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Sunday, November 05, 2006

October revolution, Briggs KO's Liakhovich in 12th, Gas issue declared, Hillary Clinton, Russia, Angelica Borys, Dashkevich: 18 months, Kozulin, Blogs

From the Top

President extends congratulations on Day of October Revolution

From: Belta
Dear compatriots,

I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to you on the Day of the October Revolution.

89 years ago an event happened that gave the workers of our country release from poverty and unlawfulness and that had a big influence on lives of people across the planet. For Belarus, that event was important because it created real opportunities for independent statehood.

The Great October encouraged the grass-roots to realize their creative potential which had been overlooked. The society united seeking to build a free state which would be worthy of respect. The enthusiasm and selflessness of the masses turned into spectacular achievements of the huge country.

Today our country is celebrating that event in the atmosphere of political stability, lasting civil peace and dynamic economic and socio-cultural development.

Dear countrymen, I wish you health, happiness, wellbeing and success in everything you do for the benefit of our Belarus.

Alexander Lukashenko.

Shannon Briggs defeats Sergei Liakhovich for WBO heavyweight title

From: Am 940 (Montreal)
Shannon Briggs won the WBO heavyweight title Saturday night, stopping Sergei Liakhovich (Belarus) with a second left in the 12th round.

Briggs, a 34-year-old from Brooklyn, floored the champion with a pair of heavy right hands with 27 seconds remaining in the bout. After Liakhovich rose, Briggs hit him with three more punches and was trying to land another when Liakhovich tumbled through the ropes without being hit.

Referee Bobby Ferrara called the fight at 2:59, and Liakhovich (23-2, 14 KOs) sat in a ringside chair for several minutes before returning to the ring.
Briggs improved to 48-4-1.

It was the first title defence for Liakhovich, a native of Belarus who lives in nearby Scottsdale.

The late flurry was the only real action in the entire fight.

The Don King promotion was the first heavyweight title fight in Arizona history, and judging by the angry reaction of the sparse Chase Field crowd, it may be the last for a while.

Many began booing as the fighters slowly circled for the first 30 seconds.
Liakhovich gave up 30 pounds to Briggs, who weighed in at 268 pounds, and his strategy seemed to be to avoid Briggs' powerful punch. Briggs, whose nickname is "The Cannon," had promised to knock Liakhovich out within two rounds but threw few punches.

The boos grew louder as neither man mounted anything resembling an attack in the second and third rounds.

At one point in the fourth round, Liakhovich leaned against the ropes with his hands in front of his face but Briggs refused to punch him.

Briggs fought for the title for the second time. In his other title bout, Briggs was stopped by Lennox Lewis in 1998

Russia’s natural gas for Belarus may cost $140 per 1,000 cm in 2007

From: Itar Tass
The price of Russia’s natural gas for Belarus may reach 140 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters in 2007, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov told a Friday’s news conference.

At first, the two countries concluded a general agreement on the creation of a joint gas transportation company on the Beltransgaz basis and on equal tariffs and prices for economic entities, he reaffirmed.

Then, the Belarussian side decided not to create the joint venture and denounced the agreement, Surikov went on to say, adding, “The gas price issue became very acute at once.”

“Currently, the gas price for Belarus reaching 200 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters is mentioned in the documents,” he said. “The gas customs duty will make 30 percent from the price. With this in mind, I do not exclude that the price will make 140 U.S. dollars, but not 200,” Surkov added.

In a related story, The Belarussian government may review the state budget for 2007, if prices for Russian natural gas grow more than 15 percent, Belarussian Finance Minister Nikolai Korbut told reporters on Friday.

In 2006, Belarus purchases Russian gas at 46.68 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.

“Companies should hold a balanced policy and find ways of better efficiency,” he said, adding, “They should not be afraid and think what may happen in the next year.”

Korbut said that President Alexander Lukashenko had instructed the government to improve the draft budget within the next two weeks.

“In that period of time, the budget will be considered again at a meeting with the head of state and then submitted to the parliament,” Korbut said.

On Thursday, Lukashenko told the government to carry on the dynamic economic growth, regardless energy prices in 2007.

