Hlybokaje, Belarus - History and Today

by Andrei Khrapavitski

Having started writing this brochure, I had no intention to become an iconoclast of traditional tourist guides but in no way either I intended to solely dedicate this work to dull mentioning of the town’s attractions and sites and to implicitly follow the rules of the genre. Herein I don’t endeavor to tersely tout Hlybokaje averring my regional hubris and pride unlike some local ethnographers. I just want to express my point of view on the region’s problems, prospects and the past. And this view is mine, it’s subjective and I know that many of you, who either live here or visit the town as tourists, will strongly disagree with some of my statements. So be it! The site of the brochure has a forum. It is open for discussion, your comments, suggestions and critique. I will not just read your remarks but will interact with you I may also edit the book on the fly if you convince me of your rightfulness and of my being wrong.

Geographical location

    The district of Hlybokaje is located in the north-western part of Belarusian Vitebsk province. As an administrative territory it was founded on the 15th of January, 1940. It consists of about 540 settlements, including Hlybokaje, the center of the region and a small town Padsville. A part of the district in the north is situated on the lowland of Dzisna. The chine of Svianciany lies in the north of Hlybochchyna (in this way the region of Hlybokaje is often called). In the south there’s a part of Higher Biarazina lowland. Among local natural resources the most crucial are peat and clay. The district is really lacustrine. The biggest lakes are Sho, Plisa, Douhaje (the deepest lake in Belarus – 53,7 meters), Mniuta, Vialikaje, Piatrouskaje, etc. About 24% of Hlybochchyna is forested.
What must be mentioned is that the whole region is the cleanest in Belarus. It hasn’t been so much hit by Chernobyl as the rest of the country. That is why the nature of Braslau, Hlybokaje and Pastavy has always attracted tourists from all over Belarus and abroad. 


    Hlybokaje has a gripping history since it was the Eeastern border of Rzecz Pospolita before the Second World War. Old-timers of the region remember the coming of Bolsheviks – they were ragged, smutty and barefooted while most of locals had good clothes, horses and money. They came to save our folks from poverty of capitalism but what they actually brought with them was destitution and mass robbery. Most of them acted like a bunch of bloodthirsty bandits, thrilling Hlybachans with their weapons. Insubordination meant death and the fairy tale that Bolsheviks were saviors is nothing but a propaganda, which is still fed to us because of our leader’s political orientation. However the memory of people is the best source of information. Many are still cowed and intimidated and are unwilling to share their memories. This site will give you a possibility to share your memories with us and we hope that no censorship and bluff will effect the content of this project.

    When you study the history of Hlybokaje you get a strange feeling that you plunge inside a stream of some paranormal cosmic influences. There’s a lot of mysticism and mythology in local legends. Feels like the pavement of the old town is imbued with the blood of the dead. According to one of the most trusted local ethnologists Uladzimir Skrabatun, Hlybokaje practically lies on graves. There are just two big cemeteries inside the town but there are many, which disappeared, were liquidated and the area was asphalted. The square in front of a Catholic church would be a graveyard. There used to be graves of German soldiers under the town stadium. Last year Germans paid for the reconstruction of the stadium in order to take their compatriots out. Excavations and exhumations are over, the money is transferred to the Belarusian side but the reconstruction hasn’t been finished yet and rumors spin around that the money is already spent (on what?).

    There are three Jewish cemeteries. One is placed inside Hlybokaje. The thing is there used to be a ghetto, created by fascists when they came here. Atrocities were conducted against not only the Jewish majority of Hlybokaje (then about 70% of Hlybochans were Jews) but also against Jews from all over Belarus. But not only fascists left their bloody signatures on ancient walls of Hlybokaje – stalinists organized their own concentration camp inside the building of Berazvechcha cloister. This building is one of the most vivid examples of Vilnius baroque in the world. It was the honor of the town and it is a great injustice that nowadays the building has not just failed to be rebuilt but also there’s a long-term prison inside it even now! Well there’s nothing to be surprised with. Didn’t you know that there is a big satanic shade over the whole soviet way of thinking, the same can be said about the wrong interpreted Hitler’s Nietzschean philosophy?

