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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Presidential Decrees, Ntuclear power plant, wind mills in Belarus, Russian gas, European March, Diaspora, Price Hikes, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Blogs

  • From the Top...
  • #248

    New Presidential Decrees set to ease registration of private unitary companies

    From: The office of the president
    Press conference of the President of Belarus with Russian reporters
    On 15 October, the President of Belarus signed Decrees No 496 and 497 aimed at simplifying the conditions of setting up private unitary companies by individual entrepreneurs.

    Specifically, an individual entrepreneur, while creating the statutory fund of his private unitary company, is entitled to use, as the noncash deposit, the goods which have been imported to the country prior to the date of the new company’s state registration, without completing the relevant customs formalities and paying customs duties.

    Moreover, the documents exempt an individual entrepreneur from paying the state fee for notary services related to the creation of a private unitary company.

    Thus, the Decrees provide additional tax incentives for the individual entrepreneurs involved in retail trade and (or) providing public catering services. This move is intended to help individual entrepreneurs adapt to carrying out their business in a new legal status.

    President to consider draft Decree on targeted social assistance

    The draft Decree “On Certain Measures of State Support for the Population” has been submitted by the Council of Ministers to the President of the Republic of Belarus for consideration. The instruction to prepare this document was given by the Head of State while signing the Law “On State Social Benefits, Rights and Guarantees for Certain Categories of Citizens”.

    Since the Law provides for abolishing some social benefits, the President tasked the Government to develop a draft Decree on providing targeted social assistance and set forth in it, in a clear-cut manner, the grounds for and the procedure of providing such assistance, the categories of individuals entitled to it and a just, intelligible, transparent and red-tape free mechanism of its provision.

    Commentary to Decree No 498 of 15 october 2007

    On 15 October, the President of the Republic of Belarus signed Decree No 498 “On Additional Measures Related to the Work with Petitions from Citizens and Legal Entities”.

    The document introduces qualitatively new approaches to the work with petitions from citizens and legal entities in governmental organisations and is aimed at enhancing the responsibility of public officials for timely and comprehensive consideration of the issues set forth in the petitions.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    By 2020 five million tonnes of fuel equivalent to be generated by nuclear power plant in Belarus

    From: BelTA
    By 2020 five million tonnes of fuel equivalent will be generated by a nuclear power plant in Belarus, Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus Leonid Shenets stated at the 12th Belarusian Energy and Ecology Forum.

    He noted that Belarus planned to build a two-bloc nuclear power plant 1,000 MW each. According to him, nuclear fuel can be bought several years ahead and it is much cheaper than organic fuel.

    Diversification of energy resources suppliers is an important goal of the energy security concept of Belarus. By 2010, Belarus will be using 1.2 million tonnes of coal partially due to conversion of cement manufactures to run on coal. In the next few years the country will launch coal-powered co-generation plants. By 2012 the share of local fuels will reach 25%.

    Belarus has approved a new concept of energy independence and energy security. It is a more comprehensive programme comparing with the previous document and takes into account the situation in the world energy market as well as the experience of the power engineering development in Belarus and in other countries. The concept applies new approaches. For example it identifies 12 parameters to assess the energy security of Belarus. “By 2020 there will be only two indicators left in the pre-crisis zone. This is the share of consumption of petrol made from oil extracted in Belarus and the share of natural gas in the boiler and furnace fuel consumption mix. Ten indicators will be in the normal zone,” Leonid Shenets said.

    According to him, an important indicator is the GDP energy intensity. In terms of fuel input per $1.000 Belarus posts good results. Yet to reach the level of industrialized countries the country will have to reduce the energy intensity 1,5-2 times. By 2010 Belarus is set to cut down the energy intensity by at least 31% and increase GDP by 56%. In terms of energy intensity Belarus will reach Slovakia and Estonia by 2010 and Israel and Portugal by 2020, Leonid Shenets said.

    Leonid Shenets stressed that many countries combined coal, oil and gas to generate electric and heat power and the share of these resources was about 30% each. Belarus should also aim at this combination, the Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus said.

    Belarus will funnel about $3.5bln into nuclear plant construction, Alexander Ozerets says

    Belarus will funnel about $3.5bln into the construction of a nuclear plant in its territory, Minister of Energy of Belarus Alexander Ozerets said on October 17 at a plenary session of the 12th Belarusian Energy and Ecology Congress.

    The construction of a nuclear plant is one of the main instruments of ensuring the country’s energy security. Participants of the forum discussed issues relating to the implementation of Belarus’ energy security concept as well as guidelines of the state policy in ensuring rational use of resources, energy saving and environmental protection.

    According to Alexander Ozerets, because of the hydrocarbon price hike Belarus had to change its approaches to the use of energy resources. Saving efforts should be put not only in the energy sector but also in all branches of economy, he noted.

    Some $9.9 billion will be injected in the upgrade of the Belarusian energy system and energy saving till 2010, the minister stressed.

    Russia ready to give Belarus preferential credit for nuclear plant construction

    Russia would like to take part in a project to construct a nuclear power plant in Belarus, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Belarus Alexander Surikov told a press conference October 17 in Minsk.

    In his words, Russia is ready to give Belarus a preferential credit for the construction of a plant and its equipment. The Russia side is also ready to give assistance in training of the personnel. “We have wide experience in this field and can share it,” Alexander Surikov said. Russia is ready to take part in the design works if Belarus requests that, the ambassador added.

