News, opinion, sports and culture E-mail:

Today's Headlines for:
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Union State, Russian Air Crash, Latvia oil scandal, BY economics, Neo-Nazis, Kazulin, Sports

From the Top

Russian-Belarus relations develop positively, Lukashenko says.

From: Itar Tass
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said relations with Russia are developing positively.

In his meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday, Lukashenko said there is progress in the construction of the Union state. Economic relations are also developing dynamically, he added.

“After the EurAsEC summit I can note a positive impetus. I believe that we have problems to discuss, including issues related to the construction of the Union state. In this aspect there is certain progress,” the Belarussian president said.

Commenting on economic cooperation between the two countries, Lukashenko said, “Trade turnover increased by 33 percent in the first half year. The economy is developing dynamically. I’d like this tendency to continue that is why we have problems to discuss.”

Lukashenko, who is now staying in Sochi for a brief vacation, said he would not give President Putin an opportunity to work in this resort city on a simplified schedule. “Sorry, I disturb you. I know you have everyday meetings and you should deal with concrete matters,” Lukashenko told Putin.

During their meeting, Putin said, “We have much things to discuss – the construction of the Union state, economic issues and interaction at the international arena.”

“We have a big potential for cooperation. Thus, there are problems that should be raised,” Putin added.

“I’m glad you could stay here several days and we’ll have an additional opportunity to focus on bilateral relations,” the Russian president stressed.

171 killed after Russian airliner crashes in Ukraine

From: Ria Novosti
All 171 passengers and crew on a Russian airliner were killed Tuesday afternoon when the plane crashed in stormy weather in eastern Ukraine.

The Tu-154 jet owned by St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines was flying from the Russian resort of Anapa on the Black Sea to St. Petersburg via Ukrainian territory and crashed 45 kilometers (30 miles) outside Donetsk in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.

"The airliner en route from Anapa to St. Petersburg asked to make an emergency landing, but disappeared from radars at 2:30 p.m. [local time] (3:30 p.m. Moscow time, 11:30 a.m. GMT)," said the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry.

So far 30 bodies have been recovered from the three-engine plane, but Ukrainian emergencies services also said a blaze at the crash site was hampering recovery efforts.

Pulkovo Airlines, which had an excellent safety record prior to Tuesday's tragedy, said 39 children under the age of 12 and six under the age of two had been among the passengers.

The company also said the plane, built in 1992, was in good working order and the pilot was experienced with over 9,000 flying hours under his belt.

Stormy Weather

Emergency services moved immediately to quell fears that terrorists could have targeted the Tu-154, the mainstay of the Russian air fleet, by saying that stormy weather was likely to have caused the tragedy.

"A terrorist attack is ruled out," Irina Andriyanova said. "Ukrainian sources said the plane was caught in a thunderstorm."

Russian television's Channel One said citing Ukrainian sources that the plane had caught fire at an altitude of about 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) and the crew had decided to make an emergency landing after sending an SOS signal.

A spokesperson for the emergencies services told Russian television channel RTR that the plane gave a SOS signal at 15:37 Moscow time [11.37 GMT] and vanished from the screens two minutes later. The airline said the crew had sent four mayday signals before contact was lost, three at 38,600 feet (11,700 meters) and one two minutes later at 10,000 ft (3,000 meters)

The plane was expected to land in St. Petersburg, where doctors and psychologists are now attending to distraught relatives of the passengers, at 17:45 local time (13:45 GMT).

Eyewitnesses told Russia's NTV television channel that the plane was intact when it hit the ground. Others suggested the jet had failed to protrude the landing gear.

Recovery efforts

The emergency services in Ukraine have said the bad weather had hampered what had already become a recovery rather than a rescue effort.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Emergency Ministry said the operation would continue into the night and firefighters at the scene had tackled the blaze.

