|Preface Last Updated: 11/28/2003
Belarus became an independent state with the breakup of the
Soviet Union in 1991. At the time it was said to be the most
technologically advanced part of the former Soviet Union.
The country’s Slavic origins date to the 6th century. Minsk, the
capital of Belarus, was founded in 1027. Located between Russia and
Poland, the country has changed hands several times over centuries,
eventually coming under Czarist Imperial control as a result of the
partitioning of Poland in the 18th century.
During World War II, some 30% of the population perished. Stalin
also killed hundreds of thousands of Belarusians. In 1986,
radioactive fallout from Chernobyl contaminated one-fifth of
Belarus manifested a great capacity for recovery. Its cities were
rebuilt after the war with beautiful parks and wide boulevards. The
architecturally attractive prewar sections were restored or rebuilt.
Radiation from Chernobyl has long since ceased to be a problem
outside of the contaminated areas near the Ukraine border, but the
medical and social consequences for those affected at the time
The U.S. recognized Belarusian independence on December 25, 1991.
After the two countries established diplomatic relations, the U.S.
Embassy in Minsk was officially opened on January 31, 1992. The
countries exchanged top-level official visits in July 1992 and again
in January 1994 when President Clinton visited Belarus.
The country’s first democratic presidential election took place
in 1994 with the election of Alexander Lukashenko. Unfortunately in
1996 he dissolved Parliament and extended his term, actions the U.S.
and E.C. considered illegal. A tainted presidential reelection in
2001 further strained relations.
Despite the state of official relations, the U.S. works closely
with Belarusian academic and humanitarian activities and has an
extensive program of engagement with civil society and democratic
Belarus offers a tranquility that belies its terrible history.
The countryside retains an unspoiled natural splendor of water,
forests, flowers and fields. Spring, summer and fall can be
exquisite. The arts are outstanding — varied, accessible, and
affordable. There is little crime and little traffic, the road
system works, and a change of seasons is guaranteed. The Belarusian
people are warm and hospitable—their many talents often quietly
Belarus also offers opportunity, potential, and challenge. It is
hoped that the spark is ever present for those who will ultimately
not be denied the promises of freedom and independence. It is from
these energies and the continued interests of democratic nations
that the future of Belarus will brighten.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:05 AM
Belarus occupies 80,154 square miles (207,600 square kilometers)
and is approximately the size of Great Britain or the State of
Kansas. It is a landlocked country bounded by Poland on the west;
Ukraine on the south; on the northeast by Russia; and the northwest
by Latvia and Lithuania. From east to west, Belarus covers 404 miles
(650 kilometers); from north to south is 348 miles (560 kilometers).
The highest point in Belarus, Dzyarzhynskaya Hara, is 1,135 feet
(346 meters). Averaging only 656 feet above sea level (200 meters),
the country is predominately gently rolling fields in the north and
marshy lowlands in the south. More than half the land is used for
agriculture. Some one-third is densely forested with large stands of
spruce, pine, oak, and/or beech, everywhere interspersed with
beautiful white/silver birch. It is a land of more than 11,000 lakes
— the largest, Lake Naroch, lies in the northwest. It is also a
nation of many rivers and countless streams (more than 20,000). The
most important river is the Dnjapro, which flows well into Belarus
from Russia, then south into Ukraine — ultimately providing an
all-important shipping channel between the Baltic and Black Seas.
Natural resources are timber and deposits of peat, granite,
potassium salts, dolomitic limestone, and chalk.
Belarus is located on the 53rd latitude — roughly the same as
Hamburg, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; and Edmonton, Canada. It has a
temperate continental climate. Average summer temperatures are in
the mid-60’s to mid-70’s. (July is the warmest month.) It can be
cold from October to April. Average winter temperatures are in the
low teens and 20’s F. Frost can occur 6 to 7 months of the year.
Snow/ice can be expected from December to March, and occasionally
into April. Winter days are short. Spring, summer, and fall bring
long hours of welcome light. Average annual precipitation is
22”–28;” June, July, and August are the wettest months.
Belarus is in the Eastern European Time Zone: GMT + 2 hours.
Summer time: GMT + 3 hours.
Population Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:06 AM
Today the population of Belarus is just under 10 million with a
declining annual growth rate of negative 0.15percent (2001 est.).
Mostly of Slavic origin, the population is 78% are Belarusian, 13%
Russian, 4% Polish, 3% Ukrainian, and 2% other. The people of
Belarus suffered devastating losses during the years of the Stalin
purges and in WWII. After the war Russians immigrated in sizable
numbers to fill the marked labor shortage and as part of Stalin’s
‘Russifcation’ program. A substantial Jewish population was
concentrated in the major cities prior to WWII, but most were either
killed or fled.
Overall population density is low — an average of less than 50
persons per square kilometer. A dramatic rise in the urban
populations followed WW II and the terrible economic conditions left
in its wake. Today, most (70%) of the population lives in urban
areas, primarily in Minsk, the capital, and the other major cities
along the route from Warsaw to Moscow.
Life expectancy is 62 years for men; 75 for women. Another
significant impact of the war is the high percentage of women to men
in the adult population.
The literacy rate is 98%.
Religion, severely restricted or destroyed under Communism, has
had something of a revival in the post-Communist times. The
Constitution provides for the freedom of religion, with all
denominations equal. There is no state religion but the government
openly favors the Orthodox Church. More than 30 religious societies
are registered and receive tax-exempt status. The Belarusian
Orthodox Church is by far the largest in the country, followed by
the Roman Catholic Church. Various Protestant denominations
(including Evangelical Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, Calvinists,
Lutherans, Apostolic Christian, Beha’i and others) Judaism and Islam
are represented in smaller communities throughout the country.
Missionary groups, such as Campus Crusades, Mormons, Jehovah’s
Witnesses, and the International Christian Fellowship have a growing
number of followers.
Today, both Belarusian and Russian are considered official
languages of the country. Street names and many signs are in
Belarusian, as are some broadcast and print media, official
documents, and many official meetings. In spite of efforts to revive
Belarusian, Russian is spoken as the primary language of
communication, except perhaps in the very rural countryside.
Belarusian is closely related to Russian and Polish, all with Slavic
origins. It is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, with two letters
different from the Russian alphabet.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:06 AM
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus became
an independent republic. The first Constitution of the new republic
was adopted March 15, 1994. The first popularly elected president,
Alexander Lukashenko, won his seat in July 1994. For a brief period,
Belarus looked very much like a democratic country.
However, the President used a national referendum in November
1996 to disband Parliament and extend both his power and his term.
The country is now run by an authoritarian regime with both the
legislative and judicial branches subordinated to the President.
Keeping this in mind, the basic structure of the government is as
Executive power is exercised by the President/Head of State who
is technically elected by popular vote, and by the Council of
Ministers, numbering 37. The Council of Ministers consists of the
Prime Minister/Head of Government, his 4 Deputies, 24 Ministers, 4
Heads of State Committees, and the Heads of the National Bank, of
the President’s Administration, of the State Control Committee, and
of the Academy of Sciences. All members of the Council of Ministers
are appointed and dismissed by the President.
The Legislative Branch is a bicameral Parliament, the National
Assembly. The upper chamber, Council of the Republic, is the body of
territorial representation. It has 64 seats — 8 of which are
appointed by the President and the remainder elected by local
regional councils. The lower chamber, Chamber of Representatives has
110 members, all of which are elected locally.
Judicial power is exercised by General Courts (Supreme Court,
plus regional, district, and town courts) and by Economic Courts
(Supreme Economic, plus regional, district, and town economic
courts). A Constitutional Court controls correspondence of the laws
with the constitution. The President regularly issues decrees to
replace existing laws.
Administratively, the country is divided into six regions with
centers in the cities of Minsk, Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilov, and
Vitebsk. Each region is then subdivided into smaller administrative
districts, about 118 in all.
Citizens, 18 years of age and older, are eligible to vote.
Belarus maintains diplomatic representation with the U.S. at the
Belarusian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and a Consulate in New York
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:08 AM
Belarus has an active and very professional ballet and opera. The
Belarusian State Theater, the Belarusian Academy of Arts, and the
Belarusian University of Culture are outstanding supporters of
The artwork of Marc Chagall; the 16th century printing and
translations of Francisk Skorina; and revered poets, Yakub Kolas,
Maxim Bagdanovich, and Yanka Kupala are among the most notable
artists. Both sacred and classical music enjoy strong traditions.
Folklore groups perform traditional Belarusian music and dances.
Every year the Union of Belarusian Writers sponsors literary
festivals. Native handicrafts include woodcarvings, straw art,
embroidered linens, lacquered paintings on boxes, eggs, and
Famous Belarusian scientists include Kazimir Semenovich, inventor
of the multistage missile; Yakub Narkevich-Yedka, inventor of
electrography and wireless transmission of electric signals; Sofia
Kovalevskaya, noted mathematician; and Pavel Sukhoi, an aircraft
designer. The Academy of Sciences, which opened in Minsk in 1929,
remains the forum for the Republic’s highest levels of research,
design and technological activities.
Belarus has been home to many prominent individuals from other
countries, including famous scientists, diplomats, politicians,
artists, composers, writers, and even two Soviet cosmonauts.
Belarus has 33 state-run institutions of higher learning, 14 in
the capital city of Minsk. Belarus State University and the Minsk
Institute of Foreign Languages are among the most prestigious. After
independence several nonstate universities for humanities and
business were established.
