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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

October revolution, China and Belarus, Transgenic goat, Arms treaties, Business, Polish corruption, Blogs and sport

  • From the Top...
  • #254

    Congratulations on October Revolution Day

    From: The office of the pesident
    'The Road to Worldwide October (revolution) - Hoover Plan (placard) - Crisis (paper on table).
    By Viktor Deni, 1931 .
    Dear compatriots,

    I cordially congratulate you on the holiday – October Revolution Day.

    The October of 1917 did not only change the history of the great country, but also largely determined the path of historical development of the entire humanity. Ninety years ago the revolution attracted millions of people in the process of building, not just by word of mouth, but also in practice, a new society, free from exploitation, ethnic oppression and inequality.

    Due to the Great October victory, the dream of many generations of the Belarusians has come true – we have gained an independent state, open for friends.

    Today the Republic of Belarus is confidently following its own development course. Our well-being we create by our own hands, intellect and talent in the name of our Motherland. The creative labour, desire for social justice, respect for history and traditions are the main factors of consolidation of the Belarusian society.

    I sincerely wish you, dear countrymen, health and happiness, tranquillity and peace, well-being and confidence of the future.

    Alexander Lukashenko

  • More from the office of the presidnt...

    President of Belarus meets with Premier of China State Council

    From: BelTA
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko meeting with Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
    In the near future the trade between Belarus and China should reach $1.5 billion per year, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Wen Jiabao stated at an extended meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on November 5.

    The Chinese Prime Minister underlined that mutual relations of Belarus and China have reached a new qualitative level of the all-round strategic cooperation. According to him, in a one-to-one meeting the two sides have considered almost all the issues of the Belarusian-Chinese interaction.

    Mr. Wen Jiabao confirmed that Belarus-China relations are based on the principles of mutual respect and equality. For the 15 years of the diplomatic relations the two countries have reached great success in political, economic and cultural cooperation.

    The Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China said that today’s meeting is focused on the expansion of the trade-economic cooperation.

    Belarus-China trade to reach $1.5 billion per year

    In the near future the trade between Belarus and China should reach $1.5 billion per year, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Wen Jiabao stated at an extended meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on November 5.

    The Chinese Prime Minister underlined that mutual relations of Belarus and China have reached a new qualitative level of the all-round strategic cooperation. According to him, in a one-to-one meeting the two sides have considered almost all the issues of the Belarusian-Chinese interaction.

    Mr. Wen Jiabao confirmed that Belarus-China relations are based on the principles of mutual respect and equality. For the 15 years of the diplomatic relations the two countries have reached great success in political, economic and cultural cooperation.

    The Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China said that today’s meeting is focused on the expansion of the trade-economic cooperation.

    Belarus sees China as strategic partner

    Belarus views China as a strategic partner, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated at the meeting with Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wen Jiabao on November 5.

    “We are interested in mutual strengthening of each others’ positions through political interaction, military-technical and sci-tech cooperation and also through effective trade-economic and credit-investment links,” the head of state said.

    Alexander Lukashenko stressed: “We value highly the partnership with China who has a big international prestige and who plays a big role in ensuring stability and security in the Asian region and in the world. We can preserve sovereignty, independence only by means of pursuing multi-directed policy which aims to develop relations with important international and regional centres, China has key positions here,” the President of Belarus said. In his words, common strategic goals, similar views on the main international problems and the ways of settling them create an additional basis of the Belarusian Chinese relations. This is why Belarus and China are interested in mutual strengthening of each others’ positions by means of promoting all-round cooperation.

    The Belarusian leader noted stunning successes of China in building up the flourishing state and also congratulated on the good results of the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of China. I am sure that the decisions taken at the Congress will promote gradual development of China and enhance the international prestige of the state.

    Belarus can offer high-tech projects to China, Alexander Lukashenko says

    “The development of the science-intensive sector in our trade-economic relations is exceptionally important,” the President stressed.

    Wen Jiabao noted that China highly estimated the sci-tech potential of Belarus. The Chinese party is interested in increasing the volume of goods with the high value added, first of all, high-tech and science intensive products. Besides, the Chinese want to develop joint production of high-tech goods with Belarus.

    The Chinese guest added that his country was a great market for Belarusian goods. He also confirmed China’s readiness to fund major joint projects. “I believe that we will settle the issue of their funding,” Wen Jiabao said

    China in favour of Belarus’ fastest entry to WTO

    The sides point out the importance of their signing respective agreements concerning access to markets of the two countries in view of Belarus’ entry to the WTO and their reaching understanding regarding the mutual recognition of the market economy status. The recognition will create favourable conditions for enhancing the bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

    Belarus and China note the intentions to utilise the Belarusian-Chinese Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation to the best of its ability with a view to finding new ways of collaboration and boosting the mutual trade. The parties are intent on backing major joint projects, building up the level of economic and technical cooperation.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarusian, Russian scientists raise transgenic goatlings with implanted human DNA

    From: BelTA
    Belarusian and Russian scientists have successfully implanted a human gene into goat’s DNA and received transgenic goatlings for the first time in the CIS. The information was released by Alexander Budevich, scientific supervisor of the Belarusian part of the Belarusian-Russian programme BelRosTransgen, head of the Lab for Reproduction and Genetic Engineering of Farm Animals of the Animal Breeding Research Centre of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

    The production of transgenic animals has been officially confirmed by the Gene Biology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Institute has examined tissue samples of the animals. Materials displaying the implanted human genes into the goat’s DNA are attached to the conclusion of the Russian experts.

    The presence of transplanted genes could have been verified only by the Gene Biology Institute — the place where the genetic structures had been created.

    The production of transgenic goatlings is a major genetic engineering breakthrough for Belarus, Russia and the entire international community. It is the result of five years of joint scientific experiments. Scientists around the globe produce and use lactoferrin out of cow milk. However, many believe the product’s medicinal qualities are inferior to those of human milk. Goat milk modified by the human gene will boast better qualities and will enjoy more demand.

    Alexander Budevich said, the first transgenic goatling was born on October 8, 2007, the second one — October 21. They are both feeling well. Restricted access procedures are now in place at the farm of the Biotechnologies Centre in order to keep these unique goatlings safe and avoid any infections.

    The transgenic goatlings were produced using various genetic structures involving human lactoferrin. Three years were spent to carry out over 100 embryo transplantation surgeries, with 30 transplant animals produced. The scientists are interested in getting a large number of male goats for the future production of transgenic animals. The experiment has proved that the available biotechnology allows producing healthy, viable transgenic offsprings.

    According to the Belarusian laws the gengineered organism should be registered with the National Coordinating Centre for Biological Security and should be kept in an enclosed environment. The new Biotechnological Research Centre for Animal Breeding of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus is enclosed cordoned-off space, which meets all the legal norms.

