News, opinion, sports and culture E-mail:

Today's Headlines for:
Monday, October 16, 2006

CIS in Minsk, Aleinik, Russian to limit imports- resources, Journalist Politkovskaya murdered, Vika Moroz, Hunger Strike, Krasouski Released, Sports

From the Top

President hopes foreign ministers will find common ground on CIS development

From: Belta and the office of the president
"Belarus is not going to be involved in the destructive tendencies in the post-Soviet space within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States and we strongly urge everyone to follow this example."

A statement to this effect has been made today by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at the meeting with the heads of the delegations of foreign affairs ministries of the CIS participating states who have arrived in Minsk to participate in a session of the Council of the CIS Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

On October 16, in a meeting with the foreign ministers of the CIS member states, president Alexander Lukashenko said he hoped that during the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the CIS Member States the officials would reach a common ground in regard to issues of further development of the CIS and prepare conceptual and agreed-upon proposals for the heads of state.

"This year the CIS is celebrating its 15th anniversary," the Belarusian leader said. Last week a seminar timed to that anniversary was held in Minsk. "The fact that the seminar was attended by a wide range of researchers and public figures who were eager to discuss the problems facing the CIS showed the interest of the CIS member states in making the Commonwealth efficient." the head of state said.

The peoples of the CIS member states support the intensification of cooperation within the CIS framework. “It is not only the good things that have taken place in our common history that the people remember. They also feel by intuition that in today’s world, which is full of new threats and challenges, more robust unification of efforts in pursuing both national and common interests should become the right strategy. We are prompted by the globalization, which, besides from positive, often has negative manifestations,’ the Belarusian leader said.

Making joint efforts to counteract organized crime – drug smuggling, illegal migration, human trafficking, corruption and money laundering is one of the most prominent fields of the CIS activity. At the same time the head of state valued highly efficiency of the coordination of actions in this field by the CIS law enforcement bodies.

When speaking about the humanitarian activity of the Commonwealth Alexander Lukashenko called it one of the most promising. The matter concerns the activity CIS citizens can really perceive – from an opportunity to study in establishments of higher education in other CIS member states to social privileges and visa-free trips.

“Certainly, there were many hasty decisions taken during the first years of the Commonwealth. The CIS is criticized for many documents”, the president said. However, Alexander Lukashenko underlined, one should not forget that many documents within the framework of the CSTO, EurAsEC and Single Economic Space were based on the CIS achievements.

The president of Belarus deems it necessary to develop a model of cooperation between the CIS and other integration formations including the EurAsEC and CSTO. When speaking about Belarus’ position Alexander Lukashenko underlined that the CIS reforms should not lead to mechanical reduction of personnel of the CIS bodies. It is necessary to enhance efficiency of the activity of these bodies.

According to the Belarusian leader, virtually all CIS participating countries declare about insufficient effectiveness of cooperation within the framework of the Commonwealth and offer to optimize the system of its bodies.

Expansion of the regional cooperation at the level of oblasts and other territorial-administrative units of the CIS could become an additional reserve for strengthening mutually beneficial links between the participating countries, the president of Belarus considers.

“Belarus’ experience proves that border and interregional cooperation is an important reserve for development of relations at the intergovernmental and interstate levels”, Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

The CIS had significant potential in the field transit carriages.

"Annual revenues from transit carriages in the CIS can reach USD 15 billion in the near future. We are very interested in this since Belarus is a key country in this respect," Alexander Lukashenko said.

According to him, the free trade regime is critical for the Commonwealth. “Its forming was difficult but the results speak for themselves,” the president said. The aggregate turnover between the CIS member states, which has been rapidly growing in the past five years, has already reached USD 140 billion. The aggregate volume of trade between Belarus and other CIS countries has surpassed USD 20 billion.

As the president added, given harsh international competition the CIS is the main market for our countries. What is meant is not so much raw materials and energy, but rather industrial and agricultural products manufactured and sold in the common CIS market, the Belarusian said.

"Renunciation of the CIS is absolutely unacceptable. On the contrary, there is a need in a constant search for compromises within the CIS. Objective needs of our economies and citizens should be the main criteria. We have to be guided by these very factors when both reforming the CIS and deepening integration on a daily basis,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

In his words, “the CIS has been lagging behind from other formations on the post Soviet territory yet it unites the broadest circle of participants for whom it is not so easy to find the common operating mode”.