Preliminary reports suggest that a lightning strike caused the crash.
  • Click here for a photogallery of the crash

    Lithuania to Respond by Repair for Repair

    From: Kommersant
    Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has warned the RF embassy they can respond by the so-called repair of railways to the so-called repair of Druzhba oil pipeline, which blocked crude oil supplies to Mazeikiu Nafta refinery.
    Lithuania may set to repairing facilities of its railway Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai, Foreign Ministry’s Secretary Albinas Januska told Dmitry Tsvetkov, charge d’affaires of Russia’s embassy in Vilnius Friday. Januska made clear Lithuania is eyeing crude oil supplies to Mazeikiu Nafta (MN) along with the repair of Druzhba pipeline near the border of Russia and Belarus (crude deliveries to Lithuania stopped July 29). According to Januska, Lithuania hopes the repair will end soon, otherwise they may start repairing the railway between the border of Belarus and Lithuania and the border of Lithuania and Russia.
    There could be no way to rebuild the 40-year oil pipeline, Transneft CEO Semen Vainshtok said in August, while Russia's Federal Service for Supervising Natural Resources called the facility dangerous for operation.
    But Lithuania traces political background in the repair, viewing the delay as revenge for selling MN to Polish PKN Orlen.
    The counteraction could be the railway restrictions imposed by Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai for railway carriage via the Kaliningrad Region. It will mostly affect the shipment of military product from Russia, as this type of the cargo is handled under the rules applied to hazardous goods, and therefore, is the first to suffer restrictions in case of repair.
    Lithuania has always rejected all attempts of the Kremlin to enter into a new interstate agreement on the military transit, preferring to prolong the transit contract once a year. Under the laws of Lithuania, the military transit requires the sanction of the country’s parliament and intermediary efforts of the United Nations or any other organization of which Lithuania is a member, NATO, for instance.

    Belarus maintains trading relations with more than 175 countries

    From: NLIPRB
    Belarus maintains trading relations with more than 175 countries. Over the past five years the Belarusian export increased more than 2,5 times. Besides, more than 40 per cent of export supplies are destined for the countries of the European Union, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to the Latvian Republic Alexander Gerasimenko told Latvian mass media outlets. In the ratio of the foreign trade volume to the GDP Belarus hits the first dozen of the European states, he underlined.
    Alexander Gerasimenko drew attention to the fact that “Belarus is a remarkable donor of the European security in the fields of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of conventional arms and fight against international crime”. And Belarus’ contribution to the global and regional security is obvious. “Belarus is a dynamically developing peaceful country representing no danger to anyone”, the ambassador underlined. “Moreover, in contrast to many countries we are pursuing absolutely independent foreign policy. Political decisions are taken only in Minsk, not in other capitals. Not everybody likes it and disturbs those, who are trying to take the post-Soviet area under their control”, Alexander Gerasimenko underlined.
    Alexander Gerasimenko noted that we have established good relations with the NATO and WTO member-states. Prompt accession to the WTO is one of our key targets, as it is an important condition for the country’s integration into the global economy. Negotiations on Belarusian accession to the WTO are nearing completion. “We realize that some WTO members will use any excuse to gain advantages by criticizing us. Therefore each stage of negotiations was more difficult for us than for other aspirants. We take it calmly and do not waive our national interests,” Alexander Gerasimenko said.
    As for the bilateral economic relations between Latvia and Belarus, there are more adherents than opponents here. Alexander Gerasimenko informed that in autumn Latvia will host the second sitting of the Belarusian-Latvian intergovernmental commission on economic and sci-tech cooperation, second Belarusian-Latvian financial-investment forum as well as Belarus EKSPO.

