home    archive    search    downloads    subscription    contacts

Belarusian Review

News Briefs > Culture & Society

Russian Tourists Ignorant About Belarus

Vienna, January 29 – Minsk tour guides say that nearly 20 years after Belarus acquired its independence, Russian visitors to their country still cannot deal with the reality that Belarus is an independent country and that Belarusians are a separate nation with a separate language, culture, and tradition.

Sergey Plutkevich, a commentator for the Tut.by portal, asked tour guides in his country “what facts from the history of Belarus shock Russian tourists?” Their answers, as summarized on that site this week, suggests just how little Russians understand about their Western neighbors

Anatoly Varavva, who Plutkevich says is “one of the most experienced tour guides of Belarus, said that “almost any fact which you could name when talking about the events which have occurred in our land generates shock among Russian tourists,” few of whom are prepared to acknowledge that “out history can be distinguished from the all-Russian” version.

Tatyana Khvagina, the president of the Pinsk section of the Belarusian Association of Tour Guides, says that Russian ignorance about and attitudes toward Belarus and Belarusians had caused her much grief until she realized that the Russians had seldom been told the truth about her country.

She noted that if one looks at the standard Russian reference works, there is nothing about the Grand Principality of Lithuania and consequently, “it turns out that in the consciousness of our neighbors is missing six entire centuries of the Belarusian land!”  Without a knowledge of that period, she continued, nothing afterwards makes sense.

Varavva acknowledged that Belarusians do not have a perfect knowledge of Russian history, but he said that unlike the Russians, “our people are much more tolerant,” and they never militantly insist on their own point of view,” even on such critical issues as the Grand Principality of Lithuania and the war of 1812 in which Belarusians fought on both sides.

 But Khvagina said that Russians really get things wrong regarding the history of Belarus: “Many Russian tourists sincerely think that precisely Russian liberated us unhappy Slave from under the centuries-long Polish oppression, exactly the same way that they think about Ukrainians. In fact,” she points out, “we are different!”

 “We have our own history which has deep roots,” she continued. “This isn’t something good or bad; it is simply a fact with which others must take into consideration if we want to have good relations.” And it is certainly the case that Belarusians have disagreements with the way in which they are treated in Poland and Lithuania.

This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 22, No. 1
---------------------------------------------
Copyright 2010 Belarusian Review
All rights reserved.
Source: Excerpts from an article in: Window on Eurasia, January 29, 2010

Paul Goble

Printable Version Counter: 210
Rubriques
Belarus' Forum
Belarusian Culture
Belarusians Abroad
Contents
Economy
Editorial
Features
Chronicle of Events
Legacy of Chernobyl
Letters
Media Watch
News Briefs
Culture & Society
Freedom of Religion
Independent Media
Belarus & the World
Human Rights
Politics - Opposition
Politics - Regime
Thoughts and Observations
New Articles
Polish Papers on Belarusian Poles (14.04.2010)
No Pro-Russian Party In Belarus, Russian Analyst Says (14.04.2010)
125 Cities Across the Globe For a Free Belarus (14.04.2010)
From Minsk With Love (14.04.2010)
Belarusian Opposition Protests in Prague (13.04.2010)
Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, European Chessmaster (13.04.2010)
In The Land Of Yanukovych (13.04.2010)
Belarusian Crackdown On Polish Minority Puts EU Relations At Risk (13.04.2010)
Russian Tourists Ignorant About Belarus (13.04.2010)
At Yanukovych’s Inauguration: Lukashenka Agreed To be Sidelined (13.04.2010)
Kosciuszko Honored At His Birthplace (13.04.2010)
Russias Partnership with Belarus Hits Turbulence (13.04.2010)
Mort Wins 2009 Lannan Literary Award (13.04.2010)
Will Belarus Build Its Nuclear Plant? (13.04.2010)
KGB Gets Unlimited Access To Telephone Companies Data Bases (13.04.2010)
Readers' Favorites
Kitabs, the Unique Phenomenon of the Belarusian Language in "Encyclopedia of the Belarusian language" (10931)
The Exchange Rate Policy for Belarus (10854)
Belarusian Weapons Exports:A Possible Source of Laundered Funds? (10198)
Vaclav Havel - in Defense of Jakub Kolas Humanities Lyceum (9932)
Belarusica at the AAASS Convention (9828)
Putin Doctrine: Immediate Threat to Belarus (9530)
Belarusian Currency: Problems and Perspectives (9449)
Is Lukashenka Winning Back Hearts and Minds? (9299)
DZIADY and Kurapaty Unite the Opposition (8866)
Minsk Wants Compensation from Moscow for Abandoning National Currency (8850)
Opposition Forms New Pro-European Alliance (8830)
Belarus Represented in the World Book Fair (8777)
The Sad State of Agriculture (8229)
EU Aid Misuse Fears (7891)
The Third Wave, or the regimes current tactics in dealing with independent NGOs (7856)