Children begin school at age 6 and continue through 10th and 11th
forms. There are both public and private schools, including
preschool for the very young. Education is valued and the country’s
literacy rate is high.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:09 AM
During the Soviet period, Belarus was the assembly line of the
USSR, importing raw materials and exporting manufactured goods and
agricultural produce. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
there was hope and potential for a free market economy and economic
growth. Foreign investors ventured in. However, since that time, the
country has seen little structural reform, especially since
President Lukashenko came to power in 1994. Lukashenko reimposed
administrative controls over prices and currency exchange, and he
expanded the state’s right to intervene in the management of public
and private enterprises. Most of the country remains out of public
At present, Belarus is an economy with high concentration of
economic decisionmaking at the very top of the ruling hierarchy. An
overwhelming majority of property in Belarus rests in government
hands. Private ownership rights are not consistently honored.
Private businesses are the first to experience pressures from
central and local governments. Rigorous inspections conducted by
numerous government agencies, as well as arbitrary changes in
business regulations and its retroactive application make the
business environment in Belarus unpredictable and unfriendly. Many
foreign investors are left in frustration and disappointment.
Belarus has good potential for economic growth were there but
different governmental circumstances. It has a highly qualified
workforce, a very strategic location in the center of Europe, and a
Belarus is heavily energy dependent, importing most of its oil
and natural gas from Russia. The country’s few natural industrial
resources include limited supplies of peat, oil, and timber.
The industrial sector is dominated by large enterprises, which
have seen little reform and have been losing their competitiveness,
even to their traditional markets (Russia and CIS). The major
manufactured industrial products include: metal-cutting machine
tools, tractors, trucks, motorcycles, TV’s, radios, chemical
products, fertilizers, textiles, refrigerators, and wood products.
The agricultural sector has had even less reform. State and
collective farms are mostly bankrupt and heavily subsidized by the
government. Local governments often ‘oblige’ private and public
businesses to ‘voluntarily’ support a half-dead ‘kolkhoz’
(collective farm) system. The number of private farmers is
insignificant. Small private plots of land in villages and dacha
neighborhoods are all that remain to feed most of the population.
Much is imported. The major agricultural products in Belarus include
grains, potatoes, sugar beets, vegetables, poultry, pork, beef, and
The main foreign trade relations of Belarus are with the
countries of the former Soviet Union; Russia leads with 60%.
Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Lithuania, and the U.S. are the
primary Western connections.
As of June 2000, Belarus had the lowest rate of per capita
foreign direct investment of all of the former Soviet Union
countries, slightly more than $60. There were 1,655 joint ventures
and 1,057 100% foreign capital companies. By September 2000, four
Free Economic Zones (FEZ) were established in Belarus with the hope
of improving the business climate and the negative investment image.
So far, FEZ have seen more success than the rest of the economy.
Almost 70% of FEZ businesses have foreign investment.
The U.S. Government continues to support the development of the
private sector and the transition to a free market economy. But due
to the many obstacles, foreign companies are reluctant to invest in
Automobiles Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:11 AM
Central Minsk is accessible by foot or reliable inexpensive
public transportation. Most Embassy employees, however, have their
own vehicles. One personally owned vehicle (POV) may be shipped to
Minsk from the U.S. or from another post at U.S. Government expense.
POV’s can also be purchased and shipped from an overseas dealer,
from the Army/Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) in Frankfurt, or
from neighboring Lithuania. Several employees have bought small
secondhand cars from one of the local auto markets; prices are
reasonable and there is a large selection. Occasionally, a car can
be purchased from a departing diplomat.
City roads are wide and in relatively good condition. In smaller
neighborhoods and rural areas, they may be narrow and not well
maintained. Winter road conditions are similar to the northeast
coast of the U.S. The authorities do a good job of clearing snow
from the main roads, but side streets can be more difficult to
negotiate. Most sizes of snow tires, anti-freeze, ice scrapers,
etc., are available locally or 2½ hours away in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Parts and service for most major car manufacturers are available
in Minsk or Vilnius.
It is best to obtain liability, collision, and damage coverage
from U.S. insurance companies. Post policy requires all car owners
have insurance, including third person liability which must be
Most apartments have offstreet parking and a few offer protected
parking or garages. Although vandalism and car theft have not been
serious or pervasive problems, some employees use a steering wheel
club or car alarm system as a deterrent.
POV’s must be registered within 3 weeks of the owner’s
accreditation in country. Belarusians drive on the right side of the
road. A valid U.S. drivers license, an international drivers license
(available through any AAA office), and proof of ownership are
required to operate a vehicle. Local traffic police on street
corners stop cars at random to check for appropriate papers. On
occasion, cars with diplomatic plates may also be flagged down. Road
signs and traffic lights are similar to those used in Europe. Some
driving regulations will differ from those in the U.S. and Embassy
employees should be aware of these differences.
Fuel has been in good supply throughout the country, including
the recommended 95-octane unleaded gas.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:11 AM
Minsk has a well-developed network of public transportation that
is inexpensive and reliable, although often crowded. It operates
from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. In addition to a modern metro, the system
includes buses, trolley buses, and trams. Monthly passes are
available. Most areas of the city can be accessed with public
transportation, as can the connecting links to other parts of
Belarus or neighboring countries.
Taxi services are available 24 hours a day, but require some
Russian language to call the radio dispatcher or to give the driver
instructions. They are inexpense by Western standards but fares
should be metered or negotiated in advance. Tipping is not customary
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:12 AM
The country is linked by a system of train lines, bus routes, and
The road system throughout Belarus is mapped in a way that can be
followed easily into all but the most rural areas. The rural
countryside side, however, affords limited opportunities for
gasoline or road service.
The railway system is well developed and remains one of the
cheapest and most efficient means of transportation between
Belarusian cities and beyond. Minsk lies on a direct route between
Warsaw and Moscow. Daily trains serve several major Eastern and
Western cities, including Berlin, Paris, Kiev, Moscow, Prague, Riga,
St. Petersburg, Vilnius, and Warsaw.
For some routes, buses may be the better option because of
convenient departure times and frequency.
Minsk has two airports. Minsk I is within the city limits and
primarily serves smaller domestic flights. Minsk II is an easy
40-minute drive outside the city and serves international flights.
The airlines that service Minsk are: Lufthansa, Austrian Air, LOT,
Estonian Air, El Al, and Belavia. The major connecting cities into
and out of Minsk are Frankfurt, Vienna, Warsaw, and Moscow.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:13
The Embassy has a multichannel telephone line that allows 10
incoming calls at one time.
The country code for Belarus is 375; the city code for Minsk is
Embassy Phone Numbers are:
Embassy central line: + 375 17 210 12 83
After hours to Post One: +375 17 226 16 01
Unclassified FAX: +375 17 234 78 53
Duty Officer mobile phone: +375 29 676 01 34
Belarusian telephone service can be slow, but is generally
reliable. Some areas of Minsk have been updated to touchtone
dialing, but most of the country is still on the pulse dial system.
Bring telephones from home that are compatible with both pulse and
The Embassy has IVG access that allows employees to make
long-distance calls using U.S. telephone calling cards. Get a
calling card prior to your arrival. Some calling cards can also be
used for long-distance calls from your home.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:13 AM
Mobile phones can be purchased locally and are very reliable in the
cities. There are two standards available, Global Satellite
Monitoring (GSM) and Nordic Mobile Telecommunications (NTC); GSM is
preferred by most.
Internet Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:13 AM
Personal computers should have dual voltage, 110 AC and 240 AC.
Because local power fluctuates regularly, UPS (220v European style)
and surge protectors are highly recommended. The UPS should also
include telephone line surge protection, which can be purchased
locally. Telephone modems should have capacity for both pulse and
tone modes. American-style modems with speeds up to V.90 can be used
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:15 AM
The Embassy has a small mailroom with zone and weight charts,
rate schedules, and scales. Postage stamps are not sold, so bring a
supply of stamps (first-class letter and larger denominations for
packages) with you. Stamps can also be purchased online:
Personnel may use the APO to receive and send personal mail and
packages. There are size and weight restrictions for packages that
vary according the class of shipping. Regular U.S. postage is used
for APO mail and all U.S. postal regulations apply. A customs
declaration form is required for all incoming and outgoing packages.
APO mail is routed through the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. It
is delivered to post and picked up every Thursday by truck from
Helsinki. Delivery time is about 2 weeks in both directions.
The APO address is:
U.S. Embassy Minsk
PSC 78 Box B
APO AE 09723
Employees are also permitted to send and receive personal mail
via the Department of State pouch. Pouch mail also has weight and
size restrictions and is slower than APO mail. Recently, the
Department has initiated a new ZIP Code for personal pouch mail in
order to reduce delays.
The new pouch address for Minsk is: (Note: This new address
should not include any official reference or any reference to the
Department of State, American Embassy, etc.)
7010 Minsk Place
Dulles, VA 20189–7010
The local street address for the U.S. Embassy is:
46, Starovilenskaya Street
Republic of BELARUS
The cable address is: RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK.
Local mail service is slow and often unreliable. Sending or
receiving anything of value or size through local mail is not
recommended. Express delivery systems, such as DHL and UPS, are
available and quite reliable.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:15 AM
Radio coverage in Minsk has improved greatly in the last several
years. Minsk now has more than 10 FM and several AM stations. Most
stations offer a popular music format (Western and Russian pop
music). News coverage is limited to a few minutes per hour and
includes international news in Russian. Radio broadcasting outside
Minsk is still limited, but some Minsk-based stations are expanding
coverage throughout Belarus.
