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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Border crossings, Illegal money, Rushailo, Milinkevich, More newspaper woes

From the Top


Border crossings take forever at the moment
On November 16, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko conducted a working meeting on customs bodies activities. Participating in the meeting were Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky, Head of the Presidential Administration Viktor Sheiman, State Secretary of the Security Council Gennady Nevyglas, Chairman of the State Customs Committee Alexander Shpilevsky.

The subjects of discussion at the meeting were measures for simplifying border crossings for the citizens of Belarus and other countries, ways of encouraging foreign economic activities, and problems within the customs bodies themselves.

The President gave directions to finalize the new Customs Code of the Republic of Belarus within two weeks, he also took a number of decisions aimed at improving the work of the State Customs Committee (SCC) and put forward before the SCC leaders specific tasks to improve the border crossing practices in the interests of both citizens and foreign trade entities.

Gennadiy Nevyglas pointed out that the new Customs Code has been drafted for two years already. The new wording of the Code is conceived to replace the out-of-date document which is not in sync with the parameters provisioned for the present-day state. So, for instance, a great number of references in the old document forced the State Customs Committee to issue more than 900 instructions.

Gennadiy Nevyglas stressed that the new wording of the Customs Code will contain as few references as possible. Following the adoption of the document the State Customs Committee will be able to issue only technical instructions which concern only its interior activity. “This is the crucial issue which was discussed at the meeting chaired by the president. The root of many problems lies in this issue”, the State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus reported.


Four awards for meritorious service given
The Medal of Francysk Skaryna has been awarded to the assistant professor of the chair of design and manufacture of instruments at the Belarusian National Technical University Vladimir Minchenya in recognition of his many years' fruitful scientific and pedagogical activities in training highly qualified engineers.

The medal "For Distinction in Labour" has been conferred on the head of the chair of glass and ceramic technology at the Belarusian State Technological University Ivan Levitsky and the electro-gas welder of the master mechanic’s department at the Belarusian National Technical University Leonty Guz.

The governor of Leningrad region of the Russian Federation Valery Serdyukov has been awarded the Order of Honour in recognition of his services in developing trade and economic ties between Belarus and Russia.

And the medal of Francysk Skaryna was given to the citizen of the Republic of Poland, the poet Viktor Szwed. The poet has been honoured with this high award in recognition of his many years’ active work in propagandizing Belarusian literary works in Poland, and for great personal contributions towards strengthening Belarusian-Polish cultural ties.


From the NLIPRB

Rushailo: It is important that the meeting takes place on the eve of the sitting of the CIS Economic Council
Belarus pays overriding significance to the CIS development, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated at today’s meeting with chairman of the Executive Committee – CIS executive secretary Vladimir Rushailo.

Alexander Lukashenko underlined: “The Belarusian side is ready to work together, take mutual decisions on the Commonwealth development. We have always supported all positive processes on the CIS territory”.

The head of Belarusian state thanked Vladimir Rushailo for his regular information on the situation in the CIS. The chairman of the CIS Executive Committee has already met with practically all the CIS presidents and visited many international organizations, Alexander Lukashenko underscored. According to him, today the sides are expected to consider a number of important issues.

Vladimir Rushailo underlined that he would inform the president on implementing the decisions of the Commonwealth, in particular decisions of the Council of the CIS heads of state, which were undertaken in August in Kazan. The two sides will also consider working plans for 2006 handled on the initiative of the CIS member-states, including Belarus.

Vladimir Rushailo deemed it important that the meeting takes place on the eve of the sitting of the CIS Economic Council slated for November 16 in Moscow. The sitting will focus on the CIS draft budget.

A Belarusian delegation of the Union State Parliamentary Assembly will partake in a meeting of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly and in the 26th plenary session of the Council on the invitation of the former. The events are due on November 17-18 in St. Petersburg in the Tavricheskiy palace, the PA press-service told BelTA. At the same time the organizers of the event intend to hold a scientific conference focusing on the issues of cooperation to counteract drugs abuse and drugs traffic.