    Another cemetery could have been on the route to Polotsk near Hlybokaje. Some Italian soldiers are thought to be shot there. Thanks to the local authorities and the project of Skrabatun (mentioned above) two-stone-crosses memorial was installed not far from Hlybokaje’s dendrapark.

    Now, let me dwell on some of the local sights. Firstly, these are two churches – catholic and orthodox, which are built opposite to each other and in between there’s a square with a fountain and two longest streets of the town (Lenin St. and Soviet St.) crossing. Down the Lenin Street there’s a park, which has recently been cleaned. And a quay has been made on the bank of Kahalnaya lake (in the town center). Earlier it was known as Hlybokaje and they think it has given name to the town itself. Hlybokaje means “deep”.

    The town’s ethnological museum is based in Engels St. How do you like names of the streets? It is one of the best regional museums known to me. It contains stands dedicated to our celebrities. There are pictures of Drazdovich, the dictionary of Lastouski, etc. Here you can find some articles of local masters. What impresses visitors is the artwork of  the blacksmith Dubina. In one of museum’s halls there’s a vast gobelin, reflecting the painter’s view of the panorama of old Hlybokaje.

    Well, I say “old” but I think you are curious to know how old it was. Until recently it was thought that Hlybokaje was mentioned in 1515 for the first time. But according to the search undertaken by omnipresent Skrabatun in Polish archives, it is now stated that Hlybokaje was mentioned for the 1st time in 1414. So strange but true, it went older for a century!

    Museum’s employees are always ready to tell you the history of our interesting town. By the way, the museum’s building itself has a history of its own. Earlier the town’s executive committee was placed here, then there was some sort of  tax administration in this building… It was a “shelter” for many different institutions. Even independent newspaper ‘Free Hlybokaje’ was made up here once.   

Belarusian National Renaissance

    After a deep plunge into the history of Hlybokaje, it’s right time to come up back to the surface and talk about the present of the town which is often referred to as a real stronghold of Belarusian democracy or a self-arranged stock of its leftovers. Indeed, here you can find a school #3 and a gymnasium with the Belarusian language of teaching in the same building, which earlier welcomed many renowned guests (including Shalkievich, a famous Belarusian song-writer who is best known for his political satire “Comrade Sapega”, or Uladzimir Kolas, a director of now closed and interdicted Belarusian Humanities Lyceum, or Uladzimir Arlou, a famous history author, who has now gotten into the list of banned referrers in the Institute of History for his political views and truthful view on history, free of pro-Lukashenko ideological bias). All these guests had a chance to speak out, perform and express their views not only for the staff of teachers but also for students. Maybe this could explain a stable join of the school’s students to the local third sector. Many of them continue with public activities after leaving town when they enter universities or colleges in Minsk, Vitebsk or Polack. And sure I can’t but mention School #3 was the venue for the Constituent Assembly of Belarusian Popular Front Party (BPF) in Hlybokaje.

    BPF became the only real oppositional force in the town and with arrival of Zianon Pazniak and his magnificent speech at a local canned milk factory hundreds of Hlybachans joined its local branch. Elections 1994 showed that democratic ideals are appealing to a great percentage of Hlybachans. Here the former prime-minister Kebich won with just a slight lead. Pazniak was second and Lukashenko went third. And only the second round brought victory for a current president. Among other party structures in the district I can name United Civic Party, which used to have a rather big branch here, which included many directors of local enterprises and institutions. But as the regime slid in the direction of repressions, UCP activities in the region subsided or even almost came to a halt. You could also notice presence of Communist Party of Kaliakin in the town with members on managerial positions who are still in an oppositional party but in no way they reveal their belonging to the opposition.

