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Today's Headlines for:
Sunday, July 15, 2007

President inaugurateы BMZ seamless pipes shop, France: Belarus has travel potential, Russel Timshenko, Polish Spies, Bush, Chavez, UN and The Blogs

  • From the Top...
  • #221

    Quote of the day:

    "US President George Bush had better deal with the problems of his country: Iraq, other hot spots which they (the USA) have created and pay less attention to those countries where they try to support the opposition. These are investments in the country but they should be legal. In case of illegal actions these organizations will be closed down."
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko when speaking about the financial assistance which the non-governmental organizations of Belarus get from abroad.

    President of Belarus takes part in ceremony to inaugurate BMZ seamless pipes shop

    From: BelTA
    Alexander Lukashenko attending the launching ceremony of the hot-rolling complex at the BSW
    On Friday the 13th of July, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko took part in a ceremony to inaugurate a seamless pipes shophas at the Belarusian Steel Works (BMZ trademark).

    In 2007, BMZ is set to produce 2,27 million tons of steel, or three times up from 1995, and to generate $1,266 billion in profits.

    In 2007, BMZ plans to invest Br559 billion, of them Br312 billion into the construction of a pipe shop. In H1 this year, the company is set to launch large-scale reconstruction of the electric furnace steelmaking facilities.

    By starting the production of hot-rolled seamless pipes Belarus reduces its dependence on the import of these products. Due to the new production Belarus will also refuse from the import of several types of these pipes.

    “The production of steel seamless pipes is vitally important for Belarus. The Head of State was informed that every year the shop will manufacture up to 250 thousand tons of hot-rolled seamless pipes which can be applied both in the municipal economy and oil and gas industries. It will help Belarus reduce its dependence on the import of these products,” the Belarusian leader said. “We should mention an economic effect – profitability of ready products is rather higher than profitability of semi-finished products,” he noted.

    About 500 new jobs were created due to the new facility. The new production facility will be controlled by highly qualified personnel. Specialists took corresponding training courses in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy and China, Alexander Lukashenko added.

    Belarusian machine-tool plants took an active part in designing, manufacturing and assembling the pipe rolling shop.

    The companies Gomelpromstroi and Zhlobinmetallurgstroi made a considerable contribution to the creation of the pipe rolling shop.

    State will continue injecting funds in profitable and effective projects, Alexander Lukashenko says

    The state will continue injecting funds in profitable and effective projects such as the production of hot-rolled seamless pipes at BMZ.

    "Many construction projects are currently underway in Belarus, many of them are financed by private and foreign investors. The state funnels funds into the construction of social objects and facilities with a weak payback rate," the President underlined.

    According to Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus should pay more attention to the upgrade of existing productions rather than construction of new manufacturing facilities. “We should build only those plants which will process the feedstock we have such as Shklov Newsprint Mill,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

    “We have built many various facilities. Today we need to upgrade the current productions in order to make more profits,” the Belarusian Head of State underlined.

    Launching of pipe rolling shop is great contribution to technological advancement of Belarus

    The Head of State said that Launching of the pipe rolling shop at Belarusian Steel Works (BMZ) is a great contribution to the technological advancement of Belarus. In late 2004 he set forth the strategic task to bring the BMZ onto a new level both in terms of the product line and the level of processing of raw stock. The shop was designed, built and equipped in the shortest period – 2,5 years. There was a need to modernize the plant and extend its capacity by means of building a new manufacture equal in size to a large up-to-date industrial company, Alexander Lukashenko said.

    He added that the launching of new industrial and social-cultural facilities in the oblast and regional centres is the most convincing proof of the dynamic development of the country. An ice arena was opened in Zhlobin half a year ago. Today this is a new, more important event – the launching of the pipe rolling shop, Alexander Lukashenko said.

    BMZ pipe rolling manufacture to operate at full capacity by the end of 2007

    BMZ reported good results in 2006 and will reach its full capacity by the end of 2007. The sales surpassed $1 billion. In H1 2007 the company’s trade surplus reached almost $350 million. Last year the works implemented investment projects worth of $185 million. This is first of all the reconstruction of a mill 150 which helped increased the production capacity by 120 thousand tons of products a year. It is important that when implementing upgrade projects the company did not forget about ecological issues: investment in construction of eco-protection facilities amounted to Br15 billion, the President said.

    Alexander Lukashenko praised the company for paying attention to social issues. The state housing construction programme has been successfully underway. Over the last 1,5 years the company has investment around Br7,5 billion in residential construction. Almost Br7 billion was channeled in the purchase of up-to-date medical equipment for the outpatients’ department. The Head of State is sure that the example of Belarusian Steel Works is a convincing proof that the choice of the policy towards socially oriented economy was the right one.

    The President congratulated the personnel of the works on the coming professional holiday, the Day of Metallurgist, and wished them further success.

    Ambassador of France: Belarus has enormous travel potential

    From: BelTA
    Belarus has enormous travel potential, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Belarus Mireille Musso told a press conference in the national press centre on the occasion of the national holiday – Bastille Day.

    According to the diplomat, there are many beautiful places in Belarus, which could attract foreign tourists. Mireille Musso told reporters she had already visited Mogilev, Brest and Polotsk. Several days ago the French diplomat made a trip to Nesvizh and Mir and was admired to see how many efforts and funds Belarus funnels into the restoration of its historical and cultural heritage.

    "Competition is rather tough in travel business. Belarus will have to work hard to successfully present its travel potential in the international market," she added.

    France hopes for a dialogue with Belarus and for a dialogue between Belarus and the EU in general.

    "In the future the relations between Belarus and France should improve," the diplomat believes.

    Mrs. Mireille Musso welcomed the opening of a representative office of the European Commission in Belarus.

    France also hopes the EU will restore trade preferences for Belarus, and the discussion on this issue which is currently underway will have a positive outcome for Belarus.

    The diplomat hopes that “the political relations between France and Belarus and between Belarus and EU countries on the whole will reach the level they deservedly should be.”

    The French embassy plans to contribute to fostering business contacts between France and Belarus.

    At the same time she said that “the Belarusian-French trade-economic commission does not meet the economic realities.” In her opinion, the companies of the two countries should establish direct links. “We want the relations to develop at the level of enterprises, first of all,” she noted. The most important condition to attract foreign investment is stable legal and legislative environment, absence of bureaucratic impediments. Transparency of the operation of companies is equally important. The role of the state is to create the environment conducive to the interaction between partners of the two countries, the ambassador said. She assured she will invite French entrepreneurs to Belarus.

