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Today's Headlines for:
Saturday, July 22, 2006

President to Moscow, BelKA to fly 7/26, ONT files suit, BY evacuees out of Lebanon, EU, Banks, Lithuania, Gay opposition, Rowing

From the Top

Alexander Lukashenko arrives in Moscow on working visit

From: Belta

Alexander Lukashenko has arrived in Moscow. On July 21-22 Alexander Lukashenko will take part in the CIS informal summit in the Russian capital.

As BelTA was informed in the presidential press service, this republic stands for closer economic, foreign political and defense cooperation within the CIS framework and for obligatory fulfillment of the decisions taken.

For Belarus the CIS area has been an instrument for settling important national issues: preservation and development of the economic potential in industry and agriculture, ensuring energy security, transport relations, strengthening its positions in the system of international links and international division of labour. Belarus has been an active participant of the working bodies and actions within the CIS framework and has initiated development of its new several activities. For example, the republic put forward a proposal on setting up the CIS youth council, the CIS council for physical culture and sport, the interstate coordination council of heads of the CIS national insurance supervision agencies. Belarus also initiated adoption of the statement of the CIS countries on fight against international terrorism.

The tendency has been showing since 2001 towards mutual trade overtaking the trade with other countries. Currently mutual trade between the CIS member states stands at USD 140 billion and is growing.

The CIS is implementing long-term programs of joint action in culture, health, IT what lays down the prerequisites to develop common humanitarian space. Another CIS priority is counteracting organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal migration, human trafficking, corruption and money laundering. Serious progress has been made in these spheres, experts say.

A new direction in the CIS activity initiated by Belarus – election and referendum monitoring in the Commonwealth countries has been gathering momentum.

The CIS presidents are expected to discuss the CIS reformation and development of co-operation within the framework of this integration institution.

During last year’s summit in Kazan the CIS presidents decided on reforming the CIS bodies. They also adopted a joint plan of actions of the CIS Executive Committee and the council of CIS member-states’ plenipotentiaries in charge of fulfilling decisions of the CIS State Leaders Council.

By now six clauses of the resolution, which touch upon amending the charter of the CIS Interstate Statistics Committee, abolishing the CIS Military Co-operation Staff, and decreasing the number of people employed by the CIS Border Guards Commanders Council by 10 per cent, have been fulfilled. The remaining clauses are being fulfilled.

Experts noted, during the forthcoming informal summit in Moscow the CIS reform discussion may touch upon priority directions of co-operation, increase of the responsibility of the Foreign Ministers Council, the Economic Council and branch councils for their achievements in specific fields, development of a mechanism to enforce CIS agreements, creation of a rational and effective structure of the CIS and its bodies.

Lukashenko to meet with Belarusian ambassadors

From: BelaPan

Aleksandr Lukashenko will meet with the heads of Belarusian diplomatic missions who will flock to Minsk for annual consultations, Andrei Popov, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, told reporters in Minsk on Thursday. The ambassadors will stay in Minsk between July 24 and August 2.
According to Mr. Popov, the Belarusian leader intends to set the diplomats tasks for implementing Belarus' foreign policy.
While in Minsk, the Belarusian ambassadors are expected to attend workshops in the Presidential Management Academy that will feature speeches by Belarusian top officials focusing on the government's economic policy, innovative development of the economy, energy supplies, monetary policy, the development of distribution networks for Belarusian-made goods and the organization of fairs and exhibitions showcasing Belarusian products.
The diplomats will visit leading Belarusian exporters, including Amkodor Udarnik, the Minsk-based manufacturer of road construction equipment, the Neman glassworks, the Lidagroprommash farming machinery maker, the Snov farm, etc.
In addition, the ambassadors will visit the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences to familiarize themselves with Belarus' latest scientific achievements.