The PA deputies will take place in the meeting of the Bureau of the EurAsEC Interparliamentary Assembly as observers on November 17 in St. Petersburg. The agenda of the meeting includes the issues of harmonization of the legislations of the EurAsEC member states in the fields of energy, transport, security and taxation.



Yanukovich: We want Belarus protected from illegal money
November 16 the Chamber of Representatives adopted at the second reading amendments to the law on preventing illegal incomes.

As deputy chairman of the permanent commission on monetary policy and banking activity Vanda Yanukovich noted, the bill has been worked out “in order to protect legal interests of Belarusians and the state”. The document determines legal and organization measures on preventing illegal incomes.

Illegal incomes are often used as a source of financing terrorism. The present legislation lacks mechanisms on counteracting it.

The transactions exceeding 2 thousand basic amounts for natural persons and 20 thousand basic amounts for organization and individual entrepreneurs have been put under special financial control.

The adopted bill determines the state body on combating money laundry –the department on financial monitoring of the State Control Committee. It has right on collecting information on suspicious financial operations and giving order to stop their activity.


Charter ‘97

Milinkevich: Politics are never an easy road.
At about 11.30 a.m. traffic policemen detained three cars of Alyaksandr Milinkevich and members of his team and journalists.

The reason for detention was explained by policemen as a suspicion that these vehicles are stolen.

The incident lasted for about 40 minutes. As a result, traffic policemen wrote down the numbers of the three cars and released them.

Alyaksandr Milinkevich and the head of the headquarters of his political campaign, Syarhei Kalyakin, who accompanies the single candidate in his trip to Polatsk and Navapolatsk, view this incident as a planned provocation of local authorities aimed at circumventing the programme of visit to the region, the BelaPAN was informed by the press-secretary of the single candidate, Paval Mazhejka.

The single candidate for presidency of the united opposition, was continuing his “stump” across LekashenkaBorder crossings the country. Milinkevich has visited Baranavichy and Salihorsk, and today (Nov 16th) he is expected in Polatsk region.

The program of the visit is consists of meetings with vendors at the main market in Polatsk, plans to meet with the students of the university, visit one of out-patient hospitals, to talk to workers–activists by one of the plants of Navapolatsk. Besides, a meeting with believers of a Protestant and Greek-Catholic churches is expected. Alyaksandr Milinkevich also wants to visit Navapolatsk City Executive Committee. In the evening a meeting of the single candidate with the representatives of democratically-minded dwellers of Navapolatsk, the Radio Svaboda informs.


From Viasna


No news is not good news for Belarus
According to the press-service of Belarusian Association of Journalists

Aliaksandr Mantsevich, director of Rehianalnaia Hazieta Ltd. And the chief editor of the edition received a letter from Aliaksandr Charniak, Belposhta Director General where it is said his newspaper wasn’t included into the subscription catalogue for the 1st half of 2006.

Rehianalnaia Hazieta Ltd. is accused in repeated violation of its undertakings to Belposhta, for instance, didn’t pay for its inclusion into the subscription catalogue for 2005, didn’t pay for the delivery of the extended newspaper numbers and non-timely informed it about the necessity to extend the volume of issues. It is also stated that Belposhta is in a hard economical situation and financial discipline is the most important condition of agreements. Besides, according to the letter, absence of the timely information about the extension of the edition destabilizes the work of the post offices who deal with expedition and transportation of press.

According to A. Mantsevich, Belposhta had formal reasons to break the agreement. However, Belposhta administration knew about all the enumerated “violations of undertakings” and had no pretensions to the newspaper, covering all the expenses from the subscription money received for the newspaper.

