Lukashenka in Havana, Maria/Vika scandal, Dashkevich Arrested, Narodnaya Volna goes on-line, Terrorist list published, WTO, Racism, Sports
From the Top
XIV summit of Non-Aligned Movement opens in Havana
Malaysia, incumbent president of the Non-Aligned Movement, is expected to deliver a report on the Non-Aligned Movement performance between February 2003 and September 2006.
After the report formalities are over, Cuba will officially take over the presidency from Malaysia.
The chairman of the NAM, Malaysian prime minister will open the summit and will present a report on the Movement’s activity in-between February 2003 and September 2006. Then the NAM member-states will elect a new chairman. According to the protocol, it is usually a host country that takes over the chairmanship.
The summit agenda on September 15 envisages a welcoming speech of the chairman of the Cuban State Council and Council of Ministers. Then reports will be made by representatives of the regional groups: from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean basin.
A photo session of the heads of state, government and leaders of the delegations of the NAM member-states is scheduled next.
Later the NAM countries’ heads of state and government will meet to continue discussion on urgent issues of the Movement’s activity.
In Havana, Alexander Lukashenko is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings with heads of states which play significant roles in the Non-Aliened Movement.
Today the Non-Aliened Movement includes 116 countries. Some 16 countries have the status of observers (including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine). Besides from Belarus, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan make part to the Movement.
The Non-Aliened Movement has held 13 summits. The movement emanated from the process of decolonization and formation of a large number of independent countries. The confrontation of the two socio-economic systems in the ‘50s and ‘70s set the political agenda for the organization. The purpose of the organization as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979 is to ensure the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, racism, Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.
At the same time, the Non-Aliened Movement has never had the common ideological platform. Some leaders of the non-aliened countries consider the notion ‘non-aliened’ as a philosophy, others – as a political course, the rest – as a diplomatic mechanism of obtaining goals in foreign policy.
Some countries believe that the absence of administrative structure reduces the efficiency of the Non-Aliened Movement and its opportunities to promptly respond to situations which arise in the world.
Girl sparks Belarus-Italy dispute
The Belarusssian ambassador to Italy has demanded proof that the girl at the centre of a diplomatic row is alive and well.
The girl's temporary Italian foster parents have sent her into hiding and refuse to send her back home.
They say she was repeatedly abused at an orphanage in Belarus.
The 10-year-old girl was spending the summer in Italy as part of a programme for children affected by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The ambassador says he is extremely concerned about her welfare. The girl was meant to have flown back to Belarus a week ago.
Instead, the couple who have provided her with a temporary home for the past few summers sent her into hiding, before reporting what they had done to the local police.
They say the girl, known only by the pseudonym of Maria, has been repeatedly abused at the institution in Belarus where she is normally resident.
They have presented psychiatrists' reports to back their case.
The foster parents say they would rather go to prison than see her forced to return and that they only decided to act after Maria tried to drown herself in the sea.
The case has now prompted a full-blown diplomatic incident.
The Belarussian ambassador in Rome says his country's sovereignty demands the girl's return as ordered by an Italian court.
He also warned that the furore could hit the hopes of hundreds of Italians who want to adopt Belarussian orphans.
But the couple's local community, on the Italian Riviera outside Genoa, is closing ranks to prevent Maria's return.
The local priest told one Italian newspaper that if necessary he would offer her sanctuary in his church.
"I'm ready to sidestep the law for her," he said. "Just as lots of priests did to protect Jews during the war."
Minsk says Italian couple's reluctance to return orphan imperils interests of hundreds of Belarusian kids
The decision by an Italian couple to keep hiding a 10-year-old orphan from Belarus imperils of the interests of hundreds of Belarusian children from Chernobyl-affected areas, Mariya Vanshina, head of the Belarusian foreign ministry's press office, said in a statement issued on Thursday.
The girl was meant to have flown back on September 8 after spending the summer in the village of Cogoleto under a program for Belarusian children. However, the girl's seasonal foster parents, Alessandro Giusto, a 35-year-old engineer, and Maria Grazia Bornacin refused to give the child back to Belarus, saying that she had been repeatedly raped and tortured at the orphanage in Vileika, Minsk region.
