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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Election Procedure Underway, No Change In Foreign Policy, Viktor Gaisenok, Veronika Cherkasova, Milinkevich, Some Words From The Blogs

From the Top


Alexander Lukashenko "launching" the Beryozovskaya hydroelectric power plant
On 1 January, the Head of State Alexander Lukashenko extended congratulations to President of the Slovak Republic Ivan Gasparovic on the occasion of Slovakia’s national holiday – Day of Proclamation of Independence.

Also on 1 January, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko congratulated President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Fidel Castro Ruz on Cuba's national holiday - the Liberation Day.

On the 30th of December, the President was in Brest to inogerate the opening of a power plant.

“We are reducing electric power production costs, we are updating our electric power system. If we want to be sovereign and independent, we will continue occupying ourselves with what we are doing now. The launch of a power generating unit at the Beryozovskaya hydroelectric power plant is not an ordinary event,” said the Head of State Alexander Lukashenko during the solemn commissioning ceremony of the updated power generating unit No 3 of the Beryozovskaya hydroelectric power plant.

The Belarusian perspective:

From Belta


Belarus will continue to deal mainly with Russia in the next five years
Belarus will not change its foreign policy, Alexander Lukashenko told reporters today while visiting the Bereza power plant.

“We have found the course we will follow next year and during next five-year period in relations with foreign states. But, certainly, there will be modifications of the course because life goes on”, the president stressed.

“We have made a decision: Russia is our support; we are busy establishing a Union State with the brotherly Russia. There are neighbors we did not choose with whom we will build normal relations. We have powerful partners one cannot do without – the European Union and the United States of America. We have mighty friends – India, China, South-Eastern Asia. We have been operating in the regions where we have our interests”, Alexander Lukashenko added.


The Russian government has approved signing of an agreement on cooperation in the social security sphere with Belarus, the press service of the Russian Cabinet of Ministers told BelTA.

The draft agreement envisages equal guarantees in the sphere of social security and compulsory /state/ social insurance on granting allowances for those temporary unemployed or being on maternity leave, pensions, unemployment benefits, allowances for families with children in case of labor mutilation or professional diseases. The document covers citizens of Russia and Belarus living on the territory of the participating states of the agreement. The agreement will not affect the military since they are entitled to social benefits under special contracts.

Under the agreement, seniority (the longevity of service in Belarus or Russia or in the former USSR until March 13, 1992) will be guided by while paying out social security allowances and pensions.

The press-service has reported, the draft agreement envisages extra money to pay out pensions (approximately, RUR 130,06 million per annum) for people who have come to Belarus from Russia.


Viktor Gaisenok
Belarus has always considered the UN as a guarantor of true world order. The country has similar position towards the reformation process of the organization, deputy foreign minister of Belarus Viktor Gaisenok stated December 30 at the inauguration ceremony of the photo-exhibition devoted to the 60th anniversary of the country’s membership in the United Nations Organization and its participation in the work of international organizations.

The exposition organized by the foreign ministry and the Belarusian news agency BelTA presents over 40 photographs from the BelTA archives reflecting major historic events of the Belarusian participation in the UN starting from 1940s.

Viktor Gaisenok underlined that “Belarus pays special attention to the UN activity”. According to him, the UN played an important role in the history of the Belarusian diplomacy – in 1946, on the BSSR initiative, the General Assembly of the Organization adopted the resolution to punish and extradite military criminals.

Today, the priorities of Belarus in the United Nations Organization concern addressing the global challenges. “First of all, we favor peace and security in the world”, Viktor Gaisenok said. He reminded that from the UN rostrum Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko put forward initiatives to set up a nuclear-free zone in Europe and to fight human-trafficking. These Belarusian initiatives were included in the UN summit final document and to resolutions of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly. Expanding on them, Belarus proposed to cooperate globally against slavery and human-trafficking in the 21st century. Many countries and international organizations displayed interest to partake in the project, Viktor Gaisenok noted.

The second issue Belarus is addressing in the UN is the Chernobyl. Following the initiatives of the Belarusian party, the 60th session of the UN General Assembly adopted a “Chernobyl resolution” with 69 countries voting in favor of it. “That was a crucial event for us. It manifested that the international community remembered the Chernobyl and its consequences that Belarus has been battling with”, Viktor Gaisenok stressed.

He added, Belarus also prioritises arms stockpile destruction. At the 60th session of the UN General Assembly Belarus initiated adopting a resolution to prohibit the development and production of new weapons and armaments of mass destructions.

