"Molodechno is getting better every year, local residents say. The town has built multifunctional sports facilities, an amphitheater, unique water reservoirs with fountains. Houses and roads are undergoing refurbishment. There are plans to build a kindergarten combined with an elementary school, a wedding palace and a polyclinic, to improve the transport communication with the capital city. New businesses are launched and new residential areas are springing up. Yuri Gorlov, Chairman of the Molodechno District Executive Committee, took BelTA journalists on an excursion around the town and told them about the town's development plans, its cultural capital status and industrial zone.
Culture is the main distinguishing feature of the town and people
The spacious central square with a fountain, vintage lanterns, and the Victory Park is a center of attraction for young people, and a reason for pride. From here we begin to learn more about the town and municipal authorities. Yuri Gorlov has led the Molodechno District Executive Committee since 2018, before that he had worked in Stolbtsy, Minsk, Uzda and other cities and towns. “Based on my experience of living and working in different cities, which are unique in their own way, I can say that Molodechno is very comfortable and interesting. It is a clean and neat town with well-developed infrastructure, a great number of jobs across various areas, good conditions for doing business. A variety of cultural events, a favorable geographic location are among the town's numerous advantages. Living standards here are not worse than in the capital city; everything is just much more compact and less busy. The town is growing bigger and getting better. Now the town has a population of 95,000, together with the district it is 136,000. I think if we keep growing like this we will soon have a population of 100,000. "
On a hot day many flock to the Victory Park. The park was laid down in 1946. About 10 years ago, two artificial reservoirs with rifts were built here. Fountains start working in the evening.
The summer amphitheater with 2,600 seats fits well into the hilly landscape of the park. The National Festival of Belarusian Song and Poetry Molodechno is traditionally held here. Next year this festival will mark its 20th anniversary. Therefore, the organizers are already planning a cultural program in order to surprise the audience. The festival was canceled this year due to the pandemic. But in 2021, the festivities might be two times bigger.
The amphitheater does not stand idle in between festivals and major holidays. The best graduates of the district and outstanding agricultural workers are honored here. "When I am asked to describe Molodechno, the first thing that comes to my mind is culture. Perhaps this is our unique feature. It is not for nothing that Molodechno was awarded the honorary title of the cultural capital of Belarus in 2016. Now this is our brand, which we are trying to promote,” Yuri Gorlov emphasized.
The Palace of Culture becomes the cultural hub in the cold time of the year. It was built near the Victory Park in 2002, and for almost 20 years it has been considered the best place for local events. It hosts concerts of Belarusian pop stars, famous artists and bands from Russia and neighboring countries, meetings with famous people, and numerous charity events.
Molodechno is famous for its theatrical life. In 1990, the town founded a puppet theater called Batleika. Today its repertoire caters mainly to children and includes 22 performances, 90% of which are fairytales in the Belarusian language.
The Minsk Regional Drama Theater was set up at the Molodechno People's Theater of the community center in 1991 on the initiative of Nikolai Matskevich, an honored cultural worker of Belarus. The theater opened in 1993 with a play The New Land by Yakub Kolas.
Molodechno is the hometown of not only talented actors and directors but also well-known musicians who graduated from the Oginski Molodechno College of Music. Among them are Belarusian composers Oleg Eliseyenkov and Nina Ustinova, People's Artist of Belarus Aleksandr Tikhanovich and People's Artist of Russia Yuri Antonov.
The chairman of the Molodechno District Executive Committee shows us around the Molodechno Polytechnic College and the Trade and Economic College. He notes that the town trains high-class specialists in the engineering sector and other industries. In the center of the town there is the Zalutsky Medical College which trains nurses.
The city plans to build more housing and to develop infrastructure
According to the general plan, Molodechno will build more than 450,000 m2 of housing by 2030. Now the town is working on the projects to develop neighborhoods No.7, 8, and 9 where a significant share of the housing stock is allocated for large families. Last year, the local authorities provided 142 large families with apartments. All in all, 44,000 m2 of housing was built. Seven apartment buildings will be commissioned this year, and 150 large families will celebrate housewarming.
