Signing the Kyoto Protocol doesn't seem to have much positive affect on Belarusian climate yet.

Traditionally cold and gloomy November turned out to be unusually sunny - and snowy:

Then there was a long period of something, which looked like a never-ending autumn, threatening with the snowless winter holidays. Today Minsk is finally covered with a thin layer of snow again. If we are lucky, then there will be a white Christmas:

Those of you, who have ever been in Minsk for the New Year, should know very well the habit of “menchuki” (Bealrusian for ‘Minsk dwellers'). In the night of the 31th of December the main avenue of the city (which used to be called Lenin avenue, then Skaryny avenue and now is called the Avenue of Independence) is closed for the transportation, allowing a huge crowd to wander along this huge street, drinking beer out of bottles or champagne out of plastic glasses, sending up squibs, listening to the Belpopmusic from the street loudspeakers and generally waiting for a miracle to happen. Having made stops at every stage set on the nearby squares and having eyeballed every new half-naked diva of the emerging Belarusian showbusiness, they are coming home late after the midnight, exhausted, tipsy, with running noses or shiny eyes, someone happy, another one looking for his cell phone he had lost somewhere on the corner of Lenin street while after calling his aunt in some faraway village.

This is how the October square looked like for the New Year – 2005:

This promenade happens every year with. This time, however, it will be different. Despite of the fact that 3000 policemen will be guarding the city, NO concerts are planned on any of the central squares of the Belarusian capital. In fact, massive gatherings will not be encouraged downtown Minsk at all. The authorities claim that this is a measure aimed at protecting the people in the nearby houses from noise (funny why this was never the case in the previous years). Moreover, the night will be devoid of its major attraction – the traditional firework is cancelled (official reason – no money).

To me, the background of these decisions is clear: the authorities are very nervous about ANY gatherings of people, whether they seem to be political or not. The memory of the March protest on the October square is too fresh. Dear comrades, please spend the New Year in front of your TV-sets! The year 2007 will be too full of hardships to spend your energy on walking down the avenue of Independence…

And what is your favourite way to spend the New Year in Belarus?

October Square in March 2006.

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