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Today's Headlines for:
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

RF Union cannot be stopped, Gazprom, President on privatization, Activists detained, Kozulin in hospital, Christians continue strike, 500 Jewish years

From the Top

Alexander Lukashenko: It is already impossible to stop or reverse the process of building of the Belarus-Russia Union State

From: Belta
“I am categorically against destroying the union relationship, whether it be withdrawal from some union agreements, which is utterly inadmissible in the Union of Belarus and Russia. I am also against building on the sly any borders between us,” said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during his today’s meeting with the governor of Stavropol Territory of the Russian Federation Alexander Chernogorov.

"It is already impossible to stop or reverse the process of building of the Belarus-Russia Union State. No one will be able to sever our relations, this is for certain. Neither Lukashenko, nor Putin can do it, the peoples will not accept this. This is our greatest achievement in recent years,” the Belarusian president said.

As Alexander Lukashenko added, he is an “ardent supporter” of the Belarus-Russia Union State. According to him, “notwithstanding what is going on in the relations at the interstate level, we still have more of goods things”. “Even disagreements, disputes and other things are certain moments of truth. In these disputes we have always found a path we should move along. This will enable us to escape a mistake in the future,” the Belarusian leader is confident.

Belarusian goods enjoy high demand in Stavropol Krai due to their upscale quality. According to the governor, the Belarusians keep a close watch on the market and use every opportunity, like trade fairs and exhibitions, to promote their goods.

The Russian guest put a positive value on the fact that Belarus had preserved its industrial sector with 90 per cent of commodities being exported.

In this respect Alexander Lukashenko reminded that in due time the country made efforts to preserve the production of equipment hoping that Russia would be the key sales market. As the practice showed the policy proved right.

Moreover, there has appeared another problem, the president said. Belarusian companies do not cope with the bulk of Russian and foreign orders as the demand is very high. A big order portfolio attests to the right economic course and competitiveness of Belarusian equipment in foreign markets.

Belarus and Stavropol Krai can double turnover. Over January-August 2006 the trade turnover between Belarus and Stavropol Krai exceeded USD 55 million. The Belarusian president believes that the parties can double the bilateral trade. “Especially now when Stavropol Krai is booming and its GDP, industry and agriculture are growing,” the president said.

“Belarus is ready for a full-scale cooperation with Stavropol Krai, Alexander Lukashenko declared. He added that the Belarusian authorities are ready to render any assistance and support for the development of the bilateral cooperation. “We will open the doors to you virtually everywhere from science and education to industry and agriculture,” the Belarusian leader promised.

Belarus will always be understandable and predictable for Russia whatever hard period in the relations between the two countries there might be. As the president said, it is not only the president who supports the Union, but also the people in Belarus themselves who have supported the idea of the Union with Russia during a referendum. “We strictly adhere to the line which was defined 10 years ago,” he said.

As he added, “someone in Russia does not like this”. This is why some problems arise in the bilateral relations. For example, some barriers appear for Belarusian goods, including for the supplies of sugar to Russia.

“Belarus has always tried to fulfill the Union State agreements. We have never questioned economic policy inside Russia. We have never reproached Russia, whether it carried out privatization or not,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

At the same time, according to him, ever more often unsatisfactory remarks come from Russia about the economic policy carried out in Belarus. “We do not want to sell some state-run property – we have been able to manage it ourselves, besides it includes strategic facilities,” he explained. “Why urge us to doing this? Belarus has socially-oriented economy. We do a lot for people and if we have a ruble to spare we try to invest it in the social sphere. Our country is situated in the center of Europe and we see how it is developing,” the president added.

President: Belarus understands the US role, but Belarus has never cringed before the US

From: Belta
Belarus understands the US role in the world, but Belarus has never cringed before the US, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said today in a meeting with governor of Stavropol region of Russia Alexander Chernogorov.

“We give [the US] their due but we have never cringed before that huge country as many do,” he said.

