Lukashenka talks military with China, Minsk or Paris? Smuggling ring broken, NAM, Lithuanian Border, Kyrgyzstan drug scandal, Italian orphan scandal
From the Top
Alexander Lukashenko Meets with Defence Minister of China Cao Gangchuan
From: The office of the president and Belta
More that 210 agreements and contracts in the military-technological area have been concluded up to now between Belarus and China. 190 of them have been implemented. “This is a great scope and there are good prospects,” emphasized President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at his meeting with Defence Minister of China Cao Gangchuan.
Belarusian is satisfied with cooperation with China, in particular in the military and technical spheres. The statement to this effect was made by president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting with minister of China’s national defence, vice-chairman of the CPC Military Commission, state councilor Cao Gangchuan.
The head of state noted that the two countries had signed more than 220 agreements in the military-technical sphere, of them 190 had already been implemented.
The head of state said that cooperation with China was of strategic character. He believes that servicemen of the two countries can also get credit for that.
Alexander Lukashenko also took note of the similar stances of the two states on the international scene. “Our foreign policies are coordinated and identical. We apply single criteria in evaluating international events and situations,” the president said.
When addressing the participants of the meeting the head of state thanked them for achieving active level of cooperation. “We are proud of our relations with China, this super power,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state called China a true friend of Belarus. “It is serious support to Belarus for many years”, the president concluded.
In turn, the defense minister of China underlined importance of the friendly relations between the two states. “You have great authority with the Chinese people and servicemen in particular”, Cao Gangchuan stated addressing the Belarusian leader.
He informed the head of state that he arrived in Belarus at the invitation of the defense minister of this republic to discuss further development of the relations between the armed forces of the two states with the Belarusian colleagues.
The defense ministers of Belarus and China summed up results of the cooperation projects implemented earlier and formulated an action plan in the military-technical sphere. “We discussed in detail all our plans and agreed on a wide range of issues”, Cao Gangchuan noted.
In the course of the meeting Alexander Lukashenko decorated the defense minister of China with an Order of Friendship of Peoples to mark his personal contribution to the development and strengthening of the friendly relations between Belarus and China. When receiving the award Cao Gangchuan said it was a great honor not only for him but also for the Chinese servicemen and the Chinese people on the whole.
Belarus values positively the role of China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization:
“We have been watching attentively the work of this organization and are interested in close cooperation with it”, the head of state underlined.
In the course of the meeting the president also stood for close cooperation between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. “I think it will be a new element of international relations”, Alexander Lukashenko said.
Lukashenka Says 'Minsk More Comfortable Than Paris'
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said that Minsk is ahead of London, Madrid, and Paris, and a little behind Berlin in terms of residents' satisfaction with living conditions.
Lukashenka was speaking on September 8 at a meeting of the CIS International Association of Capitals and Large Cities, which took place in the Belarusian capital.
Belapan reported that Lukashenka said that 86.2 percent of Minsk residents are satisfied with their standard of living. The Belarusian president also revealed that Minsk accounts for 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and some 30 percent of Belarusian exports.
An important aspect of any city functioning is ecologic security, the president said. According to him, Minsk does a lot to improve the ecologic situation.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, megapolises are great contributors to the environmental pollution. He expressed hope that IACC participants realized the urgent necessity to settle this issue. “We have to do our utmost to pass cities and countries to future generations in a better state than they had been passed to us,” the head of state concluded.
Belarus is about to ratify Nuclear Terrorism Convention
The permanent commission for international affairs and CIS of the Chamber of Representatives decided to recommend the international Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism for ratification.
According to the first deputy chair of the state security committee of Belarus Vasiliy Dementei, the convention is one of the fundamental documents in the sphere of tackling the threat of nuclear terror. It was adopted in New York on April 13 last year. Belarus signed it on September 15, 2005. So far the convention has been joined by 105 states.
Vasiliy Dementei empathized that acts of nuclear terrorism can lead to devastating consequences menacing peace and security. At the same time the effective multilateral resolution of the international law overlook this problem.
The convention provides a list of acts which are qualified as nuclear terrorism. Among them is possession of a radioactive device, attempts to damage a nuclear facility with the intent to harm people and environment. The convention also says that a person commits an offence by unlawfully and intentionally demanding a radioactive material, nuclear facility resorting to threats or participating as an accomplice in the abovementioned actions.
Each state party should adopt measures to ban illegal activities of persons and organizations promoting or funding the abovementioned offences.
The states parties should perform their obligations basing on the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity as well as non-interference with domestic affairs. The convention also spells out conduction of mutual consultations between the state parties in UN or other international organizations.
