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Sunday, June 18, 2006

National Library opens, Belarus urges peace with Eu, Eu plans to drop BY from preferential list, Jewish News, Sport, Russia, Ukraine

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Belarus president opens new National Library


Such a unique object as the National Library has been built due to professionalism of Belarusian specialists. Latest technologies and Belarus-made materials were used for this purpose, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated when answering questions of reporters during an official opening ceremony of the National Library.

According to the head of state, the main requirement was to build the high-quality library without assistance of foreign experts. Alexander Lukashenko told that the initial plans were considerably changed as the design was approved and innovated. “We were building such an object for the first time and now we know what it costs. The main thing is that there is everything Belarusian in the library - from ideas and technologies to materials and furniture”.

“Erection of the National Library has become truly nationwide in scope. As we put it “the whole community” was involved in its construction. Implementation of this major national project has once more demonstrated the creative capacity of the Belarusian people. It has given a proof of our unity and our ableness to accomplish grandiose things,” said the Head of State Alexander Lukashenko at the inauguration ceremony of the new building of the Belarus National Library.

Alexander Lukashenko has underlined that the result of such joint cooperation is the National Library, which will serve people.

Belarus Urges EU To Improve Ties

From: RFE/RL

Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has urged the European Union to "abandon confrontation" and improve ties strained by visa bans.
EU Ambassador Ian Boag said the EU was always prepared to work with Belarus -- but on condition it accepts the 25-nation's values.
While calling for closer ties, Lukashenka said Belarus will "never submit to diktat, whatever its source."
Both the EU and the United States slapped visa bans on Lukashenka and 30 senior officials to denounce what they said was a rigged presidential election that, in March, returned Lukashenka to a third term. The EU accused Lukashenka also of muzzling opponents, closing down media and denying freedom of assembly.
Belarus imposed a reciprocal ban without saying which EU officials it might affect.

Council of Republic ratifies Belarusian-Russian agreement on equal rights for citizens of two states

From: Belta

Today the Council of the Republic ratified several international agreements. This is an agreement between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on providing equal rights for citizens for freedom of movement, choice of the place of stay and residence on the territory of the states – parties to the Union State Treaty, protocols to the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Community connected with Uzbekistan’s accession to the organization, correction documents to the Charter and Convention of the International Electrical Communication Union.
Chairman of the permanent commission for international affairs and national security of the upper chamber of the Belarusian parliament Nikolai Cherginets presented the corresponding draft laws. He made a point of the Belarusian-Russian agreement on providing equal rights for citizens for freedom of movement, which gives an opportunity to freely enter, leave, stay, go by transit and choose the place of residence on the territory of the two states. The agreement will simplify the procedure of obtaining Russian residence permits for Belarusians, the parliamentarian informed. Now a Belarusian only should have his ID for this purpose. The agreement also provides for abolishing of the registration at the place of stay 30 days after the entry to the country.
The protocols to the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Community, approved by the Council of the Republic, determine the rights and obligations of Uzbekistan in connection with its accession to this international organization. They also determine the order of considering votes when the integration committee takes decisions and basis of contribution of the states to the EurAsEC budget.

Russia: Will Putin Pursue Third Term, Or Will It Pursue Him?

From: RFL/RE

In Russian politics, there is Vladimir Putin, and there is everybody else. The Russian leader, enjoying a robust 77-percent approval rating well into his second term, would likely have no serious rivals in the country's 2008 presidential elections. But the constitution, as it stands, forbids a third consecutive term in office.
Virtually from the moment Putin was inaugurated for his second term in office in May 2004, attention was already focused on whether a third term would follow.
In a country with a fondness for strong leadership, it was a reasonable question to ask.
But Putin, time and again, has appeared to dismiss the idea, citing the constitution's two-term presidential limit.
Still, the idea won't go away. In fact, it appears to be gaining strength.
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    Ukraine again faces increase in gas prices

    From: Internation Herald Tribune

    Ukraine, economically ill- prepared and without a government, faces a new demand from Russia to pay more for natural gas in a move that could bring another confrontation between Moscow and Kiev just six months after Russia stopped supplying gas to Ukraine because of a dispute over energy charges.
    Gazprom, Russia's state-owned energy giant, said Tuesday that a new round of talks on gas prices would start in July, but it warned that the negotiations with Ukraine could be very difficult. "There is no government in Ukraine. There is no head of the gas sector," a Gazprom spokesman said. "Even more worrying, Ukraine is not putting enough gas into their underground storage facilities, which could affect gas supplies to Europe."
    Ukrainian government officials said Tuesday that they were more focused now on trying to form a coalition government, adding that they were waiting to see what kind of offer Gazprom would put on the table.
    Ukraine has been without a government since March when parliamentary elections failed to produce any outright winner. Since then, the former leaders of the democratic Orange Revolution of December 2004, President Viktor Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine party have been at loggerheads with a bloc led by former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko over who would head the next government.
    "Ukraine is completely unprepared for the negotiations with Russia," said Ivan Poltavets, an energy expert at the independent Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting in Kiev. "The situation in the country is now very unclear. There is nobody with whom to negotiate over gas prices. Everyone is waiting for a new government."
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    Belarus reacts harshly to a growing pressure from the Kremlin.