    During the second stage of the Belarusian-Russian programme medications based on milk from transgenic animals will be produced. With the human gene, the gengineered goat milk will contain human lactoferrin — a natural antibiotic. The gengineered goat milk can be used to make medications irreplaceable for treating oncological diseases as well as illnesses of immune and digestive systems, as lactoferrin boasts a wide range of various qualities, including antitumor ones.

    With the new genetic engineering technologies, such domestic medications will cost 25-30 times less than imported analogues. The gengineered goat milk will also help with artificial feeding of newborns as the content of lactoferrin-containing goat milk is close to that of human milk.

    Taking into account the importance of the achievement, the Belarusian and Russian scientists insist on continuing the joint programme BelRosTransgen up to 2012. At least RUB500 million will be required to finance the programme.

    Belarus still in favour of ratifying Adapted CFE treaty as soon as possible

    From: BelTA
    Belarus is still in favour of ratifying the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty as soon as possible and continuing consultations about other topical issues relating to the CFE treaty fulfilment. Belarus confirmed its views at an informal meeting dedicated to the enforcement of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The meeting was held in Paris on November 5-6 following the initiative and under the aegis of the French Foreign Ministry.

    The press service of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry told BelTA, during the meeting Belarus was represented by Valery Kolesnik, Head of the International Security and Arms Control Department, and Alexander Buzhan, Head of the National Control and Inspections Agency of the Defence Ministry.

    Representatives of ministries of foreign affairs of the CFE member-states as well as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia (NATO member-states, which are not parties to the CFE treaty), took part in the meeting.

    The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty was signed by 22 member-states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact Organization with a view to limit and control conventional armaments in Europe. The Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty taking into account new realities was signed by 30 countries at the Istanbul OSCE Summit in 1999, however, the enforcement of the agreement is slowed down by several parties states.

    In April 2007 President of Russia Vladimir Putin said the Russian Federation may stop fulfilling its obligations outlined by the CFE treaty. An emergency conference of CFE member-states held in Vienna on June 12-15, 2007 following the initiative of the Russian Federation confirmed that Russia and NATO have diametrically opposed approaches to adapting the CFE treaty. The West still links the adaptation with the Russian Federation’s fulfilment of the so-called Istanbul obligations relating to the withdrawal of troops from Georgia and Moldova. On July 13, 2007 Vladimir Putin signed a decree to suspend Russia’s fulfilment of the CFE treaty, including information sharing, inspections, limitation of the number of conventional arms and materiel. Following the developments several other member-states of the CFE treaty held international discussions about the CFE treaty problem, including information talks in Bad Saarow (Germany) on October 1-2 and in Paris on November 5-6.

    The CFE Treaty came into force for Belarus on November 9, 1992. Belarus was the first country to ratify the agreement on adapting the CFE on July 18, 2000. The agreement has been also ratified by Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

    The Republic of Belarus continues considering the CFE treaty as a major international agreement on arms control and calls upon member-states of the CFE treaty to ratify the Adapted CFE Treaty as soon as possible and to start applying the document on a temporary basis before it is officially ratified.

    Belarusian Potash Company suspends negotiations of new contracts

    From: BelTA
    Belarusian Potash Company (BPC) has suspended negotiations of the new contracts of potassium chloride, BelTA learnt in the PR department of the company.

    The decision to suspend the negotiations stemmed from the official announcement of the Canadian PotashCorp about the suspension of negotiations of export contracts. The reason behind this move was a statement by Russian Silvinit about the increase of the risk of failing to comply with its contractual obligations. All these actions may have an impact on the global prices for potash fertilizers.

    “The decision of Belarusian Potash Company did not affect the production plans; neither Belaruskali nor Uralkali reduced their production volumes,” BPC stressed. The company also assured its stockholders that all the obligations under the contracts will be met.

    Belarusian Potash Company is an exclusive supplier of potash fertilizers produced by Belaruskali and the Russian Uralkali to the international market. The company sells its products to Africa, Europe, India, China, the USA, the Pacific region, Central and South America. The company has a well-developed distribution network and representative offices in Beijing (China), New Delhi (India), Singapore, San Paulo (Brazil) and Chicago (USA).

  • Building trades...

    Government to give subventions to construction organisations in 2008

    From: BelTA
    Subventions will be secured in the 2008 draft budget for construction organisations to help them purchase equipment. The subventions will be equivalent to 20% of the innovation fund, Minister of Architecture and Construction Alexander Seleznev told a session of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers.

    The matter is that no grants were given from regional budgets in 2007 for modernisation of the construction industry. At the beginning of the year the Ministry of Construction and Architecture put an initiative to institute subventions for the regions in the volume of 20% of the innovation fund. As the 2007 budget was completed, an opportunity to realize this initiative will be in 2008.

    The Minister informed that over the nine months this year the volume of financial assistance to the construction organisations came to Br258 billion, or 11% of the state comprehensive development programme of the construction industry for 2006-2010.

    Over 9 months of 2007 Belarus construction trade surplus totals $41 million

    Over the nine months of 2007 the Belarusian export of construction services totaled $71.2 million, trade surplus made up $41 million, Minister of Architecture and Construction Alexander Seleznev stated at a session of the Council of Minister’s Presidium highlighting the implementation of the state comprehensive programme of the resource and technical base of building production for 2006-2010. The session was presided by First Vice-Premier Vladimir Semashko on November 6.

    The Minister noted that in January-September 2007 the export of building materials reached $326 million, 34% up over the same period last year. Trade surplus beat $150 million.

    Eight major investment projects accomplished in Belarusian building industry over last two years

    Eight major investment projects have been accomplished in the Belarusian civil engineering industry over the last two years. A session of the Council of Ministers Presidium will table development of this area on November 6. First Vice Premier of Belarus Vladimir Semashko will chair the session. Participants of the session will also consider the progress in implementing the 2006-2010 state programme for developing the civil engineering infrastructure, BelTA learnt from representatives of the Council of Ministers Office.

    The major investment projects accomplished in the Belarusian civil engineering industry include the reconstruction of the wall block production facility in OAO Minsk Silicate Products Factory, the construction of the first line for producing building tiles in OAO Keramika (Vitebsk), the production of tower cranes by Mogilev Strommashina, the retooling of a preparation plant in OAO Gomel GOK, modernisation and reconstruction of glass bottle production lines in OAO Grodno Glass Works. Now the construction of a second clinker furnace is nearing the end at Belarusian Cement Mill. The furnace is supposed to be put into operation in November 2007. In December Krichevtsementnoshifer will commission a third revolver furnace.