    Gomselmash is entitled to export to EU

    From: Belta
    The Production Association Gomselmash, a major Belarusian producer of agricultural equipment, has been entitled to selling their products in the EU member states, Vladimir Frolov, Gomselmash director, told BelTA.
    Following the tests of the Gomselmash machinery carried out in the Czech Republic, the Belarusian equipment was granted certificates of conformity and a right to bear CE Mark. The units featured include harvester Г-6 Polesye, harvester КДП-3000, rotation-type mowing and crushing machine КПР-9, and other pieces of machinery. The testing of grain harvester КЗС-1218 will be completed early in September.
    The Gomel-based company hopes to send the first pieces of equipment to the Czech Republic already this year. The Trado Holding is the official representative of Gomselmash in the Czech Republic. In June, a group of Czech specialists visited the Gonselmash training center to learn the rules of operation and maintenance of all the equipment the company produces.
    The Czech company will promote Belarusian farm machines to the market of Slovakia, where a big agricultural exhibition closed several days ago. According to Vladimir Frolov, Slovakian agrarians showed interest in the Belarusian machines. At the exhibition Gomselmash held a special seminar for farmers and chiefs of big agricultural companies to inform them in detail about its products.
    Gomselmash is one of the biggest companies of Belarus producing technologically interconnected farm machines for cultivating and harvesting crops. The company makes combine harvesters, mowing machines, forage, sugar beet and potato harvesters and soil-treating equipment.
    In January-July 2006 the production association manufactured 908 combine harvesters and 211 forage harvesters or 24 and 8 machines respectively more against the same period of 2005.

    Financial situation in Belarus is stable

    From: Belta
    In January-July this year all targets of the monetary policy of the republic were hit, chairman of the Management Board of the National Bank of Belarus Piotr Prokopovich informed today Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, BelTA was informed in the presidential press service.
    In January-July 2006 the national currency was stable and strengthened against USD by 0.5 per cent. The real effective rate of the Belarusian ruble against currencies of all main countries-trade partners strengthened by one per cent, Piotr Prokopovich said.
    The Belarusian ruble exchange rate will remain stable and till the end of the current year will stay within limits envisaged by the main guidelines of the monetary policy of Belarus for 2006.
    Piotr Prokopovich took note of the fact that the stable exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble was supported by successful foreign economic activity of the country. In January-July national companies had on their accounts 29 per cent more foreign currency than in January-July 2005.
    The banking sector invests much attention into the issues of crediting the real sector of economy. Over the seven months this year the volume of loans soared 2,7 times as against the same period last year.
    In its interest rate policy the National Bank seeks, on the one hand, to stimulate household and corporate deposit investments. On the other, the Bank puts efforts to reduce loan interest rates. The policy has proved efficient what can be attested by the growth of household deposits (by 25 per cent over the seven months as against the same period last year). At the same time the volume of issued loans is also on an increase (more than twice to finance consumer purchases and 1,7 times – for housing construction).
    The head of state has been informed that the payment system functions smoothly. In the period under review the volume of payments surged by almost 40 per cent. This indirectly points to the economic growth of Belarus, Piotr Prokopovich said.
    The chairman of the Board of the national bank stressed that the country maintains stability both in monetary and financial spheres. He is sure that by the end of the year the targets of the monetary policy of Belarus for 2006 will have been met.
    The president has been reported about the implementation of his instructions, including on setting up of Polesse State University. This establishment of higher learning specializing in banking business will be inaugurated on September 1 this year.

    Talks on Russian gas price for 2007 to begin in fall - Belarus

    From: Ria Novosti
    Negotiations on the price Belarus will pay next year for Russian natural gas will be held in the fall, the Belarusian ambassador to Russia said Tuesday.
    After raising gas prices for several of its other ex-Soviet neighbors, Russia said it would pursue a European price formula for Belarus in 2007, and offered to partially compensate for the price hikes in exchange for control over Belarus' gas routes leading to Europe.
    Vasily Dolgolev said, "Negotiations will open in the fall. I think the price structure will be clear in October-November."
    The price of gas supplies to Belarus has not changed since 2004, and currently stands at $46.68 per 1,000 cubic meters. Russia is seeking a price in the region of $180-200 - a move expected to tear a hole of around $2 billion in the Belarusian budget.
    The ambassador also said the volume of gas supplied to Belarus would be regulated by the energy balance of the Russia-Belarus union state, established until 2020.
    Russia and Belarus have been mulling the formation of a union state since they signed an agreement on April 2, 1997 on creating a common economic, customs, and political space, but negotiations have stalled recently over a number of issues, including gas prices.

