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Monday, May 22, 2006

EurAsEC comes to Minsk, Asset freeze is on; 36 names, Fradkov Pro-Belarus, Da Vinci Code censored, Arabs come to BY, Finland ends world Hockey run

From the Top

Bringing Authorities Closer to People

From: The office of the president

The president addresses the Council of Ministers
Within the next shortest period, the ways of improving the work of local governments and self-governments at the primary level should receive priority attention. This point of view was expressed by President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on May 18 when addressing a meeting on enhancing the role of the primary-level bodies of authority in addressing life sustenance needs of the population.

As the Belarusian leader pointed out, recently a new composition of the government was formed, and the system of the republican bodies of state administration was optimized. “In carrying out this work, we proceeded from the fact that the bodies of authority work in a satisfactory way at this stage, therefore no great changes were made, and, what is more, there wasn’t any essential breaking of the republican level of governance,” the President noted. The country’s “vertical line” of authority has been accomplished and it is reliably functioning according to the principle: republic - administrative region - district - town.

Today there are 1,385 rural, 67 village and 13 municipal executive committees subordinate to regional authorities. According to the president, these are big forces. The local authorities should pursue the state policy in the rural areas and small townships, solve problems of local citizens and really improve the quality of their lives.

Bringing authorities closer to people, to each individual, should be started from the primary, the most mass-scale level. From the institutions to which people most often apply, said Alexander Lukashenko. The President underscored that at the Third All-Belarus People’s Assembly a task was put forward to all the structures of the state authority: to promptly address the needs of the people and hence the current meeting is being held with a view to finding solutions to this problem.

EurAsEC comes to Minsk

From: Belta
alexander Lukashenka meeting with the heads of government of the EurAsian Economic Community member states
Belarus treasures its close partnership with EurAsEC states and expects the common efforts to produce an effective single economic space for the good of the countries and nations of the Commonwealth. The statement was made by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, as he met with EurAsEC prime ministers.

The Belarusian president noted, it is the first time Minsk has welcomed prime ministers of six states of the Eurasian Economic Community. “Today’s meeting is not merely a formal one,” stressed Alexander Lukashenko. In his words, the Belarusian side expects the negotiations to be creative and businesslike and contribute to an increase in the scale and quality of cooperation within EurAsEC.

The Belarusian head of state noted, today’s meeting begins a range of important events the Belarusian capital is to host. In a week Minsk will play host to a meeting of EurAsEC national parliaments, and in a month the city will welcome heads of states.

The goal of the EurAsEC is to encourage mutual investments of the member-states.

As Alexander Lukashenko stressed, until recently the EurAsEC had very low volume of mutual investments. The president believes “for the integration to be effective, it should involve economic entities, research institutions of the Community member-states”.

That was the reason why Belarus initiated and prepared relevant proposals on interstate target programs in microelectronics, bio-technology, production sphere and healthcare, Alexander Lukashenko noted. “Taking part in joint programs would unite raw material, production and intellectual resources of the countries to address innovation and production challenges”, he considers. The president of Belarus also hopes that the EurAsEC countries will find these proposals interesting.

Alexander Lukashenko believes, unification of internal and transit railway transportation tariffs in EurAsEC would boost the interregional trade, step up integration cooperation and business contacts between producers in EurAsEC states.

The Belarusian president noted, simultaneously with setting up a customs union it is important to fully use the transit potential and address energy security issues. According to Alexander Lukashenko, these are common priorities for EurAsEC member-states.

“This, in many things, is fueled by duty free trade between the EurAsEC member-states. Complementary economic systems act as the platform for further integration. As result, all members of the Community have recently posted economic growth and better macro-economic performance”, he said.