-- In fact, such things can be found in the activity of any subject of economy, -- said A. Mantsevich. – I am indignant at such difference in the treatment of state and non-state enterprises. According to the calculations of our accountant, during the 10 months of 2005 our “excess pages” cost to Belposhta 66 210 rubles (about 30US dollars, which the enterprise covered from the subscription means). Could such sum destabilize the work of the whole enterprise? To my mind, it is a political decision.

Rehianalnaia Hazieta is registered as a national edition, that’s why the information about breach of the agreement came directly from Belposhta administration. According to BAJ information, many regional editions will soon receive similar letters from regional and district branches of Belposhta.


In Pinsk workers of post offices “don’t advise” people subscribing to the non-state newspaper Miastsovy Chas, referring to the fact that the postmen will stop its delivery to postboxes in 2006. For instance, a worker of the monitoring service of Belarusian Association of Journalists heard such “recommendation” at the post office #16. The workers of the post office refused to explain the origin of this information and didn’t tell who advised them to instruct the subscribers.

The non-state newspaper Miastsovy Chas is issued in the city of Pinsk. It started feeling the pressurization of the local authorities long ago. Pinsk branch of Belsaiuzdruk refuses to conclude the agreement with it for sell in the state kiosks, referring to the press overload. Public distributors are prohibited to sell the newspaper for the fear of punitive sanctions.

According to the chief editor Viktar Iarashuk, at the last council of the ideology department of Pinsk City Executive Committee the necessity to supplant the newspaper out of the city was discussed.


The editorial office of Narodnaia Volia newspaper sued to Minsk City Economic Court against the refusal of Belposhta state enterprise to include the newspaper in the distribution catalog for 2006. At present the state holds the monopoly on distribution of periodicals (which is a licensed kind of activity), that’s why this refusal makes it impossible to distribute the newspaper.

-- We demand from the court to make the defendant conclude the agreement for distribution of Narodnaia Volia on the conditions analogous to those standing in the agreement for 2005, -- said the chief editor Iosif Siaredzich in his interview to BelaPAN information agency.

According to him, in the next issues of Narodnaia Volia the readers will be informed how they can defend their right of subscription to the newspaper:

-- We will simply give juridical consultation to our readers. I am sure that after this Belposhta will receive thousands of analogous suits from our readers, -- he pointed. He also assured the issue of the newspaper will continue.


According to the information, presented to Belarusian Association of Journalists by the chief editor of the non-state newspaper Mestnaya Gazeta Andrei Shantarovich, in the morning of 10 November the police detained at a mini-market in Vaukavysk the distributor of Mestnaya Gazeta Marharyta Makavietskaia and confiscated from her 400 copies of the edition. The total print-run of the newspaper is about 5 000 copies.

The policemen composed a report and took the detainee to the court, which the same day fined her 10 000 rubles for selling the newspapers in unsuitable place. A. Shantarovich believes the police acted on order of the chair of Vaukavysk District Executive Committee Mikhail Savielieu. He thinks that the sanctions against the newspaper are connected to the active elucidation of the conflict between the businessman Mikalai Autukhovich and the local authorities.


According to the information of Lidzia Tsaluika, chief editor, to Belarusian Association of Journalists, soon the editorial office of Gazeta Dlia Vas newspaper can be evicted from the office in the town of Ivatsevichy that has been occupied by it for three years already. Ivatsevichy district executive committee intends to break the rent agreement with the newspaper. One of the committee workers who asked not to call his name informed L. Tsaluika that all local businessmen and state institutions were ordered not to lend any room to the newspaper.

The rented office belongs to the district domestic combine. In the talk with L. Tsaluika the chair of Ivatsevichy DEC Anatol Tkachuk stated that in September 2006 Dazhynki festival will be held in Ivatsevichy and therefore the editorial office will be needed for placement of the combine office.

Meanwhile, the newspaper is only one of about 50 renters of the combine room. There are also free offices the combine can lend. According to L. Tsaluika, other renters don’t have the problems the newspaper has.


