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Today's Headlines for:
Monday, May 15, 2006

Belarus Rolls in Hockey worlds, BY model falls from Bus, Milinkevich let out, EU Freezes assets of prez, Eurovision, Russia slams Belarus over gas

From the Top

From: Office of the president

The state intends to render substantial assistance to large families and building houses is the top priority in the field, stated Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko while talking to residents of Voskhod agro-town of Mogilev district.

He noted, baby food provision and a larger children's allowance still remain topical issues. "However, today we have to resolve the housing problem. Children's allowance aside, housing is the main problem. If a woman knows that after giving birth to the third child, she will have a 50 per cent discount for an apartment and a 100 per cent discount for the fifth child, she will have kids. If we accomplish the programme, the demographic situation in Belarus will improve," emphasised the head of state.

Alexander Lukashenko also said, he is confident by 2010 Belarus will have accomplished the baby food provision programme.

During the conversation with the local residents high prices for foodstuffs and other products were touched upon. The president stressed, "Prices are not the point, money and allowances are. Prices define people's salaries. If prices are higher, our products will not be exported to Russia, other countries and resold much more expensively. Certainly, we should export our commodities but for a price profitable for us," believes the Belarusian leader.

Headlines from Belta

Leonid Rusak: president’s decree to make living in rural regions easier

The president’s decree on the list of services provided by organizations and individual entrepreneurs to people who keep individual subsidiary farms will make the living of rural dwellers easier, minister of agriculture and foodstuffs of Belarus Leonid Rusak stated when commenting on the document.

Alexander Kosinets: Belarus interested in cooperation with China in humanitarian sphere

Belarus is interested in cooperation with China in humanitarian sphere, deputy prime minister of Belarus Alexander Kosinets said during a meeting with a delegation of All-China Women’s Federation in Minsk.
He noted that in recent years the two countries have been dynamically developing cultural, educational, healthcare, innovational and sports cooperation.

Agricultural company Voskhod cuts down power inputs due to new technologies

Introduction of up-to-date energy saving technologies which Voskhod started one and a half years ago resulted in a considerable reduction in power inputs. In particular, the agricultural company based in Mogilev region managed to ensure a threefold cut down in energy consumption. These facts were revealed during today’s visit of president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to the agricultural company Voskhod.

Zhodino bakery plant gets ISO 9001-2001 certificate

Zhodino bakery plant has been certified for compliance with ISO 9001-2001 standard. It is the second enterprise of the industry in Minsk region that has introduced the quality management system compliant with international standards. The first enterprise was Borisov bakery plant.
Acting director of Zhodino bakery plant Viktor Gandzha noted, the company got down to introducing ISO 9001-2001 standard early this year.

Agriculture minister: no doubts as to fulfillment of beautification plans in agro-towns

Minster of agriculture and foodstuffs of Belarus Leonid Rusak is confident that in 2006 all community development targets in all 249 agro-towns will be met.
At present there is scanning for additional financing resources that causes certain lagging behind the schedule. Some Br700 billion is needed additionally to the money allocated from the republican budget.

Sergei Zabolotets: MPs eager to cooperate with All-China Women’s Federation

Parliamentarians of Belarus are eager to cooperate with All-China Women’s Federation, vice-speaker of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus Sergei Zabolotets said in a meting with participants of that organization held in Minsk. The delegation is headed by first secretary of All-China Women’s Organization, deputy chairman of the working committee for the affairs of children and women of the State Council of China Huang Qingyi.

Russia, Canada win tickets to world championship quarterfinals

The world hockey championship in Riga defined the first participants in the future quarterfinals.
In group E's first match Canada crushed Latvia 11:0 and by winning 6 points secured its place in the play-off. Another three tickets will be distributed between Finland, the USA, Czechia, Latvia and Norway.

Belarusian child birth benefits to go up

The size of Belarusian one-time benefits paid out to mothers for giving birth to a child are planned to increase, Irina Chutkova, head of the population, gender and family policies department of the Belarusian labour and social security ministry, told today's press conference, which was dedicated to the International Family Day.

Administrations of Minsk and Moscow oblasts sign protocol on cooperation

Minsk and Moscow oblasts have agreed to expand cooperation in trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural spheres. On May 12 leaders of the oblasts Nikolay Domashkevich and Boris Gromov signed the appropriate protocol in the town of Mytischi, Moscow oblast. The ceremony took part in the framework of a two-day visit of the delegation of Minsk oblast to Moscow oblast.

WFTU leader calls organizers of information pressure on Belarus as hypocrites
All organizers of the campaign of lies against Belarus are hypocrites, Secretary General of the World Federation of Trade Unions /WFTU/ George Mavrikos told a briefing in Minsk.
“We have visited several manufactures and thoroughly examined the situation in the country. Everyone who has elementary social experience can draw a conclusion that Belarus is a free, open and democratic country with high social standards,” WFTU Secretary General said.

