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Tuesday, October 11, 2005


From the TOP
Alexander Lukashenko Participates in the Harvesting Festival and Fair “Dazhynki-2005”

On October 8, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko took part in the national harvesting festival and fair for rural toilers “Dazhynki-2005” in Slutsk.

Within the framework of the event Alexander Lukashenko also visited the Slutsk Gallery of Arts. The Head of State viewed the exposition and gifted a picture to the Gallery.

In his address at the national festival and fair, the Head of State pointed out that the “agrarian complex of Belarus has gone through fundamental changes over the past ten years, and now we have a new agriculture. By supporting the rural areas we ensure the dynamic development of the whole country. Because food security is a foundation of the real independence of our State and of the socio-political stability of the society, it is a most important factor in self-respect and pride of our people.”

During the current year, the State has rendered an unprecedented help to the agrarian sector. Within the framework of the State Programme of rural revival and development, 1.5 trillion Belarusian rubels were allocated from the fund for the support of agriculture only. Total amount of contributions received from all the sources of financing was almost twice as great and equaled nearly USD 1.5 billion. All the necessary conditions were created in order to consolidate the success achieved by the Belarusian agrarians last year. The rural toilers worked hard and proved that the harvest can be plentiful under any weather conditions.

After the completion of the national festival and fair for rural toilers “Dazhynki-2005” the President answered the reporters’ questions.

One of the questions referred to the so-called “ congress of democratic forces” recently held in Minsk. According to the Head of State, “trampling” around the idea of democratization, human rights, everything that the opposition members suggest, following the instructions from the West and, first of all, from Americans, is ridiculous, to say the least…People, authorized by nobody knows whom, just gathered together and identified a man. No sooner had they gone off, those contenders who lost started also wishing to participate in the elections.”

Milinkevich: Only one of eleven?

Speaking about the single candidate from the opposition who was elected at the above forum, Alexander Lukashenko underlined: “Well, who can guarantee that this is the most promising and strong person, the one which can oppose the current President? Nobody. That is why, there will be at least 10-12 more the so-called “single” candidates.

In this context, the President also underscored that he contemplates these developments with “absolute calm.” Once there is one person, there will be another, and another. Since the beginning of 90s we’ve seen a sea of “single” candidates. It is for people to decide for whom they are going to vote at the elections,” he said.

Note: The above photo's came from Victor Strelkovski. His web page can be found by clicking HERE

Russia: Post-Soviet Groupings Unite

From Radio Free Europe

CACO heads of state at the 7 October meeting, including (from left): Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbaev, Tajikistan's Imomali Rakhmonov, Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov, Kyrgyzstan's Kurmanbek Bakiev, and Russia's Vladimir Putin

Organization (CACO) -- a grouping of Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan -- will merge with the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec), a body seeking to establish a single economic zone comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan, and Belarus. Such was the decision taken by CACO leaders at a summit in St. Petersburg yesterday.

The Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) was born in 1994 as the “Central Asian Economic Community.” It adopted its current name in 2002 to stress that cooperation had extended to political and security matters.

The CACO, however, will soon become a thing of the past. It will be merged into the Eurasec, set up in 2000 to promote the economic integration of former Soviet republics into a single, free-trade, economic zone.

The decision was announced yesterday by the five CACO leaders at a meeting in Russia’s northern city of St. Petersburg.

President Vladimir Putin told a news conference after the meeting that Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who holds the Eurasec presidency, had formally approved the decision by telephone.

Putin, who turns 53 today, praised the agreement with marked enthusiasm. He went so far as to declare the decision his best birthday present.

"We have just spoken to Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka; he support the CACO’s decision to join the Eurasec. So all that remains is formality," Putin said. "I consider this decision from my colleagues and friends the best birthday present.”

Speaking to reporters today, after a second day of talks with CACO leaders, Putin expressed hope the merger could soon be implemented.

“I am happy the decision that took place yesterday and that we have announced was taken in our country," Putin said. "I hope the concrete steps we have planned toward the realization of the decisions will be implemented in the very near future.”

CACO leaders admitted both organizations had increasingly similar goals and said they were therefore joining forces to save time and money.

Despite its central role in both groupings, Russia is actually a newcomer in the CACO. It joined the organization in 2004, in a move illustrating Moscow’s growing strategic interest in the Central Asian region.

Sergei Ponarin, a Central Asia expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said he sees the CACO-Eurasec union as a sign of further rapprochement between Russia and Central Asian countries.

Russia, he said, has three good reasons to be interested in Central Asia.

“Firstly, to maintain its status in Central Asia," Ponarin said. "Secondly, to improve cooperation in the security sector, this is certain. Thirdly, Russia is possibly hoping its capital will expand further in Central Asia. Our big industrial heritage can’t just be thrown away, we have to find offers somewhere.”

Not Without Its Critics

Many observers, however, have scoffed at both CACO and the Eurasec. The groups, they say, have proved little more than a talk shop and has so far largely failed to produce results.

Will their merger be able to breathe new life into post-Soviet republics' unification project?

Ponarin said he thinks not.

