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Belarusian banks give Br4.8 trillion in investment loans in January-September
|The President of Belarus participating in the summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in Dushanbe last week|
The press service of the President of Belarus told BelTA, Alexander Lukashenko had been informed about the fulfilment of the Major National Monetary Management Guidelines over the first nine months of the year.
Over the period the Belarusian banking system reached all the designated goals, ensured financial stability and the stability of the national currency. In January-September 2007 the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble against the US dollar fell by 0.4% to Br2,149 for $1 as of October 1. The change is within the planned range.
“Everything has been done to keep the development of the real economic and social sphere in conformance with the forecast targets,” remarked the NBRB Chairman of the Board.
Piotr Prokopovich also said, the growth of bank loans to the real economy was outstripping. Over the nine months the amount of issued loans exceeded the annual target, including the targeted amount of investment loans. In particular, this year Belarusian banks were expected to provide Br3.9 trillion in investment loans, but in January-September the figure reached Br4.8 trillion. Other kinds of lending are developing fast.
Apart from that, the President was told that all governmental programmes are financed with loans in full.
Speaking about the interest rate policy of the National Bank, Piotr Prokopovich remarked, over the last four months the NBRB has been decreasing the refinancing rate on a monthly basis. As a result, the figure totalled 10% per annum on October 1, 2007. The low refinancing rate will allow decreasing interest rates for loans available to individuals and corporations and keeping national currency deposits attractive.
In January-September 2007 Belarus’ gold and foreign exchange reserves gained $1.4 billion to reach $3.15 billion in national terms as of October 1. The build-up of the reserves will be continued in order to increase the figure up to $6 billion in 2010.
The head of state gave an instruction to ensure the achievement of all the goals set by the 2007 Major Monetary Management Guidelines and to take measures and create preconditions for the successful operation of the banking system next year.
Formation of Customs Union will have positive impact on relations between Belarus and EU, Sergei Gaidukevich believes
This will raise the standing of Belarus in the eyes of the West, the MP believes. According to him, signing a Customs Union Treaty is a kind of a political message.
Sergei Gaidukevich reminded that Belarus has been pursuing a consistent policy on WTO accession. “We see on Russia’s example that it is quite a long process. And it cannot cross out other integration projects aimed to ensure economic security and yield benefits,” the MP noted.
Belarus to computerise border checkpoints at border with EU by late 2007
In a related story, before the year is out, all border checkpoints at the EU-Belarusian border will be computerised, Chairman of the State Border Committee of Belarus, Major-General Igor Rachkovsky told media on October 8.
In his words, the measure is part of the international technical aid programme BOMBEL-2 and will enable transparent border crossing and facilitate border control.
The border guard chief remarked, the border between Belarus and the European Union is an example to many countries. With new European Union member-states joining the Schengen Zone Agreement, illegal migration is expected to swell by a certain degree. However, the prospect does not worry the Belarusian border guard service. Belarus has already established productive cooperation with the neighbouring EU countries. In 2006 only 170 people were apprehended at the EU-Belarusian border, which means the number of people managing to illegally cross the border is small indeed.
With BOMBEL-2 over, the implementation of BOMBEL-3 will begin. Belarus will be granted €14 million to fit its border guard and customs services with a modern communication network that will connect border checkpoints with the border control command.
Ian Boag, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova, remarked that the European Commission and the UNDP plan to use BOMBEL-3 and BOMBEL-4 programmes to cooperate with Belarus up to 2010. The fulfilment of the programmes will improve collaboration between Belarus and the European Union in border control.
Belarus, UN cooperation in combating trade in children discussed in New York
The UNICEF intends to include the issues relating to the fight against trade in children and sexploitation into training programmes of the international centre for training specialists in combating human trafficking and illegal migration, which has opened in Minsk this year with the assistance provided by the International Organisation for Migration /IOM/.
Participants of an official session dedicated to children scheduled to take place on December 11-12, 2007 during the 62nd UN General Assembly, plan to consider the progress that has been reached since 2002 in the sphere of children’s health and education, combating trade in children, violence and exploitation of children. A delegation of Belarus coordinated the negotiations to organise the session. Mr. Kul Gautam thanked the Belarusian side for the successful work and requested Belarus to send a high-level delegation for the session.
Viktor Gaisenok and Kul Gautam exchanged the views on the implementation of the Belarus- UNICEF projects on iodinating salt. These projects aimed at thyroid cancer prophylaxis are very important for Belarus.