    Belarus-born New York City police officer who was shot in the face during a traffic stop dies

    From: IHT
    Russel Timshenko
    Belarus-born New York City police officer shot in the face during a traffic stop died, and the suspected gunmen are now facing first-degree murder charges, officials said.

    Russel Timoshenko, 23, died Saturday while on life support at Kings County Hospital from the gunshot wounds he suffered early Monday when he and his partner stopped a stolen sport utility vehicle in the borough of Brooklyn, according to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

    Timoshenko had been paralyzed, suffered brain swelling and was unable to breathe on his own. His partner, Herman Yan, hit in the chest and arm but saved by his bullet-resistant vest, was released from the hospital Tuesday.

    Three men who had faced attempted murder charges will be arraigned Monday on first-degree murder charges, Brooklyn prosecutors said. They include two 34-year-old ex-convicts captured this week in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and a third man accused of driving the getaway car, authorities said.

    "Officer Timoshenko made the ultimate sacrifice with unflinching bravery and dedication to duty," Kelly said. "We'll never forget him, and we're more committed than ever to seeing to it that those responsible for this crime are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

    Today in Americas
    Deal reported in LA church sexual abuse casesStreet gang emerges from Kurdish community in NashvilleMayor of Medellin brings architecture to the peopleTimoshenko's family emigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet republic of Belarus. They were by his side at the time of death, and a processional of officers, including Yan, filed past the body to pay condolences.

    By the time Timoshenko arrived at the hospital, he had been without oxygen for at least 15 minutes.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg also expressed his condolences to the officer's family.

    "While I can't know the anguish they are going through, I want Russel's parents Leonid and Tatyana to know their son was a hero," Bloomberg said in a statement. The mayor was out of town earlier Saturday, but met privately with Timoshenko's family at the hospital Saturday evening.

    Robert J. Ellis, Dexter Bostic and Lee Woods could all be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted of killing Timoshenko and wounding Yan, prosecutors said.

    Pennsylvania state troopers captured Ellis early Thursday morning in the Pocono Mountains, ending an intense manhunt that spanned three days and several states. Bostic was caught near the same remote spot on Wednesday.

    Investigators said the two had a friend slip them out of the city by car shortly after the shooting and leave them in the wilderness area.

    Authorities say Bostic and Ellis were riding in a stolen SUV driven by a third man, Lee Woods, when police pulled the vehicle over early Monday morning in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. As officers Yan and Timoshenko approached either side of the vehicle, Bostic shot Timoshenko in the face with a .45-caliber pistol, and Ellis fired on Yan with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, police said.

    But defense attorney Danielle Eaddy said Ellis was driving the car, not Woods, and insisted Ellis had not fired on the officer. The lawyer also accused police of assaulting her client after his arrest.

    Police spokesman Paul Browne denied police had abused the prisoner and said forensic evidence supported charges that Woods was the driver.

    Woods' attorney Patrick Michael Magaro has said there was nothing in the criminal complaint against his client to suggest Woods intended to harm the officers.

    Attempts to reach defense attorneys were unsuccessful Saturday.

    Belarus KGB claims arrest of five Polish spies

    From: M&C
    The Belarusian KGB on Friday arrested five spies working for the Polish government, a counterintelligence official told the Interfax news agency.

    All the suspects were Belarusian citizens, the official said, citing his status as a KGB agent as grounds for anonymity.

    A Minsk prosecutor is preparing charges against the detainees of 'wilfully providing secured state information to a foreign state ... with the goal of undermining the government,' the official said.

    The penalty for spying in Belarus is 15 years, unless loss of human life took place as a result of the espionage, in which case the penalty is death.

    The KGB announcement came after months of deteriorating relations between Minsk and Warsaw, a NATO state and one of the most active critics of authoritarian Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko.

    Lukashenko and most senior Belarusian officials are banned from travelling to NATO nations, and links between Belarus' economy and that of the European Union are marginal.

    Lukashenko has retaliated with crackdowns against Belarusian organizations believed by the KGB to be cooperating with NATO nations towards removing him from office.

    Belarusian KGB raids recently have targeted evangelical Christian organizations and Polish ethnic societies - both, according to Lukashenko, long being used by Polish and other NATO secret services to undermine his regime.

    Lukashenko slams Bush for supporting Belarus opposition

    From: Ria Novosti
    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sharply criticized Friday the U.S. administration for continuing support of the opposition in Belarus and suggested that the U.S. president should deal with his own problems.

    "U.S. President George W. Bush should resolve his own problems - Iraq, other hot spots that they [the Americans] created, and pay less attention to the countries where they are attempting to support the opposition," Lukashenko said during a visit to a metallurgy plant in Belarus.

    President Bush signed into law January the Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act tightening sanctions against Belarus, and reauthorizing funding for independent media and democratic groups opposed to the authoritarian government in the former Soviet republic.

    The document authorizes over $27 million in assistance for each fiscal year, 2007 and 2008, for democracy-building operations, such as support for non-governmental organizations, including youth groups, independent trade unions, entrepreneurs, human rights defenders, independent media, democratic political parties, and international exchanges.

    Lukashenko, dubbed by Washington as 'Europe's last dictator', said foreign financial assistance to Belarusian NGOs was a form of investment in the country and it had to be legal and transparent.

    "These are investments in the country, but they must be legal," the Belarusian leader said, adding that any NGO involved in illegal financial activities would be immediately closed down.

    Washington insists that the Belarusian government should release all political prisoners and liberalize the country's restrictive regulations governing freedom of expression and association.

    Venezuela-Belarus Go For Joint Projects

    From: Prensa Latina
    Venezuela will put up half a billion dollars in a joint or combined investment fund with Belarus to finance their first bilateral projects, diplomatic sources said Friday.

    The fund will be a great way to move initial economic collaboration and trade ahead between the two nations, said Cesar Campos Cedeno, Venezuelan Embassy commercial consultant in Minsk.

    One such exchange will be 1,000 tons of powdered milk to Venezuela with 20 tons of coffee returning from Venezuela to the European nation.

    Caracas also will exchange with Belarus on technology transfer, contribution of human resources and intellectual capital, as well as experience in areas like gasification of the country, the diplomat pointed out.