Viktor Gaisenok expressed gratitude for the Belarusian news agency assistance in preparing the exhibition.

In turn, BelTA first deputy director general Nikolai Kernoga underlined importance and topicality of the present exposition. In his words, the agency's photo archive chose the best photos to reflect Belarus interaction with international organizations. A special place in the exposition belongs to photos depicting ceremonies of signing most important documents, meetings and negotiations by the president, premier, parliament speaker and foreign minister with the leadership of UN special bodies such as UNESCO, UNIDO, UNCTAD, and the IAEA. The exhibition also reflects main landmarks of Belarus participation in integration formations in the ex-Soviet space, first of all, the Union State, the CIS and EurAsEC.

note: Please have a look at the following webpage: as/law_pol/politics.html
for some interesting insites into Belarusian politics.

The European Perspective



Veronika Cherkasova
31 December 2005 -- The international media monitoring group "Reporters Without Borders" has condemned the decision by prosecutors in Belarus to halt the investigation into the murder of an investigative journalist in Minsk.

Reporters Without Borders said the decision to suspend the probe into the October 2004 killing of Veronika Cherkasova means there is now little hope that those responsible for her death will ever be identified.

A statement from Reporters Without Borders said investigators, who had not found any clues to the identity of the murderer, had never explored the possibility that she was killed because of her work as a journalist at the independent trade union weekly Solidarnost.

Reporters Without Borders said Belarus is a country in which the murders of journalists are not investigated, citing the cases of Dmitri Zavadski, Mikhailo Kolomiets, and Vassili Grodnikov.

Opposition Press

from Charter '97


Alyaksandr Milinkevich is getting his full portion of Belarusian politics while on his road to the next elections
On December 29 in the town of Belazyorsk, Brest region, policemen detained Uladzimir Kazeka, the head of the Ivanava district headquarters of the democratic candidate, and took him to a police department. It was informed by the press-group of Alyaksandr Milinkevich’s headquarters.

Uladzimir Kazeka arrived to Belazyorsk to take certificates of the members of the initiative group of citizens for nomination of Alyaksandr Milinkevich as a candidate for the position of a president of Belarus.

Having received certificates, he was stopped by Belazyorsk policemen, near his car. They searched the car. Two packs of the newspaper “Narodnaya Volya” (about 800 copies). Uladzimir Kazeka was held in the police department for six hours instead of the three hours as required by the law. The newspapers were seized from the activist illegally.

According to the head of Brest regional headquarters of A. Milinkevich, Yury Hubarevich, such actions of Belazyorsk police are explained by the fact that the visit of Alyaksandr Lukashenka to the town is to take place today.

Elections 2006

From Partnerstva


Belarus is pretty much convinced of the outcome of the 2006 elections.
The process of territorial election commissions forming has been completed. Totally there are 165 territorial commissions: 6 Regional commissions and Minsk City Commission, 118 district commissions, 16 city commissions, and 24 commissions in the districts of towns and cities. The total commissions’ members’ number is 2124 people, the Central election commission of Belarus spokesman Mikalay Lazovik told.

Let us remind that political parties, public associations and labour collectives, and groups of citizens numbering more than 30 people have the right to nominate election commissions members.

More than 22 per cent of the territorial commissions’ members belong to political parties. Among them are the Liberal –Democratic party, the Communist party, the National Labour and Justice party, the Agrarian and the Belarusian people’s front members. Public associations are represented by the National Youth Union members, the Union of Women, Trade Unions’ members, veterans’ organisations.

23.4 per cent are people nominated by labour collectives, 44.8 per cent were nominated by the groups of citizens. 51.3 per cent of commissions’ members are women, 8.6 per cent are the youth representatives, aged under 30.


Valery Fralou (r) with Syarhey Skrabets
The former chairman of the Council of Republic, an academician Aliaxander Vatovich and the ex-head of the parliamentary group “Respublika” Valery Fralou distributed a joint statement yesterday that reads that the two politicians will take part in the presidential election only if the authorities comply with several conditions.

Among the conditions the politician mentioned Aliaxander Lukashenka’s refusal to take part in the coming election as his edict 431 from 07.09.2004 on the national referendum conduction concerning the third term does not meet with the Constitution and cannot be considered acting.

Mr Vaitovich and Mr Fralou demanded to include their representatives to every district election commission (not less than one third), and also appoint their representatives one half of the commissions chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the other half.