    Mikhail Mikhadiuk: Belarus will cooperate with IAEA in training nuclear power specialists

    Belarus will cooperate with the IAEA in training nuclear power specialists and in other spheres connected with the construction of a nuclear plant, Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus Mikhail Mikhadiuk told a press conference in Minsk on October 17.

    “We reached an agreement with the IAEA that the agency will help up in training specialists and in developing nuclear power engineering in our country. A relevant cooperation programme has already been drawn up,” the Deputy Energy Minister said. According to him, Belarus may also cooperate with several countries in training nuclear power specialists.

    The Energy Ministry jointly with the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Education Ministry has developed a programme on training national nuclear power personnel. Moreover, many experts working at the nuclear plants in Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine are ready to come to Belarus.

    By 2010 Belarus to commission wind mills of 15-20 MW aggregate capacity

    From: BelTA
    By 2010 Belarus plans to launch wind mills of the aggregate capacity of 15-20 MW, Deputy Energy Minister Leonid Shenets said during a plenary session of the 12th Belarusian Energy and Ecology Congress.

    According to him, increasing the share of alternative and renewable energy is one of the most important elements of the energy security concept of Belarus. In 2008, wind mills will be commissioned at Grodnoenergo and Grodnokhimvolokno companies. All in all, Belarusian scientists have identified 1,680 sites in Belarus which can be used for wind-power engineering. They are mainly in Vitebsk, Grodno and Minsk oblasts.

    A boost will be given to hydro-power engineering. The potential of Belarus’ hydro-power resources are estimated at 850MW. The use of 250MW has been estimated and economically justified. There are 28 mini- hydroelectric power stations of the aggregate capacity of 12.4MWt. The near-term plans are to construct hydroelectric power stations in Grodno, Polotsk and other places. The existing mini-stations will be upgraded. “By 2020 around 250MW generated by hydropower stations will be involved in the energy balance of the country,” Leonid Shenets said.

    Russian gas for Belarus will cost $125 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2008 - ambassador

    From: Interfax and Kommersant
    The price Belarus will pay for Russian gas in 2008 will be about $125 per 1,000 cubic meters, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov said.

    "The price could be nearer $125 judging from the situation on the market," he said.

    The final price for Russian gas in 2008 will be set in December. A price of $150-$170 per 1,000 cubic meters would be unrealistic," Surikov said.

    Belarus and Russia have agreed on the 2008 deliveries of gas in the amount of over 21.6 billion cu meters, Interfax reported with reference to Belarus’ Energy Minister Alexander Ozerets.
    The first quarter supplies will reach 6.5 billion cu meters of gas, 4.55 billion will be delivered in the second quarter, Belarus will receive 4.39 billion in the third quarter and 6.18 billion in the fourth quarter, Ozerets said in Minsk Tuesday during the sitting of cabinet.

    Gazprom will ship to Belarus 6.35 billion cu meters in the fourth quarter of 2007, the minister specified.

    According to Ozerets, gas reserves in storage facilities of Belarus will reach 660 million cu meters by October 20. As of October 4, the official went on, the gas reserves in Osipovich storage facilities exceeded 250 million cu meters and Priburg had 324 million cu meters.

  • Opposition...

    Belarus allows rare pro-EU rally

    From: BBC, VOA and AHN
    Thousands of opposition supporters in Belarus have taken part in a rare demonstration for ties with the EU.

    President Alexander Lukashenko - who sought to ban similar rallies in the past - allowed the protest to go ahead in the capital, Minsk.

    At least 5,000 people heard opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich demand closer ties to Europe, saying Europe means free elections and free citizens. He said Belarusians will keep demonstrating as long as they are not free.

    "We want to live by the laws of Europe, not by the laws of dictatorship. Europe means free elections for free citizens," he said.

    Protestors, who were carrying the EU flag, also demanded an end to the Russian military bases in the country.

    The demonstration was peaceful. But the Belarusian opposition website Charter 97 says authorities kept European Parliament Vice President Janusz Onyszkiewicz from entering the country to speak to the crowd.

    Belarusian authorities gave marchers the rare permission to demonstrate, although they were only allowed to gather in a remote park in Minsk instead of the city center.

    Riot police warned demonstrators who did gather in the central square that they were breaking the law, but made no moves to stop them.

    The 5,000 to 6,000 people who showed up to join the "European March" in the country's capital, Minsk -- a much smaller number than the 10,000 to 30,000 that had been expected to join.

    Organizers express general satisfaction with European March

    From: Naveny
    The organizers of the opposition’s October 14 European March for Freedom expressed general satisfaction with the demonstration at a news conference held in Minsk the following day.

    Viktar Ivashkevich, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front who headed the organizing committee, noted that the march showed that pro-democratic forces could cooperate if they had a clear and specific purpose. “That’s why talks about a split in the opposition, which began after the Congress of Pro-Democratic Forces, should be considered closed,” he said.

    He noted that Belarus’ pro-democratic forces managed to win the support of foreign lawmakers, heads of foreign diplomatic missions and government officials of the European Union’s member countries and the United States, who he said “unambiguously spoke in support of the demonstration and demanded that the Belarusian authorities allowed it to be staged peacefully, in accordance with the constitution and people’s right to stage peaceful demonstrations.”

    “We understood that we have between 5,000 and 7,000 activists and volunteers who are able to take to the streets in Minsk under the slogan of Belarus’ integration into Europe and the fulfillment of the European Union’s 12 conditions,” he said.

    Mr. Ivashkevich estimated the turnout of the march at some 5,000, noting that during the demonstration, the police put the attendance at 3,500 and online news sources estimated it at up to 10,000. However, the following day the interior ministry said that no more than 1,500 people had taken part in the event.