    Creation of the investment fund was analyzed in Caracas meetings between the Venezuelan party and an extensive Belarusian delegation, led by the National Security Council Secretary of State Viktor Sheiman.

    Caracas and Minsk signed cooperation documents for energy, automobiles, petro-chemistry, machinery and the scientific-technical and military fields, among others.

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who will visit Venezuela this year, regarded bilateral links between his country and Venezuela as strategic, during the visit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Minsk in June.

    National Bank: inflation in Belarus will not to exceed 8% in 2007

    From: NLIPRB
    Today President of Belarus met with the Chairman of the Board of the National Bank, Piotr Prokopovich, to receive his regular report. The inflation in Belarus will not exceed 8% in 2007, Piotr Prokopovich said during the meeting, BelTA has been told in the presidential press service.

    The country has met the H1 Consumer Price Index targets. During the period under review the index increased by 3.6%. According to Piotr Prokopovich, the stability of the prices and national currency allows the country to promote economic development today and in the mid-term perspective.

    The President has been also informed about the operation of the national payment system, the interest and credit policy.

    Piotr Prokopovich praised the operation of the national banking system in H1. He noted that in the future the National Bank of Belarus will continue working on reaching the main targets of 2007.

    In a related story, Belarus’ gold and foreign currency reserves will soon reach $3 billion, Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus Piotr Prokopovich informed Belarusian Head of State Alexander Lukashenko today.

    As BelTA was told in the presidential press service, Alexander Lukashenko was informed about the performance of the Belarusian banking system in H1 2007.

    For the six months of the current year Belarus’ gold and foreign currency reserves grew by $1.189 billion against the same period of 2006 and reached $2.942 billion. Currency proceeds upped by 19.8%. According to Piotr Prokopovich, it testifies to the stability of the national currency rate.

    UN rights body: Cuba, Belarus don’t need special monitors

    From: People's Weekly World
    The UN Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva mid-June, voted unanimously that neither Cuba nor Belarus need “human rights rapporteurs,” special UN investigators who look into alleged human rights abuses.

    The Bush administration responded to the vote with outrage, threatening to withhold the U.S. portion of funding from the HRC. The United States is unlikely to do so, however, in that, according to the UN’s rules, a nation that does not meet its financial obligations loses its standing in the General Assembly.

    The vote came in the context of compromise efforts to adopt new rules for the recently constituted council.

    “The decision to terminate the politicized mandate of the so- called ‘special rapporteur on Belarus,’” said Andrei Popov of Belarus’ ministry of foreign affairs, “is a convincing demonstration by the council of its capacity to be guided in its work by the principle of constructive international dialogue and cooperation in human rights.”

    Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters that the council’s action was “an act of justice” that deprives Washington of a platform for manipulating the human rights issue to defame Cuba and its achievements. He said it also undermines the U.S. pretext for its decades-long blockade of the island.

    Perez Roque expressed gratification that European nations supported the decision despite their recent tendency to follow the U.S. lead regarding relations with Cuba.

    At the same time, a larger and still undecided issue looms over the debate. Controversy has erupted around the issue of singling out certain nations, considered human rights abusers, for special investigation and rapporteurs.

    The practice of producing country-specific resolutions is generally supported by the richer, more powerful states on the HRC, such as the European nations, as well as the United States, which is not on the council.

    Socialist China has lent its backing to poorer, developing countries who say that country-specific resolutions are a political instrument used to target countries that fall out of favor with the big powers.

    Those who oppose country-specific mandates argue that the practice of the new HRC, where each member’s status is reviewed every few years, should be extended to all the members of the General Assembly. Periodically reviewing the behavior of every UN member state, they argue, would ensure greater fairness.

    Some commentators have argued that the HRC’s policy of regularly reviewing each of its members is the reason why the U.S. chose not to run for a seat. The U.S. fears, commentators say, criticism for its pervasive practices of racial and gender discrimination. Others say the U.S. decided not to run because it feared it lacked the votes to get elected.

    The removal of Cuba and Belarus from the list represents a compromise. The European powers were aware that the majority of the world’s states consider allegations of human rights abuses in these states ridiculous, and agreed to remove them in a bid to make the process seem fairer.

    Popov, the spokesperson forBelarus, added that this decision is part of the “natural striving” by the new HRC to “consider human rights issues on the basis of universality, impartiality, fairness and non-selectivity as well as to exclude from its work any possibility of politicization of the human rights agenda and application of double standards.”

    The 47-member HRC, which includes representatives from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, replaced the similarly named UN Human Rights Commission in 2006.

    NASB signs contract for creating Belarusian space earth remote sensing complex

    From: BelTA
    On July 12, the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus /NASB/ signed in Minsk a contract for creating a Belarusian space earth remote sensing complex.

    The document was signed by the NASB and the federal state unitary enterprise – research company “All-Russian Research Electromechanics Institute with the A.G. Iosifyan Plant”.

    The document was signed by First Deputy Chairman of the NASB Presidium Piotr Vityaz, First Deputy Chief Designer of the federal state unitary enterprise. Besides, the Russian company, which will take part in the project, belongs to Russia’s Federal Space Agency.

    “We will make every effort to create a new space earth remote sensing complex. This project is aimed at developing both Belarus and Russia and the Belarus-Russia Union State,” Piotr Vityaz said during the signing ceremony.

    Belarus starts , said today at a solemn ceremony of signing a contract for creating a Belarusian space earth remote sensing complex.

    According to Mikhail Myasnikovichhim, Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus /NASB/, creating a new spacecraft begins a new Belarusian cosmonautics development stage. A whole range of preparatory works has been done in this field in pursuance of the decree issued by the Belarusian Head of State. Belarusian and Russian scientists have drawn up necessary documents for this purpose. “It will not be only Belarusian spacecraft. It will be an absolutely new system on the whole – the spacecraft itself and ground control systems,” Mikhail Myasnikovich said. The Belarusian spacecraft will be more mobile than BelKA satellite, two times lighter and more efficient. It will meet all international standards, he noted.

    At present the NASB and Russia’s Federal Space Agency have signed a corresponding agreement to undertake obligations to help each other in completing the project. Russia does not have such a spacecraft, Mikhail Myasnikovich underlined. It means that both the sides have an opportunity to create a multi-purpose space group for space earth remote sensing and space information exchange, the Chairman of the NASB Presidium stressed.