According to the head of state, Belarus “speaks about its interests in the relations with the USA in a direct and sincere way”. Belarus is not going to provoke any kind of confrontation at the diplomatic level with the US, he added.

As he added, Belarus has never hesitated whether to turn left, right, West, or anywhere else. Belarus is situated in the center of Europe and has to cooperate with all the European states if they wish to, he said.

Belarus Looks for Alternative to Gazprom

From: Kommersant
Belarus and Ukraine have actually confirmed the possibility of establishing some gas partnership bypassing Russia. Belarus made clear it is looking for gas suppliers that would be alternative to Gazprom, while UkrgazEnergo said it will probably sell around 7 billion cu meters of gas to the third party in 2007.

“We may negotiate about energy security of our country with whom we think necessary,” Belarus’ Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky told the reporters past Friday when asked about the possible purchase of gas bypassing Russia.

A week ago, Ukrtransgaz reported it sealed a protocol with Beltransgaz to control the export flow of Russia’s gas towards Europe. The protocol provides for delivering up to 7 billion cu meters from Ukraine to Belarus via the old pipeline. But the source of such additional amount was unknown.

On Friday however, UkrgazEnergo Board Chairman Igor Voronin officially announced that Swiss Rosukrenergo (RUE) will deliver 62 billion cu meters of gas to be sold in Ukraine in 2007. Of that amount, Ukraine needs 55 billion cu meters, and no contracts have been made for the remaining 7 billion so far.

Ukraine may sell gas to Belarus at $135/ths cu meters to $140/ths cu meters, sources with the government of Ukraine said some time earlier.

The alternative gas supplies could become a new argument in the gas talks of Belarus and Gazprom. Belarus gets the gas at $46.68/ths cu meters this year, but the price will go up to $200/ths cu meters, Gazprom announced in April.

A Big Capitalist Thank You

From: Kommersant
On Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin held a closed meeting with the leaders of the international companies who participated in Rosneft's IPO. Mr. Putin revealed that his sympathies lie with the oilmen in the global competition between Rosneft and Gazprom for credit funds from Western banks in 2007 by steadfastly directing his audience's attention to the growth in Rosneft's capitalization from $80 billion to $92 billion. After the meeting, which lasted no more than an hour, the international guests were shipped off to the Pushkin museum for a banquet in the company of Roman Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska, and Vladimir Lisin, but without the Russian president.
The list of attendees included Dresdner Bank Kleinwort Wasserstein CEO Herbert Walter, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, Petronas vice-president George Ratilal, Barclays Capital board of directors chairman and CEO of JP Morgan William Winters, former CSFB CEO and current chairman of the executive committee at Barclays Capital Hans-Joerg Rudloff, Sinopec board of directors chairman Chen Tonghai, Alfa-Bank president Peter Aven, and Sberbank board of directors chairman Andrei Kazmin. They all have one thing in common: they participated in Rosneft's initial public offering in summer 2006 (DrKW, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, and JP Morgan provided the biggest chunk of investment). Friday's meeting was conceived by presidential aide and Rosneft board of directors chairman Igor Sechin and Rosneft president Sergei Bogdanchikov as nothing short of a triumphant reception for the company's foreign investors.

The bank ABN Amro, which was not officially listed among the companies invited, confirmed that its representative had attended, but in response to Kommersant's requests for comments refused to say anything further. "How did you find out about that?" replied a bank representative.

The only participant who was forthcoming with information on the proceedings was President Putin himself, whose press service announced the event and published the speech he gave during the open part of the meeting. In his speech, Mr. Putin briefly described the Russian economy's perspectives for development, paying particular attention to the government's priority of lowering annual inflation to 4-6% within the next few years.