BelKA satellite scheduled for launch for 22.43 p.m. Minsk time on July 26

From: Belta

The launch of the first Belarusian artificial Earth satellite BelKA is scheduled to take place at 22.43 p.m. Minsk time on July 26, the press service of the Russian Federal Space Agency informed BelTA.
The integration of the space vehicle with the carrier rocket RC-20 is being completed at launching platform #109 of Baikonur Space Centre today. The procedure will be followed by test runs of the systems responsible for booster staging, informed the source.
The Belarusian satellite BelKA was designed by the Russian rocket and space corporation Energia using universal space platform Viktoria on the order of the National Science Academy of Belarus. BelKA will perform geodesy, cartography, and meteorology projects.

ONT head files $467,000 libel suit against Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belorussii

From: Naviny

Grigory Kisel, head of the ONT state-run television channel, has filed a $467,000 libel suit against the Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belorussii over its July 11 report that he faced criminal proceedings.
The newspaper quoted an unidentified source with the Prosecutor General's Office as saying that the criminal case was opened after a financial inspection of the network. The source reportedly declined to disclose the charge, noting only that it had been brought in connection with an embezzlement of public money.
Mr. Kisel seeks one billion rubels (approximately $467,000) from the paper and 10 rubels from the author of the story, identified as N. Krivets.
He claims that he is not facing any charges and that no financial inspection has been carried out at the network in recent weeks.
However, Alina Provotorova, spokeswoman for the channel, told BelaPAN earlier that law enforcement agencies did conduct a financial inspection at the channel at the beginning of this month. The inspection "was connected with irregularities in the activity of one of our channel's permanent partners," she said.

Over 200 Belarusian evacuees arrive home

From: BelaPAN

Some 180 Belarusians evacuated from war-torn Lebanon arrived in Minsk on Friday morning on a Belavia flight chartered by the Belarusian government. The TU-154 carried many small children, including one two-week baby, and women from Belarus who are married to Lebanese nationals.
Reporters and diplomats gathered at the Minsk National Airport to meet the evacuees. Four ambulance vehicles escorted by traffic police were also at the scene.
Some 40 Belarusian evacuees arrived home in the early hours of Friday morning, shortly after the midnight, by train from Moscow. The Russian emergency management ministry's planes took them from Syria to Russia. Nine Belarusians more who were flown to Moscow abroad the planes choose to stay in the Russian capital city for some time to recuperate. The Belarusian embassy in Moscow reportedly arranged accommodation for them at its hotel and provided food.
Eleven Belarusian nationals were set sail from Lebanon to Cyprus abroad a Greek vessel.
A total of 280 Belarusians were in Lebanon when Israel launched an air offensive on targets in the country following the capture of two of its soldiers by Lebanese guerrillas, according to the Belarusian foreign ministry.
Some 80 Belarusians were estimated to remain there as of Thursday, with around 30 believed to be in south Lebanon.

Belarus denies has political detainees, blasts U.S.


Ex-Soviet Belarus, criticised in the West for the jailing of an opposition activist last week, rejected any suggestion on Friday that its jails held political prisoners.
A Foreign Ministry statement denounced the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report, which was released in March and was heavily critical of veteran President Alexander Lukashenko's administration.
It said Washington, criticised in its turn over its treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, had no right to pass judgment on Belarus.
'Do the authors of this report have the moral right to make such assessments of other countries while in their own country special military tribunals are created as a result of the president's own actions?' the ministry said.
It said the State Department criticism contained 'biased negative assessments' of Belarus's leaders.
'At issue here are individuals who have been subject to punishment independent of their political opinions.
It said those cited as political prisoners had 'through their actions violated the rights of other citizens, including their right to free movement ... in areas where illegal gatherings were taking place'.
It was not clear why the ministry had waited four months to answer the charges, but its statement coincided with an appeal launched by defence lawyers against the conviction of opposition leader Alexander Kozulin. The appeal was handed to Minsk city court.
A Minsk court sentenced him to 5 1/2 months in jail last week on charges of hooliganism and incitement to mass disorder.

