News, opinion, sports and culture E-mail:

Today's Headlines for:
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lukashenka visits Iran, Belarus reverses on NL Church, BY/Russia summit, UN, Shalom oil, Internet enemies, Blogs, Sports

From the Top

Head of the Belarusian State Concludes Official Visit to Iran

From: The office of the president, Naveny, mehr news and Belta
The economic effect of the official visit by the President of the Republic of Belarus to Iran on November 5-7 is estimated at nearly USD 350 million. This is the sum total of the agreements and contracts between Belarus and Iran concluded and signed in Teheran.

On November 7, Alexander Lukashenko visited Imam Khomeini mausoleum where he laid a wreath of flowers and left a message in the honorary guests book. “Imam Khomeini devoted his life to serving the people and the Motherland, which is a brightest example for all the world leaders!” – these are the words that were written by the Head of the Belarusian State during his second visit to the shrine.

Then the Belarusian leader continued his talks with President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which began in Teheran on November 6. Alexander Lukashenko and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad focused primary attention on the issues of trade and economic cooperation. Both sides laid particular stress on their intention to ensure full implementation of the documents submitted for signing.

The basic priorities in the development of relations between the two countries were reaffirmed in the joint communiqué of the Presidents of Belarus and Iran issued after their meeting.

An important outcome of the visit of the Belarusian delegation to Iran was the signing of a number of agreements and accords. Specifically, in the presence of the Presidents, the following documents were signed: Treaty between the Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Iran on legal assistance in civil and criminal cases; Intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in preventing and handling natural disasters, natural calamities and other emergency situations; Memorandum of mutual understanding between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on cooperation in the oil industry sector.

President Ahmadinejad reportedly referred to Mr. Lukashenko's visit as a turning point in the history of bilateral relations. "Given the agreements reached during the meetings, the amount of Iranian-Belarusian annual trade is expected to rise from $45 million to $350 million, which is a great leap forward," the IRNA quoted him as saying.

According to Mr. Ahmadinejad, he had called on the government to pursue the signed agreements more seriously. "We are willing to lay a firm cornerstone for close and long-term bilateral relations," he said.

Mr. Lukashenko noted good understanding between the two countries and said that they are well acquainted with each other's potentials and status, the IRNA reported.

He said that Iran and Belarus have objective and clear reasons for close relations and declared his country's readiness for cooperation with Iran in all fields. He noted that national security had also been on the agenda of his talks with the Iranian president.

"I promised to President Ahmadinejad that if the reached agreements are implemented, we will do our best to assist Iran and respond to any demand it may have," he said, according to the IRNA.

During talks with Iran’s first vice-president Parviz Dawoodi, Alexander Lukashenko has said that “good interaction avenues are becoming visible as well as the entire field of action in the economic sphere” referring to the cooperation between Belarus and Iran.

“It is very pleasant for me to discuss cooperation issues with you after I have had talks with the president of Iran and Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution. We know you as a specialist and hope you will understand the problems that exist between Belarus and Iran in the sphere of economic cooperation,” the Belarusian leader said to Parviz Dawoodi.

The first vice-president has expressed confidence that the two countries will manage to use the potential they have. I hope, this visit of the president of Belarus will contribute to the development of cooperation and will become a momentous event for the process of intensifying the bilateral relations, he said.

During his meeting with Ahmadinejad, Lukashenko announced that Belarus supports Iran’s civilian nuclear activities.

He stated that Iran has the inalienable right to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, noting that every member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is authorized to conduct civilian nuclear activities within the framework of international regulations.

Lukashenko and Ahmadinejad also underscored the necessity of settling the issue of Iran’s nuclear dossier through talks, with no preconditions imposed by unilateralist countries.

The two leaders condemned terrorism, separatism, and extremism while calling for the restoration of peace, justice, and security.