    Hlybokaje is still regarded as an area with a weak support for the official policies. However party influences subsided so much that they are practically unseen by the electorate. Though I have to admit that the only still active or better to say a reborn party in Hlybokaje is BPF, which renewed its activities after freshening up its leadership in the town. For example, Hlybokaje BPF initiated a rally in favor of the orange revolution in Ukraine. Jaraslau Biernikovich’s parliamentary campaign was pretty vivid. His political posters had the best design I had come across in the entire country. And I had a chance to compare his posters with the ones, produced in Minsk, Vitebsk, Maladzechna, Homel and Navapolatsk. He was the best. Apart from his traditional door-to-door campaigning he had a colorful website following his political trek and also representing the program of People’s Coalition “Five Plus”.

    Another nail into the coffin of repressive ruling is business. The town has the largest number of entrepreneurs per person in Belarus and small businesses are much more developed here than in the neighboring regions. Some romanticists even narrate their own theories of some magic aura surrounding the town. More factually based theories state about a Jewish heritage, which is still felt here. Unfortunately, most of survivors of Jewish Hlybokaje left the town and migrated from the country. And to my mind, it’s one of the greatest losses this town has ever gone through. It severely affected the town’s culture and economy. However, modern fortune hunters actively invest into their own little grocery stores or cafes, instead of keeping on with the work for somebody else. Many talented and entrepreneurial folks started their own businesses after working long years on the traditional Hlybokaje’s marketplace or bazaar, a common Sunday morning meeting place – the largest open-air trade center in the region with merchants from all over, selling whatever you feel like buying. They say that even bazaars in Polatsk or Vitebsk are hardly comparable with Hlybokaje’s market. But with the foundation of small stores around the town by former bazaar traders, market is gradually decreasing. People prefer buying things in shops in their block and Hlybokaje’s Sunday bazaar is more of a ritual than a real trading place these days.

    Unfortunately, many successes Hlybokaje’s civil society achieved in the 90s is being methodically washed out by local authorities in the last couple of years. ‘Free Hlybokaje’, the only independent registered periodical in the north-western Belarus is being constantly bombarded by fresh threats from local authorities and unfair economical conditions, the newspaper has been put into. Vitebsk oblast authorities pressurize Hlybokaje executive committee to finally close the edition. The only relevant excuse for FH’s still being published is its political neutrality if not to say its avoiding of political topics. It’s clear that this method has been chosen by its editor-in-chief in order to protect the newspaper, to draw the fire away and to stay in business. It is hard to predict how long the FH will hold but with each day it’s harder and harder to tolerate the sanctions and attacks from the authorities.

    Another bastion of liberty in the region, the above mentioned School # 3 has been divided into two separate educational institutions in one building and the director, liberal Vital Haranovich has been recalled from his position and transferred to the education department of the executive committee where he has been offered a nearly secretarial position. Local third sector activists just guess either this move was politically motivated. No matter if it’s true or false everyone agrees that it will be a great loss for the school and the liberalism era in the school is over. Why? Mr. Haranovich was really faithful to his principles, always spoke Belarusian and had many friends among Belarusian intellectuals and writers who are predominantly pro-democratic in their views. He himself is a poet and possesses a real authority in intellectual circles of the town. He also had a long-lasting wish to turn school #3 into a real gymnasium and it seems to me he felt a bit ill at ease when the school was practically divided into two separate institutions and he was left aside – at first he kept on heading what was left of school #3 and then recalled to another position. Restraining from further speculation, I would just like to mention, that School # 3 was supported by Orsa Romana Foundation and to the honor of our education functionaries Belarusian language is still preserved in both school #3 and the gymnasium.

    Especially after the first ever Lukashenko’s visit to Hlybokaje (2004) local authorities demonstrated an enormous zeal in repressing any form of dissidence in the town. On the date of his arrival the author of these lines was detained for an hour and a half and apologetically released only after Lukashenko had finished his speech on our central square. Our local prosecutor Seurukou presented me an official warning for my activities on behalf of an unregistered and outlawed organization ‘Partnership’ and for promotion of activities via the Internet. Of course, I refused to sign the warning and after a short conversation with the prosecutor I was nobly accompanied down to the exit. I might be wrong but it feels like many representatives of local authorities are less inclined to thoughtlessly follow the orders of the center. However, there are certain people who are even overdoing in their destructive mission. For example, the oppositional candidates underwent a real ordeal. Kurcevich’s Social Democratic Party and Biernikovich’s ‘Barmica’ were checked by local executive committee. The latter was also visited by an inspector of the sanitary service.