    According to Mikhail Myasnikovich, the project BelKA provided for receiving information only on the Belarusian side and for transmitting it through the mission control center in Russia. This time all the tasks will be fulfilled directly in Belarus. It concerns information transmission and reception. The Russian infrastructure will not be used for this purpose.

    Belarus intends to take part in construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi, Belarusian leader says

    From: BelTA
    Belarus intends to take part in the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko told reporters today when visiting the pipe rolling shop at Belarusian Steel Works (BMZ).

    “The Olympic Games in Sochi is a good chance for Belarus,” the Belarusian Head of State said. First, there is a Belarusian sports center in Sochi. Second, Belarus will undoubtedly take part in the construction of the Olympic facilities there, Alexander Lukashenko underlined. “We will participate in tenders. I am sure that our Russian partners will offer us several big construction projects. Today we have many other ambitious plans. For example, this is the Venezuelan project which requires many specialists, workers and production facilities to be involved in,” the President underlined.

    At the same time the Belarusian side intends to continue building a sports center in Sochi. “In the near future I will meet with the President of Russia and will ask him to extend the construction area. It is a wonderful place, one of the most beautiful places in the world,” the Belarusian leader added.

    Belarus is also ready to cooperate with Europe in energy issues, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko told reporters today.

    “We proposed the European states to cooperate in ensuring safety of energy supplies. This is the main issue we should pay attention to. The negotiations in this field are underway,” the Belarusian leader said. “We do not ask European states to build anything in Belarus. The matter concerns the safety of the transport systems the Europeans need so much,” he underlined.

    At the same time Alexander Lukashenko took note of the heavy bureaucratism of “the European machine”. Bearing in mind the energy security issues and supplies of hydrocarbons via the Belarusian territory, Belarus will be getting more important for the European states, the Belarusian leader is confident.

    Belarus should focus on energy security issues in cooperation with the EU. When the Europeans propose Belarus a step-by-step strategy they bring some political colouring into cooperation saying that Belarus has wrong legislation, etc. We put a question: “Do not we have concrete cooperation themes?” “Or the Europeans have been got caught in an endless loop and do not see major problems?” asked the President. According to Alexander Lukashenko Belarus has been playing an important role as a barrier for drugs trafficking and illegal trade in arms. “We have done a lot for Europe in this sphere including for its energy security,” the Belarusian leader added.

  • Around the region...

    Russia pulls out of arms treaty in missile feud

    From: Chicago Sun Times
    Russia said Saturday it will suspend participation in a key European arms control treaty, halting NATO inspections of its military sites and no longer limiting the numbers of its tanks and other heavy conventional weapons.
    The move, threatened for months, added new tension to relations with the West already strained over U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe, Russian conflicts with its neighbors and Western criticism of Moscow's human rights record.

    Experts said the move was a symbolic gesture rather than a sign of Russian intent to build up forces near its borders. The Kremlin, they said, appeared to be expressing its dissatisfaction with the perceived U.S. domination of global affairs, and positioning Russia as an unyielding global player.

    The Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty was signed by Russian and NATO members in 1990, when Soviet and NATO troops faced off in Central Europe. It was amended in 1999 to reflect changes since the breakup of the Soviet Union, adding the requirement that Moscow withdraw its forces from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia.

    Russia has ratified the amended version and slowly moved to withdraw its forces in recent years. The United States and other NATO members have refused to commit to the revised treaty until the withdrawal is complete.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree freezing participation in the treaty that cited ''extraordinary circumstances ... that affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,'' the Kremlin said.

    U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe expressed disappointment with the Russian move, but added, ''We'll continue to have discussions with them in the coming months on the best way to proceed in this area -- that is in the interest of all parties involved and provides for security in Europe.''

    The treaty is seen as a key element of maintaining stability in Europe. It establishes limitations on countries' deployment of tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters and combat aircraft.

    Russian officials have protested U.S. plans to build an anti-missile radar site in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland, saying the U.S. system is aimed at its nuclear arsenal, and would upset the balance of strategic forces in Europe. The U.S. says the system is aimed at future nuclear threats from Iran.

    Alexander Golts, an analyst with the online publication Yezhenedelny Zhurnal, said there probably won't be a buildup of heavy weapons in European Russia, because the country faced no military threat and plans no attack. ''It doesn't make sense, and let's be frank, Russia has no resources for it,'' he said.

    Total unveils $5bn Russia investment

    From: Gulf Daily
    French energy company Total will invest more than $5 billion in Russia's vast Shtokman gasfield.

    Total and Russian gas giant Gazprom signed a deal yesterday to jointly develop the gasfield, in an apparent breakthrough for Russia-EU energy relations.

    CEO Christophe de Margerie said Total would invest "$4 to $5bn over several years" in the project's first phase, which will cost a total of $15bn.

    "Total made us the best offer, and that's why they're our partner," Gazprom's Gazprom vice-president Alexander Ananenkov said.

    "We are waiting for other good offers, or better offers than the ones we've gotten so far" from other foreign companies, who may yet join Total as minority partners, he added.

    Under the agreement, Gazprom will retain full ownership of the Shtokman licence and the extracted gas, as well as full marketing rights.

    Gas deliveries to Europe via pipeline are planned to start in 2013, and liquefied natural gas shipments should begin the following year, Gazprom said.

    Police arrest adviser to Polish president on suspected ties to cocaine deals

    From: IHT
    Artur Pilka
    Police on Sunday arrested an adviser to Poland's president, who has since been relieved of his duties, on suspicion of involvement in dealing cocaine, the justice minister said.

    Authorities arrested Artur Pilka, President Lech Kaczynski's adviser for sports issues, in connection with a larger investigation into a suspected drug dealer, Zbigniew Ziobro told reporters.

    Based on telephone calls, police discovered Pilka who they believe to be one of the dealer's main clients, Ziobro said. He added that prosecutors believe Pilka's involvement stretches from 2004-2007, and includes purchasing about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine.

    Pilka, who also serves as a vice president of the Polish Olympic Committee, could face charges of drug dealing and up to 10 years in jail if convicted, Ziobro said.

    The minister said that Pilka has denied the allegations of selling drugs, saying the narcotics were for his personal use only. Ziobro noted that the amount purchased was still enough to also be considered illegal.