It is not only housing construction but also infrastructure development that are on the radar of the municipal authorities. A kindergarten combined with an elementary school will be built in Neighborhood No.11 in the near future. “We are mulling over the construction of one more clinic. Our people's health is one of the main conditions for the region's successful development. Thanks to the support of the state, necessary medical equipment has been purchased to provide high-technology medical services. We have an MRI scanner and an X-ray mammographer in the town. Plans are in place to install an angiography machine this year,” he said.
Molodechno residents take pride in the town's numerous sports facilities. The town has the facilities for working out, swimming, figure skating, ice hockey, dancing, and also playing bowling and billiards. The sports and entertainment center opened in 2011. The center features an ice arena for 2,200 seats, a universal court to play volleyball, basketball, futsal, and handball with 270-seat stands, and a swimming pool with elements of a water park.
The center is home to the Minsk Oblast Children's and Youth Sport School Olympik 2011. The schedule of training sessions is busy. The ice is used by HC Dinamo Molodechno, young athletes, and participants of training camps. Molodechno residents like spending weekends in the swimming pool even in the summertime. All in all, there are seven swimming pools in the town.
Football and volleyball are also very popular sports in Molodechno. In 2013 a stadium for beach sports was built in the town to host European-level competitions. The local football stadium with 4,800-seat stands also hosts international matches. The stadium was upgraded in 2005. Four years later the stadium received the highest qualification category.
Two years ago outdoor workout areas were set up near the stadiums.
The number of companies has been growing. More new jobs are created in the town
The local authorities have big plans to further develop the social sector and boost the economy of the town and the region. Significant achievements have been made over the last four to five years. Over the time the jobless rate in the district has reduced from 1% to 0.2%. In January-June 2020 the average salary made up Br986.9.
Molodechno District is believed to be an industrial area with an advantageous economic and geographic location and well-developed transportation links. It is home to 38 organizations belonging to the main industrial group and 200 small enterprises specializing in various industries: metalworking, production of construction materials, furniture, perfumery, and ceramic products. But the backbone of the local economy is food production, in particular, production of meat, milk, baking products built. These production facilities are based on enterprises like Molodechno Dairy Plant, Veles-Meat, Molodechno Bakery Plant. Local products are exported to 42 countries and the number constantly grows. Even very remote countries are interested in food and equipment from Molodechno –Guinea, Kenya, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates.
New enterprises that rely on cutting-edge technologies are established at the premises of the enterprises that go out of business and in the free economic zone Minsk in Molodechno. As an example Yuri Gorlov mentioned OOO EVKONT. The enterprise makes railway containers, which are primarily exported. It has created over 90 jobs, with the average salary at Br1,700. The enterprise Molodechnostroimaterialy will be shut down soon. OOO Fortum-Bel intends to use the premises to start making fuel pellets.
The number of jobs in the region grows higher thanks to local conditions that favor the development of small and medium businesses. The number of self-employed businessmen has been on the rise since 2016 and stands at 5,500 at present. They primarily specialize in retail and services. Modern shopping centers have been built in the town, too. Their affordable prices and comfortable conditions for customers attract shoppers from nearby areas.
After walking the length of a pedestrian street from Central Square we will reach the railway station. The building was erected nearly 115 years ago. Now it is a specimen of architecture. In 2008 the railway terminal was reconstructed to offer comfortable conditions for passengers. Passenger traffic grows steadily. About 100 trains go through the town's railway station every day.
A bus station can be found within a walking distance of the railway station. Its reconstruction began in 2008. Buses leave for Minsk every 10-15 minutes. Good transport links with other cities, towns, and the countryside are available as well.
“Some people live in Molodechno and work in other regions, for instance, in Minsk. We are already discussing the possibility of adding more lanes to the motorway in the direction of the capital city with the oblast administration,” Yuri Gorlov noted.
After a lengthy tour of the town and after getting familiar with its places of interest we wondered why Molodechno is called a sunny town. “Because it is often sunny in Molodechno when it rains in other regions,” the head of the Molodechno District administration laughed. He added seriously after that: “I think our town is sunny because local residents are people of light and the atmosphere here is very warm.” It was surprising that it was sunny and hot when we were leaving Molodechno and it was raining in Minsk at that time.