Belarus model takes wrong turn on bus

From: Seattle Post Intelegencer
Another thing to worry about while driving in New York: models falling out of buses. According to New York's Daily News, Belarus supermodel Tatyana Simanava was traveling on a chartered luxury bus to a bridal modeling gig when she went looking for the ladies room. Instead, she found an unlocked exit door and tumbled out at 40 miles per hour onto the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn.
Simanava, a beauty of the bridal catalog variety, was lucky enough not to have any broken bones, but did suffer heavy bruising and had gauze covering her face.
"Everybody said it is lucky that I am alive," she said.
More coverage of this story can be found "HERE"

EU to freeze Belarus leadership assets-paper

From: Reuters
The European Union will freeze the assets of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and more than 30 high-ranking officials from the country, the Financial Times Deutschland reported on Sunday.
According to a preview of an article due to appear in the paper's Monday edition, the move has been planned for weeks, and will be formally approved by the EU in the next few days.
The FTD said the EU had aimed to rubber stamp the sanction on Monday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
But since the resolution had not yet been formally translated into all EU languages, the FTD said the freeze would probably not be confirmed until a later meeting -- even though there was agreement on the matter, according to EU diplomats.
The EU said last month it was considering freezing the Belarusian assets, following a decision by the bloc to ban Lukashenko and the same 30 ministers, prosecutors and regional election officials from entering the 25-nation community.
EU foreign ministers said they had imposed the ban on the officials for allegedly rigging Belarus's March 19 presidential election and for cracking down on opposition activists.
More coverage of this story can be found "HERE"

Blazing Belarusians knock out Ukraine 9-1

Belarus outskated, outhustled, and outskilled Ukraine tonight at Skonto Arena, earning a well deserved 9-1 win to remain in the thick of things in Group F. The power play factored in again as the team scored four times with the extra man, two of those goals coming on 5-on-3 situations.
Montreal Canadiens prospect Mikhail Grabovsky had a hat trick and Andrei Skabelka had a goal and five assists. Andrei Kostitsyn, also a potential future Canadiens star, added three assists.
"The key to our success is that we have to score on the power play, and the Grabovsky line has to produce," said Belarus Head Coach Glen Hanlon. "Both of those things happened tonight."
Ukraine's Kostyantyn Simchuk faced 39 Belarusian shots in this blow-out.
Belarus now has four points, while Ukraine is officially eliminated from possible quarter-final participation. Russia and Sweden lead the way with six and five points, respectively, and the Swiss have four along with Belarus, but have a game in hand. For now, Belarus sits above the Swiss because of a superior goals differential (+5 to +1). The top four teams in the group move on to the quarter-finals.
"Our goal was to try to improve from last year, where we placed 12th," said Hanlon.
Belarus plays Switzerland on Tuesday in a game that will likely decide that fourth and final spot.
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    Bjorkman and Mirnyi lose in semi's in Rome

    From: TSN
    Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Mark Knowles of the Bahamas reached the final of the Rome Masters Saturday night by defeating second-seeded Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-3, 7-6 (5).
    Bjorkman and Mirnyi trailed 0-3 in the opening set, but broke serve to close the gap. It stayed that way throughout, with Nestor and Knowles winning a second-set tiebreaker to advance.
    The pair broke four times on the relatively fast clay while losing serve on three occasions.
    Bjorkman and Mirnyi, the Miami Masters champions for the last two years, lost to Nestor and Knowles in the Indian Wells semifinals.
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    Belarus releases opposition leader

    Alexander Milinkevich, the leader of the political opposition in Belarus, was released Friday after serving a 15-day jail term for an unauthorized rally.
    Milinkevich and other opposition leaders were arrested after holding a protest to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
    In March, Milinkevich was the leading opponent of President Alexander Lukashenko. While official results showed Lukashenko got more than 80 percent of the vote, the opposition charges the election and the count were fraudulent.
    About 150 members of the opposition were arrested for holding protest rallies in the days immediately after the election.

    Belarus back on stage; an interview with Eurovision semifinalist Polina Smolova

    From: ESCToday
    Do you feel confident after the second rehearsal? "Everybody is satisfied, we appreciate all that is being done, the people involved, all is fine".

    You obviously need to qualify for the final, what are your chances, and who do you see as your biggest rivals? "We must do our own show, it will be from my heart. We must love each other, and be professional".

    You have already recorded one album, have you any plans for a second album, and to include Mum? "Maybe, we may have albums two, three, four...who knows what will happen?"

    When you were a child, did you have any musical heroes? "Yes, my Dad, who is a singer and composer". Her father was in the audience, and was introduced by Polina.

    Last year, Belarus didn't make it to the final, despite high expectations? What did you think of last year's entrants? "Last year was very different, and this year is very different, another performer and team".

