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Today's Headlines for:
Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lukashenka defends Children, KGB accuses Poland, Money scandals, US to be seperated from EU, Anzhalika Borys, Bogdan Borusewicz, Sergei Kalyakin

  • From the Top

    President: Belarus to improve policy in maternity and childhood protection

    From the office of the president and belta

    Lukashenko: Measures have been taken to create a multi-level system of assistance to expecting women
    Belarus will improve the policy in maternity and childhood protection, head of state Alexander Lukashenko has stated today at a sitting on the draft programs “Children of Belarus” and “Young talents of Belarus” designed for 2006-2010.

    The president also instructed to improve the work with young talents making use of the 10-year experience. “We need to support talented youth. But the support is not simply the financial assistance. The government support has been rendered to some talented people but nobody knows what has become of these people today. I will not allow for a scholastic approach in these issues.”

    Alexander Lukashenko heard a report on the results of the presidential program “Children of Belarus” for 2001-2005. It comprises of the sub-programs “Children of Chernobyl”, “Disabled children”, “Orphans”, “Improving the social security of a family and children”.

    The measures have been taken to create a multi-level system of assistance to expecting women. Employing state-of-the-art technologies reduced the infant mortality rate down to 6,9 per 1000 babies born alive. This is the CIS lowest rate.

    Considerable work is done on providing maternity hospitals and other medical establishments with new medical equipment and special vehicles. A record high 99 per cent of children were vaccinated against all infections which exceeds the norm of the World Health Organization (95 per cent).

    All children affected by the Chernobyl catastrophe undergo annual clinical examination.

    Within the framework of the “Children-orphans” program a number of measures on prevention of social orphanhood were taken. As a result, the growth in social orphans was restrained and a greater number of them were placed with other families. Thus, the adoption in 2004 was 20 per cent higher over 2000.

    The President of Belarus also demanded that the social orphanhood problem should be cardinally solved this year. “As of today, there are more that 30 thousand orphaned children in Belarus. Most of them are social orphans, meaning children whose parents are alive. About 10 thousand criminal cases were investigated in 2005 against the parents evading their childcare responsibilities. This year this problem must be unconditionally put and end to. There must be no state-maintained children whose parents are alive. The exception is the children whose parents are either handicapped or ill,” underscored Alexander Lukashenko at today’s meeting on the draft programmes “Children of Belarus,” and “Young Talents of Belarus” for 2006-2010.

    “Parents should support their children without outside assistance. If due to drug or alcohol addiction they cannot do it, such parents should be placed into special facilities to work for the benefit of the state, while the money will be transferred to orphanages where we will raise and educate their children. This year the problem should come up to a concrete resolution. Not in the form of words, but actions”, stated the head of state.

    As for older children, Alexander Lukashenko stated that the issue of invigorating physical and moral health of Belarusian children and teenagers requires a closer attention from the state.

    About 13 per cent of young Belarusians suffer from chronic diseases, Belarusian president said at a meeting focusing on the projects Children of Belarus and Young Talents of Belarus designed for 2006-2010.

    According to the president, over the recent decade the country has managed to curb juvenile delinquency by 8 per cent. “But in 2005 some 9 thousand juvenile offences were registered with every fourth of the offenders breaking the law in state of intoxication. These troubles are triggered not only by living conditions but also by the present-day mass culture”, the Belarusian leader said.

  • Scandals

    Polish intelligence showing "active interest" in Belarus - service

    Interfax, RL/RFE

    The KGB has stated that the Polish embassy has been conducting illicit activities. This newspaper absolutly believes this is the truth!!
    The Belarusian counter-intelligence service, the KGB, has accused the Polish embassy in Minsk of spying.

    "Polish intelligence has taken an "active interest in Belarus recently and
    the reason is a Belarussian presidential election scheduled for
    spring 2006." KGB spokesman Valery Nadtochayev told Interfax. "Elections are always a catalyst for intelligence and anti-national

    "Attempts are constantly recorded to interfere in the internal
    affairs of Belarus with the aim of destabilizing the situation in the
    country," he said.