    From: Ria Novosti

    In a meeting with Altai Territory Governor Alexander Karlin, he said that Belarus would never become part of Russia or sell the Beltransgaz pipeline concern at the balance cost.
    This is no news at all. What is important is that Lukashenko has opted for conflict and against accepting Moscow's offer of a joint venture with Beltransgaz.
    Alexander Karlin is an unusual governor. Before his appointment, he headed the presidential department for state service and his functions included a reform of state service carried out under the guidance of Dmitry Medvedev, now first deputy prime minister.
    In other words, Karlin has most probably maintained close ties with the Kremlin administration and Medvedev.
    Although he most likely went to Belarus as an unofficial Kremlin envoy, and a person whose formal status is much lower than that of his interlocutor, Lukashenko discussed top priority issues with him. He said by raising gas prices for Belarus Russia violated the principle of equal rights of the two countries' companies. According to Lukashenko, if gas prices are raised for Belarus, this should also affect the Russian parties. He said he was surprised that gas for enterprises in Smolensk (central European Russia) was cheaper than for Belarusian companies.
    "Economically-wise, we want to work as a united country," the Belarusian president said. This statement was almost immediately followed by a declaration that Belarus was a self-sufficient country and would never agree to become incorporated into Russia.
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  • Religious News

    Newborn Baby Undergoes Brit Mila in Belarus

    From: FJC

    BOBRUISK, Belarus – A festive occasion marking the first ever Brit Mila carried out in Bobruisk since the Communist regime was held in this Belarusian city.
    The circumcision was held for the son of the Head of the local Jewish community Igal Tzernin. Public figures and community members were invited to the festivity organized by Rabbi Boruch Lamdan and his wife Chaya. The newly-circumcised baby was given the name Levy.
    Igal Tzernin was elected the Head of the Jewish Community three years ago. Over two years ago, he and his two sons underwent a circumcision ceremony. Two years later, Mrs. Tzernin gave birth to a baby boy, who is now celebrating Brit Mila in Bobruisk, the very first ceremony held in this city for more than 70 years. Deeply moved by the ancient ritual, the participants shed tears of joy.
    Circumcisions have been illegal in Belarus.

    Belarus Jewish leader protests after
    teacher is pressured for Purim party

    From: JTA

    A Jewish leader in Belarus has sent a letter to Belarusian officials arguing that a local prosecutor illegally forced a Jewish kindergarten teacher to remove Jewish symbols from classrooms.
    Yakov Basin, the deputy leader of the country’s Jewish community, sent the letter last month, after the prosecutor said Lyudmila Izakson-Bolotovskaya violated the law by holding Jewish religious celebrations inside the school, which is located in a government-owned building in the city of Mogilev.
    But a Jewish official in the Belarusian capital of Minsk said it is unlikely that the development in Mogilev had anti-Semitic overtones.
    “There have never been any problems between Jewish organizations and authorities in Mogilev,” said Viktoria Brumina, executive director of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Organizations and Communities, an umbrella group. “To the contrary, the city officials always treated the Jewish community extremely well.”
    The prosecutor’s action came after Purim celebrations in the kindergarten, featuring a children’s Jewish musical group, were shown on local television news.
    Prosecutors argued that Izakson-Bolotovskaya, who also leads the music group, violated the children’s rights, and that television coverage of the event illegally propagated Judaism. The teacher was warned that she might be prosecuted if the actions are repeated.
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    More coverage of this story can be found "HERE"

    Cardinal Swiatek Steps Down at Age 91


    Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, a survivor of the Soviet gulags, who retired as head of the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev, in Belarus.
    The 91-year-old cardinal had spent 10 years of his life in Soviet forced-labor camps.
    The Vatican press office reported Wednesday that the Pope has named Auxiliary Bishop Antoni Dziemianko of Minsk-Mohilev as apostolic administrator of the vacant see.
    On Sept. 27, 2004, Pope John Paul II awarded the Fidei Testis (Witness of Faith) prize to Archbishop Swiatek, conferred by the Paul VI Institute in recognition of heroism in living the faith.
    "One could only endure with faith," explained the cardinal when asked how he was able to cope in the labor camps.
    Born on Oct. 21, 1914, Kazimierz Swiatek was ordained a priest on April 8, 1939, a few months before invading forces occupied eastern Poland, where his parish was located.
    He was arrested and kept in the Brzesc prison, where in the course of two months he was interrogated 59 times. On June 21, 1941, he was released by the people of the town, taking advantage of the disorder caused by the German offensive.
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    Sudan, Belarus ink military cooperation agreement