Russia Stops Electric Power Supply to Belarus After New Year

From: Charter '97
Supplies of Russian electric power to Belarus will not take place next year. It has been stated at a press-conference in Minsk today by Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov. “It looks as it would not be possible to buy electric power next year. Owing to objective causes the European part of Russia is facing the threat of energy deficit. Next year limitations on energy supplies for some territories of the Russian Federation,” Russian Ambassador said. Russian Ambassador also expects that the upcoming meeting of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin in Moscow would be complicated. “It would be obviously a rather difficult meeting. But we hope that numerous questions would be settled,” A. Surikov said at a press-conference on Friday in Minsk.

The ambassador has also underlined that the both heads of states are positioning themselves as consistent advocates of the “union state”. “Creation of the union state is not being carried out flawlessly. The two states have a heap of questions to be settled,” the Russian diplomat noted.

In the plan of energy balance for the year 2007 proposed by the Belarusian side import from Russia of 3.3 billion kilowatt-hours had been expected.

Iran's envoy gives priority to Lukashenkov's trip to Tehran

From: Islamic Republic News
Iran's ambassador to Belarus on Wednesday described the upcoming visit of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenkov to Tehran as an important event in promoting ties between the two countries.

Abdolhamid Fekri told official Belarus news agency 'Belta' that mutual relations, including economic and commercial cooperation, will feature in Lukashenko's meeting with high-ranking Iranian officials.

Lukashenkov will pay a visit to Tehran in the first half of November.

The ambassador underlined that the leaders of the two states will focus on ways to increase commercial exchanges between the two countries.

They will also study and sign a number of memoranda of understandings to bolster cooperation among governments and institutes of the two countries, he added.

Fekri said that Iran's embassy in Minsk in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs will try to prepare the prerequisites for Belarus president's visit to Tehran.

Terming Iran-Belarus relations as perfect, he added that the two countries effectively cooperate within international organizations including the United Nations and Non-Aligned Movement.

Pointing to regular consultations between Iran-Belarus foreign ministries, the ambassador noted that the two countries have also established parliamentary cooperation.

He stated that the two countries have no differences on international issues.

Sergei Martynov, Belarus foreign minister, recently paid a visit to Tehran.

Martynov said that some agreements in the field of legal, information organizations and TV channels cooperation will be signed during Lukashenkov's trip to Iran.

Iran's Ambassador to Belarus Abdolmajid Fekri here Saturday also said that given the numerous capacities for Iran-Belarus cooperation in the field of tourism, mutual tourist relations should expand.

Speaking to the Belarus official news agency, BeITa, he said that tourist facilities of the two countries are not used properly, and added that Belarus people do not have sufficient knowledge about Iran and Iranians.

The diplomat pointed to the significance of direct air link between Tehran and Minsk which was started recently by Caspian Airlines, and said that such a flight prepares the ground for development of cooperation between the two nations.

Fekri advised Iranian and Belarus tourist agencies to increase exchanges in the sector and cooperate with each other more closely.

He referred to Iran's numerous historical and cultural monuments and said, "They are quite attractive for foreign tourists, including those from Belarus."

  • Russia

    Hillary Clinton Takes Russia On Board

    From: Kommersant
    Democratic Senator from New York Hillary Clinton made a speech on Tuesday on U.S. foreign policy and explained how the United States' foreign relations would be conducted if the Democrats come to power. She demanded a return to “internationalism” from “isolationism” and called Russia and China hindrances to that policy for contradicting the “global imperative.” Clinton is being called the informal leader of the democrats and candidate for president in 2008.
    Hillary Clinton's appearance at the influential New York-based nongovernmental organization the Council on Foreign Relations differed notably from statements made by other Democrats in the lead-up to the November 7 congressional elections. The NY senator and wife of former president Bill Clinton is considered the favorite in her campaigning for a second six-year term against Republic John Spencer, who seems to be given poor chances even by his own party. Making her expectation of imminent victory clear, Clinton mentioned her presidential ambitions and devoted her appearance not to criticism of individual policies of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, as her fellow party members are doing, but to U.S. foreign policy as a whole.