    Anatol Lyabedzka, leader of the United Civic Party, said that 5,000 or 7,000 people are not the quantity that can change the situation in the country. “We need to gain the support of 50 percent of the population plus one vote to change the situation in Belarus in elections,” he said.

    He called on young opposition activists to do routine work and more actively contact with other young people, associates and neighbors.

    “This routine work is not so intoxicating as the feeling of freedom when you block the traffic,” said Belarusian Popular Front Chairman Vintsuk Vyachorka. “But it allowed us to stage the European March peacefully. Out goal is more ambitious than successful street demonstrations. We should gain confidence in the minds of millions of people so that they will vote for European and democratic values, not for a dictatorship.”

    Mr. Ivashkevich criticized the Belarusian Popular Front’s public order squad for failing to prevent groups of “radical” youths from marching on the roadway and blocking the movement of vehicles. “Formerly, the squad’s effort was aimed at preventing possible provocations on the part of secret services, police and men in plain clothes,” he said. “Now it should be redirected to work with radical youths, which can bring surprises.”

  • Belarusian diaspora...

    Bill on Belarusians abroad to fix lot of problems

    From: BelTA
    Brighton Beach in Brooklyn
    The adoption of the bill “Compatriots who live abroad” in Belarus will fix a lot of problems and will create the legal ground for the complex work of Belarusian state agencies towards cooperation with the Belarusian diaspora. The opinion was voiced by Leonid Gulyako, Plenipotentiary for Religions and Nationalities, during the III congress of the federal national and cultural autonomy “Belarusians of Russia” in Moscow.

    The Plenipotentiary’s Office cited Leonid Gulyako as saying, the concept of the bill had been developed by the Plenipotentiary’s Office using proposals of the III All-Belarusian National Congress and had been approved by the President of Belarus. The Belarusian government has approved a 2006-2010 State Migration Programme and has commissioned the Interior Ministry with taking measures to assist the return of Belarusians from abroad.

    Leonid Gulyako also reminded, the Plenipotentiary for Religions and Nationalities, the Plenipotentiary’s Office and the Multinational Relations Department of the Russian Regional Development Ministry signed a cooperation agreement on November 27, 2006. “We envisage the possibility of arranging a whole range of events abroad such as presentations of regions and separate companies, demonstration of their cultural, public and investment opportunities as well as economic potential with the participation of our compatriots,” said the Plenipotentiary.

    “We are also working on considering proposals of compatriots about improving information support of diasporas. The renovation of a specialised Internet site ( has been launched. The website facilitates searching information about Belarus,” added Leonid Gulyako.

    In his words, in order to get public organisations of compatriots involved in the country’s social and cultural life leaders and activists of diasporas are regularly invited to attend the most important events in Belarus such as celebrations of the Independence Day and the Victory Day. Career enhancement courses are also arranged for leaders of creative collectives of diasporas. In 2006 a project was launched to get diasporas involved in exporting Belarusian tourism services. Every month the Association of Belarusians of Estonia brings 45-50 people to Belarusian sanatoriums and rest homes.

    Belarusian diaspora enjoys high prestige abroad, Leonid Guliako says

    Belarusians living abroad and organisations set by them enjoy high prestige in various strata of society and state institutions of the countries of residence, especially in Russia, Plenipotentiary Representative for Religions and Nationalities of Belarus Leonid Guliako said in his report at the 3rd congress of the Federal National-Cultural Autonomy /FNCA/ “Belarusians of Russia”, which is taking place in Moscow.

    According to the official, Belarusian public organisations in Russia and in other countries unite famous scientists, art and cultural workers and businessmen. “They provide support to their compatriots even in very difficult situations and always remember their Motherland,” Leonid Guliako said. At the same time he took note of the growing interest shown by famous representatives of the Belarusian diaspora in cultural and trade-economic cooperation with the Republic of Belarus.

    “The experience gained by many countries proves that a successive and comprehensive policy in respect of compatriots living abroad helps get substantial assistance in settling economic problems, enhance prestige and form a positive image of a country in the international arena,” Leonid Guliako underlined.

    According to the plenipotentiary, to meet wishes of the Belarusian diaspora the Belarusian state bodies intend to develop new approaches to the work with compatriots. “We want to combine the interests of the diaspora with an important aspect of promoting Belarus’ economic interests. We want to involve Belarus-born businessmen living abroad in the process of putting Belarusian good on the international market,” Leonid Guliako said.

    Over 3.5 million of Belarusians live outside Belarus including more than 800 thousand living in the Russian Federation.

  • Issues...

    Israel’s Ambassador: «Echo of anti-Semitism heard in Lukashenka’s words»

    From: Charter '97
    Zeev Ben Arie
    “Belarusian president’s statements addressing to Jews provoke surprise and regret” – Israel’s Ambassador to Belarus Zeev Ben Arie commented in the interview to BelaPAN Lukashenka’s words said at his meeting with the Russian regional mass media representatives.

    At the press conference president declared, in particular: “If you visited Babruisk, you saw in what condition the town was. It was frightfully to enter! It was a pigsty! It was largely a Jewish town. Well, you know what the attitude the Jews have towards the place they live. Look in Israel’. At the same time he noted that the living abroad Jews had invest 60 millions in the economy of Belarus” and invited them to come back to the country.

    According to the Israeli diplomat, “the echo of, as I hoped, the long ago buried by the enlightened mankind myth of untidy, dirty, stinking Jews, the anti-Semitic myth” is heard in Belarusian president’s statements”. “The impression appears that Babruisk was an independent Jewish barony with its independent budget, not one of the Belarusian towns where the responsibility for improvement and resources for it were in the hands of the local authorities. Thanks God, they find the facilities for urban development now”, - the ambassador said.