During the whole of the trip, the presidents of Belarus and Iran signed a joint communique on development of bilateral relations. Alexander Lukashenko and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended a ceremony of signing a treaty between the Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Iran on legal assistance in civil and criminal cases and an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the field of prevention and liquidation of natural catastrophes and disasters and other emergencies.

A memorandum on understanding between the government of the Republic of Belarus and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the oil industry field was signed as well.

The state standardization committee of Belarus and Iran’s institute of standards and industrial research signed cooperation agreement in the area of standardization, metrology, conformance evaluation and accreditation.

The meeting between industry minister of Belarus and trade minister of Iran resulted in a memorandum of understanding.

The Belarusian News Agency BelTA signed a cooperation agreement with Iranian News Agency IRNA.

The National TV and Radio Company of Belarus and Iran’s broadcasting company also signed intent on cooperation.

Mayors of Minsk and Tehran signed an agreement on establishment of the twin-town relationship between the two cities. The ceremony was attended by the two presidents.

On November 6, ZAO Belarusian Potassium Company and Iranian company for support of agricultural development signed a memorandum on understanding in Tehran, BelTA learnt from head of the presidential press service Pavel Legkiy.

Supreme Economic Court board reverses all court decisions regarding New Life Church

From: Belapan
The board of the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus on November 4 reversed all court decisions regarding New Life Church, Sergei Lukanin, lawyer for the Minsk-based Protestant community, told BelaPAN.

Moreover, he said, the board made an unprecedented decision to consider the New Life Church case as a court of primary jurisdiction.

According to Mr. Lukanin, the Supreme Economic Court board is expected to adjudicate in the case within the next two weeks. "We expect the board to decide in our favor, which would allow our community to normally exist and develop on the territory of our country," he said.

New Life Church, one of the largest communities of the Association of Full Gospel Christians, obtained official registration in December 1992 and is said to have more than 1000 members. In 2002, the community bought a former cowshed together with a four-acre land plot from a kolkhoz. It converted the building into a prayer house and some 500 to 700 people gathered there each Sunday for worship. Afterward, the area was added to the territory of Minsk and the city government decided to confiscate the plot and order New Life Church to sell the building to the city. Authorities alleged that the general development plan for the Sukharevo suburb, where the building in question is located, did not envisage any prayer house.

The Minsk City Economic Court upheld the confiscation order in October 2005, and, in July 2006, a judge of the Court sustained a suit by the Minsk City State Registration and Land Cadastre Agency, ordering the community to sell the former cowshed to the city executive committee for 37,581,476 rubels, or some $10 per square meter. Authorities said that this amount was the money that the building had been worth before New Life Church converted it into a prayer house without permission.

In September, Yevgeny Smirnov, first deputy chairman of the Supreme Economic Court, rejected New Life Church's appeal against the confiscation order for the land.

On October 5, four days before the deadline for vacating the building, more than 100 community members went on a open-ended hunger strike, with dozens starting a round-the-clock protest vigil inside the building. The hunger strike was suspended on October 28, after Viktor Kamenkov, chairman of the Supreme Economic Court, had contested the eviction ruling.

The community appealed to the Supreme Economic Court chairman on the advice of Oleg Proleskovsky, presidential aide for ideology, who met with New Life Church Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko on October 17. According to the pastor, Mr. Proleskovsky told him that the head of state had directed that the community should be helped.

As Mr. Lukanin told BelaPAN, also on November 4, the community received a reply from STV, a government-controlled television network, which said that STV did not see any grounds to satisfy the community's demand.

In a letter delivered to STV on October 19, New Life Church demanded that the network should broadcast a new, true report on the Protestant community to counterbalance its report that the community considered slanderous. The report, titled "Strange Worshippers of No Less Strange Religion" was aired in prime time on October 14 and 15.

Mr. Lukanin said that the community was waiting for a reaction to that report from the Prosecutor General's Office and the Minsk City Economic Court. According to him, the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office notified the community that the case would be examined by the Tsentralny District Prosecutor's Office.