Viktor Gaisenok also met with UN Deputy Secretary General for General Assembly and Conference Management Muhammad Shaaban to discuss the issues relating to organisational support to the debates on human trafficking scheduled to be held at the start of 2008 in the UN headquarters in New York.
The sides considered the ways of expanding constructive cooperation between the Belarusian delegation and the UN Secretariat.
National Bank of Belarus to extend list of reserve currencies
In September this year NBRP decided to include yuan-denominated assets into the gold and foreign exchange reserves of Belarus. The Russian ruble has been used as reserve currency of Belarus since September 2006. US dollars and euro are also listed as reserve currencies.
Piotr Prokopovich reported that in accordance with the draft guidelines of the monetary policy of Belarus for 2008 the gold and foreign exchange reserves of Belarus should reach $200-400 million.
In January-September 2007, the reserve assets of Belarus grew by $1,398.2 million or 79.7% to $3,151.5 million. Last month they jumped by 12.7%.
Fitch on state-owned Belorussian banks
According to Reuters, Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Support Rating Floor of BBK, BAPB, BPB and BIB at 'B-' (B minus).
Fitch Ratings has today affirmed the ratings of four Belorussian banks (listed below), which reflect Fitch's view on the capacity of Belorussian authorities to support these banks, if required. The Belorussian economy remains highly dollarized, which significantly limits the state's ability to provide support to the financial institutions. Belarusbank (BBK): Long-term Issuer Default rating (IDR): affirmed at 'B-' (B minus); Outlook Stable Short-term IDR: affirmed at 'B' Individual rating: affirmed at 'D/E' Support rating: affirmed at '5' Support Rating Floor: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus) Belagroprombank (BAPB): Long-term IDR: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus); Outlook Stable Short-term IDR: affirmed at 'B' Individual rating: affirmed at 'D/E' Support rating: affirmed at '5' Support Rating Floor: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus) Belpromstroibank (BPB): Long-term IDR: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus); Outlook Stable Short-term IDR: affirmed at 'B' Individual rating: affirmed at 'D/E' Support rating: affirmed at '5' Support Rating Floor: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus) Belinvestbank (BIB): Long-term IDR: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus); Outlook Stable Short-term IDR: affirmed at 'B' Support rating: affirmed at '5'. Support Rating Floor: affirmed at 'B-' (B minus) Individual rating: upgraded to 'D/E' from 'E' to reflect better diversification of the loan portfolio and funding base and improvements in risk management processes
BBK, BAPB, BPB and BIB are the largest state-owned banks in Belarus, which actively participate in state-lending programmes to support the state's social and economic policies. Given their strategic importance, the Belarusian government has stated its intention to keep control over banks until at least 2010.
BBK is the leading bank by assets and capital in Belarus and has the largest branch network.
BAPB is the second-largest bank in Belarus with a market share of total banking system assets of about 19% at end-H107. The bank's business is concentrated on the agricultural sector.
BPB is the fourth-largest bank in Belarus. It primarily services large corporate customers, including both state-owned and private enterprises.
BIB is the fifth-largest bank in Belarus, with about 7% of sector assets at end-H107. BIB specializes on providing investment loans to medium-sized enterprises.
Bellegprom companies invest Br 57 billion in upgrade projects over nine months
Over the nine months Bellegprom companies invested Br 57 billion in upgrade projects which is 90% of the annual target, chairman of the Bellegprom concern Eduard Naryshkin told a session of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers on October 9. The session highlighted ways to stabilize the financial situation in the light industry.
On the whole, a total of Br 100 billion is slated for in modernization projects in the light industry. As a result, 6% of the branch assets will be upgraded. By 2010, about Br 500 billion will be utilized for the purpose and the depreciation of main assets will be halved.
According to Eduard Naryshkin, modernization projects helped improve operation of several companies. Thus, such GDP-forming companies as Baranovichi Cotton Association, Gronitex and KIM became profit making.
Polish businessmen want to manufacture yachts and metal tile in Vitebsk oblast
Businessmen from Pomeranian Voivodeship of the Republic of Poland intend to set up a joint venture to produce yachts and boats in Vitebsk oblast. A delegation composed of officials and businessmen from Pomeranian Voivodeship will put forward such a proposal at the second Belarusian-Pomeranian meeting, which will be held in Vitebsk within the framework of the 5th international investment forum “Investments in development of businesses and regions” scheduled for October 11, BelTA was told by consul general of Belarus to Gdansk Ruslan Esin.
