CIS Summit, Indiana/Belarus, Problems for Union State, Holocaust monument defaced, Military, Skrabets released, Blogs, Sports
From the Top
Minsk ready for CIS presidential summit
From: NLIPRB and Belta
Minsk has been ready to host a summit of CIS presidents for quite some time already. The Belarusian side made the statement during the Moscow meeting of Belarus and Russia presidents, Alexander Lukashenko told today’s government session, which dealt with the provision of the country with energy resources.
Belarus president stressed, during the meeting with Vladimir Putin on November 10 four groups of issues were addressed. “The first one included preparations for the CIS presidents summit to be held in Minsk on November 28. We discussed the readiness for the event, touched upon several points on the agenda and talked about problems of relations with several CIS states”, said Alexander Lukashenko.
In his words, the second group of issues represented “rather thorough consultations about international affairs”. “I informed the president of Russia about my latest contacts with foreign heads of state. In turn he informed me about his negotiations with foreign counterparts. We dedicated about an hour to discussing these issues”, noted Alexander Lukashenko.
The third and fourth groups dealt with the Union State development and the Belarusian-Russian trade and economic relations respectively, informed the president.
“But we did not stick ourselves to some particular issues. We discussed prospects, ways to build our relations in view of our having actually set up a single economic space and a customs union except for some problems which need to be addressed yet”, added the head of state commenting upon the two presidents’ discussion of economic affairs.
The CIS Executive Committee needs to develop contacts with working bodies of other international and regional organisations, especially subregional organisations in the Commonwealth’s space. Participants of a session of the council of CIS member-states’ plenipotentiaries to CIS charter and other bodies expressed the opinion. The session is taking place in Minsk today.
Belarus plenipotentiary Vyacheslav Kuznetsov stressed, “Contacts between subregional interstate institutions set up within the CIS, such as EurAsEC, the CSTO, the SES and GUAM are of special importance”. “We should pay more attention to activities of subregional organisations. By building up co-operation between their executive bodies and the CIS Executive Committee we reinforce positions of our own states in the Commonwealth”, he said.
The council of CIS member-states’ plenipotentiaries intends to ask the CIS Foreign Ministers Council to empower the CIS Executive Committee to establish contacts with working bodies of international and regional organisations.
Disagreements between Lukashenka and Putin come to light
As anticipated, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenka’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 10 ended in disagreement on the full range of issues discussed. In a highly unusual move, the Kremlin kept the publicity down to near-zero level after the presidential meeting, instead of papering over the differences as it does when they are manageable.
It was only three days later that Lukashenka recounted the Kremlin meeting to the assembled cabinet of ministers in Minsk (Belapan, Interfax, Charter 97, November 13). He turned down Putin’s proposals on energy deliveries, customs duties, and property transfers, which Moscow had publicly aired the preceding week to official Minsk’s indignation (see EDM, November 2).
Regarding gas, Putin and Lukashenka could only agree that Gazprom and the Belarus state gas transport company Beltransgas would continue negotiations on the price of Russian gas to Belarus for 2007. Russia demands $140 per 1,000 cubic meters -- triple the existing price of $46.68 -- and wants 50% ownership of Beltransgas in lieu of payment. Lukashenka not only ruled out the stated new price, but also countered by telling Putin that Beltransgas is worth $10 billion to $12 billion, and any transfer of its assets to Gazprom must proceed from that valuation.
Lukashenka’s new valuation of Beltransgas (based, he said, on the German valuation of the Czech gas transport system) would seem to rescind an earlier, informal Moscow-Minsk agreement to accept the Dutch ABN AmRo Bank’s valuation of Beltransgas. Officially, both sides had selected the Dutch bank to appraise Beltransgas, but there seems to be no binding agreement to accept that appraisal. The bank is now expected to issue an upper-end estimate of Beltransgas’s value at $3.5 billion. However, Lukashenka (by his account) told Putin in the Kremlin that he would only take the Dutch bank’s appraisal into consideration as one among others, along with Minsk’s own, “market-based” valuation.
Regarding oil deliveries, Putin as well as the Russian ambassador in Minsk, Alexander Surikov, had recently threatened publicly to terminate the existing arrangement, which is highly favorable to Belarus. Under this arrangement, based on existing taxation mechanisms on both sides, Belarus is massively importing Russian crude oil at a substantial discount, refining it in Belarus, and exporting the refined products with high profits. When Putin said during the Kremlin meeting that Russia would impose taxes on oil exports to Belarus, Lukashenka -- invoking the [nominal] Union State agreements -- rejected any kind of taxation including on oil and insisted on identical crude oil prices for Russian and Belarus refineries. Belarus would simply decline to take Russian oil at higher prices, Lukashenka warned.