    All in all, 26 other investment projects are being implemented in the Belarusian civil engineering industry. Since the state programme was launched, over 2,600 machines have been bought or 25.6% of the programme’s target. Br258.3 billion or 11.1% of the money allocated by the programme has been spent on buying principal construction equipment in 2006 and in January-September 2007. Four new building enterprises have been set up, including three in the Mogilev oblast (Shklov, Krasnopolye, Dribin) and one in the Gomel oblast (Khoiniki). This year Br2.7 billion has been spent on developing newly set up building enterprises. As of October 1, 2007, there were construction companies in all regions of the country, which employed from 19 to 936 people.

    Meanwhile, arrears have accumulated in 4 out of 20 directions outlined by the programme, in particular, the creation of infrastructure for housing construction. Over the first nine months of the year only 56.6% of the annual investment volume was assimilated. There are problems to be addressed concerning the build-up of prefab reinforced concrete producers and industrial house-building. The stock of principal building machines and mechanisms needs renewing. So far the modernisation of several municipal house building factories has not started. The modernisation of production facilities of these enterprises is supposed to finish in 2009.

    China pledges to provide Belarus with $527 million in loans, to donate nearly $7 million

    From: Naveny
    Belarusian-Chinese talks held in Minsk on November 5 resulted in the signing of agreements stipulating that China would provide Belarus with some $527 million in loans and donate nearly $ 7 million.

    In particular, the sides signed interstate agreements that the Chinese government would give loans totaling $500 million for the construction of three cement plants in Belarus and a low-interest loan amounting to 200 million yuan (about $27 million), and that the Chinese government would provide the government of Belarus with 20 million yuan (about $2.7 million) in gratuitous aid and donate 70 million yuan (about $4 million) for the modernization of the Homyel Regional Cardiology Center.

    A contract was signed between Huawei Technologies, China’s largest telecom equipment company, and Beltelecom for the supply of equipment and components.
    In addition, a cooperation protocol was signed between the culture ministries of Belarus and China for the period between 2007 and 2011.

    On November 5, the visiting Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, met with Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka.

    According to Belarusian official statisticians, China is Belarus’ fifth largest trading partner among non-CIS countries. In the first eight months of 2007, trade between the two countries totaled $797.7 million, a 60-percent year-on-year rise, with Belarusian exports rising by 57.2 percent to $325.4 million.

    Belarus mainly supplied China with potash fertilizers, mining dump trucks, integrated circuits, metal and chemical products, machine tools and instruments, and exported equipment, components to products for export, and consumer goods.

    Belarus, Moldova marking 90th anniversary since revolution of Oct 1917.

    From: Itar Tass
    At least two countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Belarus and Moldova, will officially mark the 90th anniversary since the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917.

    Belarus is the only country where November 7 /October 25 under the Julian calendar that was in effect in the former Russian Empire when the revolution took place/ is still a national holiday and a day off work.

    President Alexander Lukashenko congratulated fellow countrymen on the occasion of the date.

    “The victory of the October Revolution turned the dream of generations of Belarussian people into reality – we got an independent state that is open to friendly powers,” Lukashenko said.

    He indicated that this country follows its own identical path of development today, creating all the material benefits with its own hands, mind and talent.

    In a special ceremony timed for the date, the president will open two new stations of Minsk metro, Borisovsky Trakt and Uruchye, thus bringing the total number of metro stations here to 25.

    Tuesday, an international conference of Communist and workers parties was held in Minsk. It brought together delegations of 70 parties from about 60 countries.

    In Moldova, President Vladimir Voronin, who represents the ruling Communist Party, and high government officials will lay flowers to the monument to Vladimir Lenin, who led the Bolshevik forces in the revolution of 1917.

    “Nowadays Communists must be able to draw a line between the genuine heritage of the October Revolution and the heinous legacy that is ascribed to it,” he said Tuesday as he addressed a gala meeting dedicated to the date.

    “A willingness to live in a world of justice that will be free of poverty and lawlessness provokes and ever increasing counteraction on the part of newly minted oppressors and masters of life, but we’ve proved that our advance can continue,” Voronin said.

    About 2,000 invitees, including cabinet members and MPs took part in the gala meeting where Voronin spoke as chairman of the Communist Party.

    Korea to partake in reconstruction of Belarus petrochemical manufactures

    From: NLIPRB
    Korean companies will take part in the projects on reconstructing petrochemical manufactures of Belarus, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky told reporters on November 5.

    “Belarus has held talks with several Korean companies that intend to participate in the reconstruction of the petrochemical production and, in particular, in the paraxylene production project,” the Premier says.

    The cost of the project amounts to $126 million.

    Besides, Korean companies are ready to participate in the cord thread production in Belarus. The two sides show interest in mutual railway communications, i.e. transport routes between the Asian-Pacific region and Europe via Belarus.

    Joint production of freight cars and containers is also under the consideration.

    According to Sergei Sidorsky, the two countries have a considerable potential in mutual cooperation in electric household appliances and medical equipment production.

    The Prime Minister underlines that Belarus invites Korean businessmen to work in the Free Economic Zones and the High-Tech Park.

    Korea would like Belarus to support its candidature as host of 2012 World Expo

    Korea has asked Belarus to support its bid to host the 2012 International Exhibition, Speaker of the National Assembly of Korea Lim Chae-jung said during a meeting with Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky.

    The Speaker praised the level of Belarus’ economic development. In his opinion, a boost to the bilateral relations will be given by the forthcoming opening of an embassy of Korea in Minsk and the first visit of the Belarusian Prime Minister to Korea on November 5-6.

    Sergei Sidorsky noted that Belarus and Korea have similar approaches to the economic policy which priority is the development of exports.

    The sides discussed the development of inter-parliamentary relations between Belarus and Korea.

    Korean Good Morning Shinhan Securities to visit Belarus

    Representatives of the Korean financial company Good Morning Shinhan Securities are going to visit Belarus next week. They are expected to study several projects with the participation of Belarusian companies, the president of the company stated at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Belarus.

    The president of the Korean financial company considers that the Belarusian market is promising and profitable enough. He showed interest in boosting cooperation with Belarus. The Korean financial company needs additional information about Belarus. In this respect a working group of the company is set to visit the country.

    Belneftekhim: Belarus will start extracting oil in Venezuela by end of year

    From: NLIPRB
    Belarus will start extracting oil in Venezuela by the end of the year, Bronislav Sivyi, Head of the Central Prospective Development and Investments Department of Belarusian petrochemical concern Belneftekhim, told a press conference on November 6.

    In his words, everything necessary to start extracting oil using the existing Venezuelan wells has been done. All the necessary papers have been prepared, including a business plan and foundation documents of the future joint venture. The National Assembly of Venezuela is considering them now.

    As far as the oil extraction and sales are concerned, Belarus will follow Venezuelan laws, which grant the oil export right to Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. If the extracted oil suits Belarus, the latter will be able to negotiate oil purchases, said Bronislav Sivyi.

