Belarus doesn’t often get on air in foreign TV programs. And when it does, most of the mentions of it on American and European channels would be connected with politics and Chernobyl.
However, there are other examples of more flattering cases. In 2009 Richard Hammond, the anchor of Top Gear, repeated the word “Minsk” on camera several times. It was because he was riding a motorcycle made in Belarus on a roads in Vietnam. A year later actress Lisa Kudrow, one of the stars of Friends, discovered her Belarusian roots on a popular American TV show Who Do You Think You Are?.
National Geographic recently released a film about Wargaming, world-famous game developer originating from Belarus, and Animal Planet showed a movie called Bialowieza Forest. Primeval forest.
TUT.BY journalist Eugene Karpov has examined what ordinary travelers and bloggers say about Belarus.
Travel Issues from «Geography Now! Belarus»
On the YouTube-Channel Geography Now! Paul, the anchor, tells viewers about different countries of the world.
“This is the land where people tell you in Russian: “Do not call me Russian“.
In a 10-minute video he tells basic information about countries using statistics, foreign media reports and local assistants.
The video was released on in May 2015 and got more than 402 thousand views since then.
The talk about Belarus begins with the phrase: “This is the land where people tell you in Russian: “Do not call me Russian”.
The host speaks about tourism issues in details: “Border guards have the jurisdiction to pretty much deny entry to anyone they deem as not worthy. If your nationality is not from the Eastern European region, you may find it a little bit more difficult to enter and this is one of the reasons why Belarus is one of the least visited countries in Europe.
If you do not speak any Russian or Belarusian or if you do not have Belarusian friend to vouch for you, the trip can be quite problematic. However, Belarusians like visitors but they are just suspicious of you.”
Further he talks about the urbanization at the end of 1980 related to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant; the most common natural resource, the most famous sport – hockey – and praises Belovezhskaya Pushcha where bisons live.
“The Belarusian people are what really make this enigmatic country stick out”, says Paul and wonders that while over 80% of the people identify ethnically as Belarusian, only 20% of those speak the Belarusian language.
The video was actively discussed by foreigners and the most popular comment sounded like this: “Bison, hockey, a lot of forests, the presence of a powerful ally, and at the same time the endeavor to create cultural differences, so that people in the world do not think that you’re the same culture … Belarus – is this a European Canada?”
“Belarus – what’s it like in reality?” from a Polish blogger
The video shot by Michal Sikorski from Poland in September 2015 gained more than 473 thousand views.
Look for roots in Belarus!
The blogger decided to get acquainted with Belarus and drove through several cities. He started his journey in Hrodna. Throughout the journey Michal praised Belarusian roads and was impressed by how clean the city was and how much Hrodna’s architecture reminded Polish cities.
Michal visited Velichkova village near Babruisk in Mahileu region, where his ancestors, Polish nobles, had an estate in the past. After talking with the locals, he came to the conclusion that many Belarusians descend from the Poles but many Poles, in their turn, descend from the Belarusians. So he offered to his subscribers to look for roots in Belarus.
Minsk made an impression on blogger as a metropolis with well-dressed people, a lot of good cars and foreign products in stores. The prices were the same or slightly higher than in Poland.
In conclusion, Michal said that Belarus is a country he could live in. He felt free and safe because of many policemen in the streets. The traveler noted that Belarusians are used to living in the world of orders and prohibitions.
“Minsk: amazing sights” by a Norwegian guy
The Norwegian Harald Balder visited Belarus last fall. Video about the country became the most popular in his channel and wasviewed over 88 thousand times.
Harald came to Minsk with his friend. The capital of Belarus seemed clean and beautiful to him. After doing some sightseeing Harald went to Dozari night club where he believed there were more hotties than in Bucharest.
People are great, the service is awful.
The next day he decided to attend an event near the Palace of Sports. After passing the security check he described his feelings like this: “In totalitarian Belarus you will be always under the supervision and under the video shooting.”
During walks in the capital Harald concluded that the most beautifully dressed young mothers live in Minsk. He described Belarusian service as “awful” and provided examples of buying train tickets and visiting one of the cafes in Minsk that made him determined to have dinner in self-service places in future.
“All Belarusians whom I met were without exception more or less great people, but the overwhelming majority of waiters, salesmen and government bureaucrats are complete idiots. They are clearly trying to annoy you, even if everything you did was trying to buy a train ticket.”
What the tourist admired most of all was the Great Patriotic War Museum and Belarusian women.
“They all look like they are well-off. How they can afford it is a great mystery. With an average salary of 300-400 dollar girls should spend a lot of money to look as good as they do. I thought that Belarusian women are cold and unfriendly. It turned out that it is 110% false. All the girls with whom I spoke always smiled and wanted to communicate, even married ones.”
Belarusian history from “I travel around the world” and “The Mirror”
Last year film crews of two popular Turkish TV shows filmed programs about Belarus. In summer Kanal 7 shot “I travel around the world” program with a well-known Turkish TV presenter Özlem Tunç. And in 2010 a popular Turkish host Saim Orhan made a report about Belarus for his project “The Mirror”.
“I travel around the world” was aired in two episodes, one of them scored more than 150 thousand views on YouTube. Özlem Tunç came to Belarus with a small child, who often appeared in a scene in her arms and tasted the Belarusian honey in Dudutki and red currants on Komarovsky market.
Two 40-episodes showed Mir and Nesvizh Castles, a wedding in folk style, the construction of a mosque in Minsk, a new residential complex “Mayak Minsk” being built next to the National Library and a concert of classical music in the City Hall.
The host of the second show, Saim Orhan, went to the Stalin Line memorial complex where he examined different types of WWII weapons, went to a museum to see traditional Belarusian costumes and talked to children who were studying Turkish in Minsk. His video got over 22 thousand views.
The article was translated by Daria Alferovich for BelarusFeed.