The Polish businessmen are also interested in implementing joint metal tile production and meat processing projects in Belarus. According to Ruslan Esin, the Polish manufacturers are interested in launching various productions in Belarus’ small towns.
A possibility of opening joint ventures and establishing cooperation in the sphere of tourism and culture between Vitebsk oblast and Pomeranian Voivodeship will be considered during a visit of officials and businessmen of Pomeranian Voivodeship to the northern region of Belarus.
German businessmen interested in joint projects in Euroregion “Bug”
More than 70 officials and businessmen from Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and France took part in the economic forum of the transborder Polish-Ukrainian-Belarusian formation Euroregion ‘Bug” and the first contact-cooperation exchange held in Brest on October 8-9.
The meeting and the contact-cooperation exchange were held within the framework of the international project “Expansion of the European Union and Direct Investments in the Border Regions” supported by the Commission of the European Union.
“The creation of a positive image of the border region “Bug” and its positioning as an interesting economic entity for foreign companies”, managing director of the Baden-Wurtenberg nongovernmental organisation German-Belarus House Patrizia Ruppert explained the main goal of the economic forum.
According to her, there is unexploited economic area at the eastern border of the European Union – Euroregion “Bug”, which unites Brest oblast (Belarus), Lublin Voivodeship (Poland) and Volyn oblast (Ukraine).
Belarus ministry, Gazprom to discuss gas deliveries for next year
From: Itar Tass
The Belarusian delegation will include Minister of Energy Alexander Ozerets and Beltransgaz Director General Vladimir Mayorov.
“The sides will discuss deliveries of the Russian gas to Belarus in next year and this year’s supplies,” the press service said.
Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk told reporters on Tuesday that Belarus plans to coordinate with Gazprom the gas price formula for 2008 before the end of this year.
In his words, the next year’s amounts of gas purchases were coordinated tentatively.
Earlier, an official of the Belarusian ministry said that the country plans to import 21.7 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas in 2008.
Iran-Belarus parliaments emphasized on expansion of ties
Gennady Novitsky in his meeting with Iran's parliament speaker on the sideline of the 117th inter-parliamentary union meeting while describing Tehran-Minsk relations "practical" added the two countries had many constructive joint investment plans.
"Tehran and Minsk share common viewpoints regarding many international issues and due to the power of the two parliaments they can easily expand mutual cooperation," he noted.
Iran's parliament speaker for his part said the two countries' relations are satisfactory and make good examples for other countries in the region.
Gholam Ali Haddad Adel asserted that Belarus is a reliable friend of Iran, highlighting that they are both under pressure for their attempt to be independent.
Roundtable talks with Belarus
"It has been one of the most meaningful meetings I have ever attended in a Nordic context. The participants were open. We discussed major questions, for which there are no easy answers. Open democracy is the best way to achieve popular support. let us meet again, perhaps early in 2008. Or, to quote a Chinese proverb: We met once and get to know each other. We meet again and become friends."
It will no doubt take more than that to make the governing party and the opposition parties in Belarus friends. Too many of the opposition have been imprisoned or subjected to other forms of harassment. However, at least both parties agreed that it is useful to exchange information, ideas and experiences with Nordic and Baltic politicians.
Climate change may have been the theme of the seminar, but nuclear power generated the most debate. Belarus has traumatic experiences of the Tjernobyl disaster, but the government in Minsk is now prepared to build a new nuclear power plant. The Nordic countries were able to relate their very different views on nuclear power. Ole Stavad talked about popular Danish opposition - bolstered by the very same Tjernobyl disaster. The opposition led to politicians investing in alternative sources of energy such as windmills instead. In Finland, there is on the other hand, a majority in favour of building more nuclear plants, while Sweden has agreed in principle to phase out nuclear power. Siv Fridleifsdottir of Iceland told the Belarussian politicians that no other issues have generated as much Nordic debate as nuclear power and whaling.
Ole Stavad talked about the 2009 Climate Summit in Copenhagen.
"It won't just be a summit for ministers, it will also be a summit of the people, so Nordic bodies will seek to bring together NGOs from all over the world. Climate change, energy and the environment are far too important to leave them to the politicians."
Milinkevich: Belarus authorities lose interest in dialogue
From: prague monitor
Milinkevich, a former opposition candidate for Belarussian president who is attending in Prague the annual 2000 Forum conference, said the Belarussian opposition was now preparing a demonstration called a European march that will take place in Minsk this Sunday.