The politicians demanded also that ballot boxes for early voting must be sealed with two seals: one belonging to a commission chairperson and the other one to his (her) deputy. They also demand the right for the observers to see marks on ballot papers and provide equal access of all the candidates to state-running mass media and equal for agitation terms.


Six political parties’ members were included to the territorial election commissions formed in Minsk, The CEC spokesman Mikalay Lazovik informed. All in all 10 commissions were formed in Minsk, one Minsk City commission and 9 regional numbering 13 members each.

As Mr Lazovik informed the members of the Liberal-democratic party, the National party of labour and justice, the Communist party of Belarus and several representatives of Agrarian party and the Belarusian people’s front who were nominated by signatures collection are now a part of the commissions. The number of parties’ members reaches 10 per cent of the whole number of the commissions members.

According to the CEC spokesman more than one third of the commissions’ members are public organisations representatives, mainly from the National Youth Union, the Union of Women, and trade unions organisations.
Labour groups representatives number 19.2 per cent while approximately 15.4 per cent are city executive committees’ members.


Charter '97

A group of independent observers won’t carry out a large-scale monitoring of presidential elections, Mikalay Astrejka, coordinator of independent observation over the parliamentary elections and constitutional referendum in October 2004 told to the BelaPAN. As said by Astrejka, it is connected with impossibility to carry out a full-fledged observation at the presidential elections in 2006. “The elections have been announced so urgently that it would be rather difficult to organize the monitoring equivalent to the observation at the parliamentary elections in 2004. We cannot organize early observation. We were not able to observer nomination of candidates to the members of territorial election commissions, for instance,” M. Astrejka said.

From the Blogs


From the BR23 Blog

As many of you probably know, the dominating language in the capital, Minsk, is Russian. You can hear it on the streets all the time, and Belarusian is nowhere to be heard (although you can see it on billboards and street signs). Here’s a recent web survey which I think should be, if not scientifically precise, somewhat representative because it was posted in a blogging community minsk_by in Livejournal, with basically almost random people from Minsk who have internet access. The question of the survey was:

- How often do you hear Belarusan language spoken on Minsk streets?

140 people chose to answer, and the results are as follows: never - 2.9% (4), once - 0.7% (1), twice or thrice - 10.7% (15), from time to time - 45.7% (64), several times per month 20.0% (28), several times per week - 10.7% (15), every day - 9.3% (13).


From Tobias Ljungvall on Belarus

George Kennan
I have spent the last week reading Sketches from a Life, which is a collection of travel diary notes by the American diplomat George Kennan, written in a time span stretching from the 1920s to the 1980s. George Kennan is most widely known for his so called Long Telegram from 1946, where he draws up the United States' strategy (as he would have liked to see it) for the coming Cold War. But my attention was caught by a diary note that he made a bit earlier, in June 1945, during a trip from Moscow to Siberia. In it, Kennan expresses admiration for the people he meets and compassion in face of their hardships.

"But," he writes, "there is no way of helping the Russian people. When a people finds itself in the hands of a ruthless authoritarian regime which will stop at nothing, it finds itself beyond the power of others to help. Gifts to it can be given only to the regime, which promptly uses them as weapons for the strengthening of its own power."

Are Kennan's words about the Soviet Union in 1945 relevant for Belarus in 2006? I have lately found myself thinking along lines similar to those quoted above. What is the effect, for instance, of all the Swedish projects in the social sphere aiming at helping the Belarusians? All those meetings and seminars on prevention of drug abuse among youth, on gender equality, and on combating trafficking in human beings, could they not be said to have strengthened the regime? In their wake local authorities have improved (?) their control of youth, Lukashenko did use the gender issue to semi-legitimise the hand-picking of winners in the last parliamentary elections (a third of them should be women), and the trafficking problem is now being used as an excuse for the government to control which young people may travel abroad.

Yes, Kennan's warning is relevant. But, Lukashenko's Belarus is still not quite Stalin's Soviet Union. As long as there are ways of circumventing the authorities, I think there may just be room for helping the Belarusian people without helping the regime. But this room is quickly shrinking, and I do see that people here in Sweden are reluctant to step into it, maintaining instead a more comfortable philosophy of constructive engagement with the regime.

Kennan continues:

"On the other hand, blows aimed in exasperation at the regime itself are no help to the people it dominates. Such injuries are promptly ducked and passed on to the people, while the regime, breathing sympathetic indignation, strikes one fiery attitude after another as the protector of a noble nation from the vicious envy of a world which refuses to understand."

