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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Prison Hotels, Standard of living to rise, Chicken flu leads to bans

Three decisions from the Top

Tobacco Product Advertising to Be Restricted

On October 17, President of the Republic of Belarus issued Ordinance No 14 which makes an amendment to Ordinance No 28 of December 17, 2002 “On state regulation of production, turnover, advertisement and consumption of tobacco raw materials and tobacco products.”

The document establishes the ban on advertising brand names and trade marks of tobacco products during the organization and holding of cultural, educational, sport and other humanitarian events.

The adoption of these regulations will facilitate reaching the pressing social objective – reduction of the number of smokers, first of all youth smokers, and public health improvement.

Entrepreneurs Will Get Opportunity to Be Exempt from Economic Sanctions
On October 17, President of the Republic of Belarus signed into action Decree No 481 “On improving the procedure of exempting the subjects of entrepreneurial activities from economic liability.”

The document has been issued in order to prevent unsubstantiated economic insolvency (bankruptcy) of the subjects of entrepreneurial activities, to preserve and develop the most important productions for the regions and the republic as a whole.
The Decree stipulates that the decision on exempting the subjects of entrepreneurial activities from economic liability, including the one applied by the court, shall be taken exclusively by the Head of State. In this connection, the exemption from economic sanctions covers not only tax violations, but oth er violations as well, including those in the field of construction, customs services, commerce, and banking.

Also, the amount of money to be allotted for scholarships has been raised.
From September 1, 2005, the amount of all types of state scholarships for students has been raised 1.2 fold. The relevant decree was signed by President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on October 19.

This decision has been taken in order to enhance social protection of pupils and students.



You have to admit its getting better, its getting better all the time

One of the most important goals for the next five years is to ensure a high growth of real incomes /first of all, wages/ and to improve a quality of life, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated at today’s sitting on the draft forecast of the socio-economic development, budget and major guidelines of the country’s monetary policy for 2006.
According to the head of state, “people and their welfare should be of top priority for the country’s future policy”.

The president underlined that to settle all the goals successfully the government should undertake measures that would let considerably increase the economy’s efficiency. First of all, it is necessary to recover loss making organizations, introduce resource-economy technologies and cardinally improve the quality and competitiveness of the national production.

Alexander Lukashenko noted: “We have outlined that by 2010 GDP should be 1,5 times higher, average monthly wage should be USD 500 in equivalent, the number of low-income families should be halved, the foreign trade should be balanced, production sector should be modernized by rational use of resources and innovations, the village should be revived and the housing construction – speeded up”.

The head of state considers these plans very audacious therefore their implementation should start from the very beginning of the first year of the five-year period. The president noted that we have already gained experience on achieving ambitious targets: “Remember five years ago some activists doubted that we would achieve what we had achieved by 2005. Now even skeptics admit that we have surpassed expectations in many parameters”.

Belarusian-Lithuanian agreement on customs issues ratified
From the NLIP

Today the Council of the Republic ratified an agreement between Belarus and Lithuania on customs issues.

The document aims to render assistance in prevention of customs violations, in giving information to calculate more precisely customs duties and taxes paid for import-export operations. The agreement envisages technical aid in the customs sphere including exchange of visits of experts, training and improving special skills in the customs legislation field.

Belarus and Lithuania also plan to sign an intergovernmental agreement “On internal waterways navigation”, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Lithuania to Belarus Petras Vaitekunas told reporters October 18 after his meeting with minister of transport and communications of Belarus Mikhail Borovoy.

The agreement will promote development of the tourist infrastructure in the regions adjacent to the state borders and will let transport passengers via the River Neman along the route Grodno-Druskininskai-Kaunas.

“This agreement will unite not only officials of the ministries concerned but also local self-governing bodies, which are interested in the tourism development in their regions”, Petras Vaitekunas underlined.