Official Minsk probably has some leverage in this regard. With Russia badly short of refining capacities, some oil producing companies rely on the Navapolatsk and Mazyr refineries in Belarus and would probably ask the Russian government to take official Minsk’s position into account on the issue of crude oil deliveries.
Controversy flared up unexpectedly during the Kremlin meeting over sugar deliveries from Belarus to Russia. The Russian side suspects that some of that sugar is made elsewhere from cane and sold to Russia under preferential arrangements reserved for beet sugar from Belarus, undercutting Russia’s own producers. Moscow now proposes annual quota limits on sugar imports from Belarus. “What’s the matter, is sugar from Belarus less sweet to you?” countered Lukashenka, back in Minsk, rejecting any quota. Prior to the Kremlin meeting, Russian authorities had blocked some 200 railroad cars and trucks carrying sugar from Belarus, and the latter retaliated by blocking a 12-truck Russian convoy en route to Kaliningrad via Belarus.
Recounting this situation to the cabinet meeting, Lukashenka instructed the head of the State Customs Committee, Alexander Shpilyavsky, to prepare for possible retaliation against Russian transit: “If Russia continues to impose restrictions, we must take commensurate steps….Some 100 million tons of Russian cargoes are crisscrossing Belarus. This is huge transit, and we wouldn’t want to take certain actions.” He then warned in Moscow’s direction: “Would you like us to check every [Russian] truck at the [Russia-Belarus] border? In that case, the waiting line of your trucks would be stretching from Smolensk to Moscow” (Interfax, November 13).
Shortly before the Kremlin meeting, Lukashenka had received Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in Minsk and went on to visit Iran on November 5-7. Official Minsk is actively seeking non-Russian supplies of energy and considering the possibility of transit routes for such supplies to Belarus via Ukraine. It is a very long shot, but it reflects the collapse of official Minsk’s confidence in Moscow. The process was long in the making and received its final impetus from Moscow’s latest and continuing attempts to take over the economy of Belarus.
Belarus: artists interested or confirming interest for national final 'Eurofest'
Submissions keep reaching organizers of Belarus preselection "Eurofest". Already experienced national final performers as Alexandra Gaiduk, Georgiy and Dmitry Koldun (announced by the website of the singer), Litesound band, Corriana publicly announced their interest to enter competition. DaVinci band performing in Italian has decided to enter their newest radiohit "Arividerci" which is already rotating at Belarus radios, but is not breaking October 1 rule. Band Borneo from Gomel will enter with a song "Fingertips".
Still undecided remain Petr Elfimov, who is rumoured as favourite for 3 years in a row, never entering the selection, and Irina Dorofeeva. Angelica Agurbash also declared herself as undecided though mentioning that she is receiving many requests from her fans all over the Europe to enter Eurovision Contest again. Also esckaz.com managed to learn that some high profile Russian, Ukrainian and Moldovan singers also finished recording entries to be submitted to Belarus preselection. Head of organizing committee of Eurofest Mr. Tikhanovich stated that all these entries will be accepted and studied by jury on the similar grounds with entries from Belarus artists and composers. Submissions from foreign composers to the pool of songs are also welcomed by organizers. Esckaz.com reports that Russian singer Diana Gurtskaya has submitted new song "How Long" by Kim Breitburg and Karen Kavaleryan (Russia 2002).
The Belarusian national broadcaster (BTRC) has announced its national selection name. It's Eurofest 2007. Through this show BTRC will decide the representative in Helsinki's 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. Submission deadline has been set for November 20th and foreign authors can also submit songs. The professional jury selects 15 performers and songs for participation in the selection concert. At the same stage a song bank is created for further usage in the project. During the selection concert televoting and voting by jury select two or three performers for further preparation to ESC 2007. If the results of televoting are different from the opinion of the jury, then the performer with highest number of votes (according to the televoting) but not being selected by the jury as one of the two best artists, becomes the third participant of the Project as a candidate from viewers. The professional jury selects the song and performer for ESC 2007.
The newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussia is the official publication for placing all the information (in Russian) regarding the Project including these Rules, composition of the jury, results of all the rounds of the Project, etc. The information about the Project is also available on the official website of BTRC (www.tvr.by). Not later that December 1st 2006 the first round results are announced. Out of all the applications the organisers by means of a professional jury decision select the most appealing variants. The singers of these songs take part in live auditions in Minsk. Out of all the audition participants the commission selects 15 for the second round. The 2nd round Selection show (hereinafter referred to as Concert) is to take place in mid-December 2006. BTRC carries out the live or recorded broadcast of the Concert. The Concert consists of successive performances of the singers.
Holocaust Monument Desecrated In Minsk
From: Playfuls.com, RFE/RL, Jpost, American Chronical, Itar-Tass
Vandals desecrated the memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Minsk, Belarus, painting a swastika in the center of it and scattering leaflets that warned against “enemies and traitors of our Fatherland,” a Jewish leader said Monday. In the incident overnight, attackers also threw white paint on sculptures that are part of the memorial – called Yama, or ‘The Pit’ – in the center of Minsk, said Yakov Basin of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Social Organizations and Societies.
The memorial honors the estimated 800,000 Jews who were killed in Belarus by the Nazis.
The Interior Affairs Department in Minsk said that a leaflet from "The Front of Aryan Resistance White Rus" was found near the monument, Interfax reported. The swastika was made with white paint along with words in what appeared to be Hebrew.
A source in the Interior Affairs Department told Interfax that an investigation is under way.
In August, the Yama memorial was covered with human waste and burned fragments of wreaths. That police investigation has yielded no result so far.
It was another act of vandalism staged at the WWII war memorial. The Yama memorial complex was built in 1946 to commemorate dozens of thousands of Jews who were killed by Nazis at the Minsk Ghetto during World War II. The memorial complex was reconstructed in 2000. In a previous incident in 2003 similar swastika and threats to Jews were painted on elements of the memorial complex.
The Israeli Embassy has made a statement in the connection with two anti-Semitic acts of vandalism committed in Minsk and has conveyed all the information about those acts to the Foreign Ministry of Belarus. The Israeli Embassy hopes that Belarusian mass media would launch a wide campaign of protest against such occasions which are not tolerable in a civilized democratic society.
At the end of the last week swastikas and slogans "Beat the Jews!" were painted on the façade of Israeli Information and Cultural Center.
We consider this act of vandalism a manifestation of anti-Semitism and a provocation of ethic discord. We are hoping that state authorities would give an appropriate opinion to those actions, and hope that the Belarusian authorities would take most effective measures for detection, detention and punishment of culprits", - the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations stated.
On the International Day Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, marked on November 9, 2006 a remembrance rally was held in Minsk. Several dozens of Belarusians gathered at 7 p.m. at Jubileynaya Square near the metro station "Frunzenskaya" and marched to the memorial "Yama", the place of the last mass shooting of Minsk ghetto Jews. They laid flowers, placed candles to the monument and observed one minute's silence in remembrance of the victims.
Belarus to Face Life Full of Sugar
Chiefs of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Orlov Region and Penza Region addressed Russia’s Premier Mikhail Fradkov, urging him to introduce compensation duties on importing sugar from Belarus and toughen control over sugar supplies from that state. More likely than not, the address will accelerate imposing 8.1-percent customs duty on Belarus sugar for three years starting from 2007.
Leaders of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Orlov Region and Penza Region called on the government of Russia to establish order on national market of sugar. “The prices on domestic market of sugar are slumping. The price of producers lowered from 21 rubles/kg to 14 rubles/kg, i.e. below the prime cost of beet sugar,” the leaders informed the PM through a letter.
According to regional authorities, the key reason of decline is “growing deliveries of white sugar from Belarus.” “The import of Belarus sugar to Russia stepped up from 328,000 tons in 2002 to 401,000 tons in 2005.” The amount would reach 500,000 tons, should no restrictive measures be taken.
Russia imported 2.139 million tons of raw sugar and 83,600 tons of white sugar from January to September of this year, according to Federal Customs Service. 2005 import amounted to 2.893 million tons of raw sugar and 144,000 tons of white sugar. But the data doesn’t take into account the sugar of Belarus.
The timing of regional leaders’ address is perfect. In late October, Economic Development and Trade Ministry of Russia submitted to cabinet the draft ruling, which suggests introducing compensatory duty on import of Belarus’ sugar in amount of 8.1 percent of the customs value but no less than $39.5 per a ton.
US Human Rights Record Comes Under Scrutiny at UN
From: Pensa Latina
United Nations, Nov 14 (Prensa Latina) The draft resolution "Situation of democracy and human rights in the United States of America" is about to be introduced in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, says a press release distributed here.
