Belarus: Soviet-themed shopping centre opens in Minsk

An actor dressed as a young Vladimir Lenin outside the Leningrad centre Image copyright Svaboda.org/RFE/RL
Image caption An actor dressed as a young Vladimir Lenin welcomed shoppers to the newly opened shopping centre

The Belarusian capital, Minsk, has marked the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution by opening a Soviet-themed shopping centre.

The Leningrad Mall sells modern goods from foodstuffs to furniture, but in surroundings adorned with tongue-in-cheek Communist-style exhortations to "Give us Sales!", local Capital TV reports. The opening saw the four-storey glass building decked out with Soviet flags and paraphernalia, while shoppers were greeted by an army cadet marching band and staff clad in 1970s uniforms, led by an actor dressed as Lenin.

Pictures of the interior taken by the Svaboda website show Stalin-era posters in stairwells, and sale signs featuring Lenin's face. Appropriately, the shopping centre's address is 27 Lenin Street, in Minsk's Lenin District, not far from the Proletarian metro station, the Onliner property news site notes.

Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for 21 years, encourages Soviet nostalgia, and the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution is often used for the festive opening of shops and leisure centres.

Shoppers tell the TV channel that they're pleased with the Leningrad centre's convenient location and reasonable prices, but not everyone is impressed. One Belarusian designer has mocked up a poster advertising a "Stalin Bowling Alley", and a comment on the Onliner site notes the irony that in the real Soviet Union, running such private enterprises could have led to people being "thrown in jail".

Image copyright Svaboda.org/RFE/RL
Image caption Lenin's likeness can be spotted all over the brand new shopping centre

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