Broadcast television in Minsk is limited to the state-controlled
Belarusian National TV Channel One and major Russian channels, such
as ORT, RTR, and NTV. There are, however, several other
possibilities at some cost you. The six Armed Forces Network (AFN)
channels are available to Embassy personnel with a decoder provided
by the Embassy. In addition, there are several options for
cable/satellite TV providing multiple channels for news, sports, and
entertainment in a variety of languages, including English. (See
Utilities and Equipment under Housing for more information.)
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
11/28/2003 10:16 AM
English-language newspapers and magazines, such as the
International Herald Tribune and The Economist, are generally not
available in Minsk in a timely fashion. Most U.S. and other
Western-style newspapers and magazines arrive via the APO with
several weeks delay. One local bookstore in Minsk sells
international newspapers and magazines but they are not current. The
one weekly English-language newspaper, Belarus Today, covers local
Belarusian news. Minsk has a wide variety of Russian-language and
Belarusian-language newspapers and magazines, including Izvestia and
Belarusian print media includes both government and independent
newspapers each having its own bias.
A number of Russian-language newspapers and a local Internet site
provide information about social activities in Minsk.
Most Americans use home and Embassy Internet services to read
real-time news services, including the New York Times, Washington
Post, and CNN. As of June 2002, the Internet is the best option for
obtaining timely international and local news and information.
There is a growing number of Internet cafés throughout the city.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:17 AM
The Embassy Health Unit is staffed by a Belarusian physician who
has office hours three times a week for general medical care. He is
available 24 hours/7days a week for emergency calls. He has worked
for the Embassy on a part time-basis for 3 years and maintains an
active practice in a government hospital when not at the Embassy.
His English is excellent. He will arrange consultations with local
medical specialists, laboratories, and other medical facilities as
needed and often accompany the employee on any such visits. A small
supply of certain medicines not readily available on the local
market is maintained in the Health Unit and dispensed by the doctor.
In general, medical care in Belarus is below U.S. standards.
However, the Belarusian Government makes available a VIP clinic for
adult medical emergencies. Pediatric medical emergencies can be
handled in the ICU of the Republic Center of Children’s Surgery.
There are reliable facilities for obstetric emergencies and for
neonatal intensive care up to the point of medical evacuation. A few
private medical/dental care companies have staff licensed in Canada
or one of the European Union countries. Employees and their families
are encouraged to complete major dental work prior to arriving at
The regional medical officer from Moscow makes quarterly visits
and when at post is available for consultations, examinations, and
immunizations. The regional psychiatrist, located in Vienna, visits
every 6 months and is available for consultation as needed
throughout the year.
Serious medical emergencies or unresolved chronic health problems
may require medical evacuation to London, our medevac site. Pending
the recommendation of the post medical officer and the regional
medical officer, patients travel at U.S. Government expense. All
routine treatments are the responsibility of the patient.
Community Health Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:18 AM
The 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant affected
Belarus more than any other Soviet Republic. It is now 16 years
later and radiation levels in Minsk have long since returned to
normal. As a precaution, the levels are still regularly monitored.
There are good water and sewer infrastructures in Minsk, but
employees are advised not to drink tap water or swim in the city’s
rivers, streams, or lakes. The post provides water filters or
distillers to each residence.
Minsk has little pollution but levels are rising some due to the
increasing number of privately owned cars. Industrial pollution is
only a problem in the southeastern section of the city.
In spite of very low operating budgets, city streets are kept
very clean and there is regular trash pick up in most residential
The summer months bring the requisite mosquitoes, ticks, and
cockroaches, but there is very little tick-borne illness and no
malaria. Bedbugs may be a problem in rural or small city hotels.
There are controls for food storage and selling. Meat is
inspected. In general, however, food handling is not up to U.S.
safety standards. Some markets lack refrigeration, and the ‘human’
factor sometimes compromises established regulations. Meat should be
rinsed and cooked thoroughly and produce always washed well. As
anywhere else in the world, one should not drink milk raw or before
it has undergone pasteurization. (Boxed UHT milk is sold in local
stores.) American employees are encouraged to use care and
discernment, especially outside the major cities.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:19 AM
The regional medical officer has reported no extraordinary health
threats to American personnel based in Minsk. Routine vaccinations
such as measles, tetanus, and diphtheria should be current prior to
coming to post. No immunizations are required to enter Belarus, but
Hepatitis B and rabies are suggested, especially for those who
travel extensively, jog, bicycle, or hike. A fluoride supplement is
recommended for children under 18.
Blood banks screen for HIV, Hepatitis B, and syphilis, but still
there are concerns about the local blood supply. A walking blood
bank planned at post will reduce the possibility of needing locally
supplied blood products.
Belarus is relatively disease free, but as is happening all over
the newly independent countries, there are increasing numbers of
STD’s, including HIV. TB continues to be an increasing problem
(especially in prisons) all over the former Soviet Union, but should
not affect those at post. Yearly TB skin tests are routine. The
regional medical officer recommends that household help be screened
for TB prior to employment.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/28/2003
Permanent positions available for family members are: budget and
finance specialist, GSO assistant, security escort, IPO clerk, and
the community liaison officer (CLO).
Short-term positions also become available for special projects,
most frequently with Public Affairs and USAID, but also within the
Embassy as the need arises. The summer-hire program employs student
family members 16 years and older.
As U.S. Embassy Minsk grows, so too will family member job
opportunities. The Administrative Office seeks creative ways of
employing the interest, availability and work experience of eligible
family members and members of household at post to mutual benefit.
Family members wanting to work have been able to do so.
Family members who are interested in working are encouraged to
contact the administrative officer, personnel, or CLO to inquire
about positions available during their stay at post, at the same
time providing information on prior work experience and current
interest. They should reference INFOFORMS #OF–306—Declaration for
Federal Employment, #OF–510—Applying for Federal Employment, and
#OF–612—Optional Application for Federal Employment or contact the
Family Liaison Office (FLO) at DOS for procedural information. They
should also complete SF–86—Request for Security Clearance, also
available on INFOFORMS.
The Minsk International School is located very near the Embassy
and occasionally has openings for teachers and staff.
The U.S. and Belarus have a Bilateral Work Agreement. A few
opportunities exist for family members to work on the local economy,
but the salary is based on the local Belarusian wage scale.
Some local organizations are reluctant to accept volunteer help
from foreigners, but opportunities are available given the right
circumstances and contacts.
American Embassy - Minsk
Post City Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:21 AM
Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is today a clean manageable city
of beautiful well-kept parks, wide streets, both prewar European and
postwar Soviet architecture, statues that celebrate the exuberance
of youth and towering monuments to a war-torn past. As the
political, economic, cultural, and social center of Belarus, Minsk
is also the administrative capital of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS). With a population of 1.7 million
(one-sixth of the country’s population), the city supports two
airports; an efficient underground metro system; respected academic
and cultural institutes of higher learning; a modern sports stadium;
tranquil botanical gardens; and innumerable museums, theaters, and
arenas. Minsk is replete with outstanding, yet inexpensive
opportunities for the performing arts, including topnotch opera,
ballet, music, theater, folk music and dance, and even a year-round
circus. Art and photographic exhibitions are frequent and varied.
Weeping willows and white birch color the city landscape.
Two main streets, Prospekt Skaryny and Prospekt Masherava, divide
the city and are home to a majority of hotels, stores, and
restaurants. Government buildings, universities, musical venues,
etc., are centrally located and easy to access. There is little
crime and little traffic. The pace is unhurried, like the Svislach
River running through it.
However, as with the country that surrounds it, the city’s
history reflects past disasters. Minsk was once a prosperous trading
center at the crossroads of Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine.
But for centuries it was also the site of fighting and occupation,
tugged in politics, culture, and at times, allegiance by these same
countries. It is one of the “hero cities” of the Great Patriotic War
(World War II), but the price for such acclaim was high. The city
was virtually destroyed and one-third of its citizens killed,
including most of the once-sizable Jewish population. With notable
exceptions the buildings in the city now are postwar construction. A
few historic buildings and monuments remain. The Trinity Embankment
(Old Town) along the Svislach River has been reconstructed in the
17th-18th century styles.
Security Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:21 AM
The Local Guard Force maintains security at the Embassy compound,
the Public Affairs building, and the Ambassador’s residence. After
hours and weekends (7 p.m. to 7 a.m. 7days a week), a Mobile
Security Patrol routinely monitors employee housing and is available
to receive employee calls in the event of an accident, suspicious
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:23 AM
The U.S. recognized the Republic of Belarus in December 1991, and
the two countries agreed to establish diplomatic relations shortly
thereafter. Four Americans, led by the first Chargé, John Ford, took
the initial steps to establish a permanent U.S. Embassy in Minsk in
January 1992. The first U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, David Schwartz,
arrived in March 1992 and officially assumed his post on August 25,
The Embassy is housed in the 50-year old former Soviet Ministry
of Defense building, which is of residential style. It is a
beautiful historic building surrounded by a wall with 2 separate
entry gates. The location at Starovilenskaya, 46 in the ‘Soviet’
city district is near the embassies of Russia, Ukraine, and
Kyrgystan and provides convenient access to the various ministries,
government offices, other diplomatic missions, and the center of
January 31, 2002, marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy
in Minsk. It has grown from the 4 original Americans to 36,
including the 6-man U.S. Marine Security Guard, and nearly 150 local
employees. Additional positions have recently been approved.
The Embassy compound consists of the Chancery, the Administrative
Annex, and the Consular Section. The Chancery houses the Executive
Offices, the Political/Economic Section, the Regional Security
Office, the Defense Attaché’s Office, and the Marine Security Guard.