The draft is authored by Belarus and has appeared in response to the US-initiated draft on the human rights record in Belarus.
The draft initiated by Belarus focuses on human rights violations in the United States that have been largely scrutinized and publicly criticized by major human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The document also addresses concerns raised by various regional organizations over the US electoral system and secret detention practice.
The draft urges the United States to stop violations of human rights and suggests certain recommendations on how to improve its system of human rights protection.
A similar document was introduced by Belarus in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, a subsidiary body dealing with human rights, two years ago.
This year's document will be introduced in the Third Committee and further acted upon, including possible voting by Member States, before the completion of the Committee's programme of work on 22 November 2006.
Agreement on single anti-aircraft system of Belarus and Russia can be signed in Brest
An agreement on the single anti-aircraft system of Belarus and Russia can be signed at the next meeting of the council of defense ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization member states, scheduled for November 23 in Brest, commander of the air forces and anti-aircraft troops of Belarus Lieutenant General Oleg Paferov told a press conference in Minsk today.
The documents on establishing the single anti-aircraft system were considered in October this year at a meeting of the joint board of the defense ministries of the two states and now are being coordinated by the two countries, Oleg Paferov said.
According to him, an important aspect of the draft agreement is that the commander of the single anti-aircraft system of Belarus and Russia will settle issues on the use of the forces and means of the system on his own and in the shortest possible time. At present this aspect should be approved by the presidents of the two states.
TXN: Texas Instruments strengthens commitment to Russian-speaking markets with dedicated support structure
From: Technology News
Building on its commitment to provide innovative semiconductor solutions to fast growing markets, Texas Instruments (TI) [NYSE: TXN] announced today that it is providing new levels of support to Russian-speaking markets to extend its local customer service. The enhanced technical service and support structure includes a local representative office in Moscow, a dedicated website and live technical information and support on a local phone number from its European Product Information Center (EPIC) - all in Russian language.
With current growth levels in the electronics industry reaching 20 percent in Russian-speaking markets according to WSTS, countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan promise sustained business opportunities for the semiconductor industry. TI has already been supporting these markets for over nine years, and is now taking its commitment to the next level with local-language resources and support specifically targeted at design engineers in the region.
TI has created a Russian-language website at www.ti.com/ru to offer the Russian-speaking engineering community information on TI's digital signal processor, high-performance analog, logic, linear and microcontroller products and solutions as well as details of Russian-language training sessions. The website also provides information on specific application solutions and the list of TI distributors throughout the region from whom customers may obtain technical support services, as well as from TI's representative office in Moscow.
"At TI we have a long-standing strategy of being close to our customers, a very important part of which is being able to offer direct local support. We are pleased to use this new opportunity to pursue that strategy, so that we can even better understand customers' needs and offer solutions tailored to their specific design requirements," said Jean-Francois Fau, TI President Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA).
For the past ten years, through its University Program, TI has been supporting the most influential universities in Russia with access to leading-edge technologies such as Digital Signal Processing and ultra low-power microcontrollers. Today there are 46 "DSP Labs" in Russia, four in Belarus and ten in Ukraine. Last year, in Moscow and Novosibirsk, TI ran hands-on workshops for academic DSP users helping to support and accelerate the adoption of TI technology by the industry.
In 2007, TI will hold its industry-renowned Developer Conference in Moscow for the second time, dedicated to providing design engineers and managers in the region with targeted, technical training and information in a variety of application areas, and enabling them to find optimal solutions for their application designs.
U.S. inspectors to visit Belarusian military unit
From: Interfax, OSCE.org
U.S. military inspectors are to visit a Belarusian military unit in November, a source at the Belarusian Defense Ministry press service told Interfax.
"A U.S. inspection team led by James McCoy will visit Belarus on November 13-16 in conformity with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)," the source said.
"They will choose a military unit liable for inspections under the CFE Treaty," he said.
"The inspection will verify the amount of armaments and military hardware declared by Belarus in its annual reports and its compliance with the CFE limitations," the source said.
The CFE Treaty, which was signed in November 1990 and entered into force in 1992, provided for significant cuts in conventional military arsenals of NATO and former Warsaw Pact States. Since it entered into force, more than 60,000 battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters have been disarmed.
Although not an OSCE document or event, the CFE was negotiated in parallel with talks among participating States of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe - the OSCE forerunner - on confidence-building measures.
