Topalov Champion, GDP Grows, Milinkevich Interview
From the Top
Alexander Lukashenko Congratulates King of Spain Juan Carlos I
King Juan Carlos I
The Head of State pointed out that Belarus is greatly committed to broadening of the mutually advantageous cooperation with Spain in all the areas and expressed the hope that our bilateral relations would be fruitfully developing further for the benefit of our nations.
On October 3, 2005 the third session of the National Assembly Council of the Republic of Belarus began its work.
Opening the first plenary meeting the Chairman of the Council of the Republic Mr. Gennady Novitsky told the senators that during the new session they would have to consider more than forty bills one third of which deal with legal regulation of the economic sphere, including the 2006 draft-budget. When deliberating on it, senators should bear in mind that the new budget should be socially oriented and should include measures aimed at encouraging further economic development of the country. The Speaker also said that other legislation to be considered should serve raising the quality of the banking business, encourage the activities in taxation and financial spheres, improve insurance, rendering of transportation services as well as profit and property declaration procedures.
Legislation in the social sphere will also be in the focus of senators’ attention. They intend to amend laws regulating various aspects of science, culture, education and employment of population. Already at the first meeting the senators approved the bill “On amending the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On Research”.
During the first meeting the session also approved nominations of a judge to the Supreme Court and of two judges to the Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Belarus.
A short interview with Alyaksandr Milinkevich from Radio Free Europe: United Opposition Candidate Hopes To Have Broad Public Support
Prague, 3 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Allied Belarusian opposition activists yesterday (2 October) named opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich as their single candidate to challenge President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in next year's presidential election. Milinkevich talked to RFE/RL in a wide-ranging interview.
RFE/RL: Mr. Milinkevich, do you think you have a chance of defeating Lukashenka?
Milinkevich: It's impossible to beat Lukashenka in the elections, because we haven't had real elections in Belarus in a long time. We will use the elections -- which are our constitutional right -- to conduct a broad political campaign. We hope to win this campaign.
RFE/RL: All of Belarusian media is in the hands of the authorities. How do you plan to deliver your message to the voters?
Milinkevich: It's really very difficult. For 10 years already, Belarusian politicians have not been allowed to use radio and television. Nobody ever sees them [on TV]. So it's no wonder they have low ratings. But during these years of dictatorship, we've learned how to use one very good method for making our case. It works even in the West and in democratic countries. It is delivering the message straight to people's doors.
RFE/RL: If any other candidate emerges claiming to represent a democratic alternative to Lukashenka, will you try persuade him to give up his candidacy on your behalf?
Milinkevich: It would be better if one candidate represents all the democratic forces and that was the aim of the congress [that elected Milinkevich] -- to reduce the number of competitors. But we cannot prevent Lukashenka from providing candidates who would work for his sake.
RFE/RL: If you win, would you support Belarus joining the EU and NATO?
Milinkevich: We would like to preserve the current constitution and remain a neutral country. As concerns the EU, of course, cooperation with Europe is extremely important for us because the current regime has taken the country to a state of complete self-isolation.
RFE/RL: What is your attitude regarding a union with Russia?
Milinkevich: As concerns the union with Russia, we -- including the Communists -- think we should be a sovereign independent state that has very good relations and cooperates closely with Russia.
RFE/RL: What is your attitude towards privatization in the country, including the privatization of land?
Milinkevich: Privatization in Belarus will take place. It was frozen at one point because it was being handled by practically only one man -- [Lukashenka] -- and only for his own benefit. He privatized the country. Privatization is needed to give the country a new dynamic. As concerns land, we need to give land to private owners.
RFE/RL: What reforms should have priority in Belarus?
Milinkevich: The main thing is to bring Belarus back to the ranks of civilized countries. We need to restore independence of the three branches of power. We should give freedom to press, and we should start economic reforms.
Central Banks of Belarus, Russia to Sign Cooperation Agreement on Banking Supervision
The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) and the Bank of Russia are expected to sign a banking supervision cooperation agreement on October 7. The document will be signed at the 22nd regular session of the Interbank Monetary Board of the central banks of Russia and Belarus in Minsk, the NBB Information Department said.
The session will also table a joint activities plan of both banks to facilitate the launch of the Russian ruble as a single legal tender in Belarus.
The agenda for the session also includes debates on the joint agreement “On the Belarus-Russia Union’s Single Principles of Monetary Regulation and Monetary Control,” and adapting the national legislation on banking supervision to the recommendations of the Basel Committee.
Besides, the participants in the meeting will analyze the economic situation and the fulfillment of the major monetary guidelines in Belarus and Russia in January-September 2005.