    "There have recently been increasingly frequent attempts by foreign
    special services, including Polish intelligence, to recruit Belarussian
    citizens," Nadtochayev said.

    "Foreign intelligence agents are showing interest in various groups
    of the Belarussian population, but mainly in elites - the political,
    military and scientific ones," he said.

    "Belarussian citizens are offered large monetary rewards for
    assisting foreign intelligence agents," Nadtochayev said.

    He argued that the alleged activities of foreign intelligence
    services were unlikely to affect the outcome of the elections.

    In a program broadcast yesterday on Belarus state television, an unnamed KGB officer said that the Polish embassy had become a headquarters for foreign secret services.

    On the same program, a KGB spokesman said that foreign spies have stepped up their activities in Belarus ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. He said there was a concerted effort to "create scandals" that would undermine the country's stability.

    Polish embassy officials in Minsk criticized the report, which they said was aimed at creating a rift between Poland and western nations.

    Criminal Action Brought Up Against BRUYU Leader

    Charter '97

    $20 Million would feed a normal Belarussian family for 18,264 years
    As the radio station “Deutshce Welle” and sources in the Department of financial investigations inform, the head of the economics department of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union is charged with a $20 mln financial fraud.

    A day before journalists received information about another financial scandal in the organization close to the regime, the Belarusian Republican Youth Union. According to the reports from sources in the Financial Investigations Department, Mr Pashuk, the head of economics department of the BRYU is accused of a $20 mln financial fraud.

    A press conference of the chairman of the BRYU Mikhail Arda (Orda), which was to take place On February 7, hasn’t taken place. Officials of a lower rank met with journalists instead of him. Representatives of the BRYU Central Committee have not confirmed or denied information on the criminal action against one of the high-ranking representatives of the organization for embezzlement on a large scale.

    To the question of the DW correspondent concerning this incident, the Secretary of the BRYU CC Yuliya Mamchur said that it could be a topic for a separate press conference.

  • Diplomacy

    U.S., EU officials asked to pay separate visits to Belarus


    The Foriegn Ministry:"The American side deliberately distorts facts"
    The Belarussian Foreign Ministry has
    asked EU and U.S. officials to pay separate visits to Minsk, explaining
    that Belarus's relations with the EU differ from its relations with the
    U.S., the ministry's official spokesman Andrei Popov announced Monday.

    "The American side deliberately distorts facts related to a visit
    to Minsk by U.S. and EU representatives. We proceed from the assumption
    that Belarus and the United States have relations of their own,
    determined by a whole set of different factors. That's why we suggested
    separate visits," the diplomat said.

    Inviting EU representatives to visit Minsk was a Belarussian
    initiative, he said.

    "We hope our American and European partners will demonstrate in
    deed and not in word their constructive attitude towards cooperation
    with Belarus," Popov said.

    Earlier, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying EU and
    U.S. officials had not been allowed to enter Belarus.

    EU General Director for External and Politico-Military Affairs
    Robert Cooper and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Dan Fried
    were denied entry visas, the statement said.

    Belarusian Border Guards Refuse to Let Abroad Anzhalika Borys, Chair of Unregistered Union of Poles in Belarus


    Anzhalika Borys
    On the board the Belarusian guards refused to let out Anzhalika Borys, saying there was no space for their seal in her passport. She pointed she had two free pages where they could put it, but they ignored this objection.

    -- This event reflects the general policy of the Belarusian authorities towards Poles. Anzhalika Borys was going to Poland to take part in the sitting of the consultative board of the World Polonia, to which she was invited by the chair of the Polish Senate. At the sitting the situation of Poles in Belarus and further cooperation with the Polish authorities were to have been discussed, -- commented to "Pahonia" Andzhei Pisalnik, press-secretary of the Union of Poles in Belarus (the one that is not recognized by the Belarusian authorities). "The authorities deprived Anzhalika Borys of the possibility to attend the sitting. The most interesting thing is that they put the seal in the driver's passport, though they didn't put it in the passport of Anzhalika Borys. Xerox copies of both passports have been already made and will receive the necessary publicity."