    Belarus Neo-Nazis Pressure Opposition

    From: UCSJ
    NOTE: The following two reports document the latest in a long series of incidents in which neo-Nazis in Belarus have attacked or harassed opposition groups. Earlier reports of such attacks, which opposition groups charge happen with the consent of the Belarusian government, can be found here.

    A fake bomb was found at the office of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), an opposition party. A device was taped to the door. Police and combat engineers were summoned and discovered the item was a fake factory-made bomb. The fake bomb was marked with the logo of Russian National Unity (RNU).
    According to Vintsuk Vyachorka, the BPF leader, a dark green container with a swastika sign and a RNU logo was attached to the door. Earlier similar images were painted on the doors of the party's office.
    Minsk police department informed that a criminal case was opened.
    In a similar story, on August 10, independent newspaper Vitsiebski Kurjer M received a threatening letter. The letter was sent by the Russian National Unity organization.
    "Your newspaper is financed by American and German enemies of Russia. It breaks the unity of Slavonic nations", -- the letter stated. Its authors demanded that the editorial staff change the newspaper's news policy and "stopped publishing articles that discredit the present Belarusian authorities and A. Lukashenka who is struggling to make Slavonic nations superior in comparison with Jews and all kinds of liberals who are trying to enslave the Russian people".
    If the threat isn't heeded, the RNU said it was going "to use all its contacts" in order to close the publication down as soon as possible.
    The letter also contained a picture of a military man with a falcon on his uniform holding a hanged man in one hand and a sword in the other. The hanged man had the Star of David painted on his breast and dollars in his pockets. The inscription below the picture said "Let us make Russia clean!"
    The editor-in-chief Uladzimir Baran claimed that the newspaper was going to file suit against the authors of the letter.
    On July 18, journalists working for the Intex-Press newspaper (Baranavichy) found leaflets containing threats and two signs were posted with the inscription "CIA's Nest" on the door of the newspaper's office. Police were unable to find those were responsible for it. A month ago the head of the Vitsiebsk affiliate of the UDP received similar threats from the RNU.

    Loans in Belarus become more affordable

    From: NLIPRB

    In January-July 2006, loans in Belarus became cheaper by 5 per cent from the same period last year, chairman of the board of the National Bank Piotr Prokopovich has informed the head of state today, BelTA has been told in the president’s press service.
    In its interest rate policy the National Bank seeks, on the one hand, to stimulate household and corporate deposit investments. On the other, the Bank puts efforts to reduce loan interest rates. The policy has proved efficient what can be attested by the growth of household deposits (by 25 per cent over the seven months as against the same period last year). At the same time the volume of issued loans is also on an increase (more than twice to finance consumer purchases and 1,7 times – for housing construction).
    The head of state has been informed that the payment system functions smoothly. In the period under review the volume of payments surged by almost 40 per cent. This indirectly points to the economic growth of Belarus, Piotr Prokopovich said.
    The chairman of the Board of the National Bank stressed that the country maintains stability both in monetary and financial spheres. He is sure that by the end of the year the targets of the monetary policy of Belarus for 2006 will have been met.

    Belarus finds no reason to ban Georgian wine

    Belarus, defying expectations, announced that Georgian and Moldovan wines would still be welcome in the country, after stringent laboratory tests found no problems of contamination. The tests were carried out following the Russian ban, ostensibly over health and safety concern, on Georgian and Moldovan wines. It was anticipated that Belarus would take the cue from Moscow and institute a ban of its own, but Minsk laboratories apparently operate with less exacting technology than those in Russia.

