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Talk:Belarus

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Warning[edit]

I removed the warning box warning people not to support organizations trying to overthrow the government. It's two years out of date, and was a pretty obvious warning anyway. --Serotrance


"So if you have, e.g. a US passport and are carrying a whole bunch of do-it-yourself-color-revolution materials and you have that subversive look about you, then you will probably be giving the customs people have a legal reason to detain you and/or deport you."

good tip there... guess i should hide my cia badge too... (joke)


Factbook removed. --Professorbiscuit


questions about regulations[edit]

Please find the answers to your questions below:

The article says that a letter of invitation is no longer required to get a visa, as long as one has the name and address of a citizen. Is that true for all visitors? I have read news items in the last couple of years about invitation letters not being required for visitors from some countries, but does this apply to all visitors from all countries now?

A: The official word from the Belarus Embassy in the UK is:

Effective 1 October 2004 citizens of all the 25 European Union states, as well as of Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Iceland, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Norway, Oman, Qatar, South African Republic, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, applying for Belarusian visitor’s or business visas who want to stay in the Republic of Belarus for the period less than 30 days do not any longer need formal letters of invitation from Belarusian citizens or organizations. This can be found at: http://uk.belembassy.org/visainfo.html

Note: It says "Belarusian visitor’s or business visas", it does not say "tourist visas" and recently we have heard that UK citizens are being told that they still need an invitation. I can send you a link to this discussion if you want. So this point is still not clear.

The last time that I travelled between Warsaw and Minsk by train was in 2003. Passport control took place at the border on board the train in both directions. The article says that when going from Minsk to Warsaw by train, in addition to passport control in the train, travellers must go to the customs office in the train station before getting on the train, even if they have nothing to declare. I have travelled from Minsk to Warsaw by train a few times and I never did this. If this is now required for all travellers, where is the customs office?

A; I have also traveled back and forth from Minsk to Warsaw several times. Customs inspection were always done after the wheels are changed at the boarder (in Brest I believe). I have also traveled by train from Vilnius to Minsk and again the customs check took place on the train. I am sure that this is not correct.

The article says that visitors must buy insurance and suggests buying this insurance at Kalinka in Warsaw. The last time I bought this insurance, I had to do it in Belarus after I arrived. Does one have to buy this insurance before going to Belarus now? Is Kalinka the only place to get it?

A: Usually you can only by the insurance at the Minsk airport or at an insurance office in Belarus. Here is a link to ONE insurance company that has a website in English. We usually buy health insurance from their office on 16 Rakovskaya st. in Minsk: http://www.belgosstrakh.by/eng/branches

All of this and much more can be found on our Travel Guide to Belarus, a collaborative effort by a citizen of Belarus and a native English speaker: http://www.travelswise.com/belarus.htm . If you have other questions about travel to Belarus, write to us at Emmergene AT Yahoo DOT com

Letter of invitation[edit]

DRAW ATTENTION that from the 1st of October 2004 Belarus set up a simplified visa-issuing procedure. Citizens of European Union (including Estonian citizens and stateless persons residing permanently in Estonia) who are going to Belarus with private or business purposes for the terms less than 30 days do not need an invitation. Such persons have to apply for a visa personally. Their completed visa application forms should contain detailed information about a purpose of their visit as well as a complete data of an inviting party. [1]

Visas[edit]

I'd like to bring up the visa section yet again (January 2009). The section looks nice and informative, but I'm not sure of the accuracy of the information. It seems to contradict itself when the steps on the side list that you need an invitation yet the section text claims that visas are not needed. I have removed the US from countries which do not need a visa and removed the all-caps message that invitations are not needed as Belarus embassy to the US lists otherwise. I hestitate to mess with the info for other nations, so someone knowledgeable about this should try to fix it. AHeneen 09:54, 29 January 2009 (EST)

I am planning a visit to Belarus (I'm writing in August 2010) and have discovered that visa modalities at the Minsk Airport have changed since the last time I was there in 2008. As of January 2010, the price of a visa at the Minsk Airport, for Europeans whose country has a Belarussian embassy, is 180 Euros (three times the normal price of 60 Euros); for Europeans whose country does not have a Belarussian embassy, 90 Euros (50% above the normal price of 60 Euros); for American citizens, 275 Euros. (I imagine one of the most expensive visas in the world!) Could someone please update the incorrect information on the Wikitravel page?

Sort term visa details[edit]

In page http://www.sweden.belembassy.org/eng/legislation/ is a valid list of the countries that do not need the invitation for SORT TERM Visa.