Russian ambassador says that Putin-Lukashenko meeting will help settle many economic issues

From: Naveny
The forthcoming meeting of Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin will help settle many issues in bilateral trade and economic relations, Aleksandr Surikov, the Russian ambassador to Belarus, told reporters in Minsk on Friday.

The leaders of Belarus and Russia are expected to meet in Moscow on November 9 and 10.

"I think the meeting won't be easy, but we hope it will settle a lot," Mr. Surikov said, adding that the trade and economic aspect is the basis of Belarusian-Russian relations and the foundation for the formation of the Union State.

Mr. Surikov noted progress in the two countries' relations in 2006.

In particular, he said that the Moscow would build up to one million square meters of housing in Minsk, a number of hypermarkets, a representative office of Moscow and had already begun carrying out these projects. Mr. Surikov said that Moscow would contribute some $1 billion in Belarus' economy.

In the first nine months of 2006, many Russian delegations, including a large delegation of the Northwestern Federal District, visited Belarus. A number of agreements were signed between the District and Belarus and are currently implemented, Mr. Surikov said.

In addition, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky visited the Siberian Federal District and a Siberian delegation is expected to pay a visit to Belarus.

Both the Siberian and the Northwestern Districts plan to open their representative offices in Belarus.

Trade between Belarus and Russia in the first nine months of the year amounted to $14.7 billion.

"We have no doubts that by the end of the year, we'll be close to reaching $20 billion in trade, the largest amount in the entire history of relations since we signed the Union agreement," Mr. Surikov said, noting that Belarus would be among Russia's top five trading partners and second after Ukraine among the CIS countries.

Mr. Surikov expressed confidence that Russia would remain the main investor in Belarus.

The acceleration of economic integration processes, including those within the framework of Union State programs, should contribute to trade growth, said the ambassador. "Our main task is to ensure a reasonable economic development for the two states by applying the existing integration ties between the economies of Russia and Belarus as a catalyst and using advanced technologies," he said.

Reports: Russian ambassador to Belarus suggests lower gas price hike for Minsk

From: INT Herald Tribune
Russia's ambassador to Belarus said Friday that Belarus could see a more moderate rise in the price it pays for gas next year than the fourfold increase proposed by natural gas giant OAO Gazprom.

Alexander Surikov suggested that Belarus would not have to cover customs duties on the gas that Gazprom sells it, reducing next year's price from a proposed US$200 (€157) per 1,000 cubic meters to US$140 (€110).

"The customs duty on gas comprises 30 percent of its cost. Therefore I don't exclude that the price will be US$140 (€110) and not US$200 (€157)," Surikov said.

He noted that talks on creating a joint enterprise to oversee the Belarusian gas system, which would have allowed Minsk to keep its low price but given Moscow a strong measure of control, had fallen through.

Today in Business
The mysterious tango of Vivendi and KKR Malaysian tycoon chosen by Saudis to build a city The next airliner sounds like a stealthBelarus currently buys its gas from Russia at US$47 (€37) per 1,000 cubic meters — the last ex-Soviet country to pay such a low rate.

Gazprom has raised its prices for other countries in what it calls a long overdue recalibration to market prices. However, observers have called the company's proposal Thursday to double the price Georgia pays to US$230 (€180) political punishment for Tbilisi's Western-leaning path.

Belarus elected as member of UN Economic and Social Council

From: Itar Tass
The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday elected Belarus as a member of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

One hundred and fifty six of the 190 delegations voted in favour of Belarus, and 12 for Bulgaria. Twenty-two countries abstained. Support of two thirds or 112 U.N. member countries were required to be elected. Bulgaria withdrew its candidacy before the concluding vote round.

Seventeen of this year’s 18 vacancies were filled already in the first round last Thursday. However, Bulgaria and Belarus competed for the second place from the East European group. The first was taken by Romania.

