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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

From the International Press…

Editor’s note: Today’s news was taken entirely from Yahoo news. Normally, you have to fight for news from Belarus, but apparently the Walk for Freedom in Belarus has stirred up a lot of interest and the results are what you see here.

Belarus Resumes Farming in Chernobyl Radiation Zone
From the New York Times
Published: October 22, 2005

VIDUITSY, Belarus - The winter rye is already sprouting green in the undulating fields of the state cooperative farm here. The summer's crop - rye, barley and rapeseed - amounted to 1,400 tons. Best of all, the farm's director, Vladimir I. Pryzhenkov, said, none of it tested radioactive.
That is progress. The farm's 4,000 acres are nestled among some of the most contaminated spots on earth, the poisoned legacy of the worst nuclear accident in history: the explosion at Chernobyl Reactor No. 4 on April 26, 1986.
Nearly a quarter of Belarus, including some of its prime farmland, remains radioactive to some degree. Mr. Pryzhenkov's farm represents part of the government's efforts to put the contaminated lands back to good use.

The farm, no longer known as the Karl Marx collective but still state-owned, reopened two years ago with the millions of dollars' worth of harvesters, tractors and other equipment provided by President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko's government.
A year before that the checkpoints that once restricted access to this region, 150 miles from Chernobyl, disappeared. Families began returning. Some had never left; all needed jobs.

Mr. Pryzhenkov, assigned here from another co-op in what he called "a promotion," has also begun breeding horses and cattle for beef, though not for milk. Milk produced here would be far too dangerous for human consumption.

"This was all falling apart," he said as he drove a battered UAZ jeep over the farm's muddy, rutted roads. "There was nothing for the people to do here."
Mr. Lukashenko, a former collective farm boss himself, declared last year that it was time to revive the contaminated regions, outlining a vision of new homes and villages, of new industry, of rejuvenated farms. "Land should work for the country," he said.

His authoritarian decrees, on this and other topics, have prompted shock, fear and even ridicule, but a scientific study released in September by seven United Nations agencies and the World Bank more or less agreed with him.

It concluded that Chernobyl's lasting effects on health and the environment had not proved as dire as first predicted. It recommended that the authorities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus take steps to reverse psychological trauma caused by Chernobyl, encouraging investment and redevelopment.

Lands where agriculture was banned or severely restricted can be safe for growing crops again, the report said, using techniques to minimize the absorption of radioactive particles into produce.

"It is desirable to identify sustainable ways to make use of the most affected areas that reflect the radiation hazard but also revive the economic potential for the benefit of the community," the report said.

Its conclusions have stirred controversy. Greenpeace denounced it as a whitewash. Even a member of Mr. Lukashenko's government, Valery L. Gurachevsky, the scientific director of Belarus's committee on Chernobyl, called parts of the report "too optimistic."

But here in the countryside, where entire villages were left to rot in an invisible scourge, the report's underlying principle is a welcome one. Gennadi V. Kruzhayev, now 38, had just begun working on the Karl Marx collective when the accident occurred. He has since drifted from job to job. He drove a taxi. He pumped gas. One day recently he was atop a tractor, plowing the black earth for next spring's sowing.
"The main thing," he said, "is to have jobs."

The Chernobyl disaster spewed radioactive material over all of Europe, but naturally the closest areas - Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, then Soviet republics - suffered the worst.

The Soviet authorities declared an emergency exclusion zone within 19 miles of the reactor, a circle straddling the border between Ukraine and Belarus. The zone remains closed, except to the workers overseeing the reactor's decontamination, a few hard-luck pensioners who have drifted back and, increasingly, curious tourists on macabre day trips.

The contamination - particularly from cesium-137 as well as the more deadly strontium-90 and plutonium - was hardly confined to that circle, though. Areas as radioactive as parts of the exclusion zone still appear on maps of Belarus as irregular splashes across the eastern part of the country.

Those areas remain off limits, at least in theory. Around them are areas with lower levels, creating a patchwork of go and no-go zones that by all appearances are routinely ignored.
Article continues…

French woman faced with expulsion from Belarus

From Expatica (France)

MINSK, Oct 22 (AFP) - A French woman and a Polish man said on Saturday they faced being expelled from Belarus where they had legally gone to attend a seminar on the European Union.