The Treaty provides a system of limitations, known as ceilings, and ensures military transparency through mandatory notification of certain military activities and holdings. A review conference is held every five years.
As the Treaty was originally designed to provide military security and stability in Europe by ensuring parity between NATO and Warsaw Pact in conventional armaments and equipment, the changed environment after the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and NATO enlarged in the 1990s gave rise to the need to adapt it.
An Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty was signed by all States Parties in Istanbul in 1999. The Adaptation Agreement, which has been ratified by four states so far, provides for a system of national and territorial ceilings instead of the former East-West group structure. Until all 30 States Parties have ratified the Agreement, the original CFE Treaty remains in effect.
Iran discusses North Azadegan development with Belarus: NIOC
Iran and Belarus are in discussions on development of the North Azadegan
oil field, the National Iranian Oil Company said on Sunday.
"Iran has held talks with a recently visiting delegation from Belarus on development of two onshore oilfields of North Azadegan and Jofeyr," NIOC's managing director, Gholam Hossein Nozari, was quoted as saying by the energy news agency Shana.
North Azadegan, located in southern Iran, has estimated reserves of around 33 billion barrels of heavy crude oil in place. The field is expected to yield 110,000 b/d of crude oil with an API gravity of 20 in the first phase of development, rising to 150,000 b/d on completion of the second phase.
Jofeyr oil field, located near the Iran-Iraq border, is expected to produce 30,000 b/d after development.
Iran and Belarus signed an oil ooperation agreement on November 7 in
Tehran. Nozari said at the time that Belarus was also interested in exploration and development of Iran's onshore oil blocks.
Syarhei Skrabets Released
From: Charter '97
Today night Syarhei Skrabets, a political prisoner, has been released from a penal colony Vutsba-3 after a year and a half of imprisonment. Syarhei Skrabets was convicted on February 14, 2006 in charges relating defrauding loans from the state. He was sentenced to an imprisonment for 2.5 years. The former deputy hadn’t pled guilty.
Human rights activists consider the verdict to the former deputy to be politically motivated. In summer 2004 he took part in the hunger strike of the “Respublika” deputies, who demanded democratization of the Electoral Code, and release political prisoners. He also was an organiser of a protest action timed to the end of a 10-year Lukashenka’s rule in July 2004.
In October Skrabets was amnestied, and his term of imprisonment reduced by one year.
Syarhei Skrabets and Alyaksandr Kazulin went on a hunger strike of protest on October 20, 2006. S. Skrabets expressed his support to demands of Alyaksandr Kazulin for the UN Security Council to consider the situation in Belarus.
During the hunger strike of protest the former candidate for presidency in Belarus, a political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin lost 17 kilograms of weight. He started the hunger strike on October 20 in a penal colony Vitsba-3. Journalists have been informed about that by a political prisoner Syarhei Skrabets released from Vitsebsk colony today at night.
As said by Syarhei Skrabets, Kazulin “has become very weak, but he is strong in spirit”.
China denies web controls
The Chinese government said Wednesday that accusations by a press freedom group that it was one of the worst culprits of systematic online censorship were "groundless" and that its citizens could freely access the Internet.
China was one of 13 countries singled out by Reporters Without Borders in a 24-hour online protest against Internet censorship. The others were: Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
"We find these accusations groundless," said an officer at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson's office who declined to be named according to department policy.
"The Chinese enjoy free access to the Internet and they can have the information they need. Currently, the information the Chinese people get is far more than before the introduction of the Internet in this country."
China has the world's second-largest population of Internet users after the United States, with more than 123 million people online. Though the communist government promotes Internet use, it also has set up an extensive surveillance and filtering system to prevent Chinese from accessing material considered obscene or politically subversive.
The government said its management of the Internet complied with international standards.
"As in other countries, the Internet is managed according to international standards, the law, and the self-management of Internet service providers," the Foreign Ministry duty officer said.
But the Paris-based group, Reporters Sans Frontieres in French, said in its annual report that out of 61 people worldwide who have been imprisoned for posting what the countries claimed was "subversive" content, 52 were in China.
Earlier this year, the Chinese government denied that anyone has been arrested for Internet postings, despite a series of dissidents jailed in recent years for online comments criticizing corruption and calling for democratic change.
"No one should ever be prevented from posting news online or writing a blog," said the group, which taps more than 100 journalists who are "keeping us informed."