    Belorusneft and Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA are creating the joint oil-extracting venture. Belorusneft will contribute an equivalent of $200,000 to the charter capital of the joint venture. Initially the oil extracted by the joint venture may be sold to PDVSA.

    Belarus: the farmers harvested the record harvest of maize grain

    From: Agrimarket
    According to the Central Administration of plant growing at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus, the Belarusian farmers have finished the harvesting campaign of maize.

    This year, the sowing areas under maize totaled 100.300 ha, up 1.3% as it was planned. They harvested 668.500 tonnes of maize grain at the average yield of 66.7 c/ha.

    Next year they plan to increase the sowing area under maize to 200.000 ha to allow harvesting 1 mln tonnes of grain as minimum. In addition, the farmers are to increase the average yield of maize to 300 c/ha before 2010 to harvest the gross yield of maize at 13-14 mln tonnes.

  • Around the region...

    Russia parliament votes to suspend arms treaty

    Russian soldiers dressed in historical uniforms stand in Red Square during a military parade in Moscow, November 7, 2007. Moscow marked the anniversary of a historical parade in 1941 when Soviet soldiers marched through Red Square to the front lines of World War II.
    Russia's parliament voted unanimously on Wednesday to suspend a key arms treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe, saying the United States and NATO were using the pact to undermine Russia's defenses.

    Ignoring appeals from the United States, the Duma (lower house of parliament) approved 418-0 a law allowing Moscow to stop complying with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, seen by the West as a cornerstone of European security.

    The suspension, ordered by President Vladimir Putin as part of a wave of increasingly aggressive moves against the West ahead of elections, will take effect on December 12.

    Russia's top general Yuri Baluyevsky said the CFE treaty, which limits the number of heavy conventional weapons deployed and stored between the Atlantic and Russia's Ural mountains, unfairly penalized Moscow.

    "The current treaty fully suits the United States and NATO," Baluyevsky, the chief of general staff, told parliament.

    "The treaty allows, practically without any limits, the realization of the strategy for NATO to move eastwards, carrying out the reconfiguration of the U.S.'s military presence in Europe and for constant monitoring of the composition and state of Russia's military in the European zone."

    Russia had no plans to immediately deploy more forces in the West and in the Caucasus, he added, though it reserved the right to do so.

    Russia's move comes after months of sparring with the United States and European Union over plans for a missile defense shield and proposed independence for Serbia's Kosovo province.

    Putin, who has sought to restore the Kremlin's international clout after the chaos which accompanied the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, gave formal 150-day notice in July about suspending the treaty.

    The United States, Europe and NATO have all urged Russia not to scrap the treaty, saying it is a vital guarantor of stability in post Cold War Europe. But Moscow has been adamant it will suspend the pact unless NATO agrees to major changes.

    NATO did not offer immediate comment on the Duma vote but one official said the alliance's position remained unchanged.

    "We do not want to see any suspension on the treaty and there are intensive consultations continuing among the parties," said the official, who requested anonymity.


    Russian diplomats said Moscow was trying to send a message to the West that the treaty needed to be reworked and ratified but that the West had "not heard" Moscow's concerns.

    "Russia's actions do not have an aggressive or destructive character -- they are directed not to destroy the system of current agreements but to attract attention of our partners to our concerns," said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak.

    "We are not trying to bring any damage to arms control but to give an impulse to the resumption of a workable treaty,"

    The debate in parliament was full of references to how Russia had been "deceived" by the United States and NATO.

    The law approved on Wednesday -- just three clauses long -- gives Putin a free hand to suspend Russia's participation in the treaty or to restore it at any time in the future.

    The draft still needs final approval from the upper house of parliament and from Putin before becoming law but these steps are regarded as formalities.

    The CFE treaty, signed in 1990 and updated in 1999, limits the number of tanks, combat aircraft and heavy artillery which can be deployed or stored in the vast area stretching from the Atlantic to Russia's Ural mountains.

    Western partners have refused to ratify an amended version of the pact until Russia pulls its forces out of Georgia and Moldova, as it promised in 1999 when the treaty was reviewed.

    Russian forces are being withdrawn from Georgia. But Russia has so far been reluctant to pull out peacekeepers from Moldova's breakaway province of Transdniestria.

    Russia, unhappy about NATO's expansion eastwards into territory formerly occupied by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, says U.S. plans to open bases for several thousand soldiers in Romania and Bulgaria this year are in breach of the CFE.

    NATO officials insist that the bases are not intended as permanent and thus cannot be seen as a breach.

    China, Russia pledge to enhance co-op in various fields

    From: China View
    China and Russia signed a joint communique here Tuesday, pledging to further enhance bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, energy, science and technology, nuclear power, astronautics, aeronautics, transportation, banking and other fields.

    The communique was signed by visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Viktor Zubkov at the 12th regular prime ministers' talks between the two countries.

    The two sides will strive to sharply increase the proportion of electro-mechanical equipment and high-tech products in the bilateral trade, and will place great importance on the task of promoting the development of bilateral trade, the communique said.

    The two sides will therefore support the work of the China-Russia chamber of commerce of machinery and electronic products in order to facilitate the implementation of joint projects of mechanical equipment and other high-tech products, it said.

    The two sides maintained that expanding mutual investment should take high priority in efforts to boost bilateral economic cooperation, and both agreed to improve the mechanism of China-Russia meetings on investment promotion, and complete the program for China-Russia investment cooperation at an early date.

    In considering the reality that China-Russia local and border cooperation plays an important role in bilateral relations, and that there exists vast potential for cooperation in this regard, the two sides will actively make continued efforts to comprehensively expand and deepen local and frontier exchange in the fields of economy, science and technology and humanism, etc., according to the communique.

    The two sides also agreed that energy cooperation is an essential part of the China-Russia strategic partnership of cooperation, and they pledged to make efforts to promote cooperation in the fields of oil, natural gas and electricity.

    The two sides agreed to give priority to cooperation on nuclear energy while strengthening bilateral economic ties, and they expressed satisfaction at progress in this regard.

    The two countries will continue their cooperation in the construction of nuclear power and uranium-enrichment factories and begin implementing an agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy between the two countries.

    Among the nine agreements the two sides signed on strengthening cooperation, four concern future cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear power. The two sides also agreed to complete the construction of an oil pipeline connecting China and Russia by the end of 2008.

    The two sides will continue to actively strengthen cooperation in science and technology, space flight, the information industry, civil aviation, transportation, the banking industry and other sectors, and take steps to implement the relevant cooperation projects, said the communique.

    The two countries are ready to strengthen cooperation on environmental protection, noting environmental issues are of particular importance to bilateral ties. The two sides agreed to sign an inter-governmental pact on the exploitation and protection of cross-border water resources.