The president of Belarus believes that the role of the CIS interparliamentary assembly should be increased. Media coverage of cooperation within the CIS should be boosted in order to promote the integration process and raise the international credibility and influence of this formation.

Sergei Aleinik: new UN Secretary General will not influence Human Rights Council activity

From: Belta
Electing Ban Ki-Moon new Secretary General of the United Nations Organization will not influence the activity of the Human Rights Council, Sergei Aleinik, representative of Belarus to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva, told BelTA.

‘I do not think the human factor is able to play any role here. The main activity areas and guidelines of the Human Rights Council are determined by the resolution of the UN General Assembly. It is the UN member states who are to decide what the Council will be like, determine its forms and methods of work,’ the diplomat added.

BelTA would like to remind its readers that foreign minister of South Korea Ban Ki-Moon has been elected new UN Secretary General. He promised to continue Kofi Annan’s efforts aimed at meeting the Goals of the Millennium, carrying out peace-keeping initiatives, counteracting terrorism and eliminating weapons of mass destruction. Ban Ki-Moon also said he was eager to restore the UN credibility.

According to the UN Charter, the Secretary General is the principal UN administrator. The swearing-in ceremony for Ban Ki-Moon will take place in December.

Kofi Annan will step down on December 31 after two five-year terms in office of Secretary General (since 1997). Ban Ki-Moon is the 8th UN Secretary General and 2nd representative of Asia to hold that post.

In other government news:

  • On October 18 chairman of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus Vladimir Konoplev will meet with chairman of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia Sergei Mironov and speaker of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov, BelTA was informed in the embassy of Belarus in Russia.

    During the talks the sides are expected to discuss the Belarusian-Russian cooperation and inter-parliamentarian interaction.

  • Chairman of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada will head a Cuban parliamentary delegation, which will pay a visit to Belarus on October 29 – November 2.

    As BelTA was informed by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Belarus Omar Medina Quintero, this will be a return visit of the Cuban MPs to Belarus. The Cuban diplomat considers exchange of visits to be very important for development of bilateral parliamentary cooperation.

    The Cuban delegation intends to discuss with their Belarusian counterparts the state and prospects of bilateral cooperation and to familiarize themselves with the socio-economic development of Belarus.

    Russian pipeline rupture hitting Belarus: Report

    From: Peninsula On-line
    Belarus is experiencing a sharp drop in the oil it receives from Russia due to technical problems with a major pipeline that have also affected supplies to Lithuania, a Russian newspaper reported yesterday.

    The Kommersant newspaper cited unnamed oil experts as saying that Russian authorities were using the problems on the Druzhba pipeline as a lever to put pressure on Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in an ongoing gas price dispute.

    Lukashenko has reacted angrily to a Russian threat to sharply increase the price paid by Belarus for natural gas.

    In the fourth quarter of this year Russia’s Transneft oil pipeline monopoly “is reducing oil to Belarus by about 30 per cent”, officially due to an order by the country’s safety inspectorate that it reduce pressure in the Druzhba pipeline, after a rupture and oil spill in July, Kommersant said.

    “Experts consider that the Russian authorities want in this way to put pressure on Lukashenko during discussions about gas prices. But as a result Russian oil companies lose revenue,” the paper said.

    Lithuania, another ex-Soviet Union republic which has a common border with Russia, has strongly criticised the complete cut-off in supplies via the Druzhba pipeline, which supplies the Mazeikiu refinery, once controlled by Russia’s now-defunct Yukos and acquired earlier this year by Poland’s PKN Orlen.

    But a reduction in oil supplies to Belarus would signal a hardening of attitudes in Moscow towards a country that has long been considered much more loyal.

    Kommersant quoted the vice-president of Transneft, Sergei Grigorev, as saying that the company had received an order from the safety inspectorate to reduce pressure in pipeline sections that supply two Belarussian oil refineries pending renovation work.

    This month the Novopolotsk refinery is to receive 520,000 tonnes of oil instead of the 610,000 tonnes planned earlier and the Mozyr refinery will receive 440,000 tonnes instead of 725,000 tonnes, the paper said, quoting an unnamed source.

    The cut will affect several Russian oil companies including Lukoil, Rosneft, Surgutneftegaz, TNK-BP, Slavneft, Tatneft and Russneft, the paper said.