Belarusian ratification of the convention will promote efficient cooperation between the country and competent authorities of many other states and raising the country’s prestige, Vasiliy Dementei believes.
Belarusian detained in Russia over $1-bln smuggling scheme
From: Ria Novosti
Russian police said Wednesday officers had detained a Belarusian national wanted for his part in an international smuggling ring that allegedly inflicted overall material damages of $1 billion.
Law enforcement officers said Yury Kreidich was suspected of being a member of a criminal group, forging documents and other offenses.
"According to information provided by Belarusian law enforcement agencies, Belarusian national Yury Kreidich, born in 1976, was involved in a criminal group that smuggled cargoes from Poland to Belarus and further to Russia for six years," the Russian Interior Ministry's organized crime department said.
The department's press service said Kreidich was responsible for allowing road trains to pass through customs posts without the appropriate checks. Belarusian authorities also said customs officials could be involved in the smuggling scheme.
"Computers, plasma television sets, video and audio equipment were brought into Russia from western Europe via Poland under the guise of construction materials," the press service said. "Drivers in Poland were given forged documents."
The department said Kreidich had escaped to Russia after criminal proceedings were launched. He lived in Moscow and owned a firm trading in Belarusian goods. Kreidich is in custody awaiting a decision on his extradition.
Another person suspected of being involved in the gang is also reported to have been arrested in Poland.
Belarusian rock acts play live show at US ambassador's residence outside Minsk
Sixteen Belarusian rock acts played a live show at the US ambassador's residence in Raubichi, a village some 15 kilometers north of Minsk, on Tuesday.
The concert featured, among others, the bands Krama, Neuro Dubel, N.R.M., Palats, Suzorye, Ulis, and singer Zmitser Voityushkevich.
The organizers of the show named the project Ambasovishcha, a blend of "ambasada," which means embassy in Belarusian, and "Basoviszcza," an annual Belarusian rock music festival held in Poland.
Each of the acts played short sets including two or three songs. Attending were journalists, diplomats and Belarusian public figures.
"I came to Belarus not long ago, that's why I'm only getting acquainted with Belarusian history and culture," Jonathan Moore, the US charge d'affaires, said in his speech at the concert. The diplomat said he knew that many of the acts had been banned from playing concerts in Belarus.
Mr. Moore was speaking in Belarusian.
Dali were voted the best band of the concert. Representatives of the embassy presented the rockers with a gift and Yevgeny Bonch-Osmolovsky, head of the 8 Kanal TV channel, promised the band free assistance in promotion.
The organizers plan to hold rock festivals at the US ambassador's residence annually.
Iran, Belarus Stress Reinvigoration of NAM Cooperation
Iranian and Belarusian Foreign Ministers underlined the need for the strengthening of cooperation among the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
A statement released by the Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Bureau said that Manouchehr Mottaki met with Sergey Martynov on the sidelines of NAM's Foreign Ministerial summit in the Cuban capital city of Havana on Tuesday.
Also during the meeting, the two sides stressed the necessity for the implementation of the developmental agreements the two countries have already signed and further added that the cooperation potentials of NAM member states should be strengthened and boosted, while exchange of visits by different delegations from the said countries must serve in favor of the achievement of the same goal.
Coop with China is priority of Belarus foreign policy - DM
Defence Minister Colonel-General Leonid Maltsev said the development of relations with China is one of the priorities of Belarus' foreign policy.
In his meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Colonel-General Cao Gangchuan on Wednesday, Maltsev said, "Cooperation with China is one of the priorities of Belarus' foreign policy. Our relations are developing successfully on the base of mutual benefit and mutual respect."
"We are meeting not as officials and defence ministers but as old good friends," the Belarussian minister said. In his words, "normal human relations have always the most solid base and guarantor for developing relations in other fields."
Maltsev said he is satisfied that a great number of Chinese specialists arrived in Minsk. Thus, "we have concrete talks on concrete matters," he stressed, Kazinform refers to Itar-Tass.
The Chinese delegation, which arrived in Minsk on Tuesday, will stay in Belarus till September 17. As part of the visit the delegation will meet Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and visit the Military Academy, the Dudutki museum, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the Brest fortress.
The Chinese military will be also awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples.
Belarus, Lithuania complete legalization of state border demarcation
Belarus and Lithuania are going to finalize the documents on demarcation at a sitting of the interstate commission which opened in Minsk on September 11, BelTA has been told in the state border troops committee of Belarus.
Members of the Belarus-Lithuania demarcation commission are expected to agree and sign the bulk of the final documents on the state border demarcation including the protocols on the border signs, a catalogue of the border signs coordinates, lists of the demarcation map. Moreover, the sides will agree the border crossing procedure.