    Andzhei Pisalnik said this scandal was not only elucidated by the Polish media, but also caused a great resonance in the official circles of Poland:
    -- By such a deed the Belarusian authorities didn't let the Polish Senate that cares for Poles all over the world to contact with a foreign Polish minority. It is a hostile action not only against the Poles in Belarus, but to the whole Polish Diaspora.

    Speaker of Polish Senate: “Minsk Decided to Aggravate Situation”

    Charter '97

    Bogdan Borusewicz
    The Speaker of Senate (Marszalek Senatu) of Poland told to the Radio Svaboda that the decision of the Belarusian authorities not to allow visiting Poland to Andzelika Borys, the chairperson of the Union of Poles in Belarus not recognized by the authorities, demonstrated that “despite of the earlier signals of the Belarusian side about their wish to normalize Polish-Belarusian relations,” Minsk decided to “aggravate the situation”.

    The Speaker of Polish Senate Bogdan Borusewicz told that he protests against the actions of the Belarusian authorities that prevented Andzelika Borys from visiting Warsaw for the first session of Polonia (Polish communities outside Poland) Advisory Council. Andzelika Borys is a member of the Advisory Council of Polonia.

    “The facts are that Lukashenka and his administration do not want normalization of Polish-Belarusian relations. On the contrary, they resort to fuelling tension, in order to show in the run-up to the election that Poland and the Poles interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus. We are not intervening in the internal affairs, but we won’t keep silent when human rights are violated. The right for travel is one of the fundamental human rights, one cannot be deprived of it for no particular reason,” the speaker told to the Radio Svaboda.

    As said by Mr. Borusewicz, Polish President and Prime Minister are to be officially informed about Mrs Borys’ prevention from visiting Poland on official invitation of the Speaker of Polish Senate.

  • Elections

    Lidia Yermoshina: No grave violations registered during verification of validity of signatures


    The territorial election commissions have finished verifying the validity of signatures of citizens, who supported their presidential contenders. “No grave violations were revealed during these procedures”, chairperson of the central election commission of Belarus Lidia Yermoshina stated February 8.

    “All presidential contenders had managed to collect the required number of valid signatures”, Lidia Yermoshina said.

    “The central election commission has already received protocols from the Grodno oblast election commission. The protocols from Minsk commission are expected to arrive in the evening”, Lidia Yermoshina underlined. “Other election commissions will hold their meetings till February 10 and then will submit corresponding papers to the central election commission”, Lidia Yermoshina noted.

    The central election commission has not received applications and income statements from the presidential contenders yet. The deadline for submitting the documents is February 11, Lidia Yermoshina reminded.

    US criticizes upcoming Belarus vote, does not support Lukashenko


    Dan Fried, the assistant secretary of state for Europe
    WASHINGTON -- The United States is spending millions of dollars to ensure the voting in Belarus' presidential election next month is free and fair, the State Department said.

    Dan Fried, the assistant secretary of state for Europe, said he and European officials had met with Alexander Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate in the March 19 election. Fried insisted, however, that neither the United States nor the European Union has thrown its official support behind Milinkevich's candidacy.

    "Our position is not to pick winners. Our position is to do what we can to promote a free and fair election," Fried told reporters Tuesday. "It is also true that the Belarussian opposition has united around Milinkevich."

    Still, he said, "as far as I can tell, the opposition is a collection of different groups with different political views, but they are now united around a platform of democracy and basically a kind of democratic patriotism."

    Fried said Congress has provided more than $21 million to finance pro-democracy activities in Belarus.

    "In historical experience, you do what you can to send two messages: to exert diplomatic pressure on authoritarian regimes, to support civil society," Fried said. "And that's what you do, and in many cases democracy advances in ways that you don't expect."

    The historical experience he referred to was the uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, where throngs of demonstrators took to the streets after disputed elections and toppled ruling regimes.