Following nine vote rounds, including on Tuesday, did not name the winner, though Belarus's advantage grew each time. In the next to the last round, Belarus gained 114 votes, while Bulgaria had 76. In the situation, the Bulgarian delegation decided to withdraw.

The ECOSOC, which assists the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development, unites 54 member countries.

Thus, elected to the organisation for the 2007-09 period are Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Indonesia, Iraq, Cabo Verde, Kazakhstan, Canada, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Malawi, Romania, Salvador, the United States, Somalia, Sudan and the Philippines.

Places in the council are given according to the geographic representation principle -- fourteen to Africa, eleven to Asia, six to Eastern Europe, ten to South America and the Caribbean region and 13 to Western Europe and others.

Former Soviet States Unite Against
Terrorism, Crime, Drugs

From: New york Jewish Times
Russia's top general called on his colleagues in a union of former Soviet states to unite against terrorism, cross-border crime and the drug mafia.

Yury Baluyevsky addressed the chiefs of the General Staffs of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine ahead of the 15th anniversary of the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose union of 11 former Soviet republics dominated by Russia.

"The geopolitical position of the CIS brought us to the forefront in the fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and the drug mafia," said Baluyevsky, who is also Russia's first deputy defense minister. He also called for cooperation between CIS defense enterprises.

Baluyevsky said that CIS nations have already developed common air defense and communications systems, and were continuing to work on other joint defense systems.

"It will enable us to make our spending more efficient and will increase our security potential in the face of modern threats," he said.

Representatives from Georgia, Moldova and Turkmenistan were not present at the meeting.

Turkmenistan has an associated member status in the CIS alliance, and Moldova and Georgia, which have been involved in a political standoff with Russia, have considered pulling out from the union.

Bobruisk's "Шалом" cooking oil hits the market.

From: The Being Had Times
Bobruisk: "We wanted to make it Kosher. That was the whole point. We have a meeting scheduled with the Rabbi of the district at the end of the month. Perhaps at that time we will receive the stamp of approval."
A new cooking oil has shown up on the market here in Belarus. The oil, named Shalom is advertised as being made from 100% sunflower oil and costs 2400 rubles (about $1.10) a litre. According to the bottle, the manufacturer is OAO Bobruiski zavod rastitye'nikh masyol which is located in the town of Bobruisk in the Mogilev region.

Answering questions over the telephone, a representative of the Bobruiski zavod said the oil as of the moment is not Kosher, but the company is in the process of gaining rabbinical approval.

"We wanted to make it Kosher." said the representative, "That was the whole point. We have a meeting scheduled with the Rabbi of the district at the end of the month. Perhaps at that time we will receive the stamp of approval."

But even though the label does not bare a "kosher" emblem at this time, the obvious inference that an oil claims to be "clean enough" for Jewish consumption (is being marketed towards a Jewish consumer market) could be considered a major Jewish event for the Republic of Belarus. Jews make up only 3.5% of the overall population of Belarus and the regimes of the former Soviet Union took a very hard line stance against all religions, but especially Judaism. Certainly congratulations are in order for Bobruisk for marketing it.

The oil by the way has a very light, clear color and only a moderate aroma of sunflower seeds. "Not bad really." was the opinion of one critic, "It seems to be as light as more expensive oils and does not have the harsh sentiments of the cheaper varieties the market has. For sure I would buy it."

Previously, only one brand of Belarusian cooking oil, "Olea" had been considered Kosher.

'Enemies of the internet' named

From: BBC
A list of 13 "enemies of the internet" has been released by human rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
For the first time, Egypt has been added to the list while Nepal, Libya and the Maldives have all been removed.

The list consists of countries that RSF believes are suppressing freedom of expression on the internet.

The civil liberties pressure group has organised a 24-hour protest, inviting web users to vote for the worst offending countries.

Visitors to the RSF website are also invited to leave a voice message for Yahoo's co-founder Jerry Yang, expressing their views on the firm's involvement in China.

