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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Belarus/Russia Union, Lukashenka compared to Hitler, 1,705,000 Belarusian cell phone subscribers

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From The Top

President Receives Prosecutor General Pyotr Miklashevich

The issues related to the activities of law enforcing bodies in counteracting crime and corruption cases were discussed at the working meeting of the President of the Republic of Belarus with Prosecutor General Pyotr Miklashevich on November 1. Pyotr Miklashevich reported to the Head of State that the Procuracy bodies had carried out this year a whole range of supervisory and law enforcing measures aimed at enhancing efficiency of the law enforcing system in combating crime, protecting rights of the citizens and interests of the State. This work resulted in the decline of grave and especially grave crimes, in the strengthening of legality and legal order in this country.

The President expressed concern over the fact that no radical breakthrough had been achieved in combating crime, the potential of law enforcing bodies had not been made full use of either.

During the report the Prosecutor General pointed out that general deterioration in the crime-related situation had resulted from the unsatisfactory measures to protect property safety and security of citizens. Thefts account for half of all the registered crimes. Nearly one third of the crimes was committed in the state of alcoholic intoxication.

The Prosecutor General informed the President on progress in the investigation of a number of high - profile criminal cases placed under control of the Head of State.
For one thing, the investigation has been completed with regard to the criminal case against the former general director of the state-owned nature protection establishment “National Park ‘ Braslavskiye Ozyora’ (Braslav Lakes)" V.Senkovsky, chief accountant and chief of a department of this establishment. These persons repeatedly abused their position, committed property thefts, forgeries and other criminal deeds which caused the damage totaling nearly Br 1 billion.

The republican Procuracy is investigating the criminal case filed in connection with the home-made bomb blasts in the public places in Vitebsk. The investigating and operational groups continue work on revealing all the circumstances of the happening.

The Prosecutor General also informed the Head of State on measures taken to improve the structure of the Procuracy system, to transform a number of interdistrict procuracies in conformity with the administrative and territorial division.

Russia, Belarus take 2nd look at Union

From Charter ‘97

Russia and Belarus are once again considering joining into a single state, the St. Petersburg Times reported Monday.

A joint commission of officials from the two countries said they plan to write a draft constitution by mid-November that would be presented to voters for ratification.

Critics say the unification plan, on hold for years, is the work of officials nostalgic for the Soviet Union. There also are suggestions it is a way to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to remain head of state after 2008, when he must step down under the Russian constitution.

Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank, told the newspaper the union would not help Russia decide who should rule after Putin.

"Putin would just get a symbolic job, since he would be a president of a union that doesn`t mean anything.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Compared Lukashenka with Hitler

Also From Charter ‘97

Ukraine counts on democratic character of presidential elections in Belarus. As ITRA-TASS informs from Washington, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov stated that on November 1 during the working breakfast with the American political analysts from Carnegie Foundation. Yekhanurov said that recently (on October 18) he had a meeting with Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk, called him a talented propagandist, and made an unexpected declaration: “Now I understand why in the 1930ies German women were crying: I wand a baby by the Fuehrer!”

“I think that Ukraine must maintain constant dialogue with neighbouring Belarus,” Y.Yekhanurov said. “We are desire the next elections to be democratic, as we want Belarus to be a calm neighbour for us.” “We are ready to use best endeavours so that mutual understanding existed between our nations,” the Ukrainian Prime Minister said.

Y.Yekhanurov noted that most recently he met Belarusian opposition’s representatives as well, and in particular, one of its leaders Stanislau Shushkevich. The Prime Minister believes that namely Ukraine could be the country which would conduct a pragmatic dialogue with Belarus, including the dialogue on democratization of the society.

As noted by ITAR-TASS, Y.Yekhanurov spoke in a presence of lots of people. There were many journalists and a dozen of cameras.

Belarus Buying Missiles

From Novosti

BARANOVICHI (Belarus), November 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will provide Belarus with the first S-300 missile systems next March, a senior Belarussian officer said Tuesday.

"Four missile systems will be sent to equip four air defense divisions by next fall," said Igor Azarenok, a commander of Belarus' Air Force and air defense troops.
He said the missiles would help improve the country's defense four-times over, and its air defense by 20%, and also enhance the joint air defense system of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

"The air defense partnership of CIS countries pioneers real integration and helps establish close military ties between former Soviet republics," he said.
The two countries concluded a contract on S-300 supplies September 10.

Belarus interested in cooperation with NATO, not membership

MINSK, November 2 (RIA Novosti, Irina Chumakova) - Belarus is interested in closer cooperation with NATO, but does not seek to join the organization, Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev said at a press conference Wednesday.

Maltsev said Belarus was participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, but unlike other nations, it did not view the program as a stepping-stone toward membership.