Net assets of Belarussian banks grow 15% in first half

From: Interfax
Total net assets at all Belarussian banks increased 14.8% year-on-year to 12.118 trillion Belarussian rubles in the first half of 2006, the National Bank of Belarus said in a statistical report.
The net assets of Belarussian banks grew 1% year-on-year in June compared to 3% in May.
Net profit at the banks soared 80% to 175 billion Belarussian rubles in the period.
There are currently 30 banks working in Belarus, including nine with 100% foreign capital.
The official exchange rate on July 19 was 2,149 Belarussian rubles/ $1.

Raul Castro Holds Talks with Belarus Defense Minister

From: CubaWeb

Cuba's first Vice President and Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Army General Raul Castro Ruz met with the Defense Minister of Belarus, Col. Gen. Leonid Semionovich Maltsev on Tuesday, in Havana.
The exchange between the two high ranking military officers took place in the friendly atmosphere that characterizes relations between the two nations, Granma daily newspaper reported.
The visiting Belarusian Defense Minister expressed his satisfaction for being in Cuba and having the opportunity to see the achievements of the Cuban Revolution and the experiences of its Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).
The official talks also included the participation of Gen. Alvaro Lopez Miera, FAR Chief of Staff and Victor Vasilievich Kozintsev, advisor to the Belarus Embassy in Havana.
The Belarus Defense Minister and his delegation arrived in Cuba on Monday and visited the monument complex dedicated to Cuban independence hero Gen. Antonio Maceo Grajales and his aide Capt. Francisco Gomez Toro.

Grain harvest will be about 6 mln tonnes

From: Agromarket
This year grain harvest is expected to total about 6 mln tonnes against 6.4 mln tonnes last year in Belarus. This forecast was reported by the first Deputy-Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic, Nadezhda Kotkovets.
She informed that this year the government was going to have grain harvest at 7 mln tonnes. But due to unfavourable weather conditions (heat) it will be less.
Talking about cooperation with Russian in the area of agribusiness Deputy-Minister hoped that Belarusian agricultural production could be sold on the Russian market where 80% of the whole export potential of the Republic is concentrated.

EU to strike Belarus trade blow in September

From: EU observer

The European Commission has confirmed it will recommend expelling Belarus from the EU's low-tariff trade regime - the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) - in September, but pushed back formalities for two months due to "technical reasons."
A commission official told EUobserver on Thursday (20 July) that the Brussels executive has already taken the decision after Belarus failed to improve trade union rights over the past year. "Nothing has changed with regard to Belarus' lack of compliance with GSP standards," he said.
The commission's trade department was unable to rubber stamp its proposal before the summer break, as planned, due to "problems with tabulating economic data." But the timetable - with member states set to endorse the move in late September and actual expulsion in March 2006 - will not be affected, the contact added.
"In theory, Belarus can still introduce reforms over the summer. But this would have been equally true at any point before the member states' decision," he explained. The expulsion is set to see prohibitive tariffs slapped on €390 million a year of Belarusian mineral, textile and wood exports to the EU.
Belarus neighbours Poland and Lithuania had initially objected to the expulsion, saying it represents the EU "making a political statement at the cost of our small traders" without hurting president Alexander Lukashenko, whose main income flows from energy and arms sales not covered by the GSP.
Some EU diplomats are also concerned the move will see Brussels criticised for double standards and political interference by Lukashenko's state-dominated media machine. "Cuba and Uzbekistan have full GSP privileges despite equally worrying reports about respect for workers' rights," one diplomat stated.
But Poland and Lithuania will not seek to block member states' September decision, with most EU countries and the EU's foreign affairs envoy Javier Solana taking the line that Brussels would lose credibility on its commitment to GSP standards if it let Belarus off the hook.
Burma is the only other country ever to be kicked out from GSP, in 1997. The Minsk expulsion would be the latest in a line of EU psychological blows against the Lukashenko government, with a visa ban and foreign asset freeze on 37 Belarus officials imposed earlier this year.

