I consider myself lucky because I have been living near this place for most of my life. Svelta is somewhat of an underdog amongst markets. Komarovka and Zhdanovichi attract most of the attention from both locals and tourists. But, it is this “underdog” status that makes Svelta special in its own way.
I have been making occasional trips (it is a 20-minute walk from my house) to Svelta since early childhood. Growing up in Minsk during the 90ies was pretty exciting for a kid and not so much for adults, struggling to make a buck after the economic collapse that followed the crash of the Soviet Union. Marketplaces such as Svelta were a life-saver for parents hustling to provide for their families. A kid standing on a piece of cardboard trying on some jeans is somewhat of an archetypical scene from that time and place.
The 90ies brought a lot of new foreign things into the country. Clothes and foods that the now Belarusian (contrary to being Soviet) citizens were able to enjoy, yet had to hustle and even fight for because of their scarcity.
Now in 2020, Svelta feels pretty lonely. Many kiosks are locked, shelves — half-empty. Yet, these features add to the value that this place provides to the wandering visitor. Svelta carries on the feel, atmosphere and legacy of the 90ies and early 2000s. You walk in and plunge into that epoch, savoring the taste of amateur capitalism picking up here after the USSR ceased to exist.