Preisen erhältlich ist. Und es wird gekauft, von der breiten Masse der Einheimischen - denn Touristen fehlen nahezu völlig.
Altstadt im Mai shadow
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(2004) Da stellt sich die Frage nach dem Einkommensverteilung. Ein mittleres Einkommen ist ca. 150 bis 200 EUR. Renten sind mit 40 bis 50 EUR sehr niedrig. Nun ist es zum einen so das die Grundkosten sehr niedrig sind - eine Wohnung kostet ca 15 EUR - und zum anderen das der Familien zusammen halt besser ist. Es leben in der Regel Kinder, Eltern Großeltern in einer Wohnung. Damit bleibt natürlich bei den einzelnen sehr viel Geld übrig, was man dann verprassen kann. So ist es doch üblich das man als Student mit Freunden regelmässig ausgeht und eine Pizza mit Bier für 3 EUR und ich kenne auch einfache Studenten die viel Sparen um dann für 850 USD zwei Wochen Urlaub und der "Costa de Sol" in Spanien buchen. Das recht große Angebot in Kaufhäusern, Märkten, Restaurants und Kneipen wird auf jeden Fall genutzt und zwar Mangels Touristen von der breiten Masse. Jeder kauft nach seinen Möglichkeiten.
Die Struktur der Ausgaben ist halt eine andere: Während im Westen die Grundkosten fast das Gehalt verschlingen (Miete z.B. in München 1000 EUR plus Auto, Versicherung, Handy .....) sind Essen, Konsum- und Luxusgüter sehr billig.





Lebensmittelpreise in Minsk in weissrussischen Rubeln, Euro und US Dollar in Klammern: BYR(EUR, USD)
Produkt 05-2002 01-2004 01-2005 08-2005 09-2007 07-2009
Euro 1600 2635 3080 2550 2930 4020
Dollar 1700 2166 2150 2130 2860
Bread (1 kg) 500 (0.20 - 0.35) 580-895 470 660 1664 2466
Butter (0.2 kg) 1420 1610 1800 1480
Meat and Coldcut/kg 2500 - 8000 BYR 9000-25000
Milk (1 liter 1.5%) 235 (0.14) 1690 1530 (3.5%)
Tea (100 pads/130g) 2560 4180 (50g Lipton)
Bottle Wodka / 0.5 l 2000 (1.30) 12600 6000
Tooth paste (Russian) 700(0.45) 1350
Shoecreame (Russian 300
Shoecreame (German) 2200
Drinkingwater (5l) 2990
Fruit juice 1780 2410-5000 3640-6360
Tomatos (1kg) 4000
Chocolate(100g) 1500-3200 2400
Beer (0.5 liter ) 450 - 1000 850 - 1850 1150 - 1870 1280-2050 1640
Light bulb 75W 1100(0.70) 4800
Books 2000 - 9000 10'000 - 30'000
Metro ticket 120( 0.075) 260 360 400 600 650
Minibus ticket 1500
Busticket Minsk-Vilnius 14400 19100 29570
Ballet Ticket 12000
Stamp for postcard to Europe 110 440



Place of the great patriotic victory Street Student celebration there last day in school,  but still have exams to pass New residential house shadow
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Shops are opened from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 h to 21:00 h and Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00h. New supermarkets are called but "supermarket" but at soviet times they where called "Universam". The central supermarket has the longest opening times.
(2004) In many shops one must pay in advanced and then pick up the goods - a relict of soviet times.
Ice cream seems to be a favorite in winter even if it is as cold as -10°C. I see a teenage girl buying ice-cream on a a kiosk.

(2002) The US Dollar, and increasingly the Euro, that is called JEFRO and written EVRO , seems to be the local Currency. Since you can not pay in USD but in BYR people change it forth and back on one of the many official exchange kiosk to cope inflation. The difference between buying and selling is about 1 %.
(2007) ...
College Catholic church near Tsjemiga metro station Women selling stuff This is how most of Minsk looks like shadow
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(2001) I was looking for a Bank where you can get credit-card cash advance. The Belarussian Bank on Franciska Skorini (Франциска Скорины) has a Mastercard and Visa symbol on. So I enter and ask with my phrase book and i some pointing if I could get a and cash advance. The friendly lady says Нет but writes down an address where I should succeed. I passed some ATMs where you could get Rubles. At the exchange kiosk at Volodarskogo street 21 (Володарского 21) it was indeed possible to get USD cash advance also they charge 4% for it. This is also one of the view places where you can change all kind of currencies, including my Lithuanian money.
(2002) A Russian told me that she once once did accept and offer and the man showed a police Id and she had to come to the office and pay a fine.
(2007) ... Defakto ist seit ca. 2004 der Belarussische Rubel and den US-Dollar mit einem Kurs von ca. 2100 Rubel für einen Dollar gekoppelt. Auch gibt es heute überall Bankomaten und man kann mit der Kredit- oder Bankkarte bezahlen, Die Wechselkurse sind überall ungefär gleich und es ist illegal Geld bei privaten Personen zu tauschen. Private Personen die einem dies anbieten sind meist von der Polizei.





Memorial Santa Clause 2004/2005 Metro in Minsk 2005 In Minsk flashed the green stoplight before it turns yellow. *But both sides get yellow at the same time!* shadow
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(2004) On the other hand there are only a view beggars that want your money. Often this are handicapped people but an interesting case cached my eyes: A rather unemployed young man begged for money, and his board said: "to pay for his Internet an cellular phone".
For automobile travelers of interest is that in Minsk the green stoplight flashes before it turns yellow. But both sides get yellow at the same time!
Fuel prices in BYR(EUR,USD)/Liter in Minsk as below:
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05-2002 01-2004 09-2007 07-2009
98(unleaded)
95(unleaded) 670 (0.43,0.39) 1390 (0.53 2310 2530
92(unleaded) 590 (0.37,0.34) 1210 (0.46 2020 2220
76/80 475 (0.30,0.28) 975 (0.37,0.45) 1600 1760
Diesel 465 (0.29,0.27) 975 (0.37,0.45) 1610 2020
LPG 330 (0.21,0.19) 560 (0.21,0.26) 880 1300










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