    "Our support is for democracy, not a particular path to it," he said. "I don't want to create the impression that we see the only outcome as being some massive street-based change. As I said, our assumption is that after the election, this would be a long-term process."

    Milinkevich said Friday at a democracy conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, that "I have no doubt the people of Belarus will come into the streets if the government tries to fake the election." He added: "We do not want revolution, only just and fair elections."

    Fried said "certainly we don't support Lukashenko," who is seen as a clear favourite to win re-election. "But the United States would not any under circumstances "support street violence even in response to flawed elections."

    "Peaceful demonstrations are a right, and certainly we're not going to suggest that people don't exercise that right. So that's what happens. It's not up to us.

    President Alexander Lukashenko has been in power since the creation of independent Belarus in 1994. While the Belarussian constitution limited the presidency to two five-year terms, he had it changed in a 2004 referendum that the United States and other Western countries say was neither free nor fair by international standards.

    Lukashenko, an ally of Moscow, is now standing for a third term.

    Note: The "Scoop" independant news service published a rather complete story of the press conference that this article was from, to read it, just click "Here"

  • Farming

    January’s cold wave destroyed 20-25 percent of winter grain crops, expert says

    Charter '97

    Disasterous cold spells have caused many problems this year
    A top agriculture expert warned that an Arctic cold wave that gripped the country in late January had killed between 20 and 25 percent of all winter grain crops. There was a deep freeze in January, mean temperatures were below minus 20 Celsius for six days and dropped below minus 35 Celsius in some places. The biggest trouble is that not all croplands were covered with snow,” Mikhail Kadyrov, director of the national science academy’s Institute for Land Farming and Selection, said in an interview with BelaPAN.

    “According to our estimates, up to 80 percent of winter rape crops was destroyed,” he said, noting that the crops occupied around 100,000 hectares.

    Dr. Kadyrov said that weather conditions in late March and early April would be vital to winter grain crops. “If there’s ice crust, snowfall on unfrozen land, the return of freezing temperatures after vegetation has already started, more winter crops are to be destroyed.”

    “Between three and five percent of winter crops is normally killed in our country. This year’s losses will be much heavier; we’re not giving final estimates so far but there’re signs that 20 to 25 percent was killed for sure,” he went on to say.

    The expert stressed that the institute had offered advice to the agriculture ministry on how to handle the situation and what the areas with damaged crops should be sown to in spring.

    “The situation is by no means disastrous,” he concluded.

  • Russia/Union State

    Contributions to Russia-Belarus Union`s 2006 budget disclosed

    Gateway to Russia, RBC news

    Russia is to transfer RUR1.76bn (approx. USD62.3m) to the budget of the Union of Russia and Belarus in 2006, a source in the finance department of the Union's Standing Committee said. Belarus is to transfer RUR948m (approx. USD33.56m) to the budget, and RUR259m more (approx. USD9.17m) to repay part of its debt for the contribution to the Union State budget for 2000-2003.

    In 2006, the revenue of the Union will be made of interest from budget credits, the source said. The revenue is expected at RUR133.2m (approx. USD4.71m). The Union's expenditure has been approved at RUR3.1bn (approx. USD109.7m). All in all, this year, some 40 programs, subprograms and measures are to be funded from the Union's budget. The budget was ratified at the meeting of the Union's Supreme State Council on January 24, 2004.

    Opposition politician says Russian leaders lack many-sided information about Belarus

    Charter '97

    Sergei Kalyakin
    "A lack of many-sided information about Belarus prevents the Russian leadership and elite from making correct decisions, because they rely on one-sided information provided by the Belarusian authorities," said Sergei Kalyakin, leader of the Belarusian Party of Communists (BPC).

    Mr. Kalyakin accompanied opposition presidential contender Aleksandr Milinkevich on his trip to Moscow on Monday. The politicians took part in a conference on Belarusian-Russian relations before and after March`s election in Belarus.