Despite doubts voiced by several of Kommersant's sources concerning Mr. Putin's real – i.e., economic – motives for the meeting, two participants in the proceedings later told Kommersant that the meeting really had been all about "thank you's" from President Putin for the companies that had supported Rosneft in its IPO. However, if nothing else the Russian president undoubtedly wanted to show that his support for all things Gazprom does not mean that Rosneft has been forgotten. Both companies are viewed on the world market as guzzlers of capital: their credit needs are estimated at $15-25 billion per company. Continued foreign support is thus critical for the success of their public ventures, despite credit caps for 2007 of $25-30 billion on investments by Western banks in large Russian companies.

Lukashenko defends slow privatization pace

From: Naveny
Aleksandr Lukashenko defended the slow pace of privatization in Belarus, saying that state property is run well in the country.

"Why do you need to push us for this?" he wondered when meeting with the governor of Russia's Stavropol province, Aleksandr Chernogorov, on Tuesday.

"Belarus has a socially orientated economy," Mr. Lukashenko said. "We are doing much for people and trying to spend every spare penny for the social sphere. Our country is located in the center of Europe and we see how it is developing."

The Belarusian leader rebuked Russia for its criticism of little privatization in Belarus, noting that Belarus had never reproached Russia for its privatization reform. "We have never raised a question about Russia's internal economic policies," he stressed.

Mr. Lukashenko said that Belarus had always been predictable for Russia, stressing that he flatly opposed the termination of any agreements concluded within the framework of the Belarusian-Russian Union State. "We are strictly sticking to the course outlined 10 years ago," he said. "But somebody in Russia does not like this."

The Belarusian leader also accused Russia of establishing strict customs controls at the shared border, threatening to do the same in response. "If it is you strategy you should tell us this honestly to prevent us from confronting an accomplished fact. We also will start establishing customs controls as you are doing. And in two days, you may send border troops there. We know that you have everything ready for this. But you should not tell us that you are for the 'closet possible' union and simultaneously do what is unacceptable for relations within a union," Mr. Lukashenko stressed.

Seven opposition activists detained in Belarus' capital Minsk during annual march

From: Kyiv Post
Police detained seven opposition activists Sunday during an annual march in the Belarus capital Minsk commemorating the victims of Stalinist purges, one of the organizers of the event said.

About 1,000 people took part in the authorized march from downtown Minsk to a site of Soviet-era mass executions on the outskirts of the capital.

Several hundred police were present to monitor the gathering. Some participants carried posters with the slogans: "No to Union with Russia!" and "Union with Russia Means Hunger and Killings." Mikola Kryzhanovsky, from the opposition Conservative-Christian party, said that police arrested seven activists.

Police did not confirm the detentions. The marchers carried 12 wooden crosses which they set up at the Kuropaty mass grave site, where about 100,000 people were shot dead between 1937 and 1941.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet nation of 10 million since 1994, quashing opposition groups and independent media, leading Western nations to call him "Europe's last dictator" and treat him as a pariah. An open admirer of the Soviet Union, he has signed a loose union treaty with Russia.

"Political repression in Belarus continues and Kuropaty reminds Belarusians what frightening consequences tyranny leads to," Kryzhanovsky told the marchers.

Police on Sunday detained an aide to opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich in the city of Grodno, 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of Minsk, Milinkevich's press spokesman Pavel Mozheiko told The Associated Press.

Andrei Kuselchuk was accused of distributing unauthorized documents, the opposition spokesman said.

On Monday in Minsk, the leader of an unregistered opposition youth group, Emitser Dashkevich, is to go on trial on charges of illegal political activity. He faces a jail sentence of up to a three years if found guilty.

Kozulin said to be in prison hospital amid hunger strike

From: Intl Herald Tribune and Charter '97

Alexander Kozulin was taken to a prison hospital Tuesday on the 12th day of a hunger strike he is conducting to draw attention to the Belarusian government's treatment of its opponents, officials and lawyers said.