    Documents for creating Belarus-Russia united air defence system to be okayed in October

    From: NLIPRB
    Documents regulating the creation of the united regional air defence system of Belarus and Russia will be approved in October 2006, second in command of the Russian Federation Air Force Lieutenant-General Aitech Bizhev told the press.
    He said, all the necessary documents had been adjusted by the agencies and would be considered by the next sitting of the joint board of Belarusian and Russian defence ministries soon.
    The officer noted, the united air defence system will enable more effective application of antiaircraft means and forces in Belarus and Russia. After the documents are signed, Belarusian and Russian military aircraft will be able to cross the common border with permission of the united air force group command and without the need for a political decision, he said.

    Iran starts building cement plant in Belarus

    From: Iran Mania
    An Iranian company has started building a cement plant in Belarus, MNA reported.
    Iran’s Azarab Co. of Arak has embarked on a major project to design and build a cement production plant in this republic. The plant will be capable of producing one million tons of cement per year, the company’s managing director said.
    Azarab Company’s competitive advantages over its rival firms from countries such as Germany, China and Romania led to its winning the bid for the implementation of the project, he maintained.
    Development of the €160-million project in the former Soviet republic will take about three years for an average workforce of 500 personnel, he also commented.
    Being Azarab company’s sixth foreign contract, the company has also concluded preliminary agreements with the East European republic to build a gas-fueled and a hydroelectric power plant there, Nezamabadi further announced.

    Sergei Sidorskiy: salaries should follow economy growth

    From: Belta
    Belarusian salaries should be increased to follow the economy growth and the demand for Belarusian exports abroad, Belarus prime minister Sergei Sidorskiy told today's sitting of the Council of Ministers board, which discussed a draft presidential decree "Approval of major parameters of the national social and economic forecast for 2007".
    According to the head of the Belarusian government, the technical and technological level of production facilities should be adequate to the salaries. "Now in the real economy we see enterprises in several industries lagging behind in increasing the real salaries in comparison with the average salary growth nationwide. Therefore in 2006-2007 the task of the government and local authorities will be to address problems related to the accelerated development of such enterprises, which are not engines of the Belarusian economy," noted Sergei Sidorskiy.
    According to the draft presidential decree "Approval of major parameters of the national social and economic forecast for 2007", real cash incomes of individuals are to grow by 7.5-8.5 per cent. The labour productivity parameter will be introduced. The parameter's growth should make 7.7-8.6 per cent next year.
    According to Sergei Sidorskiy, "For a country without a sufficient resource base, stabilisation funds and other tools able to correct the development, the labour productivity growth should exceed the salary growth". It is especially true for Belarus, which has an open economy, develops high-tech production industries and is set to compete successfully on foreign markets, he noted.
    The prime minister stressed, minimising salary expenses is not the point the government would like to note. Every company is free to choose salary structure and define the limits judging by the economic performance.

    Stranger's kind act salvages visitors' American dream


    The food service turned out to be a vendor selling concessions from trailers at area fairs. Their "dorm," in a field at the end of a gravel drive, was the garage where the trailers are stored in winter. The restroom was a portable outdoor toilet. . . .
    This is the land of opportunity. Kate and Sasha heard it knocking this summer in Ohio. It al most knocked them flat instead.
    Kate, 19, and Sasha, 20, are university students from Minsk in Belarus, a landlocked republic between Poland and Russia.
    They planned to earn money and see America this summer under the four-month Exchange Visitor Program administered by the U.S. State Department. About 105,000 young people used it last year.
    "We came with the help of this program called Work Experience USA," Kate said.
    "It allows us legally to work in the United States," Sasha said. "They help us get visas and medical insurance. We don't do those on our own."
    What they did need to do on their own was pay their way and find work, from online postings for student exchange jobs. Most are for camp counselors and sports instructors, or at resorts and theme parks, with sponsors who follow ex tensive guidelines.
    Kate and Sasha, who did not know each other, found jobs with a food- service employer in Ohio. The posting said they'd live in a dorm with other students and be paid $250 a week, even if they only worked one or two days, accord ing to e-mails to Kate and Sasha from the woman who owned the family business with her husband.
    They were excited. For a 40-hour week, it would be more than minimum wage. In Belarus, Kate said, her mother earns $200 a month. Sasha said her mother, a teacher, has "a well-pay ing job, $400 a month. This is our level. Here, I can make over $3,000 in the summer."
    Sasha came first. She arrived in New York on May 28, took a Greyhound bus to Columbus and rode another bus to Mansfield, where her employer picked her up. Kate came a few days later.
  • Text continues...