    Presidential spokesman Maciej Lopinski said Pilka has been fired and that the president's office cooperated fully with the investigation.

    Visa error helped trafficker escape

    From: Stuff
    A Polish drug dealer escaped from New Zealand police at London's Heathrow airport during a detour caused because one officer did not have the correct travel documents, an official report reveals.

    Rafal Luczynski, 32, slipped away from two detectives while being deported to Poland early on the morning of October 12 last year. He was not handcuffed.

    The blunder embarrassed police and raised questions about the security of prisoners under escort overseas, though police said the escape was extremely rare.

    The commissioner ordered a report, which The Dominion Post obtained under the Official Information Act.

    It said Luczynski's prosecuting officer and a second detective sergeant already aware of his background were selected to escort him.

    Their trip included a three-hour stopover at a location the police have refused to name, then a two-hour stop at Heathrow where they arrived at 6am at Terminal 1 and explained to officials that they needed to catch a British Airways flight to Warsaw from Terminal 3 two hours later.

    Normally, they would have remained in a secure area.

    But because one of the officers did not have visa-free entry to Poland - known before they left New Zealand - they had to pass through immigration into the public area so the officer could re-direct his baggage to his eventual destination of Frankfurt.

    They went through immigration together then walked 20 minutes to Terminal 3.

    "Upon arriving in the crowded terminal a misunderstanding between the two escorting officers enabled Luczynski to walk off from the officers and pass through an external door," the report said.

    "As soon as the two officers noticed that he had walked off they gave chase, but on exiting the same door had lost sight of him."

    The report's author, Inspector Bill Peoples, told The Dominion Post the "misunderstanding" was a case of each officer thinking the other was watching Luczynski when neither of them was.

    "They were engaged in looking for signs of where to go and how to proceed back through immigration in a busy terminal. Their attention was taken away from having this person under their watch."

    The two officers were given a formal warning and counselling last month, he said.

    Mr Peoples said as far as he knew, Luczynski had not been recaptured.

    The review made seven recommendations on security, which Mr Peoples said had all been adopted.

    Police would not disclose the recommendations but said they related to officers' authority to act in foreign countries, the use of physical restraints, and obtaining assistance from transit countries.

    The report was written last November but released only yesterday, despite repeated requests.

    Arrested in 2000 for importing drugs, Luczynski fled home detention in June 2001. He was caught in April 2002 in New York and extradited.

    The following June, he was sentenced to 12 years' jail on charges related to importing $4 million worth of amphetamine. He served three and a half years before the botched deportation.

    Rabbi Accosted by Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

    From: Moscow News
    A group of about 20 people chanting Nazi slogans accosted a rabbi in central Ukraine, a Jewish community spokesman said Wednesday.

    Rabbi Shlomo Vilgelm was uninjured in the attack late Monday near the synagogue in Zhytomyr, about 140 kilometers (90 miles) west of Kiev, said Oleh Rostovtsev, spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine.

    Police have opened a criminal investigation into the incident, but did not comment on specifics.

    Rostovtsev criticized officials for not doing enough to discourage anti-Semitism in Ukraine, where there are some 100,000 Jews. He noted that police routinely classified attacks as cases of hooliganism -
    a lesser offense.

    Police denied allegations of anti-semitism on the force.

    Moldova says Ukraine’s threat to cut off electricity unrealistic

    From: Itar Tass
    Moldovan government officials believe Ukraine’s threat to cut off electricity supplies to this country is unrealistic, Industry and Infrastructure Minister Vladimir Antosii said Thursday as commented on the Ukrainian energy executives’ demand to pay 15% more for electric power supplied as of July 1.

    The demand means that Ukraine expects Moldova to pay 3 U.S. cents per kilowatt/hour. Officials in Kiev warned transmission of power to Moldova will be suspended if the government does not accept the proposal until next Monday.

    “Our power systems are synchronized and power lines delivering electricity to Ukraine’s Odessa region cross our territory, which means it’ ll also be blacked out,” Antosii said.

    He admitted however that the price of electricity should go up eventually.

    “We recognize the need for raising the fees, but let’s do it gradually over a period of, say, five years,” Antosii said.

    “If we fail to come to terms with Kiev, we’ll then buy electric power from the thermal power plant in the Dniester region or from Romania,” he indicated.

    Power generating facilities in Moldova proper meet only a third of the country’s demand for electricity.

    Before November 2005, Moldova purchased more than 50% of electric power from the thermal plant in the much-troubled breakaway Dniester region and the rest, from Russia in Ukraine. The Russian company Inter RAO EES that owns the Dniester plant raised the fee to 4.08 U.S. cents in November 2005, but the government in Chisinau did not agree to the increase and began to import the needed amounts of power from Ukraine.

  • From the blogs...

    South Africa Joins the Family of Totalitarian Nations

    From: Supernatural Blog
    South African Police in action
    South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has recently returned from a solidarity visit to that 'outpost of tyranny' Belarus. Of course this is not surprising: the South African government has on numerous occasions displayed a disturbing lust for oppressive regimes. But the Foreign Minister's warm embrace of Belarus, even by South African standards, seems extreme.

    Belarus has been rated as one of the most 'not free' places on the planet by human rights NGO Freedom House. Opposition leaders, journalists and human rights activists are routinely arrested and tortured. Belarus' president Alyaksandr Lukashenka maintains order with the use of KGB style secret police. Minority groups, such as ethnic Poles, have been singled out by Lukashenka's regime for particularly harsh abuse.

    In addition to general human rights abuses, Belarus is arguably one of the most anti-Semitic states outside the Muslim world. President Lukashenko is thought to be a neo-Nazi sympathizer. In a 1995 interview on Russian NTV he openly praised Hitler.

    'The history of Germany is a copy of the history of Belarus. Germany was raised from the ruins thanks to firm authority, and not everything connected with that well known figure, Adolf Hitler, was bad. German order evolved over the centuries and under Hitler it attained its peak.'

    Lukashenko's regime has also been accused by leaders of the Belarus Jewish community of being responsible for the destruction of Jewish holy sites. A football stadium was built on the site of the historic Jewish cemetery in the town of Grodno and synagogues have been demolished to build housing complexes and parking lots. Moreover, outspoken anti-Semites like Eduard Skobelev have been awarded national honours by the President. These actions have earned Belarus the admiration of many neo-Nazi groups. Lukashenko has been described on neo-Nazi websites as being "the only bulwark against the empire of the New World Order" (aka Jews).