"According to Belarus's Constitution, we have the right for a calm demonstration in any part of the city and we will certainly come to the main square. The tougher the authorities' intervention will be, the smaller will be a chance for them to re-gain influence in society," Milinkevich said.
By the Sunday march, the Belarussian opposition wants to manifest their country's belonging to Europe and the Belarussian people's wish to integrate into European structures, he said.
According to former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright, it is a terrible tragedy that the people of Belarus still do not have such possibilities as the people from the neighbouring east European countries.
"It is extremely sad. People there want something different but they are prevented from having it," Albright told CTK Monday.
She said she personally had never met Belarussian president Alexandr Lukashenko.
"We really had nothing to do with him, we really were aware that he does not have a good influence," she said.
Milinkevich pointed out that the Belarussian opposition was not seeking the revolutionary ousting of Lukashenko's regime but goes along the path of evolution.
Albright said, however, that changes could come sooner than it could seem.
"It is true that when something starts happening things could change quicker than people expect. It is also true that Lukashenko's power is quite firm and that Russians do not want any changes," Albright said.
At a discussion with students today Milinkevich who lost the contest over the presidential post in the 2006 rigged elections, said that the authoritarian President Lukashenko would not dare to organise any just elections in the near future.
"The state power is aware that it would lose the genuine elections with candidates' equal access to the media and real counting of votes. It has started being afraid," he told CTK.
Will Russia Deploy Nuclear Weapons in Belarus?
From: world politics review
Maltsev's comments, delivered at a press conference after a meeting of the defense ministers of the member states of the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, have revived concerns that Russia might place nuclear weapons in Belarus as a countermeasure to the U.S. BMD deployments.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that his government had no plans to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus. The belated denials came a week after Alexander Surikov, the Belarus ambassador to Russia, told the media that current tensions between Moscow and the West could lead Russia and Belarus to deploy nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory to bolster their joint defenses.
Although the ambassador later claimed that he had been misquoted, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has made similar statements in the past. The fact that Russia and Belarus are both members of the CSTO, which pledges mutual assistance in case of armed attack, effectively means that Minsk, in theory, falls under Moscow's nuclear security guarantees.
As part of its proclaimed "asymmetric response" to Washington's decision to deploy BMD systems in Eastern Europe, Russia might base tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) on short-range missiles in Belarus to threaten these assets in a future conflict. Surikov's statement could easily have been a trial balloon by Moscow and Minsk to assess the international reaction to such a deployment.
Widely overlooked amidst the denials was the concurrent assertion of Russian Col. Gen. Vladimir Verhkovtsev, head of the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, that Moscow would not consider negotiating restrictions on Russia's sizable TNW arsenal unless France and the United Kingdom as well as the United States participate in any such discussions.
Since Russian policymakers know that achieving a consensus on such a delicate issue among Paris, London, and Washington is unlikely, they evidently are seeking to preserve a free hand in this area. No existing arms control agreement covers TNWs, which generally are defined as nuclear weapons systems having a range of less than 500 kilometers.
After the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States eliminated many of their TNWs -- and removed others from deployment on ships and with other operational combat units -- in accord with the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNI) of 1991-92. Since then, however, the Russian military has objected to further TNW-related arms control measures. According to multiple sources, the Russian armed forces possess thousands of TNWs, and its commanders do not appear eager to give them up.
In theory, Russian military doctrine allows Russian commanders to use these weapons for several purposes. For example, Russian strategists have discussed detonating a limited number of nuclear weapons -- perhaps just one -- to induce an adversary to end ("de-escalate" in Russian terminology) a conventional military conflict with Russia.
The selective strike would seek to exploit the inevitable "shock and awe" effect associated with nuclear use to cause the targeted decision makers to weigh the risks of nuclear devastation more heavily. This strategy exploits the fear that, after one nuclear explosion, the prospects of further detonations increase substantially. Initiating nuclear use would underscore the seriousness with which the Russian government viewed the situation and encourage the other side to de-escalate the conflict.
The most commonly discussed contingency for a "de-escalation" mission is a NATO decision to intervene against a Russian military ally (e.g., Belarus) or on behalf of a non-member country (e.g., Georgia) in a conflict with Russia. The Russian military rehearsed such a scenario in their June 1999 "Zapad-99" ("West-99") exercises. After Russian conventional forces proved unable to repulse an attack on Russia and Belarus, Russian nuclear forces conducted limited strikes against the posited enemy.
