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Today's Headlines for:
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lukashenka in Gomel, Anti-Government actions punishable with prison terms, Bicycle workers strike, Lukashenka offered bribes, Chemical spill in China

“Today the Union State is capable of becoming a self-sufficient state: We have got a strong processing industry, oil- and gas resources, industry, machinery-construction – i.e. everything for the people to live a normal life. Ukraine can also enter the orbit of self-sufficiency along with Belarus and Russia. “

Alexander Lukashenko

From the Top


From the office of the president and Belta

Lukashenka at the Gomselmash Agricultural Machinery Plant
On November 25, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made a working tour of Gomel region.

“Belarus is ready to stop importing foreign harvesting equipment in the forthcoming two-three years. State-of-the-art machines of the home-grown producers are durable and excellently fit the needs of the Belarusian agrarians.” Said Alexander Lukashenko during his visit to the main specialized design bureau devising harvesting equipment which makes part to the production association Gomselmash. “It is necessary to focus on production of two new models of harvesters thus gradually leaving the outdated equipment.”

The president ordered by the end of February to determine what equipment Gomselmash and Agroprommash will deliver to agricultural companies.

The head of state deems it important to orient not only at the national market but aim more actively at the foreign one. “Quality of the equipment is the major issue”, Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

President Lukashenko said that he believes it is possible to help the Gomselmash Agricultural Machinery Plant reach the most advanced positions within the next five years. It can be attained through manufacturing high-quality and competitive products. In view of Alexander Lukashenko, the demand for domestically manufactured machinery in rural areas will have been met within the next few years; hence the internal market will be substantially smaller. That is why, the machinery manufacturers should think of their prospects and enter the foreign markets.

The state will continue supporting such town-forming companies as “Gomselmash” only if the quality of their products is considerably increased, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated today when speaking to workers of the Gomel-based plant of combine harvesters (a “Gomselmash” branch).

Only efficient projects will be financed, the president underlined. “We will help the companies if they set up qualitative productions and have qualitative equipment”. Machinery producers should be oriented towards the needs of consumers first of all; quality and price issues are most urgent for them, Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

The president considers it is possible to make “Gomselmash” a leading company of the branch in the near five years. For this purpose the company should produce highly qualitative and competitive products. According to the head of state, in the near future the needs of the Belarusian agricultural organizations in the national equipment will be satisfied. This is why agricultural machinery producers should think of opening new markets.

The President has also made the following congratulations:

To: Vladimir Yakushev on his election as governor of Tyumen region of the Russian Federation.

To: Nonna Mordyukova the People's Artist of the USSR on her jubilee.

To: Tatiana Boiko, judge of the Constitutional Court in recognition of her many years' fruitful work in the field of jurisprudence, high professional qualities, considerable personal contribution to the strengthening of constitutional legality.

To: Angela Merkel on her election as Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany



Lukashenka signing a bill into action
Parliament gave preliminary approval Friday to tough new penalties that would make anti-government actions punishable with prison terms of two years or more.

The adoption of the amendments to the Criminal Code regarding the responsibility for the acts aimed against man and public security will allow to “significantly reduce the wave” of mass protest activities which are being prepared by the opposition to be triggered at the upcoming presidential election, chairman of the State Security Committee Stepan Sukhorenko told reporters while in parliament. The afore-mentioned law was declared urgent and was adopted by the Chamber of Representatives at the first reading on November 25.

The KGB head believes that the Belarusian opposition as such does not pose any threat to the national security. The main threat comes from abroad. The actions of the opposition aim at creation of prerequisites for foreign pressure to be exerted on Belarus.

Stepan Sukhorenko informed that the opposition set up a number of camps for training militants which were to organize mass riots at the forthcoming presidential election. Such training camps were located in the Vileika and Krupki regions.

The KGB chairman regretted that the law had not been adopted earlier. “We see the threats and see the way political parties behave. There is political earning of money underway and trade at the cost of the interests of the country”, Stepan Sukhorenko said.

RFE added that the lower house backed on first reading legislation imposing stiff penalties on anyone spreading false information about Belarus, staging illegal rallies or belonging to groups not officially registered.

Stepan Sukhorenko, the chief of Belarusian security service, the KGB, told the chamber that Belarus is "dealing with an entire industry dedicated to preparing so-called colored revolutions. Adopting this law will enable us to uphold national security in Belarus."