    Concerns about imprisonment of Alyaksandr Kazulin

    From: Viasna and Amnesty International
    Amnesty International is concerned by the harsh sentence handed down to Alyaksandr Kazulin, leader of the Belarusian Socialist Democratic Party, Narodnaya Hramada, former presidential candidate and former rector of the Belarusian State University. Alyaksandr Kazulin was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment by the Moskovsky District Court in Minsk on 13 July 2006. Amnesty International believes that the sentence is part of an ongoing, systematic campaign of harassment, intimidation and obstruction by the Belarusian authorities against Alyaksandr Kazulin, and calls for two of the three charges to be dropped.
    Alyaksandr Kazulin was charged, under the provisions of the Belarusian Criminal Code, with “hooliganism”, article 339, part 2, and, with “the organization of group activities that breach public order or active participation in similar activities”, article 342, part 1. The prosecutor called for Alyaksandr Kazulin to be sentenced to a total of six years’ imprisonment, three years on each charge. The judge sentenced him to five and a half years.
    The charge of “hooliganism” relates to two separate events. The first event took place on 17 February, when Alyaksandr Kazulin was reportedly prevented by Special Purpose Police Unit (SPPU) officers from entering the National Press Centre, where he intended to hold a press conference. The incident reportedly resulted in a clash between members of Alyaksandr Kazulin’s party and the SPPU.
    The second event took place on 2 March, when Alyaksandr Kazulin attempted to gain entry to the 3rd All Belarusian People’s Assembly in Minsk, which was being addressed by President Lukashenka and which Alyaksandr Kazulin was legally entitled to attend as a presidential candidate. As was widely covered in the international media, Alyaksandr Kazulin was beaten and detained when he tried to register as a participant of the conference along with a group of supporters. Witnesses said that when Alyaksandr Kazulin and his supporters tried to approach the registration desk, they were beaten by a group of 30-40 plain clothes law enforcement officers.
    Alyaksandr Kazulin was then driven away in a police van where he reports he was “placed between the seats, on my back, with my legs pressed against my head. I was drowning in my own blood”. He was subsequently held in a police station for eight hours, where he was reportedly beaten further and denied medical treatment. Angered by the ill-treatment, Alyaksandr Kazulin allegedly broke the glass of a portrait of President Lukashenka which was in the police station. He was later released. Twelve of his supporters who went to the police station to support him were also reportedly beaten and detained. In a further incident on the same day, police fired guns at a car driven by his supporters who were trying to film the detentions.
    The second charge of “organization of group activities that breach public order or active participation in similar activities” was brought against him after the huge street demonstrations in Minsk on 25 March, when thousands of protestors filled the streets to mark Freedom Day. Following speeches in a public park, Alyaksandr Kazulin led protestors on a march to Akrestina prison, where hundreds of people had previously been detained during the demonstrations which followed the presidential elections on 19 March. Government security forces reportedly used excessive force to break up the march, at which point Alyaksandr Kazulin suggested that the demonstrators head to a nearby church to pray. Turning his back on the security officers, Alyaksandr Kazulni was reportedly struck repeatedly on the back by officers. Others were also beaten. Alyaksandr Kazulin, along with hundreds of others, was then detained at Akrestina prison.
    Amnesty International notes the minor offence committed by Alyaksandr Kazulin, in breaking the glass of a portrait of President Lukashenka on 2 March. However, the sentence handed down to him of five and half years is a part of the clampdown on freedom of expression generally in Belarus, and is also illustrative of the blatant harassment that he has suffered at the hands of the Belarusian authorities. Hundreds of demonstrators who were arrested during the demonstrations that took place between 19 – 25 March were charged with “hooliganism” according to the administrative code and sentenced to between 10-15 days administrative detention.
    Furthermore, Amnesty International believes that the sentence handed down for “hooliganism”, based on the events of 17 February, and the second sentence of “organization of group activities that breach public order or active participation in similar activities”, based on the events of 25 March, are politically motivated. Alyaksandr Kazulin’s imprisonment constitutes a violation his rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as guaranteed by articles 19 and 21 respectively of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a state party. Moreover, this harsh sentence has apparently been handed down in order to prevent Alyaksandr Kazulin’s peaceful political activities and to intimidate others. The organization is calling for these charges to be dropped.
  • Text continues...