    In the fields of culture and humanism, the two countries pledged to expand and deepen their cooperation, according to the communique.

    It said cultural cooperation is of great significance to the formation of a broad social and solid ideological foundation for the establishment of a China-Russia strategic partnership of cooperation.

    The two sides agreed to expand student exchanges, jointly train undergraduates and postgraduates and hold regular education exhibitions in both countries.

    The two sides pledged to promote Russian language education in China and Chinese language education in Russia. They also agreed to hold "Russian Language Year" in China in 2009, and "Chinese Language Year" in Russia in 2010.

    According to the communique, the two neighboring countries will set up cultural centers and organize cultural and film festivals in each country.

    The two countries also agreed to enhance their cooperation in the field of infectious disease-prevention and control, the development of traditional medicine and to strengthen the supervision of the circulation of medical products.

    The two countries agreed to expand tourism exchange and improve the quality of tourism services, and strengthen exchanges between Chinese and Russian news media.

    The Chinese side pledged in the communique that it is willing to provide the necessary support to the Russian delegation during the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

    Wen, who is currently on an official visit to Russia, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two had an in-depth exchange of views on major international and regional issues as well as broadening strategic cooperation and deepening cooperation in various fields, said the communique.

    Both sides have agreed to work out and adopt the 2009-2012 plan for implementing the China-Russia Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation by drawing on the experience of successfully implementing the treaty during the 2005-2008 period, the communique added.

    The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the success of "the Year of China" in Russia, saying that the Chinese and Russian national years are unprecedented events in the history of China-Russia relations.

    Both sides noted that the national years have boosted cooperation between the two countries in various fields, deepened the traditional friendship between the two peoples, enhanced mutual respect and understanding and greatly contributed to further consolidating and deepening the strategic partnership of coordination between the two nations, the communique said.

    Both sides also expressed their satisfaction over progress in cooperation in economy, trade and culture and their appreciation of the work by the commissions in charge of the regular prime ministers' talks as well as bilateral cooperation in the field of humanism. Both sides speak highly of this regular meeting mechanism in promoting bilateral cooperation and pledge to improve the mechanism and make it even more efficient.

    Wen arrived here on Monday at the invitation of Prime Minister Zubkov, officially ending the "Year of China" in Russia, the second of the two national years.

    Russia is the final leg of Wen's four-nation visit. Wen has already visited Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Belarus and attended the sixth Meeting of Prime Ministers of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent.

    China and Russia have agreed to hold the 13th regular prime ministers' talks in Russia next year.

    Anti-corruption officers detain former MP

    From: Polish Radio
    The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau has detained a former MP of the Civic Platform Beata Sawicka. Her mandate expired at midnight. The arrest was ordered by prosecutors, who justified the move by the seriousness of her crime. On Sunday, Beata Sawicka said she would turn up at the prosecutors’ office on Monday of her own will.

    Sawicka had been detained by the bureau officers before. On October 1 she and the mayor of a small Baltic coastal town were caught red-handed, while receiving a bribe for fixing a tender for a plot of land in the area. Two weeks later, a documentary footage showing how Beata Sawicka was receiving the first installment of the bribe, was presented to the public amidst the ongoing parliamentary campaign.

    Prosecution had issued an arrest warrant for Sawicka after she had been caught red-handed in a major corruption case by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau.

    Sawicka faces up to 10 years in prison for accepting a bribe in exchange for illegal assistance at high state administration levels.

    Sawicka has admitted to the charges before the media, but the prosecution has not confirmed if she has done that before proper authorities as well.

    The Civic Platform immediately removed Sawicka from its ranks. The woman claimed she was seduced and manipulated by a Central Anti-Corruption Bureau officer.

    Reporters Without Borders call on Poland to change laws hampering journalism

    From: Polish Radio
    Reporters Without Borders, an international organization dedicated to the freedom of press has called on Poland to change its laws which - as they say - criminalize journalism. According to the regulations, journalists can be imprisoned for up to 2 years for libel.

    The appeal comes in the wake of a Polish court's decision to detain the editor-in-chief of the right wing Gazeta Polska weekly Tomasz Sakiewicz and journalist Katarzyna Hejke of the same newspaper for 48 hours to make sure that they present themselves before court at a trial on December 14th.

    Sakiewicz and Hejke have been sued by the major liberal TVN television station for an article exposing the communist past of an important TVN official Milan Subotic. The television claims the article hurt their reputation.

    The arrest of two journalists on the night before December 13th is received as symbolic, as this is the anniversary of the imposition of martial law by the communist regime in Poland 26 years ago, when thousands of opposition activists were taken in jail.

    A rally is planned in Warsaw to express solidarity with the detained journalists and a group of mostly right-wing journalists have signed a letter of support to their colleagues.

    Our Ukraine protests against closing of bookshops in Kyiv - statement

    From: Unian
    The OU People’s Union is anxious about closing of bookshops in Kyiv. This is said in the OU statement, posted at the Bloc’s web site. The statement reads as follows:

    The OU People’s Union expresses its protest against actions of Kyiv city authorities aimed at closing bookshops and publishing houses in the city.

    Real threat of closing is hanging over “Znannia” bookshop – one of the oldest bookshops on Khreshchatyk street. The shop which was at this place for 75 years is obliged to leave the building by Nov 10 for the city authorities refused to prolong the rent.

    In general, lately the following items were closed or threatened: publishing houses “Mystetstvo”, “Muzychna Ukraina”, “Alaton”, “Dnipro”, “Oberehy”, “Urozhai”, “Ukrainska Entsyklopedia”; periodicals “Kyivska Rus”, “Raiduha”; children’s journal “Sonechko”; bookshops “Siayvo”, “Znania”, “Abzats”. Recently bookshop “Planeta” was with all cynicism kicked out of its building on Khreshchatyk.

    A paradoxical situation has emerged in the capital. The city authorities on one hand announce war against arcade machines; and on the other increase number of gaming institutions. Saying about support of culture they destroy the last bookshops. Number of bookshops in Kyiv has decreased in four times within last years: from 140 to 36.

    The OU People’s Union reminds Kyiv’s mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi and the city administration that the 2007 was announced by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to be the Year of Ukrainian book. Moreover, the president’s decree “On some actions in development of publishing in Ukraine” obliges local authorities together with the government to provide “creating of proper conditions for publishing and spreading Ukrainian books”.

    But the capital’s authorities not only ignore the president’s decrees but destroy bookshops, publishing houses, usurp art institutions at Andriivskyi Uzviz (Andrew’s slope) and other places in Kyiv.

    Persistent and cynical destroying cultural face of Ukrainian capital by Leonid Chernovetskyi and his entourage affirms once more necessity of holding early elections of Kyiv’s mayor.

