Why should you visit Belarus? President Alexander Lukashenko is known as the “last dictator of Europe”. He has been in power since 1994, winning four elections. He rules the country with a totalitarian-Stalinist fist. Minsk, the capital, at first appearance is a pleasant and relaxed city. This initial impression belies a darker reality. Dissent is not allowed, not even in its mildest form. After walking for a day in the city, you will note there is not trash, graffiti or even homeless or beggars. There are rules against jaywalking, swearing, public drinking, or photographing government buildings. Planned public gatherings of over three people need to be approved. The KGB is alive and well and nourishes the police state. Political activists are jailed. With that mind, Minsk still can be an interesting place to visit.
Marx and Engels streets wind its way through the city. A giant Lenin statue lords over Independence Square. The KGB headquarters, the secret police, has hid itself in plain site on the main thoroughfare, Independence Avenue. The hammer and sickle discordantly competes with McDonalds. Young Pioneers goosestep in front of Victory Square. The city is in a time warp to the communist past.