The presidential property management department's Office for Humanitarian Activities this week has temporarily stopped to consider giving consent to Belarusian children's recuperation trips to Italy.
According to Ms. Vanshina, after the couple failed to implement an order by the juvenile court in Genoa, Adriano San, to return the girl, the court authorized the search of the child.
She stressed that "the Italian side" had accepted "official guarantees" from the Belarusian authorities that the girl would be offered protection and psychological and medical aid upon her arrival in the country.
"The Italian side accepted these guarantees in full, demonstrating respect for the sovereign right of the Republic of Belarus to protect the rights and interests of its children."
The Guardian quoted Cogoleto's parish priest, Father Danilo Grillo, who was due last night to lead a candlelit procession through the village in support of the girl, as telling the daily Corriere della Sera: "For a girl with those terrorised eyes, I'm ready to sidestep the law and put her up in the church. Lots of priests did the same for Jews during the war."
The girl first came to Italy for the summer in 2003. The following August, concerned by marks on her body, the Italian couple took her to a doctor. He certified extensive bruising to her throat, abdomen and legs, and a suspected burn mark in her genital area, The Guardian said.
Lawyers representing the couple raised the matter with the courts and the president of the juvenile court in Genoa put forward a compromise solution. The girl would be returned to Belarus, but she would be accompanied by two Italian doctors who would stay in the country for a fortnight to ensure that she was well looked after.
Since last Friday, the Italian couple has been formally placed under investigation on suspicion of kidnapping a minor following a complaint from the Belarus embassy. Ms. Bornacin told the newspaper La Repubblica: "I cannot allow the little one to go back to Belarus to face violence and sexual abuse. I would rather go to prison."
Tatyana Kovalyova, Belarus' deputy minister of education, denied that the girl had been abused in the orphanage. A Belarusian psychologist and doctor certified this past summer that she was "practically healthy and transportable," she told BelTA on Thursday.
The Italian couple said that the 10-year-old had tried to kill herself twice.
Ms. Vanshina said that the "Belarusian side has a high opinion of cooperation with the authorities of the Republic of Italy in solving the humanitarian situation."
She expressed hope that this "single incident" would not affect cooperation between Belarus and Italy and would not be used "for political ends."
"Human understanding for the sentiments of the Giustis cannot take precedence over the institutional duty to intervene and resolve a situation which is deteriorating by the day," Italy's ASNA quoted Welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero as commenting on the incident.
"This couple are acting in a very serious way by continuing to keep and hide the child... This behaviour is having a damaging impact on the child as well as the hundreds of children whose future trips to Italy are being jeopardised," he said.
Italian MP Aldo Patriciello, called on the European Union to intervene.
"Europe cannot stand by and watch while the Belarussian authorities drag this child back to Belarus against her will... You can't ask a couple to foster a child which needs help and then prevent them from protecting that child," ASNA quoted him as saying.
He said that the EU should use the incident to tackle the issue of international adoptions with the Belarus government.
Children's recuperation trips to Italy put on hold after orphan fails to return to Belarus
The presidential property management department's Office for Humanitarian Activities has temporarily stopped to consider giving consent to Belarusian children's recuperation trips to Italy after a 10-year-old Belarusian orphan girl failed to return to the country after a summer vacation near Genoa, a source with the Office told BelaPAN.
The girl, identified only by her first name, Vika, was to return to Belarus after spending the summer in the town of Cogoleto under a program for Belarusian children. However, an Italian couple picked as the girl's foster parents for the summer refused to give the child back to Belarus, explaining that she had been mistreated there.
An earlier examination reportedly confirmed that the girl had suffered severe sexual, physical and mental abuse at her orphanage in Vileika, Minsk region.
The whereabouts of the girl were not clear on September 14.
In an interview with BelaPAN, Belarusian Ambassador Aleksei Skripko said that the embassy had complained to the Genoa Prosecutor's Office over the matter. The Italian authorities assured the diplomatic mission that they were doing their utmost to find the girl and send her back home, the ambassador said.
