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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Economy improves, 347 Refugees arrive, Microwave electronics, Advisor to Polish PM denied entry, Milinkevich, Elena Zubrilova

From the Top


The economy is showing signs of improvment
Decree No 587 issued by the Head of State Alexander Lukashenko on December 12 approves the major parameters of the prognosis of socio-economic development of Belarus for the year 2006.

Specifically, the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is forecast to rise by 7-8.5 percent, industrial output – by 6.5-8 percent, agricultural output – by 6-8 percent.

The growth rates of basic capital investments will amount to 113-114 percent, the output of consumer goods will rise 108-109 percent, the volume of foreign trade in goods and services will rise 108.3 –109.3 percent, retail trade turnover – 109-110.5 percent, paid services provided for the population – 108-109 percent.

3.7-4.2 million square meters of housing are expected to be built with the involvement of all the funding sources.

The growth of real monetary incomes of the population is expected to reach 7-8.5 percent in 2006 as compared to 2005.

Implementation of the planned indicators of the wage and salary growth will make it possible to reach the monthly average wage and salary level up to USD 300 by the end of 2006.

Also approved was decree No 588, the State investment programme for 2006, which envisions Br 881.4 billion of investments for the coming year.

In other economic news, in January-November 2005 companies of the concern Belenergo attracted some Br660 billion of capital investment what exceeded the planned target by 13.6 per cent, a BelTA correspondent was told by chief specialist of the concern personnel department Vladimir Korduba.

Vladimir Korduba reminded that this year Belenergo organizations were set forth a task to increase capital funds by 10 per cent to 2004.

Monetary resources were allocated mainly on modernization of the equipment of Lukoml and Bereza CHP plans and Minsk CHP plant #4, energy saving in oblasts and reconstruction of power line stations and heat networks in regions.

The concern Belenergo was founded in 1995. The power of energy stations is 7,8 thousand MW. Electric networks make about 265 thousand km, heat networks – 4,99 thousand km. The Belarusian energy system is presently able to fully satisfy the republic’s demand in electrical energy and 50 per cent – in heat.


From Belta

Belarus accepts the outsiders in
At present Minsk has given a refugee status to 347 foreign citizens, of them 300 citizens from Afghanistan, 17 – from Ethiopia, 11 – Georgia, five – from Tajikistan, five – from Iran and four – from Palestine, BelTA was informed by chief of the office for external migration, refugees and asylum of the citizenship and migration department of the Minsk City Council Valentin Demchenko.

According to him, the department has more 21 applications for refugee status. Since 1997, when the Law on Refugees was adopted in Belarus, more than one thousand foreign citizens have submitted such applications to the Minsk migration service. “The main reason why people leave their countries is persecution on political and national grounds”, Valentin Demchenko underlined.

“Belarus is a hospitable state. The republic is doing everything so foreign citizens of different nationalities could feel respect on the part of the Belarusians”, the specialist noted.

At the same time many foreign citizens come to Belarus to get vocational and higher education. Thirty-six educational establishments of Minsk have educational programs tailored for foreign citizens. The most popular establishments among foreign students are Belarusian State University (462 foreign students), Belarusian National Technical University (496), medical university (504), linguistic university (253), economic university (129) and music academy (129). Foreign students come from such countries as China, Lebanon, Iran, Lithuania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Peru, Yemen, while the CIS – by Russia, Ukraine, and Turkmenistan.

Currently over 18 thousand foreign citizens have residence permit, the majority of them being the citizens of the former Soviet Union. Of them 14 thousands of Russians, Ukrainians - more than 2,5 thousands and 660 of Lithuanians. Some 852 citizens of the People’s Republic of China live in Minsk. Some 959 people staying in Minsk are stateless persons.


Charter ‘97

It just keeps getting better and better...
On December 8 the “council of republic” by 47 votes (with 13 absent deputies) adopted the draft law on amendments to the Criminal Code of Belarus. The stage of “parliamentary” adoption is over. Despite of the fact that the amendments are to enter into force in 10 days after signing the law by Alyaksandr Lukashenka, there is no doubt that since now all dissidents automatically are turning into criminals. The country has taken a step to a century ago,” Syarhei Satsuk writes in the “BDG. Delovaya Gazeta”.

