Belarus: The North Korea of Europe??

… Or at least that’s what the media likes to call it.

If the USSR said to the Soviet Bloc, “Hey everyone, let’s get the old gang back together! Who’s in?” Belarus (and Transnistria) would be jumping up and down, waving its hand in the air, and exclaiming, “Oh oh, pick me, pick me!”

While the comparison to DPRK (North Korea) is a bit extreme and arguably unfair, Belarus is, however, at least still ruled by what some might say is a dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. And, unfortunately, said alleged dictator (as dictators are wont to do) does not tolerate dissension: critics of the government are prone to *ahem* vanishing in the night. There are some fascinating/disturbing videos about it on YouTube by Channel 4 News, Vice, and AL Jazeera that I highly recommend. Additionally, the KBG secret police from the Soviet Union has never stopped functioning in Belarus: you can see their headquarters in Minsk!:

In fact, Minsk is filled with old Soviet-style architecture… And it’s pretty great!

For example, there’s the entire main Prospekt Nezavisimosti street in downtown Minsk:

And the Palace of Republic concert hall:

The Cultural Center is just dripping with communism. I love it!:

And the State Circus:

These two statues are in front of the Circus. Who knew Minsk would have such whimsy???

There’s also a epic war memorial Victory Monument:

The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater is kind of gorgeous, too:

Why are you crying little winged boy? Is it because your home is on the Island of Tears?

Or maybe because your companions on the Island of Tears are the grieving families of boys who were killed in war?:

To be brutally honest, Minsk’s Old Town was pretty pathetic:

But their State Library is AMAZING!!

Inside the library:

Nighttime!

I was very surprised to see that Minsk is also home to a very hip industrial scene with some impressive street art:

My Couchsurfing hosts told me that Sasha the Unicorn is like an unofficial mascot of the city (although this probably depends on who you ask):

Vladimir Lenin sees your creative expression and judges you disapprovingly:

I was also a fan of the art deco style of some of the metro stations:

This station has STARS on the ceiling! I’m so excited 😍:

A friendly reminder when exiting the metro station that courtesy to your fellow passengers is much appreciated! And it’s nice that people actually follow this request, too:

The Gates of Minsk are damn cool, especially at night!

I did have one major disappointment during my time there, however. As much as I tried, I never managed to find the Giant Mouse of Minsk. 😭😭 So I must leave you with a mere drawing of what I wish actually exists:

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