EU to freeze Belarus president's assets

From: INT. Securety Network
The EU agreed today to freeze the assets of Belarusian President Aleksandar Lukashenko and 35 other officials in response to the presidential election in Belarus in March. While Lukashenko is widely believed to have made a fortune in his presidential post in Belarus, hard evidence of this has not yet been produced. Is the EU move just a symbolic punishment imposed on the Belarusian authoritarian regime or have EU investigators discovered some hidden funds in EU banks?
The evidence to support such claims is sketchy and comes mainly from public pronouncements of former Belarusian officials who have fallen out of favor with Lukashenko.
One such official is Valery Levaneuski, a leader of small vendors in Belarus, who spent two years in prison on charges of defaming Lukashenko in a 2004 May Day leaflet, which featured the phrase: "Come and say no to someone holidaying in Austria, skiing there, and living well at your expense."
The leaflet hinted at Lukashenko's earlier winter holiday at a ski resort in Austria, where the Belarusian president traveled on his own plane and with his own bodyguards. Levaneuski apparently wondered how Lukashenko had managed to pay his holiday bill from his presidential salary, which he claims to be his sole source of income.
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    Mikhail Fradkov Pushes for Belarus-Russia Union State

    From: Kommersant
    Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov took part in Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) Interstate Council session in Minsk yesterday. It was the participants’ bilateral problems, and not those of the EurAsEC, that took the limelight. Mikhail Fradkov whose main interest in Minsk was Belarus, pressed it to accomplish its promise to create the Union State with Russia. Otherwise, Belarus should not count upon harmonious relations with Russia, or, rather, cheap natural gas.
    Leaders of the EurAsEC member-states (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) recollect of its existence only a few times a year. Yesterday’s session was joined by Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkad Mirziyaev (Uzbekistan joined the EurAsEC in January 2006). Yesterday’s session proved once and again that there are too many bilateral problems.

    One of the issues on the EurAsEC’s agenda was the formation of a customs union. Belarus Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky claimed the customs rate would be completely unified by the end of 2006. Yet, the unification process had been too slow to end in 2006.

    Mikhail Fradkov reminded Sergey Sidorsky of the necessity to create Russia-Belarus Union State soon. Fradkov said that any delay endangers the situation, especially for Belarus. Gazprom intends to raise the price on natural gas for Belarus, the latter protests. Belarus was promised lower gas price in exchange for creation of the Union State with Russia.

    Yet, Belarus did not make any concessions to Russia yesterday. It did not revoke its claims to compensate its budget losses which it thinks will appear when joining into the Union State. Belarus demanded $ billion compensation for its integration with Russia. Besides, Minsk refuses to discuss export taxes on light oils, the transition to ruble as common currency both for Russia and Belarus, and does not want to lower customs taxes.

    Development of the EurAsEC is nearly more successful that that of the Union State. The EurAsEC budget was settled yesterday—145 million rubles. Russia paid in 40 percent (58.1 million rubles), Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan each paid 15 percent, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—7.5 percent each. All EurAsEC members believe the CIS should be reformed. However, Mikhail Fradkov does not take big interest in the CIS. This year he decided to send Vice Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov instead of himself.

    Showing Da Vinci Code may be stopped in Byelorussia

    From: Interfax
    Minsk, May 19, Interfax - Byelorussian movie-lovers who have failed to buy tickets for the first day of the Da Vinci Code showing may not see it in Byelorussian movie theatres.
    As Vasily Koktysh, director of Kinovideoprokat distribution company, told Interfax on Friday, the movie theatres in Minsk stopped the advance selling of tickets for this film.
    He explained that his company took this decision because of the stand taken by the faithful, ‘who are doubtful about the film’. He also reported that ‘tickets bought for today and the upcoming weekend are valid’.
    The rector of the Catholic church of Sts Simenon and Alena, Father Vladislav Zavalnyuk, went on a hunger strike on Thursday in protest against the showing of Da Vinci Code in Byelorussian movie theatres.
    According to Koktysh, ‘if the clergy go on a hunger strike because of the film, it is easier to take a reasonable decision in this situation than to enter into confrontation with them’.
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    US, Russia, Belarus: Politics of democracy

    From: ISN
    The presidents of Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, and Lithuania launched the new regional organization at a meeting in the Crimea in August last year, where they decided to create "an alternative Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) without Russia". Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko proposed the creation of a Community of Democratic Choice in accordance with the principles of the Community of Democracies – an informal US-backed forum launched in 1999 to promote liberal goals such as support for civil society, free and fair elections, independent judiciary, transparency, and accountability of governance.
    The US had already attempted to establish a similar pro-Western regional organization linking the Black Sea region with Central Asia, known as GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) in the 1990s. However, the project lacked both political stability and ideological orientations. Moreover, the Uzbek decision in 2005 to evict the US from its military bases there and to enhance strategic cooperation with China and Russia further weakened GUUAM.
    On the contrary, should a Lithuanian-Polish axis strengthen its ties with a Ukrainian-Georgian combine, a new alignment would see the light - and one that would share common security concerns, consistent energy routes, and a pro-Western liberal ideology.
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    Al-Ahmar Visits Monument of Khatin Village in Belarus