Belarus/Ukraine: Ukrainian Premier Appears To Break The Ice In Minsk

From Radio Free Europe

Yerkhanov participated in a wreath-laying ceremony in Minsk on 18 October

Yekhanurov on 18 October paid an official visit to Minsk, where he held talks with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski. The visit suggests that Ukrainian-Belarusian relations, which soured after President Viktor Yushchenko came to power in the Orange Revolution, are warming up.

Lukashenka could not have been pleased by Yushchenko's presidential victory. Like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenka congratulated Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on having won the presidential runoff with Yushchenko in November despite the lack of a final tally in that vote. The ensuing mass protests in Ukraine and Yushchenko's triumph in the repeat runoff in December no doubt came as a nasty surprise to Lukashenka -- who had only recently staged a dubious referendum that allows him to run for a third term as president in 2006. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine has inevitably kindled hopes that deposing Lukashenka through a similar, popular revolt in Belarus is not out of the question.

By January, before Yushchenko was even inaugurated, Lukashenka had publicly announced that "there will be no pink, orange, or banana revolutions in Belarus." Lukashenka's irritation with Yushchenko in particular, and the Orange Revolution in general, was evidently increased by a statement that the latter signed in early April with U.S. President George W. Bush, pledging "to support the advance of freedom in countries such as Belarus and Cuba." Delivering an annual address to the Belarusian legislature later the same month, Lukashenka slammed Ukraine for allegedly "forming camps" that were intended to train "revolutionaries" for Belarus.
Lukashenka's international contacts are largely limited to receiving Russian governors in Minsk -- no big deal for someone who dreamed of taking the helm of a united Russian and Belarusian state during the era of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. This time, however, Lukashenka was doubly lucky: Yekhanurov brought along an invitation for the Belarusian leader to meet with President Yushchenko in Kyiv.

A brief diplomatic squabble between Kyiv in Minsk followed in May, after Belarusian police arrested five young Ukrainians and 14 Russian youths who had come to Minsk to support their Belarusian colleagues during an antigovernment rally. Minsk granted early release to the Russians, while the Ukrainians had to serve jail terms of 10-15 days in full and were subsequently deported and banned from re-entering Belarus for five years. Yushchenko accused the Belarusian authorities of applying double standards to the Russian and Ukrainian demonstrators.
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Is Opposition Getting Ready for Dual Power?

From Belorusskie Novosty

By Kirill Pozniak

Milinkevich and Lebedko: Batman and Robin for the Belarusian ‘shadow’ government

The oppositional coalition after the Democratic Forces Congress, where they elected the single presidential candidate for the 2006 election, has not crumbled down yet. Although some complaints could be heard from the teams of the other oppositional leaders who lost to Alexander Milinkevich. It can be considered as an achievement among the democrats who have been depicted as politicians unable to come to an agreement sometimes because of certain personal ambitions.

The first sitting of the Political Council that was set up as a result of the Congress took place on 12 October. It was decided that two other contenders to have lost to Milinkevich as the single candidate: Communist Leader Sergey Kaliakin and United Civil Party Leader Anatoly Lebedko will respectively head up the single candidate’s Election Committee and the National Democratic Forces Committee – a sort of ‘shadow’ government.

It was of paramount importance for Milinkevich to keep the Coalition as a proof of his legitimacy as the single candidate. Otherwise, the oppositional electorate would have gone into greater pessimism concerning the outcome of the presidential election.

The fact that ‘The Ten’ have managed to remain united should encourage other lone-politicians to join the single team. Should the team of Milinkevich, Kaliakin, and Lebedko have fallen apart, those ‘loners’ would have been much more likely to be promoting themselves as new single candidates.

Moreover, there is no ground for the official propaganda to say that the opposition has had a major split even before they managed to get consolidated. It looks like Alexander Lukashenko, who predicted at ‘Dozhinki’ that the opposition would have another ten single candidates, made a mistake. Unless some politicians who declare their oppositional views and strive for ballot are the Presidential administration’s projects, as some people reckon.

Alexander Milinkevich says that the first step for his team is to carry out a large-scale information campaign purposed to unwind ‘the silence spiral’, “Democratic activists are to undertake the extremely hard but necessary work. If the citizens of our country obtain truthful information about the situation in Belarus, than they will see that they, who want changes for better, are the majority in the county. One of the main aims for the democratic forces is to deliver society from fear.”