It was renovated in 2002. The modern and spacious Administrative
Annex is shared with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Consular Section has its own separate entrance. A small pleasant
garden area of trees, a gazebo, and wooden benches separates the
buildings. Public Affairs (PA) is located separately in the Old Town
section of Minsk at Gersten, 2A, within walking distance of the
Embassy business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday
A mail room, a Health Unit, and Cashier are located in the
Administrative Annex. Each has limited hours of operation arranged
for the convenience of Embassy employees.
An independent cook prepares hot lunches daily for the American
staff in an onsite dining area. The fees are nominal.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:23 AM
Every effort is made to move newcomers directly into permanent
housing upon arrival. In the rare event that this is not possible, a
short stay in an American-furnished temporary apartment or a nearby
hotel is arranged. The temporary apartments are small but
comfortable. They are close to the picturesque Svislach River, an
easy walk to the Embassy, and convenient to shops, downtown, and
public transportation. Hotels are also within walking distance or
only a short taxi ride to the Embassy. If not measured by American
standards, they are quite satisfactory — clean, safe, private bath,
local TV, etc. Convenient nearby restaurants offer affordable tasty
GSO will notify employees ahead of time if permanent housing will
not be immediately available, so families can consider if they
should follow later.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:24 AM
The Ambassador’s residence is located some 30 minutes outside of
Minsk in the rural community of Raubichi. The distance provides some
challenges for commuting and entertaining, but the beautiful natural
setting and rolling countryside more than compensates the
The DCM’s apartment is located within Minsk.
The housing pool for other personnel has been upgraded
significantly in the last 3 years. Apartments are centrally located
— an easy distance from the Embassy, markets, and city center. For
those without a car, public transportation is an option from all
U.S. housing units. Freestanding houses are rare.
The apartments are quite comfortable, although some are
considered small by U.S. standards. Each has, at the very least, a
kitchen, living room, dining area, 2–3 bedrooms, and 1–2 bathrooms.
Most provide offstreet parking. Jacuzzi tubs are one of the latest
features in the new and/or renovated apartments, as are guarded
entries and underground parking.
Housing units and assignments are chosen and approved by the
Interagency Housing Board. Consideration is given to family size and
special needs. GSO performs renovations between occupants and
routine maintenance during your tour.
Furnishings Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:25 AM
There is a normal complement of furniture provided by the U.S.
All housing comes completely furnished with major kitchen
appliances included. The master bed is queen sized. The second
bedroom usually has twin beds.
Built-in closets, as we know them, are infrequent. Americans are
encouraged to limit the amount of extra furnishings and household
goods they ship because of these storage space limitations. GSO
provides wardrobes and many apartments have freestanding cabinets
for additional storage.
Employees will need to provide their own linens for kitchen, bed,
bath, and table (including pillows and shower curtains), multisystem
TV/VCR, extra telephones, computer, iron and ironing board, clocks,
china, glassware, cutlery, cooking utensils, oven thermometer, pots,
bowls, small appliances, brooms, mops, waste baskets, basic tools,
crib, playpen, highchair, etc., as well as items to add their own
attractive personal touch.
Welcome Kits containing basic household items are available to
all new arrivals awaiting for their airfreight shipments. The kits
include a limited number of dishes, pots and pans, utensils,
glasses, toaster, coffeepot, silverware, bed and bath linens, iron,
ironing board, broom, mop, etc. — enough to get by for a short
period of time.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:30 AM
All residences have central heat. Heat and hot water are
centrally controlled by city authorities in most residences. The
Embassy provides supplemental electric radiators that can be moved
from room to room and an installed hot water heater for use when the
heat and hot water are inadequate or not available. Most housing
units do not have central air-conditioning, but the need for AC is
infrequent. Upon request to GSO, each apartment can be supplied with
a portable AC unit that will cool one room.
The basic utilities of heat, water, and electricity are provided
by the Embassy. Telephone installation and one telephone are
provided at Embassy expense, but employees are billed for the
monthly service charge and for all calls made.
Major appliances are supplied, including stove, microwave,
refrigerator/freezer, washer, and dryer. Some units have built-in
dishwashers. Up to four transformers per household are available.
Fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, radiation monitors, and a
vacuum cleaner are also provided by the Embassy. Humidifiers and
artificial sunlight lamps (known as ‘happy lights’) are available
upon request to GSO.
Small electrical appliances, such as coffeemakers, blenders,
toasters, electric mixers, electric fans, etc., are not provided.
Employees shipping such items should keep in mind the electric
current in Belarus is 220v, 50 cycle, AC. Any 220v or dual voltage
appliance or extension cord can be used. Your 110v appliances will
require a transformer. However, transformers do not convert European
50 cycles to American 60 cycles. Some electric clocks and other
electrical items designed for 60 cycles may not work accurately even
with the transformer. Small appliances designed for the local
current are easily purchased locally. Employees may bring surge
protectors, voltage regulators, converter plugs, and extra
transformers or purchase them locally.
Outlets are standard European two round pin, though smaller in
diameter than the German standard. The power supply will fluctuate;
the use of surge protectors or UPS is strongly recommended.
A water filter is provided for each residence, either attached to
the kitchen faucet or as a freestanding water distiller. GSO changes
filters every 6 months
Employees should bring a multisystem TV in order to watch television
in Belarus. The Embassy provides an AFN decoder through which the
six Armed Forces Network Television channels can be accessed, but
the necessary satellite dish is at your expense (if not left by the
previous occupant). There are other options for television beyond
the local State-controlled Belarusian/Russian stations. These
additional options are at employee expense (satellite purchase and
installation) but GSO will assist with information and arrangements.
A local Minsk provider (Cosmos) offers 24 channels for about $25 a
month. These channels include CNN International, MTV, TCM, the
Cartoon Network, Eurosport, and a movie channel in English. The
remaining channels are in Russian. European satellite TV is an
alternative satellite system that offers several hundred TV and
radio channels from all over the world in many languages. The latter
requires a decoder card that must be electronically keyed each month
for a small fee.
Food Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:18 AM
Shopping for food is a bit more challenging than a visit to a
U.S. supermarket, but resources exist for Americans to fulfill most
of their wants and requirements. The sources of food for those
living in Minsk are the local markets and kiosks; Vilnius, Lithuania
which has modern Western-style markets and stores; orders placed to
companies outside Belarus; and consumables. With a little
experimentation and foresight each family finds quite quickly its
own best combination of these resources.
Local Markets and Kiosks. The availability of food in Minsk is
constantly improving. It is quite possible to live comfortably on
the local economy if you will to suspend Western expectations of
convenience, brand names, consistent availability, and at times,
quality. It helps to be flexible and open to different cuts of meat,
kinds of fish, types of cheeses, and new eating experiences.
Minsk has several large indoor/outdoor markets, all of which can
be accessed by public transportation. These carry an impressive
variety of good fresh (seasonal and imported) produce, meats, fish,
caviar, dry goods, dried fruits and nuts, dairy products, canned
goods, beverages, breads, sweets, snacks, liquor, and flowers. The
markets remain open all year, but quality, variety and price are all
affected by the seasons. Meat is displayed on long wide-open tables
and can be cut to specifications. Except chicken, meat is rarely
sold refrigerated. Most of the fish is dried or smoked. Much of the
produce is imported; the quality, by and large, is quite good. This
is supplemented during the local growing seasons when small local
farmers/gardeners bring their homegrown fresh farm/fruit products to
be sold. There is a large variety of bread — all inexpensive. The
markets are clean; the displays attractive. Prices are controlled
and the merchants painstakingly honest.
In addition to these markets, there are small grocery stores.
Some have open shelves from which customers can make their own
selections and pay for everything at one time at checkout counters.
Other smaller neighborhood markets are old Soviet-style displaying
only samples of what is available. These require the
point-and-hope-for-the-best method of shopping or at least some
grasp of the language. Small kiosks and outdoor produce stands dot
the sidewalks everywhere; these carry a limited selection of a
variety of products.
Sometimes the availability of certain products is inconsistent,
and you must visit more than one store to complete shopping. But
overall, shoppers can find most food items locally. Much is
There are safety standards for meat and dairy products, but
Americans should use caution, especially in the smaller cities and
rural communities outside of Minsk.
Convenience foods, prepackaged foods, and special diet foods
(such as, no or low fat, salt, or sugar products) are practically
nonexistent. A few American brands can be found. Only a few foods
come well frozen.
The local markets, stores, and kiosks also carry a variety of
cleaning products, toiletries, pet food, paper products, and an
array of household goods. Prices tend to be high and selection
Diplomatic Services runs a small duty-free shop near the Embassy.
There, members of the diplomatic community can purchase alcohol,
wine and beer, cigarettes, candies, and a few clothing accessories
at lower prices than in the normal stores.
Vilnius, Lithuania. Just 2½ hours from Minsk is Vilnius,
Lithuania where shopping is similar to that in the West. Grocery
stores and Superstores, such as ‘Hyper’ Maxima (similar to
SuperWalMart/Target) are consistently well stocked with large
selections of quality produce, meats, other food items, toiletries,
paper products, cleaning supplies, clothing, and household items —
much like in the U.S. Most things that cannot be found in Minsk can
be obtained quite easily in Vilnius. There are still apt to be some
challenges — most store clerks do not speak English and labels are
in Lithuanian but these are minor inconveniences.
Many Embassy employees make regular trips to Vilnius to
‘stock-up.’ The round trip can be made in a day.