A reminder, an official ceremony to install the last border sign took place on a border section of the Polotsk frontier post near the lake of Giluta on March 10 this year.
The Belarusian delegation is headed by chief of the state border delimitation and demarcation department of the Belarus state border troops committee Colonel Alexander Arkhipov. The Lithuanian side is headed by deputy director of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia department of the Lithuania foreign ministry Zenonas Kumeitatis. Attending the sitting are also officials of the geodesic services of the two countries. The consultations will run until September 15.
SCANDAL SPARKS NEW ROUND OF CONFRONTATION BETWEEN PRESIDENT AND PARLIAMENT IN KYRGYZSTAN
From: Eurasia Insight
A scandal in which the state’s security service stands accused of planting drugs on the former parliament speaker is renewing the feud in Kyrgyzstan between the executive and legislative branches of government.
Members of Kyrgyz parliament convened a special hearing on September 11 in connection with the scandal, which erupted September 6 with the arrest of former parliament speaker Omurbek Tekebayev in Poland on a drug smuggling charge. Polish authorities found heroin crudely stashed inside a matryoshka doll packed in Tekebayev’s luggage. After an investigation determined that the drugs had been planted, a Polish court set Tekebayev free and he returned to Kyrgyzstan early on September 12.
Immediately after word spread of Tekebayev’s arrest, opposition politicians insisted he had been set up. During the parliamentary hearing, MPs reviewed evidence implicating the National Security Service (NSS), specifically the president’s brother and security service deputy chief, Janysh Bakiyev, in the framing of Tekebayev. Among the evidence was videotape taken at Bishkek’s Manas airport showing a high-ranking airport official taking Tekebayev’s luggage away and then returning with it a short while later. Also presented was a written statement by the airport deputy director, Nadir Mamirov, who claimed that Janysh Bakiyev had personally instructed that heroin be placed in Tekebayev’s luggage
The revelations forced the resignations of Janysh Bakiyev and the head of the NSS, Busurmankul Tabaldiyev. Both, however, denied specific involvement in a conspiracy to frame Tekebayev.
MPs also demanded an explanation from President Bakiyev, who declined to meet with the legislators, citing a "busy schedule." MPs also demanded that the president explain reports that he met in late July with Boris Berezovsky, a Russian tycoon now wanted by Moscow on criminal charges. According to reports, Berezovsky flew to Bishkek from his home in London. If such a meeting did indeed occur, Bakiyev may have violated international agreements by not taking action to arrest and extradite Berezovsky to Moscow.
Some MPs said that if President Bakiyev declined to comply with parliament’s request for an explanation, they would organize a mass rally for September 15.
One MP, Kabai Karabekov, was quoted by the 24.kg information agency as calling for President Bakiyev’s resignation. "He doesn’t have the moral right to lead the country," Karabekov said.
The parliament considered a resolution calling for the resignations of President Bakiyev, Prime Minister Feliks Kulov and other government officials. A vote was expected to be taken within the coming days.
Comments attributed to President Bakiyev and posted on the presidential website indicated that a government commission would be established soon to investigate the scandal. "What has happened proves that, unfortunately, there are people in Kyrgyzstan who do not like stability in the nation," President Bakiyev was quoted as saying.
The scandal would appear to give parliament momentum in its long-running power struggle with president. A bout of maneuvering between the legislative and executive branches in February resulted in Tekebayev’s resignation as speaker. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Now, at the very least, opposition MPs hope the recent turn of events will force Bakiyev to take action to curb rampant corruption in Kyrgyzstan. During the spring of this year, opposition politicians attempted to foster a series of mass rallies in an effort to pressure Bakiyev on the corruption issue. But the rally strategy sputtered after failing to attract significant public support, enabling President Bakiyev to gain the upper hand in the power struggle.
Fostered child case strains Italy, Belarus relations
From: Raw Story
Italian police have launched a nation-wide search for a 10-year-old Belarus girl who has been hidden by her Italian foster parents to prevent her from suffering further abuse in her country of origin, state television Rai reported Wednesday. The case has stirred strong emotions in Italy and risks straining relations between Rome and authorities in Minsk, who are now threatening to block adoptions of Belarus children by Italians unless Maria is allowed to return home.
Maria is one of some 25,000 Belarus child victims of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster who spend "therapeutic" holidays in Italy each year as part of a solidarity program initiated in 1993.
An orphan, she was taken into the care of foster parents upon her arrival in Cogoleto, a small town near Genova, three years ago. Doctors later discovered that she had been mistreated and subjected to sexual abuses during her stay in an orphanage in Belarus.