Opposition figures expressed concern at the bill and predicted political trials would follow next year, when presidential elections are to be held. Anatoli Lebedko, the number 2 man from the oppositionist party quipped,: It means that after my today’s speech during the German-Belarusian forum I can be given a life sentence: two-three years here, two-three years there, and one can be placed to prison or “Valadarka” [Minsk remand prison]. What does this all show? It testifies that the Belarusian regime has once again clearly stated what strategy of the election campaign had been chosen by them: repressions, intimidation, power campaign. It is done consistently, at least, through the chamber of representatives,”

The new penalties were backed by 94 out of 110 lawmakers, with only one voting against. They still must receive final approval in a second reading within the next 10 days.

Under the new measures, those who finance or direct participants in mass disorders could be sentenced for up to three years in prison. Likewise for those who urge the seizure of government buildings or a forceful constitutional change. If such calls are made in the media, perpetrators could get five years imprisonment, while discrediting Belarus' international reputation could bring up to two years in prison.

"This is a return to Stalinism," opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich said.

"This is the final preparation for the presidential elections. Lukashenko understands that people are going to defend their rights in the streets, and he is ready to put them in jail," he said.

Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the opposition candidate commented “It’s the closing stage of the regime’s preparation for elections. Today the authorities already cannot control grass-roots sentiments, telling about imaginary achievements from the TV screens. The regime understands (and today’s events in Minsk Motorcycle and Bicycle Plant are a proof for that), that people won’t tolerate suppression any more, and are ready to defend their rights in the streets. That is why the amendments are adopted to the Code, which is already repressive. There is the only objective, to make easier punishing and imprisonment of a person who publicly express dissent to the policy of the leader of the state,”

Note: See also the below storey about the Motovello strike



Workers haven’t been paid in a month
Some 200 workers from the Minsk Motorcycle and Bicycle Plant held a protest rally in one of the capital's main streets to demand payment of back wages.

Minsk Motorcycle and Bicycle workers have unblocked the Partyzanski Avenue and stopped the protest action. Representatives of the plant’s administration went out to the workers. They promised to pay all wages until November 30. After negotiations the workers have not returned to the plant, and broke up. People said that if the wages would not be paid, protest actions are to continue.

Workers of Minsk Motorcycle and Bicycle Plant halted the traffic in the Partyzanski Avenue in Minsk. Protesters demanded their wages, which have not been received by them since October this year.

About 150-200 workers lined up across the avenue in a chain. As a result, the traffic in the Partyzanski Avenue from Vaneeu Square to the Kashevoj Street was completely paralysed. The protesters are shouting: “Wages! Wages!”

"I am in despair at this government, and my children are going hungry," said 44-year-old worker Igor Krutenya, who complained that he had not received his monthly salary equivalent to US$110 since October.

“The state is not responsible for paying wages in private companies”, Alexander Lukashenko stated today when answering questions of reporters in Gomel.

According to the president, the state does not forget about its people. “But in the situation with private organizations employees themselves and their companies should be responsible for the timeliness of payments and the amount of wages”, Alexander Lukashenko noted.

“I have been just informed that some workers of the bicycle plant were not paid wages in time and are not satisfied with the situation. Some dozens of people were even going to organize a demonstration. Where? It is a private company. Once they privatized it and now want us to take it back. Certainly, we will. But it takes time. You have bought the plant and are responsible for it. Today I am making every effort to take the company back. We have to repay its debts and to pay wages. Sell bicycles and motorcycles and earn wages. But you decided to go out to protest. You should not behave like this. If you bought the plant – think how to work. I will not stand such pressure”, the president underscored.

According to Charter ’97, Under the pretext that the TV transmitting equipment of he TV Company “Mir” went wrong. All TV channels were forbidden to transmit TV reels from Minsk. It is the TV Company “Mir” who is the official channel for transmitting TV items for foreign countries. The representatives of the TV channels suppose that sudden troubles with the equipment could be connected to the strike of the workers of Minsk Bicycle and Motorcycle Plant, as the authorities do not want this information to be disseminated by foreign TV channels. The traffic in the Partyzanski Avenue from Vaneeu Square to the Kashevou Street was shut off, and traffic police officers are refused to let reporters to the place of the protest.