    At the same time he wished “the Belarusian towns would reach the level of municipal and social services of Israel, with its health service, the aged and handicapped people care, drug control, alcoholism and domestic violence, kindergartens and schools equipment, though the president detected somewhere uncutted grass”.

    Touching upon a question of Jews coming back into the country, Z. Ben Arie noted that “It is, surely, an affair of Belarus whom to admit and whom not”. From my side, as an Israel ambassador I want to say that the State Israel being the national house for Jews, admitted, admits and will admit all the Jews who want to come to us, whether they have money or not”, - the diplomat stressed.

    The Israeli ambassador also expressed his hope that “there will be more attention to anti-Semitism demonstrations in Belarus (for example, to the recent violation of the Jewish graves in Babruisk and inscriptions “beat Yids” on the house where Slutsk Jewish community administration is situated), in country where almost all the members of one of the biggest Jewish community in Europe were killed by Nazis and their supporters, and Belarus will abstain from any statements that can stimulate such grievous events”.

    There will be no hike in prices for staple foodstuffs in Belarus

    From: BelTA
    There will be no unexpected increase in prices for the staple foodstuffs in Belarus, Deputy Economy Minister of Belarus Vladimir Adashkevich reported during a seminar in Minsk on October 17.

    “Belarus will have no price hikes for staple goods. The prices are under the governmental control therefore there will be no hikes. This pertains to the prices for milk and dairy products,” Vladimir Adashkevich stated.

    Speaking about the milk purchasing prices which had been recently increased, Vladimir Adashkevich noted that this was a planned annual increase (the purchasing prices for milk were raised by 5% in January and September and by 10% in October this year).

    “As for prime costs of and retail prices for foodstuffs, they will be increased in line with the annual targets. Belarus is not going to level its domestic prices for foodstuffs with the Russian ones,” the Deputy Minister stressed.

    According to him, the prices for consumer goods will be gradually increased. In particular, the prices for dairy products are expected to grow by 3% in October and November and no more than 2% in December.

    Vladimir Adashkevich also noted that so far Belarus had not been considering raising prices for flour, bread, bakery, meat and meat products.
  • Note: Locally, the cost of cooking oil has gone from 2600 rubles per liter to 4800 rubles within the last month. The cost of bread has also gone up about 20%, from about 800 rubles to 1100.

    Russian natural gas price to drive Belarusian household bills in 2008

    The possibility of raising utilities tariffs for households in 2008 is under consideration in Belarus. The size of the raise will depend on the price for natural gas Belarus imports from Russia, Deputy Economy Minister Vladimir Adashkevich said at a seminar in Minsk on October 17.

    In his words, Belarusian tariffs on housing maintenance and utilities, including natural gas, electricity and heating, will stay unchanged till the end of the year.

    The official reminded, since January 2007 prices for Belarusian utilities have gained $5 for the average family of three, who live in a two-bedroom apartment, due to rising electricity costs.
  • Note: The payment for housing this month was already 25% higher than last year, this price for the month before hot water heating was turned on.

  • Cultural scene...

    Bobruisk to host Hip-Hop Movement Day

    From: BelTA
    On October 20, the Belarusian town of Bobruisk will host the Hip-Hop Movement Day.

    As BelTA learnt from Sergei Pinchuk, a local businessman, it is the first time the event will be held in Belarus to develop and popularize the modern youth culture. Taking part in the event is expected to be the youth from all over Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and Germany – around 300 people.

    The festival will include contests between breakdancing and rapping teams, hip-hop dances, graffiti, beatboxing, performances of skaters and rollers. Winners will be awarded special diplomas and prizes.

    A great gala-concert with the participation of famous rapping-bands Serega (Russia), Nestandartny Variant (Belarus), Tainy Zagovor (Ukraine), Smith (Germany) and others will finish the event.

    Russian, Ukrainian maestros to offer master classes for Belarusian actors during Panorama festival

    Renowned Russian and Ukrainian stage maestros will offer master classes for Belarusian actors and students of the Belarusian State Arts Academy during the III international theatre festival Panorama on October 26-November 10. The information was released by Valery Rayevsky, People’s Artist of Belarus, art director of the festival, art director of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre, at a press conference in Minsk on October 15.

    There are plans for creative meetings with People’s Artist of Russia, art director of the A.P. Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre Oleg Tabakov, People’s Artist of the USSR and Ukraine, art director of the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre Bogdan Stupka, Honoured Art Worker of Russia, art director of the Theatre Art Studio Sergei Zhenovach, Honoured Art Worker of Russia, Deputy President of the CIS Confederation of Theatre Workers Union, Director General of the A.P. Chekhov International Theatre Festival Valery Shadrin.

    Besides, when the festival is held, an international club of critics will work, discussions about plays involving reporters will be arranged as well as roundtable sessions “XXI Century Theatre: Development Problems” and “Director and Playwright: Problems of Joint Creation”.

    First Hungarian-Belarusian dictionary is published

    This year the first Hungarian-Belarusian dictionary has been published with the assistance of the Belarusian Embassy in Budapest, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Hungary Yelena Kupchina told BelTA.

    The diplomat stressed that the two countries have great prospects for cooperation in the cultural sphere. “Although there are no regular cultural ties between Belarus and Hungary, the two countries have common historic roots,” Yelena Kupchina said.