Lithuania pushing for passenger boat service with Belarus

From: BelaPAN

Lithuanian representatives suggest launching a passenger boat service between Belarusian and Lithuanian cities located on the River Neman. The matter was under discussion at Wednesday's round-table conference in Druskininkai, a Lithuanian city just off the Belarusian border.
Speaking at the conference, Druskininkai Vice Mayor Kristina Miskiniene stressed that a boat service would expand opportunities for water tourism. She noted that the Lithuanian authorities have repeatedly urged the Grodno city government to arrange regular boat trips between the two countries. A round of talks on the matter with the ambassadors, border control and customs officials, and government representatives in attendance was held last fall. "Druskinikai has everything to accommodate vessels," Ms. Miskiniene said, adding that the Lithuanian authorities have been doing their utmost to open a border checkpoint on the Neman.
The official stressed that the two countries, as well as Poland and Russia's Kaliningrad exclave have failed to use all opportunities available for developing cross-border cooperation in the framework of the Neman euroregion, blaming the situation on red tape. "There are no opportunities to display initiative at the local level," she explained.

Belarusian Gay Activist Keeps Fighting the Dictatorship

From: UK Gay News

Gay Belarusian activist Slava Bortnik is interviewed by GayRussia – and gives a rare insight into life – and life as a gay – in the country considered the most repressive in Europe

GayRussia: Can you explain us the political situation in Belorussia today, especially in the light of the protests after the recent presidential elections?

Slava Bortnik: Life became increasingly difficult for those who speak out against the authorities in Belarus. President Lukashenko appears to be asserting his control over civil society and clamping down on opposition with renewed confidence. The Belarusian authorities regularly employ harassment, intimidation, excessive force, mass detentions and long-term imprisonment as methods to quash voices of dissent in Belarusian society.
Although Belarus has come under increasing international criticism for its poor human rights record, most recently at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, this criticism is met with defiance by the regime.
The democratic-oriented part of Belarusian society has paid very high – and bloody – price for peaceful protests against unfair elections in March this year. More than 500 arrests have taken place throughout the country. Large numbers of demonstrators have been detained and beaten by riot police and anti-terrorist forces.
Despite threats by the KGB chief that those participating in demonstrations after the elections on 19 March would be considered terrorists and could face the death penalty, people of good will came to the squares of their hometowns to express the protest. There were many gays and lesbians among them. Most of those detained were charged for administrative offences such as participation in unsanctioned meetings or hooliganism, which carry sentences of 10 to 15 days detention.
Then, during the meeting on the Day of Freedom (25 March) and the Chernobyl march (26 April) that take place annually and have traditionally been a focus for opposition activists, large numbers of demonstrators have been beaten and detained again.

GR: Would you say that your president is homophobic? Did he express himself on the issue of homosexuality officially?

SB : Like in every dictator’s regime, in Belarus everything depends on one single person – Alexander Lukashenko. For many years he didn’t express his attitude to homosexuality, but let other of his ‘chief players’ do it: Russian Orthodox Church, MPs, media, and psychiatrists.
Finally, at the consultation with the Belarusian Security Council on 28 September 2004 he said: “… we have to show our society in the near future, what ‘they’ [EU and USA] are doing here, how they are trying to turn our girls into prostitutes, how they are feeding our citizens with illicit drugs, how they are spreading sexual perversion here, which methods they are employing”. And just few weeks later state TV channels started to show what German and Czech diplomats (who are gays) do in Belarus.
According to our president, homosexuality goes hand-in-hand with Western paths to development.

GR: Is there really something to wait for from your government? Do you think there is a chance that the situation of LGBT improve in the future or not at all?

SB: The only thing we can wait from the current acting government is putting iron curtains on the closets where we’re spending our lives. One of the eloquent signs of this is the proposal in April 2005 of Belarusian MP Viktar Kuchynski to criminalize homosexuality. In this connection Kuchynski said that the Criminal Code should to be amended, and penalty for homosexuality introduced. I was surprised that other MPs didn’t support their colleague.
By the way, homosexuality in Belarus was decriminalized for the first time in March 1994, just several months before Lukashenka’s elections. Our parliament was forced to do it by the Council of Europe.
Later, in the beginning of 1997 we lost our membership of the Council of Europe because of the worst human rights record in Europe. Today when our ruler doesn’t express his interest to be associated with Free Europe, nobody can prevent him from intimidating homosexuals.