In the Embassy page is written following: To get a short-term visa for private purposes (visiting Belarusian relatives, friends, other private matters) with the period of validation 30 days maximum for 1-, 2- or multiple entries for a citizen of EU as well as national of several other countries, such as Australia, Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Chili, Island, Israel, Norway, Swiss Confederation, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, USA, Uruguay, Republic of South Africa, Japan NO VISA SUPPORT DOCUMENTS SHALL BE REQUIRED.

I have PERSONAL experience about the short term visa also-> I did not need Invitation. I just filled the paper that they told to fill. Really easy procedure.

Regions[edit]

Belarus needs to be broken down in to regions. If you are familiar with the country, please add to this discussion with any ideas! --Peter Talk 16:25, 13 February 2009 (EST)

I would suggest to use the official division into oblasty (Minsk, Brest, Gomel', Vitebsk, Mogilev, Grodno). This division is more or less consistent with cultural specifics, and I do not know any other accepted way for dividing this country. Atsirlin 17:55, 13 February 2009 (EST)
Ah, I didn't realize there were so few oblasts—six is a good number, so lets do that. --Peter Talk 18:45, 13 February 2009 (EST)

Language[edit]

Which language do we use for Belarus? English transcriptions for names in Russian and Belorusian are different (e.g., Grodno – Hrodna, Mogilev – Mahilyow). I would prefer the Russian version, since most people (including myself;) do not know Belorusian, and the transcription of Belorusian names looks by far ambiguous. Russian is the official language of Belarus, but most road signs are written in Belorusian. What is the proper choice then? Atsirlin 05:54, 15 February 2009 (EST)

The basic rule is that we use the most common English name, rather than a standard based on transliteration. The best way, I think, to determine which is the more common name in English is to do an advanced search on google [2] restricted to sites in the English language, and then see which term gets more page hits. Mogilev + Belarus gets about twice as many hits as Mahilyow + Belarus, so we should definitely use Mogilev. Grodno and Hrodna get nearly the exact same amount of hits (103,000 & 106,000), so I think it's fine to pick either one. In the individual city articles themselves, though, it would be nice to put both the Belorussian and Russian names in parentheses. --Peter Talk 20:54, 16 February 2009 (EST)
Or follow Wikipedia, not because it's authority, but because they are populated by an incredible number of pedantics who like to discuss things far beyond the grave - which comes in handy for us, since then we don't have too :) also, it might be handy to make redirects where in doubt, so we don't end up with serveral guides for the same cities, since it's not too obvious that e.g. Mogilev is the same city as Mahilyow.--Stefan (sertmann) Talk 21:35, 16 February 2009 (EST)

Online courses[edit]

Hello, why this text is not allowed to stay in the article? -> "" There is also Belarusian laguage available as online courses ""

Wikitravel is a guide, not a link to other guides or references, or secondary sources. Travellers may be interested in doing a course while travelling, so the physical language courses are allowed. Online courses are not. as they are just guides for travellers rather than an activity for them at the destination. See Wikitravel:External links. Feel free to contribute language information to the Wikitravel Phrasebook. --Inas 10:01, 27 April 2009 (EDT)

Belarusian river cruise development routes[edit]

Hello,

Why someone deleted this writing from the article from headline"By river boat cruises"? --> ""In Belarus there is number of excisting river cruises and a lot of routes are under development."" Link to discussion http://forum.esmasoft.com/viewtopic.php?t=4806&sid=5386a79705d7bdb3aeb963eafbe393e5 have many further links about development planned river routes in Belarus.

Arguments about whether Belarus is a dictatorship[edit]

I sort of can't believe I'm even posting this, but look at the recent history of edits and editing summaries. I don't think there's much question that it's eminently fair to call Belarus a "de facto dictatorship." If anything, it's generous to use the term "de facto." Shall we arrive at a consensus here and then drop the subject? Ikan Kekek 18:31, 18 May 2011 (EDT)