The former candidate for presidency in Belarus, Alyaksandr Kazulin, who is serving the sentence in the penal colony No. 3 in Vitsebsk, is hospitalised to the medical unit, journalists were told on Tuesday by Prosecutor General of Belarus Pyotr Miklashevich. As we have informed, Kazulin protests against the iniquity committed in the country, and is trying to attract attention of the UN Security Council to the situation in Belarus. A former MP, a political prisoner Syarhei Skrabets has joined Kazulin’s hunger strike.

Miklashevich has also told that “in the medical unit Kazulin is under constant medical supervision”.

The prosecutor general has informed that the prosecutor’s office of Vitsebsk region has carried out a check concerning Kazulin’s hunger strike in the colony No. 3 in Vitsebsk and found that on October 20, when the prisoner started the hunger strike, there hadn’t been any complaints from him, he kept to schedule. As said by prosecutor general, doctors were constantly controlling his health, from the first day of Kazulin’s hunger strike.

As we have informed, lawyer wasn’t allowed to visit Kazulin yesterday. Earlier the administration of the colony told to Kazulin’s relatives that he looks very vigorous and cheerful. Human rights watchdogs do not exclude that the authorities could conceal the real state of health of Alyaksandr Kazulin.

Kozulin was sentenced in July to 5 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on charges of organizing an unsanctioned rally against the disputed March re-election of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Kozulin, who ran against Lukashenko in a campaign marred by widespread arrests and harassment of the opposition, has been on a hunger strike since Oct. 20 and required hospitalization Tuesday, chief prosecutor Pyotr Miklashevich said.

The prosecutor gave no details about Kozulin's condition. Kozulin's lawyer Igor Rynkevich said he was not allowed to visit his client and had been told by administrators at the prison in the city of Vitebsk that the 50-year-old opposition politician "'looks good and happy.'"

Kozulin is conducting the hunger strike in a bid to draw the attention of the U.N. Security Council to "the catastrophic human rights situation in Belarus," Rynkevych said, citing a letter he said Kozulin gave him during an earlier visit.

Iranian VP: There are no limits on expansion of ties with Belarus

From: Islamic News agency
First Vice-President Parviz Davoudi referring to the common viewpoints of Iran and Belarus on the world and regional issues, stressed that Islamic Republic of Iran has no limits on expansion of ties with Belarus in different fields.

According to Presidential Media Department on Monday, in a meeting with visiting Belarussian deputy prime minister, Davoudi said the expansion of relations would be effective in providing prosperity for both nations adding that Tehran and Minsk have potentials for increasing cooperation in different fields of energy, production of agricultural machinery and petrochemicals.

Visiting Belarussian official Vladimir Semachko said energy is very important for his country adding that Belarus hopes to increase cooperation with Iran in different fields, including discovery, extraction and production of oil.

Government of Belarus okays program of communication development for 2006-2010

The government of Belarus has adopted resolution #11395 to approve the program of the communication and informatization development for 2006-2010, BelTA has been told in the ministry of communications and informatization.

According to the ministry, the document contains a set of key targets in the development of the communication branch in the country. In particular, in the ensuing years the country will continue creating an enabling environment to satisfy the needs of all categories of users in the services of electric communication and mail service.

The main areas of the communication development by 2010 will be technical modernization of the networks, replacing worn-out equipment with digital equipment, introduction of new IT, expanding the services of transmission of information in stationary and mobile networks. The branch will intensify the efforts to get ready for the WTO standards.

The ministry also noted that the program will promote the conditions for the development of social infrastructure by means of satisfying the needs of users in transmission of any kind of information and access to the information resources. The document will ensure the development of the communication branch in Belarus on the level of advanced European countries.

Verdict to Zmitser Dashkevich to be Delivered on November 1, at 4 p.m.