"The embassy has been taking efforts to return the girl to Belarus from day one," he said.
According to Mr. Skripko, the Belarusian authorities have pledged to offer protection and psychological and medical aid to the girl upon her arrival in the country.
Members of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Belarus have promised to look into the scandal.
Under Aleksandr Lukashenko's decree issued for the declared purpose of combating human trafficking, the lists of children to be sent abroad under recuperation programs should be approved by the Office for Humanitarian Activities and the education ministry.
Police in ex-Soviet Belarus detain youth activist
Police on Friday detained an opponent of Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko on suspicion of belonging to a unregistered group, an opposition activist said.
Dmitry Dashkevich, a leader of the "Young Front" group, faces up to three years in prison if charged under legislation passed last year by the ex-Soviet state's parliament on grounds of boosting national security ahead of Lukashenko's re-election.
Dashkevich was detained in the eastern town of Mogilyov, where he had gone to visit an opposition activist sentenced to two years of enforced labour for spraying graffiti on walls.
"According to our information, Dmitry was arrested on grounds of illegal activities of Young Front as an unregistered organisation," Viktor Ivashkevich of the Belarussian Popular Front, one of Belarus's largest opposition groups, told Reuters.
"No charges have yet been laid. But he is being kept in custody."
Belarussian security bodies were unavailable to comment.
Legislation passed in the run-up to March's presidential election introduced stiff penalties for activities deemed to run counter to national security.
Lukashenko's landslide election to a third term was denounced by Western countries -- and by Belarus's opposition -- as blatantly rigged.
The outcome caused unprecedented demonstrations in the capital Minsk, broken up after four days.
More than 600 protesters were jailed for up to 15 days for public order offences and an opposition leader who challenged Lukashenko in the race, Alexander Kozulin, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years for hooliganism and incitement to mass disorder.
Kozulin's appeal is to be heard in a Minsk court next week.
The Minsk city court on Friday rejected an appeal from two members of the "Partnership" group convicted before the March election on charges of membership of an unregistered body.
Nikolai Astreiko had received a two-year sentence and Timofei Dranchuk one year in prison.
Krasnodar hosts festival to mark 10th anniversary of Day of Unity of Belarusian and Russian peoples
The international festival of national cultures “Culture brings peoples together” has started in Krasnodar krai, Russia. The event is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Day of Unity of the peoples of Belarus and Russia, the Union State Permanent Committee told BelTA.
The program of the festival features performances of vocalists, folk and dance groups, folk costumes theaters, artistic meetings, roundtables and master-classes. The festival is held in the towns of Taman, Novorossijsk and Temriuk of Krasnodar krai.
The conference “Peoples and Traditions: Modern Aspects of Ethno-Cultural Cooperation” will bring together specialists of leading scientific and artistic centers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Belarus at the festival will be represented by the Belarusian dance group and the dance and song company Spatkanne from the Minsk region. Attending the festival are also groups and singers from Novosibirsk, Saratov, Lipetsk, Tomsk and other Russian towns and also from Armenia.
The festival, which will run until September 20, is organized with assistance of the Union State Permanent Committee, the Russian federal agency for culture and cinematography, the Krasnodar office of the Belarusian embassy to Russia and the Krasnodar krai administration.
Narodnaya Volya launches online version
The Narodnaya Volya, Belarus' largest independent newspaper, has launched its online version at www.nv-online.info.
In an interview with BelaPAN, the administrator of the site, Andrei Vashkevich, noted that the launch of the online version would allow the newspaper to have archives on the Web and ensure the uninterrupted publication of news if there are problems with the printed version.
The electronic version will have all the sections that the printed version has, including world news, politics, economy, society, culture, sports, and opinion/readers' feedback, Mr. Vashkevich said. A visitor can leave his/her comment after each article available on the site, he added.
According to Mr. Vashkevich, the only difference between the electronic and printed versions is that some articles will be available electronically a week later than in the printed version.