Lukashenka Regime and Persecution of Opposition

    As the elections ended it was right time for further persecution of local opposition members. The head of information and ideology department of the executive committee Mikhail Cherepkovski visited School # 2 and urged school administration to tell off a teacher Juras Kalbasich who had been the head of Biernikovich initiative group and remains one of active members of Hlybokaje’s third sector. Local mini-resource center Barmica’s head Jaraslau Biernikovich was trying to find an official office for his organization but without success.

Moreover, now there is a new fact of an authoritarian regime rapidly sliding towards a well formed dictatorship. If you visit a hospital in Padsville, the second largest settlement in the region you will come across portraits of the president in every cabinet of the building. Portraits also appeared on walls in local kindergartens’ playrooms. School students were obliged to subscribe to official newspapers ‘Ranica’ and ‘Znamia Yunosti’. As for teachers they also had to subscribe to officially recognized newspapers. The informational isolation in the region is appalling. If it wasn’t for the editions of Sumiezza center and a regularly updated website www.sumiezza.org we could have stated that the region was thoroughly sunken in the darkness of official propaganda. Hlybokaje strangely has not a single cable network in the area and maybe that is why many Hlybachans have been buying satellite dishes. If you compare roofs of Polatsk, Pastavy and Hlybokaje you will be surprised to see how many dishes are there in small Danzig (as Skrabatun coined Hlybokaje). The dish-owners predominantly give their preference either to NTV Plus (Russian network) or a bouquet of mostly Ukrainian free-to-air channels on Sirius and Amos satellites.

    The audience of satellite TV includes mainly middle-class entrepreneurs, intellectuals and often bureaucrats of the district executive committee and the council. I really reckon that their feigned devotion to the ideology of Lukashenko is more of their survival attempt, a mere money-making source and not a true belief. Had Belarusian opposition come with a truly believable plan of victory many of power people would have joined in and either vocally or covertly seconded a more democratic alternative.

    Elections 2004 ended with two long-term outcomes. Funnily they contradict each other but eventually any of them can be wrong:

-         many people lost hope in a possibility of victory knowing about the electoral fraud and mistrusting an availability of a way to prevent it in the future;

-         many people know that Lukashenko did not win or at least he did not win with such a percentage. And they found hope that a change was possible.

Now opposition has to decide what to do with this public opinion, what to do with this knowledge.

    For this question there is hardly any easy answer. And there is not much time left to seek for it. As time goes by and the year of the elections approaches at full pelt we all need to look for clues how to reinforce the hardly hit political processes in the region and how to resurrect trust in a possibility of a change in the provinces.

Prospects of Tourism in Hlybokaje and Paazer'ya Region of Belarus

    But leaving this aside for political analysts and strategists I would like to step a little farther and foresee what reforms are needed to make Hlybokaje a more prosperous and attractive town if with the help of God an oppositional candidate happens to win in 2006. Hlybokaje beside other centers of Paazerje (mainly Pastavy and Braslau) could and should be a major attraction for tourists coming to this country. Firstly, this entire region is the cleanest in Belarus. It wasn’t hit by Chernobyl as badly as the rest of the country and thanks to its natural beauty and closeness to the Baltic sea, it has become a # 1 recreation center in the entire country. Braslau is in the undisputed lead here with a rather rich infrastructure of guesthouses and facilities for camping. Hlybokaje attracts tourists as well but it is also due to its rich history and a uniquely beautiful village of Mosar with a famous Catholic church, holy water source and unforgettable courtyard – all masterminded by the local priest Bulka and cared after by the entire village. They say it is the most truly European village in the entire Belarus and no surprise it welcomes a lot of visitors from all over. In the nearby village of Udzela you can find a monastery, which is also diligently looked after.

