Lukashenka may not run, Reporter feared murdered, Milinkevich, International Walk for Freedom in Belarus
From the Top
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO: I WILL WITHDRAW MY CANDIDATURE AT THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS IF BELARUS ASKS ME TO DO THIS
THE BELARUSIAN HEAD OF STATE ATTENDING THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE TOWN OF LOYEV AND THE CEREMONY OF LAUNCHING A NATURAL GAS SUPPLY PIPELINE.
“I AM NOT GOING TO WITHDRAW MY CANDIDATURE AT THE FORTHCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UNLESS THE PEOPLE ASK ME TO DO THIS”, ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO STATED TODAY WHEN SPEAKING TO LOEV RESIDENTS IN THE COURSE OF HIS WORKING VISIT TO GOMEL OBLAST.
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO UNDERLINED THAT HE WOULD NOT BEG TO GIVE HIM THE VOTES. “I AM NOT GOING TO PROMISE YOU ANYTHING SUPERNATURAL. I WILL DO WHAT THE PRESIDENT SHOULD DO”, THE HEAD OF STATE NOTED.
THE PRESIDENT FOCUSED SPECIAL ATTENTION ON THE FACT THAT HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE STABLE AND PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE IN BELARUS AND THOSE, WHO TRY TO UNDERMINE IT, WILL COME TO NOTHING.
When speaking about the forthcoming presidential elections the president said that they should be held calmly and quietly in order not to destabilize the situation in the republic.
“Belarus preserves stability, which is the major factor for a normal life of the republic. Discipline and order are required to maintain stability.”
Alexander Lukashenko expressed confidence that such campaign as in Ukraine would not be conducted in Belarus. “What happened after the orange revolution? Production volume fell two times; the government changed, talks about corruption started”, the president said.
Necessary conditions for a normal life of people have been created in Belarus. However, the USA, having many problems itself, continues reproaching Belarus with violations of human rights. “One hurricane showed everything in America. They are waging wars in other states and did not manage to save a huge number of their people. How can it happen in the civilized state?”.
The president of Belarus believes that the improvement of the living standards and ensuring public security are priority issues. “We have a small, stable, manageable country, though recently some have been trying to shake it”. The head of state emphasized that people can be confident about their future and that nobody would disturb the balance in the country..
Alexander Lukashenko noted that quite a lot depends on people, on the quality of their work: “We have to stop hopping that the president and the state will do everything. This parasitic attitude is not acceptable. First of all, everyone can do a lot for themselves or their families. The state will take responsibility for major challenges which one cannot solve on one’s own”. The president noted: “I wish our people well”.
The head of state emphasized: “Each of you performs the duties properly, so do I. In future I will do only what I am obliged to do. The main thing that counts is the gratitude of the electorate”.
During the meeting President Lukashenko also forecasted a rise in prices for gas noting however that the growth will be gradual.
“We have agreed with the government that the cost of all utility services should go up by USD 4-5 a year. Last and this years we managed to do so,” the head of state noted.
He reminded that the Belarusian people pay just half of utility bills. “The other half is paid from the budget. We have to ensure that people pay the utility bills in full in the next 5-10 year while we will raise the wages. Then they will take it tranquilly,” the president declared.
Protocol to the Agreement between EurAsEC Countries on Visa-Free Travel Adopted
Also from Belta
By his Decree, the President of the Republic of Belarus has decided to adopt the Protocol signed in Astana on March 24, 2005 to the Agreement of November 30, 2000 between the governments of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan on mutual visa-free travels of citizens.
In order to simplify the conditions for mutual visa-free travels of citizens of the Eurasian Economic Community member states, the Protocol introduces reduced and unified lists of the documents which prove the identity and nationality of their owners and entitle them to enter, to leave, to transit, to move across the territory of the EurAsEC countries and to stay on their territory.
Belarus proposes Venezuela to invest in the petrochemical companies of this republic.