    Russia to limit Belarusian goods imports

    From: Charter '97
    State Duma Deputy, member of the parliamentary commission of the “union state” on economy Anatoliy Lokots’ published the secret order of the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade to limit the imports of Belarusian goods imposed to the Russian regional administrations. The order was stipulated by the discrimination of the Russian goods that is observed today on the Belarusian market. A.Lokots’ made a statement at the meeting of the acting seminar for the deputies of the Parliamentary session of the Russian-Belarusian “union state” held October 12, in the Russian city of Rostov-na-Donu. That was in summer when the Russian regional administrations received the order by Deputy Minister Sergey Sharonov, as the Deputy put it.

    The fact that certain barriers emerged on the way of economic and political integration of Russia and Belarus was emphasized in the summarizing papers of the seminar addressed to the administrations of the two counties.

    In his speech at the joint sitting of the regulating, social and economic commissions of the Parliamentary session of the Russian-Belarusian “union state”, A.Lokots’ voiced complains against the process of the economic integration. In particular, the politician claimed he was surprised by the gas price policy for Belarus.

    Moreover, the issue of deviations from the Constitutional Act performed by the Superior State Council of Russia and Belarus in January 2006 was raised at the meeting. As A.Lokots’ pointed out, the demand to preserve the unique post of the President of the “union state” instead of the State Council uniting the Presidents of the two countries, which the Russian part launched, became the stumbling block at the discussions.

    Russia to review electricity export levels for coming winter

    From: Ria Novosti
    The head of the Russia's Unified Energy System said Friday the electricity monopoly would consider reducing the volume of electricity exports during the coming winter, to cover the domestic energy shortfall.

    A cold spell that hit Russia last winter put a serious strain on the country's power grid, and rising energy consumption this year created a generating capacity shortfall.

    Anatoly Chubais, speaking after a regular session of the CIS Electricity Council in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, that UES would review its import and export relations with neighboring Ukraine, Belarus, Caucasus countries, and the Baltic States, to minimize electricity exports and maximize imports.

    "An extremely difficult situation is currently developing in Russia with the shortfall in power capacity," Chubais said. "Given this situation, we are forced to take measures to maximally use current capacity during the autumn-winter [consumption] peak."

    He added that there would be no major changes to export and import relations between Russia and Kazakhstan.

    In mid-September, Unified Energy System approved a list of 16 regions in Russia where power supply this winter will be restricted.

    Ukrainian Deputy Energy Minister Oleksiy Sheberstov said in late September that Ukraine was ready to help Russia cover its electric power deficit with the spare capacity of its power plants, particularly the Krasnodar Territory in southern Russia that borders on Ukraine.

    "Russia is facing an electric power deficit and has asked us for export help," Sheberstov said, adding that the country had spare power capacity totaling 5 million kilowatts, at three power plants.

    He suggested that Russia supply natural gas to the plants in exchange for electric power.

    "One power unit with a capacity of 800 MW needs some 130 million cubic meters of gas per month," Sheberstov said.

    Journalist Anna Politkovskaya murdered in Moscow

    From: Ria Novosti
    Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in central Moscow, and a Makarov pistol and four cases were discovered at the scene, the city prosecutors said Saturday.

    Vitaly Tretyakov, a Public Chamber member and chief editor of Moskovskie Novosti newspaper, said the murder was connected with the professional activity of Politkovskaya, who was known for articles criticizing Russian authorities' actions in Chechnya.

    "It's clear that the first and only version everyone can think about is the one connected with professional activity," he said.

    Prosecutors said an unknown person clad in black opened fire on Politkovskaya at 17.15 Moscow time (1:15 p.m. GMT).

    The chief prosecutor of Moscow, Yury Syomin, and Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin have left for the crime scene.

    An investigation is underway.
  • For more on this story, please see below


    From: and Naveny
    Still fighting the case in Italian courts, the Giusto family is wondering why government had to flex its muscles in the case of the little Maria (Vika Moroz- the Belarusian orphan girl who was abducted by her host family) not taking several sentences of the Italian Court of Appeal into consideration that Italy has "saved" both a presumed killer (sentence October 10) and a man accused of fraud (sentence July 6) by rejecting the requests for extradition made by Belarus.

    "The question to ask" the Giusto family said "is this one: why in the case of Maria, was Belarus considered credible as guarantor of the rights of a girl that had been abused in that country and on the other hand was it considered not credible in the case of an adult accused of a serious crime?".