Having treated the problem thoroughly, mass media and experts for some reason forgot one detail. After introduction of the article “Discrediting Belarus” to the Criminal Code, not only the Article 369-1, but the whole Criminal Code is applied to all dissenters.

For example, let’s take Article 285 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (creation of a criminal organization or participation in it). It reads that “activities aimed at creation of a criminal organization or leadership of a criminal organization, or its structures, is punished by imprisonment for a term from 5 to 12 years with confiscation of property or without confiscation”. And there’s more to come. According to the Part 1 of the Article 19 of the Criminal Code of Belarus, a “criminal organization is an association of organized groups or their organizers for working-out and realization of measures aimed at implementation of criminal activities”.

Those who is not acquainted with legal niceties, could be explained it by a specific example. The single oppositional candidate in the upcoming presidential race Alyaksandr Milinkevich already has 98 working headquarters created in the regions. Their members are meeting and talking to people, come out with their statements in periodicals, and make an evaluation of the situation in the country which considerably differs from the official one. It means that their activities would be determined as discrediting of Belarus. Consequently, the actions of the regional headquarters could be considered activities in a criminal group, and activities of all headquarter and a central headquarters jointly – in a criminal organization. According to the Criminal Code, the leaders of this organization and its structural departments (regional headquarters) could be punished by up to 12 years of imprisonment, and 6 years for other members.

Independent mass media under the new law fall under the notion of a criminal organization as well, in case they dare disseminate information alternative to the official one.

Today the words of some human rights activists, saying that Belarus is approaching the year 1937, are inappropriate. They stated that the only difference is that at that time the punishment for dissenters was 10 years without a right for correspondence, and now only 3 years. Lat us disagree with that. We are not approaching the year 1937. After authorization of the amendments by Alyaksandr Lukashenka we would get into the year 1937 with all that it implies.



If course there are military aplications
The government of Belarus has approved a draft union program on development of microwave and optoelectronics. The relevant decision is contained in resolution #1390 of December 7, 2005 of the Council of Ministers.

As a BelTA correspondent was told in the government, the program is aimed at creating new generation functional elements and products of microwave electronics, optoelectronics and micro sensors for radio electronic systems and gear of special and double purpose. The document has been worked out by the state military-industrial committee of the Republic of Belarus and approved by all interested agencies of the country.

The draft program will be submitted for the consideration of the Council of Ministers of Belarus-Russia Union State. In case of approving, the program would be financed by the union budget.



The "Bird Flu" does not seem to be slowing down.
December 12 the Republic of Belarus prohibited to import agricultural products from six Ukrainian oblasts – Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa, BelTA was told by deputy head of the main veterinary department of the ministry of agriculture and foodstuffs Mikhail Bushilo. According to him, the ministerial coordination council of the Republic of Belarus introduced the prohibition to prevent the country from bird flu.

Besides, the specialist noted that the sanitary and epidemiological agency of Ukraine revealed bird flu in several regions of Crimea – Sovetskiy, Nizhnegorsk and Dzhankoisk regions. In this respect, since December 3, 2005 Belarus has prohibited to import agricultural products from that autonomy republic.

Earlier these regions have exported to Belarus sunflower solvent and albuminous raw which are now banned for imports. All transit cargoes are checked on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.



Michal Dworczyk
12 December 2005 -- Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it will ask the Belarusian ambassador to Warsaw for a formal explanation why an aide to the Polish premier was refused entry to Belarus.

Michal Dworczyk, who advises Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz on the situation of ethnic Poles abroad, said Belarusian border guards turned him away yesterday when he tried to enter the country at Kuznica Bialostocka. Belarusian border guards asked him to leave his car, took his passport, and told him that he was an undesirable person.