The aims of the National Committee are to elaborate and facilitate development programmes for Belarus during the transition period to an independent, democratic, legal, and social State.

Leader of the ‘shadow’ government Anatoly Lebedko could not mention names and number of the members. “I am not prepared to answer this question. I can only say that they all are going to be professionals able to create a high-quality intellectual product.”

It is known now that a specific portfolio will not be distributed within the ‘shadow’ government – its members are to work in certain directions. Interestingly, the idea of the ‘shadow’ government belongs to the United Civil Party. On the eve of the Congress, Lebedko named several people who might be a part of it. It includes former Prime Minister Mikhail Chigir, former director of the National Bank Stanislaw Bogdankevich, Rector of the European Humanitarian University that was shut down Anatoly Mikhailov, former Agriculture and Provisions Minister Vasily Leonov, Leader of the Belarusian Democratic Trade Unions Congress Alexander Yaroshuk and others.

There is an example of a ‘shadow’ government in the Belarusian politics. The opposition tried to establish the Public Coalition Government in 1997, with the core of the UCP members. It was headed by the late Gennady Karpenko.
It incorporated six committees: macroeconomics, headed by Stanislaw Bogdankevich, industry and power – Vasily Shlyndikov, agriculture – Ivan Nikitchenko, foreign affairs – Andrey Sannikov, labour and social policy Alexander Sosnov, national and economic security – Yuri Zakharenko, who disappeared later. This institution was not very distinctive amidst other oppositional structures, and did not become very influential in politics. It eventually ceased its existence almost unnoticed.

The main idea for the new ‘shadow’ government is to promote the single candidate. It is important to provide electors with a team of professionals able to generate ideas about how to govern the country in case of victory at the election.
Moreover, the ‘shadow’ government is another opportunity to consolidate oppositional leaders, including political ‘loners’ with presidential aspirations. Having evaluated their real chances to win the election they might prefer to go into ‘the shadow’ hoping to obtain a certain Minister portfolio from President Milinkevich.

Prior to the election, the ‘shadow’ oppositional government is going to act as an alternative to the real one. However, after the election, it might be declared parallel to the latter with a purpose to de-legitimize Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

If the opposition manages to overcome, then it is most likely to follow this scenario. Even now, Lukashenko’s political opponents state that he does not have any right to ballot for the third term. However, the previous experience in oppositional governmental institutions paralleled to the authority proved to be ineffective.

Belarusian Prison Will Be Converted Into a Hotel
By Alexander Shurochkin
Belorusskie Novosty

The Minsk authority has been thinking for over a year about moving the remand prison No. 1 of the Internal Affairs Department at the Minsk City Council on Volodarskogo Street (commonly called ‘Volodarka’ out of city, and to convert the building built in 1825 into a big commercial project, for instance, a hotel.

The punishment administration Committee of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs takes the possible move very positively as they understand that high walls with barbed wire do not adorn the central part of the capital. In addition, the inmates in the old building of the remand prison suffer from being overcrowded. The issue is stuck with finances. Constructing a new modern building for the remand prison is estimated to cost about 20 million US dollars. Naturally, it will take some efforts to find an investor who would make use of the building previously occupied by people in stripy robes.

The city authority has worked out several offers that might be of some interest to potential investors. One of them is to convert ‘Volodarka’ into a prestigious hotel, having kept the prison spirit. Hotels of this sort are quite popular and profitable.

This project is the most likely one to be used for the prison building at Volodaskogo Street. According to Director of the Architecture and Planning Committee at the Minsk City Council Ruslan Belogortsev, “Syrian and Iranian businessmen show a great interest to this building”. However, the chief architect said in his interview to ‘The Belarusian News’ that negotiations with potential investors go as far as intention protocols for the time being.