Joining NATO has never been on the Belarusian agenda, Maltsev said.
"We have never intended to join the North Atlantic alliance and never will."
The minister said Belarus aimed to develop a normal relationship with NATO as they had a common border. This border "should be a border of peace," he said.

"We are often accused of opposing NATO. This is not the case. We merely believe that all disputable issues should be resolved politically, economically, and through other non-military means. This is why we will always be against any military blocs, and against the expansion of NATO," Maltsev said.

The minister said, however, that Belarus did not see Ukraine's prospective accession to the organization as a cause for concern.

"Each nation decides for itself how to ensure its own security. If Ukraine has chosen to ensure its security by entering NATO, we have a relaxed attitude to this," he said, adding that Belarus would not try to undermine Ukraine's bid.

Maltsev also said that the defense ministries of Belarus and Russia had agreed to hold a joint large-scale military exercise next summer. Ground, air force, and air defense units are to take part in the exercise.

U.S. Urges Belarus To Stop Harassing Local Helsinki Committee
Diplomat says case is part of pattern of harassment against independent press

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States is calling for the Belarusian authorities to end their continuing harassment of the Belarus Helsinki Committee, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that reports on human-rights violations and monitors elections.

Belarusian authorities are seeking to reopen a case against the Belarus Helsinki Committee (BHC) on charges of which it has been cleared repeatedly. This effort “makes a mockery of rule-of-law principles,” U.S. diplomat Bruce Connuck told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) October 27.
“In the context of the sustained harassment by the authorities of the Belarus Helsinki Committee, which engages in admirable work to raise awareness of the serious human rights problems in Belarus, we can only view this latest development as politically motivated,” said Connuck.

In June 2004, the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus dropped all charges against the BHC, finding that charges of tax evasion were groundless, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Belarus welcoming the decision at that time.

However, in September 2004, the Belarusian Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court aimed at closing the Belarus Helsinki Committee. Ambassador Stephan Minikes, the head of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE at the time, noted that the lawsuit was filed after the BHC questioned the legality of an upcoming referendum on eliminating presidential term limits.
Full Text plus links to related articles

Belarus’ MDC active subscriber base up to 1.705 million

From Cellular News

MOSCOW, Nov 1 (Prime-Tass) -- The active subscriber base of Belarus’ mobile phone operator Mobile Digital Communications, or MDC, rose 3.6% in October to 1.705 million people as of November 1, the company said Tuesday.

MDC offers GSM 900/1800 standard services under the Velcom brand.

MDC’s network currently covers 61% of Belarus’ territory, the company said, adding that it has 965 base stations.

In 2004 the subscriber base of MDC increased 80.2% on the year to 1.135 million users as of January 1, 2005.

Mobile Digital Communications was founded in August 1998. MDC’s charter capital is divided among Cyprus’ SB Telecom with a 49% stake, Belarus’ state-controlled fixed-line monopoly Beltelecom with 31% and Belarus’ arms and weapons exporter Beltekhexport with 20%.

Other major mobile telecommunications companies in Belarus are Belarus’ largest operator Belarus-Russian joint venture Mobile TeleSystems, or MTS, which operates a GSM 900/1800 standard network, and Belarus-British joint venture BelCel, which operates NMT450i and IMT-MC-450 networks.


From Publius Pundit

The day of solidarity with Belarus on Oct. 16 that I talk about was an outstanding success, even moreso than I thought it would be. Over 100,000 people lit candles in their windows all around Belarus on Sunday in a form of protest yet unseen in this country, where protestors are roundly beaten and arrested.

More than 100,000 citizens of Belarus have taken part in the Day of Solidarity on October 16. The action has been supported in many Belarusian towns and in many countries of the world. In this connection representatives of the civil society of Belarus proposed continuing holding Days of Solidarity with political prisoners, disappeared oppositionists, their families, independent journalists, with all who fight for freedom and democracy in Belarus, on the 16th day of every month. They called upon the Belarusians to switch off the light in their apartments on November 16, 2005 at 8 p.m., and to light candles of Freedom. “According to our estimation, more than 100,000 people have taken part in the action on October 16, and about 500,000 have been informed about it. It is very good for a start. We offer holding the next solidarity action on November 16. Now we have almost a month to make every endeavour so that a considerably large quantity of people would take part in the action in November. Probably, it would be difficult to take people to the streets in December, January, February. But if we would carry out solidarity actions every month, we would be able to protest openly in spring,” told a well-known Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip at a press conference in Minsk.