The cyberspace demonstration was advertised in Manhattan _ in Times Square and in Bryant Park _ on truck-transported billboards. As of Wednesday morning, 17,000 people had registered their protest on a so-called Internet enemies map, according to the group, which also said the protest website would remain open for a few more days.
The 13 countries "censor and block online content that criticizes them," the organisation said in defining its protest. "Multinationals such as Yahoo! cooperate with the Chinese government in filtering the Internet and tracking down cyber-dissidents."
Reporters Without Borders said it obtained a copy of the verdict in the case of Jiang Lijun, sentenced to four years in prison in November 2003 for his online pro-democracy articles in China. Reporters Without Borders said that the search engine company Yahoo! Inc. had helped Chinese police identify him.
In a statement, Yahoo! said: "We continue to employ rigorous procedural protections under applicable laws in response to government requests for information, maintaining our commitment to user privacy and compliance with the law."
In Cuba, Reporters Without Borders said, the government "ensures that there is no Internet access for its political opponents and independent journalists, for whom reaching news media abroad is an ordeal."
The punishment for writing "a few counterrevolutionary articles" for foreign websites can be years in prison, it said.
Reporters Without Borders said it tracks cases of online repression in various ways, including through court cases and reports of arrests by family and friends.
The nonprofit group, founded in 1985 by French journalist Robert Menard, is 70 percent funded by sales of its magazine, Reporters Without Borders For Press Freedom, which includes photos of journalists in jail. About 200,000 copies are printed three times a year.
Local Girl Makes good: Former attorney in Belarus owns business in U.S.
When Tatiana Melnichak came to Indiana from Belarus five years ago, she came with no money, no knowledge of the English language, a husband, their 5-year-old son and mixed feelings.
On one hand, she was scared of the unknown. She had no family in the United States and no inkling of the country's geography.
On the other hand, the move represented a new adventure: a chance to experience the American lifestyle.
Melnichak will discuss her journey to Indiana and how she copes as an immigrant Friday at an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, event, "Immigration in Indiana: Real Life Diversity."
Sponsored by the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication and International Center of Indianapolis, the program will cover topics such as the economic impact of immigrants in Indiana, language, and culture and education issues in schools and professional settings. The event also was designed to foster immigrant business ownership.
Melnichak is co-owner of Slaviansky Bazar Inc., an Eastern European grocery store at 12540 N. Meridian St., Carmel.
"My first impression of the U.S. was that it was a country where everyone could come to do something with their life," said Melnichak. "Freedom."
Owning a business was not easy for Melnichak.
It came at a cost.
Melnichak, 35, was an attorney in Belarus and worked in the local government. Up until her arrival in Indiana, she said she lived a pretty comfortable lifestyle.
Melnichak had not even considered coming to the United States until she saw an advertisement in a Belarus newspaper calling for applicants for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery, a government program.
Once she was chosen, she paid $500 to the company that advertised the lottery so she could get her green card, which would allow her to immigrate to the United States. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission considers such fees illegal because people can get green cards by simply winning the lottery, which Melnichak did not know.
Indiana became her destination after she contacted an old classmate who lived here and convinced her to move.
After her arrival in July 2001, Melnichak became a cashier at a local Target store and a part-time cleaner at a beauty salon. She then went on to become a cook at the Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel. Her husband Vladimir, a truck driver and computer tech in Belarus, became a construction worker.
"It was a hard winter," said Melnichak of their first year here.
Melnichak said she didn't leave her country for a better life and she didn't leave for political reasons.
She wants to dispel any stereotypes people may have of immigrants coming to this country.
So she used her legal skills to open a business. With the help of the Indiana Small Business Development Center, she secured a $94,000 loan.
Now, Melnichak said her goal is to reach out to American customers interested in Eastern European foods.
"There are a lot of ideas in my head; my head is swollen," said Melnichak, describing her business plans.
Cranky Conference and Impractical Intellectuals
From: TOL Blogs
Over the weekend, a strange conference on Belarus was organized in Warsaw. The topic was “The Geopolitical Place of Belarus in Europe and the World.” The organizer and venue was the Institute of Civic Space & Public Policy at the Lazarski School of Commerce and Law. The event brought together a weird mix of Belarusian think tankers, Western political scientists and Polish graduate students to discuss topics such as “Belarus as a Geographical Pariah,” “Political Discourse: Belarusian Style,” Are There Belarusians in Belarus (The Question of Belarusian Identity)?” and “Giedroyc and the Tradition of Civil Society in Belarus.”