Orders from Outside Belarus. Embassy employees may order food
products from different sources outside of Belarus. The three most
Stockmann’s is a large food/department store in Helsinki,
Finland. Deliveries are made weekly on the mail truck coming from
Embassy Helsinki. Stockmann’s makes every effort to accommodate the
requested food with the European equivalent. Even perishable foods
such as milk, cheeses, fresh produce, meat, and fish are available.
The quality is consistently good, and perishables are shipped in a
manner that guards against spoilage even in the warmer months. The
drawbacks are: Stockmann’s has no catalog from which to select;
prices tend to be high; and they are not known until the bill
Peter Justesen, catering worldwide to the diplomatic community,
currently makes deliveries to the embassies in Minsk with its own
truck only once a month. Consequently, Embassy employees use PJ’s
infrequently for food even though it is widely used for an extensive
variety of other products, including liquor. PJ’s does, however,
carry an impressive line of food products and is currently exploring
ways to make these more readily available to diplomats in Minsk.
They have a full catalog complete with pictures and prices. Shipping
costs are a set percentage of the total order.
NetGrocer allows employees to shop in the U.S. via the internet (www.netgrocer.com).
All brands and products you would normally find in a supermarket are
available in the online catalog; sales and specials are advertised.
Purchases may be shipped via APO.
Consumables. Shipping certain consumables is recommended, but
because storage space is limited, employees may want to ship only a
portion of the 2,500-pound allowance, initially. This will also
allow for time to explore what is available at post and to work with
existing storage space. Additional consumables can be ordered as
The choice of what to buy in bulk as consumables really depends
on individual preferences and needs. The following list should serve
only as a guide of what to consider.
– Convenience foods, such as cake/pie crust mixes, pancake mix,
bread crumbs; products to help prepare your favorite ethnic or
American meals (example, taco seasonings, enchilada sauce, chile
mix, etc); as well as items such as chocolate bits, canned soups,
cranberry sauce, salad dressings, sauces, stuffing mixes, pumpkin
pie mix, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar,
spices and seasonings, peanut butter, cereals, coffee, maple syrup,
brown sugar, whole wheat flour, etc.
– Sugar free drinks, no or low fat/sugar/salt foods, and special
– Snack foods, such as granola and power bars.
In addition to food, other items to consider include:
– Paper products, including significant quantities of paper
towels, toilet paper, tissues, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic
storage bags, garbage bags, wax paper, napkins, paper plates, etc.
Also consider stationery, large mailing envelopes, wrapping paper,
greeting cards, art supplies, and holiday decorations.
– Pet food, pet care products, and cat litter.
– Cleaning products, including dish soap, laundry detergent,
dishwasher detergent, hand soap, shampoo, spray starch, spot
remover, spray cleaner, etc.
– Toiletries, over-the-counter medications, first aid items, and
health and beauty aids, including toothpaste, dental floss, feminine
hygiene products, bandaids, aspirin, antiseptics, cold medications,
vitamins, insect repellant, sunscreen, contact lens solution, skin
care products, and cosmetics.
– Prescription medications for at least 6 months.
– Other miscellaneous items to consider are stamps, film,
computer supplies, printer cartridges, desk supplies, tape,
batteries, sticky hooks, small nails, etc.
– Routine car maintenance parts and fluids, including products
for winter driving conditions. (See Transportation)
– Items for personal entertainment, such as books, CD’s, videos,
and DVD’s. (See Supplies, Services, and Domestic Help)
For updated considerations of what to ship, refer to the most
current Welcome Cable or contact the CLO.
Clothing Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:20 AM
Clothing requirements in Minsk are relatively informal, but must
take into consideration the weather. Winters are long, wet, windy,
and cold. Icy sidewalks can be slick. Spring and autumn are
sometimes rainy. Summer temperatures are usually mild, only rising
above 90°F for a short period.
Generally apartments and offices are sufficiently warm. However,
the city authorities turn off the heating supply from late spring
until fall. If cold weather sets in during that time frame,
apartment interiors can become cold and a supply of warm indoor
winter clothing is recommended. This should include fleece-lined
items, wool sweaters, thermal or silk underwear (both heavy and
lightweight), warm socks/sock liners, lined wool pants, etc. (Note:
Embassy buildings are not dependent on city heat.) Winter outdoor
wear should include warm hats, scarves, gloves, wool socks,
insulated waterproof boots with good tread, and a long heavy coat.
(The larger markets have a wide selection of winter coats for men
and women that are appropriate for the weather of Eastern Europe, of
good quality and reasonably priced.)
Raingear, including raincoat, good umbrella, and rubber footwear,
is also suggested.
Local department stores and the larger markets sell clothing of
all kinds. Some domestic styles may be reminiscent of the ’60’s, but
several shops carry a small selection of up-to-date imported
clothing. A few Western brands are becoming available in Belarus as
a handful of popular clothing and shoe manufacturers have opened
retail outlets in Minsk. With all imports, the selection will be
limited and the prices high.
Shopping for clothes amidst the myriad of stalls in the outdoor
markets is an experience not to be missed. Sizes can be confusing;
weather seems a deterrent only to the Western shopper; dressing
rooms are a small single curtain; and lacking a 3–3 in Russian,
proficiency in hand-gesture communication is essential.
Many Embassy employees shop for clothes via the Internet, from
the Peter Justesen catalog, or from the many mail order U.S.
companies. (The CLO office regularly receives new catalogs from all
the major companies.) Clothes shipped through the APO usually take
about 2 weeks to arrive. Other Embassy employees shop for clothes in
Vilnius, Lithuania — a relatively close mecca for many things
Western, or they restock on visits to the U.S.
Men Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:20 AM
For men, slacks, shirts, sweaters, leather coats, and nice shoes
are in style. Shorts, tennis shoes, T-shirts, or jeans are rarely
worn by either sex, however the standards for men are a bit more
relaxed. Colors tend to be conservative.
Women Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:20 AM
In general, a supply of easily cleaned garments in darker colors
and sturdy comfortable shoes and boots for all seasons is
recommended. For women the general standard of dress in Minsk is
dresses, skirts, slacks, sweaters, stylish boots, or heels.
Children Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:21 AM
Children need sturdy warm heavy clothing that is washable,
including a zippered nylon snowsuit, several pairs of waterproof
mittens, warm waterproof boots, hats or hoods, and thermal
Office Attire Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:21 AM
Business attire at the Embassy calls for suit (or at the very
least, sport coat) and tie for men and suit, dress, or pantsuit for
women. Similarly this is also appropriate for most receptions,
official/social functions, and cultural events. The annual Marine
Ball calls for semiformal or formal attire.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:22 AM
In addition to the particular foods discussed in the previous
section under consumables, it is also with supplies that future
employees should give due consideration to what is appropriate to
ship according to individual/family preferences.
Basic supplies of cleaning products, paper products (including
disposable diapers), personal toiletries, hair/skin/care items,
contact lenses solutions, cosmetics, pet food, etc., are available
in local stores and kiosks, but prices tend to be high; availability
and selection are limited; and the quality is not necessarily that
of American standards. Some products are available in Western
brands, but the cost will be higher. The same is true for film,
basic art supplies, fabrics, and yarns. Again, Vilnius offers a
Bring a supply of over-the-counter medications and first-aid
items, plus at least a 6 months supply of prescription medications.
Employees should also explore options for having prescriptions
refilled and shipped.
The opportunity to buy books in English is limited to one small
bookstore at the Linguistics University, which carries only a few
classics, workbooks for teaching English and technical journals.
Here also is a very limited collection of American videos in
English. A few popular Western magazines are available, but only in
Russian. The CLO office has a small library of books and videos
available for the entire Embassy community. Americans are encouraged
to bring plenty of books and videos to post and to subscribe to
their favorite periodicals. Employees restock their personal and
video libraries via the Internet with shipments through the APO.
Entertainment supplies (music cassettes and CD’s) are more
readily available than the few videos in English found in local
kiosks or underground shops. The latter are usually of questionable
quality and cannot be played on Western VCR’s. Occasionally,
bootlegged DVD’s can be found.
Some Western sporting goods are beginning to make an appearance,
but the prices are generally high. Computers, supplies, and software
are increasingly available.
Basic Services Last Updated: 5/31/2003 6:00 PM
The key to Minsk is to realize that most basic services
exist—they just have to first, be found and second, negotiated.
Residential Internet access is available with many Internet
Service Providers (ISP) from which to choose. High-speed lines can
also be purchased. Several computers have been installed throughout
the Embassy with an unclassified e-mail system and Internet access
that is free to all Embassy personnel. This is a great resource,
especially for those employees without PC’s or home Internet
Several options are available for television programming. These
include local television, Armed Forces Network Television (AFN), and
a variety of satellite channels. (See Utilities and Equipment under
There are many inexpensive beauty shops providing hair and nail
care to both men and women. Some offer facials, massages, tanning,
and even computerized imaging for hair styling and coloring. A
massage and manicure can be arranged in your home.
Film developing is readily available; service is quick and
reliable; prices are comparable to the U.S. Repairs on personal
computers can be handled locally, but the Embassy IMO staff is more
than willing to help with basic questions, set-ups, and problems.
Several garages repair foreign-made automobiles, but spare parts for
some Western automobiles are still hard to come by. (It is best to
check with GSO before shipping a particular make of car.) Tailoring,
dressmaking, and shoe-repair are also available for a fraction of
the U.S. cost. Drycleaners are available and quite adequate, but
difficult to locate.