From: Charter '97
The verdict to the leader of the Young Front, Zmitser Dashkevich, is to be passed on November 1 at 4 p.m. The Charter’97 press center has been told about that by a lawyer of the young activist, Alyaksandr Halieu. Thus, the trial in Dashkevich’s case lasted for 2 days (!). The lawyer says such a short trial is explained by failure to appear in court of many witnesses. “It is really so, proceeding from the materials of the case I supposed that it would take more time, at least five days. I think that the reason is absence from court of many witnesses. Unfortunately, I cannot say anything more. I am warned about the criminal liability for disclosure of information on trial,” the lawyer said to the Charter’97 press center.

The trial over the Young Front leader Zmitser Dashkevich started on Monday, October 30 in the court of Kastrychnitski district of Minsk. He is charged with “activities of behalf of an unregistered organization” under Article 193 of the Criminal Code. Zmitser Dashkevich has spent more than a month in the remand prison. The activist faces up to two years of imprisonment.

It is not the first “political trial” under this article of the Criminal Code of Belarus. Activists of the public initiative of elections observation “Partnerstva” Tsimafei Dranchuk and Mikola Astrejka are already serving the sentence of one and two years respectively for participation in an unregistered organization. It is a new article of the Criminal Code which appeared during the election campaign. According to observers, this article has appeared exclusively for exerting pressure on public activists and human rights activists.

“Many aspects of the trial over Dashkevich remind of the trial over “Partnerstva”. You can judge for yourself. The both trials were held behind the closed doors. I would like very much the verdicts to differ…” Alyaksandr Halieu said.

Pinsk's Museum of the Belarusian Polessie opens its tribute to 500 Years of Jewish Life in Pinsk.

From: Karlin Gazzette
Children looking at a photo exhibit at the 500 years of Jewish life in Pinsk exhibition at the Museum of the Belarusian Polessie in Pinsk
This last Sunday, October 29th, 2006 the Museum of the Belarusian Polessie in Pinsk opened its exhibit celebrating 500 years of Jewish life in Pinsk. The opening was attended by many, many stalwarts from the Jewish community and included such dignitaries as Alexander Alfredovich Konyevski, the number two man in Pinsk government and Leonid Levin, President of the Association of Belarus Jewish Organizations and Communities from Minsk.

Svetlana Michaelovna Lozuk, the assistant director of the Museum of the Belarusian Polessie in Pinsk led the opening ceremony in which there were speeches by Konyevsky and Levin. The local television, Variag, was also on hand to cover the event.

Alexander Alfredovich Konyevski, the number two man in Pinsk government
The center of the exhibition is a room dedicated to artifacts and photographs of the Pinsk Jewish community from the turn of the century to the Second World War. A second exhibit elsewhere detailed the horrors of the holocaust.

Though the speeches were made by enthusiastic voices, the faces of those attending belied the truth of the emotions of the day. It impossible really to celebrate something that was so utterly wiped out in such a violent, senseless and remorseless way.

"We know these photos. They are photos from our families of our fathers and mothers." Quoted a member of the synagogue minion "Seeing these images does make us happy. This is a memorial not a party."

The doors to the museum opened at 2:00 and many attendees stood out in the rain for the better part of an hour waiting to come in. Those who came for the opening, perhaps close to a hundred people, at first visited the Arkadi Shusterman exhibit on the first floor, shaking hands with the artist and complimenting him on his work. After perhaps a half hour, the crowd made its way upstairs where in ampromptu press confrence was staged. Svetlana Lozuk thanked everyone for coming and briefly told us about some of the work that had gone into making the exhibit hall.

A cameraman from Pinsk's Variag television station takes pictures of the crowd
"Speaking about the Jewish history of Pinsk is really speaking about the history of Pinsk" She said. "The town at one point was perhaps 60 or 70 percent Jewish and so obviously the culture of the town was greatly influenced."

Attention was then given to Alexander Konyevski. Konyevski was born in Ukrain but has spent the last 55 years in Pinsk. He pointed out that Jews currently made up only 3 to 4% of the current population. However, even at such small numbers, it is interesting to note the impact that the core of the community has made in the last 15 years.