Personally, I do not support this statement. Do you have any own experience with Belarus, or simply draw information from TV news? I have been to different parts of the country four times during the past 4-5 years, and I am quite sure that the traveler will never experience any "dictatorship" there. Foreigners are free to do whatever they want, as in Russia or Ukraine. Therefore, I consider this "de facto" remark as largely irrelevant for wikitravel.
To clarify my own position: I am also concerned about the present political and especially economical situation in Belarus, but let's leave this matter to politicians. It has nothing to do with traveling. Atsirlin 19:13, 18 May 2011 (EDT)
What does it mean to say that "foreigners are free to do whatever they want" as a standard for whether a country is under a dictatorship? Let's suppose that tourists can do whatever they want (presumably not including seeking out members of the opposition and sharing notes with them?) and aren't followed or spied on. Does that mean the country is a democracy or something? I have traveled to various countries that were dictatorships at the time, including China, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea, and in none of those countries was I subjected to any persecution. Is that the standard we are supposed to use? I would add that even as a traveler, I did see, perceive, or/and hear from people about ways in which the heavy hand of the corrupt dictatorial government oppressed or/and extorted income from them in a couple of the countries I mention. But it would have been pretty easy in any of them for tourists to take package tours that didn't expose them to army roadblocks imposed to extort money from moped drivers, complaints from individuals about corruption, or remarks from individuals on previous instances of persecution from the governments still in power. If you think it's fair to say that, though Belarus is a dictatorship, this infrequently directly affects travelers, fine, but it's not a good argument against calling Belarus a dictatorship. And such basic information is relevant to travelers because it helps them understand what the situation is. If you think the current situation is irrelevant, then surely past history is completely irrelevant, too, and I would find that a very weak argument, too. So instead of asking whether I've personally visited Belarus, how about if you make the argument that Belarus is not a dictatorship because of x, y, and z? Ikan Kekek 20:38, 18 May 2011 (EDT)
I have actually thought that "democracies" are strictly following the presumption of innocence principle. Therefore, one should rather ask why Belarus is a dictatorship, since officially it is still a republic-)
Otherwise, I think that the answer strongly depends on what you call a dictatorship. I've asked of your personal experience, since people inside Belarus do not consider their country in this way even if they oppose the government. The same holds for people in Russia when asked about Belarus or about Russia that has somewhat similar political issues. I think, it's a very bad idea if a foreigner reads wikitravel, comes to Belarus, and tells locals: "Oh, you are living under a dictatorship. How do you survive?" At best, this won't be appreciated. The current situation in Belarus is very controversial, and it has to be described like that. It is indeed a poor country, but it is rather developed and super neat, so that you never deem it poor unless you start comparing GDP's. The real political system is quite authoritarian, but personal rights conform to western standards. That's what the traveler should know about the current situation in the country. Not the vague wording like "dictatorship".
And the last thing: I looked through some other post-Soviet states. Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are just republics (funny, isn't it?), while Uzbekistan is "Republic, authoritarian presidential rule". This might be the compromise wording. Atsirlin 10:23, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
I definitely take your point on inconsistencies in descriptions and have no problem with the wording you suggest. Side point: Of course, any foreigner who would be tactless and stupid enough to tell locals they are living in a dictatorship - _especially_ if it is one - probably has no business traveling to any country under anything vaguely resembling authoritarian rule. Ikan Kekek 15:35, 19 May 2011 (EDT)
Perfect! In the next few days, I will make some changes to the Understand section. It is also lacking the historical part. Atsirlin 17:09, 19 May 2011 (EDT)

50kg limit[edit]

This is a really important thing that this document is missing.

When entering Belarus they will weigh your luggage and carryon items. And if you bought duty free alcohol that goes onto the scale too. If you are over 50kg you trigger a customs duty -or- if the value of your belongings is more than 1,500 euros. The customs duty is complex, and I don't quite understand it so I am not going to attempt to put up a section in the main article to describe it correctly. The minimum you need to pay is 4 euros per kilo over 50kg. The maximum you have to pay is 30% of the value of everything you have. There are some exceptions/allowances, you may have one of this and one of that, etc. Most importantly they will not tell you what you have to pay until you declare everything that you have. At that point they'll make an assessment. This is regardless of you carrying all of your stuff back out of the country when you're done. There is a customs union between Russia, Khazakstan and Belarus which implements the same rule.

So people who look like they have a lot of bags get hauled in and their stuff is put on the scale as they pass out the exit.

This is a big trap for anyone who is traveling heavy and you really must be aware of it as you can get into deep trouble if you have things like photo equipment or an iPad and laptop (if customs decides that the iPad is a laptop then you are over your allowed limit).

On your exit from Belarus (which I have yet to do) apparently you need to go through the whole thing again. This time anything that you did not declare the first time around you will have to pay customs duties on or have confiscated. I can't vouch for this part yet. But I was expecting this article to warn me of these things, and lacking the warning, I am in a problem state.

http://www.belarus.by/en/travel/customs-regulations

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