RSF has been outspoken in its condemnation of Yahoo. The search engine has been criticised along with other companies for helping the Chinese authorities block access to some online material.

North Korea
Saudi Arabia

The blacklist is published annually but it is the first time RSF has organised an online protest to accompany the list.

"We wanted to mobilise net users so that when we lobby certain countries we can say that the concerns are not just ours but those of thousands of internet users around the world," said a spokesman for RSF.

Many of those on the internet blacklist are countries that are regularly criticised by human rights groups, such as China and Burma.

Egypt is a new entrant and has been shortlisted for its attitude to bloggers rather than specific web censorship, said RSF.

"Three bloggers have been arrested and detained this year for speaking out in favour of democratic reform. This is an appeal to the Egyptian government to change its position," said the RSF spokesman.

"The fact that this year we have removed three countries from the list is encouraging. It shows that the situation can change for the better," he added.

On a visit to Libya, Reporters Without Borders found that the Libyan internet was no longer censored although it still considers President Maummar Gaddafi to be a "predator of press freedom".
  • Note: Please see Being Had- The Story for a commentary on this article.

    Gas Alliance Pursues Political Goals

    From: Institue for war and peace reporting
    A Russian proposal to create an alliance among gas-producing states, including other former Soviet republics and Iran, is politically-driven, say NBCentralAsia analysts, who see little economic foundation for such an arrangement.

    On October 30, Valery Yazev, who heads the Russian parliament’s committee on energy, transport and communications, proposed that an alliance should be forged by Russia, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Ukraine and Iran. The idea is that it would come to control half the world’s reserves of natural gas. Russia would play the lead role in the group since it is such a major exporter.

    According to Yazev, the alliance will resolve the dispute over the Energy Charter Treaty by which the European Union wants to secure rights to invest in the Russian gas market. Moscow opposes this, and the issue has created tensions with the EU.

    A source in Kazakstan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources who works on gas industry matters described Yazev’s proposal as shaky and almost impossible to implement. “From the moment Russia shifted to world prices for its gas, the idea of forming an alliance fell away, since each [potential member] is pursuing its own interests,” the source said.

    The source said it was unclear why Ukraine and Belarus should be included on the list of potential members since they do not have gas reserves of their own, and Russia is already increasing the price it charges them.

    From an economic point of view, the inclusion of Iran in the alliance is also questionable, since that would give Tehran free access to the European market, potentially damaging to Russia’s current dominance of that market.

    Berik Abdygaliev, a Kazakstan-based political scientist, believes the Yazev plan reflects the ambitions of certain elite figures in Moscow who want to use the gas issue for political ends.

    “Gas is becoming a political issue. Russia understands that very well, and wants to exploit its leverage as effectively as possible,” said Abdygaliev. “It wants to use the alliance to ensure all the members are in agreement, and to draw certain countries into its sphere of influence.”

    One such state is Iran, which could be a key actor in the grouping. “If Iran were suddenly to suffer a blockade but continued to export gas via other members of the gas alliance, the grouping would become a political one,” said Abdygaliev.

    At the same time, he noted that creating such an alliance could reduce the political risk factors affecting the gas market in Central Asia, and would thus benefit Kazakstan, whose southern regions are dependent on gas from Uzbekistan.

    Belarus: Regime Tightens Grip At Home, But Seeks New Friends Abroad

    From: RFE/RL
    When a Minsk district court sentenced an opposition youth activist to prison for his work with an unregistered organization, it was just the latest step in the inconspicuous, but relentless campaign by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to eradicate any meaningful dissent in Belarus.

    But the isolated autocrat, facing uncertainty over Russian gas supplies, appears to be launching another kind of campaign as well. Lukashenka has recently made several political gestures that may signal his intention to repair his wobbly standing in the international arena.

    No 'Window-Dressing Liberalism'

    When the court sentenced opposition Youth Front leader Zmitser Dashkevich to 18 months in prison on November 1, it cited an article added to the Belarusian Criminal Code just ahead of the March presidential election. "The regime has sent yet another strong signal that no unregistered organization has the right to conduct activities here."