"Maybe it is better not to talk about what has happened in the last 500 years." he concluded "Better perhaps to speak about what we might see 500 years from now."

We all know what has happened here. Each and every piece being shown during this exhibition once belonged to a person, to a family. And each of those people had a life. In so many, many cases those lives ended prematurely
Lozuk then introduced Leonid Levin of Minsk, who pointed out that it was well worth the trip of 300 km to come and visit with us this day.

"We all know what has happened here." his speech began, "Each and every piece being shown during this exhibition once belonged to a person, to a family. And each of those people had a life. In so many, many cases those lives ended prematurely. It is good that we have come here today to remember and to see these items which have been collected here. It is very good that we have come and it is very good that we can come and to have such a display.

"We have very good people here." he continued, "We have not only very good Jewish people, but we also have very good people. Our rebirth here is only 15 years now. During the time of the Soviet Union, we had no language here, no culture and not even a recognized history. But now we have these things. We have the return of our language and of our culture. We have people here now who are both Jews and major parts of the community. Look how many from us who have made for themselves great careers and have become important and influential people (He referred to Konyevski here who is Jewish). And they did this despite the issues the Soviet Union had with Jews.

Svetlana Lozuk and Leonid Levin
"The truth is that Pinsk was not the first Jewish community in Belarus. That distinction goes to Brest I believe who's is several years older, but perhaps Pinsk was one of the most important anywhere during the time both from the late 1700's and up to the time of the war. This is a good thing we have done today. But we must do more."

After the speeches the crowd made its way into the galleries. Eyes were sad and jaws were fixed while looking into the glass cases of the exhibit hall. Several times I heard someone tell about an object that belonged to their family, or to a name mentioned that was close to their families.

After, I spoke with Egor Abramovich Karolinski, the headmaster of the Beis Aharon School as he made his was home down a drizzly Ulitsa Lennina.

"I am not so sure I see such a bright future for the Jewish community in Pinsk." Said Karolinski, "Look how many mixed marriages we have. Look how few people really come to the services. I understand that on days like today, it can seem as though there is a rebirth, but I am not so sure. We shall see."

Arkadi Shusterman and friend
After I parted with Karolinksi, I went over to the Beis Aharon Synagogue. There I got to talking with some of the members of the new Peer Yisroel Yeshiva and with R' David Altman. I told them about the Museum and about what the headmaster had said and they agreed that times have been very difficult for Jews here, but they insisted that there was no need for pessimism.

"Look at how much has been built here." Said R' Altman who has been teaching at the school for two years now. "Look at the new campus for the boys. Look at this Yeshiva we have now. Look at how many people come to visit us and who know about us. We are here again. We have come back and we will continue coming back. This place gave birth to Hasidism. This place gave us the greatest rabbis and the greatest yeshivas and torah learning. We must remember the past. This we must never forget. But our future here has only just begun."

The Belarusian Museum of the Polessie in Pinsk is located at Number 22 Lenin Sq.
The exhibition on Jewish Life in Pinsk from Before the War will continue through next summer. For ticket information please contact the Museum at 00375-165-35-49-86 or through the Karlin Gazette.

Monument installed at communal grave of 84 Jewish chidlren in Belarus

From: Itar-Tass
Atrocities committed by Nazis during the occupation of Soviet Belarus were remembered once again in this country's eastern Mogilyov region Friday, as a monument was opened at the site of a communal grave of 84 Jewish children slain by the occupants in April 1942.

People have already given it the name of Children's Stone. This gray boulder placed on a granite platform is located in a small clearing in the forest in the Osipovichi district.

Inscriptions on the monument are made in Belarussian and Yiddish, as the latter was the mother tongue for the vast majority of Belarussian Jews before World War II.

Installation of Children's Stone was a privately sponsored project. The monument was erected by Vladimir Sverdlov, a former blacksmith who is retired and lives in the capital Minsk.