“No, it won’t help. Because Russia’s representatives in various unification organizations linked to Central Asia are as a rule what we describe, excuse me, as ‘rubbish,'" Ponarin said. "All intelligent, interesting people seek to join structures linked to the West. Those who do not make it there, losers, end up here. It’s sad, but it’s a fact.”

Georgia, Turkey, and Ukraine had observer status in the Central Asian Cooperation Organization.

Anatol Lyabedzka to be Put On Trial

From Charter '97

Lebedko: It never ends does it?

On October 11 in Brest a trial of the chairman of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka starts. The process have been served on right after the Congress of Democratic Forces. Anatol Lyabedzka is accused of organizing a meeting for nomination of delegates for the Congress in the settlement of Damachova, Brest region. The upcoming proceedings obviously contradict the statement of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, according to which the authorities have not been hindering preparation of the forum in any way.

The UCP leader was detained approaching the place of the meeting. The meeting has been held without him. Besides, Lyabedzka could not be an organizer of the event, as the regional branch of the Party of Communists of Belarus is not subordinated to the chairman of the United Civil Party.

In the interview to the press service of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka comments the situation concerning the trial on October 11:

“The Belarusian judicial system has nothing in common with the principle of supremacy of law and independence of judges. It is just a subdivision of Lukashenka’s administration. For 11 years it has been proved many times that in political trials judges work exclusively according to the principle of “telephone justice”.


From the UCPB

On October 4 in Strasbourg in the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe another meeting of the Sub-Committee on Belarus was held. Representatives of the OSCE Working group on Belarus Uta Zapf and UN Rapporteur on Belarus Adrian Severin have arrived specially to attend it. President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Rene van der Linden took part in the meeting.

The chairman of the Subcommittee Andreas Herkel in his opening address told that within the last three months after the PACE session in June, the situation in Belarus as before was worsening. In summer the authorities started crackdown on of the Union of Poles; Mikola Statkevich, Andrei Klimov and Paval Sevyarynets were sent to corrective labour institutions; a peaceful protest on September 16 was dispersed by riot police. Mr.Herkel underlined that other international organizations observe worsening of the situation in Belarus. The harsh resolution of the European Parliament passed last week is another proof for that. The only positive fact, according to Herkel, is nomination of a single candidate to run in the presidential elections.

“Opposition is getting stronger and more popular”, the chairman of the Subcommittee underlined. “On one hand, it cannot but make glad, on the other hand, we all understand that opposition strengthening would ensue harsher persecution by authorities. It is almost a force confrontation between opposition and authorities”.

In her speech Uta Zapf told about her unsuccessful attempts to carry out a dialogue with the authorities: “Our group has always been trying to maintain contacts both with opposition and the authorities. We have been trying to organize an open dialogue in a form of a seminar, in which representatives of the authorities and oppositional politicians, journalists and NGO representatives would participate. Today I can say that we have not succeeded and achieved nothing. The situation has become much worse. The referendum and elections in 2004 were a blatant lie and fraud. And next year election committees will lie unashamedly as well. I am pessimistic, and even more pessimistic I could expect from myself”.

President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Rene van der Linden asked members of the subcommittee for help; “I do not want to sit and let the grass grow under my feet, waiting for the situation in Belarus to develop. We all see where Belarus is sliding to. And we must do something. Maybe it would be good to visit Belarus? For instance, I could lay down conditions; no meetings with Lukashenka, immediate release of political prisoners”…

However, the participants of the meeting at once persuaded the president of the Assemble not to do so. UN Rapporteur in Belarus Adrian Severin was the most convincing: “If you, Mr.Van der Linden, would refuse to meeting with Lukashenka, he will say “I have not received him”.

Belarus, Russia agree on plan to introduce ruble in Belarus

Yet another state currency to be dismissed: Will there be anything left?

The National Bank of Belarus and the Russian Central Bank have approved a program of action to introduce the Russian ruble as sole legal tender in Belarus. The information department of the National Bank of Belarus told Interfax that the plan was approved at the 22nd session of the Interbank Currency Council in Minsk on October 7. The heads of the two banks, Pyotr Prokopovich and Sergei Ignatyev, attended the session.

The plan relies on a similar document issued by the two central banks that implied the introduction of the Russian ruble in Belarus as of January 1, 2006. The new wording of the plan does not name any date for the monetary union.

Forestry Minister Promised No Cheap Timber

From Belarus Cegodnia

The price privileges granted by the Ministry of Forestry will not enable the ‘Bellesboomprom’ Trust to become completely self-sufficient by 2008, reckons Mikhail Kuzmenkov, the Director of the Timber Department at the Belarusian Ministry of Forestry.

The ‘Bellesboomprom’ Trust is the biggest timber-processing association in Belarus incorporating many forestry factories. Forestry Minister Peter Semashko said at a press conference that the government “allowed such an indulgence” (the minimum possible price for timber) for the trust in order to make these factories self-sufficient and enable them to raise some extra funds for equipment upgrade.
Nevertheless, the minister is quite convinced that the programme, endorsed by the government (on March 7, 2004, No. 245) to bring this industry to self-sufficiency, will be accomplished. According to him, the share of state budget expenditures in the forestry industry reduced to 62 per cent last year. This year it is 52 per cent. “Therefore I have no doubts that we will reach the planned 50 per cent this year,” says Semashko.