From Charter ‘97

Lukashenka: Either way he’s got is made
Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated that the West is ready to propose some guarantees of security for him and his family, and also money in exchange for refusal to run for presidency. “I want you to know that I have made a decision and I am not going to sit somewhere quietly not for love or money,” Lukashenka said on November 24 during the meeting with the so-called parliamentarians.

As said by Lukashenka, the offer about the guarantees and money in return for participation in the vote “once again demonstrate that even the haters of the president understand that Alyaksandr Lukashenka enjoys an extraordinary influence and support among the people”.

Lukashenka also noted that in the run-up to the presidential elections an ideological work of the parliamentarians is extremely important. “I do not ask to “I do not ask you to come to the masses and agitate for the acting president. It’s your right, and your business, how to act in this case. If you consider it necessary, you should support [us]. If not, do not support. Nobody would blame you. But you should tell frankly what is going on in our country, what is going on outside it; what policy is pursued by the West, the East and our southern neighbour [Ukraine] towards Belarus”,” he explained.


From the official website of the president

Wu Hongbin sits in with the Belarus National Assembly Council
On November 21, 2005 the Chairman of the Belarus National Assembly Council of the Republic Mr. Gennady Novitsky met with His Excellency Wu Hongbin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Belarus. Present at the meeting also was Mrs. Natalya Andreychik, Chairperson of the National Assembly Council of the Republic Standing Committee for Legislation and State Administration, Deputy Chairperson of the National Assembly Group on Cooperation with the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China.

The Chairman of the Council of the Republic congratulated His Excellency on entering into office and expressed confidence that the Ambassador’s past and future activities in the Republic of Belarus would add to the development of friendship and mutual understanding between our states. He also stressed that the People’s Republic of China and Belarus had been recently cooperating very successfully in the political, economic, cultural, scientific, technological and other spheres of life.

In his turn, the Chinese Ambassador expressed his satisfaction with the friendly relations that had developed between the two countries and pointed out at the considerable progress achieved by the sides in strengthening parliamentary links and enhancing trade and economic exchange.

The parties agreed that the parliamentary cooperation between the two states has very good prospects bearing in mind the successful coordination of activities demonstrated by Belarusian and Chinese parliamentarians in the international arena.

Mr. Novitsky also said that Belarus is China’s reliable partner and is prepared to consolidate the existing links. He thanked the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the selfless assistance rendered to the Republic of Belarus helping it to equip the National Library which is under construction in Minsk and wished Wu Hongbin success in his work for the benefit of the peoples of China and Belarus.

President Lukashenka commented on the visit by saying “I am satisfied with the cooperation development with China. We have made great progress in bilateral trade – the trade turnover of USD 500 billion is what I was dreaming about when on a visit to China several years ago”

According to the head of state, the country would like to sell more into China. “We are ready to buy from China the goods, which we do not produce, and to establish joint ventures. The dynamically developing China can help the economy of Belarus advance. This is going to be a truly strong support”,


RIA Novosti

The Chinese Foreign Ministry agreed for a team of Russian experts to study the accident site near the chemical plant in Jilin, the Russian ambassador to China said Saturday following a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
BEIJING, November 24 - About 100 tons of chemicals were released into the Songhua River following an accident in a Chinese petrochemicals plant on November 13, the deputy head of the Chinese Environmental Protection Administration said Thursday.

Beijing insists that it informed Russia in good time about the spill into the Songhua River, which flows out of northeast China into the Amur River on the Russian-Chinese border and on through the Khabarovsk Region.

The official said Thursday at a press conference in Beijing that the petrochemicals would not reach the Amur River for another 14 days.

Judging by current data, the level of pollution will gradually decrease, he said.
"We have informed the Russian side in detail of the current state of affairs... We believe that there is still sufficient time," he said.

A state of emergency will be declared in the Khabarovsk Region as of November 25.
The official said that several million people in China used the river for drinking water. Most of these people are residents of the nearby cities of Harbin and Songyuan.

"Water used for drinking in the Jiamusi region does not come from the Songhua," he said.

On Thursday, the chemical spill reached Harbin, where all water supplies from the river have been temporarily stopped.

The distance along the river between Harbin and the Russian border is about 700 km (about 440 miles). Chinese authorities have estimated that the polluted water will not reach the Amur before December 8.