    Given this background, it is alarming that Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma on her visit described South Africa and Belarus as being 'sister people' and called for a strengthening of 'our fraternal ties'. Areas of increased cooperation will include the Middle East conflict, nuclear non-proliferation and United Nations reforms. Thus it's not surprising that at the meeting with Dlamini Zuma, Lukashenko declared that South Africa had a central place in Belarus' foreign policy agenda to building up a 'new foreign political vector'.

    South Africa is clearly now part of the family of totalitarian nations. The only question that remains is whether they will try to keep their less savory relatives on the straight and narrow or will go along with their Hitler like plans.

    Russia Intends Withdrawal From Key Arms treaty

    From: News Hog
    The Russians have finally announced withdrawal from the key 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty in 150 days, citing non ratification of the amended treaty by NATO nations and U.S. wishes to build an ABM system in Eastern Europe which is simply a precursor to neocon-inspired plans for a full ABM Shield including space-based weapons. The system is thus a very real threat in the making to Russia's nuclear deterrent even if (as the Bush administration claim) it is truly intented as only being aimed at the to-date non-existant threat of a nuke-armed Iran. The trouble is, the neocon think-tankers who conceived this shield quite obviously intend it as being aimed at Russia's deterrent capabilities too and no amount of White House protestation can overcome what the Russians are reading from those think-tanks.

    Time magazine has a pretty good analysis of Putins's reasoning.

      Putin's "extraordinary circumstances" are clear: first, he says missile shield in Europe will see through entire Russia's defenses all the way to the Urals; Russia seeks to counter that, but the treaty stands very much in the way. Second, NATO countries have failed to ratify the treaty's 1999 amended version — a failure that Putin insists upsets the balance of forces in Europe. For their part, NATO countries hold that the amended version required that Moscow withdraw troops from Moldova and Georgia, which it hasn't completed, and refuse to ratify until Russia fully complies.

      ...Vladimir Ryzhkov, a democratic opposition leader and a rare independent member of the Duma, maintains that since the U.S. started this controversy by walking out of the ABM Treaty in 2002, there is a grain of truth in Putin's assertion that Russia was forced to respond. But Ryzhkov sees Putin's saber-rattling as "primarily an election year message to the country: 'Your leader won't budge, no matter who formally becomes next President'." Polls show that this line works, Ryzhkov says: the Russians really buy it.
      In other words, Putin sees no conflict on this issue and the populace agreeing with him is just another plus. Russia must protect its national interest against a U.S. administration which it sees, with good reason, as being inimical to a stable balance of power which has lasted decades.
    Time also explains how Russia is likely to counter the threat to it's deterrent power.

      There is wide speculation that Putin's idea of "immediate measures" will be to build up its forces in border areas now that it is free of the CFE treaty. Last month, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who increasingly positions himself as Putin's hawkish potential successor, said that Russia would deploy its newly tested Iskander-M cruise missiles in is westernmost Kaliningradsky region, wedged among Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, unless the U.S. scrapes its defense shield bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Ivanov's threats only infuriated Poland and made Lithuania consider asking the U.S. for deploying its ABM on its soil as well. However, cruise and new MIRVED ICBM missiles, promised to be re-targeted on Europe, are not the only ace up Putin's sleeve. Other measures, like troop build-ups along southern borders in the Caucasus, new pressures on Ukraine to maintain the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea beyond the 2017 withdrawal deadline, and a refusal to leave Moldova are all in the offing among other measures.
    The Bush White House has unilaterally pulled out of several treaties - saying the U.S. would no longer be bound by any treaty when, in the administration's opinion, the national interest was no longer served by compliance. To have officials from that White House criticize Russia for doing the very same thing smacks of more than a little hypocrisy. Thus, by attempting to overturn the most crucial military balance of the last 60 years and by providing precedent aplenty that great powers need not abide by their word except when it suits them to do so, the Bush administration and their neocon WormTongues have yet again helped make the U.S. and the world less secure.

    tzedek, tzedek, tirdof

    From: Erica's Blog
      “Kings County Hospital doctor Robert Kurtz said the activity in the officer’s brain had ceased. ‘And that’s death in New York state,’ he said…By the time Timoshenko arrived at the hospital, he had been without oxygen at least 15 minutes. ‘From the second those bullets hit, he was unable to breathe and unable to move a muscle in his body,’ Kurtz said.”
    For the past week I had been following the developments surrounding the shitstains who shot two police officers in Brooklyn, one of whom, Herman Yan, escaped with his life, the other, Russel Timoshenko, just died yesterday.

    I cannot begin to imagine the anguish his parents, immigrants from Belarus, are going through, having to bury their 23-year-old son, but my thoughts and prayers are with them, as are, doubtless, the entire city’s.

    As for the uncivilized beasts who committed this crime…for them I just hope the wheels of justice move swiftly. These swinesuckers hardly deserve to savor the privilege of enjoying God’s greatest gift a single second longer.

    tzedek, tzedek, tirdof

    Justice, justice,

    shall you pursue.

    – Deuteronomy 16:20

    United States to Spend $4 Million on Civil Society in Russia, Belarus and Balkans

    From: Robert amsterdam
    The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the U.S. State Department has opened up an invitation for civil society organizations in Russia to apply for up to $4 million in grants to promote "programs that will (1) bolster media freedom; priority areas include journalist training, media monitoring, supporting networks of journalists covering high-risk topics, and objective information dissemination, and (2) and programs to support the advocacy, transparency, networking, and professionalism of the NGO sector in order to promote themes that advance democratic development and the promotion of human rights."

    The varying levels of funding dedicated to different regions of the world in this invitation reveal to some extent just how concerned the U.S. government is about press freedom in the respective countries. Four million dollars is rather paltry amount to spread across a territory as vast as Russia, Belarus, the Balkans, and Kosovo, especially compared to what is being dedicated to other areas (however Africa is virtually ignored). The big money ($6.4 million) obviously goes to Iran and Syria, and a totally disproportionate $3.65 million for programs in Cuba.

    Of course the ideal organization to carry out such a program of journalist training would be the Educated Media Foundation (EMF), but ever since the Kremlin launched its campaign against Manana Aslamazyan based on minor customs infractions, the civil society group has been shut down. Click here to read a recent letter to Vladimir Putin by the International Press Institute in defense of EMF.