Minsk accuses USA of failure to ensure security of Belarusian nationals
The Belarusian foreign ministry on Thursday summoned Jonathan Moore, the USA's charge d'affaires in Belarus, to hand him a note of protest against the United States' "failure to ensure the security of Belarusian nationals staying in the USA under the American government's programs."
On the same day, the Belarusian ambassador to the US, Mikhail Khvostov, delivered a similar note to the US Department of State.
"Three tragic incidents" involving Belarusians who were working in the country this past summer under the Work and Travel USA program prompted the foreign ministry to issue the note, the ministry's press office said without specifying the incidents.
"The series of tragic incidents involving Belarusian nationals are evidence that the US agencies concerned are not able and do not want to ensure the security of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus on the territory of the United States of America," the press office said.
"If the American authorities are not able to ensure the security of foreign nationals on their territory, they should openly warn the international community about this."
The Belarusian foreign ministry has appealed to Belarusian students to refrain from participating in the program administered by the US Department of State, pointing to "extreme and absolutely unacceptable" conditions of stay.
It has "strongly condemned the inaction of the US agencies concerned" and demanded measures to be taken to bring to account "those guilty."
The death of a 20-year-old student at Belarusian National Technical University in Wells, Maine, is probably one the three tragic instances that the Belarusian foreign ministry referred to. The young man was found outside a boarding house on June 20 died from a single stab wound. He had been working for a food vendor at a Maine Turnpike plaza in Kennebunk under the Work and Travel program.
KGB list of terrorist organizations to be published in Belarus
From: axis globe.com
The Council of Ministers of Belarus has adopted the decision No 1061 "On the order of conducting and publication of the list of the terrorist organizations", online paper Newsru.com reports. The list is entrusted to be put together by the State Security Committee (KGB) of Belarus. By the way, the security officers in this case have been actually allocated the role of secretaries as the decision whom to include in the given list will be made by the country’s Supreme Court, online paper Gazetaby.com comments. The process is supposed to be made as much as possible transparent: according to the document, the list of the terrorist organizations is a subject to publication in the Belarus newspapers in a three-day's term from the date of its receipt from the KGB.
The list should contain the following data: the name of the terrorist organization, its registration number and date of registration, the name of registering body, location and the legal address of the terrorist organization, and also "a surname, a name, a patronymic of the head, the chief accountant of the organization and (or) other authorized official". Thus, as a strict measure it is enough to send to the legal address of an organization a KGB controlling squad; after their visit any terrorist organization will behave more silently than water below the grass, sneers Gazetaby.com.
Earlier the chief of the Centre of the information and public relations of the KGB of Belarus Valery Nadtochayev had announced that no terrorist organization operates in the country’s territory. He told this, making comments on the decision of the Council of Ministers of Belarus on the order of conducting and publication of the list of the terrorist organizations, news agency Interfax reports. Nadtochaev underlined that "attempts of displays of extremism and terrorism concerning Belarus are observed coming from the certain circles abroad". He reminded that the KGB leadership had repeatedly declared this, in particular, on the eve of the presidential elections.
In the Spotlight: Byanka is actually called Yana and comes from Belarus - a country that seems to be stronger on tractors than pop talent.
When promoting the debut album of the young singer Byanka, the record company went for a tried-and-tested method: a photo featuring plenty of cleavage and a telephone number. No, not hers, but a number that people can call to download her songs to their mobile phones.
To be fair, this advertisement appeared in the metro, where people don't have time to read anything wordy, and a bit of low-rent glamour usually fits the bill. What caught my eye last week was not so much Byanka's physical assets as the album's title: "Russian Folk R 'n' B."
Looking on the Internet, I found out that Byanka is actually called Yana and comes from Belarus -- a country that seems to be stronger on tractors than pop talent. One of the biggest stars is Natasha Podolskaya, a former contestant on Fabrika Zvyozd. She won 15th place at last year's Eurovision Song Contest with an experiment in English grammar called "Nobody Hurt No One."
On the cover of the album, released this month by Sony BMG, Byanka poses in front of what looks like Soviet wallpaper from the 1970s. Inside the booklet, though, she looks more rock 'n' roll in aviator sunglasses, big hoop earrings and a single fingerless glove.