On 11 November the editorial office of the independent newspaper Zgoda was warned by the Ministry of Information for “distribution of the information that insults honor and dignity of President”.

According to the Ministry of Information, the insult could be seen in a number of publications and collages, published by the newspaper.

Aliaksiei Karol, chief editor of the newspaper, explained the situation to RFE/RL:
-- We had a collage with the map of CIS countries. Instead of Belarus there was the face of the man who reminded of Lukashenka. There was also the interview with me concerning the revolution of 1905, under the heading “Living in Lukashenka’s Belarus I understand the events of the 1905 revolution much better”. This heading is also considered as insulting information.

The warning is signed by the minister, Uladzimir Rusakievich, and dated 9 November, but the editorial office received it two days later. Aliaksiei Karol points at the fact that the majority of the publications that are mentioned in it have been already put into the administrative cases against him and Mr. Sdvizhkou. In September both of them were fined about 1 000 USD for distribution of information that is insulting to the president. Mr. Karol is going to complain against the warning. He also wants to turn the public attention to the situation of the liberty of speech in the contemporary Belarus:

-- All this offence, that was especially noticeable since 4 till 9 November is a part of the general clearing of the informational space from the editions that distribute independent and objective information. It is a part of the preparation to the upcoming presidential election.



Belarus is sending aid to earthquake victims
Belarus will send humanitarian aid to Pakistan. The decision to partake in relief efforts benefiting the earthquake-hit country was adopted by the Council of Ministers of Belarus.

The government told BelTA that Pakistan will receive tents, blankets, food products and dressing materials.

According to the latest data the earthquake in Pakistan claimed lives of more than 50 thousand people leaving more than 74 thousand wounded.
The devastating earthquake jolted South Asia on October 8. The worst affected area is the part of the Kashmir province which is controlled


From the NLIPRB

Shandong, China
Belarus attaches great importance to regional cooperation and is intensifying its contacts in the science and engineering sphere with the leading provinces of the People’s Republic of China. The republic reached agreement on cooperation with the committees for science and technology of the Beijing, Taixing, Harbin, the provinces Shandong and Hebei. Corresponding agreements with the provinces Jiangsu, Jilin, Heilongjiang and the city of Shanghai are planned to be signed as well.

According to the foreign ministry of Belarus, the exchange of the Days of Science and Engineering promotes intensification of contacts in the scientific-technical field. The Days of Science and Engineering of the People’s Republic of China were held in this republic in November 1998; the Belarusian Days took place in China in June 1999. In June 2005 the city of Changchun was chosen venue of the event.

Last year Belarus was visited by the president of the Academy of Sciences of China, delegations of the scientific-technical organizations of the province Jiangsu, the department of high and new technologies and commercialization of the ministry for science and technology of China, heads of the companies of the ministry of information industry of China. In March 2003 the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Academy of Sciences of China signed a program on scientific-technical cooperation and a cooperation agreement between the republican technologies transfer center of Belarus and the center of scientific-technical exchanges of China.

On the Belarusian side, there are 11 companies registered in Belarus with the Chinese capital, of them 5 are joint ventures and 6 – foreign enterprises. The aggregate input into the authorized fund of these companies amounted to USD 1,62 million, including that of the joint ventures – USD 1,28 million.

The Belarusian foreign ministry told BelTA that there are 8 companies in China with the Belarusian capital. There aggregate authorized fund makes up USD 14 million.
Large-scale economic projects are crucial for intensification of Belarus-China turnover. The most significant of them is the joint venture producing truck tractors “Santzyan-Volat” set up together with the Minsk plant of wheeled carriers. Specialists are mulling over possibilities to create joint ventures in China with BelAZ, MAZ, MTZ, Agat and in Belarus – of a joint venture to produce medicine.

Today Belarus is taking steps to attract Chinese investors and creditors to implement joint projects including the one on modernization of Minsk heat and power plant #2. A Chinese company won a tender for delivery of the equipment for the third GSM operator – BeST.