Smuggling legalities, Gazprom and Russian/Belarusian relations, Baptists come to sing, ‘Long Knives Night’ to play in New York
From the Top
Change in forms of responsibility for smuggling heralds no “green corridor” for law-breakers
The change in the forms of responsibility for smuggling will not become a “green corridor” for law-breakers, chief of department for fighting smuggling and administrative violations at customs checkpoints Andrei Mikhalkevich told reporters.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko signed decree #367 “Administrative responsibility for concealing goods transported via the Republic of Belarus customs border from customs control”.
The Belarusian president’s press service told BelTA, in line with the document vehicles equipped with special hiding places and used to smuggle goods worth not more than 40 basic amounts will not be subject to compulsory confiscation, as was the recent practice. The confiscation of vehicles, which are used as instruments to conceal goods from the customs control, will be enforced by the court taking into account the type of the violation of the law and the guilt of the transporter.
The decree will rule out cases when passengers stashed contraband in a vehicle without the transporter’s knowledge and the vehicle was confiscated along with the smuggled goods.
The decree is meant to ensure protection of legal rights and interests of individuals and corporations, including international haulers, and application of administrative punishment for concealing goods from the customs control taking into account the type and consequences of the committed violations.
Commenting upon the presidential Decree he said that the transportation devices involved in smuggling will still be confiscated. However, it earlier it used to be obligatory confiscation, now the court has a right not to withhold the transportation device.
In case the total estimated equivalent of the smuggling fails to exceed 40 base amounts, the transportation devices shall not be subjects to obligatory confiscation. At the same time, Andrei Mikhalkevich said, the frequency of law violations, their nature and type will be taken into account.
As he said, the customs bodies faced a situation when haulers were not guilty of smuggling. “Haulers and the owners of the transportation devices should not be brought responsible for, say, a passenger hiding two packages of cigarettes inside the dash fascia”, he said.
The decree will come into force after 10 days since its official publication.
Last year some 170 citizens in Belarus were brought to responsibility for smuggling.
Official: Belarus, Gazprom talks positive
Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski Friday called talks with Russian gas giant Gazprom on pricing were constructive.
"I discussed the subject with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov at our latest meeting. We are satisfied with progress of the ongoing gas price negotiations," he told the nation's House of Representatives. The comments were reported by the Belapan news agency.
In talks between the two sides Thursday, Gazprom executives said they viewed discussions as talks between two distinct economic entities, he said.
"We are using the logic that Gazprom is using. We are looking for economic approaches, economic tools that can influence the gas price for the country," he said.
Gazprom wants to increase nearly threefold -- from $50 to $150 per 1,000 cubic meters -- the price of gas to Belarus to bring it more in line with what it charges other customers.
Lukashenko faces total isolation
From: Ria Novosti
Russia has toughened its policy towards Belarus. According to popular business daily Kommersant, the management of energy giant Gazprom intends to sell gas to Belarus at $200 per 1,000 cubic meters, which Belarus claims is a violation of the Union Treaty.
Vedomosti, a Moscow-based daily, writes about a customs war, which Belarus has allegedly initiated in response to Moscow's gas offer. It writes that Belarusian customs officials have allegedly applied a dormant order of President Alexander Lukashenko to arrest a Russian batch of spirits and cigarettes sent to its enclave, the Kaliningrad Region, via Belarus.
The Kremlin is unlikely to accept Lukashenko's terms. If Moscow and Minsk fail to agree, Belarus will be isolated both from the west and from the east.
It is clear why Russia has decided to raise gas prices for Belarus. By supporting Lukashenko in his confrontation with the West during the presidential elections in Belarus, Moscow was protecting its own interests because political destabilization in Belarus would have affected Russia's geopolitical standing.
After that, Moscow waited for an opportune moment, and used the chance when Lukashenko became isolated from the West after the elections and had to listen more politely to the Kremlin's opinion.
Russia plans to produce rare-earth metals on Moon - space agency
From: Ria Novosti
Russia plans produce rare-earth metals on the Moon, a deputy head of the Federal Space Agency said Monday.
Following a May announcement from the country's largest rocket corporation that it intended to seek helium-3 on the Moon for nuclear fusion, Yury Nosenko said that the agency was aiming to produce the metals for more mundane purposes.
"Rare-earth metals will be used for semi-conductors in modern electronics and medical equipment," he said.
He said the Moon had good conditions for setting up telescopes and navigation stations, but thorough research was still needed as little was known about the Moon.
"We still know very little about the Moon and its geological composition and that is why we need to research everything to make a correct decision on its practical use," Nosenko said.
Energia Rocket and Space Corporation said last month that it was planning to extract lunar reserves of helium-3 as soon as the re-usable Clipper spacecraft was put into operation.
