Feel the Vibe of the City of Minsk

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Read the Outlook on Belarus special report

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Igor Likhogrud

About Igor Likhogrud

Igor Likhogrud is Chairman of the Board Moscow-Minsk Bank. He has been working in banking since 1995. Started career as fx-transactions officer in a branch of Belbusinessbank. Worked for the Belarusian National Bank, including four years as a Head of Banking Supervision. In 2005 joined Priorbank (member of RZB/RBI Banking Group) where was a Member of the Board, COO/CIO. He graduated from the Belarusian State Economic University — International Economic Relations. Degree of PhD in Economics from Belarusian State Academy of Science. Professional MBA in Banking and Insurance from Vienna University of Economics and Business.

“The very heart of the city is famous for its unique atmosphere that comes from a combination of architecture, colours, flavours and aromas as well as the friendliness of the market traders and the wide range of high quality products.”

Every city has a place that brings people together; a place where you can meet anyone from high street clerks and bankers through plumbers and students to pensioners and young mothers with their children. Barcelona has its famous Mercat de La Boqueria and Minsk has its Komarovsky market, located in the city centre. This place lets everyone feel the vibe of not only Minsk, but the whole of Belarus.

It is here that a quick glimpse into the fruit basket, carried by a typical resident, will easily help you determine the financial well-being of Belarusians. A loud conversation between two elderly ladies, at the greengrocer’s, will keep you up-to-date with the latest news in the capital city. The prices you see on the meat counter, at the butcher’s, will permit you to forecast an increase in deposits, or say, the fall of payments on loans.

There is space for a little respite, where you can rest for a while and take a short break from shopping, before going back again to choose the best apples, pears or plums. It is here that our bank has its offices, in the very heart of the city that is famous for its unique atmosphere that comes from a combination of architecture, colours, flavours and aromas as well as the friendliness of the market traders and the wide range of high quality products.

Belarus has invested a lot in order to increase the birth rate and we see the growth. That gives us hope and makes us believe that Belarus has great potential for growth. I know it might sound pompous but children are the country’s future.

In the recent years, we have also seen, more often than not, that the locals tend to bypass the counters and shelves that hold expensive exotic produce. Obviously, this is due to a decrease in purchasing power, against the backdrop of fluctuating neighbouring economies. The situation has forced many companies to rethink their current situation and their vision of the future.

Despite the difficulties faced by any young, developing country, Belarus is gradually changing the lives of its citizens for the better, although not as fast as all of us would like. The possibilities and freedoms for the private sector are growing, foreign investments are being generated and a lot of attention is being paid to the development of new, relevant fields of economy.

Minsk is a modern, dynamic city; it offers the largest transport and logistics centre, a cultural and scientific capital with high educational standards, positive diversity, a clean and green environment, and mostly importantly, a city on the rise. New hotels and restaurants, new shopping malls and new residential developments are being built and new investments are being made. This is to the benefit of both the almost two million residents and for tourists.

For those of you, who have never visited the city or the country, it is important to come and see; visit the sights, try the food and meet the people. I am sure there is no better place to start a visit than the Komarovsky market, where you can take the city’s pulse and start your journey across Belarus.

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The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.

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