GR: What is the attitude of Belarusian towards homosexuality? Is there any recent research on the topic?

SB : Homophobic attitude, suspicions and prejudices are still very strong in Belarusian society. According to the survey held by Belarusian Lambda League for Sexual Equality (Lambda Belarus) in April 2002, 47% of Belarusian citizens thought that gays should be imprisoned. Unfortunately, there has been no more serious research on the issue since then.
I don’t think that situation has significantly changed, bearing in mind that after that four years we don’t have any independent newspaper or civil society organization. The gay and lesbian community found themselves deeper in the closet, if it’s possible to say that!

GR: Would you say it’s better or worse than in Russia?

SB: In many ways the situation is pretty the same. Like in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church has a serious influence on day-to-day life of Belarusian citizens. But, there are some specific differences between the positions of LGBT people in our countries.
Russia has better conditions for gay business (as a kind of business in general) that at least creates space for socializing and information exchange. In Belarus where 80% of economy is ruled by state it’s hard to imagine successful gay business.
On the other hand, we don’t have such strong and well-organized mass movements of ultra-right sense. It’s a shame that Russia became a hospitable home for ‘Neo-Nazis’ who hate and destroy life around themselves, but not for LGBT people who just love and want to be loved.
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    Mintorg of Belorussia proposes to introduce required registration of domain names of Internet- stores.

    From: Interfax

    The Ministry of trade of Belorussia proposes to introduce required registration of the domain names of Internet- stores, which have achieved commercial activity in the territory of republic. This news was reported on Friday in Minsk in the course of a round-table meeting on "Belorussian and imported goods on the domestic market for republic". Said Deputy Department Chief of the protection of the rights of users and control of the advertisement of Mintorg, Olga Kravtsova.
    Kravtsova explained that at present the ministry together with state standards boards has developed the project of creating a new editorial staff about the protection of the rights of internet users. The proposals will be regarding regulation of business activities on the web as well as subjects of management and virtual trade.
    In particular, according to Ms. Kravtsovoy, it is proposed to introduce the requirement of registration of the domain names of legally working Belorussian Internet- stores with the state inspectorate on the safety of information within the president's administration of Belorussia. Registration will be an obligatory part of obtaining a license for the right of conducting retail trade.
    "We speak in favor of the development of Internet- trade, since this is a very convenient method for internet users and a contemporary form of trade. But everything must be done within the framework of legislation ", emphasized Kravtsova.
    During the present year Mintorg carried out the selective monitoring of on-line Internet- stores, which do business on the Belorussian sector of the Internet. Mintorg checked the activity of approximately 200 sites on the most popular Belorussian Internet- areas. "As a rule, all such commercial enterprises placed on their sites contact and other information about themselves, and requested feedback from the buyer"
    "At the same time tough, according to the results of our report, and also taking into account the existing organs of protection of the rights of the users, it is possible to speak about abuses and activity that goes against the licensing standards and rules of trade. There is evidence of salesmen not recording purchases and in these cases, buyers need to have their rights protected.
    Ms. Kravtsova said that the project of the new editorial staff will be offered for examination by the House of Commons of Belorussian parliament in the beginning of 2007.

    BY tourist agencies to have their licenses revoked.

    From: Interfax

    At the completion of summer tourist season State standards Board of Belorusia will examine the question of the deprivation of licences for a number of Belorussian tourist bureaus. The certificates give these companies the right to render tourist services. The reason for the de-licensing is given simply as the poor quality of their work. This information comes from the division head of the certification of state committee on the standardization of Belorussia, Neoline Prokhorchik.
    Certification of tourist operators was first introduced from 1 April of the present year in Belorussia. "A number of the tourist agencies, which passed this procedure, proved that there was much work needed on the old standards", noted N. prokhorchik.
    This order comes after the bureau checked on statistics from previously given out certificates, which confirmed the poor quality of business being done. Precisely which tourist agencies of the republic will be deprived of certificates was not revealed.
    According to the data of the chairman of public association "Belorussian society of the protection of the rights of the users" of Anna Sush, traditionally the highest amounts of complaints of users of tourist services falls by the end of the summer and the first months of autumn. A. Susha informed, that in January- June of the present year the bureau spoke to about 2.5 thousand people. Of these people, only 7% of them had complains about the quality of food. "It cannot be said that in Belorussia is a sharp decrease in the quality of the tourisism trades, but such indicators change from year to year", she said.