    Clinton called the Bush administration's foreign policy doctrine a failure and made her own prescriptions for returning America to the position it has lost internationally. She identified the main strategic task for the U.S. as getting out of the isolationism preached by the Republicans and returning to “American internationalism,” the principle of greater U.S. involvement in world affairs that is considered the traditional characteristic of Democratic administrations in the White House. According to Clinton's speech, the Democrats differ with the Republicans over “threats and challenges” to U.S. foreign policy such as terrorism, North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions. She added to that standard list the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the threat of civil war in Iraq, thus bringing up the two greatest weak spots in the current administration's foreign policy.

    It is notable that Clinton spoke about Russia as well, reminding her audience of the argument between Republicans and Democrats at the end of Bill Clinton's administration over “who lost Russia.” When speaking of “threats and challenges,” Clinton listed Moscow and Beijing among them for contradicting “global imperatives.” That does not mean, of course, that new confrontations between Moscow and Washington would be in store if the Democrats come to power in the U.S. Clinton blames Bush and his administration for the growing gap in understanding between the U.S. and Russia. She admitted that it would be impossible to solve key problems in the UN Security Council without an “improved atmosphere” in the dialog with Russia and China, adding that those countries would have to play an active role in the reform of the UN that the Democrats see as unavoidable.

    Observers say that Clinton's foreign policy positions are especially important in light of her growing political clout. She is already seen as the informal leader of the Democrats and a likely candidate for president in 2008. A number of events to advance her candidacy took place in New York simultaneously with her 59th birthday celebrations. Her husband the former president took part in those events. The New York Times, which has been steadfastly critical of Hillary Clinton, published an editorial on Monday endorsing her Senate reelection bid. Six years ago, that newspaper appealed to her with the simple and unambiguous request “Don't run!” “Are you surprised?” the paper asks its readers about its change of heart. “We are a little surprised too. But there is no real choice in this race.”

    U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney said of Clinton in an interview with the Fox News network that “I disagree with her on practically all issues, but no one should underestimate her. She is a very serious candidate for president… I think she could win.”

    Russia's pipelines are worn out-standards agency

    From: Reuters
    Russian technical standards agency Rostekhnadzor warned on Thursday that almost all the country's oil and gas pipelines were in a critical condition, a possible sign of more shutdowns after the closure of a link to Lithuania.

    "Russia's pipeline transport is in an unsatisfactory state. Environmental damage caused by oil and gas pipelines is inexcusable," Rostekhnadzor chief Konstantin Pulikovsky said in a statement.

    He said pipeline safety measures conducted by pipeline owners were insufficient and Rostekhnadzor planned to strengthen its control over the pipeline system.

    Rostekhnadzor is an independent federal agency for ecological, technical and nuclear monitoring. It is in charge of industrial safety issues and reports directly to prime minister.

    Russia's crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft , the world's largest pipeline operator, controls the vast majority of oil pipelines, while gas monopoly Gazprom owns all the gas routes.

    Rostekhnadzor said most pipelines in Russia were built in the 1960s and 1970s and more than 40 percent of the trunk pipelines are over 30 years old, making them prone to corrosion.

    More than 30 accidents have already happened this year, mainly due to exposure and corrosion, the statement said.

    In July, Transneft shut down a part of the Druzhba "Frendship" pipeline to Lithuania, disrupting crude exports to the Baltic country and forcing the region's only refinery, Mazeikiu Nafta , to use more expensive sea supplies.

    Transneft blamed the shutdown on a leak but analysts said the move was likely a Kremlin attempt to punish Vilnius after it allowed Poland's PKN Orlen to buy the refinery, a takeover target of several Russian oil firms.

    In October, Transneft cut pressure in part of the Druzhba export pipeline to Europe, reducing oil supplies to Belarus, again following a leak.

    Polish community leader in Belarus ‘set up’ by Lukashenko regime?

    From: Polskie Radio
    Belarusian customs officials claim they have found drugs in a car carrying Angelica Borys, the ousted leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus and two other members of the Union.

    But Borys, who was questioned for two hours at the Grodno customs office, believes the package containing 1.5 grams of amphetamine, was planted in the car in yet another action against broadly conceived opposition.