The Ministry of Forestry is going to cope without state subsidies by selling only ready timber and processing more timber within the country. So, if one cubic metre of ‘standing wood’ costs three thousand Belarusian roubles, then ready logs cost 60-80 thousand roubles. Semashko said that before customers used to buy ‘standing wood two a penny’ but now “wood is becoming valuable”. According to him, it will make selling timber more transparent, and will reduce “various abuses” to the minimum.
Full Text

Democrats Must Learn How to Go Undercover

Also from Belarus Cegodnia

You gotta be suave, but the book shows you how

The Belarusian opposition is learning how to work in new conditions. The underground. In fact they have a vast experience in working outside of the law but now it has got a scientific foundation. Lately, a booklet titled ‘An undercover Belarusian’ has been distributed amongst politically active and anti-governmental circles. It teaches some methods of guarding oneself from the police and special services. If the Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations can be trusted, there is ‘a school of disguise’ that prepares instructors for the opposition. So, here we go then.

Belarusian authors of ‘An undercover Belarusian’ took as an example ‘The Basics of disguise’ published in 1983 by Polish ‘Solidarity’. “Just like ‘The Basics of disguise’ we point out not only the basic safety and disguise rules but also legal possibilities of defending our rights and activity as we still have some decorative signs of lawfulness in the country,” explain the booklet’s authors and they give a warning straight away, “However, you shouldn’t forget that the law in Belarus does not work in political cases any longer. So you should arrange your activity to avoid where possible getting into the state’s claws.”

The booklet offers advice concerning many points. Starting from protecting information on personal computers to acting correctly during a disguised meeting.
The authors anticipated that some members of nongovernmental organisations, particularly young ones, might have an illusion that all this is not necessary in our democratic state where the Constitution clearly states the freedom of association. “Sometimes, especially at a lunch break and if the weather is good you start thinking: ‘What do I need to be undercover for? I am a little person, nobody is interested in me. Then the omnipresence of the special services seems unreal,” contemplate the authors, but they cut this thought short. “It’s better to look paranoiac than to be an idiot.”

We are not going to quote all methods though. Those who are interested can visit and read it there. We will only say that this issue is growing into something quite serious now. They train special instructor, who, like Soviet lecturers, will probably go around every town and village and propagate ideas of the underground. However, we should admit that this is very useful and timely. Particularly considering the authority’s statement that the opposition, as well as unemployment, will be nearly extinct soon. Even the recent ban from the Ministry of Justice on setting up public initiatives, movements or unions without their consent drives many people to the underground. Interestingly, today you can still have somewhat legal status but you cannot act normally without breaking the law.

In general, the times of the Polish ‘Solidarity’ are coming. One can either get ready for it or “sacrifice himself or herself to the regime”. This is a matter of efficiency and everyone’s personal choice.

News from the International Chess championships in Argentina:Anand and Svidler win, Topalov on the brink of Victory

Round eleven was another exciting affair, with Vishy Anand winning comfortably against Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Peter Svidler outplayed Alexander Morozevich to take the full point. Meanwhile Michael Adams took everything Veselin Topalov had to offer but in the end, the game was drawn.

Round 11: Monday, October 10th
Michael Adams ½-½ Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 1-0 R. Kasimdzhanov
Judit Polgar ½-½ Peter Leko
Peter Svidler 1-0 A. Morozevich

Current standings at the World Championship in San Luis with only three rounds left to play

Veselin Topalov 8.5
Peter Svidler 7.0
Vishy Anand 6.5
A. Morozevich 5.5
Peter Leko 5.0
Kasimdzhanov 4.5
Michael Adams 4.0
Judit Polgar 3.0

Modern Minsk: No horses and plows here.

Note: The editorial board of the Being Had Times would like to apologize if in any way today’s article about President Lukashenka’s visit to the national harvesting festival and fair for rural toilers “Dazhynki-2005” in Slutsk was offencive to the citizens of that fine city.

Though it is true that the photo’s depicted actual Belarussian rural toilers, these are not the current rural toilers who live today in Belarus.

However, it must be said that the intention of printing these photos was not to defame or insult in anyway. The current conditions in rural Belarus, the population of which constsitutes at least 35% of the country, still does its daily work in much the same way as you see in these pictures and, as the majority of said population is of pension age, the pictures themselves are of some merit there as well.

In the villages, plowing, especially for potatoes is still pretty much all done by horse, milking, even for large scale KolChoz projects during he summer when the cows feed directly from the fields, is done by hand. And in general, the day to day lives of the pensioners does look like these photos and goes on pretty much as it did… forever. Or at least as it was during the 19th century.

And though it is also true that there is a modern Belarus and that there are many modern conveniences and technical advances, especially in Minsk, to attempt to categorize Belarus only as a modern age state would not only be inaccurate, but would also be insulting to the millions of those who continue, either by choice, necessity or by tradition to live in the style depicted in the above pictures.