As chair of the concern “Belneftekhim” Anatoliy Filonov stated in the course of his meeting with foreign minister of Venezuela Ali Rodriguez the total funds required made USD 1 billion.
According to Anatoliy Filonov, “Belneftekhim” is interested in foreign investments in a project on carbamide production, which totals USD 40 million, and on large dimension tires production (USD 40 million). Moreover, Venezuelan companies can take part in construction of a new chemical center at the company “Polimir” (USD 700-800 million).
In turn the foreign minister of Venezuela said his country was interested in cooperation with Belarus. According to Ali Rodriguez, production of different plastics and fertilizers are most prospective cooperation fields.
In other international business news, the JSC “Horizont” and several Chinese companies signed a memorandum on setting up joint productions in Belarus. As BelTA was informed by director general of the company Yuri Predko, “we have agreed that our companies will produce new goods applying latest world technologies”. It will let “Horizont” boost its production, diversify it and show higher economic indices.
The field, “Horizont” and Chinese companies will work in, is digital display, digital image processing, video appliances and other radioelectronic goods. The Belarusian company will start implementing the project in 2006, the director general added.
In 2005 the company had many contacts with well-known western manufactures such as Panasonic, Philips, DAEWOO. Panasonic experts have conducted an audit and issued a certificate proving that “Horyzont” technologies process meets Panasonic requirements.
At the moment the company is boosting output and exports. Over half a million of TV sets have been already manufactured, the revenues in foreign currency grew by 40 per cent over the 9 months as against same time last year.
BRUY is the main legal entity that can send Belarusians abroad within the next five years
The Ministry of Interior of Belarus declared legal entities and individual businessmen who will within the next five years have the right to find employment for the citizens of Belarus abroad. Of the former half a hundred firms, there remain only a dozen. And even this number is mostly represented by branches of the Belarusian Republican Union of Youth (BRUY), reports Radio Liberty.
Citizenship and Migration Department of the Ministry of Interior summed up the re-registration results declared half a year ago. Thus, only 10 organizations and companies out of the earlier 50 managed to meet the Ministry's criteria.
The list of the legal entities who will be allowed within the next five years to send Belarusians abroad is started with BRUY with its branches in the regional centers and in the capital.
Number 2 on the list is the Youth Center "Headquarters of Student Teams", an organization related to BRUY, and contrary to logic, will serve as a "base" for workers sent to Czechia rather than supervise the student teams.
The majority of the remaining firms said they orient at construction specialties in Russia.
Those who want to study abroad also have to meet tougher requirements. All the same, the students are sure: people will be able to find a method to get abroad.
Whereas ten companies were granted licenses to find employment for the citizens of Belarus abroad, only two companies were granted licenses connected with "collection and distribution of information about physical persons, which enables people to meet one another
Valiantsin Stefanovich: Freedom of Association Is Considerably Limited by Belarusian Authorities
Also from Viasna
Despite the fact that the freedom of association in Belarus is guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws, its practical use remains quite problematic. Since 2003 the authorities have carried out the liquidation campaign towards the country’s public associations. Their liquidation was initiated by organs of the Ministry of Justice and carried out by courts. In 2003 in such a way there were liquidated 38 NGOs and in 2004 – 51. Besides, about 200 organizations have already self-liquidated due to different reasons.