    Angelica Borys has been victim of police repressions and intimidation since she was elected president of the Union of Poles in Belarus. The authorities did not accept her candidature and orchestrated her removal forcing the Union to elect new leaders loyal to the government.

    The Polish government regards her as a legitimate leader of the Union. Borys has been questioned by the police 80 times since she defied the Lukashenko regime. She and her supporters say the drug discovery affair is a political act against her. Andrzej Poczobut, a leading activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus, describes the incident as an obvious provocation.

    “The car in which the President of the Union of Poles travels has always been very thoroughly checked by the border officials and no one in his right mind would try to carry anything illegal in it. And actually, the Belarus authorities are not even trying to make the whole incident seem credible.”

    Jakub Boratynski, an expert in eastern studies at the Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw, says the latest events are yet another example of the campaign of harassment and intimidation against the Belarusian opposition – that includes also independent activists from the Union of Poles in Belarus.

    “Repressions are getting harsher and harsher. A watershed was a very severe sentence passed on Alexander Kazulin. The recent conviction of a political activist to 18 months is a reflection of a trend to step up repressions. I am afraid this is not going to change soon.”

    This week a Belarusian opposition activist was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Dmitryi Dashkevich, a member of the banned Youth Front political group, was charged with activities in a non-registered organization.

    According to Andrzej Poczobut this and the action against Angelica Borys shows that the government of Alexander Lukashenko feels its position is being threatened.

    “A crisis is looming in relations between Belarus and Russia and the authorities, Alexander Lukashenko feel uncertain.”

    Jakub Boratynski agrees with this diagnosis of the situation in Belarus, though he is not sure whether this really uncovers the weakness of the Minsk regime.

    “The way the regime has reacted is an expression of an over-exaggerated fear of a repeat of the Ukrainian Orange revolution. Even though there is no evidence that would prove that the opposition is definitely getting stronger. I am not sure to what extent this is an expression of real weakness. Despite squabbles with Russia, we cannot say that Lukashenko has a very strong challenge at home.”

    Today some 10 opposition politicians and activists are serving prison terms in Belarus. Among them is former candidate for president Alexander Kazulin sentenced to five and a half years behind bars for staging what the authorities called an illegal demonstration and hooliganism.

    Belarus opposition activist sentenced to 18 months imprisonment

    From: Raw Story
    A Belarusian court on Wednesday sentenced an opposition activist to 18 months imprisonment for membership of an organization which has not approved by the state. After a two-day trial, Dmitriy Dashkevich, a member of the banned Youth Front political group, was found guilty of "activities within a non-registered organization."

    Around 300 Dashkevich supporters and Aleksander Milinkevich, the leader of Belarus' weak opposition and former presidential candidate, protested outside the Minsk court building, Interfax news agency reported.

    Belarusian President Aleksander Lukshenko defeated Milinkevich in a Soviet-style election in March. A former collective farm boss, Lukashenko dramatically widened the state's ability to crack down on protest during his years as the country's unchallenged leader.

    A key feature of the increasingly repressive legislation came in 2005, with additions to the criminal code making membership of or even being associated with public organizations not sanctioned by the regime illegal.

    The law has made most forms of protest against Lukashenko illegal, and usually impossible.

    Vika Moroz's foster father says he and his wife themselves decided to take the girl

    From: Belapan
    The foster father of Vika Moroz, a Belarusian orphan who was kept by an Italian couple hidden for almost three weeks this past September, told BelaPAN that he and his wife had decided themselves to take the girl.

    Vika was placed in temporary foster care with Sergei and Yelena Vasilevsky who are fostering her brother, Sasha, after she spent a month in the foster home in Borisov.

    Mr. Vasilevsky said that they had made the decision because the girl had visited her brother many times previously and liked the family. He said that they had not applied for the adoption because it was a lengthy process.

    "We are not ready and do not want to do that," Mrs. Vasilevsky replied to BelaPAN in late October after being asked whether she and her husband wanted to foster the girl.

    The Italian family, Alessandro Giusto and Maria Grazia Bornacin, had refused to return Vika to the boarding school for children with serious speech disorders in Vileika, Minsk region, saying that the girl had been physically abused there. The Belarusian authorities issued an official protest denouncing the move as a deliberate abduction. They promised not to return the girl to Vileika.