    From: Sudan Tribune

    Sudan and Belarus inked a military cooperation protocol covering training, exchange of experiences, and military science fields.
    Minister of Defence Gen. Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein signed for Sudan while Minister of National Defence of Belarus signed for Belarus side.
    In his address to the joint meeting between the two sides, Hussein praised the cooperation the Armed Forces delegation found from the command of the Belarus armed forces, affirming that the cooperation between the two countries will witness tangible progress in military cooperation and other domains.
    Minister of Defense of Belarus, on his part, expressed the desire of his country to boost bilateral relations in all spheres.
    It is to be noted that Minister of National Defence concluded a three-day visit to Belarus Thursday during which he held talks with Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs of Belarus, aimed to strengthen political, economic and military relations with special focus on qualifying the Armed Forces making use of Belarus’s experiences in this connection.
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    Harassed Belarusian Newspaper Editor Seeks Asylum in Ukraine

    From: MosNews

    Reporters Without Borders today voiced support for the political asylum request which Andrei Shentorovich, the founder and editor of the Belarusian independent weekly Mestnaya Gazeta, made yesterday in Ukraine, according to an RWB press-release, forwarded to UNIAN news agency.
    Constantly harassed by Belarusian authorities for years, Shentorovich finally left Belarus on 27 March, eight days after President Alexandre Lukashenko’s controversial reelection. Based in the western city of Volkovysk, Mestnaya Gazeta was one of Belarus’ few independent publications. Shentorovich had been publishing it since 2001.
    “We are tired of seeing how the harassment of independent journalists continues to increase in Belarus,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Shentorovich is not the only editor to have left the country in recent years to escape the systematic political repression. His decision is yet further evidence that dissident journalists are pushed to the limit and then forced out.”
    Shentorovich was arbitrarily arrested on 18 March, a day before the presidential election. He told Reporters Without Borders that the Volkovysk police forced him to get out of his car and hauled him off to prison. Charged with hooliganism, he was sentenced to three days in detention in a summary trial on 19 March.
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    Putin admits progress in building Russia-Belarus state absent

    From: Itar Tass

    Russian President Vladimir Putin admits the absence of real progress in the efforts to build a Russia-Belarus Union State, but the union cannot be forced on Belarus. Meanwhile, the real integration is going on, particularly in the format of the Eurasian Economic Community and the CIS Common Economic Space.
    "We have no tension with Belarus, but there is also no progress in the construction of the Union State, anyway within those terms and in the form that we agreed on," Putin regretted.
    "But integration is going on," Putin said, meaning the creation of the Eurasian Economic Community and the Common Economic Space. As for the Common Economic Space, the documents are not signed yet, but the work is going on, he pointed out. "This may take place before autumn," Putin believes.
    "Nothing can be stepped up and, moreover, imposed," Putin said in reply to a journalist’s query about the relations with Belarus. "It should be realised what we want and be patient," he remarked.

    EU’s Plan to Eject Belarus From GSP May Deal Heavy Blow to Lukashenko Regime

    From: MosNews
    Belarus is on the way to joining Burma as the second country in history to get kicked out of the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) on trade, with the European Commission dropping hints it will recommend the move to member states in June or July, EU Observer reports.
    “We can expect in the weeks to come that the commission will convey a recommendation to the council,” a commission official told EU Observer on Tuesday (13 June), adding “We are lacking at this stage satisfactory evidence that Belarus is in compliance with ILO [International Labor Organization] commitments.”
    The decision hinges on Belarus violating ILO rules on workers’ rights such as freedom of association, with an ILO report on 12 June and an International Confederation of Trade Unions’ report in May stating things “changed for the worse” in the past year despite an ongoing EU probe.
    Any commission recommendation would have very strong chances of approval in the EU council — the member states’ decision-making body — with the clarity of GSP and ILO rules making it hard for EU governments to block the suspension without looking weak on the Lukashenko regime.
    Under the GSP process, the suspension would enter into force six months later and could only be reversed by a fresh council decision.
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    Russia, Belarus begin joint military exercise

    From: ChinaView

    A large-scale Russian-Belarussian military exercise code-named "Union Shield 2006" began in Belarus on Saturday.
    The exercise was designed to coordinate the issues of defense of the Russia-Belarus Union State and test the quality of the united air defense system the two countries are creating, an official at the Belarussian Defense Ministry was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.
    "The participating units will fulfill the combat tasks so as to defend the borders of Russia and Belarus, as well as other member-states of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization,"he said.
    The war games, involving a total of 8,800 troops, 1,800 of them from Russia, and over 40 tanks, 180 armored vehicles and 48 helicopters and warplanes, are under a joint command consisting of officers from Russian and Belarussian Armed Forces and Russia's Moscow Military District.
    The newest multifunction fighters Su-30, interceptors Su-27SM, fighters MIG-29, Mi-8MT and Mi-24 helicopters are also joining in the exercise.