    "Today we see, that actions and decisions being taken by the Russian leadership are predominantly based on myths," Mr. Kalyakin told the RFE/RL Belarusian Service. "One of the myths is that the current Belarusian president is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin`s only friend while all forces that oppose him are a Western project. Today, democratic forces of Belarus are a better and more reliable partner than the current regime, which has never fulfiled a single promise."

    Mr. Kalyakin added that Russia "takes less interest in Belarus than European countries" because of a myth that democratic forces are doomed to lose the March election.

    The democratic forces need to take time and consistent effort to explain the Russian political elite that "a democratic, open Belarus is part of Russia`s long-term interests," Vintsuk Vyachorka, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, commendted on the visit. "It is just a mistake to view Mr. Lukashenko, who declares support for the Russian interests, as a constant in Belarusian politics," he added.

  • Business

    New "space age" Bus introduced in Minsk


    The new MAZ 171
    The new Maz 171 autobus was introduced today. The 14,5 meter long modern design shuttle made its debut on February 8th to rave reviews. The new shuttle ewill operate between the Minsk 2 International Airport and downtown Minsk. The comfortable bus can seat 122 people and replaces the standard busses. The bus was designed and built by the Minsk automobile factory which is the same factory that supplies most of Europe and the world with heavy trucks.


    Asia Pulse News

    The Samand - Iran's national car
    Iran Khodro Industrial Group managing director Manuchehr Mantaqi and his counterpart at the Belarussian Younison Company on Monday signed an agreement to assemble Samand cars in Belarus.

    Production capacity is projected at 6,000 cars annually, which could gradually increase depending on regional demand to 60,000 annually, the Iran-Khodro official added.

    Following the signing ceremony, Mantaqi remarked that during the first phase of production, Samand parts will be exported to Belarus in the form of CKDs that will be assembled in the company, he said.

    In subsequent phases and after conducting various analyses and feasibility studies in neighboring countries, including Russia, and with additional investment production will be raised, Mantaqi underlined.

    Deputy Director for Exports and International Affairs Alireza Mirzaie, speaking on the sidelines of the signing ceremony, referred to the two memoranda of understanding inked between Iran and Belarus to produce two other brands of automobiles.

    "The first would be a commercial type car and the second a jeep, the Gazel, both cars to be jointly produced by Iran-Russia and Belarus," he added.

    Mirzaie said the company's exports stood at US$115 million in the first eight months of the current Iranian year (started March 21).

    He said that the above-stated figure includes vehicles, parts, technical and engineering services exports.

    "Car exports this year have been unprecedented in the company's history" and predicted "exports could top USD 200 million by the end of the year." The Belarussian official said that Samand is competitive in quality and price in world markets. It also meets all international standards, he added.

    Production of Samand cars will begin in Belarus in April.

    Mirzaie said here last week that 200 automobiles of the Samand brand have been exported to Russia since the start of 2006.

    The first batch of Samands were exported after the company received the necessary license from the Russian Standards Institute.

    He said that the exports, given the fact that the Russian Federation is a competitive market for vehicles in the world, shows that "Samand has captured a share of the market in the country (Russia)." He said that the export license granted to the company by the Russian Standards Institute is a laudable achievement for the Iranian vehicle industry.

    "Exports of cars to Russia are expected to top 3,000 in the current year (Iranian)," he predicted.

    Samand cars are designed to suit the Russian climate and demand of Russian customers for the so-called "North Samands," he added.

    Iran hails foreign scientists’ participation in its peaceful nuclear programs


    Lukashenka in an earlier visit to Iran
    Iran welcomes participation of foreign scientists, including the Belarusian ones, in the peaceful nuclear programs which have exclusively economic orientation. The statement to this effect was made at today’s press conference by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iran to Belarus Abdolhamid Fekri.

    “We are ready to cooperate with any country and this readiness shows our peaceful intention,” the diplomat emphasized. Iran has huge scientific potential. The average age of scientists involved in nuclear research is 25 years”.