    The session concluded with a photo opportunity. Polina returns on stage for the first dress rehearsal on Wednesday 17th May from 14:00.
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    Minsk Court Dismisses Charges Against Opposition Leader

    From: RL/RFE
    A court in Minsk has quashed criminal proceedings against Stanislau Shushkevich, a former speaker of the Belarusian parliament and leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party Hramada.
    Shushkevich had been charged with organizing an unsanctioned rally of solidarity with political prisoners on May 1 in Minsk, but a district court today said his conduct during the rally "did not constitute a criminal offense."

    Belarus to check Georgia’s Borzhomi quality

    From: Itar/Tass
    Belarus will check the quality of Georgia’ s Borzhomi mineral water by demand of Chief Public Health Official Mikhail Rimzha.
    “Sanitary and hygienic control of samples of the Georgian Borzhomi mineral water will be done because of the Borzhomi situation in Russia,” Rimzha said at a Friday health care conference in Minsk.

    Alexander Lukashenko Prepares for a Hostile Takeover

    From: Kommersant
    Gazprom rejected all Belarusian proposals to maintain its low natural gas prices yesterday. The Russian company is insisting on introducing the market price for gas in Belarus in 2007. Moreover, Moscow is preparing to exert broad economic pressure on Minsk. According to information obtained by Kommersant, Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently ordered a complete cessation of subsidies to the Belarusian economy. That move threatens the Lukashenko regime with serious upheaval, unless he agrees to the formation of a union state on Moscow's terms.
    Yesterday, Kommersant has learned, Beltransgaz representatives personally handed Gazprom managers new proposals for the maintenance of low gas prices in Belarus in 2007. We continue to be in contact with our Belarusian colleagues and we are discussing individual technical and technological projects,” said Gazprom press secretary Sergey Kupriyanov. The company is not commenting on the contents of the new packet of proposals or on their outcome. According to Kommersant's information, all the proposals were rejected because they did not provide the Russian monopoly control over the Belarusian pipeline system. Gazprom has confirmed that the company's position on raising gas prices for Belarus to market level has not changed.
    Gazprom is carrying out the direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin in its negotiations with the Belarusians. Kommersant sources in the Kremlin say that Putin signed an instruction on May 9 on changes in Russia's trade, economic, credit and financial relations with Belarus. A source close to the Gazprom board of directors confirmed the existence of a presidential instruction on Belarus yesterday, although he noted that “it's not likely to be in the form of an order.”
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    More coverage of this story can be found "HERE" and "HERE"

    Belarus adopts nature protection guidelines for 2006-2010

    From: NLIPRB
    By his decree Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko adopted the national plan of actions to rationalize environmental protection and the use of natural resources designed for 2006-2010.
    The national plan was adopted to facilitate the pursuance of the unified ecological strategy for the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia adopted at the fifth conference of nature protection ministers in Kiev in 2003.
    As an implement of planning of the national ecological policy, the plan aims at rationalizing the use of natural resources, downsizing harmful impacts on the environment, further ecological reinvigoration of the country, developing applied research to promote the use of energy-saving and low-waste technologies, upgrading production facilities and providing a wider application to recycled resources, the president’s press-service told BelTA.
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    Belarus creating united military transportation system

    From: NLIPRB
    A united system of transport support for the Armed Forces and other military units is being created in Belarus in line with the Armed Forces Development Plan for 2006-2010. The head of state has signed corresponding decree #312 "Certain measures to improve transport support of Armed Forces, other troops, and military units", the Belarusian president's press service informed.
    According to the decree, the existing railroad, automobile, and motorway troops will be used to create transport troops, which is a special type of military units meant to provide transport support to Belarus armed forces. The railway troops department and the defence ministry's body in charge of military communication, automobile and motorway troops will be used to create the transport troops management body — the transport support department of the Belarusian defence ministry.
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    EU to freeze assets of the Belarusian leaders

    From: Tolblogs
    Financial Times Deutschland (via Reuters) report that EU is about to freeze the assets of Lukashenko and 30 other people that are kept in the EU.
    That’s a move that’s long overdue: even if Lukashenko & Co did keep some money or other assets abroad, they had about two months to secure that those are safely trasnferred to Russia, China, or Venezuela. That’s the main problem with this sort of sanctions: before imposing them, the EU would debate them endlessly for a few months; in the meantime, those who are to be punished will dispose of the evidence…
    On a different note, I already anticipate a propaganda campaign on the Belarusian television, investigating the bank history of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition. Somehow, I feel that even all of their books are in order, the state media will still manipulate the facts to find something threatening the national security.
    So, I hope these sanctions won’t backfire on the fate of democracy in Belarus… But if Lukashenko does keep his money with the enemy (i.e. EU), then he is really silly.
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