The authorities liquidated the NGOs which they couldn’t control. Among them there were human rights, youth and regional organizations that took an active part in the public life of the country. They dealt with monitoring of elections, mobilization campaigns, youth policy, student self-government, etc. Most often the organizations were liquidated upon Article #57 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Belarus, not the Law “On public associations” where the reasons for legal liquidation are enumerated. Article #57 regulates the liquidation of juridical bodies. In 2003 the Ministry of Justice started the practice of NGO liquidation on the basis of this article of the Civil Code, which allows liquidation of juridical bodies for “repeated or gross violation of the acting legislation”. At the same time, this article doesn’t contain the very notion of “gross violation”, leaving it up to the court to decide whether a violation is or is not a gross one. Moreover, this article lets for liquidation of a juridical body for a single violation and doesn’t specify the term during which this violation was to happen for it. For instance, in October 2003 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus liquidated Human Rights Center Viasna for “gross violation of the electoral legislation” that allegedly was committed by the organization during the monitoring of the presidential election in 2001. Taking into consideration the abovementioned facts, representatives of NGOs consider the practice of the use of Article #57 of the Civil Code for liquidation of public associations by the court instances and the Ministry of Justice as contradiction to the acting legislation of Belarus. In private, Article #117 of the Civil Code contains the norm according to which the activity of religious and public organizations is regulated by the present legislation, i.e. Laws on religious and public associations and other legislative norms, not the Civil Code.
In 2005 the National Assembly of Belarus adopted a number of amendments to the laws on public associations and political parties. As a result there were enforced new editions of these laws. It’s worth mentioning that these laws were adopted without consideration of the opinion of public organizations. Independent experts called these laws openly discriminative and limiting the civil right to association.
The new editions of the laws became compilations of the previously issued decrees, rulings and the registration rules that had been adopted by the Ministry of Justice. For instance, the Law “On public associations” legalized the activity of the National commission on registration (re-registration) of public associations, which Belarusian NGOs claimed to close. This commission was established by a presidential decree in 1999 and wasn’t mentioned in any other legislative acts. Now this commission, all members of which are appointed on president’s consent, will “give conclusion concerning the possibility of registration of NGO” on the basis of the Law “On public associations”. The final decision on registration will be taken by the Ministry of Justice on the basis of the commission’s conclusion. Accordingly, one can sue against the decision of the Ministry of Justice, not the registration commission.
Opposition hopeful says he will not copy Lukashenko`s methods
From Charter ‘97
Aleksandr Milinkevich, the Belarusian opposition`s common presidential candidate elected at a congress early this month, said he will not copy methods of the incumbent in his election campaign. "Sincerity and honesty is what our people need now. They are tired of lies," Mr. Milinkevich said in an interview published in the October 20 issue of the Russian newspaper Novyye Izvestiya.
The politician stressed that during his 2006 campaign he will not resort to populism, but will try to be a contrast to Aleksandr Lukashenko. He says he expects assistance from the West, Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Lithuania.
"The nomenklatura can also play a certain role in the forthcoming election, but it will join us only if we show good work and prove to be a serious force. At the start of the campaign, it is unlikely that anyone from the Lukashenko camp will do so. They will not risk their posts. During the last election it was much easier to deal with the nomenklatura because they did not have as much power as they have now. Today people in power are high paid. And, of course, they are unwilling to risk," Mr. Milinkevich said.
His team plans to rely on the independent press, underground publications and a door-to-door campaign.
Mr. Milinkevich noted that it might not have time to target staunch supporters of Lukashenko, who, he said, account for about 30 percent of the eligible voters.
"Lukashenko is supported by older persons and people who have a low level of education. In our opinion, we should deal with this group only on condition that we succeed with other groups of voters. They [Lukashenko`s supporters] are very difficult to bring round. But the remaining 70 percent is mostly passive `kitchen` opposition that does not support us, but do not trust Lukashenko either. We will target these people."
Journalist found dead in apartment
Also from Charter ‘97
New York, October 20, 2005-Vasily Grodnikov, a freelancer who wrote for the Minsk opposition newspaper Narodnaya Volya, was found dead with a head wound in his apartment outside Minsk on Monday, local and international news agencies reported. CPJ is seeking to determine whether Grodnikov, 66, was murdered in retaliation for his journalistic work.
Authorities have harassed Narodnaya Volya in retaliation for its criticism of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. State-run kiosks are not permitted to sell the newspaper and authorities recently ended its printing contract, forcing it to use a printer in the neighboring Russian city of Smolensk.