    The Giusto family is referring to the sentence of the Court of Appeal of July 6 this year. The Supreme Court writes: "The ample documentation allows for the affirmation that Belarus is a state in which human rights are violated (also in prisons), and this not only as described by Amnesty International, but based on official resolutions of the European Parliament (March 10 2005) according to which Belarus is the only European country that has no contractual relations with Europe because of its massive violations of human rights". Based on these considerations the Court of Appeal refused the extradition of a Belarus citizen, guilty of fraud, enough for forced labour for the Belarus law. "The extradition cannot be allowed" the sentence explained "when there is reason to believe that the convicted will be submitted to sentences that violate fundamental rights. And forced labour belongs to this category".

    In related news however, Undersecretary Daniela Melchiorre - in Genoa for a brief visit to the Boat Show, and to visit a juvenile prison in the afternoon, claimed that the rumours that Vika, the girl from Belarus repatriated on 29 September and apparently threatened, whilst in Italy, to suicide herself if she would be repatriated were groundless.

    "I was told that such rumours are totally groundless. I actually came to know that when she was in Val d'Aosta, she was shown photographs with a banner stating she would kill herself. That's psychological violence on an underage".

    Belarusian and Italian psychologists who observe Vika Moroz have recommended cutting all contacts between the girl and the Italian couple that kept her hidden for almost three weeks this past month, Italy's newspaper I1 Giornali reported on Tuesday.

    The doctors also recommended that the child should not be asked any questions about the boarding school for children with serious speech disorders in Vileika, Minsk region, where she had previously stayed.

    They made the recommendations in their first report published by the I1 Giornali on Tuesday.

    They said that placing Vika with some foster parents would be the best solution.

    According to their report, the girl has begun attending classes where Belarusian is the main medium of instruction and has had contacts with her brother who has recently been adopted by a Belarusian family.

    The doctors said that her condition was "normalizing," but it was not yet clear when the rehabilitation course should be over.

    The Italian couple, Alessandro Giusto and Maria Grazia Bornacin, had refused to send Vika to the boarding school in Vileika, Minsk region, saying that the child had been physically abused there.

    Yuri Azaryonok hopes for a good draw spot in Eurovision; ballet to accompany 11-Year-Old singer

    From: Oiko Times
    Belarus delegation at Junior Eurovision Song Contest will be lead by vice chairman of BTRC Yuri Azaryonok. He is ready to pass to organizers all required information on Belarus participant. Belarus delegation is also hoping for lucky number in the draw of running order, which will definetely help the song, now starting to be considered fans favourite. BTRC is presenting weekly Junior Eurovision diaries show, hosted by winner of JESC 2005 Kseniya Sitnik.

    Besides information on preparations of Belarus entrant in nearest editions other participants of JESC 2006 will be introduced through those diaries and their preview videos shown. Belarus will also present national final performance video as preview. DIaries are also available at BTRC site. Andrey will be backed on stage by show ballet "Alexis" guided by choreographer Alexandr Zenchenko. Costumes for singer and his dancers will be prepared by designer Valentina Bulavko. Arrangement for the song "Noviy den" is made by Victor Pshenishniy.

    Belarusian Public Prosecutor’s office: Lithuanian diplomat’s death is an accident

    From: Charter '97
    As the newspaper Lietuvos zinios reports, the Brest public prosecutor’s office resolved not to initiate a criminal case on the death of Lithuanian Embassy official Vitautas Potunas. The data gathered indicate Potunas’ death was an accident. The investigation on the case is ceased, but the Belarusian Prosecutor’s office is to reconsider the materials.

    Chief Prosecutor of Lithuanian investigation department Algimantas Klunka said he learnt about the resolution from the Lithuanian press. On October 11, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Lithuania wasn’t informed on the results of the investigation.

    Mr.Potunas fell down from the 9th floor of the hotel “Inturist” at night, August 22-23, in Brest. The body of the diplomat was found near the hotel building.

    More Evangelicals Join Protest Against Threatened Church Closure in Belarus

    Parishioners of an evangelical Protestant church that faces closure in Belarus stepped up their hunger strike protest on Tuesday.

    Seventeen members of the New Life church launched the protest at the threatened church in the ex-Soviet republic's capital, Minsk, on Friday and another 17 joined the action on Tuesday.

    "I am ready to starve until the authorities return our church," said Viktoria Medvedeva, who was lying on a mattress inside the church.

    Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko initiated and signed legislation in 2002 that strongly favors the dominant Russian Orthodox Christian church and restricts the activities of smaller religious groups.

    The New Life church bought a disused building and a patch of surrounding land three years ago and made improvements, but the authorities last year ordered the church to vacate the building and sell it to the government at a nominal price, according to Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko.

    Three lawsuits and an appeal to Lukashenko have failed to reverse the decision, and the parishioners, who number about 2,000, fear the government will take steps to force them out.

    "They are treating us worse than in Communist times," said Goncharenko. "We are ready for the worst — a forcible occupation of the building."

    In a related story, the hunger-striking parishioners of New Life Church barred a camera crew of the STV state-run channel from entering their prayer house on Friday evening.

    As Inna Davydovich, spokeswoman for the Protestant community, told BelaPAN, three cars, including an ambulance, pulled up near the church on the outskirts of Minsk at 6 p.m. on October 13. There were STV reporters in one of the cars and officials with the Minsk City Executive Committee's Department for Ethnic and Religious Affairs and the culture department of the Moskovsky district's administration in another.

    The officials were not authorized to hold negotiations with representatives of the religious community and also were barred out.

    According to Ms. Davydovich, an STV cameraman even attempted to film what was going on in the prayer house through the glass door. "The men did not respond to security guards' demands that they leave the territory of the church and drove off only about half an hour later, after they went round about the building," she said.

    New Life Church bought a disused cowshed with a land plot on Kovalyova Street in 2002 and made improvements there after being barred from renting a local house of culture in September 2004 and refused requests to rent other public facilities by district administrations throughout Minsk.

    In October 2005, Aleksandr Karamyshev, a judge of the Minsk City Economic Court, upheld the city authorities' confiscation order for the land that the church bought with the cowshed.

    This past July, he ordered the community to sell its building for 37,581,476 rubels to the city executive committee, sustaining a suit by the Minsk City State Registration and Land Cadastre Agency.

    On October 5, four days before the deadline for the eviction of the building, New Life Church parishioners went on a hunger strike. Some 200 people, including believers from other Protestant communities, were hunger striking on Thursday.

    The Minsk city authorities have transferred the money to the community's account, but the management of the church says that it would not take it.

    Agreement signed on tourism cooperation between Azerbaijan-Belarus in 2007-2008

    From: Azari Press
    An agreement was signed on tourism cooperation between Azerbaijan and Belarus in 2007-2008, APA reports.

    The program was signed by Abulfez Garayev, Azerbaijani Culture and Tourism Minister and Alexander Griqorov, Belarus Sport and Tourism Minister. Garayev informed his colleague about Azerbaijan tourism potential after the meeting. He said that it is important to develop mutual tourism cooperation in the development of newly-established tourism sectors of Azerbaijan.

    The Azerbaijani minister said Tourism University was established this year and the famous specialists will be involved to the teaching process. Alexander Grigorov said he was pleased with his visit to the country.

    “I met with Azad Rehimov, Azerbaijani Youth and Sport minister yesterday. We talked about the Olympic Games which will take place in 2008 and Azerbaijan’s participation there during the meeting. We signed a document on mutual cooperation with Azerbaijan today. I am sure that both countries will cooperate in tourism within 2007-2008,” Grigorov said.

    The program considers investigating and realizing the exchange of information, tourism legislation, the cooperation between the tourist organizations and associations of the countries, tourist marketing, and education projects on tourism. The sides will inform each other about the realization of the program.

    Constitutional questions for Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Ukraine

    The Council of Europe's Venice Commission – renowned for its work with constitutions worldwide – is to assist in the preparation of the constitution for Montenegro, which became Europe's newest country after voting for independence from Serbia in a referendum held in May 2006.

    During its 68th plenary session on 13-14 October in Venice, the Commission will discuss its involvement in the new constitution of Montenegro, in the presence of the President of the Montenegrin parliament, Ranko Krivocapic.

    Commission members will also adopt several opinions on important legal issues in Ukraine – including freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience and religious organisations and constitutional amendments for the Public Prosecutor's office – in the presence of Ukraine's Minister of Justice, Roman Zvarych, and Prosecutor General, Olexandre Medvedko. Reform for Kyrgyzstan's constitution will also be looked into, in the presence of the President of the Parliament Marat Sultanov. The opinions on Azerbaijan's law on freedom of assembly and Belarus' electoral code are on the agenda as well.

