Friday, June 20, 2008

Journalists and the beautiful and interesting Republic of...

Hi Adam

I came across your very interesting blog on the net tonight - and read some of your Being Had book.
Haven't read the ending yet, but let me guess, you were had? Joking aside, your writing style is great, so maybe something good came from being had.

Anyway, the reason I came across your blog is that I was doing some online research on Belarus as I hope to vist the country to document a number of topics, including the experience of journalists and Chernobyl survivors. I am just after a little bit of advice on the various pitfalls I may encounter - if you have any. I know it's unlikely I'd be accredited a journalist-related visa or accreditation so I am looking at other possiblities.

I've no agenda either way; I just want to look at these topics with a fresh perspective. In my country, we have many people from the neighboring countries of Belarus, such as Lithuania, but people here know little of Belarus and I'd also like to give an insight in this regard. One of my pieces would look at the life of Belarusians in my own country and I'd hope to link this would some interviews in Belarus - perhaps from you? I should also point out that other topics in the series may be looked upon in a controversial way by the Belarus authorities, and it would be going online for all to see.


Well first of all, I am not sure there is all that much need for security. We have journalists come here all the time and I have had even political friends come through- and by this I mean oppositional/democracy minded journalists- and they have all gotten their visas and come through and none of them have ever been harassed. Well, there was Mike Schwirtz, but you know, Mike Schwirtz is Mike Schwirtz…

But that particular story aside, I am sure you are welcome to come and have a look around. I am actually not sure myself about how the accreditation would work; by this I mean that it might only have to do with having press access to public statements and such. But as far as interviewing people, workers, students; even press people- I don't see where anybody would ever have a problem with this up to and including questions about the government and such.

There was actually a very good article about the opposition that was really right on the button from RFE/RL a week or so ago ( I also ran this as the endnote for the BHTimes on the 11th of June (

For myself, it seems that the days of controversy and intrigue from the beautiful and interesting Republic of might have become a thing of the past. The doors are open for business and there are much fewer restrictions on people now. Like I said, that RFE article really seemed to hit the spot.

But the lifestyle and "The Life" are still here. It is still very difficult to get by and it takes a particular sort of character and outlook to manage living here. I am not really sure that westerners would be willing to allow so much of what they have come to think of as normal in life to go away. And of course we are all rather frightened about the current economic situation and no one wants to go back to the times of crisis and collapse, something that people here have gone through twice- and this is of course not counting Chernobyl.

But on the other hand it is not impossible to find some beauty and comfort in the things that the place does have to offer. The pace is slower and people are very friendly. They have news an internet and satellite TV and their own methods of being sophisticated and getting along. There is life and possibilities here and to a certain extent, we have come to adopt a little of the philosophy that work pays and passively waiting for government support is not where it is at. So like I say, there is change.

So briefly, please, you are welcome! Come on out. And if you do and have time on your itinerary to come down to Pinsk, I would love to show you around. Minsk is of course the big city but I think the perspective possible from this little corner of the world can be pretty interesting a well.

Let me know how further I can be of help.

Yours fro Belarus,

Adam Goodman
(My actual real name)