In her sleeve notes, the singer calls her style "Slavonic R 'n' B," or arenbi as she writes it in Russian. She gives thanks to the rapper Seryoga, whose hit "Chyorny Bumer" included her backing vocals. The folk elements of her music include the use of traditional instruments such as the balalaika and accordion, as well as some choral vocals that sound like peasants singing.
I was hoping for lyrics about gang warfare in Minsk, possibly involving tractors, but Byanka is more interested in girl power. In a song called "Cosmopolitan" she advises: "Don't cry into your pillow, go clubbing with a girlfriend, become glamorous and the most fashionable, give him the eye and move your ass."
The titles of the songs seem to be designed to fit into the little charts in ring-tone ads, since they are all terse and to the point: "I Love," "Call" and "Cloud," for example. So there is a chance that they might overthrow the long reign of Gorod 312's "I Will Stay," a song from the "Day Watch" soundtrack, and Dima Bilan's Eurovision entry "Never Let You Go."
WTO accession may impede Russia-Belarus customs union - official
From: Ria Novosti
Accession to the World Trade Organization by either Russia or Belarus may hinder the creation of a customs union between the two post-Soviet nations, a Russian official involved in the integration process said Thursday.
Russia and Belarus are working on the unification of their customs duties under a 1996 Union Agreement providing for political, economic and military integration.
Andrei Sotnikov, a member of the Russia-Belarus Union's Standing Committee, said: "The countries would be better off if they joined the WTO with their customs union already in place."
He said they will be unable to preserve mutual trade preferences, crucial to their would-be customs union, if either country enters the WTO before integration is completed.
Sotnikov said the Russia-Belarus customs union could be formed next year at the earliest and that it will take at least as much time to create as the European Union's, which was in the making for a decade.
Once a customs union has taken shape, Russia and Belarus will be able to introduce a single currency, another step toward full-scale economic reintegration, he said.
DO RACIAL DIFFERENCES EXIST? WHEN IS ONE A RACIST?
From: Publius Pundit
A recent seemingly trivial news item has demonstrated how many people misunderstand racism and how explosive the topic is in our politically correct world. For the first portion of the 13th edition of CBS’ hit series “Survivor,” the contestants competing for the $1 million prize while stranded on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific will be divided into four teams: Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Whites. A group of New York City officials have criticized the new format, saying it promotes divisiveness (they do think we all are the same!). They have asked CBS to reconsider its plans. The bizarre news that people are protesting because a competitive television show is going to organize teams according to racial lines, while certainly ridiculous, has lead me to point out a few things about racism.
Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that these racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Race is a part of the overall picture of human development. Those people who believe that there are many more universal aspects of human behavior than there are racial differences, would have no problem with this definition. Further, the most important part of the definition is the second half, which suggests that the differences between races could lead to the conclusion that some race or races is or are superior to others. Certainly that is what Hitler concluded: the Aryan race was superior to all others.
Probably the two most noticeable racial discriminations in the past century were those against blacks, in various parts of the world, particularly in the United States, and discrimination against Jews, particularly in Germany but also in many Arabian/Muslim countries. More recently there seems to be growing discrimination against Muslims and more generally against people from the Arabian region, although this is based on religious and political ideas more than racial differences. There are, as Publius Pundit has pointed out, also serious racial conflicts in Russia.
Presumably in the more developed countries views about races have changed to an extent that now it is presumed that all races are equal and that no race is superior to others (nor one gender superior to the other). This is the politically correct position. The genes responsible for the hereditary differences between the traditional races are extremely few when compared with the vast number of genes common to all human beings regardless of the race to which they belong. Still, there are differences. Physical characteristics clearly define what have been called races and many specialists believe there are biological races. The multicultural crowd has attempted to suggest that all races are fundamentally the same, and have even gone so far as to suggest that race is a “social creation.” And many people believe that. For example, a survey taken in 1985 (Lieberman et al. 19921), asked 1,200 scientists how many disagree with the following proposition: “There are biological races in the species Homo sapiens.” The responses were:
• biologists 16%
• developmental psychologists 36%
• physical anthropologists 41%
• cultural anthropologists 53%
The anthropologists are more closely associated with multiculturalism and related ideas while the biologists are examples of real scientists.
