Alyaksandr Lukashenka on December 29 took part in the inauguration ceremony for an ice hockey arena in Baranavichy, a city of 170,000 residents in the Brest region.
"We remain true to our traditions despite all crises," the Belarusian leader said at the ceremony. "I’m aware of the burst of criticism that will again be hailed on me for the erection of [ice] palaces amid the global crisis. I even don’t want to enter into an argument or a dispute with such idle talkers. Because the complex that has been built means additional jobs – there will be hundreds of them – and a new impetus to the development of the district and this large city. After all, this is a direct path to beauty and health."
"I want your children to be able to do what my children can do, so that you will not accuse me after a few years that we failed to create conditions for your children to experience great sides of human life," Mr. Lukashenka said.
Three more "ice palaces" are to be built in the Brest region within the next five years, said Mr. Lukashenka, who is known for his special love for ice hockey.
The construction of the 2,000-seat arena in Baranavichy, which began in December 2007, reportedly cost more than 60 billion rubels ($21.5 million).
The arena in Baranavichy has become the sixth in the Brest region. There are ice hockey arenas in Brest, Pinsk, Pruzhany, Byaroza and Kobryn.