“The project includes not only building a hotel instead of the remand prison, but also relocating the latter out of Minsk as it is stipulated by the Capital General Development plan till 2030. It will require huge money that the city hasn’t got, and investors know how to be careful with it as well,” says Ruslan Belogortsev. “Nevertheless, the work is going non-stop as far as the city authorities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are concerned.
In general, Minsk might increase the large number of cities, that had hotels or amusement centres for tourists built where prisons used to be.
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Belarus Banned Importing Poultry from 20 Countries

By Igor Korney
Radio Liberty

The Ministry of Agriculture and Provisions has issued a ban on importing poultry products from more than twenty countries. The last ones to have gone onto ‘the black list’ are Romania and Turkey, which were the first in Europe to find the bird flu. The Ministry reckons that the Belarusian tourists on holiday in Turkey or Romania are not putting their health at risk as they are far from the bird flu epicentre.
Belarusian vets cannot say much about the degree of harm that the bird flue can do to people. It is explained by the fact that the bird flu can harm a human only in case of mutation under influence of the human flu virus. This correlation has not been found yet in Europe. So, it was precaution reasons that brought the limitations about. However, the State Border Committee says that vehicles coming from the said countries are being thoroughly inspected at the veterinary checkpoints.
Officer: “There is a separate service that caries out control functions – sanitary and veterinary control.”

The Department of the State Veterinary Control at the state border and transport says that there has not been any confirmation from the International Epizootic Bureau concerning the bird flu being dangerous to a human. However, other sources informed that this virus is quite dangerous. Officer from the Veterinary Department says, “We were informed that for instance in Turkey this virus is highly pathogenic…”
Deputy Director of the Veterinary Section at the Ministry of Agriculture and Provisions Mikhail Bushilo is in charge of measures to secure Belarus from the bird flue. Being asked by the ‘Radio Liberty’, Mr Bushilo explains the situation surrounding the ban on importing poultry, “There are more than twenty countries on the list, and most of them are in South East Asia, beginning at Japan. The ban covers many countries, as it doesn’t matter to us whether the risk is coming from Romania, China, or Japan. If these countries are concerned, we don’t allow any goods in that need veterinary control, apart from the European part of Russia up to the Urals. If there is some contraband, we seize it all. Regarding the bird flu mutation that is being discussed so much now, I can tell you that if the flu was mutating so fast as they say in Vietnam, where the virus has been around for a year, than there would have been nothing left in that country. Only several people have died. Thus this process doesn’t happen so fast. Praise God for that.”

The joint instruction of the State Customs Committee and Ministry of Agriculture specifies what goods should be inspected. It includes animal foods, all veterinary medicines, as well as some medicine for humans, and meat products. Should the tourists that are coming back to Belarus from for instance Turkey or Romania be specifically inspected too? Mikhail Bushilo from the Ministry of Agriculture reckons that there is no need to be worried.

Bushilo: “In fact, there is only one pesthole in Turkey and Romania. The poultry have been destroyed. No one will be allowed into the pesthole, especially tourists. Therefore they can be at ease away from the outbreak and enjoy the sun, holiday, and rest.”

The European Commission and the Governments of Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Greece, and Ukraine have also put a ban on importing poultry from Turkey and Romania.


Why Do Belarusian Footballers Keep Loosing?

By Igor Korney
Radio Liberty

At the after-match conference, talking about the results of the game against Norway, Chief Coach of the Belarusian National Team Anatoly Boidachny named the parties guilty of the team’s defeat at the World Championship 2006 Group Tournament. According to Anatoly Boidachny, one of the reasons is international referees who did not treat Belarusians justly in at least six games out of ten (including the last match). The football coach accounted it for the fact that Belarus “does not have the required weight in the world arena”, which is why it is being treated like this.

Coach Vladimir Korsakovsky helped commentator Vladimir Novitsky to run the commentary on the Belarus-Norway match. Chief Coach Anatoly Boidachny criticised the referees’ actions, accusing them of half of the Belarusians’ defeats and also passed some harsh judgement which was taken by Mr Korsakovsky quite calm – one can remember some instances when the referees’ decisions were in the Belarusians’ favour. I asked the football specialist what he reckoned about repeated suggestions that a foreign coach should be invited to work with the National team.