    From: (Syria)
    Assistant Secretary General of the Bath Arab Socialist Party Abdullah al-Ahmar said on Saturday the new Nazism practices in Palestine and South Lebanon are similar to those perpetrated in the second world war by the German Nazi.
    Al-Ahmar wrote in a word at the end of his visit to the monument of the Belarus village of Khatin, that massacres committed and are still perpetrated by the new Nazi forces embodied by the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories in Palestine, Golan and south Lebanon are similar to the world war II massacres in Belarus and other countries invaded by the German Nazi."
    He added while we are standing with respect before those citizens sacrifices, we emphasize that people's battles to get their liberty and independence as well as defeat the occupiers are not realized without a price being paid.
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    Al Khonji is honorary consul of Belarus

    From: Times of Oman (Oman)
    Prominent Omani businessman and member of the Sanad executive committee, Khalil bin Abdullah Al Khonji, has been appointed honorary consul of Belarus.
    The step aims at further promoting the ties between the two nations and activation of commercial, tourism, and cultural relations between Oman and Belarus.
    Khalil, who was recently awarded by the government for his efforts to promote the cause of Omanisation, which in turn has helped create jobs in many sectors, said he was honoured to represent Belarus in the capacity of a consul (honorary) in Oman. “This job entails me with the responsibility of looking after the welfare of Belarus citizens in Oman,” Khalil Al Khonji told the Times of Oman.
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    Finland blank Belarus 3-0 to ease into semis

    From: Reuters sports
    Veteran defenseman Petteri Nummelin set up two goals to lead Finland to a 3-0 shutout over Belarus and into the world championship semi-finals on Thursday.
    Riku Hanl opened the scoring with an even-strength marker midway through the first period while Finland captain Ville Peltonen and Olli Jokinen added two more in the third to seal a comfortable victory for the Olympic silver medallists.
    Nummelin, 33, playing in his 12th world championship, assisted on the last two goals to take his points total to 10 -- top among defensemen at this tournament.
    Belarus, a surprise package of this tournament after beating 2002 champions Slovakia and Switzerland early on, could do little to seriously challenge the disciplined Finns and break Fredrik Norrena's shutout.
    In Saturday's semi-finals, the Finns will take on defending champions the Czech Republic, who scored a dramatic extra-time 4-3 victory over previously undefeated Russia in the earlier game.
    Canada and Olympic champions Sweden booked their places in the last four on Wednesday.

    Success at Worlds a
    beacon for Belarus

    At its very best, hockey transcends international politics. In a time when most headlines about the former Soviet republic of Belarus are dominated by the country's chilly relations with the United States and Canada, an uplifting story of cooperation and unity between a North American coach (Washington's Glen Hanlon) and the Belarusian team he's coaching has quietly unfolded at the 2006 World Hockey Championships in Riga, Latvia.
    For the first time in its short history, Team Belarus has earned a place in the medal round of the World Championships. Belarus accomplished the feat by virtue of a second-place finish in pool play and a 2-1 win over Switzerland in the medal round qualification portion of the tournament.
    "We owe our success to Glen Hanlon," Belarus forward Dmitri Dudik told the media at the tournament. "He came all the way from North America to coach this team again. He is the reason we are successful, and he has us believing in ourselves."
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    Belarus ready to exchange Beltranzgaz to Russia