    According to her, the Hungarian association of Belarusian scholars in Eotvos Lorand University makes a significant contribution to studying common historical and linguistic heritage. The University offers the Belarusian language courses. In 2006, the first text book of the Belarusian language for Hungarian students was published with the financial support of the EU funds.

  • Around the region...

    Death Toll in Ukraine Explosion Hits 15

    From: AP
    death toll in a natural gas explosion that rocked an apartment building in eastern Ukraine has reached 15, though rescue workers continued searching for more people possibly buried under the rubble, emergency officials said Monday.

    The blast on Saturday destroyed much of the 10-story building in the industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk, about 370 miles from the capital, Kiev, ripping off parts of the roof and blowing out dozens of windows.

    Seventeen people, including three children, remained hospitalized Monday, while others were still missing and may be buried beneath the debris, said Lyudmila Shcherban, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Situations Ministry.

    Shcherban said one possible cause of the bast, which was still being investigated, was a sharp increase in pressure in the pipes.

    Prosecutors later said on their Web site that two senior managers at Dniprogaz, the city's gas operator, had been arrested on suspicion of negligence in the incident. The statement gave no details.

    Natural gas explosions resulting from improper usage, poor infrastructure or faulty butane and propane tanks are common in the former Soviet Union.

    Ukraine gas firms responsible for safety:Tymoshenko

    From: Reuters
    Yulia Tymoshenko, tipped to be Ukraine's next prime minister, said on Tuesday gas company owners must be held accountable for safety as the country mourned victims of a blast that shattered an apartment building.

    Tymoshenko, a former premier and key figure in an "orange" post-election parliamentary coalition, said companies failing to meet standards could face being turned over to the state sector.

    On Monday, she initialled an accord to form a coalition with the Our Ukraine party backed by President Viktor Yushchenko -- under which she is all but certain to get her old job back.

    She said the detention of two gas company officials after the weekend blast was insufficient in tackling the problem.

    "We have a tradition of finding some middle-ranking employee and offering him up as a sacrifice. In theory, it is the owners of this gas distribution system who must assume responsibility," Tymoshenko told a news conference.

    "Either we introduce tough conditions and, if the owner fails to comply, it must be returned to the state. Or we simply pass a law returning to the state sites vital to people's lives and involving an element of danger. I do not rule out that we will have to do this."

    Yushchenko declared Tuesday a day of public mourning for victims of the blast. Flags on public buildings flew at half mast or with black trim or ribbons.

    The Emergencies Ministry raised to 17 the death toll in the series of blasts that reduced to rubble part of an apartment building and hit nearby homes in Dnipropetrovsk, central Ukraine. Ten people were missing and 16 were in hospital.

    Media reported two more deaths in a central Ukrainian village on Monday while trying to bring a gas boiler on stream.

    Tymoshenko called for a national audit of safety standards in gas and power distribution systems and proposed calling into session the powerful National Security Council, even before the new government is formed, to take emergency decisions.

    Tymoshenko was Yushchenko's first prime minister after weeks of mass "Orange Revolution" rallies in 2004 swept him to power.

    She was sacked eight months later after her government split into two factions, ties with Russia soured and investors took fright at her calls for a review of "dubious" privatisations.

    Tymoshenko and Yushchenko reconciled during the campaign for the election, which produced a wafer-thin "orange" majority of 228 seats -- two more than needed for most votes in parliament.

    In Brussels, the European Union's Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said the new coalition faced challenges in introducing political and economic reforms.

    "The European Commission stands side-by-side with Ukraine as it continues along this path of reform," she said.

    Polish president sues magazine

    From: The News
    President Lech Kaczynski is going to sue Newsweek Poland for libel over an article, which claimed that the Polish head of state kept in regular contact with businessmen Ryszard Krauze, suspected of involvement in large scale corruption, says the Presidential Chancellery.

    Krauze left the country two months ago when it emerged that the Anti-Corruption Bureau wanted to question him about various matters, including his involvement in alleged corruption in the Agricultural Minister – an issue that led to the sacking of ministers from the government, including the now ex-PM Andrzej Lepper.

    According to Newsweek, the president has been sharing information with Krauze about the special services' interest in his activities.

    The Presidential Chancellery is denying Newsweek's allegations and has announced the President will seek justice in court.

    Krauze was last seen by journalists in Zurich in Switzerland. The alleged corruption scandal led to the break up of the ruling coalition and the announcement of the election in Poland scheduled for October 21.

    Iran, Russia should jointly thwart threats: Ahmadinejad

    From: Tehran Times
    President Mahmud Ahmadinejad here on Tuesday said that Iran and Russia should “work together to thwart the existing threats.”

    Ahmadinejad made the remarks in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Caspian Sea littoral states summit.

    Ahmadinejad added that expansion of Tehran-Moscow relations would “benefit the two countries and even the whole region.”

    “We are serious for expansion of relations (with Russsia),” Ahmadinejad told Putin.

    Putin for his part said that he was upbeat about the outcome of Caspian Sea littoral states summit.

    Putin pointed to growing ties in energy and aerospace spheres between Iran and Russia and expressed Moscow’s willingness for further expansion of comprehensive ties with the Islamic Republic.

    “This is my first trip to Iran and visiting your country is very interesting for me,” said the Russian president.

    Israel's Olmert to pay snap visit to Russia

    From: Reuters
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold talks in Russia with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the Israeli leader's office said on Wednesday, announcing the surprise visit.

    "The prime minister intends to discuss with the Russian president a series of regional issues including the peace process with the Palestinians and Iran's threats and its attempt to equip itself with nuclear weapons," the announcement said.