    A couple of years ago scientists stated that the geographical center of Europe was located in the vicinity of Sho, a large lake in the region of Hlybokaje. The region can boast about two of three deepest lakes in the country. One of them is practically a step away from Sho. This area is a must-be attraction for tourism. I, myself, traveled there on foot for the first time and what surprised me was a natural wilderness of the area. Presence of human activity was hardly seen. The village of Sho, located on the shore of the lake, looks like a medieval settlement. I could find just a sole phone in the entire village. Transportation is also unpardonably poor in the area and it is very hard to get there from the town. Buses go rarely and the closest train station is ten kilometers away from the village. Most of the shores of Sho are forested and you can hardly get close to it. However there is a decent beach-alike shore opposite to the village. A year and a half ago it became a venue for Youth Front camp in August.

    Unfortunately, rural tourism and ecotourism are still nothing but stylish words, yet unused in practice. Local authorities, as far as I know, have many ideas how to make the region more alluring but because of the economical situation and an ever-empty budget their plans remain on paper and are far from practical realization. One of clear and urgent needs in the town is creation of an infrastructure of guesthouses and hotels. So far there is just a single low-level hotel in the town’s center but it is always booked and service is even far from being “fairly good”. There are two guesthouses in town. One belongs to the canned milk factory and the second one – to the local electric service enterprise. The latter hasn’t even got hot water. A comparatively good guesthouse or a small hotel is located in the vicinity of Padsville, a small town twenty-five kilometers away from Hlybokaje. The hotel has all the modern facilities, except for Internet, I guess. It is also located on the shore of a small lake where you can swim. You can also have some shashliks in the yard and have a nice walk in a Belarusian forest. But there is one big drawback. There is no mobile phone connection in the area yet. Though there is a tower installed in nearby Padsville by a mobile communications provider Velcom, it is not yet connected to the system. But even when cellular connection becomes possible in Padsville area, would you want to go 25 km just to have a sleep from Hlybokaje or even farther if you came to Mosar. Accommodation is a real problem and not only for tourists but also for new residents of the town. Construction business has almost stopped in the region and new houses are rarely built.

    Apart from accommodation issues there is also another major question being constantly discussed in the town. Hlybokaje has no more than 20000 inhabitants and lately, according to the official data, there were 20 cafes in the town (it means a café per 1000 people). Mostly they sell alcohol and thus there were many complaints about the spread of alcoholism among the population. After restrictive measures and some objective factors (too big competition, etc.) the number of cafes has dropped. And a what-used-to-be a 24\7 café ‘Dobra’ began working till midnight. A private restaurant ‘Lotus’ was sold. A diversity of cafes or pubs in the town, to my mind, was more of a plus than of a minus. Lack of control and too high taxes preventing owners from hiring professional security staff and providing good service is another problem and it must not be resolved by simple closure. Hlybokaje could boast that a tourist wouldn’t die of hunger here but one definitely would because of another problem – one would have to sleep in the park. And if the restrictive measures against the cafes continue nourishment can also become a problem.

    In the beginning of my narrative I mentioned a beautiful cloister built in style of Vilnius baroque. The dilapidated building was rebuilt by Bolsheviks and turned into a concentration camp and later into a prison (with high security and for hard felons). Whoever comes to the town of the Belarusian opposition leaders pledges the cloister will be rebuilt and the holiness of the place will be restored. It is great injustice and blasphemy to turn one of the greatest monuments of Belarus’ architecture into a jail and this could allure a real pilgrimage to the town if ever rebuilt. Hlybokaje town center was the place where stood a castle of Radzivils, according to some explorers and ethnographers but others convince that those are just baseless theories. Whoever is right, a construction of a castle could be a good idea if we wanted to attract more tourists to the area. Hlybokaje also needs to celebrate our Jewish traditions more passionately. We could have opened several museums only concerning this topic. For example, we could pay our tribute to our compatriot and a creator of the language of Hebrew – Ben Jehuda. Hlybokaje had more than a dozen of synagogues and also a Tarot school. We had a couple of Jewish newspapers and so there is more than enough material for gathering together and telling about to visitors of the town.