    The OU calls upon the city’s authorities to stop attacking cultural institutions. It also calls upon the law-enforcement bodies to defend rights of the ones who work in the institutions and who visit them.”

    The statement is dated November the 7th, 2007, and is signed by leader of the People’s Union “Our Ukraine” Vyacheslav Kyrylenko.

  • From the blogs...

    Wen in Belarus

    From: On a slow boat
    I linked to it before, but Wen, on his whirlwind tour of black-hearted dictators, was in Belarus yesterday. This little tidbit in the press release caught my eye:

    China reiterated its support for Belarus’ efforts to safeguard national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, uphold national dignity, maintain domestic stability and develop its national economy.

    China opposes any attempt to interfere in Belarus’ internal affairs under the guise of “human rights.”

    Wen’s next stop was Russia, where he told Putin to do whatever he damn well pleased with Belarus.

    My Flat via Google Earth

    From: American in Belarus
    See the red box at the bottom edge of the page? That's my apartment, I mean that's my "flat," as I have been corrected several times. Everyone speaks British English here, so I have become very aware of my "ds" in butter, later, thirty, water, etc. It may also have something to do with the American English class I am teaching. It sounded easy enough until I learned I had to compare and contrast American and British English!! Uugh! I don't know British English and I really don't want to. It could have something to do with a little war that happened back in 1776 :-) Anyway, now that I've started the class it isn't so bad and it's actually kinda fun pretending to be a Brit.

    Speaking of accents and nationalities, a few days ago someone told me I have a Polish accent when I speak Russian. But many other people have commented that I have excellent Russian pronunciation, which makes me feel great! And last night someone else told me I looked Russian and asked if I have any Russian ancestors. Funny, huh? Let's just hope it was a compliment...

    BTW, I've been in Belarus for 2 months and so far I'm doing okay. I have learned enough Russian to get around town, albeit with a few bumps along the way; to buy food in the open-air markets; and to navigate my way around the university. I've also managed to make several friends and this is something I'm very proud of as many foreigners shy away from the locals. Don't get me wrong, there are days when I hide inside the comfort of my flat. It's not easy being the only Amerikanka in town! Some days are really hard and sometimes they come one after another. But there are other days when I feel great, when I learn something new, when I'm successful in the market, or when I make my students laugh. So far my Fellowship has been a very humbling, life changing experience and I can only imagine what the next 8 months will bring...

    Zmiter Hvedaruk: «There are no fascists in Belarus. But the attempts are made to create such groups»

    From: Charter '97
    “Undoubtedly, a fight on the Social March between “fascists” and “anarchists” is a planned provocation. It was the first time when the pro-fascists organizations took part in the opposition action. According to the eye-witnesses, they disappeared after OMON (riot police) had appeared. It couldn’t be like that, if it hadn’t been planned. Yet at the Academy of Sciences they try to organize scuffles”, - Zmiter Hvedaruk, one of the “Young Front” leaders said to Charter’97 press center.

    The youth activist notes, that the activists of the pro-fascist organizations “Belaya Vola” and “Belaya Rus” were carrying white-red-white flags with a symbol resembling a Celtic cross. “From far they resemble the flags of the “Young Front”. But our flag is white-red-white with a six-pointed cross. They looked similar on Belarusian TV. When I came home my mother said me, she thought we were fighting”, - Hvedaruk said.

    “The provocation was organized to show it on BT. And they did it. There are no fascists in Belarus. The groupings of football hooligans have existed for many years, now the attempts are made to create groupings who will organize provocations and intimidate people”, - Zmiter Hvedaruk said.

    Putin's Strategy ~ A Romanov Restoration

    From: Eurobusiness
    November 7, 2007 Ninety years since the end of the 300+ year long reign of the Imperial Romanov dynasty. With Presidential elections looming in March the "outgoing" President Putin continues to act very much as one not about to leave power, but what is he really up to?

    The world was mystified, a couple of months ago, when Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the Prime Minister and replaced him with the little known Viktor Zubkov instead of the "expected" Sergei Ivanov (current Deputy Prime Minister and "leading candidate" to replace Putin as President in 2008). The Toronto Star newspaper, in an article titled "PUTIN'S MYSTERIOUS MANEUVERS" , asks if the President of Russia has "abandoned the scripted succession , embarking on a new scheme altogether".

    The current Russian Constitution forbids a President from more than two successive terms as President. There was no doubt that Putin had the political power to amend the Constitution to change this. He simply decided not to do so and a normal change to the Constitution is not possible in the remaining time before Presidential elections next Spring. The thing is, Putin does not act like a man willing to leave the most powerful office in his nation. There is much speculation that he is appointing the 66 year old financial regulator as Prime Minister with the intention of running him as President as an interim place holder for Putin (with Putin returning to the Presidency in four years) , as he seems to have "no apparent political ambition". Funny, that is similar to what was said of Putin himself, when Yeltsin appointed him Prime Minister and effectively turned over the Presidency itself to him later. Vladimir Putin is well aware that he cannot hold onto the reins of real power, and be sure of maintaining that power, if he leaves office.

    So just what is he up to? To understand his strategy we need to look at the man and his long term intentions for his beloved Russia. He is Russian to his very bones; and Russians are very "Russian" and suspicious of all foreigners. Public museums that charge admission in Russia, have two prices, one for foreigners and another for Russians. As someone who had a Russian girlfriend for a while, and got to see a personal side of Russia I can tell you that I have never been in a nation that was so focused on its identify and one that views all non-citizens as suspicious outsiders. To Russians, the world is divided up between Russians and "foreigners".

    Putin has made it very clear that in his opinion the brake-up of the Soviet Union was a very great historical tragedy. The twin centers of the Russian soul throughout many hundreds years of its history was Orthodoxy and the Tsars. The Soviet Revolution overthrew the Romanov Dynasty and as much as possible, sought to destroy the ancient Orthodox faith of the Russian people. Vladimir Putin has been a very strong supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church, and any traveling in Russia will show one just how significant the re-flowering of the ancient faith is. The old Imperial Family is well respected in Russia, and the Russian Orthodox Church has made saints out of the last Tsar and his murdered family. However, there is no great demand for an Imperial Restoration. Putin himself is the one most admired in polls of the Russian people.

    So why would Vladimir Putin want to bring back the Romanovs, if only in a ceremonial Head of State role? Belarus and the Ukraine are two reasons, as are various other now separated republics of the former Soviet Union. When Yeltsin buried the Soviet Union, the leaders of the various major republics in the old USSR took the opportunities presented to them and took full power for themselves within their republics. It is easy to turn a aquarium into fish soup but very hard to turn that fish soup back into an aquarium. Putin seeks to restore Russia to its proper power and place among nations. One of the central problems in doing this is to get the various former parts of the old Russian Empire/USSR to agree to come back fully into Russia's tent. Even Belarus, the republic closest to Mother Russia has failed to merge itself back into Russia. It has, however, formed a very close union with Russia.

