Symbolic sign of large-scale investments
President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, joins Chairman of Gazprom JSC Board, Alexey Miller, in laying capsule at Gazprom Centre multifunctional complex construction site, in Minsk
Most Belarusians know this Russian company as the major miner and supplier of natural gas. However, the transnational corporation also runs several social projects, and one is being currently realised in Minsk. Construction of the Gazprom Centre multi-functional complex is in full swing on the city’s central avenue, not far from the National Library. This mini-town is set to become prestigious for work and leisure time.
Alexander Lukashenko and Alexey Miller recently joined forces to lay a commemorative capsule in the foundations.
The scale of the construction is impressive. Walking the perimeter of the huge ditch, you realise that it’s as large as a dozen football fields. Mikhail Gaukhfeld, the Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Architects, took us on a tour, pointer in hand to attract our attention to spots on his miniature model. He calls the site ‘unique’ and I’m convinced that he’s right. Not only Minsk but the wider country has nothing similar. A 36-storey building (190m tall) will crown the site — becoming the tallest in Belarus. The complex will include a four star hotel, a congress centre, a trading zone, restaurants and a café, in addition to underground parking for 1,300 cars.
The Gazprom Centre aims to make Minsk more dynamic and modern in appearance, hosting businessmen and advantageously allowing them to take office space in close proximity. It’s thought that 5,500 new jobs will be forthcoming, generating personal income and tax revenue for the state.
The President is eager to ensure that the complex will welcome everyone, with a range of services and entertainments. Among those planned are a multi-functional medical and children’s educational centre, an open tennis court, a gym for competitive sports, fitness machines, swimming pools, saunas and banyas. The first Minsk amphitheatre is also planned, surrounded by fountains to cool on hot summer days. The pond will act as a skating rink in winter. Importantly, all will be affordable for Minskers and guests.
The site is unique in more than scale, brightly symbolising our Belarusian-Russian Union State relations. Despite recent Russian criticism, reproaching our leadership for its separatist talks with the West and betrayal of Russia, the centre is a perfect example of our co-operation.
The President emphasised, “Belarus will never choose between the West and the East. We’ve never traded our common security and our common independence. We’d never do so — however we might be pushed. We’ve never begun negotiations to choose between Russia and the West.” Mr. Lukashenko asked Gazprom’s Mr. Miller to tell the Russian leaders not to doubt Belarus’ fairness, adherence to principles and reliability.”
Interaction with the major energy company — Gazprom — is the ideal demonstration of such relations. The Belarusian section of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline is the shortest route for Russia to supply natural gas to Europe. Mr. Lukashenko has stated that, if necessary, our country is ready to provide its Russian partners with increased volumes of gas transit. In turn, Mr. Miller shared that his company is increasing its investment into Belarus; in particular, constructing gas pipelines and distribution stations across the regions.
Speaking of Gazprom’s social projects in Belarus, Mr. Miller mentioned participation in the restoration of Brest Fortress, its ‘Gazprom to Children’ programme, and construction of accommodation for large families. Already, over 30 such families have received flats in one of Minsk’s residential suburbs. Such work is highly appreciated, as it fully meets the social policy pursued in Belarus.
After their bilateral meeting, Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Miller laid a commemorative capsule on the site of the future Gazprom Centre. They inspected the construction site and Mr. Miller assured the President that deadlines will be met, with the highest standards. By late 2018, the city will be launching a modern multi-functional complex: not just a centre for businesses and tourism but a new calling card for Minsk.
Russia is our common homeland. We’ve never butted heads with Russia but we’ve had and will continue to have some issues regarding minor aspects, as we share a common house. However, these are not major problems… and never will be. These would never be borne in our country. Any western or American politician who has come here would never say that we’ve conducted talks on behalf of Russia or scared someone with Russia. This has never happened and will never take place. At the same time, we openly state that we wish to normalise our relations with the EU and America — in the same way as Russia or any other state wishes to do so. However, these are our problems and we would never solve them at the expense of our fraternal Russia.
By Vasily Khatitonov