“It is a difficult question,” says Mr Korsakovsky. “First of all, it is actually the players who make the game. The National Coach watches them at the week-long practice session when they play two games in a row. Sportsmen spend the rest of the time in their clubs. The coach’s main purpose in this sense is to prepare the players for a match functionally; one of the most important aspects being the team’s psychological state. So, it’s not the primary aim to invite someone with a big name and expect the team to play better somehow. It doesn’t happen just like this.”

Even though the last match in the group tournament that Belarus lost to Norway at 0:1 was not a principal one, it still produced many negative emotions. After a previous great defeat at a home game with the Italians (1:4), everyone was expecting some sort of vindication. One of the then most prominent Belarusian goalkeepers Yuri Kurbyka says, “I don’t know what to say about the game. It’s almost an unofficial match as it was not the full team. So it’s difficult to give a competent evaluation of this game.”

Correspondent: “Anatoly Boidachny reckons that it’s mostly the referees’ fault for the Belarusians’ defeats…”

Kurbyka: “I don’t even want to comment on it… It’s always the referees’ fault even in our national championship and in all other games.”

Anatoly Boidachny said that in any case he is not ashamed of the National Team players. Along with the referees who impeded productive play, he also commented on journalists who criticised him personally and the team too much. Television commentator Alexander Putila reckons that the criticism, which is meant to be an irritant to some point, still did not reach the recipient.

Putila: “How can he teach them? You can keep nagging at them but it’s pointless – in the end they will still be doing the same thing. This is their perception. What can you do? You tell them one thing, and they still do something different. There is no class, no brains, no thinking.”

Goray: “It doesn’t take one day to do the analysis, but a whole era… When they allocated some money for a victory you could tell some people were disheartened, and others were saying, ‘Am I going to play for this money?’ But you were called to play for the National Team! If you don’t want to play then don’t come, put it straight and say, ‘I don’t want to play for the Team’. We won’t call you then.”

The Executive Committee of the Belarusian Football federation is going to have a session in mid November to sum up the results of the recent international defeats of the National Team. The annual summary Conference of the Federation will take place in the beginning of the next year, and will probably be attended by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Back at the meeting with the leaders of the sport federations, Lukashenko gave a warning: everyone will have to give personal account for the footballers who spat into the Belarusian publics’ face by their mediocre playing.


'Beast' overpowers Spaniard

From Fox Sports

MAX Mirnyi has powered his way to a 7-5 7-6 win over Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Madrid Masters

The win sets up a second round date with No.6 seed Mariano Puerta.
Mirnyi, nicknamed "the beast", broke Ferrero's serve in the 12th game to take the first set, but the Spaniard broke back early in the second.
But Ferrero, who reached the final in Vienna last week where he lost to Ivan Ljubicic, always struggled to cope with Mirnyi's aggressive serve and volley game, and, after missing three chances for a second break cracked in the 10th game.
The Belarussian only dropped two points in the second set tiebreak.
"He played very well and in these conditions was very quick," said Ferrero.
"I was a little slower than normal and didn't make the most of the opportunities I had to get ahead in the second set."

Fifth seed David Nalbandian eased into the third round with a comfortable 7-6 6-3 win over Austrian Juergen Melzer.

The Argentine, 23, who lost to Marat Safin in last year's final, took the tiebreak 7-1 and broke Melzer's serve twice to take the second set.

Nalbandian was joined by 11th-seed David Ferrer from Spain who came from 4-2 down in the third set to dismiss qualifier Agustin Calleri of Argentina 6-3 4-6 6-4.
Calleri had beaten Albert Costa on Monday but slipped to his third defeat to Ferrer this year.

"It was a tough game," said Ferrer. "I started off well but he was getting better and better. I decided to put pressure on his serve which forced him to make more mistakes. That won me the game."

Belarus withdraws from Hopman Cup

Wednesday, 19 October 2005: Sweden, led by former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, has replaced Belarus in this year's Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth.
Sweden, led by former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, has replaced Belarus in this year's Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth.