    The article, prohibiting the work of "unregistered organizations," was among a set of amendments introducing harsh penalties for "activities directed against people and public security."

    Vintsuk Vyachorka, head of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front, said the sentencing of the 25-year-old Dashkevich was routine for a regime that shuns any notion of democratizing the country's political environment.

    Dashkevich's case "was chosen as an example to caution others," he said. "There is nothing unexpected in this [sentence], even though it would appear that, confronted with the economic problems that will inevitably worsen next year, Lukashenka could show at least window-dressing liberalism. But he decided not to do that, he decided to continue fighting against the Belarusian people. It is a challenge for all of us."

    The Lukashenka regime's repression of its political opponents culminated shortly after this year's March 19 presidential election.

    Rights activists say more than 1,000 supporters of the contest's two independent opposition candidates, Alyaksandr Milinkevich and Alyaksandr Kazulin, were jailed for up to 15 days.

    Harsher Penalties

    Fewer prison sentences have been handed down in the seven months that followed, but in cases like Dashkevich's, where penalties were handed down, they were far harsher than before.

    In July, Kazulin was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in the street protests that followed Lukashenka's overwhelming reelection in the presidential vote.

    In August, a court sentenced four independent election observers -- Mikalay Astreyka, Tsimafey Dranchuk, Enira Branitskaya, and Alyaksandr Shalayka -- to prison terms ranging from six months to two years.

    The four were found guilty of being involved in an unregistered organization that "infringes upon the interests and rights of citizens."

    Anatol Lyaukovich, temporarily standing in for Kazulin as head of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party, says he believes the government will continue to stifle any uncontrolled public activity in order to prevent a rise in public dissent.

    Repression, he says, has simply become a way of life for the Lukashenka regime. "The regime has sent yet another strong signal that no unregistered organization has the right to conduct activities here," he says. "It is a warning to both old and young [opposition] leaders that all of them will be there [in prison]. It is the natural logic of a [repressive] regime, which can only become tougher. If it shows a sign of weakness, it will collapse."
  • Text continues...

  • From the Blogs

    Belarus-Russia tensions

    From: TOL Blogs: Belarus
    Tensions are reaching new level, or at least rumors in blogosphere are becoming harsher…

    lipkovich reports (in Russian) that anonymous source in the Belarusian government said that Belarus may raise transit fares for Russian gas, oil and trucks, and charge Russia for their military bases on Belarusian territory. While these points are not surprising, the source added another detail: the possibility of seizing ownership of Russian oil pipes on Belarusian territory.

    This harsh response came after Russian ambassador to Belarus, Alexander Surikov, said that Russia will set price of gas to $200, might limit supplies of crude oil to Belarus (oil processing is one of the most important industries in Belarus now), and stop selling electroenergy entirely.

    Reactions to the current situation vary considerably in Belarus. A lot of people are afraid that the Russian action could lead to widespread impoverishment, or houses won’t get heating in February. Some people think that this may lead to positive political changes in our country; e.g.czalex writes: “Finally, Russia is going to do what our opposition asked in March - stop supporting the regime economically”.

    Jarasłaŭ Ramančuk, an economist in Minsk, thinks that this exchange of threats will be used to increase the bargaining power of both sides before the haggling process during the Putin-Łukašenka meeting on the 9th of November. Any decisions of real significance will be made at that meeting.

    And people here don’t really know what to hope for…

    New Belarus TV channel

    From: Belarus News and Facts
    The network will be run by Minsk Television and Information Networks (MTIS), a government-owned cable TV operator. In September, MTIS bought a 75-percent stake in the local newspaper Vecherny Minsk and set up a holding company incorporating the paper and the channel.

    The holding company signed a contract with Russia's TDK network to use its frequency in prime time. The first programs of Minsk Mediaset are expected to go air between December 20 and 24.

