News, opinion, sports and culture E-mail:

Today's Headlines for:
Monday, September 26, 2005

Belarusian President Downplays Vitebsk Bomb Blast

From the Top

from Radio Free Europe

“These are nothing but events intended to destabilize the country!”

23 September 2005 -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka today downplayed a bomb blast that left 46 people wounded in the central city of Vitebsk, suggesting it could have been the result of hooliganism.

A local official said that 25 of those wounded remain hospitalized.

State television said the bomb exploded at a dance. Interfax reported earlier that the device exploded in a flowerbed outside a cafe, in the center of the city. The area remains cordoned off this morning and police teams are investigating.

Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency quotes Lukashenka as telling a youth gathering: "Someone drank beer somewhere, something went off, and people were wounded."

While ruling out terrorism, Lukashenka called upon society to remain vigilant against any possible attack. Belarusian police say yesterday's explosion was triggered by a bomb hidden in a flower bed outside a busy cafe.

Regional police chief Vyacheslav Astafev said police have been placed on high alert:

"I ask all citizens who have any information about what happened to contact the police," he said. "We guarantee anonymity and also offer a reward for information that helps solve this crime."

Investigators have not commented on the possible motives for the blast. But security authorities say they have detained five suspects.

It was the second such explosion in Vitebsk this month. Police blamed the previous bomb blast on criminal gangs.


Government Sells the Right to Leave the Country

From Viasna

The Constitutional Court started to consider the case of a passport stamp that allows Belarusians to leave abroad.
According to the Constitutional Court ruling of 27 September 2002, the Council of Ministers was to create by 31 December a registration system that allows the Belarusians to leave abroad without a stamp in the passport. However, the Belarusian government appealed to the Constitutional Court requesting that the deadlines be prolonged. The reason is that the governmental structures have not created a special system of registration.
On 19 September the Constitutional Court started to consider the "permissive" stamp issue. The case was initiated by the Constitutional Court in 2002 after the opposition group Respublika of the Chamber of Representatives had tabled such a proposal. However, none of the group members were elected to the new Chamber, so Iury Kulakouski, the chair of the deputy commission for human rights, appeared in the proceedings. He said that the governmental agencies have virtually done nothing to implement the court ruling: "I see that this issue is basically at the same level as three years ago. So I proposed the term be continued".
In his speech the representative of the Secretariat of the Council of the Republic Aliaxandr Filanovich reminded that last year almost 350 thousand people received a stamp in the passport and paid a total of more than 9 billion rubles. According to Mr. Filanovich, this money is a third more than is required for a registration system. What we have as a result is that the government sells the right to leave abroad, and sells this right at a price that is three times as high as is economically justified. This is economic limitation of the citizens' rights.

More from Viasna

Special advertising: is a terrific if slightly outdated web page devoted to Belarus. It reads very quickly and is simply jammed with information. Thoroughly worth a look for anyone interested in the country.

A new feature from the Being Had Times:

Pure Propaganda: Quotes so out there even I can’t believe them

From Belta

Alexander Lukashenko: people coming to Belarus outnumber those who leave thus showcasing Belarusian level of life

"One of the illustrations of the Belarusian level of life is that people coming to the country significantly outnumber those who leave it", Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko told the 39th BRYU congress. "In 2004 some 1,8 thousand people left Belarus while 35 thousand came to the country – predominantly from Russia, Ukraine and the Asian states. Belarus is “swallowing” such a number of people."

The head of state explained that Belarus is medium-size European country and some 30-40 million people should live on its territory, and there are only 10 million. Alexander Lukashenko stressed that it is especially important to increase labor potential.

“According to the experts, if not the last war (WWII), the Belarusian population would have reached 30 million”, the president stated. “This is the power, the power in people”, he added.

According to the president, a lot of people, who emigrated to the West in the 1990s, “faced difficulties in the foreign country and returned home”. Today even talented people return to Belarus, the Belarusian leader underlined."