    Italy's newspaper Il Secolo XIX on November 1 carried a phone interview with Vika who said that she wanted to move to Italy to live with her seasonal foster parents. She said that she had been promised following her return to Minsk that she would be allowed to go back.

    The paper also quoted Mr. Vasilevsky as saying that he and his wife had been ordered to take the child. "It was not our decision. An official of the education ministry phoned us last week and said, 'You must take her.' We do not know whether authorities will help us financially. We love children, but we already have two and both of us work. It would be better if Vika returned to Italy," he reportedly told the Il Secolo XIX.

    When asked by BelaPAN whether he thought that the girl had been abused in the boarding school, Mr. Vasilevsky replied in the negative. He also noted that Vika did not have apparent speech disorders.

    According to him, the girl will attend a general education school in Zhodino, the city in the Minsk region where the family resides, following the fall vacation.

    Mariya Diguro, deputy head of the boarding school in Vileika, told BelaPAN that the institution was ready to give medical advice on the treatment of the girl to her Belarusian foster carers, noting that the child needed to complete her treatment course. She added that the staff was happy that the girl had been placed in foster care with the Vasilevsky family who had taken her bother four years ago.

    Belarus prepares for the Supermodel of the year competition

    From: The BHTimes
    Television watchers of Belarus are being treated this week to several programs dedicated to the competition for the Supermodel of the year. The 30 minute shows aired on ONT show an overview of the model judging from the past few weeks from each of Belarus' five regions. This morning was aired the Brest region's competition.

    Enthusiasm for this competition is fueled by last years win by Ekaterina Domankova. Domankova, a school student in Minsk, won the competition over girls from 38 countries and took a modeling contract worth $250,000. The event was organized by the Ford modeling agency. The girls ranged in age from 15 to 21.

    During this regional part of the completion, the girls face a panel of judges in groups of three and answer questions such why they wish to be a model and what sorts of things they expect to do for a career. They were also asked to show other talents they may have such as singing or dancing. The second phase was to have their photos taken in swim suits. Those chosen by local judges will them head over to he national competition to be held in Minsk.

    Five people on hunger strike in solidarity with Kozulin

    From: Belapan
    Five people were hunger-striking in solidarity with imprisoned politician Aleksandr Kozulin on Friday.

    Igor Maslovsky, leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party "Hramada" (BSDP) in the Brest region, a BSDP member resident in Baranovichi and a Grodno-based member of Dr. Kozulin's presidential campaign team entered the second day of the protest on November 3.

    Valentin Lazarenkov, chairman of the Brest region's chapter of the Belarusian Free Trade Union, and a BSDP member in Brest joined the hunger strike on Friday.

    As Mr. Maslovsky told BelaPAN, 18 people have participated in the protest in which the activists take turns refusing food. "Up to seven people do not eat daily. Each person is free to decide how many days he or she can work fruitfully without food. We recommend that all those joining the protest refuse food for one to five days. It's important that this chain should not break. We will change each other as long as Aleksandr Kozulin is on hunger strike. We already have a list of people who will keep the protest going until November 14," the politician said.

    The solidarity hunger strike was started by Anna Kanyus, leader of the BSDP chapter in Brest, on October 30. She withdrew from the protest on Friday.

    Dr. Kozulin, the BSDP leader and former presidential candidate, went on an open-ended hunger strike on October 20, saying that he was protesting the illegal reelection of Aleksandr Lukashenko for a third term this past March.

  • From the blogs

    Totalitarian Tourism

    From: TOL Blogs
    Because dictatorships are rarely run by clever people, our state officials occasionally reveal just how isolated Belarus is from the outside world. Yesterday, for example, the state-controlled TV proudly reported that 90,000 tourists had visited Belarus in 2005. The number seemed so paltry to me that I decided to look up some tourism statistics for countries comparable in size to Belarus.

    Almost 95 million tourists visited Czech Republic in 2003, which is nine times more than the number of people actually living in the country. About 2.4 million foreigners came to far-off New Zealand in 2005, a country comparable to us in size but with a population of only 4.1 million. Our neighbor, Lithuania, which is three times smaller than Belarus in size and population, hosted more than 2 million foreign guests in 2005. Georgia, so often presented by Belarusian state propaganda as a country in deep economic and political crisis resulting from the democratic reforms of the “Rose Revolution,” attracted almost 550,000 tourists last year, more than ten times that of Belarus.