Vilnius, Lithuania, is another resource for health and beauty
services, as well as automotive parts and service.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:23 AM
Housekeepers, maids, cooks, dog-walkers, nannies, and language
tutors are readily available in Minsk. Many are educated men and
women, who are unable to find jobs within the local community due to
the present economic difficulties or who can actually earn more
working as a domestic for the diplomatic community. They are known
to be honest, reliable, efficient, and hardworking. A few speak will
speak some English. Wages depend on frequency and type of service,
but are extremely low by Western standards. Referrals come readily
from other families at post or from those who are leaving.
Names of household staff are submitted to the RSO for security
screening. They may be required to have a personal interview and a
police check. Local staff should also have a full medical screening,
including TB test, done at a local hospital at the employer’s
expense, especially if they are to be involved with food preparation
and childcare. All Belarusian tax liabilities are the employee’s
Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:24 AM
Of the more than 30 religious societies registered in Belarus,
the Belarusian Orthodox Church is by far the largest, followed by
the Roman Catholic Church. Both are well represented in Minsk. A
number of smaller Protestant denominations and missionary groups are
present throughout the country. The Jewish community has not fully
recovered from the devastation of WWII. It remains small, but there
are active Synagogues. Services are in Russian, Belarusian, or
In Minsk there are two opportunities for worship in English. A
nondenominational International Christian Fellowship holds services
in English each Sunday morning in a centrally located hall. A
separate service for children is held concurrently and the services
are followed by a time of fellowship and refreshments. People of
many nationalities and faiths attend these services.
A Baptist Church, home-based in Kentucky, also has services each
Sunday in English that are then translated into Russian. There are
also classes for children and a period of fellowship following the
regular worship service.
At Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:25 AM
The Minsk International School.
The private, nonprofit Minsk International School (MIS), operated by
Quality Schools International (QSI), opened in September 1993. The
school is located in a wing of a Belarusian school about 4 blocks
from the Embassy. Classes are taught in English. Instruction is
offered for students from 5 years to 13 years of age. For ages 14
and above, additional educational opportunities can be arranged
through a fully accredited independent study program of the
University of Nebraska using Internet correspondence classes
supervised by MIS staff.
Minsk International School is fully accredited in the U.S. by the
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and by the
Commission of International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA).
It is supported by the Department of State’s Office of Overseas
Schools. The academic program uses an individualized
Performance-Based/Mastery Learning approach to education; students
must obtain a B level in each subject before moving on to new
In addition to the standard academic courses, MIS offers
intensive English, Russian, computer integrated class work,
swimming, music, drama, art, afterschool activities, field trips,
and other opportunities for students to develop an appreciation of
the rich culture and history of Belarus. In spite of the small size
(enrollment averages between 12–16 students), MIS has up-to-date
materials and equipment, as well as ample resources to provide a
well-rounded quality education.
For more information:
Minsk International School
U.S. Department of State
7010 Minsk Place
Washington DC, 20521–7010
Telephone: 375 17 234 3035
FAX: 375 17 234 3035
DOS Intranet: http://minsk.state.gov/
A few Embassy families have used local Belarusian public and private
schools, including preschools. For the most part, they have been
well satisfied with the education received by their children. Here
is opportunity for students to interact with a larger number of
their peers and to hone their language skills as classes are taught
primarily in Russian. The curriculum is based on European/Russian
standards. Classes are held 6 days a week for older students.
Most local schools specialize in certain fields, such as
math/physics, languages, art, or sciences. The Ministry of Education
must give approval for a foreign student to enroll in a local
school. It may also provide information on good schools, as can
other post families and local employees, based on their experience.
Individual tutoring in specific subjects can usually be arranged.
Away From Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:26 AM
The post has an education allowance for schooling away from post for
students at both primary and secondary levels. This has been used
primarily for older children attending boarding schools in
Switzerland or England. The Office of Overseas Schools publishes a
list of overseas boarding schools attended by U.S. Government
dependent children. Current listings are available in the CLO
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:26 AM
The Embassy Language Program provides Russian instruction on all
levels to any interested American personnel. Lessons are free of
charge, most often private, and can be incorporated into the
Private Russian and Belarusian language tutors are readily
available. Most will come to the home; the cost is minimal. Arts and
sports instruction (in Russian) is available through local
government sponsored institutions.
Knowledgeable English-speaking personal tour guides can be hired
for a small fee. They are available for tours of Minsk and all
through Belarus. This is an optimal way to get a true feel for the
country and/or to focus on particular areas of individual interest.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:27 AM
Minsk offers numerous opportunities for a variety of sports. The
city has several swimming pools, tennis facilities, ice-skating
rinks, and bowling alleys. The area is ideal for biking with wide
sidewalks, extensive parks, and meandering bike paths. A few health
clubs/fitness centers for working out, weight training, and aerobics
have modern, well-maintained machines and trained instructors.
Cross-country skiing, ice-skating, ice hockey, soccer, and
volleyball are all popular. Kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboats can be
rented along the river during summer.
On the outskirts of Minsk are several former Soviet Olympic
training centers, including the winter/summer sports center at
Raubichi and the equestrian center at Ratomka. The Minsk Yacht Club,
for sailing and windsurfing enthusiasts, is situated on the shores
of the large Minsk Sea, a short distance outside the city.
Fishermen, hikers, and nature lovers will enjoy the rural
unspoiled countryside, the many forests, and innumerable lakes. The
country is a picnicker’s paradise. Tents can be freely pitched on
most empty spaces (except in city parks), as long “the peace is not
disturbed.” Hunting and fishing are regulated; licenses are
Soccer and ice hockey are the two most popular spectator sports.
Dinamo Stadium, a 55,000-seat stadium in downtown Minsk, is home to
the country’s top soccer club, Dinamo Minsk. The Sports Palace hosts
ice hockey matches. Belarusian gymnasts continue to excel in world
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:28 AM
Belarus has a relatively good road system and it is possible to
travel to any corner of the country within 3–4 hours. Vilnius,
Lithuania is a 2 ½-hour drive; Warsaw and Kiev about 8 hours away by
car, and Moscow a full day’s drive. Trains are also a reliable and
relatively inexpensive mode of travel.
Most attractions within an hour of Minsk are historical
structures, museums, and war memorials. Farther away are the
Belavezhskaja Pushcha Nature Reserve (Europe’s largest piece of
surviving primeval mixed forest which is home to substantial herds
of the once nearly extinct European bison), the Bjarezinski Nature
Reserve, and the Pripet Nature Reserve. The famed Blue Lakes in the
north are renowned for their natural beauty. The city of Vitebsk,
(227 km north of Minsk) is a popular weekend trip — primarily
because of the Marc Chagall Museum and home of his birth.
Crimea, on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, is the closest
warm-weather destination. Beaches along the Red Sea are also
becoming popular destinations as airlines and resorts offer
attractive vacation packages from this area.
The designated optional point of destination for R & R is Rome,
as well as any point in the U.S.
Entertainment Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:29 AM
Minsk offers a wide variety of live entertainment throughout the
The opera and ballet share a large theater near the Embassy.
Their frequent performances from wide repertoires are generally
excellent and include special programs for children. The season
generally runs from September to June. Philharmonic Hall is home to
a broad range of classical and semi-classical musical offerings —
symphony orchestras, choral groups, chamber ensembles, soloists,
instrumental groups, folk dance ensembles, and many others.
Performances are frequent during the season and ticket prices
remarkably low. There are special programs for children. Numerous
musical venues for all tastes are scattered throughout the city —
smaller halls and theaters, clubs, conservatories, restaurants,
Live theater requires a very good command of Russian to be
understood and enjoyed, but is available in Minsk. There is also a
puppet theater for children.
A year round indoor circus located near the center of town hosts
many traveling troupes. Tickets are very affordable and performances
Gorky Park in the city center offers amusement rides, an open-air
theater, a children’s play area, a Planetarium, billiards, live
bands and side-walk stands selling soft drinks, cold beer, snacks,
and freshly grilled shashlick (shish-kabob).
Beautiful botanical gardens offer a tranquil daytime respite. A
nearby amusement park has rides and good fun activities for all
Minsk also has a go-cart track, a paint-ball course, and a newly
opened 18-hole miniature golf course.
There are several movie theaters in Minsk, one showing 3-D movies
and three with Dolby Surround Sound. Some show American movies, but
they are dubbed in Russian without subtitles. Two bowling alleys are
relatively new and quite modern.
Dance clubs, bars, and casinos abound. New restaurants are
opening with some frequency throughout the city. There is an
expanding variety of ethnic cuisines, including Chinese, Mexican,
Georgian, Indian, Uzbek, Italian, Spanish, and even a couple of
places to get a good steak or some sushi. Service, menu selection,
and food quality are improving. With a few notable exceptions,
prices are reasonable. There are six McDonalds in Minsk (some say
better than U.S. McDonalds) and several pizza parlors. The many
sidewalk cafes are pleasant places for a meal or drink during the
good weather seasons. When folks need a taste of Western dining or a
weekend away, they often head for Vilnius.
Among Americans Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:29 AM
The CLO office organizes periodic social gatherings, as well as
trips to local sites of interest. The Marines host monthly socials
for all Embassy staff, local friends, and foreign diplomats. There
are frequent shashlik barbecues on Embassy grounds when weather
permits. Other social activities are usually scheduled informally
between friends. It is easy to find someone willing to share the
experience of a new restaurant or a night at the ballet.
International Contacts Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:30 AM
The international community in Minsk is small, but active. There is
definite interest among the ex-pats for opportunities to socialize.