Also from Belta

Several major foreign companies show interest in becoming residents of Belarusian High-Tech Park

Several big foreign companies have shown interest in becoming residents of the Belarusian High-Tech Park, director of the IT national center of the National Academy of Sciences Professor Mikhail Makhanek, one of the project’s designers, told BelTA. According to him, among potential partners are Hewlett Packard, Ericsson, Microsoft, Boeing.

The interlocutor noted that for many companies transferring some of their functions to a contractor from another country is an obligatory term to attract unique experience and to stay competitive. Belarusian IT specialists have repeatedly shown their high professionalism in implementing most challenging projects. For example, such home-grown companies as IBA, EPAM, Belsoft, Sam-Solutions, Belhard carry out projects for the world famous corporations - IBM, Colgate-Palmolive, Samsung, Siemens, Alcatel, British Telecom and others.

Mikhail Makhanek underlined that offshore programming dominates in the world software industry which is estimated at USD 600 billion a year. The world market of software outsorting will have reached USD 100 billion by the end of 2005 with offshore programming amounting to 18 per cent. Belarus is one of the most attractive regions to develop export-oriented programming in Eastern Europe. The main advantage is proficient software experts, availability of large IT centers who outdo their foreign competitors in experience, qualifications and number of the personnel. Besides, this country has well-developed communications systems including mains and railroads, air communication. This country’s being located close to the potential European market is also of great importance.

According to Mikhail Makhnek, great work preceded the creation of High-Tech Park – the experience of other countries was carefully, taxation bodies, scientists, big foreign companies, programmers were advised.

As a result the drafters came up with the document which nails down all terms of the work. More so the document has no provisions referring to other legislative acts.

Lithuenia disagrees with Belarussian Policy

Antanas Valionis: “The Only Way Forwards Is Democratisation and Reforms”

From Charter '97

"Belarus is a European country, and people of Belarus deserve to live in democratic and flourishing state. Unfortunately, Alyaksandr Lukashenka is more and more geared to the Soviet Union of the period of stagnation, though we all know perfectly what had happened to the Soviet Union. The only way forward is democratization and reforms. First of all, Belarus needs strong civil societyю It’s the first step on the way to creation of a democratic and flourishing state,” told Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antanas Valionis in an exclusive interview to Roman Yakovlevskiy (

«I would like to note that Lithuania as the state of the European Union, agrees with the policy of the EU concerning Belarus, and our active actions in relations with Belarus is not accidental. First, we should not forget that Belarus is a neighbouring state, which is connected with Lithuania not only by borders (a western border of the EU!), but by close economical, social ties, common historical experience. Secondly, Lithuania is not interested in limitations in the relations with its neighbours, thus a strong, and sometimes even very harsh position of the EU can influence established mutually beneficial relations between the neighbours. That is why this policy of Lithuania deserves the name “improvisation” proposed by you. We do not think that it is bad, because it proves once again that we have chosen the right way in the development of relations with Belarus, both at the bilateral and European levels.

The both states are trying to preserve and develop the relations which are advantageous for the citizens of our two states, not to break social ties, to develop the sphere of business. The EU is interested by the situation of the human rights, development of civil society, and it is reflected in its policy. These aspects are not uncongenial to us, that is why we are trying to find a solution acceptable for the both sides, actively preserving our positions,” Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs said.


Belarus wins at davis Cup!

TORONTO (CP) - Canada will have to wait for another shot at joining the tennis elite.
From Yahoo Spoprts

Vladimir Voltchkov defeated Frederic Niemeyer of Deauville, Que., 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday to give Belarus a 3-2 win over Canada in a Davis Cup World Group playoff.

The win puts Belarus back in the top tier of world tennis for 2006 while Canada will need to get through two rounds in the Americas Zone Group I to earn a berth in another playoff next year.

Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., who will turn 21 on Monday, gave Canada a good shot at winning the tie when he showed poise and maturity in taking Max Mirnyi to five sets in the first match of the day. But the 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 loss put Niemeyer on the hot seat.

Full Story