One of the initiators of the day of Solidarity on October 16, Zubr coordinator Mikita Sasim told about the result of the action: “The Day of Solidarity has shown that the authorities are afraid of our solidarity. I was detained the day before by KGB officers. They triad to recruit me, intimidated me, told that I would be sent to the army. After the action on September 16, when I was beaten up by riot policemen, I spent a week in a hospital. Despite of this, policemen took me to the military enlistment office in Baranavichy by force, and made me sign the summons. Arrests of other Zubr activists have taken place for distribution of leaflets with information about the action. ON the Day of Solidarity, October 16, absurd things were happening. In the houses where most windows were dark with candles on them, policemen were running up and down the stairs in confusion, not knowing what to do, as they cannot prohibit people to light candles,” Mikita said.

During the preparation to the Day of Solidarity, Zubr activists organized an interesting experiment. “In one of the houses with 500 apartments we put newspapers and leaflets with information about the Day of Solidarity in every apartment. We called every apartment and entered every door. As a result about 25% of dwellers in this house switched off the light and lit candles. Many people simply switched off the light. It shows that if information is communicated to people, the number of participants would be great. Many people are dissatisfied, many are ready actually to resist the regime,” the coordinator of Zubr believes.

Participants of the press conference expressed gratitude to all people who had taken part in the Day of Solidarity, and to all mass media that informed about this protest.

As said by Mikita Sasim, one of the most important problems in Belarus now is deficiency of independent newspapers, as far as most of the newspapers are liquidated, and radio and TV are under the total control of the authorities. However, it is not only the matter of lack of the press. “I would like to emphasize that not all mass media considered to be democratic had supported the Day of Solidarity. Unfortunately, the “Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus”, “Belorusy i rynok”, “Belgazeta” have not written anything about the protest,” Mikita Sasim said.
The Zubr coordinator was supported by journalist Iryna Khalip. “They probably think that nothing is threatening them, if they are pretending that nothing bad is happening in the country. It is a big mistake. I am greatly disappointed. On Sunday evening, staying with a burning candle by my window, I recalled our journalists’ solidarity of the middle of the 1990ies. It is a model of solidarity for me. Just recall, it were journalists who managed to release Pavel Sheremet from prison. It was not Yeltsin, Nemtsov, not Russian politicians, but our rallies, our protest.

Where is it all gone? Maybe journalists are afraid now, like everybody else,” Iryna Khalip supposed.

“In such situations I always call to mind the thing my father has explained me once. We were talking about human dignity. I told that a person, who has fear, may forget that he is human. But my father said: yes, he may forget, but human dignity is an unbelievable thing. Human dignity resembles grass. It can grow through stones and crumble the stone. And then the desire to become free is to become so strong that one would not be able to disregard it. This desire would be effectuated somehow or other,” the journalist said.

Commenting on the opinion of some journalists and politicians about infectivity of such actions, Iryna Khalip said: “One cannot say that the Belarusians are kindle ignite badly. If we remember the Great patriotic War, our partisan resistance movement was one the strongest. Even the Italian resistance cannot come near the Belarusian one. And what about the rebellions of the 19th century, which were taking place every 30 years? As soon as the new generation grew up, it joined the resistance immediately,” the journalist reminded.

Mikita Sasim reminded that on November 16, when the next Day of Belarusian solidarity is to be held, is the day of Our Lady of Ostra Brama, a patron of Belarus,” Zubr coordinator said.

How interesting. It looks like there will be one every month up until the election.


Baidachny opts for youth


Belarus coach Anatoli Baidachny has named a youthful squad of 20 players for the upcoming friendly against Latvia in Vitebsk on 12 November, including first-time call-ups Pavel Plaskonny and Yan Tigorev. Aleksandr Hleb, Maksim Romashchenko, Denis Kovba, Denis Sashcheko, Leonid Kovel and Igor Tarlovski are all out injured.
Belarus squad
Yuri Zhevnov (FC Moskva), Vasili Khomutovski (FC Steaua Bucuresti), Vladimir Gaev (FC Dinamo Bucuresti).
Defenders: Sergei Omelyanchuk (FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Sergei Shtanyuk (FC Shinik Yaroslavl), Yan Tigorev (FC Dinamo Minsk), Pavel Plaskonny (FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk), Artyom Chelyadinski (FC Metalurh Zaporizhya).
Aleksandr Kulchiy (FC Tom Tomsk), Tsimafei Kalachou (FC Khimki), Vitali Bulyga (FC Krylya Sovetov Samara), Pavel Kirylchyk (FC Kryvbas Krivyi Rih), Vladzimir Korytko (FC Terek Chechenskaya Respublika), Andrei Lavrik (FC Amkar Perm), Oleg Shkabara (FC Dinamo Moskva), Viacheslav Hleb (FC MTZ-RIPO minsk), Aleksei Suchkou (FC Karpaty Lviv).
Sergei Kornilenko (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Vitali Kutuzov (UC Sampdoria), Gennadi Bliznyuk (FC BATE Borisov).