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Preface Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:03 AM

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.

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 continue.

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 forces.

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 understated.

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 follows:

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 City.

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 Belarusian culture.

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 Metroshka dolls.

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 hands.

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 well-established infrastructure.

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 dairy products.

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 Belarus.


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 purchased locally.

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 or expected.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 10:12 AM

The country is linked by a system of train lines, bus routes, and roads.

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 AM

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 17.

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 touchtone systems.

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 locally.

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:

Full Name
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.)

Full Name
7010 Minsk Place
Dulles, VA 20189–7010

The local street address for the U.S. Embassy is:

46, Starovilenskaya Street
Minsk, 220002
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 Cosmopolitan.

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 post.

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 areas.

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 10:20 AM

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 activity, etc.

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, 1992.

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 Minsk.

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.

Embassy business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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 meals.

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 inconvenience.

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. Government.

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 imported.

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 limited.

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 common are:

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 arrives.

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 ( 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 necessary.

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 diet requirements.

– 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 underwear.

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 wider selection.

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 connections.

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 Housing.)

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 responsibility.

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 Polish
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.


Dependent Education

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 curriculum.

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:

Local Schools.
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 office.

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 workday.

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 required.

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 class competitions.

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 year.

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, parks, etc.

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 are daily.

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 ages.

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.

Social Activities

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 international.

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.

Official Functions

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 registration.

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 avoided.

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 vehicles.

There are no immunizations or inoculations required for entering Belarus.

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.

Shipping Recommendations

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:

American Embassy
Starovilenskaya 46
220002 Minsk, Belarus
For: Name of Office/Owner
Tel: +375–17–210–1283

Additional required documents for the above shipments are the following:

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 Way Bill.

Consignment marking instructions for the UAB shipment is as follows:

American Embassy
220002 Starovilenskaya 46
Minsk, Belarus
For: Owner/Office Name
Tel: +375–17–210–1283

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 invitation.

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 pets.

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 pet.

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 dog.

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 Vilnius, Lithuania.

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 currency.

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 11:40 AM

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 exceed $3,000.

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

General Introduction
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, 1999.

Marples, David R. Belarus: From Soviet Rule to Nuclear Catastrophe. University of Alberta: 1996.

“Nationalist Movements in Belarus,” Vasily Andreev in PRISM, January, 1997.

“Belarus” by Jeff Chinn & Robert Kaiser in Russians as the New Minority. Westview Press: 1996.

Domestic Development
Belarus: Country Report. Committee to Protect Journalists. April 20, 2000.

Going Backward Fast. Alexander Lukashuko in Transitions, August 1997.

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.

Economic Development
“Aggregate GDP and GDP Growth in FSU,” Data from Planecon: March 2000.

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.

Regional Issues
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.

Web sites

Search: Belarus (Belarusian Academy of Sciences lists web sites about Belarus) (Belarusian Embassy in the United States) (Weekly newspaper printed in English) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, provides health information, advisories, and recommendations.) (Minsk In Your Pocket Survival Guide) (Online Belarusian library) (In Russian) (Consular Affairs Internet Home Page for travel tips, advice and warnings.) (Maintained by Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Minsk) (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

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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