    MTIS head Viktor Bychkov told reporters in Minsk on Wednesday that Minsk Mediaset would broadcast news bulletins, educational and religious programs, movies and interviews with local government officials and representatives of the city's various services. Some programs will be made by the Oko Master Film studio.

    At the news conference, Mr. Bychkov also spoke about the development of digital television in the country. He said that MTIS had necessary facilities to offer digital broadcasting services, which he noted would allow up to four channels to use one frequency, but many households could not afford digital tuners priced at some $100. "Many Minsk residents are not ready for such expenditures," he said, noting that out of some 380,000 MTIS subscribers, 50,000 were subscribed to only four channels, a "social package" priced at 348 rubels a month. The monthly subscription to all 28 channels offered by MTIS reportedly costs 5,554 rubels.

    Alyaksandr Kazulin and Syarhei Skrabets on Hunger Strike For 20 Days

    From: Charter '97
    The former candidate for presidency in Belarus Alyaksandr Kazulin and a former deputy Syarhei Skrabets are continuing the hunger strike of protest in the penal colony Vitsba-3 for the 20th day. There is no reliable information about the state of health of the political prisoners. A policeman on duty told to Kazulin and Skrabets’ relatives on the phone that “everything is alright with them”, however, families of the political prisoners couldn’t reach the administration of the colony on the phone for almost a week, to learn about the real state of health of the political prisoners after such a long hunger strike.

    “A day before yesterday a policeman on duty told me that everything s alright with my husband. I cannot reach the administration of the colony on the phone. Last time, on November 4, the deputy director of the colony told that he saw Kazulin at the territory of the colony, and allegedly he looked normal. That’s all information. Then there were long holidays,” the wife of the former candidate for presidency, Iryna Kazulina, said to the Charter’97 press –center.

    As we have informed, meetings with the lawyer, Ihar Rynkevich, are still prohibited to Alyaksandr Kazulin. The head of the colony Vitsba-3 Vitaly Agnistsikau decide to ban meetings with the lawyer to A. Kazulin for the whole term of hunger strike of the former candidate for presidency. On November 1 I. Rynkevich applied against the ruling of V. Agnistsikau in the penal jurisdiction department.

    Letters from Kazulin are received with a delay for a week.

    As we have informed, the former candidate for presidency in BelarusAlyaksandr Kazulin continues the hunger strike of protest since October 20. The political prisoner calls upon the UN Security Council to turn attention to the situation in Belarus. He protests against illegal rule of Lukashenka. Another political prisoner, former deputy Syarhei Skrabets, joined his protest in Vitsebsk colony. His family is not receiving any letters from him either.

    People Join Kazulin’s Hunger-strike

    From: Viasna
    A ‘hunger strike of solidarity’ with the former candidate for presidency Aliaksandr Kazulin goes on in Brest for the 5th day. Members of the Belarusian Social-Democratic Party (Hramada) and activists of other political parties and public organizations are taking part in the protest.

    Since today a schedule according to which new members would join the protest is placed in the office of Brest regional branch of the Belarusian Social-Democratic Party (Hramada). As said by the head of the organization Ihar Maslouski, almost 30 names of the party members had been written down there.

    ’We saw the results of research by Professor Manaeu that only about 45% of population of Belarus know that Kazulin is behind bars now. That is why this hunger strike is carried out in a succession to attract more attention. We have an intention to continue the protest until Mr. Kazulin is on hunger strike in prison,’ Maslouski said to Radio Svaboda.

    As we have informed, each person who wants to join the hunger strike is proposed to abstain from food from 1 to 5 days.

    The former candidate for presidency Aliaksandr Kazulin and a former deputy Siarhei Skrabets have announced an indefinite hunger strike protesting against ‘total lawlessness in Belarus’ with the aim to draw attention of the UN Security Council to the situation in Belarus.