    A visit by Putin to Tehran on Tuesday was watched closely because of Moscow's possible leverage in the Islamic Republic's nuclear row with the West.

    During the visit, Putin made clear to Washington that Russia would not accept military action against Iran and he invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Moscow for talks.

    Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

    Western powers fear Iran's pursuit of nuclear-generated electricity is a precursor to it learning how to build atom bombs. They have sponsored two sets of U.N. sanctions against Tehran and are preparing to draft harsher penalties.

    Olmert will return to Israel on Thursday evening after his meeting with Putin, the prime minister's office said.

    Olmert last visited Moscow a year ago and voiced Israel's concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions in talks in the Kremlin with Putin.

    Miri Eisin, Olmert's spokeswoman, said she was sure Putin's visit to Iran would be discussed but it had not prompted the visit.

    She said Olmert and Putin had spoken on the phone last Wednesday and they said, "Let's meet sooner rather than later".

    The leaders decided to hold talks on Thursday because if they had waited until later it would have been impossible to schedule the meeting until next year, Eisin said.

    News of the Olmert's planned trip came on the final day of a four-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is preparing the ground for a U.S.-sponsored Middle East conference expected next month.

  • From the blogs...

    European March as a Ticket for Titanic - 2

    From: Tol
    Talented people were usually leaving Europe for America and Canada, and had been doing that till the very recent days. Entrepreneurs could realize their ambitions much easier in more liberal United States, Australia, or Canada, than in socialist Europe. Just recall Arnold Schwarzenegger who quitted his European Austria for the US dream.

    Demographically Europe is dying, and after 50 years is going to turn into one big house for elderly people. That concerns not just the age, but also dinamism, innovativeness, proactiveness of position. Even now Western Europeans are the people who need nothing else from the world but to have their social guarantees and a croissant in the morning. They are sure the state will take care of them. And as a result, European culture is retreating under a passionate influence of active immigrants from Turkey, Africa or the Middle East.

    Economically, countries of South-Eastern Asia together with the USA, Brasilia, India, and China are going to dominate in the world of the 21st century. Ok, adding up Russia whose oil influence will not decrease until Chinese economy is growing. The EU has no strategy for development, and has no clear view for the next 10 years. This might end in one of the 2 variants; either acceptance of liberal values and imminent economic and political increase, or a crisis with a post-acception of liberal values. Now Europe walks more the second way.

    Once having joined the EU, there will be no way back. Accession to the Union means loss of state sovereignty. Once and forever. And this is not just about national honour, but about a simple ability to act as you want without a repressive influence of the social bureaucratic EU machine from outside. The machine which has no idea of what is going within. The Union is bound to centralize more as time passes, with local and national powers being left just with current-day questions to solve. As a small country, Belarus will have no weight inside the EU. And when joining, the EU will centralized more than ever.

    Do we want Belarus to become part of such construction? After mere 15 years of independence to have come after 300 years of historical absence, do we really want to become pensioneers of this world?

    There is a sence for Belarus to become a part of NATO. Accession to this organization will mean a guarantee for us that we are not going to assaulted again; this is a sign of democratic, choice in favour of freedom, democracy, and progress. A guarantee that not a single Eurasian empire will take our country out of that.

    We need a non-visa and free-trade regime with the EU - exactly like with the other neighbors and in general with as many countries - as possible. But by no means we need to hang ourselves on the chain of eurobureaucrats, which depend on those social regime, and by no means we need to abandon our state sovereignty.

    We should say NO to fetishization of the EU; we don’t have to behave like Georgia or Albania begging to accept us into the European family: we ARE Europeans. We should aim not at the EU accession, but at building a market competitive economy which would allow all people to earn decently and live with honour, which is based on democratic principles. Eurointegration might be a means on that way, but not an objective in itself.

    There is only one valid argument in favour of European choice which can cross all arguments against. Pragmatic reality often dictates the choice which is far from the desired one. After years of anti-NATO ideology and in the wake of the fact of the NATO allergy people have now, the only option against new integration into an “Axis of Freedom” of some Eurasian dictators or into some new formation of the CIS which strengthened revanchist Russia will start assembling is a socialist, but at least democratic UE.

    Итоги и последствия еврожоппинга, выводы и предложения

    From: Беларуская палітыка
    Если оппозиция как всегда затихарилась и не желает больше подводить итоги акции, это сделаю я за неё.

    По итогам проведения акций оппозиции мы видим, что никаких результатов нет, никаких предложений не выдвигалось и не обсуждалось, зачем проводилась акция - непонятно, итогов проведения никто не подвёл, никто не посмел даже озвучить "12 предложений Евросоюза" в этом сообществе, никто, все деятели, активно зазывающие нас на акцию, куда-то пропали, больше мы им не нужны.

    Оппозиция осталась прежней, такой как и 12 лет назад, и мы для неё всё ещё остаёмся тупыми, безмолвными людьми, электоратом, который можно обманывать и грабить. Оппозиция крадёт наши надежды. Нас унижают. Нас оскорбляет такое отношение. Они такие же, как и те, кто сегодня прессует общество. Они все вместе - машина подавления нашего желания жить! Оппозиция и действующая власть это "два сапога - пара". Это машина подавления воли граждан к активной жизни. Оппозиция использует методы ворья и бандитизма. Мы для них просто стадо, которое можно отыметь, использовать и выкинуть как использованный материал, как получится, кто во что горазд. Налицо попытка втихую навязать нам очередной мафиозный разнузданный бюрократический режим. Помогать такой оппозиции - значит рыть себе могилу.