I thought the best presentation was made by David Marples, Professor of History at Alberta University in Canada and a leading western expert on Belarus. In general, however, the conference was marked by foreigners and Belarusians talking past each other, an excessive focus on Lukashenka the person, a lack of understanding about Belarus’ history, and little focus on the future. There were too many Belarusian political scientists, and not enough civic activists, present. Many of those invited failed to show up, including all of the older Belarusian academics.
The conference was generally unsuccessful because of the strong divide between academics and practitioners, on both the foreign and Belarusian sides. In regard to the western participants, I was surprised at the lack of real knowledge or understanding about Belarus, both past and present. With the Belarusians, I was again reminded of the unfortunate tendency of think tankers to be totally critical of Belarusian reality, especially the opposition, and devoid of constructive ideas and suggestions for coping with the challenges posed by Lukashenka and Europe’s last dictatorship.
Part of the problem lies with the fact that, unlike in the Soviet bloc dissident movements of the 70s and 80s, leading academics are not directly involved in the Belarusian democratic opposition (though Mr. Kazulin and Mr. Milinkevich both have academic credentials, they are not in the same league as Sakharov, Michnik, Kis or Kusy). While a new generation of young academics from Belarus is now active in independent think tanks in- and outside of the country, most are only commenting on the opposition rather than directly taking part in it. Where are the Belarusian academics like Geremek, Landsbergis and Butora who were both advisors and leaders of opposition movements? Perhaps it is because of the regime’s tight control over educational institutes and the contract system, which forces many to choose job security over dissent. But the conference program also showed that many of the Belarusian presenters have already been forced to teach, study or work outside of Belarus, for example at the European Humanities University now located in Vilnius. It is a shame that many of these are still not committed enough to be directly active in the opposition.
This disconnect will try to be addressed by the conference’s host, the Institute of Civic Space, which was established to focus on the long and unique tradition of citizenship and civic society that existed on the territory of the Commonwealth of Many Nations, including Belarus, from the 16th century. The Institute plans to create a Center for Belarusian Studies, which would not be another Polish think tank with academics writing on Belarus, but which would be a bridge between young Belarusian and Central European scholars and practitioners on civic society. The early prospects for the Institute and Center seem hopeful. Its first Belarusian staff includes the editor of a leading Belarusian independent political and cultural journal and a leader of a regional youth NGO. But unfortunately this conference failed to live up to the Center’s promise.
A RESPONCE TO TAMMY LYNCH ISCIP, BOSTON UNIVERSITY-
From: The mike's Vacation Blog
This article by Tammy Lynch (Lukashenka continues crackdown as EU rejects sanctions) should have been called the SAME TIRED PROPAGANDA
I was impressed by the amount of academic camouflage this particular
article has. Apparently Lynch is faculty at ISCIP, Boston College. ISCIP stands for Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology, and Policy. I encourage the reader to click on the ISCIP link and examine this web page and decide for themselves what branch of the US government supports and grooms and ultimately controls this "institute" at BU.
If you have now examined this link, I am sure we are in agreement
regarding Lynch's "academic" motivation to write this article.
Lynch attempts to invalidate the European Union's decision to not suspend Belarus from The Generalized System of Preference (gsp) by reminding the reader that Alexander Milinkevich recently won the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought, and 50,000 euros. Good job Sasha, you're buying tonight!
Lynch unskillfully accuses Belarus of weapons trading, and human trafficking by telling the reader that in addition to those concerns the EU has voted to freeze the assets of Belarusian Leaders. Never mind that "freezing the assets" of Belarusian Leaders was an American idea, and you need to just forget about the fact that no "assets" have ever been found, kind of like they never existed at all. Sort of seems like America demanded to have Lukashenka's "assets" frozen knowing there were no assets to be frozen, but never mind that, it was a nice attempt at slander.
However, Lynch fails to remind the reader that Belarus is a leader in thwarting organized crime and human traffic, and that in addition to adhering to international norms in weapons sales, Belarus has not actually USED weapons on any other countries, unlike our own recent and dubious history of violently and criminally attacking IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN. (however I agree with the attack of Afghanistan-mm).
Lynch also fails to remind the reader that the U.S. is a giant exporter of war weapons, as well as civilian weapons. Lynch also fails to discuss any American culpability in the global human traffic problem, but lets not dwell on details here.
Lynch promotes trade sanctions against Belarus, but forgets to recommend trade sanctions against the US for our criminal actions in IRAQ and our criminal kidnapping and torture of persons from in Afghanistan and other countries as well. Interesting.