"The Moon has vast reserves of helium-3 and this is the closest place to Earth where it can be extracted," said Nikolai Sevastyanov, the corporation's head.
He said the Moon's industrial development could solve the problem of the shortage of energy resources on Earth.
Iran First Foreign Car Production Line Launches in Azerbaijan
Iran inaugurated its first car production line in Azerbaijan so to manufacture Samand.
According to ISNA, in the ceremony which had been held through the presence of Iran's Industries and Mines Minister and Azerbaijan's Development and Economic Affairs Minister, Samand car factory was launched.
The production capacity of this factory is 10 thousand cars annually and will rise up to 15 thousand in the next phase.
This production line is Iran's first car factory in abroad which was constructed during five months and is to cover the CIS region through the cooperation of another car factory in Belarus.
This car factory is 16 thousand meter and has salons for SKD manufacture.
The whole project is worth $10 million which is invested by Azerbaijan and its whole production capacity is 30 thousand cars.
Azerbaijan singed two agreements with Iran for constructing this factory and also for buying SKD from Iran.
"View" by Mela M. at MCA Misnk
From: Art Daily
The Museum of Conteporary Art presents “View,” a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Mela M. The exhibition will be on view June 13 - July 10, 2006. Opening Reception: Tuesday, June 13th, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. Artist's talk: Wednesday, June 14th, 4:00 p.m. This exhibition was sponsored in part by the Durfee Foundation.
Mela M. has lived and worked in Los Angeles, California since 1997. She was born in Russia to Ukrainian and Russian parents. She studied at the Technological Institute of Art Textile Design in Vitebsk, Belarus where she received here M.F.A. in June 1992. She studied at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California where she received an M.F.A. in May 2002. Melas’ work has been seen at Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon, Santa Monica Museum of Art in Santa Monica, California and the Urban Museum of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Museum of Contemporary Art Minsk, Belarus and other exhibition spaces.
Farmington Baptists sing in Belarus
From: Daily Journal (Missouri)
“Spirit sing in us, Spirit live in us, Spirit make us one,” is the message sung by 30 members of First Baptist Church in Farmington. It's a song echoed by their fellow Baptists thousands of miles away in Belarus which was once a part of the Soviet Union.
The singers will combine their songs next week in concerts in four cities as part of the “Fresh Wind” tour.
“We have been preparing to some degree for the past two years,” said John Jackson, music minister who will lead the group. “We will be giving six concerts in Belorussian Baptist churches in four cities and recording a CD from two of those concerts.”
The Farmington church, along with others in Missouri, has partnered with Belorussian Baptists for more than 13 years. During that time, the local church has helped fund the completion of a church building in Ushachi, given financial support for the pastor and staff, purchased vehicles and a piano and funded a three-year scholarship for a seminary student. In addition, they've facilitated the printing and distribution of a Russian language hymnal, hosted leadership training events for pastors, seminary students, and music leaders, held Sunday School and Vacation Bible School leadership training tours, and here at home, they've twice hosting the Belorussian National Choir concert in Farmington.
The Russian Media: From Dictatorship to Democracy?
Strikingly different lessons from Russia’s neighbours provided both hope and a warning Sunday for the future of Russian press freedom, as journalists from the region came together in an international seminar to examine the main issues facing the Russian press.
The hope came from Ukraine, where journalists working together for the common good succeeded in lifting censorship and winning reforms.
The warning came from Belarus, which suffers from domination by state-controlled media and where harassment of independent journalists is a regular occurrence. Some fear that Russia is following in its footsteps.
"I can’t say we have some ready medicine or pill that we can prescribe to our Russian colleagues, but we have some experiences that can be shared," said Olena Prytula, Editor-in-Chief of Ukrayinska Pravda, an on-line newspaper based in Kiev.
Linux community second international meeting in Belarus
The second international Linux community meeting and applied research conference (LVEE 2006) was held in Belarus on May, 25- 28. SaM Solutions company was the organizer and sponsor of LVEE2006.
Free software devotees from East European countries and from Sweden took part in the event.
Representatives of major international companies Sun Microsystems, MTS, Raiffaisenbank, as well as developers of such projects as Mozilla, Debian and ALT Linux and famous activists of Belarusian and Ukrainian Linux communities Dmitriy Borodaenko and Mikhail Shigorin participated in the meeting and conference.
Applied research conference on free software has become LVEE's central event.
Tunisia overwhelms Belarus in friendly
From: The Tide
Tunisia beat Belarus 3-0 in a World Cup warm-up game in Tunis early in the week.
Hamed Namouchi opened the scoring with a 35th-minute penalty, Toulouse striker Francileudo dos Santos netted in the 48th minute.
Tunisia’s Karim Hagui was sent off in the 88th, and two minutes later Issam Jomaa sealed the victory.