Dworczyk had planned to meet with allies of Anzhelika Borys, the leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus. Authorities in Minsk do not recognize Borys as the legitimate head of the organization.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka accuses Poland of encouraging Poles in Belarus to oust him from power.

Also today, Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz told the Belapan news agency that the new Polish government is eager to pursue a more active policy on Minsk.


Milinkevich’s Car Detained in Brest for the 4th Time

Charter ‘97

As usual Milinkevich is having his problems
The car of the candidate for presidency of the democratic forces of Belarus Alyaksandr Milinkevich was detained by Brest policemen. Mr Milinkevich was heading for a meeting with the workers of Brest plant “Tsvetotron”.

As the Charter’97 press center was informed, policemen allegedly detained the car and driver for documents’ examination. The driver of the car is a co-chairman of the “Young Front”.

As we have informed, it’s the forth detention of the car of Aliaksandr Milinkevich’s team within the last two days.


Charter ‘97

On December 12 the Minsk City Executive Committee banned holding a constitutive meeting of the Public Association of Pensioners. The UCP press service was informed about that by one of the organizers of the association, Uladzimer Ramanouski. The reason for the ban was allegedly absence of premises for such a congress.

- The reason for denial undoubtedly is different from the one indicated in the official document. We shall discuss that later. But now it is obvious that the Minsk city executive committee direct violation of the Article 59 of the Constitution about the state agencies’ mandatory facilitation in realization of Belarusian citizens’ rights. In this case the right of pensioners for creation of their organization is violated. It should be underlined that it is not only a violation of our rights, but a gross insult of the eldest members of the Belarusian society. The actions of the authorities towards them are simply immoral,” Uladzimer Ramanouski emphasized.

Protest In Support of Freedom of Press

Charter ‘97

On December 10 by the Communications House in Baranavichy a protest in support of freedom of expression was held. It was dedicated to another anniversary of adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Belarusian Association of Journalists’ press service informs. About a dozen of town dwellers lined up by the Communications House holding newspapers “Narodnaya Volya”, “Nasha Niva” and “Tavarysh”, which were excluded from subscription catalogue for the year 2006 recently.

Passers-by were coming to the protesters, asked about the aim of the action and expressed their support to them. After the protest which lasted for 20 minutes, several participants went to the post office to subscribe for the newspaper “Narodnaya Volya”. They were told that subscription for this newspaper, as well as for a number of other newspapers, would not be continued. Several citizens expressed their indignation and left their comments in a book of complaints.



From Belta

Miriam Petranova
An exhibition of modern Slovak photography will open today in the national history and culture museum of Belarus and will last till January 12, 2006. The exposition has been organized within the framework of a large presentation of culture and arts of Slovakia White Greeting For Belarus.

As a BelTA correspondent was told in the Slovak embassy in Belarus, the exhibition in Minsk will be attended by Slovak photographer Miriam Petranova who plans to give a lecture “Modern photography art of Slovakia” to students of Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts.

White Greeting for Belarus has been organized by a non-governmental Slovak organization – the association on culture, education and communications presenting Slovakia abroad. Thus, in 2004 similar events enjoyed great popularity in Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Vienna. The presentation in Belarus will last till April 30, 2006. In April the Slovak side plans to present a program devoted to the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe.




Elena Zubrilova

Elena Zubrilova of Belarus finished the 7,5km sprint in seventh at the world biathlon cup in Austria. Today the Belarusian hit all ten targets. After the second shooting exercise Elena Zubrilova had the fifth fastest course time but dropped back later in the race. As senior coach of the women’s team Nikolai Zakharov has told BelTA he is quite happy with Elena’s performance. Though at last year’s world championships she claimed the 7,5km sprint bronze, he reminded. This season Elena has been performing solidly in shooting missing no targets in the individual 15km race and in today’s sprint.

Ekaterian Ivanova of Belarus came in ninth missing just one target.

Other Belarusian athletes had considerable mishaps in shooting what affected their final sprint standings.

Kati Wilhelm from Germany was an absolute leader of the sprint.