    dhtmlxTabbar - Creating Dynamic Tabbed Interface Has Never Been Easier


    Minsk, Belarus, July 18, 2006 – Scand LLC announces the release of dhtmlxTabbar v1.0, new JavaScript component for creating intuitive tabbed interface. The control extends DHTMLX line of Ajax-powered web UI controls and provides easy and effective solution to display large volumes of information within one web page. The tab control allows you to distribute content among the tabs and present it in a compact way.
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    Choose the way to display tab content
    Tab pages can hold various types of information, e.g. text, images, and other HTML elements. The content of the tab page can be displayed in IFrame or loaded dynamically using Ajax. Create fast-responding tabbed interface and reduce page load time.
    Customizable tabs orientation
    Tabs can be top, bottom, right and left oriented, so you can select any tabs position to fit your design needs. dhtmlxTabbar supports multiline and scrollable tabs to effectively organize large number of tabs.
    Full control over the look and feel
    dhtmlxTabbar is fully configurable and provides wide opportunities for creation of neat, interactive user interface. Rich JavaScript API enables complete customization of tabs view and behavior. You can use one of preset styles to define tabs appearance or apply your own style.
    Cross-browser compatible, XML driven and Ajax-enabled, dhtmlxTabbar lets you create tabbed navigation interface in a matter of minutes.
    dhtmlxTabbar 1.0 is available in two editions: Standard Edition and Professional Edition. The Standard edition is free for non-commercial use (GNU General Public License - GPL) and can be downloaded from dhtmlxTabbar Homepage ( Professional Edition provides enriched functionality and can be purchased according to Commercial license ($69 per application).
    About Scand LLC
    Scand LLC is the software development company based in Belarus (Eastern Europe). The company provides offshore outsourcing software development services in areas of J2EE, .NET, C++, PHP programming for companies worldwide. Scand LLC offers a set of advanced ready to use Java applets and JavaScript components that are available for download on Scand Website (

    Repechages continue at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships

    From: world

    Men’s Four (BM4-)

    The first of two repechages turned on one of the best races of the day when five boats fought it out for the entire 2000 metres for the two available spots. This is how it panned out. New Zealand got away to an early small advantage before being overhauled by Australia and Belarus. The overhaul, however, was far from overwhelming and as the crews moved into the final 500 metres less than two seconds separated the head of the field with Great Britain also very much in the chase. Who would have the best sprint?
    Belarus charged taking their rating to 40, Australia held on using 39, New Zealand and Great Britain went neck and neck matching each other’s 41. Belarus and Australia move on to the final.
    Repechage two presented a demonstration of clever tactical rowing by Greece when they pulled into the lead going through the middle of the race. The long, flowing Greek style, with Pavlos Gavriilidis setting the rate in stroke seat held a consistent pace to finish ahead of Germany. These two boats will make up the remaining spots in the final.

    Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x)

    Argentina showed their speed in the first half of this repechage by leading the field. But a stronger second half by Slovenia gave them the lead as Argentina aimed to hold on to their position and hold off Latvia who were charging down the opposite side of the rowing course. Belarus tried hard to get in on the action but it will be Slovenia, Argentina and Latvia going to the semifinal.

    Women’s Eight (BW8+)

    As Ukraine dropped off the pace, five boats fought it out for four qualifying positions. This fast and furious race was decided only in the last 100 metres as early leaders Canada couldn’t hold on in the ending sprint. Belarus (in the lead), Germany (flying through at the end to take second), Russia (pushing ahead of Australia and into third) and Australia (holding on to fourth) move on to Sunday’s final.
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