    Мы живём под гнётом деспотизма, жестокого режима, навязанного нам мафиозной системой. Истерзанному обществу снова пытаются всучить непонятно что, на смену очередному бюрократическому режиму. Они снова стремятся к власти, чтобы продолжить терзать наше общество снова! Мы не хотим такого будущего, мы не должны допустить реинкарнацию клановых бюрократов!
    Вызывает только искреннее удивление и сожаление, когда представители Евросоюза оказывают помощь и поддержку подобным людям в нашем обществе и не слишком стремятся помочь другим. И не только здесь. В России мы наблюдаем ту же картину, когда представители европейских демократических институтов поддерживают безответственную оппозицию, не способную даже внятно сформулировать свою гражданскую позицию. Они помогают людям, которые фактически пытаются развалить и деморализовать огромное российское общество. Такая деятельность Евросоюза подрывает основы общества и должна квалифицироваться как официальный саботаж и диверсия с целью парализовать развитие всего общества.
    Да, возможно, мы - конкуренты гниющего Запада. Но мы не должны позволять сгнобить себя, так вот просто и дёшево!
    Хватит мириться с обманом, подлогом и демагогией, давайте честно и искренне высказывать своё мнение!
    Давайте претворять в жизнь принципиальные и реальные предложения! Давайте говорить об ответственности, о принципах, о необходимости в действиях! Давайте приблизимся к реальной жизни, давайте создавать реальные возможности и новое жизненное пространство! Мы должны построить что-то новое! Для каждого из нас! Давайте пробовать, шаг за шагом мы добьёмся своего!

    I Love You, You Love Me . . .

    From: publius pundit
    The happy couple proudly showing off the ring: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, right, shake hands during an official welcoming ceremony for Putin, on his arrival to attend the Caspian Sea leaders summit in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)

    The Associated Press reports:

      Vladimir Putin issued a veiled warning Tuesday against any attack on Iran as he began the first visit by a Kremlin leader to Tehran in six decades -- a mission reflecting Russian-Iranian efforts to curb U.S. influence. He also suggested Moscow and Tehran should have a veto on Western plans for new pipelines to carry oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea, using routes that would bypass Russian soil and break the Kremlin's monopoly on energy deliveries from the region. Putin strongly warned outside powers against use of force in the region, a clear reference to the United States, which many in Iran fear will attack over the West's suspicions that the Iranians are secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made similar comments. "We are saying that no (Caspian) nations should offer their territory to outside powers for aggression or any military action against any of the Caspian states," Putin said. The Russian leader also used the occasion to make a nod to Iran's national pride -- describing it as a "world power" and referring to the might of the ancient Persian empire.
    Now, remember folks -- Russia is a member of the G-8. We are officially through the looking glass. If this Putin fellow is our ALLY, do you dare imagine who our enemies might be?

    My latest installment on the Pajamas Media megablog explains why Russia is becoming more and more interested in jumping under the sheets with Iran: In addition to a latent hatred of Western values that gives Iran's a run for its money, slowly Russia is becoming a Muslim nation.

    Opinion polls and political manipulation?

    From: Beatroot
    Since the debate between the prime minister and the main opposition party leader on Friday night, a handful of polls have shown a shift of support towards the Civic Platform party, led by Donald Tusk – all except one, that is.

    The initial indicators of growing support over the weekend for the free market orientated Civic Platform were not convincing simply because they were those self selecting polls that people vote for on web sites or via telephone call to TV stations.

    But two polls published this morning seem to reveal a genuine shift.

    In a poll by OBOP in the "Dziennik" newspaper conducted a day after the Tusk – Kaczynski debate, Tusk’s party got a massive 46 per cent, which translates into 236 seats in parliament - five more than the minimum required to form a majority government.

    I don’t find that poll believable at all.

    Possibly the most believable is an opinion poll conducted by PBS, which indicates 38 per cent support for the Civic Platform (PO) and 37 per cent support for the Law and Justice (PiS). That means PO has gained five percentage points over the weekend, compared with a survey taken by the same pollster last week, while PiS lost one percent.

    How much this has to do with Friday’s debate is unclear. According to a poll commissioned by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, only 5 per cent of Poles say they changed their minds after the debate between Donald Tusk (PO) and Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS).

    Whatever, there does seem to have been some movement away from the government in the last few days.

    But one poll, slipped out yesterday by the Polish public television station TVP, bucked the trend – it showed the governing Law and Justice in the lead by four points – just as it was last week and the week before.

    A closer look at the poll, however – and something that TVP did not mention (oops!) when they published the poll initially – was that the survey was taken before Friday’s debate. On the ninth and tenth, in fact. The poll was published on one of those 'tickers' running along the bottom of the screen, but you would think that the most important thing about that particular poll was, when it was taken.

    Critics are also pointing out that PGB is Law and Justice’s favourite pollsters, as it usually gives leads to the Kaczynskis when no other company does so.

    So, is there some manipulation going on here?

    Well, you certainly could say that of state television, TVP. But the opinion pollster PGB has since recorded a similar wild shift since the debate, as well.

    PGB was the only pollster to pick the winner of the Tusk - Kaczynski presidential election in 2005 - so the Kaczynski's must be a little concerned.

    But I really can't see support shifting so hugely from one debate. Tusk will bounce, but not like a helium balloon.

    But keep your eye on PGB, and close them when TVP election polling news comes on the TV - just in case.

  • Sports in brief...