    Venice Commission members will also tackle two important European legal challenges: establishing guidelines for referendums and the rights of non citizens and minorities in Europe.

    Strike at “Nioman” glass factory

    From: Charter '97
    Lida region is shivering. Hardly had the corruption case toned down, when the town of Biarozauka (Lida region) appeared in the center of a new scandal. Last Tuesday the employees of the glass factory “Nioman” held a mass strike at their working places. From 300 to 500 morning shift employees ceased the work till noon.

    The strike was carried on by the workers of the second shift at 4 p.m.. On 5 p.m. they got down to work.

    According to the employees, that was a spontaneous action. The workers of six different workshops came together in the strike. The protest expressed by the glass blowers was provoked by the sum of the salaries for September - BR 350-400 thousand, is the lowest salary in the Lida region.

    One month before the strike the workers signed for a pay rise - they demanded to add the labour costs for damaged goods to their salary. The workers said the production of any goods is a very difficult process, while the labour costs for damaged goods are not included into the salaries. The damage is not the workers’ fault - it depends on the glass, so the employees have to pay for other people’s mistakes, which is unfair.

    Nominations to central election commission completed

    From: Naveny
    Nominations to the central election commission has been completed, Lidiya Yermoshina, head of the commission, told BelaPAN on Friday.

    According to her, seven of the 12 old members will remain on the commission. The seven include: Ms. Yermoshina herself; Nikolai Lozovik, secretary of the central election commission; Valery Mitskevich, director of the presidential National Law-drafting Center; Vladimir Kholod, head of the Presidential Administration's department for work with non-governmental organizations; Nadezhda Kiselyova, head of the commission's organizational and legal department.

    Among new members, Ms. Yermoshina named Aleksandr Koleda, chairman of the Brest Regional Election Commission and head of the organizational and personnel department of the Brest Regional Executive Committee; Ivan Shchurok, head of the education department of the Vitebsk Regional Executive Committee; and Oleg Slizhevsky, head of the justice ministry's non-governmental organizations department, who is on the European Union's travel ban list.

    The new commission will be missing former Deputy Chairman Igor Andreyev, who has been appointed to serve with integration agencies in Moscow; Aleksandr Maloletov, head of the industry ministry's Main Department for External Economic Relations; Larisa Boguslavskaya, head of the legal department of the Mogilyov Regional Executive Committee; and two retirees Vladimir Tsetsokho and Pyotr Yatskevich.

    The list of nominees will soon be submitted for approval to Aleksandr Lukashenko and the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly.

    Pavel Krasouski Released But Restricted

    From: Charter '97
    On Sunday evening a young activist Pavel Krasouski was released from Vitsebsk remand prison on his own recognisance. The Charter’97 press center was informed about that by that by the leader of the Young Front Artur Finkevich. As before, Pavel is a suspect in the cases of Vitsebsk blasts in 2005. On October 15 a 10-day period during which a detained is to be presented accusation, expired.

    At the moment Pavel Krasouski cannot be reached on the phone. Artur Finkevich reported that the young activist was not given back his mobile phone by the workers of the remand prison. As said by him, right after being released from the remand prison, the activist was sent home to Zhodzina.

    Artur Finkevich believes that law-enforcing agencies were compelled to release Pavel Krasouski, as they have no evidentiary material of the young activist’s responsibility. Besides, as said by him, the young activist hasn’t been charged because his arrest had caused harsh criticism of international structures and human rights organizations.

    Pavel Krasouski was arrested on October 5 on suspicion of organizing a series of blasts in Vitsebsk in autumn last year. A day earlier a search was held in his apartment in Zhodzina. During the search a system block, CDs and printed materials were confiscated. Investigators believe that P. Krasouski resembles a composite photo of a criminal, who had organized blasts. A composite photo has been created with the held of witnesses. Krasouski denies any involvement to those events.

    Pavel Except blasts in Vitsebsk last autumn, Zhodzina activist Pavel Krasouski is suspected of committing attacks at underage girls in 1999 in several cities of Belarus.

    “I would call it a new stage in fight with political opponents. Earlier they were charged with criminal violations, and now oppositionists are charged with murders, organizing blasts, rapes. In this way the regime is trying to discredit opposition in the eyes of the society. It is an unprecedented case, as now these people are facing capital punishment or life sentence. It places Belarus beside Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where regime’s opponents are planted weapons and illicit drugs. Krasouski’s case is obviously a political one, and we demand his immediate release,” told a well-known human rights activist Valyantsin Stefanovich in an interview to the Charter’97 press center.