    By replacing the current Russian Constitution with one that restores the Romanov Dynasty as Emperors/Tsars Putin can in one action, both continue the restoration of traditional Russian culture and pride AND establish a transnational Empire to gather Russia's former nations together, limitedly at first but more intensively as time goes on. The Russia-Belarus Union could become the reborn Russian Empire with HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimorovna as the new Empress over both nations. Of course, she (as Empress and Head of State) would have limited power and that would be largely dictated by the Russian Head of Government. The Belarus political class would still have their independence ~ more or less, certainly less over time ~ and Russia would have a powerful tool to begin the reuniting of the Russian Empire/USSR, which was broken apart only a few years ago. The Ukraine will be an early target, as well several other former republics. At first the new Empress Maria will simply be a tool for a more in-depth union of Russia and Belarus but the strategy will be to expand the renewed Russian Empire and to expand Russian central governmental influence over the various national parts of the Empire including greater military "cooperation". Russia's new wealth, based on its oil and natural gas holdings, will be utilized to grease the way for putting back together most of the land mass that the Tsars and Soviets ruled.

    Look for Vladimir Putin to fill the role of Head of Government in the Kemlin and the new Empress to reign in the old Imperial capitol of St. Petersburg bringing new life to Putin's favorite Russian city (his hometown) and the fantastic Russian showcase Winter Palace, as well as the palaces in Tsarskoe Selo. This will allow him to remain as leader of Russia, while allowing a new ceremonial Head of State in order to continue his strategy of both restoring historic Russia, and to ensuring its status as a leading great power in the Twenty-First Century.

    Lies, Damned Lies, and Vladimir Putin's Public Statements

    From: Publius Pundit
    The Moscow Times reports on an amazing scandal which neatly encapsulates the shocking depths already being plumbed by Vladimir Putin's neo-Soviet regime in Russia.

    At a recent televised Q & A with the Russian public, a purported Siberian septuagenarian grease monkey called in to ask Putin what he thought about former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declaring that Russia's Siberia region had too many resources for one country alone to be allowed to control. Putin characterized Albright's remark as "political erotica" and dismissed it.

    The only thing is, she never said it. "I did not make that statement, nor did I ever think it," she emphatically declared. Challenged later by the press to source his accusation, the interlocutor responded: "I don't know. I might have made a mistake. But I don't think I did. The question I asked is just the tip of the iceberg."

    That didn't end the matter. Last Sunday, Russia celebrated a bizarre holiday known as "People's Unity Day" and, on Red Square, one Robert Shlegel, an activist with the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth cult group, declared that Albright had "lost it" because of her frenzied jealousy over Russia's national resource wealth. The MT reported that "he said Albright had made [her statement] during an interview with Alexei Pushkov on the Postscriptum news analysis program in 2005." Shlegel boldly announced: "The president's words could hardly have been unfounded."

    No, she didn't. Yes, they could. The MT spoke to Oksana Yanovskaya, editor in chief of the program, who stated that "Albright was never interviewed on the program and that Pushkov had just cited a statement that he had seen or read somewhere else." She was emphatic: "I am absolutely sure there was no interview," she stated.

    Think it couldn't go even further? Think again. The MT continues:

      There are those who argue that it doesn't matter what Albright said -- they know what she was thinking. Boris Ratnikov, a retired major general who worked for the Federal Guard Service, said in a December 2006 interview with government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta that his colleagues, who worked for the service's secret mind-reading division, read Albright's subconscious a few weeks before the beginning of the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999. Albright, who as secretary of state played a major role in the lead up to the attacks, was one of the main targets of Russian criticism of the bombing campaign. Apart from her "pathological hatred of Slavs," Ratnikov said "she was indignant that Russia held the world's largest reserves of natural resources." On Tuesday, Ratnikov, 62, said he hadn't been part of the mind-reading experiment but had worked as an analyst on the data produced by his colleagues in the study. He said the mind-reading process involved using a picture or some other image of the person under study. "By tuning in on her image, our specialists were able to glean these things," he said.
    The MT also reports: "Alexei Sidorenko, coordinator for the society and regions program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that although the alleged quote had been making the rounds in Russian on the Internet since 2005, his center had been unable to find any mention of it in the English-language media. He said conjuring the image of an external enemy to mobilize the population and deflect attention from domestic issues was nothing new in politics, and the fact that Albright was no longer in government meant she had no official channels through which to respond." Sidorenko concluded that it's a classic example of neo-Soviet propaganda: "The Kremlin's entire political strategy at present rests on consciously created myths, and they are beginning to dominate the agenda."

    The world has grown used to hearing this kind of bizarre gibberish spewing from the mouth of feral lunatics like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya's Muammar Qaddafi. But they aren't members of the G-8, now are they? Russia is. But it shouldn't be, and we should be doing far more than we are to prepare for a new cold war. If Russia is willing to stoop to these depths at a time of relative prosperity, can you imagine how low it will be prepared to go in tougher times?

    Soviet Union low, that's how low. Welcome back to the USSR! It's just amazing, really breathtaking, that Russia has already become such a closed society, so far out of touch with the reality of the rest of the world, that these types of Soviet pronouncements can reappear so prominently and go so unchallenged in the mainstream Russian media. Even more amazing how ready the world has been to overlook the fact that Russia is being governed by a proud KGB spy.

    Meanwhile, preoccupied with a frenzy of neo-Soviet pathology, the Kremlin has no time to do the people's business. The New York Times reports: "More than 17,000 people died in fires in 2006 in Russia, nearly 13 for every 100,000 people. This is more than 10 times the rates typical of Western Europe and the United States." Most recently, nearly three dozen elderly infirm were killed when fire swept through an old-age home.

    As has always been the case in Russia, the country's real enemies are in the Kremlin.

  • Sport...

    Inside Canada East's Win over Belarus

    From: BCHL
    Team Canada East proved that speed overcomes size as they opened the World Junior A Hockey Challenge with a 4-1 win over Belarus last night at the Cominco Arena in Trail. Over 1,700 fans were on hand as the six-team tournament kicked off with opening ceremonies, team representatives and an appearance by the Stanley Cup at centre ice.

    But once the puck dropped a big collision between Belarus captain Alexsandr Syrei and Canada East's James McIntosh signaled that the teams were playing for keeps.

    Belarus got on the board first on a power play goal from Dmitry Shumski. But Canada replied with a shorthanded goal from Louke Oakley to tie the game. Corey Trivino scored on the power play to give Canada East a 2-1 lead after the first. Another power play goal by Evan Zych and Mike McLaughlin's marker late in the period put Canada East up 4-1 after 40 minutes.