This very well describes the behaviour and rhetoric of Lukashenko. But, once again, Belarus in 2006 is not quite what the Soviet Union was in 1945. Society is not yet totally cleansed from alternative interpretations of the world, and a large portion of the population (probably a majority) is still open for other ways of development than that which Lukashenko offers them. Left in peace, though, he may just be able to accomplish his ambition of a totally subdued people.

This is why I think it would be untimely to accept George Kennan's 1945 advice of leaving it to the "people – encumbered neither by foreign sentimentality nor foreign antagonism – to work their destiny out in their own peculiar way." Instead, we should do what we can before it is too late.

Happy New Year, Belarus.

And finally, AG Lukashenko's Address to the people of Belarus for the new year.

Dear compatriots,

It is the end of 2005. Time is about to turn over another page in the book of history with its every line manifesting good accomplishments of people aspired to make the country stronger and more beautiful.
I am often asked: what is our national dignity, what is Belarus proud of?

It is the course of events that gives the answer – these are the results of our common efforts.

Consider: we have increased GDP 1,5 times over the recent five years, and have doubled it over the recent decade.

Another five-year term comes to its end with the culmination of the year 2005. We have accomplished hard and even ambitious tasks within the period. There were many doubts as to whether we would manage to meet the targets.

But we did! In spite of severe pressure from abroad and notwithstanding the growth of prices in the world for natural resources which we are not reach in. We did it only due to our wits and every-day tireless efforts. Due to the effective policy which is in keeping with the national interests.

Over the recent five years we have managed to gain the most important thing –to grow Belarus into a credible sovereign and independent state.

We have made sure and once again proved to the world that the Belarusian people have their own independent country!

These have been the years of creation.

We have been intensely building dwelling, factories and schools. We have been introducing state-of-the-art technologies, supplying towns and villages with natural gas and inaugurating new metro stations. The Belarusian village has improved.

I would like to express profound gratitude to all those who have contributed to the common cause of advancing our Motherland – to factory workers, agrarian specialists and businessmen, to artists, pedagogues, doctors, law enforcement officials and the military.

The state has done a lot to reach the ultimate goal – improve the welfare of every Belarusian citizen. Today there is a need to adjust this state to the needs of its people, to see to it that its citizens live, work and bring up children in comfort.

Next year will witness great positive changes to benefit the people.

For a happy life, it is not enough to turn Belarus into an ‘island of stability’. There is a need to see to it that no red tape and indifference spoil the ‘climate’ on this ‘island’.

Ten years ago the only task we faced was to avert the country from the brink of collapse, while today we plan to push the people’s welfare to a new high.

Distinguished compatriots,

The year of 2006 opens another five-year term and its start is very important since a good start is half the race.

I am confident, we are able to accomplish what has been planned.

We have everything for this: assiduous and talented people, expertise, effective authorities and a clear-cut development program.

An independent Belarus looks with confidence into the future. Many countries from the most remote corners of the world heard Belarus speaking from the high rostrum of the United Nations Organization in favor of equal rights in international relations and freedom of choice of development for every country.

Not everybody likes our independent position.

But the course of events has taught us to appreciate peace and consent. Such notions as health, good job, peace and coziness at home are incommensurable with any political issues.

The upcoming year is the year of presidential election.

This will be the year when the authorities will be taking their principal political examination – an examination before the citizens. And we will take pains to pass it in a worthy manner!

Dear friends,

It is symbolic that 2006 has been proclaimed a Year of Mother in Belarus.

Belarusian women have deserved such attention. They stay equally charming, beautiful and kind in workaday routine and on holidays.

Our dear mothers, daughters and sisters,

Thank you for keeping our homes warm, keeping our children out of troubles and imbuing life with tenderness and love.

We need to take care of women and children at the state level and to boost the prestige of a family, especially of a large one. There is a need to give birth to more little Belarusian citizens.

We should have no abandoned or homeless children. We will not put up with alcoholism which inevitably leads to family break-downs.

To keep the Belarusians well-physically developed, well-educated and morally strong constitutes the noblest aim of our country.

Dear countrymen and guests of Belarus,

I congratulate you on the upcoming New Year. Every moment now is weaved from the fiber of best wishes and hopes.

Let the good things from the elapsing year be multiplied in the upcoming one!

Let well-being and understanding rule in every family!

Let your relatives and friends stay by your side and let the beloved present each other with smiles and flowers!

Be inspired by the feeling of participation with great accomplishments of the country and by pride for the Fatherland – for Belarus!

I wish you happiness, health and festive mood!

Happy New Year, dear friends!