    “They have not contacted us.” says Lyakhovich’s camp

    From: 15

    “It’s news to me.” stated Ivailo Gotzev, the manager of WBO Heavyweight Champion Serguei Lyakhovich (Belarus 23-1, 14 KO’s) when hearing the reports that his fighter would be facing Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine 46-3, 41 KO’s) at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 11 in a unification match.
    “They have not contacted us.” continued the manager who also has Samuel Peter in his stable. “I talked with Shelly Finkel recently. I talked with Emmanuel Steward. They seem intent on fighting [Shannon] Briggs for whatever reason.”
    Gotzev also had some choice words to say regarding the Klitschko’s choice of opponents. “Klitschkos are known for taking the easiest challenge. If there’s three opponents, they would take the easiest one and Sergei is the toughest one. I haven’t seen much bravery from them recently, and I don’t expect any now.”
    Serguei Lyakhovich’s most recent outing was his title winning effort against Lamon Brewster (33-3, 29 KO’s) who is Wladimir Klitschko’s most recent conqueror.
    In Wladimir Klitschko’s most recent outing he stopped Chris Byrd after seven rounds to win the IBF Heavyweight title. He was supposedly close to a deal to fight Shannon Briggs (47-4, 41 KO’s) in his hometown of New York.
    Internet reports have stated news that is obviously wrong. Stay tuned to for the most precise reports involving Wladimir Klitschko’s upcoming bout.

    No missing pieces for Belarus

    From: Euro 2008
    Belarus coach Yuri Puntus has named his strongest 22-man squad for their opening UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifiers against Albania and the Netherlands.

    Absentees return
    Following Belarus' 3-0 friendly win against Andorra earlier this week, defender Sergei Shtanyuk and strikers Vitali Kutuzov and Vyacheslav Hleb have returned to the fold for the two Group G encounters on 2 and 6 September - the first in Minsk, the second in Eindhoven.

    Kornilenko suspension
    The experienced Sergei Gurenko of FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Andrei Lavrik of FC Amkar Perm were both omitted from the squad again and Puntus' principal concern going into the opener against Albania appears to be how to replace the suspended FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk striker Sergei Kornilenko.

    Belarus squad
    Goalkeepers: Yuri Zhevnov (FC Moskva), Vasili Khomutovski (FC Tom Tomsk)

    Defenders: Sergei Omelyanchuk (FC Shinnik Yaroslavl), Sergei Shtanyuk (FC Luch-Energia Vladivostok), Dmitri Lentsevich (FC Torpedo Moskva), Aleksandr Yurevich (FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk), Aleksandr Shagoiko (FC Gomel), Aleksei Pankovets (FC Gomel), Dmitri Molosh (FC BATE Borisov)

    Midfielders: Timofei Kalachev (FC Rostov), Vladimir Korytko (FC Terek Chechenskaya Respublika), Aleksandr Kulchy (FC Tom Tomsk), Denis Kovba (FC Krylya Sovetov Samara), Maksim Romaschenko (FC Dinamo Moskva), Aleksandr Hleb (Arsenal FC), Oleg Strakhanovich (FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk)

    Forwards: Vitali Kutuzov (FC Parma), Vitali Bulyga (FC Tom Tomsk), Sergei Kornilenko (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Artyom Kontsevoi (FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk), Vitali Lanko (FC Spartak Nalchik), Vyacheslav Hleb (FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk)