Organized functions to do so are becoming more common. The Hash
Hound Harriers, inactive for the last 2 years, are now back up and
running. The Minsk International Women’s Group has a growing
membership of women from many countries. All monthly meetings and
smaller interest group activities are attended by a skilled
translator for both Russian and English. Recently a Boy Scout and a
Cub Scout Troop have been formed. Weekly meetings are led by members
of the U.S. Marine Security Guard but the membership is
There are opportunities for meeting and socializing with
host-country nationals. Russian language skills are necessary for
most contact beyond the diplomatic community, although English
speakers do exist in the business, academic, and arts communities.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:30 AM
Embassy officers have frequent contacts with the diplomatic
community. The frequency of contacts with Belarusian officials
varies based upon the overall political relationship. Official
entertaining usually involves receptions, dinners, cocktail parties,
and celebrations of respective National Days. Although junior
officers have fewer social requirements than senior officials,
junior officers frequently attend official and semiofficial
functions, either as invited guests in their own capacity or as
representatives of the front office.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:31 AM
No formal calls within the Embassy are required, but newcomers
should call on the Chief of Mission and Deputy Chief of Mission soon
after arrival. Appointments to visit other Embassy employees in
their offices should be arranged within the first two weeks.
Formal calls on Belarusian ministry officials and other members
of the diplomatic community are also appropriate. In making these
calls, employees should leave their calling cards. (Note: Employees
may bring a supply of cards to post or have them printed at post.
This is an employee expense.)
Dress for each function is often noted on the invitation. Dress
for most functions is either business suit or business casual. There
are few formal occasions requiring black tie.
When the Ambassador entertains officially, invited staff members
should arrive 10 minutes before the appointed time in order to
assist and should remain at the party until the foreign guest(s) or
guest(s) of honor have departed, or until informed that their
obligation has been fulfilled.
Special Information Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:33 AM
Visas are required to enter Belarus. Non-diplomatic U.S. citizens
traveling through Belarus to other countries are required to have a
Transit Visa for entering and leaving Belarus. Transit visas should
be obtained prior to any journey that requires travel through
Belarus. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russian visas
are no substitute.
All foreign nationals (other than accredited diplomats) entering
the country must purchase medical insurance at the port-of-entry
regardless of any other insurance one might have. Cost of the
insurance varies according to the length of stay.
All foreign nationals (other than accredited diplomats) must also
be officially registered with the Office of State Registration of
the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Embassy Human Resource personnel
can assist with the required medical insurance and official
People traveling by car into and out of Belarus may encounter
long delays at the borders with Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and
Russia. Generally diplomatic license plates reduce the delay.
Without these, a letter from the Embassy and/or diplomatic
identification may help.
Seventy percent of the fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster
in Ukraine came into Belarus, seriously contaminating about
one-fifth of Belarus, and affecting people, farmland, and forest.
For a time after the disaster the southeastern region of the country
close to Chernobyl was offlimits to travelers. Main roads have long
since been reopened. The risk to short-term visitors is considered
insignificant, but long-term exposure in this area should still be
Locally grown foods are considered safe and free from
contamination with the exception of those most absorptive, such as
mushrooms and berries.
Minsk as a hardship post is only partially defined by the erratic
availability of hot water, the challenges of shopping, or even the
long dark winters. Instead, it is the ubiquitous presence of police
along every street corner, the subtle and not-so-subtle reminders of
distant and more-recent horrors, and the reluctant realization that
the Cold War with all its restrictive and paranoid implications is
still not over. As one of very few Americans in Belarus, your
movements, your residence and conversations may well be monitored.
There is little threat of physical danger in this fact, but one is
cautioned to be mindful of security precautions at all times.
Post Orientation Program
Generally all new employees receive post information well before
their arrival from the Administrative Counselor, the GSO, and the
CLO. Through this they are invited to an ongoing dialog to help with
questions associated with preparing for the move to Minsk.
All incoming employees are also assigned a sponsor prior to
arrival. Sponsors will meet the newcomers at the airport, provide
basic food staples and household supplies for the first 2 or 3 days,
conduct an orientation tour of the Embassy and Minsk, introduce
Embassy staff, and be available as needed to assist in the
adjustment period. Incoming families are asked to notify post of any
special needs prior to arriving.
The CLO office provides a Welcome Packet to all newcomers with
practical information on post services, getting around Minsk,
shopping, general tourist literature, etc., all of which is intended
to help with orientation and adjustment. Because the Post is small,
additional orientation is informal and individually directed. New
families are invited to meet with the CLO.
All new arrivals are provided a security briefing.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:34 AM
Most employees arrive at post by plane via Washington D.C.,
connecting to Minsk through Frankfurt, Germany, on the daily
Lufthansa flight. Other suggested connecting cities are Vienna,
Warsaw, and Moscow. In addition to Lufthansa, air service to Minsk
is provided by Austrian Air, LOT (Polish Air), El Al, and Belavia
Airlines (Belarusian Air).
Depending on the point of origin, train transportation is another
viable option into Minsk.
Employees planning to drive from Western Europe by car should
have their automobiles in excellent condition because many Eastern
European roads are in poor repair. The availability of road service
and car parts is limited in many rural areas along the way.
Employees should carry supplies of water, food, blankets, first-aid
equipment, and flashlights for emergencies. Winter weather
conditions should be carefully considered before starting out and
driving at night should be avoided. Be prepared for long delays at
the Eastern Europe border crossings.
Employees should notify post administration of their specific
travel plans, including flight numbers, date/time of arrival, number
of family members and/or pets, and any excessive baggage. They will
be met at the airport or train station, usually by their sponsor
and/or section head in an official Embassy vehicle. Although not
usually a major concern, employees should avoid arriving on national
holidays if possible.
Documents to be hand-carried to post include current diplomatic
passports with current visas, several additional identification
photos for each family member, original travel orders (TM-4),
tickets and travel itinerary, Embassy phone numbers and contact
names, government travel requisitions, excess baggage coupons,
international driver’s licenses, proof of automobile insurance,
vaccination and medical records of self and family members,
appropriate documentation and health records for pets, and all
shipping documents for household goods (HHE), including the packing
list, for unaccompanied air baggage (UAB), and for personally owned
There are no immunizations or inoculations required for entering
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:36 AM
Automobiles, household goods, and personal effects of diplomatic
personnel are cleared without assessment of duty. Personally owned
vehicles must be accompanied by invoice, certificate of title, and
certificate of registration. There are no age or model restrictions
on cars imported for the personal use of Embassy employees. HHE and
UAB shipments require the packing list.
There are no entry or departure fees at the Minsk airports.
Persons with diplomatic passports are not required to submit their
luggage for customs inspection.
People buying art or antiques should obtain an itemized receipt
at the time of purchase or importation. Local customs regulations
stipulate that persons importing art or antiques should have written
permission for export from the country of departure’s Ministry of
Culture and two stamped photos of each item. Without this
documentation, local customs inspectors or the Ministry of Culture
here must give permission for export before departure from Belarus.
There is no restriction on the amount of money that can be
imported or exported into or out of Belarus, but amounts in excess
of $1500 must be declared by anyone other than accredited diplomats.
For Household Effects (HHE), Privately Owned Vehicles (POV), and
Consumables (CON)HHE/POV/CON shipments should be routed through the
port of discharge Antwerp, Belgium and consigned to the European
logistical support office (ELSO).
Consignment marking instructions for these shipments are:
Elso Antwerp, Belgium
For forwarding to:
220002 Minsk, Belarus
For: Name of Office/Owner
Additional required documents for the above shipments are the
Copies of Packing Lists or Specifications
Copies of Invoices
Copy of the Certificate of Title for a vehicle
For Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB)
UAB should be send directly by air to Minsk II International
Airport. In the absence of a direct flight to Minsk, UAB should be
routed to transit through either Frankfurt or Vienna and should
arrive in Minsk aboard Lufthansa or Austrian Airlines.
A Packing List, Specification or Invoice is required with the Air
Consignment marking instructions for the UAB shipment is as
220002 Starovilenskaya 46
For: Owner/Office Name
Passage Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:36 AM
All Americans entering Belarus must have a visa prior to
arriving. The visa must be valid for the date of arrival. Airport
visas are issued only to those arriving from countries where there
is no Belarusian Embassy or Consulate. Visas may be obtained from
the Belarusian Embassy in Washington D.C., (1619 New Hampshire
Avenue, NW, 20009 Telephone: 202 986–1606. FAX: 202 986–1805) or
from the Belarusian Embassy/Consulate in the country of current
residence. Applications must be accompanied by a diplomatic note
from the respective U.S. Embassy or an appropriate letter of
Multiple-entry visas will only be issued to diplomatic and
official personnel and in some cases, to business representatives
upon submission of proper justification. Visas are free to those
with diplomatic and official passports traveling for official
purposes. Multiple-entry visas can be obtained at the Belarusian
Embassy in Washington D.C., by persons coming to Belarus on
permanent assignment. For others, multiple-entry visas will be
issued upon arrival in Minsk after a registration procedure with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For nondiplomatic/nonofficial persons only single-, double- and
triple-entry visas are available. These may be renewed under certain
circumstances. It is more difficult to have the triple-entry visa
issued from the Embassy in Washington D.C., but it is also cheaper
than in Minsk.
Visas are not required for American citizens to enter neighboring
Lithuania or Poland. They are required to enter Russia and Ukraine.
Pets Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:38 AM
Please notify post well in advance if you are bringing a pet or
Shipping domestic family pets is the owner’s responsibility.
Actual shipping costs in conjunction with post assignment transfers
(but not related costs) can be reimbursed within certain limits.
