The author considers the basic ideas of public space (“public space as an agora”, “public space as a stage”), briefly presents their evolution, and describes the role of public space in urban social structure. She analyzes specific character and key design principles of the Soviet cities public space (spatial equity in the distribution of public consumption units, rigid zoning of land use, rationalization of traffic flow etc.) and outlines the main directions of its post-Soviet transformation (ideological, economic and social changes). The “crisis of publicity” in modern cities manifests itself in the privatization and commodification of public space, anti-urbanism and the fear of “strangers”, virtualization of everyday life, etc. The author explores the structure of public space of the post-Soviet cities drawing on the results of empirical survey of Minsk public space. Three types of “public places” (“everyday place”, “third place” and “strange place”) are found. She examines the modern functions of urban public space: communicative, inclusive, creative and entertainment. In the author’s opinion, the specificity of post-Soviet cities public space consists in: 1) the continuing Soviet features (the predominance of so-called “alternative public sphere”, free from any external control); 2) the expression of characteristics of “capitalist city” (preferred orientation of the public space on consumer practices); 3) the weak “sociability” of urban public space (a tendency towards social segregation and individualization of public space).

Keywords: city, spatial paradigm, urban public space, “third place”, public space of the Soviet city, Post-Soviet transformation of publicity, “crisis of publicity”