The Belarussians were forced to withdraw from the mixed teams event following a schedule change by its leading male player, Max Mirnyi.

Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open winner and current world No.15, will team up with 21-year-old Sofia Arvidsson, ranked No.82 in the world.

"Johansson's inclusion means the field now boasts four grand slam singles title holders with reigning Australian Open and former US Open winner Marat Safin, Gaston Gaudio (French 2004) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (US Open 2004)," Hopman Cup director Paul McNamee said.

Sweden will slot into Belarus' position in the draw, opening its campaign against newcomer Serbia and Montenegro and then playing top-seeded Russia - setting up a replay of the 2002 Australian Open final between Johansson and Safin.
The eight-day tournament begins at Perth's Burswood Entertainment complex on December 31, with men and women from each team playing singles rubbers before pairing to play their opponents in mixed doubles.


Danailov: “Veselin is interested in two matches against Kramnik and Kasparov”
An interview by Alexander Roshal, editor of the Russian magazine "64", with Silvio Danailov, the manager of the new FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov

An interview with Roshal From Chessbase

Vaselin Topalov is flanked by seven of the greatest chess players in the world at the awards ceremony of the 2005 FIDE world Championships in San Luis, Argentina

Alexander Roshal: Were you confident of winning before the start of the tournament?
Danailov: Of course one cannot be sure of winning – chess after all is a sport where anything can happen. But in any case we came here to fight for the ‘podium’. Topalov’s victories in Linares (shared with Kasparov) and Sofia proved that this has been our year.

The chess king is supposed to be a Tsar, a commander. Can one describe Topalov as such?
No, he is not a commander! We had commanders in the past, and it was not right. A player should do what he’s good at – play. And this is precisely what Veselin is going to do – play chess.

You’ve managed to put together a nice team, especially by brining in Ivan Chaparinov.
We’ve been preparing our young analyst for 5-6 years now. We foresaw his amazing talents and took him under our guardianship.

I understand your opinion about a possible Topalov-Kramnik match is positive?
From a creative point of view, Topalov is interested in two matches: against Kramnik and Kasparov (from a sporting point of view he’s already proven to be the strongest in San Luis).

But in either match you are gambling with your title…Veselin has proved his superiority in san Luis in a rather convincing manner. He scored an enviable +6. I can hardly imagine Kramnik getting +2 in San Luis, had he participated in the tournament.

How could the match against Kramnik materialize, in practical terms?
I can hardly envisage any insolvable problems. FIDE doesn’t seem to mind, as for potential sponsors, seems very likely that for a match of this calibre there will be a few. Realistic date for the match: November 2006.

But that means that FIDE would have to alter the rules and dates for the next cycle.
It seems to me that FIDE has realised the enormity and complicated nature of the publicized rules of the next cycle, and I heard that they are going to change them. To organise another match-tournament, for example. That, obviously, would lead to World Champion losing his privileges. No problem! We are ready to sacrifice all our privileges, and we believe that such a system would be fair.

The match against Kramnik is interesting from a different point of view. He is, in spitel of everything, the successor of the Classical Chess World Title. Kramnik defeated Kasparov and defended his title in the match against Leko.

Did you take into account that Topalov could have rivalled Kasparov’s rating with a +7 score in San Luis?
We did think about it. However, our main goal was the title of the World Champion. Anything else was of secondary importance. So we planned our strategy accordingly: to play solidly in the second leg, to avoid taking unnecessary risk. And we presupposed that we would clinch the title with a round to spare. As you can see, we were right.

How do you evaluate Anand and Svidler in San Luis?
Anand played his usual self, according to his ability. But Svidler surpassed himself.

Surely congratulations are flowing from Bulgaria?
Of course! I know that the President of Bulgaria along with his two sons, were watching the Internet Live Broadcast of the decisive game Topalov-Kasimjanov until 2:00 a.m.! By the way our President also happens to be the head of the Org Committee of the Sofia Tournament which is due next year. He loves chess.