    Ideally we could recreate the image on the gobelin in the town’s museum. Maybe it is just partially truthful but if taken as a starting point for architectural style of the town, we would definitely turn Hlybokaje into a real center of Europe. For sure, this Napoleon-scaled plans are hard to realize and they need a lot of investment. However, I do believe that it will pay back. Belarus hasn’t got much tourist centers to offer and Hlybokaje with its small-business traditions could win the tender for a tourists’ Mecca. With Mosar and Sho beside, small Danzig could even outrun Braslau in its allurement for visitors.

    Now again a bit of history. In the beginning of the XX century Hlybokaje was a part of Dzisna constituency or pawiet as it was termed then. The population was around 7 thousand inhabitants who were mostly occupied in trade, as noted by Arkadz Smolich in 1919. On the other side of the lake there was a small town of Berazvech with an old cloister beside a narrow-gauge railway from Svianciany running through the southern part of Dzisna pawiet. The same route leads to another town in the area – Pastavy.


    Pastavy and Hlybokaje both can be proud of being less than the east of the oblast affected by soviet dogmas, since they were annexed by the USSR only after the WWII and the spirit of private property and pro-Western Catholicism is still alive. Like many other western Belarusian towns the dominance of Orthodoxy is hardly noticeable here. According to the statistics Catholic and Orthodox congregations have more-or-less the same number of believers. Over the past years there was a stable increase in Protestant parishes of the region. We have Christians of Evangelical Faith and Baptists with their churches in Hlybokaje and the church of New Generation in Padsville. New Generation seems to be spreading faster than the other two as Evangelical pastors in Padsville and Pastavy have joined NG and their temples changed the banner as well. 

    We also have a rather small community of Muslims. There are minor efforts to open their mosque but realization of the project is in a hazy and distant prospective.

    Among so-called sects active in town, one can name the Witnesses of Jehovah with their temple on Soviet Street. Totalitarian heathen cults are yet unnoticed in the district and I doubt they possess any minimal following among local residents.

    Anti-Semitism is also alien in this area as no units of fascist organizations or initiatives were registered either officially or by the resource center’s civic society formation watch. Neither Russian National Unity nor Belarusian extreme right-wingers succeeded in recruiting any followers here. Communistic ideals, on the contrary, are still supported by a group of veterans and pensioners. Youth already alienated from Lenin’s theories but with no officially registered oppositional youth organizations many youngsters join the pro-Lukashenko Belarusian Patriotic Republican Union (BPRU). One of key goals for local youth third sector should be to more aggressively promote themselves as an alternative to the official youth union. It is of vital importance to stop formation of Luka-youth. And that is especially important in areas such as Hlybokaje where there is no cable TV and you can hardly find an easily accessible source of unbiased information and where such youth structures as Belarusian Students Association or Young Front or Young Social Democrats have no representation, so very frequently youths see no other way for them to be active and useful for the society - BRSU. They join the union, go through the filter of the ideology and they are lost. On the other hand, there are examples how BRSU helped in turning away youngsters from the regime. Some insiders got quickly disappointed having spent a few months in the union and searched for an alternative among pro-democratic youth organizations. However, you must double-check such youngsters. There is a certain danger of welcoming a rat into your organization. Such things may happen. Remember in soviet times they even assigned a priest-agent to spy after the parishioners. Beware of a clear and present danger if you are active in Belarusian third sector. They watch after you.

Cinema, Theater and Music in Hlybokaje

    Ok, turning my back on the never-ending problems of our inchoate third sector, let us consider a more facetious topic of entertainment. Hlybokaje’s only movie theater “Radzima”, located in the building of what used to be a castle of Radzivil, has practically ceded its cinematic functions and turned into a middling concert hall. The lobby is mainly used as a venue for exhibitions and the room on the second floor, which used to be a video hall, is now often let for conferences and gatherings. The main concert room has a small stage where gigs or contests are performed. Occasionally flicks are also shown but this happens once in a century. Kidding. Unfortunately, cinema, in whole, as an art form fled Hlybokaje like rats after the plague. In a way, movie theater’s decline can be explained by a very poor supply of upscale blockbusters. Hlybokaje’s billboards had been mainly luring Hlybachans with third-rate Hollywood pulp till the attendance finally plunged almost to a zero level. The only possibility to get a fresh flick before long is still either to rent a cassette or to buy it on DVD, videocassette or a CD. You can look for cinema on our famous bazaar (there you can normally find two or three stalls with video production), to check out video sections in stores like ABC or Music in the downtown. Store clerks can vary from a real connoisseur of cinematography to a glib moneymaker without any deep knowledge of the subject.