In 1993, moreover, the Russian government abandoned its declared pledge not to employ nuclear weapons first in a conflict, effectively establishing a justification in Russian doctrine for initiating nuclear use. The statement brought Russia's declared strategic posture into line with that of Britain, France, and the United States (but not China). These NATO countries have never renounced the right to resort to nuclear weapons first in an emergency.
Actually exploding a nuclear device in a conflict would prove problematic. On the one hand, it could terminate the conflict in Russia's favor. On the other, it could lead to potentially, even larger-scale, nuclear use if the other side considered the detonation a prelude to additional nuclear strikes and decided to escalate first. Russian officials would probably attempt to underscore the strike's limited nature -- by using a low-yield TNW, for instance -- to minimize the risks of further escalation.
In addition, Russian strategists have long considered using limited nuclear strikes to alter the course of a conventional conflict that Russia risked losing. The January 2000 National Security Concept, for example, implied that Russia could use TNWs to resist a conventional attack without engendering a full-scale nuclear exchange. A related function of Russian nuclear forces would be to prevent other countries from escalating a conventional conflict to a nuclear war. In such a scenario, Russia could threaten to retaliate disproportionately should an adversary employ nuclear weapons to try to alter a conventional battle in its favor. Even after one party has initiated a limited nuclear exchange, Russian commanders might attempt to control further escalation by issuing nuclear threats, showing restraint, or pursuing other "nuclear signaling."
The problem with attempting to exercise escalation control under combat conditions is that such tactics risk uncontrolled nuclear war. In theory, other possible firebreaks between non-nuclear operations and uncontrolled nuclear escalation might also exist. These could include attempts to enforce distinctions between strikes against either side's national homelands (hence the value of launching Russian attacks from Belarus against U.S. facilities in Poland) as opposed to less critical third areas, between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, or even between nuclear strikes against military and civilian targets. The most plausible line for limiting escalation, however, remains that between using and not using nuclear weapons at all.
Seoul dance group tours in Belarus
|The National Academic Yakub Kolas Drama Theater has opened the 82nd season|
There are about 1,200 Koreans in Belarus, of them 200 live in Minsk.
The Korean alphabet is believed to be created in 1446. Before that Koreans used Chinese hieroglyphs. The alphabet has 10 vowels and 14 consonants and is believed to be one of the simplest in the world.
Attending the performance in the House of Friendship were representatives of the Korean Diaspora, Belarusian and Korean students.
Almost 9,000 residents of Bryansk attend performances by Gomel Oblast Drama Theater
Almost 9,000 residents of Bryansk came to see the best plays staged by the Gomel Oblast Drama Theater during the ten-day tour of the theater.
The Gomel actors gave 19 shows, including nine shows for children. In 2008, the theater plans to go on tour to Kursk. In the near future the Gomel actors will also take part in the Panarama international theater festival in Minsk and finish staging two new plays.
TV and Radio Company Mir celebrates 15th anniversary
On October 9 the Interstate TV and Radio Broadcasting Company Mir celebrates the 15th anniversary from signing an agreement on its foundation.
Founded by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the company is headquartered in Moscow and has its representation offices in the capitals of the aforesaid countries. The company broadcasts in Russian in the Commonwealth, the Baltic states and several non-CIS countries.
The company was set up to form the single information space in the CIS. Its major goal is to provide every independent state with the right to give objective information. Mir covers integration processes and familiarizes the Commonwealth residents with the public life of the countries, pivotal social issues, history and culture.
Концерт группы Фляус и Кляинн
From: Минский блог
Фляус и Кляинн
очень энергичный брит-рок из Новополоцка
Группа Фляус и Кляинн известна как самобытная и яркая команда, почти из каждого своего выступления устраивающая перформанс. Вот вам пару цитат.
«Шоу, которое устроили эти парни в одинаковых «битловских» пиджачках, было ничем не хуже каких-нибудь Muse!» belaruspartisan.org
«На дадзены момант — самая брытанская каманда Беларусі. Нашмат больш брытанская, чым нашыя шматлікія ангельскамоўныя псэўдабрытпоперы». rudy-de.livejournal.com
«Шизо-фрики с безумным вокалистом». Татьяна Замировская (БелГазета)
А вот неполный список того, что находится у группы в копилке наград:
• первый приз фестиваля Басовішча-07
• приз зрительских симпатий на Рок-коронации-05
• перыве места на фестивале Рок-кола в 2004 и 2005 годах
• гран-при фестиваля «Ты призван быть первым» г.Москва
Russian serial killer says murder is like love
Supermarket worker Alexander Pichushkin, 33, has been branded the 'chessboard murderer' by Russian newspapers because he hoped to put a coin on every square of a 64-place chessboard for each murder.