    All that was left was a solid defensive effort in the third to get Team Canada East off on a winning note.

    "They tried to intimidate us but we had a game plan and stuck to it," said Trivino, who finished with a goal and two assists.

    Trivino, a potential early pick in the 2008 NHL draft, stars with Stouffville of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. He flashed his skills on his goal with five minutes left in the first. Some quick stickhandling froze the Belarus defence as Trivino slipped through and put the puck by goaltender Vitali Trus.

    It would be that speed and quickness by Team Canada East that forced several Belarus turnovers including one that set up Oakley's shorthanded marker midway through the first.

    "The speed of Team Canada confused our players a bit," agreed Belarus head coach Pavel Perapekin.

    Speaking through a translator, Perapekin said his team, with only one exhibition game under its belt, has had little time to adjust to the Canadian tempo and the size of the rink.

    "We've only managed to score one goal per game so we have to figure out how to score more goals," he added.

    His team's lone goal was a screen shot from the point that snuck past East goaltender Bryan Gillis. But Gillis shut the door after that stopping a total of 21 shots.

    "We came out trying to match our speed to their size," explained Oakley, who plays with Bowmanville of the OPJHL. "We just tried to keep it going the whole game. Even in the third period we wanted to shut them down."

    Canada East certainly didn't back down from the bigger Belarus players, which lead to a couple of post-whistle scuffles and a parade of penalties.

    Belarus is back on the ice tonight when they travel over to Nelson to take on Team U.S.A. in its first game. Team Canada East gets tonight off as Team Canada West takes on Germany in its first game of the tournament in Trail.

    Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus among top four at French Open in Toulouse

    On his way to the semifinals at the Liebherr French Open in Toulouse Vladimir Samsonov defeated Josef Plachy from the Czech Republic, Jae Hyun Lim of Korea, Peng-Lung Chiang and Wang Liqin of China, BelTA has been told in the Ministry of Sport and Tourism.

    Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus lost a close seven games semi-final duel 14-12, 3-11,11-9, 16-14, 9-11, 3-11, 8-11 against Wang Hao from China who currently occupies the number one spot on the ITTF Men’s World Ranking list.
    This week, November 7-11, Belarus’ best table tennis players will take part in Germany Open in Bremen.

  • Endnote...(And I told you that Pinsk s all about the clothes!)

    The Solnyshko* Returns

    By Anzor Kankulov for Esquire
    Ralph Lauren recently ventured to his parents' homeland and the final frontier of the Polo empire to open his first-ever store in Russia. The editor in chief of Russian Harper's Bazaar recalls the visit and considers Lauren's newfound cachet among Moscow's moneyed class.

    The first Ralph Lauren shirt I ever owned was purchased illegally. This was, I think, back in 1985, and I was sixteen years old. We already had Gorbachev at the rule and perestroika was afoot, but all this had little effect on life in the small town in the Caucasus where I grew up. If you wanted to be trendy, you had to have clothes from outside of the country. The clothes were brought in illegally, in suitcases, and by the time they made their way to our neck of the woods, their prices had increased many times over and the selection of sizes was virtually nonexistent. One time, I got lucky and found a shirt that just about fit. It had the logo of a horseman sewn over the left breast and cost sixty rubles (about forty dollars by the official exchange rate, or twice a student's monthly stipend). I wasn't exactly happy with it. First, the tag didn't say Levi's, which was the only label I really knew. Second, I thought it made me look like a student from a well-to-do family, and I wanted to look like a member of Duran Duran. But at least it was something American.

    Of course, when I became an editor of a fashion magazine in Moscow, I learned that Ralph Lauren was popular and well-known just about everywhere except Russia. In two decades, our country went full circle from being an Evil Empire to a Weimar-style confederation of republics and then once more an empire, although now a smaller, supposedly good one. All this was, of course, accompanied by a procession of different fashion epochs. The early Yeltsin years were Gianni Versace years, whose name and Medusa-head logo were a synonym of the "new Russia" to fashionable youths and Duma deputies alike. The later Yeltsin period belonged to the loud Italian chic of Dolce & Gabbana, and in case anyone had doubts, the letters were written large on the wearer's chest. Putin's first term saw a coup by Gucci and Prada, which became the preferred brand of oligarchs and anyone who wanted to be an oligarch. All this time, Ralph Lauren was all but unknown to the average person in Russia. If you would have stopped people on the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, or Rostov -- Russia's top consumer towns -- and shown them the horseman logo, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who could tell you what it represented. In fact, early last spring I was giving a radio interview, and the reporter asked me what I thought was the most important fashion event in Russia for 2007. When I said the opening of Ralph Lauren's boutique in Moscow, I saw doubt in her eyes. I don't know what she thinks now, but it seems to me that I was right.

    It took the designer all of three days to capture the city back in May. Lauren came with his wife, son, and daughter, a dozen-strong delegation of employees from his various offices around the world, journalists, and a coterie of Russian models. Before his arrival, all kinds of stories were going around, from a well-meaning attempt to trace Lauren's Belorussian lineage back several generations -- Russia is not England, and this is not a simple task -- to an attempt to name him an honorary professor of a Moscow university. (For the record, Lauren's people come from Pinsk, and the designer remains, in Russia at least, unlettered.)

    At a welcoming reception at the Spaso House (the residence of the American ambassador), a tight circle of Moscow high society welcomed the family. The following day, the new store opened its doors on Tretyakovsky Proeyezd, a small street that's close to the Kremlin. At the entrance, photographers' flashes went off as tycoons and TV stars made their way to the door. The next day a squad from my staff returned from the boutique and announced that it was filled with customers, and that half of them made purchases in excess of 100,000 rubles (or about $3,800). More official sources later confirmed that first-day sales exceeded all expectations.

    All this would seem to confirm that this son of Russia had returned just in time. After a decade of continuous revolution, unbelievable wealth coupled with the constant possibility of ending up behind bars, Russians have come to want both prosperity and stability. They want to feel that life is good and will stay that way, and no one is better at capturing that feeling than Ralph Lauren. (Indeed, the idea of "the good life" that he is so often said to sell isn't unique to the United States. Russians like nice houses and classic cars, too.) I won't take it upon myself to declare that May 2007 was the start of the Lauren era in Moscow, but I can say that his clothes became an instant status symbol. If before a typical Russian film about country boys fighting to make it big in Moscow depicted them gazing at a store window displaying a Gucci outfit, they now pine for Purple Label suits. This one does, at least. Right after the opening, I stopped by the store and bought a shirt. It was practically identical to that other one from long ago, striped and with a horseman on the chest. It fit perfectly.

    * "Little sun," a common term of endearment among Russians. Thanks to Gary Shteyngart, no slouch in the solnyshko department himself, for providing us with the term.