    О "неуважительности" Папы

    From: kurt-bielarus.livejournal

    Но все это многообразие, подтверждающее возвращение некогда атеистической, почти уже языческой страны к Богу, подразумевает взаимоуважение верующих.

    Несомненно. А взаимоуважение верующих подразумевает четкое и честное понимание "в чем мы друг с другом согласны, а в чем - нет".

    (Иоанн Павел II) одним из первых понял, насколько важнее приверженности догме сохранение самой веры.

    Одно без другого не бывает. Иоанн Павел Второй был привержен догматам веры. Иначе бы сейчас не шел процесс его беатификации.

    Но важнейшим правилом этого диалога является отказ от абсолютной уверенности в собственной правоте

    Это как раз ключевая ошибка.
    Разве можно требовать от верующего отказаться от своей веры? Это "проявление взаимоуважения"?

    Нет, настоящий честный диалог - "Друзья, мы верим так, а вы - этак. Мы считаем, что вы ошибаетесь..." Вот это настоящий искренний диалог.
    И как раз такой диалог ведет Бенедикт XVI.

    А не "давайте считать, что то во что вы верим не имеет никакого значения".

    George W. Bush and the Rejectionists’ Greatest Hits

    Large offers and sturdy rejections are among the most common topics of falsehood”

    –Samuel Johnson

    Bush Rejects Claim Al Qaeda Is as Strong as It Was Prior to 9/11
    President Bush Rejects Climate Change Report
    Bush rejects appeal to halt bombing
    Bush Rejects Disaster Declaration On State Levees
    Bush Rejects Calls For Change On Iraq
    Bush Rejects Troops Pay Increase
    Bush rejects minimum experience to lead FEMA
    Bush rejects extending deadline for Medicare drug plan sign up
    Bush rejects law to protect journalists
    GOP Rejects Democrats’ Call For Independent Commission On Katrina Response
    Bush Rejects BET Offer to Address Black Americans
    Supreme Court rejects school racial diversity plans
    Bush rejects Republican protests on Iraq
    Bush rejects Blair plea over Heathrow open skies deal
    Bush rejects Belarus election results
    Bush’s Science Aide Rejects Claims of Distorted Facts
    Bush rejects any Iraq pull-out deadline
    Blair crumbles as Bush rejects aid for the poor
    Bush rejects delaying Iraq vote
    Bush rejects direct talks with North Korea
    Bush rejects Ch?vez aid
    White House rejects Libby outrage
    Bush Rejects Restrictions on Iraq Operations
    Bush rejects ‘endless dialogue’ on Kosovo
    Bush rejects stem cell bill with his first veto
    Bush Rejects German Call to Close Guantanamo
    Bush rejects push to OK gay marriages
    Bush rejects scientists’ call for action on global warming
    Bush rejects calls for Gonzales resignation
    Bush Rejects Lebanon’s Call for Cease-Fire
    Bush Rejects Congressional Subpoenas
    Bush rejects Guantanamo Bay torture claims
    Bush rejects Iran’s nuclear energy claim
    President Bush Rejects Crime Report
    Bush rejects early Iraq pullout
    US, Britain reject study that claims Iraqi death toll tops 600,000
    Bush rejects second stem cell bill
    Bush rejects Kyoto-style G8 deal
    Bush rejects Senate ’show trials’
    Bush rejects war bill concessions
    Bush Rejects View That Weapons Report Belies Case for War
    Bush rejects moves to boost EU military might
    Bush Rejects Key ISG Recommendation
    Bush rejects responsibility in Hurricane Katrina disaster
    Bush Rejects Osama Surrender
    Bush Rejects Delay, Prepares Escalated Social Security Push
    Bush rejects tax on oil companies’ windfall profits
    Bush rejects bleak Iraq intelligence assessment
    Bush rejects Dems’ subpoena threat
    Bush Defends Spying, Rejects Hamas
    Bush Rejects Talk of Waning Influence

    For more of your favorite hits from George W. Bush and the Rejectionists, as well as daily new releases, click here.


    Свободные мысли... - тема....

    From: Sammy_Belarus
    Последнее Танго: Cекс с незнакомым мучиной
    Сколько времени существует человечество - столько и развивается философия секса...
    Кому-то нужен секс ради секса...
    а кому-то важен объект...
    а кто-то вообще не придает этому значения...

    ЗЫ: смотрю "Питер ФМ"...
    "Девушка, а вас не интересует секс с незнакомым мучиной?".... )))

    варианты ответов:
    - да
    - нет
    - если ты действительно Машков....

    Метки: sex

    Krzysztof Bosak – more popular with gays than voters

    From: Tyhe Beatroot
    Bosak, Christian nationalist and youngest member of the Polish parliament, is a Polish gay icon.
    I was just watching TVN Style cable channel and there was an interview with Polish lawmaker and former head of ultra Catholic All Polish Youth, Krzysztof Bosak.

    Mr Bosak has, what some refer to as, rather homophobic views, as does his party, League of Polish Families. He was part of what turned out to be a violent protest against gays marching in Krakow last year. As reported by the UK Guardian:

      Waving a red-and-white Polish flag at the Krakow march with fellow protesters from the Catholic Mlodziez Wszechpolska youth group, Krzysztof Bosak said: "Violence is bad but there is no way you can protest against this abnormality without violence."
    The interviewer on the program asked him how many voters voted for him in the last election.

    “I think it was around three and a half thousand,”, he said (under a PR list system it is possible to get elected to a national parliament with very low number of votes).

    The host of the program then said:

    “But on a recent poll for Poland’s greatest ‘Christian nationalist gay icon’ you got 14,000 votes…”

    Bosak was understandably slightly disorientated by this.

    It means, of course, that 11,000 more people voted for him as a gay icon than they did to represent voters in the Polish parliament.


    By the way, listen to an ‘interesting’ interview with Bosak in English here.

  • Endnote...

    They just don't understand…

    From: The Story
    A map of Pinsk, Belarus,
    my... uh... home town?
    One of the comments in the previous post hit home with me. My friend Yuri from Kiev wrote a comment saying that people here were not afraid of me because I was American, they just didn't understand what I was doing here.

