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Location - Eastern Europe; Capital - Minsk; Population - 9.5 million; Currency - Belarus Ruble

From St Petersburg in Russia it's an overnight train journey to Minsk, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Belarus - February 2011.


Belarusnote31000 Belarusian Rubles









belarus1Not much to see here but I wanted to get a picture of the scenery coming in to Minsk - somewhere around Orsha



belarus16A Soviet painting on a wall on Independence Boulevard (formerly praspekt Francyska Skaryny), the main street in Minsk



belarus3The Belarusian Government Building rises above a statue of Lenin at Independence Square - Minsk













belarus4Leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution and founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin - Minsk













belarus8Also on Independence Square is the Church of St Simon & Elena, or red church - Minsk



belarus12The columned building is the headquarters of the KGB, the feared state security agency (or 'secret police') associated with the former Soviet Union. Under President Alexander Lukashenko the KGB is still alive and well. The US Bush administration described the president as the 'last dictator in Europe' - Minsk



belarus11A bust of Felix Dzerzhinsky stands opposite the KGB building - Minsk













belarus14Felix Dzerzhinsky was the founder of the Cheka, the predecessor to the KGB - Minsk













belarus17Further along Independence Boulevard is Ploshchad Oktyabrskaya, a square that's home to the Palace of the Republic (left) and the Trade Unions' Culture Palace (right) as well as an ice skating rink in the winter - Minsk



belarus20This tank - outside the Officer's Building - serves as a memorial to Soviet soldiers who liberated Minsk from the Nazis



belarus21Close to the Officer's Building is Central Square.
The square's statue serves as a good excuse to take a sneaky photo of the Presidential Administrative Building behind the trees; this is where Lukashenko goes to work - Minsk












belarus23Keep walking north-east along Independence Boulevard and you'll reach Janki Kupaly Park - Minsk













belarus26People walk over the frozen Svislach River - Minsk



belarus25Posing for photos on the river - Minsk



belarus29Quite a few locals do a spot of fishing, carving out holes in the frozen river - Minsk













belarus28..though I'm not quite sure what this guy's up to - Minsk













belarus31On the banks of the Svislach River is the Museum of the First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party (Russia's original Marxist party). This is where the party was founded in 1898 - Minsk



belarus32One of these apartments was home to JFK 'assassin' Lee Harvey Oswald in the early 1960s. He worked in an electronics factory in Minsk and married a local woman - Minsk



belarus33 Horkaha Central Children's Park - Minsk













belarus38 The obelisk at Victory Square (Ploshcha Peramohi) - Minsk













belarus37The victory obelisk commemorates the WWII fallen - Minsk



belarus40If you continue along Independence Boulevard you'll evetually end up at Jakuba Kolasa Square - Minsk



belarus2 The Minsk Metro














belarus41 There's some good bars in the capital. This is the tiny Stary Minsk (Old Minsk) on Independence Boulevard - Minsk

















belarus43The National Library was completed in 2006 and has a viewing area on the 22nd floor - Minsk



belarus44A mural opposite the National Library - Minsk



belarus48 The Holy Spirit Cathedral lies in the Upper Town on Ploshcha Svabody - Minsk













belarus51Whitewashed buidlings in the Upper Town - Minsk














belarus50Just behind Ploshchad Svarony is the new Town Hall - Minsk



belarus52Carved into the wall of a building close to SS Peter & Paul Church - Minsk



belarus54The small Old Town is a reconstructed area built in 17th/18th century style.
It's a pretty area with several restaurants - Minsk













belarus55A short walk from the Old Town is the Island of Tears in the Svislach River - Minsk













belarus57aThe Island of Tears is a Belarusian war memorial - Minsk



belarus59The Island of Tears memorial - Minsk



belarus68I had a few hours to kill in Brest before my next train to Warsaw. Lenin welcomed me to the city - Brest

















belarus67The 19th century St Simon Orthodox Cathedral - Brest














belarus65I was hoping to have a wander around Brest Fortress but I didn't get there until about 11pm and - save for a few lights - the complex was pretty much pitch black and quite eery - Brest



belarus64The Fortress is marked by a star shape above the main entrance - Brest shown on the 50 Ruble note



belarus66The road leading away from Brest Fortress is dotted with various figures, possibly WWII heroes? Brest












belarus69A monument in the Park of Culture and Leisure - Brest

















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LINKS - official website of the Republic of Belarus - I organised my invitation letter and hotel booking via this company


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