    As for local video production it is virtually nonexistent. A local entrepreneur, the owner of a photo studio Ivan Kasevich has recently entered a new business domain – video filming. There are few others who shoot weddings and personal events. One of them even attempted to create a local TV channel but the idea was stuck in juridical hardships. Remember if you want to broadcast anything in Belarus you have to undergo a real journey through the gates of hell and if you luck into persuading the high presidential nobility of your unexceptional loyalty and abstain from any political topics and also bribe some dudes in the higher offices… well, then maybe they will consider your offer. In any case, they will suck taxes out of you so inexorably that you will soon fall bloodless to the edge of bankruptcy.

    Without any intent to disparage Hlybokaje business community’s efforts to go into the domain of visual entertainment I can’t but say that until now there are no good homemade videotapes either demonstrating sceneries of our town or our people. There were dozens of video shoots by national and oblast TV and programs were shown on Minsk and Vitebsk channels. As good examples of films about Hlybokaje I can rank a few series of ‘Dilettante’s Travels’ on Belarusian Television about Hlybokaje and Mosar. But right says the program’s title, the tape contains dilettantism – many historical inaccuracies and minor flaws. Music background is often inadequate. On the other hand, the ‘Dilettante’ has been the best program about Hlybokaje so far.

    As for feature films, we happen to live in Dalenga-Mostowicz’s hometown. This classic Polish writer presented us with a gripping novel ‘Sorcerer’. Polish filmmakers made it into a movie, which immediately conquered hearts of moviegoers throughout the former Soviet block. The movie narrated a life story of a renowned surgeon from Warsaw who lost his memory. Many people consider this movie to be Polish ‘Gone with the Wind’. Isn’t it something to be proud of for a Hlybachan?

    Our town is known as a birthplace of a famous playwright Bujnicki, so theater ought to be in town but no way. Even small Padsville can boast of having a larger and better concert hall than us. As I said, we have a mediocre concert hall in the building of a former movie theater. Another one is placed near BelarusBank and KBG and is a bit bigger and is officially branded as a regional house of culture. Every weekend it welcomes teenagers to a discothèque. Earlier it had been the only disco in town and was so poor in quality so when Neon and a newly built Space started arranging discos the House of Culture lost a grownup segment of its audience. Luckily, the grand old disco changed its equipment and hired a new DJ who shifted from a vulgar musical hotchpotch to a more thematic house groove. Musical discs can be obtained in stores like Music, ABC, a central universal store, at bazaar stalls, etc. You can also try to call by a computer club (there are three: Internet computer club in the building of town’s physical sanitary center, Sniper near Lenin and Moscow streets crossing and a small club near the central drug store in the milk factory uptown borough). The last entry in the list has also got a good collection of videocassettes and disks for you to buy or rent.

    Continuing with our shopping, another place to be for a spendthrift (the author is laughing out loud) is Art (Mastactva), an arts store in the very town center. It offers books, postcards, paintings, flowers and even computers. How come they haven’t yet moved to a larger building? They simply need more space!

    Unfortunately, all these stores are not unique, they are just ordinary places for quotidian shopping needs. Hlybokaje doesn’t have a single unconventional store, which would somehow illustrate the region’s flavor. As I wrote before, we haven’t yet produced tourism industry despite all these chitchats among local administration and in the press.


    This is just an extract from my soon-to-be-in-print brochure about my hometown.

If you want to learn more about Hlybokaje and Landlake (Paazerje), please visit the site www.sumiezza.org, which I created as an online internet community of people interested in the region.

Text by Andrei Khrapavitski
Design by Alies' Arciuhovich
Photos from

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