Lynch also attempts to lampoon and invalidate Polish, and Latvian, and Lithuanian opinions that oppose the same sanctions.
Instead Lynch supports the opinion of Alexander Milinkivitch who has repeatedly asked the European Union to penalize Belarus for its domestic and foreign policies. Now we all agree that Milinkivitch would never ask the EU to penalize Washington for its policies at home or abroad, after all, how could he bite the hand that fed him?
But Lynch fails to remind the reader that Milinkivitch didn't campaign with a platform of "When I lose I will petition for sanctions against
This fact is conveniently forgotten.
Lynch goes on to say that Russia is behind Polish, Latvian, and
Lithuanian support of their neighbor Belarus in this matter. Lynch proposes that Energy Politics are behind Russian influence of these countries. I guess when all else fails, we can always blame Russia, why not? I am really sorry to point out the painfully obvious, that ENERGY politics might be a large motivator in US foreign policy, because that would be just a bit too obvious a jab. But what the hell.
Lynch closes by telling the reader about Milinkivitch's harsh penalty of 15 days for attempting to STAGE A REVOLUTION when he lost the election to Lukashenka. She conveniently doesn't suggest the number of days being served in torturous conditions by persons kidnapped by the US government in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere, that fact would certainly be not relevant to Lynch.
Lynch has attempted to re-arrange some very loosely connected facts for the purposes of assaulting the Lukashenka Administration in Minsk.
But did I mention the footnotes at the bottom of the article? It gave this horseshit piece of propaganda a real intellectual feel.
Congratulations Tammy Lynch, The Genuine Academics and Intellectuals at BU must be very proud of you.
President: ice hockey development is given much attention in Belarus
Much attention is paid today in Belarus to the development of ice hockey, Alexander Lukashenko said November 14 during a meeting with Vladislav Tretiak, chairman of the committee for physical culture, sport and youth issues of the State Duma of Russia.
There was a time when very little attention was given to ice-hockey in Belarus. “The party leadership decided that Belarus was not to be an ice-hockey power and that ice-hockey should not be given much attention; the philosophy was like 'one ice-skating ring it quite enough',” the head of state said.
“We have taken a vigorous action to develop ice-hockey. We are constructing ice palaces and investing big money in it and we would like to see appropriate results,” he said.
Belarus is interested in learning from the experience of such a famous athlete as Vladislav Tretiak in training goalkeepers, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said today during a meeting with Vladislav Tretiak, chairman of the committee for physical culture, sport and youth issues of the State Duma of Russia.
The president has pointed to a high professional level of the world-renowned ice-hockey player and said, “There are no other such athlete in the world”. Vladislav Tretiak played over 300 official games for the national ice hockey team of the USSR. He is a 5-time winner of the title 'The best ice-hockey player of the USSR'. He is a many-time champion, silver and bronze winner of the world championships, triple winner of the Olympic Games and many-time champion, silver and bronze winner of the European championships.
The president said it would be great if Mr. Tretiak shared his enormous experience in the sphere of goal keeping with Belarus. It is challenging for any country to train a good goalkeeper, he added. “We would be happy if your knowledge, that you share in Russia, were used for the benefit of the Belarusian athletes too. It is by now means easy to be a good goalkeeper; it takes a lot of effort to become one. But we would like very much you, as a policy-maker and especially as a former player, to be closer to our country,” the Belarusian president said.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusians know, respect and praise Vladislav Tretiak. Vladislav Tretiak is a legendary man for many young boys and adults who like ice hockey in Belarus. “I am confident, in Belarus you are praised even more than in Russia. Although you work in Russia, you do not belong to Russia only. You are a man who was born, raised and who upheld the honor of the Soviet Union on the whole. This is why I think that you are our person as well,” the Belarusian leader said to Vladislav Tretiak.
Yuri Romanov wins EBU lightweight title
From: Boxing News
Belorussian lightweight Yuri Romanov, who lost to Graham Earl last time out but has wins over Bobby Vanzie, Steve Murray and Steve Conway, knocked out defending champion Juan Carlos Diaz Melero in the third to win the EBU title in Ciudad Real, Spain, November 11.
Romanov, 18-2, 12 KO’s, survived a heated battle and a knockdown in the third to get back up and knockout the previously undefeated European (EBU) Lightweight Champion, Melero, 31-1, 16 KO’s, in the same round. Ramanov captured the title and became the first European champion out of Belarus. Melero was unconscious for some time, but came through and left on his own two feet.