In June, Maria allegedly attempted to drown herself in the sea and told her foster parents she'd rather die than return home.
When a minor's tribunal in nearby Genova ruled that the girl should go back to Belarus after receiving assurances from local authorities that she would not be mistreated again, her parents decided to hide her.
Police were actively searching for the girl while fellow residents in Cogoleto planned to hold a torchlight procession in support of the family on Thursday.
The case has prompted the Italian government to intervene amid warnings from Minsk that it may block the adoption of Belarus children by Italians unless a solution is found.
Lukashenko orders financing of loyal Union of Writers
Aleksandr Lukashenko has signed a presidential edict that public funds should be allocated to finance the Union of Writers of Belarus (UWB).
The new pro-government organization, the UWB, is seen as an alternative to the Union of Belarusian Writers, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in the summer of 2005 and which government-controlled media outlets have branded as politicized and nationalistic.
By October 10, 2006, the Council of Ministers has been directed to put forward suggestions regarding the payment of salaries to no more than five members of the UWB Board and the heads of the Union's six regional offices and the Minsk city office out of public funds in the "presidential reserve fund."
The edict also provides for the financing of "expenses for the statutory activities of this non-governmental organization," including those connected with travel and accommodation on business trips, utility bills, communications services, equipment purchases, and the promotion of "fiction literature."
The Belarusian leader has also directed that, for the purpose of granting government support to the UWB, the Council of Ministers should earmark funds for the maintenance of the Union in the national budget starting 2007.
In addition, the presidential property management department has been tasked with providing the UWB with offices to house its board on a rental basis and "settling matters concerning the providing of this non-governmental organization with motor vehicles, office equipment and communications means."
The regional executive committees and the Minsk City Executive Committee have been directed to provide premises for the regional and Minsk city offices of the UWB before October 10, 2006, arrange for the payment of salaries to the members of the councils of these departments, except their heads, and finance their "statutory activities."
This spending has been ordered to be earmarked in the local budget starting 2007.
The Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW) was evicted from its longtime office in central Minsk on August 30.
Vasily Danilyuk, a judge of Minsk City Economic Court, ruled this past March that the UBW, which was founded in 1934, had occupied premises in the House of Writers illegally since January 2003, and fined the UBW with 55.5 million rubels.
Consumer prices drop 0.7% in Belarus in Aug
Consumer prices fell 0.7% in August in Belarus, compared with a growth of 0.5% in July, the Statistics & Analysis Ministry told Interfax.
Inflation was 2.9% in the first eight months of 2006 compared with 4.6% in the same period last year.
The country's social and economic development forecast envisions consumer prices will grow around 7%-9% in 2006.
The National Bank of Belarus announced early in the year that it and the government are planning to keep inflation at no more than 7% in 2006.
Belarussian inflation was 8% in 2005 compared with 14.4% in 2004. rm
Russia's chief sanitary officer calls for ban on Belarusian wine imports
Russia's chief sanitary officer, Gennady Onishchenko, has called for imports of wine from Belarus to be suspended, claiming that they were of poor quality.
In an interview with Interfax, Mr. Onishchenko said that he was alarmed by the quality of Belarusian wine because the country's producers mostly used wine material imported from Moldova.
The "excessive optimism" that the Belarusian sanitary authorities show about the quality of domestically manufactured alcohol products lacks any viable ground and "raises eyebrows," he said.
When reached by BelaPAN, Pyotr Kavunov, a spokesman for the Belarusian State Food Industry Concern (Belgospishcheprom), said that he did not know what wine Mr. Onishchenko referred to, suggesting that the sanitary officer might be alarmed by wine made by private companies.
Anyway, he said, companies under the authority of Belgospishcheprom do not export grape wine to Russia because it will not compete there on price. It is "too expensive" to import grape wine material from Moldova and then carry the wine to Russia, he explained.
Mr. Kavunov defended the expertise of Belarus' sanitary services, saying that they were the "best" ones in the Soviet era.
"We are not sillier than Mr. Onishchenko and our sanitary services work as well," he stressed.
According to Mr. Kavunov, companies under the authority of Belgospishcheprom had to suspend exports of alcohol products to Russia after the country's authorities introduced new excise duties this past April. A Belarusian delegation is expected to visit Russia in the coming few days to agree about deliveries of alcohol beverages.
Russia blocked imports of Georgian and Moldovan wines and spirits this past spring, citing public health concerns.