Armenian Culture Days to Be Held in Belarus Next Year
Armenian Culture Days will be held in Belarus next year. According to Armenian Ambassador to Belarus Oleg Yesayan, the Armenian party is already working over the program of events. Belarus culture admirers should have an opportunity to know more about traditional and contemporary directions of Armenia's cultural life, the diplomat believes. Cultural cooperation is an important part of the bilateral interaction.
Oleg Yesayan reminded that works of Armenian artists, who work and create in Belarus, were presented in the House of Friendship on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Armenia's independence. The Ambassador reported that another artistic exhibition will be organized for Belarus spectators by the Independence Day of Armenia, reports BELTA.
Mitchell stops Andrey Isaev in the 11 to retain title
From: Barking & Dagenham Post
Kevin Mitchell insisted: "That was my hardest pro fight," after he retained his IBF Intercontinental super-featherweight title by stopping brave Andrey Isaev at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London's west end on Friday night.
In a clash of unbeaten prospects, Mitchell recorded his 21st straight success as he ended Isaev's victory march run when referee Dave Parris decided a cut on the Belarusian's right eyebrow was too bad to allow him to continue in the 11th round.
Mitchell insisted: "That was the type of fight I need, give him credit, he took hard punches but kept firing back and it was a good fight for the fans."
Unbeaten in his 12 previous contests, the talented Belarusian was always willing to trade punches, even though Mitchell carried extra power and was in control for most of the contest on the Sports Network Charity show.
The winner however admitted he took too many punches in the clash and is still working in the gym to tighten his defence.
He built up a points advantage on all three judges' cards but the contest was keenly competitive before an unfortunate clash of heads in the ninth round left Isaev bleeding from a bad cut over his right eye.
Barrage of blows
He clearly lost his sparkle in the 10th round as Mitchell drove him around the ring with a barrage of blows.
Referee Dave Parris looked at the game Belarus fighter very closely but it was not until midway through the 11th round that he moved in to signal the end.
The loser protested following the stoppage but was clearly heading for defeat and the injury was serious.
The victory sets up the hot local prospect for two more ring appearances this year as he aims for more awards to add to his IBF Intercontinental belt.
n Dean Marcantonio, Peacock Gym fighter, tried hard to stop former soccer player Curtis Woodhouse making a successful switch to professional boxing but he dropped a four-round verdict at the Grosvenor House Hotel show on Friday night.
After a close start ex-Sheffield United captain Woodhouse took control and scored late knockdowns as he took a 40-35 decision from referee Dave Parris.
Vladimir Veremeenko: First Belarusian to be Drafted by the NBA
Vladimir Veremeenko (208-F-84) the forward of Dynamo, St. Petersburg became the first Belarusian ever to be drafted with the NBA team. He was chosen number 48 in this year's NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. The 22-year is undoubtedly the most talented player in Belarus of the last decade and has been named player of the year for four consecutive years. Apart from successful performances for Belarusian and Russian clubs in various European competitions Vladimir Veremeenko (208-F-84) has a wealth of international experience at both junior and national team levels. While chances that the player will sign the contract as early as this summer, the current contract with Dynamo remains in force at the moment.
Belarus 82-59 over Slovakia in basketball qualifier
Belarus made sure the race to Group B supremacy remained wide open with an 82-59 home triumph at home over Slovakia. Since dropping their first game at home to the Netherlands, Belarus have beaten Albania and now the Slovaks, who are 2-2. Great Britain faces Belarus on Saturday.
Belarus - Slovak Republic 82-59 (21-13, 22-16, 13-10, 26-20)
Belarus: Korshuk 19, Ulyanko 11, Koul 10, Kudrautsau 10, Kuchinsky 7.
Slovak Republic: Toya 18, Gavel 14, Melus 8, Micka 6, Soska 6.