Sverdlov's initiative to commemorate the Jewish chidlren rallied support from the local authorities and rank-and-file people.

Vladimir himself is the only survivor out of the many Jewish teenagers and pre-school children, whom the Nazi aggression trapped in summer camps and at the Krynka countryside resort.

As the Nazis were transporting a group of kids to the site of execution, Vladimir, 10 at the time, managed to escape.

He said in an interview with Itar-Tass the idea an escape was not his own.

"One of elder boys advised us to organize the escape," Vladimir told Itar-Tass. "He gave up the thought himself, saying he couldn't leave our little comrades just like that, as they would cry bitterly in his absence."

"Then I chose a boy Izya by name as a companion for the escape," he said. "The attempt was successful but Izya decided to go back to when all other kids had already been shot and killed. He thought he would get away with it easily but he was wrong -- the Nazis hanged him."

Vladimir's memory keeps alive the images of all the kids who were together with him then. He loves them as one would love members of his or her own family.

Back in 1942, he spent many long days wandering around the forest and local hamlets. Help came unexpectedly from Alesya Zvonik, a woman who lived in the village Makarychi.

She found the boy who had been enfeebled by hunger and took him to her house. Vladimir stayed with the Zvonik family until the Soviet Army's return and liberation of Belarus in 1944.

Many of Alesya Zvonik's co-villagers knew that she was hiding a Jewish boy and yet no one gave him away to the Nazis.

The Museum of History and Culture of Belarussian Jews made a documentary about Vladimir Sverdlov's life story.

As for Alesya Zvonik, she was posthumously awarded the title of the Righteous Among the Nations two years ago.

Historians say the Nazis killed from 600,000 to 800,000 Jews on the territory of nowadays Belarus during the occupation that lasted from 1941 through to 1944.

Of that number, children made up from 200,000 to 250,000 persons.

Railway in Belarus: New DMU from RVR

From: Railyway Market
Belarus Raiwlays BZD purchased two DMUs from the Latvian rolling stock manufatcurer RVR. These are the first new trains manufactured in the Riga plant since the fall of Soviet Union.

Anatol Sazanowicz of RVR said that the facility, currently specialising in maintenance of rolling stcok, had to increase the staff by 10% to fulfill the task.

The DMU offers passengers three types of tickets - 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd calss - two cars for each class.

The DMU offers an increased standard of journey. In the 1st class compartments there are LCD monitors and stereo equipment.

BZD uses approximately 100 DMUs produced before 1991 by RVR.

Belarus Four-Week Hunger Strike Delivering 'Powerful Message'

From: Christian Posy
More than a hundred Christians in Belarus continued their hunger strike to protest against the government’s repression of religious freedom with about 30 believers entering into their fourth week without food.

Believers and supporters of New Life Church in Minsk, Belarus, have maintained their hunger strike vowing not to end until the church’s land and building are legally returned and members can legally worship in the building reported Forum 18, a human rights group.

According to an update by the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA-RLC) on Friday, there are currently 119 Protestants on strike in the church with about 30 people on their fourth week without food.

“The longer they fast, the rationale goes, the more extreme their suffering – and the more powerful their message,” wrote Daisy Sindelar in an article on the Belarus hunger strike published by RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

The 1,000-membered New Life Church has battled with authorities for its right to worship when the government reportedly denied the group registration and obstructed its efforts to rent a meeting place. Without registration it would be illegal for believers to worship in the church according to Belarusian laws. Moreover, officials have forced the sale of the church property at a significantly lower price in July.

New Life Church was ordered to vacate the premise before Oct. 8 but believers have refused and members and supporters instead moved into the property and began a hunger strike beginning on Oct. 6.

The church has garnered support throughout Belarus and internationally with 2,000 demonstrators gathered on Bangalore Square in Minsk on Oct. 21 to protest against the church’s eviction, according to Charter 97, a Belarus human rights group. Also, on Oct. 9, some 500 believers attended a prayer service for New Life Church.