"The police questioned us and did not give us back our passports," Sophie Wozniak, a French volunteer of the Centre of International Relations in Warsaw, told AFP by phone.

She added that within two hours they were due to be taken to Minsk to be put on a train headed for Poland.

Pole Michal Papina said he represented the Centre of Strategic Studies of Lower Silesia at the seminar taking place in Mozyr in southern Belarus.

Another participant of the meeting organized by a group of young Belarusians told that eight police officers had come to a private house where they were, filmed them, checked their papers and had looked for weapons.

"Then the foreigners and the Belarusians who did not have passports on them were taken to the police station," Artem Bourila said.

Wozniak said she had no problems with her passport, had a visa and had registered her visit.

The regime of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenka has been criticized by the European Union and the Council of Europe over human rights.

Belarus Protests Lithuania's Plan to Store Radioactive Wastes Near Its Border

Source: RedNOVA and Xinhua News Agency - CEIS

MOSCOW, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Belarus protests against Lithuania' s plans to build a storage facility for radioactive wastes near its border with Belarus, Belarussian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky stated on Friday.
"We expressed our opposition to plans to build a radioactive waste storage facility near the Belarussian territory and will defend this position in the most vigorous way," Sidorsky said at a meeting with Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus Petras Vaitekunas in Minsk.

The Belarussian premier said this issue was discussed during his recent visit to Vilnius, the Interfax news agency reported.

According to Vaitekunas, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas assured him that "there are a lot of irrelevant points in this issue and that the press has made quite a fuss out of it".

The two prime ministers agreed to set up a joint task force to study the problem, he said.

Sidorsky noted that this problem should be resolved "in good faith", and the two sides should do all they can for the benefits of both countries.

Belarus-Iran call for expansion of scientific ties

From Iran Mania

LONDON, October 23 (IranMania) - Belarussian Ambassador to Tehran Leonid Rachkov called for expansion of his country's scientific cooperation with Iran, IRNA reported. During a meeting with Iranian Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mohammad-Mehdi Zahedi, Rachkov also welcomed promotion of bilateral ties in the fields of information technology (IT), electricity, environment protection and medical engineering.

The ambassador stressed the benefits that may be derived from joint research and publication of educational books as well as exchange of university professors and students.

He submitted an official invitation of the Belarussian science minister to the latter's Iranian counterpart for both countries to sign joint agreements and hold their second joint commission meeting.

Zahedi, for his part, voiced Iran's keenness to expand scientific relations with countries of the global community and hoped greater scientific interaction between Iran and Belarus would foster wider trade and economic ties.

Belarus Capital Celebrates Sukkot

From the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS

MINSK, Belarus – In the Belarus capital of Minsk, a great festival dedicated to the High Holidays has taken place in the city's Ohr Avner Chabad Day School and Kindergarten. A joint celebration at the kindergarten marked four holidays at once, involving more than 20 tots in a concert for countless community members. Virtually every local Jewish family, as well as many schoolchildren, enjoyed this party.

The tots sang songs in Hebrew and Russian, recited poems, put on skits and displayed their knowledge of the High Holidays through a contest. Dressed in festive costumes with the hall beautifully decorated, the stars of the show were two relative newcomers to the Jewish kindergarten. The Chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities of Belarus, Vladimir Malinkin, also spoke to the audience.

"This party was a result of thorough preparation, during which the kids learned about the meaning of every holiday and made crafts dedicated to them," said Raisa Kazhdan, the Head of Staff at the kindergarten. Likewise, Jewish day school Director Sofia Davidovich, explained how busy the kids have been, preparing a special issue of the 'Alternativa' newspaper and participating in special lessons, learning about the High Holidays.

The Jewish day school hosted another festivity the next day, with students reciting a prayer and receiving blessings from visiting rabbinical students Dovid Shulkin and Mikhoel Usanov, who have been spending time with local Jewish communities in Belarus throughout the High Holidays.

The young emissaries also visited Jewish communities in Borisov, Krichev, Polotsk, Gomel and other rural settlements, where local Jews gave them a warm welcome. "About 40 persons participated in each of the events we led," explained Dovid Shulkin. On Sukkot, while most emissaries were in Bobruisk, these two students visited Minsk.


