Recently Forbes included two Belarusian developers in its prestigious 30 under 30 list, a selection of 600 of the brightest young people of the year. Before that, three Belarusians got into 2016 New Europe 100, the annual list of central and eastern Europe’s brightest and best people published by Google and the Financial Times.
Though not being wealthy in oil, gas and diamonds, the country is certainly rich in talented people. And while some of them, like WoT founder Victor Kislyi and 2015 Nobel Literature Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, are already world-famous, others are on their way to the top.
BelarusFeed has made a list of the up and coming young Belarusians who might be making the headlines in the near future.
1. Zhenya Katava, 22, model
The gourgeous young Belarusian is often compared to an Indian actress Aishwarya Rai.
Born in Borisow, a town in Minsk region, in 1994, Zhenya joined a modeling school in 2008. Zhenya started to rise to fame relatively recently after joining the agency Women Management in New York.
The 180cm tall green-eyed beauty made seventeen fashion shows in New York, Milan and Paris in her first model season in the fall of 2011.
In 2014 Zhenya Katava got an invitation to take part in Dolce & Gabbana show at Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015, and has been gracing the shows of the Italian brand ever since.
Besides Dolce & Gabbana, the Belarusian model was part of Armani, Ermanno Scervino, Elisabetta Franchi, and other biggest designer shows.
She has also dabbled in print work, appearing in magazines like Elle Italia, Harper’s Bazaar and Interview Russia.
2. Sergey Gonchar, 24, and Eugene Nevgen, 24, cofounders of MSQRD
If there’s a tech Cinderella story, these Belarusian developers would be a perfect match to it.
They’ve developed MSQRD, a selfie app, during a 48-hour so-called hackathon in Minsk in November 2015, and sold it to Facebook a year later for a sum that was never dislosed.
Following global success, Eugene Nevgen’s name appeared in the 2016 New Europe 100 list, an annual list of central and eastern Europe’s brightest and best people. To crown it all, both young Belarusians were mentioned in 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list, a selection of 600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders, stars.
Sergey Gonchar and Eugene Nevgen are now part of Facebook’s team in London.
3. Victoria Azarenka, 27, professional tennis player
Vika hardly needs an introduction – with her two Australian Open titles, a medal from 2012 Summer Olympics and and victories at the Brisbane International and Indian Wells in 2016.
The journey to the top (Azarenka is a former world No. 1 and is currently world No. 12 as of 24 October 2016) wasn’t an easy one for the Belarusian.
At age 15, Vika moved to United States from Belarus to train. In this she was aided by National Hockey League goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his wife, who is a friend of Azarenka’s mother.
Having debited on the ITF junior tour in November 2003 in Israel, she has won 20 WTA titles so far. In 2011 she briefly considered a break from the sport of tennis to focus on education; however, after a conversation with her grandmother, she decided to continue playing.
In 2014 a foot injury forced Vika to miss five months of the season. Later she spoke openly about her experience of depression during her injury-induced absence from professional tennis.
The season of 2016 was extremelly sucessful for Azarenka, who literally rose from ashes. However, she interrupted it midway – though not for an injury this time.
In July the Belarusian announced she was pregnant and became the mother of a handsome baby boy in December.
4. Liza Martynchik, 16, model
The youngest in our list, Liza is a new face in the model industry. The girl from a small town Ivatsevichi in Brest region is collaborating with model agencies in New York and Barcelona and has worked in Korea, Japan, China and the USA.
She was discovered at the age of 13 and names Candice Swanepoel as her favourite industry icon.
Teen Vogue named the Belarusian one of the ten models to watch at NYFW 2016 – and Liza is watched by over 250 thousand followers on Instagram.
You strut that runway, girl!
5. UCast, 28, DJ and producer
A trance DJ and producer, UCast is the first Belarusian musician, whose track was awarded as “The Tune Of The Week” in the radioshow A State Of Trance hosted by the best DJ of the planet Armin van Buuren.