    Anna Politkovskaya: the nation's conscience

    From: Ria Novosti
    Anna Politkovskaya was banned from Russian television - but, paradoxically, everyone knew her face.

    She wrote mainly for the Novaya Gazeta broadsheet but, just as paradoxically, remained a household name even for those who read nothing but glossy magazines. Faces of popular television stars enter our homes every day but still remain alien to our hearts and minds. Anna's face reflected a brain and a personality far out of the ordinary. It takes many generations to produce such intellect-imbued features as hers.

    It took satanic hatred to send three bullets through the head of that woman. No use to rage against the murderer - the man is beyond good and evil.

    Anna's death shook the whole world but not the people who use the tragedy as a chance to appear once again on TV and show they are "in". They do not mean to demonstrate their political stances - they have none. All they say is:

    "Yes, it's a pity, though I personally did not share her views, I always wanted to tell her that her writing harmed the country. But I was not her enemy, her enemies were in Chechnya, in the fishing mafia, in the government, in the military, in the terrorists' gangs. With so many enemies, how did she manage to survive so long?"

    That is a good question. Anna lived on the razor's edge. She never made do with streaks of information leaking from the corridors of power. She based her sensational reports on her own investigations. A brave journalist, she fully realized the danger, unlike certain reporters-cum-parliament-members who bark at people they are set on in those corridors of power.

    Politkovskaya relied on her own conscience and convictions to judge who was a scoundrel and who the righteous. She might have been wrong at times, but with the scarcity of the righteous nowadays, her mistakes were not frequent.

    Anna knew the dangers of her position, and lived in fear, as every normal person would in her circumstances, yet her civic courage overcame it. And don't believe those who explain her courage with the money she allegedly received for her involvement in human rights activities. Let's leave it to those who in their rancor see nothing but mercenary motivations. But then, an honest professional of the writing guild has a quality that outweighs all fears.

    Sick and hunted-down, the poet Osip Mandelstam lived in the Soviet Union of the 1930s, where the song, "I don't know another country to breathe so freely as mine," was officially supposed to epitomize the public mind. Yet he wrote a brave invective against Stalin, starting: "Our country's soil is slipping from our feet." Was it sheer desire to smear his country? Nothing of the kind! It was a conviction born of a penetrating mind that could not keep it inside. Wrathful words thunder far and wide as the people of genuine talent - those termed "the nation's conscience" - acquire the valor given by the truth they know, the valor that made Galileo exclaim to the Inquisition: "And yet it moves!"

    The murder of Anna Politkovskaya blatantly challenged Russian authorities. In Anna's position, I would have been certain those authorities would never put me under legal persecution. Although a vulnerable creature of flesh and blood, as a political writer belonging to the most radical opposition I would have relied on my country's rulers to protect me. The powers-that-be need such writers, and are pragmatically aware of their benefit. Anna was for a long time the leader of the part of civil society that fiercely and scathingly criticizes the regime. Russia is presently referred to as "sovereign democratic state" - but democratic, nevertheless. It largely owes that reputation to Anna. The rulers might have turned a deaf ear to her fiery accusations, yet they knew full well those accusations had been made.

    Today's Russia has a constellation of brilliant women political journalists. Everyone in the media, and all politically minded people - all whose intellectual interests go beyond inane TV shows - can mention a dozen names that make the glory of the Russian press. It is the duty we all share not to allow those women fall victim to someone's violent ambitions and dirty avarice.

    Russian intellectuals have a formidable job ahead restoring their nation's links with the Caucasus. Anna was the first to attempt building a bridge between Russia and Chechnya, and that bridge will be an essential part of the road to travel on the noble cause.

    Anna Politkovskaya was the conscience of a nation intoxicated with chauvinism. I firmly believe a street will be named after her some day in Grozny, the Chechen capital, and Chechens will come to bow to her grave.
  • Note: For a photo essay from mRia Novosti, please click HERE

  • Sports

    Belarusian women finish 1-2 in Hartford Marathon

    Anastasiya Padalinskaya of Belarus won the women's marathon with a time of two hours, 38 minutes and 46 seconds.

    She was followed by fellow Belarus native Alena Vinitskaya(2:39:20) and Alevitina Naumova of Russia (2:43:31).
    among the women.