“It takes a very long time, it’s a very painful way for someone to die,” said Denis O’Hearn, a sociologist and biographer of what some have called the world’s best-known hunger striker, Irish republican Bobby Sands, according to RFE/RL on Oct. 19. “And if people are willing to go through that, either rot to death or nearly to the death, it’s quite an extreme and wrenching form of protest.”

Sergei Lyakhovich-Shannon Briggs on Nov. 4

From: Navada Appeal Sports
Sergei Lyakhovich-Shannon Briggs, Showtime, Saturday, Nov. 4: Lyakovich, 23-1 (14), will be defending for the first time the WBO heavyweight belt he won in April from Lamon Brewster in a fight of the year candidate.

While as tall as the 6-foot-4 Briggs, 47-4-1 (41), Lyakhovich will be surrendering about 35 pounds to Briggs, who should come in around 260.

The 34-year-old Briggs is an example of unrealized potential. Even though his win over George Foreman in 1997 was questionable, Briggs' talent is not. True, former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis stopped him in five rounds in 1998. But more often than not, the one who has really beaten Briggs is Briggs, who should have never lost to Jameel McCline (2002), Sedrick Fields (2000) or Darroll Wilson (1996).

Briggs has an 80-inch reach (to Lyakhovich's 74 1/2) and, although he's too heavy, is a big, strong fighter who can box.

Lyakhovich's only other significant victory was over Dominick Guinn in 2004. Against Brewster, he failed to listen to his corner and instead of boxing, elected to slug it out and was dropped in the seventh round. Light-hitting Maurice Harris also stopped him in 2002.

Quick Pick: recently ran a photo of Lyakhovich in training. He had a blackened right eye with two big scabs underneath the eye on the cheekbone. Briggs, who can bang and use his weight well, can also box.

I expect Briggs to be too big and versatile and possibly stop Lyakhovich on cuts or otherwise around Round 10.

Gordeev 4 seconds behind Ongeri in Detriot Marathon

From: Fort
Josephat Ongeri of Kenya won the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank Marathon on Sunday, defeating 2005 champion Andrei Gordeev of Belarus by four seconds.

Ongeri, 26, who was not on organizers' invitation list and paid his own way to Detroit, finished the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 22 seconds. It was his first career victory after finishing second in three previous marathons.

Ongeri, who speaks little English, said he planned to buy some land in his native country in Africa with some of his $5,000 in prize money.

Gordeev, 33, finished second in the 2004 Free Press marathon. Jim Jurcevich, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, a former All-American runner at Michigan State and the 2005 runner-up, finished third in 2:19:51 on Sunday.

Elena Orlova, 36, a Russian who lives in Germantown, Md., was the top woman finisher for the second time in three years in 2:41:26. She set the women's course record of 2:34:16 in 2004.

Lukashenko raises money prizes for medal-winning Olympians

From: Naveny
Aleksandr Lukashenko, by his October 27 presidential edict, raised the amount of prize money to be awarded for medals won at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The amount of prize money for a gold medal rose from $60,000 to $100,000, for a silver from $30,000 to $50,000 and for a bronze from $20,000 to $30,000.

Under the edict, money prizes paid to Olympic medal winners' coaches will be exempted from income tax.

"The step will draw [the country] closer to international standards of financial incentives for top-level athletes," the Belarusian leader's press office said.

Sports Minister Aleksandr Grigorov welcomed the edict. "Work should be paid for, in particular when we speak about an Olympic gold," he said in an interview with BelaPAN. "Now there will be hardly any people pointing to the neighboring countries and saying that our athletes' work is not appreciated."

Ukraine and Kazakhstan also offer $100,000 to Olympic gold medal winners. Russian Olympic champions are paid half that amount by the government but receive extra bonuses from multiple sponsors.