    From: Kommersant
    First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko was quoted by the ITAR-TASS agency as saying “We are prepared to exchange assets, to place 50 percent of Beltransgaz in a Belarusian-Russian independent gas transport enterprise and receive assets in Gazprom's gas producing structures that would allow us to produce 10-12 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year in Russia.” That way, Belarus would preserve its cheap gas supply in the face of Gazprom's intentions of sharply raising the price of gas to that country.
    This is not the first time the offer has come from Belarus. Belarusian presidential representative Vasily Dolgolev announced that that deal was ready after the negotiations between Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. Semashko claims that negotiations on that topic are underway. Press secretary of the head of Gazprom Sergey Kupriyanov told Kommersant that “We have received no official proposals for the exchange of assets. We found out about their existence yesterday from an information agency.”
    Belarus now pays $46.68 per cu. m. of Russian gas. That is half the price Ukraine pays and a third of the price the Baltic countries pay. Gazprom has announced that it will charge Belarus a market price beginning in 2007, mentioning $145 per cu. m. Semashko repeated yesterday that Belarus is prepared to pay only an 11-percent increase in gas prices, calling the sharp price hike for “an ally” incorrect. The Belarusian proposal is structurally similar to the agreement Gazprom has reached with the German BASF to trade shares in its Severneftegazprom producer for a larger chunk of Wingas, BASF's gas trader. Gazprom is nonetheless not allowing its foreign partner direct access to gas production but only participation in an independent enterprise in which Gazprom would retain the controlling package. Judging from the statements of Belarusian officials, that country is interested in receiving a Russian gas field, for which there have no precedents.

    UNDER 19 CHAMPIONSHIP: Belarus out to beat the odds

    Belarus are out to capitalise on home advantage as they welcome France, Scotland and Bulgaria to Minsk for Elite round Group 3 of the 2005/06 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
    Qualifying recovery
    The Belarussians have never qualified for a U19 finals and have reached this stage only once before, last season. Yet Yuri Pyshnik's side have reason to be confident having progressed from a tough qualifying round section despite opening their campaign with a 6-2 defeat by Germany. A goalless draw with the Netherlands and a 2-1 victory against Greece earned a runners-up berth, with Pyshnik pointing out: "After that group we're not afraid of anyone. The boys deserved some praise for their character, determination and will to win. They were not broken by a big loss to the Germans, recovered in the two remaining games and were better than their opponents."
    Dinamo contribution
    FC Dinamo Minsk will provide the majority of the squad with goalkeeper Pavel Shishei and midfield trio Sergei Kislyak, Anton Putilo and Sergei Gigevich the bedrock of the side. Pyshnik, whose team defeated club sides FC Baranovichi and FC Veras in early March before losing narrowly to Dinamo, makes no bones about his high ambitions, explaining: "I don't understand how any coach can ever say that the result doesn't matter. In any sport you have to have will to win. By winning, you develop character and fighting spirit. If one gets used to losing, it is hard to achieve anything at all."
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    Belarus mulls oil supplies from Azerbaijan

    From: UPI
    Belarus said it will begin studying prospects of supplies of oil and oil products from Azerbaijan.
    Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakow said after the third session of the Belarusian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental meeting on trade and economic cooperation that the government will consider prospects of getting oil supplies from Azerbaijan given the growing prices for oil and transportation expenses, Belapan news agency reported.
    Oil supplies from Azerbaijan to Belarus "are a very big and serious reality," he said.

    Russia and Belarus eyeing common transportation system

    From: ROS
    Russian Transportation Minister Igor Levitin and Vladimir Sosnovsky, Belarusian Minister of Transport and Communication signed a joint action plan for 2006-2007, aimed at establishing a single transportation system in the Union State, in Dublin yesterday.
    The document proposes that Russian and Belarusian transportation companies should pursue a common policy on third countries' markets. Also, the plan outlines the development of Eurasian transportation corridors passing through Belarus and Russia.
    According to Mayak Radio, the talks were part of a two-day session of the European Conference of Transport Ministers in Dublin.