    Euro Soccer: Kashtan in defiant mood ahead of Belarus friendly

    From: J Post
    Israel coach Dror Kashtan said Tuesday it's not fair to judge him on the basis of a single qualifying campaign. The national team lost any chance of reaching Euro 2008 on Saturday night after losing 1-0 to Croatia.

    National team coach Dror Kashtan.

    It faces Belarus in a friendly match at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Wednesday. Entry will be free of charge.

    "We failed to qualify for the European Championships, but we have collected 17 points and scored 17 goals and still have two home matches left," Kashtan said at a press conference in Ramat Gan. "In the 2004 campaign the team finished third in a five-team group, losing three matches and drawing with Cyprus and Malta. Israeli soccer hasn't reached a big tournament in 37 years. We must reform the side and not just plan for the near future."

    Kashtan will be looking to build on the encouraging performances by debutants Eyal Meshumar, Moshe Ohayon and Tamir Cohen against Croatia and will likely field a young lineup on Wednesday.

    "We saw a change in the team against Croatia," he said. "Our players were young, hungry and ambitious. This friendly match gives me a chance to take a look at more players."

    Israel will be without captain Yossi Benayoun, who returned to Liverpool on Saturday.

    The national team lost 2-1 to Belarus less than two months ago in a friendly in Minsk. Roman Vasilyuk gave Belarus the lead in the ninth minute of the match. Shimon Gershon equalized in the 29th minute, but Maksim Romashchenko scored the winner in injury time.

    Belarus lost 1-0 to Luxembourg on Saturday. It is in sixth place in its Euro 2008 qualifying group, with two wins, one draw and seven losses.

    Most of the Belarus squad members play for clubs in former Soviet Union states. The star of the team is Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb.

    "Israel is an excellent team," Hleb said at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday. "I think we were lucky in Minsk. Israel is a better team and will be the favorite on Wednesday."

    Wednesday's match will be Israel's last before its final two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Russia and Macedonia on November 17 and 21, respectively.

  • Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov, one of the TMS European Super Cup top favourites, had a really hard start-up in Russia’s Kazan against Austria’s Chen Weixing 4-3 (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9), BelTA has been told in the Ministry of Sport and Tourism. In another Group B match Vladimir Samsonov cruised past Russia’s Alexei Smirnov (Rus) 4-0 (11-8, 12-10, 11-1, 11-7). Greece’s Kalinikos Kreanga withdrew due to injury (2-0). On October 17 the Belarusian will play Michael Maze from Denmark. The other semifinal match features Timo Boll from Germany vs Russia’s Alexei Smirnov. After the tournament in Kazan Vladimir Samsonov will go to St. Petersburg for the Russian open championships, one of the Pro-Tour events.

  • Four Belarusians won gold medals at the European junior weightlifting championships in Tenerife, Spain. These are Sergei Lagun (77kg), Andrei Armyanov (105kg), Evgeny Zhernosek (+105kg) and Ekaterina Shkuratova (+75kg).

    Bronze medals went to Belarusian Viktor Sorokaletov (56kg), Dmitry Vornik (+105kg) and Anastasia Osmolovskaya (69kg).

    Belarusians won another 13 medals in individual events (snatch or clean and jerk) which are not Olympic disciplines.

  • Belarusian judoist Yuri Rybak wins World Cup gold in Azerbaijan (over 100kg) has won gold at the World Judo Cup in Azerbaijan.In the finals of the Azerbaijan challenge the Belarusian defeated Hungarian Bor Barna.

    Another Belarusian Konstantin Semenov (under 73kg) lost to Ukrainian Piotr Kuzmin in the fight for the World Judo Cup bronze.

    Belarusians Sergei Novikov (under 60kg) and Sergei Kukharenko (under 100kg) ranked 9th and 16th respectively in their weight categories.

  • Republic of Korea, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia entered the semifinals of the Handball at Yousufguda stadium here today. The day started off with Greece beating India in the first match by 32-27. Belarus beat UAE 34-30. Belarus was found playing easy today as they did not want any player to get injured as they play semifinals on October 19th.The highest scorer of the tournament till now is B Pukhoski who scored 44 goals. Today he scored 16 goals. The match between Latvia and Qatar ended in Latvia beating Qatar by 28-19 to enter the Semifinals.

  • Endnote...

    Belarusians will not be able to complain to Alexander Lukashenka

    From: Visna
    On October 15th the President of Belarus signed edict # 498 “About additional measures of the work with appeals of citizens and legal entities”. The document establishes “quality-new approaches” to work with appeals of citizens. Earlier the procedure of appeal was regulated by the law, adopted in the nineties.

    Lawyer Yury Chavusau comments the situation with the new edict for the European Radio:

    “The edict radically changes the procedure of consideration of citizens’ appeals. The first thing which is evident is the fact that now citizens will not be able to complain to the center, to Minsk, to the national governing bodies.

    According to the President’s press service, 70% of all complaints are complaints to the central bodies.”

    Now the letters of Belarusians will be considered only by the local bodies, within the borders of a district. The letters will be returned to a district from Minsk or the regional centers. Yury Chavusau forecasts how the people would react on such a “new approach”:

    “Complaints to higher-ranking officers was the mechanism people still believed. They have lost faith in courts or prosecutor’s offices. But they believed complaints to high-ranking officers were a good mechanism they could rely on.

    The authorities cancelled the mechanism. I can forecast that, certainly, this is not enough to create a revolutionary situation. But the tension in the society will definitely grow.”

    There is also a positive aspect in the edict. Now the procedure of consideration of appeals also covers the appeals of mass media and legal entities.