From the BR23 blog and

Tatsiana Khoma
The hottest issue (pun intended) on Belarusian blogs today is the expulsion of Tatsiana Khoma from the university. She is the first Belarusian (in fact, the first Eastern European) to have been elected to the Council of the biggest European students’ organization ESIB. Today she was informed that she was expelled from the Belarus State Economic University (BSEU) immediately, and that she also has to leave her room at the dormitory today. The official reason for this action is the fact that she did not inform the university beforehand that she would go abroad (this is forbidden under a new Lukashenka’s decree about students). ESIB is now asking the European Universities Association (EUA) to revise the membership of BSEU, and all the universities around Europe to suspend their cooperation with BSEU.

Here is the story from the ESIB site:


Ms Tatsiana Khoma, a 21 year old student at the Belarus State Economic University, was expelled due to the fact that she attended ESIB's European Student Gathering "Higher Education and European Citizenship", without notifying the university. The official reason for this action is that this bureaucratic necessity is in place because the university is responsible for the safety and well being of its students.

The Gathering, which was held in Reims, France, on November 7th-12th, had more than 100 students attending from all over Europe and was co-funded by the Council of Europe and the French government.

Ms Tatsiana Khoma claims she did not notify the university because of two important facts: firstly the law on reporting your whereabouts to the university will not take effect for two months, and secondly did she only visited the conference during the weekend. After being questioned by a university representative, Tatsiana is convinced that the real reason for her expulsion is the fact that she was elected as a member of the ESIB EC for 2006 at this gathering.

ESIB strongly believes that this is a violation of human right to freely move and travel, as well as that this action has been taken for political reasons and the involvement of Tatsiana in a European student organisation.

ESIB strongly condemns the actions taken by the Belarus State Economic University, as they are an unacceptable violation of student and human rights [with special reference to articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights]. ESIB has sent a letter to the Rector of the BSEU, Mr Vladimir Nikolaevich Shimov, to ask for the stopping of the actions against Ms Khoma, and to allow her to continue her studies at the BSEU without any further harassment from the management of the University.

Furthermore, ESIB is calling for support among all our partners in Europe, especially from the European Union, national governments, national rectors' conferences and universities, that they will protest against this unacceptable behaviour against legitimate student democracy.


From AZURTAC (Azurbaijan)

Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Armenia met in Moscow.
On November 25, under presidency of chairman of the government of Russia Michael Fradkov was held the session of Council of heads of the governments of the CIS countries in which has taken part the first deputy prime minister of Azerbaijan Abbas Abbasov, and also prime ministers and deputy chairmen of the governments of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Armenia in Moscow.

At session, were considered and accepted a number of documents on the further interaction of Commonwealth member-states. In particular, documents on economic cooperation within the framework of Commonwealth till 2010, about the common budget of CIS bodies for the next year, the concept of formation of the common electric power market, about counteraction to illegal trade in people, about combat against plunders of motor transport and other documents representing mutual interest.

Then, was held a press conference with participation of all heads of the governments of the states of Commonwealth during which sounded was the statement that it is necessary to continue mutually advantageous cooperation, to encourage integration between the countries in view of reforming bodies of this organization. It has been marked that 2006 has been declared the Year of the CIS in connection of which it is considered to carry out some actions. M. Fradkov informed that the following session of Council will take place in May next year in Dushanbe.

The first vice-premier of Azerbaijan Abbas Abbasov, answering the question on how Azerbaijan estimates results of the meeting and to what documents our country has not joined, has told: “Azerbaijan very positively estimates the given meeting as any meeting at level of the heads of governments, heads of the states creates new positives for fruitful cooperation within the framework of our common economic problems. The Azerbaijan side from 30 documents has not signed only some, those which had no basis. And practically on all economic questions Azerbaijan has joined”.

As has explained the head of the department of inter-regional economic relations of the Cabinet of Azerbaijan Republic Kamal Ismailzade, a member of the Azerbaijan delegation, Azerbaijan, having joined many documents, a part from them however has signed with proviso.

The agenda included some 30 questions which were signed without discussion. Azerbaijan has joined the decision on the plan of measures of carrying out of Year of the CIS in view of the financial opportunities, to the agreement of participants of the CIS on combat against trade in people.