Independent Press Forced to Go Abroad and Underground
In the beginning of October the only Belarusian independent daily Narodnaya Volya did an impossible thing. Its subscribers got fresh newspaper copies in time, despite a preceding series of such severe blows that it would seem that the paper would not be able to survive.
But it still remains to be seen whether this most fighting (and most disliked by the authorities) newspaper will be able to carry on long enough and, in a broader sense, whether independent journalism will be able to survive in Belarus.
The story line of recent developments around the Narodnaya Volya is already known to many readers of The Viewer. Here is just a short summary.
In the end of September the newspaper`s work was actually paralyzed as a result of actions taken by court authorities. They distrained its property, arrested printing paper and blocked the banking account. Those steps were intended to force the publisher to make an immediate payment of exorbitant damages - 100 million Belarusian rubels - to Syarhey Haydukevich, a member of the House of Representatives and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.
A court in Minsk in June awarded these damages against the newspaper despite conclusive arguments presented by the editor to prove that journalists thoroughly checked reports of Haydukevich`s involvement in Iraqi oil scam. And now the authorities decided to take the newspaper`s staff by the throat tight enough to make it stop breathing, especially knowing that the amount is really staggering for Belarus.
Nevertheless, the Narodnaya Volya managed to pay the fine within several days, partially thanks to support from readers. Their contributions and words of support also became an emotional and touching display of solidarity.
But the court`s blow was not the end. Belsayuzdruk, the country`s state monopoly running a nationwide network of press kiosks and stands, and a Minsk-based printing house, Chyrvonaya Zorka, terminated contracts for distribution and printing on October 1 without any clear explanations.
Belarus: peaceful «Day of Solidarity» with the families and friends of the missing persons
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights, meeting in Geneva today, invited its Chairman, Christos Pourgourides (Cyprus, EPP/CD) to express its full support for the peaceful “Day of Solidarity” with the families and friends of four missing opposition activists and journalists: Yuri Zakharenko, Victor Gonchar, Anatoly Krasovski and Dmitri Zavadski. Grassroots initiatives such as “We Remember”, “We Want to Know the Truth”, “Free Belarus”, and “Zubr” are calling on citizens in Belarus to show their solidarity by switching off their lights on Sunday 16 October at 8 pm and to place a candle in their window.
Christos Pourgourides cites journalist Irina Khalip: “We shall all light candles, think, pray for the disappeared, political prisoners and their families. We are to imagine the Belarus in which we could live. Maybe everything would start with that. Dark cities, dark windows, where only burning candles are seen. This could become a mirror for us to see that we are many,”
He stresses that the Sub-Committee is dismayed that the Assembly’s strong call in Resolution 1371 (2004), based on Mr Pourgourides’ own findings as the Assembly’s Rapporteur, to hold certain senior Belarusian officials – the former Head of the Presidential Administration and Prosecutor General Sheyman, former Interior Minister Sivakov, and Special Forces Colonel Pavlichenko – criminally responsible for masterminding these high-profile disappearances, has still not been answered by the Lukashenko regime in Belarus.
Belarusian Opposition to Establish Tribunal For Lukashenka
Also from Charter ‘97
The political council of democratic forces of Belarus has supported the initiative for establishing a Public Tribunal for investigation of abductions and deaths of prominent oppositionists. As Rosbalt informs, this idea has been initiated by Liudmila Karpenka, the widow of the former Vice Speaker of the Belarusian Parliament Henadz Karpenka, who departed this life six and a half years ago in mysterious circumstances, as opposition and family allege.
In addition to the investigation of the death of this politician, the tribunal would be occupied with collection of information related to disappearances of other public figures of Belarus; former head of the Interior Ministry Yury Zakharanka, former chairman of the Central Election Committee Viktar Hanchar, journalist Zmitser Zavadski and businessman Anatol Krasouski.
It is supposed that the tribunal is to examine witnesses, including those who have left Belarus, to collect materials about possible involvement of authorities to these disappearances. Later this information would be provided to the court. The headquarters of the Public Tribunal is to be located in Germany, where Liudmila Karpenka currently lives. She has fled from the country for fear of repressions by the regime in 2002.
In January-September 2005 GDP production grows by 8,5 per cent in Belarus
From the NLIP
In January-September 2005 the GDP production in Belarus made 108,5 per cent against the same period of 2004. In line with the forecast the GDP growth should make 108,5-110 per cent in 2005, BelTA was informed in the ministry of statistics and analysis.
For the 9 months of the current year the industrial output increased by 9,7 per cent (the target for 2005 – 8-9,5 per cent). Consumer goods production grew by 11 per cent (9,5-11 per cent). At the same time production of foodstuffs grew by 15 per cent; nonfoods – by 7,3 per cent.