    Belarus - Council adopts financial restrictive measures for 36 Belarusians

    From: Europa EU
    The Council adopted a common position amending common position 2006/276/CFCP imposing restrictive measures against certain officials of Belarus by freezing all funds and economic resources of persons who are responsible for the violations of international electoral standards and the crackdown on civil society and the democratic opposition in the context of the 19 March 2006 presidential elections and those natural or legal persons, entities or bodies associated with them, as listed in the annex (8818/06). The common position also specifies that no funds or economic resources shall be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of the persons concerned.
    The 36 individuals to be targeted by the restrictive measures are as follows:

    1. Lukashenko Aleksandr Grigorievich (30.08.1954 Kopys, Vitebsk district) President
    2. Nevyglas Gennady Nikolaevich (11.02.1954 Parahonsk, Pinsk district) Head of President's Administration
    3. Petkevich Natalya Vladimirovna (24.10.1972 Minsk) Deputy Head of President's administration
    4. Rubinov Anatoly Nikolaevich (15.04.1939 Mogilev) Deputy Head in charge of media and ideology, PA
    5. Proleskovsky Oleg Vitoldovich (01.10.1963 Zagorsk - Russia, now Sergijev Posad) Aide and Head of the Main Ideological department, PA
    6. Radkov Aleksandr Mikhailovich (01.07.1951 Votnya) Minister of Education
    7. Rusakevich Vladimir Vasilyevich (13.09.1947 Vygonoshchi) Minister of Information
    8. Golovanov Viktor Grigoryevich (1952 Borisov) Minister of Justice
    9. Zimovsky Alexander (10.01.1961 Germany) Member of the Upper House of the Parliament; Head of the national state teleradio company
    10. Konoplyev Vladimir Nikolaevich (03.01.1954 Akulintsy) Chairman of the Lower House of the Parliament
    11. Cherginets Nikolai Ivanovich (17.10.1937 Minsk) Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Upper House
    12. Kostyan Sergei Ivanovich (15.01.1941 Usokhi, Mogilevdistrict) Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lower House
    13. Orda Mikhail Sergeevich (28.09.1966 Dyatlovo, Grodnodistrict) Member of the Upper House, leader of BRSM
    14. Lozovik Nikolai Ivanovich (18.01.1951 Nevinyany, Minskdistrict), Deputy of the Central Election Commission of Belarus
    15. Miklashevich Petr Petrovich (1954 Kosuta, Minskdistrict) Prosecutor General
    16. Slizhevsky Oleg Leonidovich, Head of the Division of Social organisations, parties and NGOs, Ministry of Justice
    17. Khariton Aleksandr, Consultant of the Division of Social organisations, parties and NGOs of the Ministry of Justice
    18. Smirnov Evgeny Aleksandrovich (15.03.1949 Ryazandistrict, Russia), First Deputy of the Chairman of the Economic Court
    19. Reutskaya Nadezhda Zalovna, Judge of the Moscow district of Minsk
    20. Trubnikov Nikolai Alekseevich, Judge of the Partizanskiy disctrict of Minsk
    21. Kupriyanov Nikolai Mikhailovich, Deputy Prosecutor General
    22. Sukhorenko Stepan Nikolaevich (27.01.1957 Zdudichi, Mogilevdistrict) Chairman of KGB
    23. Dementei Vasily Ivanovich, First deputy, KGB
    24. Kozik Leonid Petrovich (13.07.1948 Borisov) Head of the Federation of Trade Unions
    25. Koleda Alexandr Mikhailovich, Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Brest district
    26. Mikhasev Vladimir Ilyich, Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Gomel district
    27. Luchina Leonid Aleksandrovich (18.11.1947 Minsk district) Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Grodno district
    28. Karpenko Igor Vasilievich (28.04.1964 Novokuznetsk, Russia)Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Minsk City
    29. Kurlovich Vladimir Anatolievich, Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Minsk district
    30. Metelitsa Nikolai Timofeevich, Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Mogilev district
    31. Pishchulenok Mikhail Vasilievich, Сhairman of the Central Election Commission of the Vitebsk district
    32. Sheyman Victor Vladimirovich (26.05.1958 Grodno region) State Secretary of the Security Council
    33. Pavlichenko Dmitri Valeriyevich (1966 Vitebsk), Head of the Special Response Group at the Ministry of the Interior (SOBR)
    34. Naumov, Vladimir Vladimïrovich (1956) Minister of the Interior
    35. Yermoshina Lydia Mihajlovna (29.01.1953 Slutsk -Minsk Region) Chairwoman of the Central Election Commission
    36. Podobed Yuri Nikolaevich (05.03.1962 Slutsk-Minsk Region) Lieutenant-Colonel of Militia, Unit for Special Purposes (OMON), Ministry of Internal Affairs