    New heavyweight champ Briggs aims to unify titles

    From: MSNBC
    An hour after his stunning, last-second knockout victory over Sergei Liakhovich, new WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs began to look ahead.

    If it were up to Briggs, he would take on IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko to unify two of the four major heavyweight titles. Briggs claims Klitschko's camp once led him to believe he was in line for a title shot, only to snub him.

    "I've got a vendetta against him,'' Briggs said Saturday night. "When it comes to feelings, I want him. If it's money, or something like that, then I've got to take somebody else. But feeling-wise, I want him for what they did to me.''

    When Briggs couldn't get a fight with Klitschko, he asked promoter Don King for a shot at Liakhovich. King obliged, and at the postfight news conference he was crowing as he pointed to the newly crowned Briggs, the only American belt holder in the fractured weight class.

    "From the ashes of the phoenix, America rises again in the heavyweight division,'' King said.

    Before Briggs signs for a bout with Klitschko, or anyone else, he's planning to take some time off and find a new home in the Valley. Briggs, a 34-year-old from Brooklyn, enjoyed training here so much that he's decided to move his family to the desert.

    "I have asthma and this is a great place for me,'' Briggs said. "I'm looking at some houses and I'm definitely going to train here. Hopefully I'll be fighting at the Chase (Field) again.''

    Perhaps Briggs can ask Liakhovich for some recommendations. Liakhovich, a native of Belarus, has lived in nearby Scottsdale for seven years.

    "I want to get healed up first,'' Briggs said. "I took some shots. My hand's killing me, my ribs.''

    Briggs' right hand was swollen, and with good reason. That hand separated Liakhovich from his senses and his title.

    Liakhovich (23-2 with 14 KOs) looked shaky in his first title defense but still led on all three cards through 11 rounds. Briggs began to enliven a dull match by winning the eighth, ninth and 11th on all three cards, but it was clear that he needed a miracle to take the title as the bell rang for the final round.

    Briggs (48-4-1 with 41 KOs) got it when he floored Liakhovich with a pair of heavy right hands with 27 seconds remaining in the bout. After Liakhovich rose, Briggs connected with three more punches and was loading up to throw another when Liakhovich tumbled through the ropes without being hit.

    "I took too many shots in the 12th round,'' Liakhovich said.

    Referee Bobby Ferrara called the fight at 2:59 of the 12th round. A dazed Liakhovich sat at ringside for several minutes before returning to the ring.

    It was the second title fight for Briggs, who made his pro debut in 1992. In the first, Briggs was stopped by Lennox Lewis in 1998.

    Briggs, who won his 12th straight fight, made $400,000 and Liakhovich was paid $746,000.

    Liakhovich conceded afterward that he took the wrong approach against Briggs. Liakhovich seemed content to wait out Briggs, who had gone 12 rounds only once in his career. That strategy brought boos from the crowd and proved costly in the final round.

    "I didn't fight my fight,'' Liakhovich said. "I fought Briggs' fight. I gave it away.''

    Liakhovich may have to wait until he has another shot at the title. But at 30, he believes he still has time.

    "I'll be back,'' Liakhovich said.

  • Note: As an aside, here is a link which lists several Belarusian professional boxers along with their records and their upcomming opponents. Click HERE

    Belarusian wrestlers win 11 medals at World Sambo Championship in Bulgaria

    From: Belta
    Belarusian wrestlers have won 11 medals at the World Unarmed Self-Defence Championship in Bulgaria, BelTA learnt in the headquarters of the Belarusian team.

    Belarusian athletes achieved success in the majority of weight categories. Thus, Olga Leshenko, Anastasiya Leshkova and Dmitri Bazylev secured gold medals, Yulia Borisik and Ekaterina Radevich took silver, Yuri Rybak – bronze.

    By the way, many of the Sambo Championship winners will run up for judo challenge of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games since they combine sambo and judo trainings. Among them is Athens 2004 Olympic champion Igor Makarov.