According to the ministry, in January-August 2005 the GDP energy intensity fell by 7,3 per cent (5-6 per cent). The profitability level of the industrial goods sold made 16,4 per cent (13 per cent).
Belarus and Lithuania to discuss methods to counteract illegal labor migration
Also from the NLIP
Methods to counteract illegal labor migration between Belarus and Lithuania and the ways to legally settle this problem will be discussed October 13 in Minsk at regular bilateral consular consultations. At the consultations the Belarusian delegation will be headed by chief of the consular department of the foreign ministry Vasiliy Zhlutko; the Lithuanian one – by his counterpart Vaidotas Verba.
The press-service of the Belarusian foreign ministry told BelTA that the parties would consider the issues of issuing visas to the citizens of the two states given the mandatory medical insuring on the bilateral basis.
It is planned that the Lithuanian party will provide information about the draft regulations of the European Union which envisage imposition of a new category of citizens who live in the near-the-border territories.
The parties will exchange opinions on other consular issues of bilateral interest.
A Dirty Trick That Has Proved Exportable
Also from Radio Free Europe
Members of Belarus's democratic opposition were bracing for some kind of provocation to take place during their congress in early October. They were, however, taken aback by the form that this action took. A group of young people dressed in colorful clothing carried signs declaring that members of Belarus's sexual minority support democrats, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 October. Before cameras from Belarus's national television stations, they expressed their hope that upon coming to power, the opposition would legalize same-sex marriage. The leader of Belarus's registered movement of gays and lesbians said his group had nothing to do with the rally. The "gay" theme was nevertheless the main focus of Belarusian television broadcasts on the congress, according to glavred.info.
It is too early to say what effect this "performance" will have on the rating of the opposition's new candidate, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, but organizing such rallies by previously unknown groups of "gays and lesbians" has a long history in political campaigning in the former Soviet Union. It remains among the main weapons in the arsenal of "black PR," or dirty tricks. And while no polling agency has conducted systematic research into the effectiveness of smearing candidates or politicians by either associating them with gay groups or insinuating that they are gay, it is safe to assume that the techniques has met with some success. Otherwise, the practitioners of "black PR" would avoid it.
Belarus Drops Final World Cup Match to Norway, 1-0
A second-half goal from Thorstein Helstad secured victory for Norway in Belarus providing a timely boost for Åge Hareide's team ahead of Friday's FIFA World Cup play-off draw.
Belarus, who won in Scotland on Saturday, approached the tie weakened by injury with Maksim Romaschenko, Sergei Yaskovich and Aleksandr Hleb all ruled out. Meanwhile, the Norwegians travelled to Minsk assured of second place in Group 5 following their 1-0 win against Moldova on Saturday, and Helstad's second-half strike will do their confidence no harm ahead of the two-legged play-off on 12 and 16 November.
The first half proved to be a disappointing affair with Belarus clearly missing influential Arsenal FC midfield player Hleb. Denis Kovba went closest to breaking the deadlock for the home team, but his shot from distance was parried by Thomas Myhre. However, the visitors were a different proposition after the interval and within minutes had forced a double save from goalkeeper Vasili Khomutovski. Jan Gunnar Solli's header was stopped by the Belarus custodian before he also turned away the rebound from Steffen Iversen.
The home defence continued to struggle under the pressure being exerted and Norway seemed to have opened the scoring on 63 minutes after Morten Gamst Pedersen steered the ball around Vasili Khomutovski and into the net, only for Austrian referee Konrad Plautz to rule out the effort for offside. Seven minutes later, the Norwegians again found the target as Helstad finished from close range after Khomutovski had punched away Solli's initial strike.
Norway almost saw their hard work undone ten minutes from time when a slip from defender Erik Hagen let in Vitali Bulyga for a clear run on goal. The Belarus striker, however, saw his effort saved by Myhre to ensure a morale-boosting win.
News from the International Chess championships in Argentina
Veselin Topalov is World Champion
With Vishy Anand and Peter Svidler both conceding early draws the FIDE World Championship was finally decided when the hard-fought Kasimdzhanov-Topalov game ended in a draw. The Bulgarian is now a point an a half ahead of his nearest rivals, and no calculations we are able to do allow them to catch him in the one round that is remaining. The 14th and final round games are to be played today and tie breakers are scheduled for the day after.
The results after 13 rounds:
Veselin Topalov 9.5
Peter Svidler 8.0
Vishy Anand 8.0
A. Morozevich 6.5
Peter Leko 5.5
Michael Adams 5.0
Judit Polgar 4.0
For a video of the Topalov/Svidler Press conference, click "HERE"
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