Azerbaijan also has signed the decision on the vice-chairman of Executive Committee, has joined the document on performance of the plan of realization of the actions directed on development and increase of efficiency of interaction of the CIS states in economic sphere in 2003-2010.



Russia is to ship 21.5 billion cubic meters of gas in total.
MOSCOW. Nov 25 (Interfax) - The price of gas supplied to Belarus will not change in 2006, while the shipments will grow, Belarussian premier Sergei Sidorsky told journalists in Moscow on Friday.

"We and the Russian Federation have agreed that the price for
Russian gas shipments to Belarus will stay at the level of 2005 - $46.68
per 1,000 cubic meters," Sidorsky said.

"This is contained in the action plan on creating equal conditions
for companies in both countries," he noted.

Russia is to ship 21.5 billion cubic meters of gas in total.
Belarus assumes responsibility for shipping gas on to Europe.

"We pay 100% of the gas's price, and we pay in money. We stopped
using barter and accounting schemes three years ago," Sidorsky said. In
addition, he said that Belarus built two gas-pumping stations on the
Yamal-Europe pipeline ahead of schedule in 2005.

"We created two modern, high-technology stations and, as a result,
Gazprom was able to increase shipments of gas to Europe," Sidorsky said.

The contract for 2006 gas shipments is to be signed in early
December, he said.



The Belarus experience: Come on over and take the tour!
Belarus has the potential to become more attractive for the tourists from Germany and other European countries, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany to Belarus Martin Hekker said at the ongoing Minsk forum “European neighborhood between Germany and Belarus: foreign policy, economy and society” which is taking place at the international education center.

The ambassador pointed out a number of important moments which position Belarus as an attractive tourism destination. For example, its geo-political position as a transit country where “tourists may not worry of becoming victims of crime”. “Besides, the roads are good here and landscapes are beautiful while Minsk poses an expressive example of post-war revival”. The Germans are deeply impressed by the history of the country and the will of its people who survived the Chernobyl disaster, Martin Hekker said.

The national program on tourism development adopted in 2005 by the government of Belarus will expand tourist services, the diplomat believes.

Mr. Hekker put forward several proposals on improving the image of the country as a tourism destination. According to him, hampering factors include lengthy document drawing on the border, obligatory medical insurance, bureaucratic procedure of applying for a visa and the costs related with this.




Denis Savenkov
Denis Savenkov of Belarus has won the all-round bronze medal of the world artistic gymnastics championships in Melbourne.

Head coach of the men’s national team Viktor Dojlidov told BelTA, Denis Savenkov has scored a total of 55,111 points. The coach has reminded that the Belarusian came in eighth in the qualifying round but came back strong in the finals to claim bronze. This is the first world medal since 2001 when Ivan Ivankov picked up silver. Unfortunately in Melbourne Ivan Ivankov did not make it to the finals.


from the BHTimes:

So many pictures today of the Belarusian President, so many sides of the story shown. In press conferences over the last few months “stability” has been the key word the president has used in describing his ideology for the state. Specifically he has been aiming his attention at political opposition and has made several steps recently to suppress efforts which might destabilize things. And he has shown a willingness to be severe in his desire for this as several of the above articles show. Lukashenka claims that these measures are made to ensure the peace for the country, the opposition pleads that this is paranoia or enforcing his personal power as a dictator.

A broader reading of the subject however reveals that the request for stability in Belarus has been one of the prime concerns for the country from the Russian Federation. Certainly an enormous percentage of Belarus’ economy stems from its economic ties to Russia and to its oil and gas supply and so obviously these ties would also garner some access to dictating of policy. But more than simply watching out for its investments in Belarus, it appears as though this request might have something to do with the institution of the Russian/Belarussian Union State, a new political alliance consisting of the above mentioned as well as several other CIS countries which appears to be a revival of sorts of the USSR. And though some European pundits claim that this Union “goes too far”, it would in fact very much be in line with the thinking that the USSR was a necessary opposition to unchecked capitalism in the world and as such a necessary ingredient of the global argument.

Have the colored revolutions really been a success? Are people really happier in Ukraine? Is Lukashenka following his ego or could it be that he is seeing a future where all of these local arguments become mute? Is there in fact a larger plan for the future of Belarus, perhaps one where there would be no independent Belarus at all? And if there is anything to these thoughts, could it be that the threat of a “new soviet Union” might just be a destabilizing oppositionist factor for European interests?