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floods:Venice in Minsk

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© Orangell, Minsk Cafe Babel -Did you have summer? - What a question, of course we had summer; it's just that day I was ill. Photo Anton Motol'ko This joke about the Belarusian climate (which is, by the way, very close to the truth), may be re-told with a slightly different ending: it's just that day it was raining.

The start of June was cold and a bit unsure, despite the summer of 2009 gave promises; the start of July was boiling and unusually hot for Belarus. Rumours full of hope promised hot summer, which would be a lovely exception for our moderate continental climate. However on July 19, the heat was gone, rain started and the summer of 2009 became the aforementioned previously expected Belarusian summer-as-usual.

What happened on July 24 became a habitual phenomenon for Minsk life. Weathermen forecasted a storm across the whole country while the Auto inspection warned against the possible danger. On July 24, the city started floating.

"On July 24 from roughly 3 p.m. until 4:30, around 56.4 mm of rain fell making it a 60% of the monthly norm. 77 parts of various motorways, 64 administrative basements were flooded. There were no casualties registered. The nature phenomenon was regarded as abnormal. The last such case was registered 16 years ago (1993) but with 40 mm and one casualty. (source:

Why do I call these events habitual? Because we've seen it in 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004 and, possible, frequently before that, it's just I don't remember. It might be that the same awful rainfall was in 1999, but the Nemiga catastrophe, Minsk remembering the 10th anniversary this year, no one paid attention.

Flood: objective view and a subjective perception

In public conscience this flooding becomes special for two reasons. The first reason is objective: threatened becomes the capital, the largest city in the country while flooded are many parts of the city.

Photo Anton Motol'ko

The second reason is subjective. Our society is marginalized from the rest of the world. Actions of the governing authorities take place in one reality, opposition - in the other, while our society, the society of the lukewarm and avoiding contacts with both - authorities and the opposition - in, yet, another reality.

The third reality can hardly be attributed to a specific society: each member of this group of people creates his/her own "individual project "success", while altogether the projects do not deliver a body of society in political sense. The whole thing emerges as a " fruit sour milk". All of a sudden, this slow, amorphous routine is shattered by something, called flood. The flood comes up as a challenge to the division of people, yet it is more complicated than that. Attitude towards the flood may differ, which, in its turn, may create a new form of disunity.

On the one hand, there are people, who have been directed impacted by the flood: car, cafe, shop owners. These guys will reckon receiving insurance payments. On the other hand, there are less serious victims: the people who have been to ground zero, but did not suffer damange. For those, the flood is more of a routine breaker, some sort of extreme entertainment.

The third category of people turns an the event into a fest. These are the reporters, who get informed on the upcoming phenomenon (one just needs to watch out for news or weather forecasts to be abreast) and come to take exclusive pics to raise his/her blog's raiting. Others join not to shoot pics but to be shot.

So what?

In the parable about two frogs sitting in milk pitchers, one of them went desperate and drowned. People seem to resemble this drowned frog when sitting in flooded shuttles and autobuses and excitingly watching evening news. For them all this is unexpected, shattering, it is adrenaline they look for. On July 3 and 31 people are ready for these turbulences, while the flooding will soon be forgotten. Plus there are no guarantees that it will repeat. Hence, new victims, new reporters, new deeds and failures of the city authorities.

Coming back to the frogs story, the second frog kept on moving in the pitcher and splashing the milk, which made it butter, which, in its turn, allowed it to crawl out of the pitcher. Belarusian society needs to be consolidated, carry out commonly initiated acts. Creative approach to Minsk floods could be one of them. On July 3, the joy of life is provided by the State. The Day of Flood could well become the day of the own initiative, freedom and independence.

The Belarusian society needs to achieve such a level of consolidation to be able to organise an own flash-mob.Scenarios may differ. Festivity to praise the God Perun, for instance. Carrying out warter sport championships. Minsk - the capital of the world diving.

Photos Anton Motol'ko


 This is a snap thought of what could be invented. One has to hurry, though. The state authorities are currently looking into the opportunities of reconstructing the sewage system in Minsk. In 10 years time, we shan't have such an opportunity, but as of now, we could do so much. Yet, while the sewage system is being though through, we can create the Institute of our own Fest.