St. Petersburg: Mirnyi, Nieminen fall


ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- Third-seeded Max Mirnyi of Belarus and sixth-seeded Jarkko Nieminen of Finland lost Monday in the first round of the St. Petersburg Open.

Denmark's Kenneth Carlsen rallied from a set down to upset Mirnyi 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-4. Robin Vik of the Czech Republic defeated Nieminen, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist, 6-4, 6-4.

Mirnyi, a doubles specialist, saved a break point in the first set before winning the tiebreaker. Carlsen won a second-set tiebreaker and then came back from love-40, capitalizing on Mirnyi's three double-faults, to break in the first game of the third set.

Carlsen, a left-hander ranked 65th, saved two break points in the fourth game and gave up only one point on his next two service games to No. 26th-ranked Mirnyi.

"I played in full strength but the only break in the third set turned to be a decisive one," Mirnyi said.

Carlsen beat Mirnyi in straight sets to win a Bebruary tournament in Memphis, Tenn., for his third career title.

Vik broke Nieminen in the opening game and went on to win the first set. Nieminen led 3-1 in the second set but Vik won four consecutive games and closed the match.

Also Monday, Florent Serra of France rallied past Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4, and Jurgen Melzer of Austria beat wild card Vadim Davletshin of Russia 6-3, 6-4.

Belarusian wins Marathon: Gordeev bolts from pack early in race

From Detroit free press


The $7,000 that Andrei Gordeev won Sunday morning worked out to about $3,111.11 an hour -- $5,000 for finishing first in the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank Marathon in 2:14:59 and $2,000 for being the first and only male runner under 2:17.

Gordeev, a 32-year-old professional runner from Minsk, the capitol of the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, said he'd have no trouble figuring out what to do with his winnings.

"I'm building a new house; it will all go to that," he said, catching his breath after crossing the finish line on the FieldTurf at Ford Field in a race where he ran away from everyone a mere two miles into the 26.2-mile grind.

"He was just too fast," said Jim Jurcevich, 29, a former Michigan State All-America and local Hansons Running Shop Team member who now sports the jersey of the Columbus (Ohio) Running Company.

Jurcevich, an amateur who "works 9-6 every day" as the manager of a valet parking company, finished second in 2:17:44, one minute and four seconds ahead of the third-place finisher, Charles Kamindo of Kenya.

Jurcevich said that when Gordeev kicked up the pace in the first 10 minutes of the event "we had to let him go."

"Obviously, he was feeling good," Jurcevich said, "and I wasn't ready to run a 2:15. All you can do is hope that he'll go out too hard and you can get him later."

A record 13,000-plus people took part in the 28th annual event, which offered categories for everyone from marathon runners to wheelchair athletes to five-kilometer walkers. About 4,000 did the full marathon.

Gordeev, who's 5-feet-11 and 150 pounds, finished second last year. He said his plan for Sunday's race was "to run under 2:17, but I didn't think I would have to run alone. That made it hard, especially because so much of it was into the wind."

Jurcevich was running with Kamindo, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., when the pair missed a turn and got off course for a few hundred yards.

"It didn't make any difference in us catching" Gordeev, Jurcevich said. "He was already gone."

But Kamindo said he felt drained by the extra effort he had to make to overtake eventual fourth-place finisher, Russia's Alexey Veselov, who had slipped into second in the minute Kamindo and Jurcevich went off the route.

"You really must put out a lot of energy trying to get back up to where you were," said Kamindo, who couldn't match Jurcevich's breakaway effort in the last two miles.

Unfancied Shakhtyor clinch first Belarus title

From Yahoo Sports

MINSK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Unfancied Shakhtyor Soligorsk crushed Torpedo Zhodino 4-0 on Saturday to clinch their first Belarus league title with two games to spare.

Shakhtyor, whose best performance until this season were two third-place finishes, were 2-0 up after 20 minutes through goals by Sergei Nikiforenko and Alexander Grenkov. Mikhail Martinovich then scored twice to complete the rout.
The win gave Shakhtyor an insurmountable 15-point lead over second-placed and last year's champions Dynamo Minsk, who have three games remaining after losing to mid-table Gomel 2-1.

The club from a small mining town, 120 km south of Minsk, will now enter Champions League qualifiers for the first time in their 42-year history next season.