    The ambassador noted that the Iranian nuclear research institutions underwent a great number of international check-ups and inspections, some of them were carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency, yet no confirmation or traces of nuclear weapons were found. Iran will continue implementing its peaceful nuclear programs, the diplomat underlined.

    “Unlike other states we have restrictions of religious character in this sphere. Our religion does not allow us creating weapons of mass destruction. Our projects are aimed at settlement of peaceful economic issues”, Abdolhamid Fekri noted.

    “The states which accuse Iran try to overshadow their own internal problems. For example, in his speech the president of the United States of America was speaking about international problems, though his own country experiences many difficulties: high unemployment rate and inflation. Many of the Americans are not satisfied with the state policy. However, they are speaking about foreign political problems to silence up their domestic challenges,” the diplomat underlined.

    Iran also to invest EUR 60-70 million in joint Belarus-Iran production


    Abdolhamid Fekri
    Iran intends to invest EUR 60-70 million in developing in Belarus of a joint production of medium density fiber boards. Iran has already submitted a business-pan to Belarus, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Belarus Abdolhamid Fekri has told a press conference today.

    “The two sides have held several rounds of bilateral negotiations and once all issues are finalized will get down to the project, the diplomat stressed. – At first we should find the venue for the manufacture”. According to Mr. Abdolhamid Fekri, the embassy is working hard in this area and sees the project as lucrative and very promising.

    He noted that Iranian entrepreneurs are interested in cooperation with Belarus – a stable, safe and friendly country. That is why Belarus and Iran have a great many promising joint economic projects, in particular, to reconstruct Belarusian hotels and construction of a hypermarket involving Iranian experts. The Iranian companies plan to take part in the road maintenance projects in Belarus, including the Brest-Moscow motorway.

    The diplomat stressed that he intends to actively advance the projects on increasing the deliveries of petrochemical products to Belarus. With that end in view representatives of the Iranian petrochemical companies will visit Minsk in the near future.

  • Sports

    Davis Cup:Elite group to begin 2006 play

    Tennis X

    Vladimir "The Vladiator" Voltchkov
    Spain at Belarus
    Site: Football Manege, Minsk, Belarus
    Surface: Carpet (Taraflex) indoors
    Ball: Wilson US Open Regular Duty

    Spain is in a world of hurt with Rafael Nadal and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero out with injuries, Carlos Moya taking a pass on representing his country, and Spanish captain Emilio Sanchez stuck with some combination of "B"-squaders Dave Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco on the icy indoor carpet.

    While the Spaniards would prefer a slow red clay, the home court Belarussians have chosen a slick indoor surface worn slicker by years of play.

    "Even though we have some players missing the team is still very competitive," said Sanchez, who opines the Belarus team has taken full advantage of their choice of surface. "The surface they have chosen doesn't allow you to play tennis. If it's new it's fine but if it's is like ice. But it is natural for opponents to choose a surface that will make it as hard as possible for you."

    Last year the Belarus tandem of Max "The Beast" Mirnyi and Vladimir "The Vladiator" Voltchkov lost in the first round to Romania, but then beat Canada in the World Group qualifying to retain their spot in the elite group for 2006.

    The head-to-heads slightly favor the Spaniards as Mirnyi is 1-1 career vs. Ferrer, 1-2 vs. Robredo, 2-0 vs. Lopez, and 0-1 vs. Verdasco. Voltchkov has never faced Ferrer, is 1-0 vs. Robredo, has never faced Lopez, and is 0-2 vs. Verdasco.

    Voltchkov is a bit of a Davis Cup anomaly in the World Group as his ranking allows him to play only Challenger-level events, unless he can qualify or manage a wildcard at the Tour level.

    "Belarus have never lost at home and have beaten teams at a similar level to us like Germany and Argentina," Sanchez said. "It will be the players' desire to win that is fundamental to us making it through the tie."

    And two last photos for the road

    Vladimir Dratchev(Above) and Oleg Ryzhenkov of Belarus, left, adjust their guns during a training session on the biathlon course in Cesena San Sicario Italy