    Tyler Arnett of Fairfield and Mary-Lynn Currier of Farmington were the first male and female finishers from Connecticut.

    A Connecticut man, Sean Connolly of Middletown, was also the male winner of the Five-K race.

    Almost 8,000 people from around the world hit the streets for the annual Hartford marathon. Many runners call the race one of the best fall marathons in the country, NBC 30 reported.

    Several streets had been closed to traffic for the race.

    Runners took off just after 8 a.m. Saturday morning from the Memorial Arch at Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford, according to NBC 30.

    They headed next to East Hartford, then to South Windsor, and finished back at the arch in Bushnell Park.

    Ukrainian runner Mykolai Rudyk sprinted to ward off a late-charging opponent, winning the United Technologies Greater Hartford Marathon on Saturday in the closest finish among male runners in the race's 13-year history.

    Rudyk, 32, held off Jonathan Ndambuki of Kenya to win the 26.2-mile marathon in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 40 seconds.

    An exclusive interview with WBO Heavyweight Chamion, Sergei Liakovich

    WBO Heavyweight Champion, Sergei Liakovich 23-1 (14), will make his first title defense against WBO No. 3 ranked Heavyweight Contender, Shannon Briggs 47-4-1 (41) on November 4, 2006 at Chase Field, in Phoenix, AZ.

    In an exclusive interview we had the opportunity to discuss the Heavyweight division and his upcoming bout with Shannon Briggs. Although Liakovich is polite and soft spoken he had strong opinions of the trash talking Briggs.

    Saddoboxing: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I wanted to start out by congratulating you on your performance over Lamon Brewster last April to win the WBO Heavyweight Title. What have you been doing since winning the title?

    Sergei Liakovich: Just training. Training hard.

    SB: What were your expectations going into your first major Heavyweight Championship fight?

    SL: I have basically been working on the mistakes I made during the Lamon Brewster fight. I am not going to make them again. I am correcting myself and working on some new things for Briggs.

    SB: In addition, to that being your first championship fight it was also your first fight back in the ring after a year and a half lay off. Why did you take off so much time after your match with Dominick Guinn in December 2004?

    SL: Because I had injuries. I was not active for sixteen months.

    SB: Were the injuries something that bothered you during the Brewster fight?

    SL: No, I am completely healed.

    SB: How do you feel about the state of the heavyweight division and that all the title holders are from the former Soviet Union?

    SL: Actually I am happy for those guys. Those guys deserve the titles. They work hard. Russian guy, American guy or African guy they are just a boxer and what they do in the ring is the important thing.

    SB: Do you feel the Heavyweight division is in need of unification?

    SL: Yes. This is what we will try to do after this fight. I hope this fight goes well for me and after this fight we will see what’s happening and I would love to unify the titles.

    SB: Is there someone you would like to target first?

    SL: I will fight any of those champions. Klitschko, Valuev or Maskaev if everything is ok and these guys will agree to fight me, so I will fight any of these champions.

    SB: You mentioned earlier that you have been working on some new things for Briggs. How have you been preparing for the fight?

    SL: I will only say I have been in camp a long time almost nine weeks.

    SB: Briggs is one of the bigger fighters that you have fought in your career. What do you expect when you face him?

    SL: You know everyone talks about his size. C’mon, you know what I had almost 150 amateur fights. I have fought much bigger and better guys then him. Size doesn’t matter it only matters what you will do in the ring.

    SB: Looking back to the press conference you had in NY he likes to talk quite a bit while you seem much more reserved. Is there anything in particular about his trash talking that has gotten to you at all?

    SL: First of all he tried to disrespect me. He doesn’t disrespect me. People like him these guys disrespect the sport and I love boxing. I am a boxing guy. He talks very personal. He is just a punk. On November 4 I will teach him a very good lesson.

    SB: To get this fight with you Briggs signed with your promoter Don King. Can you describe your relationship with Don?

    SL: Don is a great promoter and everybody knows. Sometimes he can be a little much but this is a business. He is just a great promoter.

    SB: I appreciate your time and I would just like to give you the opportunity to say anything additional that you would like to all your fans.

    SL: Like I told all my friends watch my fight. You will see Sergei Liakovich with much better boxing and much better punching.

    SB: I wish you the best of luck in November and look to see a lot more of you.

    SL: Thank you.