    Anyone who knows our country, with its gorgeous nature and rich historical past, would think that Belarus’ tourist industry could do much better. But this is the result of a regime that still has a Soviet paranoia of outsiders. More people would surely come to see Belarus, if the state made getting here easier. But this is a regime that reputedly has a list of those forbidden to enter Belarus that numbers 40,000 names, that makes it very difficult to obtain visas, and that still requires obligatory registration with local Departments of Internal Affairs. And it has invested almost nothing in the tourism industry or in restoring the country’s abundant national heritage. As usual, the regime’s strategy is to look east. It plans on increasing the number of tourists by courting those who were born or lived in the pre-1991 Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and feel nostalgic for Soviet times. Well, we’ll see what the figures are for the 2006 report; I don’t expect much difference. It is obvious to me that, until Belarus becomes a democratic state with open borders and a part of Europe, it will remain a blank spot on the world’s tourist maps. Even sadder are the growing attempts of the regime to discourage Belarusians, especially young ones, from being tourists and seeing the outside world. But that is the subject of a different post.

    Church Hunger Strike is Over: Petitions and Prayers for Human Rights

    From: Tol Blogs
    On Saturday representatives of civic society met with hunger strikers at the “New Life” Church to discuss how to help its parishioners. The event was remarkable for several reasons. On the 23rd day of the Protestant hunger strike, civil society leaders finally realized that “New Life” problem was a general human rights issue, not a narrow religious problem, and that joint action was urgently needed. In addition, the believers, who began this peaceful struggle to defend their property, also understood that they should keep raising their voices for truth and justice even after their own protest is over, together with other confessions and civic groups. It is important that both sides understand that only unity can bring a political freedom that will guarantee religious and other human and civil rights. For more than three weeks this Church was indeed a small island of freedom in a sea of dictatorship.

    Yesterday the hunger strike was halted after the Supreme Economic Court announced that in one month it would reconsider the confiscation decree of Miensk City Executive Committee. I didn’t see any triumph in the eyes of people who gathered in the Church. Nobody believes anymore in the regime’s promises. Believers will keep sleeping in the Church until the Court will actually issue a ruling to return the building to its rightful owners. Democratic activists will continue to support the protest with actions of solidarity and will submit public appeals to Miensk’s Mayor, the media and other confessions beginning on Monday.

    I left the Church with mixed feelings. I was glad that civic society and the believers finally got together in what must be a common fight of all Belarusians for freedom. I was proud to be a small part of this process, even though the outreach of civil society started a bit too late. I was happy that nobody died, since several strikers were already in critical condition. But I’ve also had a foreboding that another heroic story was cut short. As the days grow shorter and the temperature colder, I know that this is a crucial moment for the democratic opposition. It seems like the March days have been forgotten. We need some heroes and small victories. We will keep at it.

    Bribery of elite school principal

    From: Belarus News and Facts
    Oleg Badalov, principal of Minsk's Gymnasium No. 16 where Aleksandr Lukashenko's granddaughter, Viktoriya, is a student, has pleaded innocent to a bribery charge.

    Mr. Badalov was arrested on June 28 after taking a €4,000 bribe from a foreign business owner who wanted his children to be admitted to the school. He was put in the pretrial detention center on Volodarskogo Street and charged under Part 2 of the Criminal Code's Article 430 that penalizes bribery.

    At the hearing that began at Minsk's Oktyabrsky District Court on Monday, Mr. Badalov acknowledged that he had taken the money but claimed that he had done so not in exchange for the favorable decision. He said that he anyway had intended to admit the children because they showed a very good performance at their school. He said that he had taken the money as a sponsorship aid to the gymnasium and intended to put it into the school's account "immediately." "I made this step for the good of children," he stressed. "It was necessary to finish repairs in the gymnasium by August 10."

    Mr. Badalov said that the business owner had asked him to admit the kids this past spring, promising to provide €4,000 for the school.