The musucian started in 2007 with his first single “Through Depth”. His first major success came in 2008, when his tracks were played in the radioshows of such producers as Tiesto and Ronski Speed.
In 2009 UCast started his own radioshow Injection and launched LiftedSounds Records label in 2010 together with his friend from Poonyk&Oxide.
By now tracks and remixes by UCast have been supported by such big names of the electonic music as Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Aly & Fila, M.I.K.E., Dash Berlin, Bobina, Sean Tyas and many many others.
6. Kristina Bazan, 23, fashion blogger
This fragile girl is one of the most influential fashion bloggers and the first million-dollar blogger, which she made having signed a rumoured seven-figure contract with L’Oreal Paris in 2015.
Kristina Bazan is a co-founder of Kayture, the most influencial blog in Switzerland, and one of the biggest names worldwide thanks to its vast international reach. She and her team have worked with a variety of high end brands, from Louis Vuitton, Dolce&Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior to Mango, Guess, and Jimmy Choo.
The Belarusian, who is living in Switzerland, was named L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador in 2015. “She shows us that any woman can create bold and sophisticated makeup looks, and feel good about herself,” Cyril Chapuy, brand global president, said about Bazan.
Фото опубликовано Kristina Bazan (@kristinabazan)
Kristina has 2.4 million Instagram followers (plus about 3 million subscribers in her blog), she’s gone behind the scenes at a Victoria’s Secret show, appeared on the cover of Vogue, and was featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List 2016.
7. Mikhail Grabovski, 32, ice hockey player
A New York Islander, Grabovski is a Belarusian professional ice hockey player currently playing in the National Hockey League.
Mikhail started his career in 2003 with the Montreal Canadiens. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008 and stayed with them till 2012. His 58 points in the 2010–11 season is the highest among Maple Leaf centres since Mats Sundin’s 78 points in the 2007–08 season.
In 2014, Grabovski signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the New York Islanders.
The player has represented Belarus in international play. He scored four goals and was the first star in one game (against tournament hosts Austria) in the 2005 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships.
He also participated at the 2010 IIHF World Championship as a member of the Belarus men’s ice hockey team and was named captain on the eve of 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. Grabovski played in seven events for team Belarus.
8. Darya Domracheva, 30, biathlete
Three-time Olympic champion and the winner of Biathlon World Cup, Darya is one of the most popular and beloved public figures in Belarus.
Interestingly, Domracheva started her sports career with cross-country skiing in 1992 but switched to biathlon in 1999.
Her breakthrough came during the 2008/2009 biathlon season when she earned two third places and one second place. At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Darya won the bronze medal. Later in the same season, on 13 March, she won her first World Cup race in the sprint in Finland.
Her biggest success came in 2014 with three gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Next season Domracheva has interrupted her career due to an illness. But she used the break from sports very wisely.
Darya finally revealed her long-rumoured relationship with the Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen, and married him in April 2016. The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Xenia, in October 2016.
9. Maryna Linchuk, 29, model
Maryna, whose name is sometimes spelled as Marina, never dreamt of becoming a model, but was discovered at age of 16.
Having signed signed with an agency in New York in 2006, the model has appeared in advertisements for top fashion brands like Versace, Donna Karan, Dior, Gap, H&M, Dolce & Gabbana.
She also dazzled the runway of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 and participated in the shows of Givenchy, Gucci, Michael Kors, Prada, Christian Lacroix, Dior, Versace, Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and many other designers.
Vogue Paris included her in the list of Top 30 models of 2000s. In 2008 both Vogue Paris and Vogue Russia labeled Linchuk as a Top Model.
10. Alexander Rybak, 30, singer and composer
Do we need to introduce the winner of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest? Hardly!
Alexander, who was born in Belarus and represented Norway, won the contest with 387 points—the highest tally any country has achieved in the history of Eurovision under the old voting system—with Fairytale, a song he wrote and composed himself.
His discography now includes four albums, Alexander filmed over 15 music videos, including in Belarusian, and numeour awards.
And he is just sooo sweet!