    After the great preparatory work the National Committee on Bioethics at the Ministry of Health Care of the Republic of Belarus was established with the support of UNESCO. The International Seminar “The National Committee on Bioethics in Belarus & Activity of Local (Regional) Bioethics Committees: the experience of Eastern and Central Europe” held on 6-8 June 2006 in Minsk (Belarus). The seminar was dedicated to this event.
    The seminar was jointly organized by Belarusian State Medical University and Belarusian State Economy University with the support of the National Commission for UNESCO of the Republic of Belarus, the UNESCO Moscow Office and the Ministry of Healthcare of Belarus. The goal of this meeting was to raise the competence of members of National and Local Committees’ in questions of organizing the activity of committees and providing of ethical expertise of biomedical research.
    The outstanding specialists in the field of bioethics from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova participated in the seminar. Among them were Zbignew Szawarsky (Poland), Оlga Kubar (Russia), Boris Yudin (Russia), Pavel Tishchenko (Russia), Elena Malysheva (Russia), Svitlana Pustovit (Ukraine), Valentin Kulinichenko (Ukraine), Petеr Vitte (Ukraine), Solvita Olsena (Latvia), Nijole Vasiljeviene (Lithuania), Liuminitsa Drumea (Moldova). Members of the National Committee on Bioethics of Belarus as well as members of local and regional committees on bioethics also met in Minsk. All together more than 70 participants were involved in the seminar activities.
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  • Sport

    Russia's Lukin, Belarus' Karnatsevich wins Grandma's titles

    From: Duluth

    Halina Karnatsevich of Belarus won a second straight the 30th Grandma's Marathon women's title in 2:33:39, while Svetlana Nekhorosh of Ukraine was second in 2:37:33.Karnatsevich, 37, earned $9,250. The top American woman was Mary Akor of Gardena Calif., fourth for the second straight year in 2:39:42. Russia's Sergei Lukin rallied from two minutes behind Saturday morning and caught defending champion Wesly Ngetich of Kenya with less than four miles remaining and won the Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 30 seconds.
    Top finishers from the Duluth area were Jeremy Polson of Duluth, 31st in 2:39:25, and Katie Koski of Two Harbors, 19th in the women's race in 2:54:28.
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    Narrow leads for Belgium and Belarus in Prague - European Cup First League Group A match Day One


    Prague, Czech Republic - The Rosicky stadium, site of the 1978 European Championships, was again host to top level athletics, where the Belgian men's squad and women's team from Belarus are the leaders after the first day of the European Cup First League Group A match.
    In nice summer weather local spectators were satisfied with seven wins by Czech athletes, with both host teams in second place after the first day. The suprise leaders after Day one on the men's side are Belgium, and as expected, the women's team from Belarus. The Belgian men tallied 62 points, four ahead of the Czechs, with Sweden third with 52 points. The women's battle for promotion is even closer, with Belarus (67 points) carrying a slight advantage into Day 2 ahead of the Czechs and Italians, who are tied with 62. But with the margins so narrow, Sunday's conclusion could provide a much different outcome. That holds especially true in the men's contest for Sweden, who, with Christian Olsson, Robert Kronberg and Alhaji Jeng competing, their stronger events are on tap on the final day.
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    Four-way battle afoot in Belarus


    FC Darida Zhdanovichi, FC BATE Borisov, FC Gomel and FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk have formed a leading pack as the Belarussian season gets into swing.
    The four sides are within one point of each other after ten games. Nikolai Goryunov's Gomel had been top after winning all their matches in May, but their early June assignments ended in draws against FC Dinamo Brest and BATE before a 3-0 defeat by FC Dinamo Minsk left them in third place.
    Nonetheless, as Goryunov pointed out, a point at BATE is a decent result and Gomel are expected to return to winning ways before long, particularly if strikers Roman Vasiliyk and Valeri Stripeikis, who have scored eleven of Gomel's 15 goals, get back on form.Liudas Rumbutis's Darida share pole position with BATE, but would have been outright leaders had they not lost at FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk and drawn at home to FC Torpedo Zhodino in their last games in May. Victories against FC Dnepr Mogilev and FC Naftan Novopolotsk have since maintained their challenge.
    Despite rebuilding work at their stadium forcing them to play home matches on neutral soil, title-holders Shakhtyor are doing well. A 2-0 success against MTZ-RIPO on 8 June was particularly satisfying for coach Yuri Vergeichik. "That was effectively our 13th consecutive away game," he said. "Can you believe it? The results we are getting are even more creditable because of that. We are giving consistently good performances."
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