The scientific objective of this project, intended to take place over 24 months, involving 4 research teams ( 2 research teams from 2 NIS countries and 2 research teams from 2 INTAS countries), is to understand how and to explain why the new capital cities of post-Soviet states (in this project - Vilnius of Lithuania, Minsk of Belarus, and Baku of Azerbaijan) have changed as symbolic forms, as centers of political, economic, cultural development, and as foci of new national identities. In the nations coming out of the former USSR, the centre of the now independent nation had to be re-organized, in view of the break off from the multi-national centre, and with respect to new inter-national relations. This organization involved transport and communications, economic investment and allocations, as well as cultural linkages and the administrative/political territory. The purpose of the project is a comparative analysis of capital cities in the FSU (now belonging to both to the EU and the NIS), seeking answers to the questions: What roles do capital cities play in the renaissance of post-communist nations? Why do these roles differ among nations? What are the consequences of such differences? The question, What may be done to these roles?, will also be addressed. The proposed project is aiming at producing new knowledge of national representation and of national cultural and social development. Taking into account the historical heritage of each of three selected post-Soviet capitals - Vilnius, Minsk, and Baku, - this study intends to compare these capital cities with respect to national organization and representation, in a perspective of national socio-economic development and of national identity and cohesion. This international comparison will add a significant value to the project and strengthen its practical orientation to the policy makers. The innovation aspects of this project reside in its systematically comparative approach to symbolic and cultural change, applied to successor states of ex-Communist, ex-multinational states; in its spatial approach to cultural diversity and national development; and in its combination of methods and approaches usually isolated from each other, such as studies of meanings and symbolism with studies of spatial social patterns. The research process will involve the analysis of background historical data and information on the political aspect, on representation and iconography of the capital cities, as well as on the location of the capital in the spatial patterns of the national culture, and of the international location of the nations culture. We will collect empirical data in the form of urban observations, expert interviews and two surveys in each capital, as well as documentary and statistics on the sets of buildings, names of streets, communication of the city, institutions of national culture, and spatiality of housing and leisure in each capital.