    On June 27, the gymnasium principal refused to accept an application for the admission from a representative of the business owner. He took the money from the person the following day.

    Mr. Badalov told the judge that he had looked through the children's school records and decided to grant the kids places on June 27 following the meeting with the foreigner's representative. The business owner offered cash because he did not want to "be spotted," he explained.

    Mr. Badalov acknowledged that the gymnasium's officials are allowed to accept sponsorship aid from parents only after admitting their children.

    BATE Borisov clinch Belarus title

    From: Reuters
    BATE Borisov clinched the Belarus title and a league and cup double on Saturday despite losing 3-2 at last year's champions Shakhtyor Soligorsk on the final day of the season.

    BATE were declared league champions after Dynamo Minsk were held to a 0-0 draw at Dynamo Brest in the later match, played in a heavy snowstorm.
    The win would have given Dynamo Minsk 54 points and a share of first place, forcing a one-off "golden match" against BATE.

    Dynamo Minsk coach Alexei Petrushin blamed bad weather for his team's poor play.

    "The match was delayed two hours and my players became too nervous waiting for the stadium workers to clear the pitch of snow," Petrushin told reporters. "It was also awfully difficult to score on a pitch like that."

    It was BATE's third league title and their first since 2002.

    The club from Borisov, an industrial town just east of the Belarus capital Minsk, beat Shakhtyor Soligorsk 3-1 in the cup final in May.

    Hleb accused of creating tension for Belarus

    From: Reuters
    Former Belarus captain Sergei Gurenko has accused team mate Alexander Hleb of creating tension within the national side.

    Gurenko, who retired from international duty after helping Belarus to a 4-2 win over Slovenia in last month's Euro 2008 qualifier, also called the Arsenal midfielder arrogant and selfish.

    "For the Slovenia match for example, the whole team boarded a bus while the Hleb brothers (Alexander and Vyacheslav) were driven in a private car," the Lokomotiv Moscow defender was quoted as saying by Belarus media.

    "We must understand this is the national team, not the team made up of Hleb brothers and the rest of the squad should not play second fiddle to them.

    "But in reality, when we win it's always the Hlebs victory but when we lose it's the team's fault," Gurenko said.

    "When he (Alexander Hleb) plays for the national team he doesn't work hard, never tackles the opposition. He wants the whole team just play around him."

    The 34-year-old Gurenko, who spent some seasons in Italy's Serie A, added: "If we don't change the atmosphere around the national team now, it would become unmanageable for the next 10 years."

    Hleb said he was hurt and disappointed by Gurenko's comments.

    "It was very strange to say the least to hear such words from someone whom I've played with," the Arsenal midfielder said.

    "Yes, Gurenko is a former captain of the national team but no one gave him the right to say such things.

    "He had quit the national team, then decided to come back and retire again, for good. Now, he throws dirt at all other players and the coach. If he feels that way it would have been better for him not to come back at all."

    Belarus, who are in fourth place in Group G after notching their first win in the Euro 2008 campaign, play their next qualifier away to Luxembourg in March 2007.

    Head coach of Belarus' national soccer squad to quit club job

    From: Naveny
    Yury Puntus, head coach of the Belarusian national soccer squad, has announced that he will step down as the MTZ-RIPO boss after the end of this season.

    Mr. Puntus has combined the duties of Belarus' head coach and the coach of the Minsk-based club for nearly a year.

    "Coaching the national team will be my only job starting January 1," Mr. Puntus said in an interview with BelaPAN. "I cherished the hope that I would manage to keep the club job next year until the expiry of the contract. However, I've decided to focus entirely on the national squad after talking to the soccer federation head and considering the current situation around the national team. The club regret my step but they understand it."

    The coach did not rule out his possible dismissal from the Belarus post after the end of the season. "Anything can happen," he said.

    The move comes amid unprecedented tensions in the national team, with Belarus' top players trading barbs and leveling criticism at the national soccer federation.

    MTZ-RIPO, a club owned by Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov who also owns Lithuania's FC Kaunas and Scotland's Hearts, finished third in the domestic league last season. The team are placed fourth in this year's standings, with only one fixture left.

    Belarus earned four points after four games in the Euro 2008 qualifying tournament and rank fourth in their group.