    I guess this is an obvious question really. Sometimes I can get complacent with my situation out here and forget that I wasn't born here or that I don't work for a specific local company- the two most obvious reasons to be here. I forget that I came here out of the blue, not quite on a whim but as close to that as is possible, I guess. And I also forget that tourists, legitimate or not, do not stick around for half a decade without an apparent physical purpose. I am speaking here about what this all looks like to people who don't know me, not what it looks like from my own perspective.

    So without getting too specific, I guess I could try and explain what I am doing so as to make it clear. It's not all that big a secret really.

    My first thought is that I am simply living my life here. There are lots of ways to define one's existence. There is no law that says that what one does for money is the soul definition of their lives. Of course there is also the Pulp Fiction quote on the subject that says that a man without a job is a bum regardless of the level of spiritual enlightenment he might attain. But probably what I mean by this is that I have a family here; there are children and their futures to worry about. I consider it my duty to try and help them to find the best paths or opportunities that might be available for them. We also have our house and dacha to keep up and I have my daily chores to accomplish. I mean, just being a man means you have responsibilities to uphold, right?

    You could also attack this question by focusing on the here, as in location: Why am I, an American specifically, living in the beautiful and interesting Republic of Belarus? Well, I have often said that I had a familial attachment to the region and that I associated Belarusians as being "native people", as Tanya would put it. I am a little past the nostalgia phase but I still have a little bit of the "air smells right" going on inside of me. I am comfortable here. It could be that America has an inherent feeling of displacement about it because of the mixed races and culture that is not here. Belarus is pretty homogenous so the level of how people understand each other is much different. And then there are the basic cultural differences. I guess I should say cultural/economic differences to be more accurate. But said briefly, there is such a thing as "The Life" here and simply being here and trying to live it has its own satisfactions in a way.

    But obviously the question referred to what I do for money. And really: What do people see? I am not heading off to work to a specific location every day and, as I was today, I am often on the busses out to the villages on weekdays. Obviously this adds to the illusion as if I have nothing to do- or that what I do is illegitimate.

    One way to answer this question of what I do here is to say that I am doing this. I don't necessarily mean that I am writing blogs, I mean that I am maintaining my presence here, via the internet, for the purposes of both being available to help folks who wish to have something to do with Belarus and to keep the issue of why I am without my original plans to simply be involved and have a little business here. There was no reason for me not to have had the chance to try and do what I wanted; there was nothing bad or inherently wrong in what I wanted to do. I was simply and unlawfully prevented from doing this and my name was so badly slandered that this, this ongoing, five-year harrasment became the only viable choice. Well, I know I could have left, but I wanted to be here so i worked with what I had to work with.

    Before you get to criticizing this last statement or saying that I am simply bullshitting, you have to take a step back and look at the perspective.

    When I came here, I was interested in trying to stay. The actual choice of coming here, and I am speaking specifically of moving to Pinsk, came from five years before this when I got to come and see my grandfather's home town for the first time. At that time I had met some unbelievably wonderful people with excellent manners, endless social graces and kindness for each other. The actual choice of coming back (in 2002) had to do with my bike business getting wiped out from the 9/11 attack and deciding that if I was ever going to give Belarus a real try, something I had regretted not doing five years earlier, I might as well take advantage of the post attack economic catastrophe and go for it. My goal was to write a Russian language play for the local theatre and to make a bike shop with friends I had met from the bike racing team. The business was to support several relationships, it was doing what I loved which was putting people on bikes and keeping those bikes running and the playwriting was a way to allow myself a chance for social relationships with some intelligent and creative people.

    But then of course there was Poland- and that was a year sitting there getting my head played with and my available funds depleted. After I finally got out of there I tried to come back to Pinsk but after a year away, and all the money gone, nobody wanted to believe my story or work with me any more; nobody wanted to listen. When I went to the universities and offered to teach English, I was denied a chance to do so. When I went to the theatre to try and at least get the play going, I no longer carried the sort of face which inspired people to wish to work with me, (I was no longer an American with a vision of living in and doing something for Belarus, I was just a con man who could just as easily disappear for a year at a time after breaking everybody's heart) so they all just decided to try and take what they could get and get rid of me. So in effect I went from a situation in which people wished to be friends with me to a situation in which I was a pariah. Funny how that worked.

    But rather than leaving, I had already by now waited six years to try living here, I decided to stay and try and do something about the problem. If they wouldn't allow me to simply work (The school, the bike school or the theater), I could at least try and use the situation to do something constructive. So I wrote the book and then tried to market it, and then I made this blog and tried to keep it public. And now, because of all of that work a lot of people know me or my story or my writing and I have something of a face. Unfortunately, not a whole lot of those people are in Belarus.

    So ok, I know I haven't answered the question yet. Basically, business-wise I get calls to do services for people. These services are for people outside of belarus who need things done indide Belarus. I have also gotten a few web contracts from time to time. There have been also a few opportunities to make some money because of my association with Poland and Belarus and also I have had some people invest in The hope there is that I might finally get through to people that I have a legitimate claim against Poland, that fighting that case would require a certain amount of… of… capitulation as to what exactly they had done to me. This is probably true for the Americans as well, but at the bottom line, I don't know too many people who have done what I have done. So you know, any success: The book sells, we get a settlement- anything like that at least this is the dream.

    Anyway, you know all of this; it's all over on the website. The problem is that not a whole hell of a lot of this gets through to Pinsk. I do have some people who read this site from here. Several students I met through speaking at the colleges read me and know what is going on here but generally, regardless of the output, people simply do not see any of this. For sure they don't see the writing but also, they don't see the phone calls, the letter writing, the translations, the people searches or the document transferring. They don't see the private teaching either. They just see me heading off to the dacha with my black Chrome messenger bag and my dog-eared Hemingway; they're not scared of me, they just don't understand what I am doing here.

    Hopefully things will change this September. After years of not being able to acquire one due to extreme and on-going financial incapacity, I have finally had the chance to study for a teaching certificate and hopefully will join the faculty of one of the schools here come the next term. You know, like a real job. This possibly will open the doors to a more normal lifestyle with a better social life, a bit more financial stability and perhaps with that, perhaps a chance to do some playwriting again. That would be nice. If success leads to more success, maybe there is even a little bike shop in it for me somewhere down the line. And who knows, maybe by that time people will understand what I am doing here: Working to make things better for a place where I decided I wanted to live.