    BY rowers in Britton

    From: Row 2k
    Thursday at the 2006 FISA World Rowing Championships on Dorney Lake in Eton, England, in the women's single sculls, Michelle Guerette (Bristol, Conn.) advanced to Thursday's semifinals with a second-place finish in her heat. Racing in the first of two semis, Guerette will take on scullers from Belarus, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Serbia. Belarus' Ekaterina Karsten, a multiple-time world champion, and Sweden's Frida Svensson both won their heats on Sunday and will be the top seeds in the first semi. The top three finishers in each semifinal move on to Saturday's final.
    The men's four of Brett Newlin (Riverton, Wyo.), Josh Inman (Hillsboro, Ore.), Matt Schnobrich (St. Paul, Minn.), and Michael Blomquist (Greensboro, N.C.) also finished second in its heat to advance to the semifinals. The crew will take on boats from New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and the Czech Republic in the first of two semifinals. New Zealand and the Netherlands come in as the top seeds in the race having won their heats on Sunday. The top three finishers in each semifinal will advance to Saturday's final.
    In the women's double sculls, Susan Francia (Abington, Pa.) and Brett Sickler (Los Gatos, Calif.) finished third in their heat to advance to the semifinals. The duo, which is doubling up into the eight, will take on Belarus, Germany, Great Britain, France, and Hungary in the second of two semifinals. Belarus is the lone heat winner in the race, while Germany and Great Britain finished second in their respective heats. The top three finishers in each semifinal move on to Saturday's semifinals.
    In the lightweight women's single sculls, Lisa Schlenker (Lake Oswego, Ore.), a 10-time national team member and two-time medalist in the event, won her repechage, or second-chance race, to advance to the semifinals. On Thursday, Schlenker will face off against scullers from Germany, Austria, Italy, Thailand, and France in the second of two semifinals. Germany's Berit Carow is the lone heat winner in Schlenker's race, while the Austrian and Italian scullers both advanced by finishing second in their heats. The top three finishers in each semifinal advance to Saturday's final.

  • And one final story...

    EU tunnel crossing ends in farce

    By Artyom Liss for BBC News, Moscow

    Two Egyptian men are awaiting trial in Russia after several attempts to burrow their way under various European borders using nothing but shoehorns.
    The men - both believed to be in their 20s - started in Belarus and dug a tunnel under the border with Poland.
    But once in Poland, they lost their way, ending up where they started - in front of barbed wire.
    Thinking they were now looking across the German border, the pair did the trick again.
    But instead of getting to Germany, they ended up back in Belarus.
    Minutes later, the two men were arrested by Belorussian border guards and later sentenced to 10 days in jail.
    Belarus is separated from Europe by kilometres of barbed wire, guard towers, automated sirens and powerful search lights.
    Prosecutors say the would-be migrants did not go for the easy option of using a spade - apparently, they thought buying one in a shop would immediately give the game away.
    The two Egyptian men travelled to Belarus from neighbouring Russia where they arrived on tourist visas a few months ago.
    But even the prison term did not stop the pair.
    When Belorussian authorities released the men and put them on a train back to Moscow, the officials were hoping that the Egyptians would never return.
    But the two men got off the train hundreds of miles away from the Russian capital and decided to have another go.
    This time, they chose the border between Russia and Ukraine as their starting point.
    But the men clearly ran out of luck. Russian border guards arrested the Egyptians long before they got anywhere near Ukraine.
    "I know it all sounds like a really bad joke," Evgeny Petrov from the Bryansk regional prosecutor's office told the BBC.
    "But we've checked the story time and again, and it seems to be true! I must say, this is the weirdest way of illegally crossing the border I've ever come across," Mr Petrov said.
    The migrants are now in pre-trial detention in Russia, expecting a legal hearing.
    If convicted, they will have to pay a fine, and will then be extradited back to Egypt.
    This time, police officers will probably escort them all the way to the departure gates of Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport.
  • Original Text...