“We are shocked and saddened by the death of Vasily Grodnikov, ” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “ We call on Belarusian authorities to investigate this killing and prosecute those behind it.”
Grodnikov’s brother, Nikolai Grodnikov, said Wednesday the journalist was murdered because of his work for Narodnaya Volya, Agence France-Presse reported. Nikolai said his brother had survived an attack in January, but he gave no details of any assault. Narodnaya Volya editor-in-chief Yosif Seredich said on Tuesday that Grodnikov wrote mostly about social issues, and had no links to the authorities or the opposition, the independent news agency Belapan reported.
Nikolai Grodnikov said, “There was a lot of blood on the walls, the floor, the window… Everything in the house was turned over.” The journalist’s niece, Natalya Grodnikov, added that there were no signs of robbery or forced entry.
The Interior Ministry for the Minsk region said Wednesday that there was no sign of a struggle or a robbery in the apartment and that Grodnikov had died of a stroke, the independent Moscow daily Gazeta reported. However, an autopsy at the Minsk Regional Clinical Hospital concluded on Wednesday that the cause of death was head trauma. A medical report is being sent to the Minsk regional prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the death, Belapan reported.
Another Belarusian journalist, Veronika Cherkasova, 44, was murdered a year ago while working for the Minsk-based opposition newspaper Solidarnost. Her murder remains unsolved and journalists have criticized authorities for focusing on her teenage son as a suspect rather than investigating work-related motives for
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information on Belarus, visit www.cpj.org.
See also an article by the CPJ about attacks on the press from last year by clicking HERE
International Protest Against Belarus’ Lukashenko
From Belarus Cevodnia
By David Ferguson
Students from as far away as South Africa, Nepal, Ghana, and Taiwan are marching through campuses, parks, and streets to protest against Alexander Lukashenko’s government. “The Worldwide Walk, which will include Belarus language slogans, t-shirts, signs, and a pledge drive, also seeks to place pressure on Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his government to observe international human rights standards, including the right to free and fair elections,” said Charlie Szrom, Founder and President of US-based Students for Global Democracy International.
The march, on 15 October, is part of a six-month fund-raising campaign with volunteers raising money for Belarus student group Zubr-Bison as well as underwriting the efforts of another pro-democracy group, Third Way Belarus, to unite the opposition into one political force for upcoming elections. It takes place this Saturday, two days before the first anniversary of a referendum organized by President Lukashenko to extend his mandate.
Azeri Rustem Azimov studies at Bogazici University in Istanbul. “Azerbaijan and Belarus have exactly the same problems. So we can understand the emotional state of Belarusians very well. That’s why we are marching. We want all dictatorships to be free.” Azimov will be protesting at the Bogazici University. “We are also raising awareness amongst university clubs about the march and encouraging people to write articles in their journals,” he said.
UK Research student Simon Bance will not be marching, but is taking part in another series of actions. For 16 October 2005, opposition groups are urging people in Belarus and beyond to turn out electric lights and place a candle in their front windows. “There are not many people in the UK or elsewhere who are aware of the situation or even know anything about Belarus. It is sad, though, that a country, so close to us, cannot enjoy democracy or political and journalistic freedom,” said Bance.
The candle protest is, according to Zubr coordinator Mikita Sasim, “... a Day of Solidarity with Belarus political prisoners, disappeared opposition members, their families, independent journalists, and with all who struggle for freedom and democracy in Belarus.” Sasim joined Irina Krasovskaya, founder of the association ‘We Remember’ and Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta’s Deputy Editor Irina Khalip in calling for the candle protest. Khalip, herself, was fined $25,000 in April and her newspaper another 25,000 on 30 September, in what even the OSCE has termed a campaign to silence the independent press.
For more photos and stories from the marches in Boston and other places, please click the following links
And one final sports pic
Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus serves to Australia's William Henzell during the preliminary round of the Men's World Cup table tennis in Liege, Belgium October 21, 2005. Samsonov defeated Henzell 4-0. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir