Nezavisimosti avenuePosted: 30/09/2011
Nezavisimosti (Nyezhavizhimosty, Nezalezhnasti, Independence) avenue (or prospect) (Belarusian праспект Незалежнасці; Russian проспект Независимости) runs through the centre of Minsk from the station at the southwest up through Nezavisimosti, Oktabrskaya and Victory squares.
The avenue is based on Zakharievskaya street, imposed on Minsk from a plan made at the end of the eighteenth century under Minsk’s governor Zakharia Korneev, after whom it was named. By the end of the nineteenth century it was a fashionable street as well as a major thoroughfare. In 1922 it was renamed Sovetskaya (Savetskaya). During the war it and Barysau were largely destroyed. After the war the wide and grandiose Stalin avenue was built in its place. It’s over 11 kilometres long and its width varies between about 50 and about 70 metres.
Minsk in One Day points out that “Together with adjacent streets the avenue forms the largest and most integral ensemble of what is known in modern architecture as ‘Stalin Empire style’.”
Lenin’s personality cult was of course undamaged by the deflation of Stalin’s; in 1962 the avenue became Leninsky. In the 1990s it was again renamed, to Skorina (or Skaryny) avenue (after this man). And in 2005 it was renamed yet again.
I haven’t yet read anywhere whether the name is supposed to celebrate independence as a general concept, or some particular independence. If it’s the latter, I wonder whose independence from whom is being celebrated.
Conceivably, its own independence from “global” adulation of brand names. Consider: At its widest it’s as wide as the Champs-Élysées, and it’s over five times as long. But it lacks the Parresque spectacle of busloads buying highly advertised tat. And despite its handsome night-time illumination, this building on Nezavisimosti is not a department store.