The hosts played Uruguay in the final of the event on yesterday after the South Americans beat Libya 2-1 earlier on Tuesday.
Tunisia is the only of the four teams involved in the World Cup finals, and will play in Group H against Spain, Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.Belarus goalkeeper Vassili Khomutovski pulled down striker Ziad Jaziri, and Namouchi tucked away his first international goal.
Jaziri was lively throughout and created Santos’ goal.
Jomaa replaced dos Santos, and in scoring his goal he appeared to control the ball with his hand.
Russia and Belarus to hold joint military exercises in June
Russia and Belarus are to hold Union Shield-2006, large-scale command and staff military exercises, in the Belarus training facilities on June 17-25.
The exercises are intended to settle questions relating to the Union State defense, and test the efficiency of the established united air defense system, Lieutenant General Sergei Gurulev, Chief of General Staff of the Belarus Armed Forces, told a press conference today. The main purpose of the exercises is to evaluate the ability of regional detachments of the Russian and Belarusian Armed Forces to defend the Union State.
A total of 8,800 people will take part in the exercises, including 7,000 people from Belarus and 1,800 Russians. Various types of military equipment will be employed in the exercises — more than 40 tanks, around 180 armored infantry carriers, 140 anti-tank guided missiles, 40 artillery pieces and 30 multiple launch rocket systems. The Air Forces and Air Defense Forces of the two countries will participate in the exercises.
Belarus? MDC subscriber base up to 2.21 million users June 1
From: Cellular news
The subscriber base of Belarusian mobile phone operator Mobile Digital Communications (MDC) rose 3.3% in May to 2.21 million users as of June 1, the company's press office said Thursday.
The company's network covers 69% of Belarus? territory where 90.5% of the population resides, MDC said. The company operated 1,276 base stations as of June 1, up from 1,252 base stations as of May 1, MDC said.
MDC's subscriber base rose to 1.885 million users as of January 1 from 1.135 million users as of January 1, 2005.
MDC offers GSM 900/1800 standard services under the Velcom brand.
MDC was founded in August 1998. MDC?s charter capital is divided between Cyprus? SB Telecom with 49%, Belarus? state-controlled fixed-line monopoly Beltelecom with 31% and Belarus? arms and weapons exporter Beltekhexport with 20%.
Minsk hosts Belarus-Russia ministerial consultations
Minsk is hosting the Belarus-Russia ministerial consultations focusing on the two countries’ stand in regard to the issues on the agenda of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly. The Belarusian delegation is headed by deputy foreign minister Viktor Gaisenok, the Russian – deputy foreign minister Alexander Yakovenko.
It is the issues of the UN reconstruction that are in the spotlight of the present meeting, the Belarusian foreign ministry told BelTA. The consultations are expected to discuss the effectiveness of the UN efforts in addressing urgent international problems, responding to new threats and challenges of the 21st century and settling the situation in the Middle East.
'Long Knives Night' to play in film festival in New York
From: Village voice
Ascuffed-knuckle preamble to next week's Human Rights Watch Film Festival, these two featurette docs by Belarusan filmmaker Victor Dashuk open a window on an atrocious reality American media channels don't bother to report—social life in Belarus after the seizure of power by classic-style dictator Alexander Lukashenko. The second and third parts of a trilogy that began with Between Satan and God (1997), the two films here are traditionally structured docs, often overcome with articulate and poetic narration, jumping ugly all over Lukashenko's astonishing legacy of Stalinist abuses: kidnappings and disappearances (of activists, journalists, and ministry officials), public violence, false arrests, liquidated institutions. Apparently, Lukashenko is faithful to the totalitarian paradigm—no effort has been made to persuade or even lie to the populace, and iron-heel thuggery rules the day. Which is perhaps why Dashuk, who has been persecuted and harassed for years, time and again directs his own outrage toward the people themselves—they may riot wildly (the footage makes Peruvian protesters look polite), but they keep permitting power-grabs "like cattle led to the slaughterhouse."
Vadzim Straltsou wins gold in junior weightlifting worlds
From: People's Daily
Vadzim Straltsou of Belarus won the gold medal with a total of 375kg in the men's 85kg category in the Junior World Weightlifting Championships on Thursday.
The 20-year-old Straltsou dominated the 85kg class since the beginning of the competition as he successfully lifted 170kg in the snatch and hoisted 205kg in the jerk.
Vasily Polovnikov of Russia conceded to the silver at a total of 365kg and Straltsou's compatriot Mikalai Novikau took the bronze at 359kg.
Snatching 165kg, Polovnikov tried to lift 210kg in the last attempt for a total of 375kg to overcome Straltsou but failed.
Lu Changliang of China, 78.43kg, was the lightest in the 85kg class competition, and he hoisted 346kg to place sixth.