Russian Cops, Worse than Criminals, Think Rubber Hoses are Just Dandy
From: La Russophobe
The Moscow Times reports the shocking results of a Levada Center poll showing that a majority of Russian policeman feel it is appropriate police procedure to beat a confession out of a suspect. Maybe visas to Russia should be accompanied by a cyanide pill so that the hapless tourist who finds himself arrested can check out before the "interrogation" quite literally kicks in.
More than half of the nation's police officers say it is sometimes acceptable to use force against detained suspects, while nearly two in 10 believe it is sometimes acceptable to plant drugs or weapons on suspects, a report from the independent Levada Center showed.
"The erosion of legal awareness among police officers is at its highest level," said Lev Gudkov, a center researcher. "The notion of what's lawful and what isn't is warped."
The center polled 641 policemen in 41 cities in December 2005 as part of a two-year project with Public Verdict, a group that monitors police abuse.
On Tuesday, the two groups presented their findings in a newly released book, "Index of Abuse by Law Enforcement Agencies."
Police officers also tend to believe the media is responsible for sowing public discontent: Fifty-five percent say the media is the No. 1 reason for their poor image.
A spokesman at the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police force, declined to comment until he had seen the book.
The Levada Center report also showed that, over the two-year period, hostility toward the police was consistently high. Monthly updates showed that, at some points, as many as two-thirds of all Russians distrusted the police; at other points, that figure jumped to three-fourths.
While the level of trust in all authorities -- the army, the courts, the security services and the police -- rose briefly after President Vladimir Putin took power in early 2000, that trust ebbed as hopes for internal reforms sank.
About 1.2 percent of the population views a job in the police force as "prestigious," while 2.5 percent considers it "attractive," said Olga Gryaznova, a Levada Center researcher. Such public sentiment contributes to police officers' negative image of the police and hinders improvement of relations between the police and the public, Gryaznova added.
Topping most Russians' list of fears when it comes to the police is public humiliation, followed by violence, illegal detention, blackmail and illegal incrimination, among other concerns, the study showed.
A police colonel with more than 30 years of experience, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were fewer professionals working in the police force than there were in the 1980s.
The police colonel added that the Interior Ministry's reform of the police force had not included educating street cops who interact directly with the general public.
There were an unspecified number of positive doping tests at the European weightlifting championships, the sport's governing body said Wednesday.
The International Weightlifting Federation recently received the results of the doping tests from the laboratory in Cologne, Germany, and was still in the process of dealing with the testing of "B" samples and other appeals, IWF secretariat Monika Ungar said.
"I can confirm there were a number of positive tests and we expect to have the names and other information available within weeks," Ungar said.
Ungar was speaking after French sports daily L'Equipe reported that Ninel Miculescu of Romania and Nizami Pashayev of Azerbaijan tested positive at the competition in May in Wladislawowo, Poland, and were banned by the IWF for two years. Miculescu won the silver medal in the 69-kilogram category, while Pashayev won gold at 94 kg.
L'Equipe said 10 others also tested positive, including Henadzi Aliashchuk of Belarus and Ashot Danielyan of Armenia, who has tested positive in the past and risk being banned for life.
The other eight were identified as Alexandru Brantan of Moldova, Natig Hasanov of Azerbaijan, Oleksi Kolokoltsev of Ukraine, Vladimir Smorchov of Russia, Florin Veliciu of Romania, Dmitry Voronin of Russia, Dovile Blazunaite of Lithuania and Valentina Popova of Russia.
Athletics finals results
from the World Athletics Final at the Gottlieb-Daimler stadium:
From: News 24
Hammer-1, Koji Murofushi, Japan, 81.42. 2, Ivan Tikhon, Belarus, 81.12. 3, Krisztian Pars, Hungary, 80.41. 4, Markus Esser, Germany, 79.19. 5, Vadim Devyatovskiy, Belarus, 78.67.
Triple Jump-1, Tatyana Lebedeva, Russia, 14.82. 2, Hrysopiyi Devetzi, Greece, 14,67. 3, Yamile Aldama, Sudan, 14.67. 4, Anna Pyatykh, Russia, 14.60. 5, Marija Sestak, Slovenia, 14.32. 6, Olha Saladuha, Ukraine, 14.04. 7, Natallia Safronava, Belarus, 13.88.
Shot Put-1, Natalia Khoroneko, Belarus, 19.81. 2, Valerie Vili, New Zealand, 19.64. 3, Nadezhda Ostapchuk, Belarus, 19.50. 4, Yumileidi Cumba, Cuba, 18.78. 5, Petra Lammert, Germany, 18.67. 6, Nadine Kleinert, Germany, 18.18. 7, Kristin Heaston, United States, 17.51.