(Pet owners are advised to reference STATE 072825, traveling with
pets overseas and to check the most current information from FSI’s
Overseas Briefing Center for clarification of the reimbursement
policy as well as other useful shipping guidelines.)
Anyone bringing pets to post should begin planning well in
advance. Travelers should check any applicable restrictions with the
airlines and with all landing/connecting points. Careful thought
should be given to various shipping alternatives, considering the
complexity of the trip and the size of the animal. You are
encouraged to check current entry requirements for pets coming into
Belarus as they may be subject to change. A trusted veterinary can
provide travel recommendations for the safety and health of your
Traveling with large animals can be especially difficult. Pets
may be transported on Lufthansa/United Airlines for a fee. The
Lufthansa-run flight co-shared with United Airlines from D.C. to
Minsk is the most pet friendly, especially if traveling with a large
There is no quarantine requirement for pets coming into Belarus.
Rabies vaccinations must have been given at least 14 days, but less
than 30 days prior to arrival in country. If the rabies vaccination
is a booster vaccine, then it can be given within the 14-day window.
A valid Rabies Certificate is required, as is an international
health certificate obtained within 10 days of the pet’s arrival in
Belarus. A small registration fee, payable in Belarusian rubles, is
due upon entry.
Veterinary care is available in Minsk; more progressive services
are available in Vilnius, Lithuania. Chronic medical conditions
should be considered. If pets are on prescription medications, it is
advised that an adequate supply of these medications be brought to
post. Anyone wishing to neuter or spay a pet is advised to do so
before coming to post; otherwise this service is available in
The availability of pet food and supplies is improving, but still
limited and costly. Choices are limited to Pedigree, Whiskers, and a
few other grocery store type brands. There is a slightly better
selection at lower cost in Lithuania. Pet owners are advised to ship
pet foods, pet care products, toys, treats, cat litter, etc. as part
of their consumables. It is also a good idea to bring pet food,
treats and toys in your luggage as well as sending a box ahead of
your arrival for use while waiting for your shipment.
Western-style boarding kennels are not available. Dogwalkers and
dogsitters are easy to find. Most apartment dwellers are able to
manage with pets quite well. The park system in Minsk is extensive
and pet friendly. Leash and muzzle laws are in effect for large dogs
in crowded areas. Most dogs are well trained and disciplined.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:39 AM
The Chief of Mission’s approval must be obtained before any
firearms or ammunition may be brought into Belarus by U.S.
Government personnel. Also, importing firearms and ammunition
without prior approval of the host government in the form of a
diplomatic note is strictly prohibited. Employees should consult
with the European Regional Bureau (EUR/EX) before shipping firearms
or ammunition, as shipping regulations change frequently. Note: In
order to receive these approvals, post must have complete
specifications and description of the firearms, at least 1 month
prior to employee’s arrival at post.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
11/28/2003 11:40 AM
The official currency of Belarus is the Belarusian ruble.
Currency is issued in denominations ranging from 1 to 20,000 rubles,
although the 20,000-ruble note appears intermittently. The one ruble
note is to be taken out of circulation. There are no coins.
The exchange rate fluctuates; currently (October 2002) it is
approximately 1,876 rubles to one American dollar.
The Embassy cashier can exchange dollars for rubles and cash
personal checks up to $500/week for each employee. In addition,
money changing booths and kiosks are found on most major streets and
in banks, larger restaurants, department stores, and markets. These
will accept U.S. dollars and occasionally travelers checks.
Minsk has a Western Union and an American Express office.
Virtually, all transactions are in cash, although most travel
agencies, hotels, and a few restaurants will accept major credit
cards (Master Card, Visa, and American Express). Personal checks
will not be cashed or accepted for payment. With the exception of
licensed organizations, such as top-end hotels, international
transport systems and tour companies, it is illegal to accept
payment in American dollars. Some open market merchants and most
domestic help happily overlook this ruling, but Embassy officials
are expected to comply with local laws. When traveling with U.S.
currency, employees are advised to carry the newer U.S. bills in
good condition, not torn or soiled.
There is a growing number of ATM’s throughout Minsk. These accept
Eurocard/Mastercard and VISA and a few will distribute foreign
Credit cards are widely used in Vilnius.
The metric system of weights and measures is used throughout
Belarus. Oven thermostats are calibrated in Centigrade. Clothing and
shoe sizes are Russian and European. The CLO office has conversion
tables that are helpful guides.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/28/2003
There is a 20% VAT included in the purchase price of all items,
including food. The Embassy will assist employees in filing for VAT
reimbursement for consumer goods in excess of $200.
Any item shipped in duty free can only be sold to other
diplomats, unless special permission is granted from the State
Customs Committee of Belarus and all customs duties are paid.
Personal property may be sold at departure only. Any items for
sale must have been acquired for personal use. The administrative
officer must approve in writing all proposed sales (other than of
items of “minimal value”). Profit may be made only on sales to
others with duty-free privileges. All local regulations regarding
taxes and customs must be followed.
Sales of items of “minimal value,” i.e., less than $100 may be
sold without written permission, but the total profits may not
Total profits from the sale of those items submitted for approval
and those of “minimal value” cannot exceed $25,000.
Embassy personnel are allowed to import one automobile per tour
duty free. Upon departure, privately owned vehicles (POV’s) may only
be sold to another person with diplomatic privileges. For selling a
POV to anyone other than a diplomat, owners must receive special
permission from the State Customs Committee or sell the POV abroad
after local registration has been canceled.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:43 AM
Belarus and Moldova, Country Studies. Edited by Helen Fedor. Library
of Congress: 1995.
“Belarus” in Let’s Go, Eastern Europe. Edited by Andrea Volfova.
St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2001.
“Belarus” in Lonely Planet Guide, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Lonely Planet Publications: 2nd Edition, 2002.
Minsk, A Historical Guide. Independent Publishing Company
‘Technalohija.’ Minsk/London: 1994.
Modern Nation Building
“Belarus: From Statehood to Empire?,” Jan Zaprudnik & Michael Urban
in New States, New Politics: Building The Post-Soviet Nations.
Edited by R. Taras. Cambridge University Press: 1997.
“Development of Belarusian National Identity and Its Influence on
Belarus’ Foreign Policy Orientation,” Jan Zaprudnik in National
Identity and Ethnicity in Russia and the New States of Eurasia.
Edited by R. Szporluk. M.E. Sharpe: 1994.
Marples, David R. Belarus: A Denationalized Nation. Amsterdam,
Marples, David R. Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear
Catastrophe. University of Alberta: 1996.
“Nationalist Movements in Belarus,” Vasily Andreev in PRISM,
“Belarus” by Jeff Chinn & Robert Kaiser in Russians as the New
Minority. Westview Press: 1996.
Belarus: Country Report. Committee to Protect Journalists. April 20,
Going Backward Fast. Alexander Lukashuko in Transitions, August
Marples, David R. The Social Impact of the Chernobyl Disaster.
University of Alabama: 1988.
”Republic of Belarus: Human Rights Development” in Human Rights
Watch. April 20, 2000.
“Aggregate GDP and GDP Growth in FSU,” Data from Planecon: March
Update on Regional Economic Arrangements Among Post-Soviet
States. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. March 1999.
“CIS Economic Integration,” by Martha Olcott & Anders Aslund in
Getting It Wrong: Regional Cooperation and the Commonwealth of
Independent States. Carnegie Endowment Press: 1999.
Marples, David R. Nuclear Energy and Security in the Former Soviet
Union. Harper Collins: Canada, 1987.
“Myth and Reality in the Belarusian-Russian Relationship...,”
Margarita Balmaceda in Problems of Post-Communism. May/June 1999.
“Regional Alternatives to the CIS,” Martha Olcott, A. Aslund, &
Sherman Garnett in Getting It Wrong: Regional Cooperation and the
Commonwealth of Independent States. Carnegie Endowment Press: 1999.
www.ac.by/country/index.html (Belarusian Academy of Sciences
lists web sites about Belarus)
www.belarusembassy.org (Belarusian Embassy in the United States)
www.belarustoday.com (Weekly newspaper printed in English)
www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm (Center for Disease Control and
Prevention, provides health information, advisories, and
www.inyourpocket.com (Minsk In Your Pocket Survival Guide)
www.knihi.com (Online Belarusian library)
www.open.by (In Russian)
www.travel.state.gov (Consular Affairs Internet Home Page for travel
tips, advice and warnings.)
www.usembassy.minsk.by (Maintained by Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy
www.wwminsk.com (Minsk What & Where, quarterly brochure of useful
information for Tourists and Businessmen)
Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/28/2003 11:44 AM
The Embassy observes both U.S. Government and Belarusian
holidays. The exceptions are Belarusian holidays that fall on a
weekend day, when in accordance with local custom, government
offices remain open as opposed to taking a day off during the week.
The Embassy is closed in observation of the following holidays.
New Year’s Day* January 1
Orthodox Christmas Day (B) January 7
Martin Luther King’s Birthday (U.S.) Date varies
Presidents’ Day (U.S.) Date varies
International Women’s Day (B) March 8
Easter* Date varies
Orthodox Easter (B) Date varies
Labor Day (B) May 1
Victory Day (B) May 9
Radunitsa (B) Date varies
Memorial Day (U.S.) Date varies
Independence Day (B) July 3
Independence Day (U.S.) July 4
Labor Day (U.S.) Date varies
Columbus Day (U.S.) Date varies
Veterans Day (U.S.) Date varies
Thanksgiving Day (U.S.) Date varies
Christmas Day* December 25
* Shared holidays
(U.S.) American holidays
(B) Belarusian holidays