"A first killing is like your first love. You never forget it," he said from a cage in the courtroom, after explaining how he started killing at age 18 with the murder of a classmate.
Pichushkin said he had suggested to his classmate that they kill someone, but when his friend refused, "I sent him to heaven." He then smirked at the jury.
"The closer a person is to you, and the better you know them, the more pleasurable it is to kill them," he said.
"In all the cases I killed for only one reason. I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live."
Often aggressive in court, Pichushkin gesticulated to show the jury how he strangled his victims and the marks his victims had left on his hands as they struggled.
Prosecutors have charged Pichushkin with 49 murders and three attempted murders, but he asked the court to take into account another 11 murders.
"I thought it would not be fair to forget about the other 11 people," Pichushkin told the court.
Prosecutors say he lured most of his victims to secluded parts of Moscow's Bitsevsky Park, where he plied them with vodka and then smashed their skulls with a hammer.
Other victims were strangled, drowned in a sewage pit or thrown off balconies. He said police interviewed him at the time of his first murder but let him go due to a lack of evidence.
"You should not credit the police with catching me. I gave myself up," he told the court.
If convicted, Pichushkin could be Russia's most prolific serial killer.
Andrei Chikatilo, the "Rostov Ripper", was convicted in 1992 and executed in 1994 for raping, butchering and in some cases eating as many as 52 people.
Pichushkin's trial is expected to be lengthy, with testimony scheduled from at least 41 relatives of the alleged victims and another 98 witnesses.
Cops: Polish Hero Kidnapped Woman To Poland, Spent Her Savings
|Aron Bell, 80, and Henryka Bell, 59|
Police arrested Aron Bell, 80, and Henryka Bell, 59, and charged them with kidnapping, elderly exploitation, grand theft from a person older than 65 years of age and organized scheme to defraud.
The story of how Aron Bell's three brothers helped save thousands of fellow jews is documented in a book and upcoming feature film.
Aron Bell grew up in Poland during World War II and survived the Holocaust by living in the woods after his parents were taken by the Nazis at the age of 11. The story of how Bell and his brothers helped save thousands of fellow Jews is the subject of the 1994 book, "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans," by Nechama Tec. A movie based on the book is currently in production, slated to star current James Bond actor Daniel Craig, WPBF reported.
According to a police report, the Bells befriended 93-year-old Janina Zaniewska and "systematically took over every aspect of her life," including redirecting phone calls and mail meant for her to themselves.
Police said the three lived in a condominium at 44 Coconut Row in Palm Beach, where they originally met and where the Bells began taking control of Zaniewska's finances.
According to the report, a bank manager told police that Henryka Bell brought Zaniewska to her office in April in order to open up an account in which the Bells would have access to. The bank manager allegedly told police that Zaniewska had been in her office two weeks before to open an account and had seemed fine, but when the 93-year-old came with Bell, she was confined to a wheelchair and seemed confused.
Investigators told WPBF that upon opening the second account, Henryka Bell demanded to have Zaniewska's Social Security payments redirected into the shared account. The bank manager said she refused to make the change, but that she later discovered that the couple had somehow been able to make the transaction anyway, according to the report.
Police said that Zaniewska had previously approached bank tellers in the bank and asked them not to give her money to the Bells, but while the couple was with the 93-year-old, they would not let her speak and kept her in a wheelchair.
According to the report, the Bells took Zaniewska to Poland on May 17 and returned without the 93-year-old on June 2. Police said that, with the help of the Polish-American Society Club in Lake Worth, officials located Zaniewska at a nursing home in a remote town in Poland. According to police, a detective called the nursing home and talked to Zaniewska, who told the officer, "Thank God, you found me."
Police said Zaniewska told the investigator that she had been tricked by the Bells and was placed in an "old lady home" against her will. Zaniewska told police that she believed the Bells were stealing her money and that she had thought that she was going on vacation to Poland and did not know she was going to be placed in a nursing home, Captain Elmer Gudger with the Palm Beach Police said.
"In the phone call that we made to her, when she realized it was the police department, she thanked us very much for finding her and made a comment that she thought she was going to die over there in the nursing home," Gudger told WPBF.
Gudger said that the Bells had withdrawn about $250,000 out of Zaniewska's bank accounts and were using the money to pay their own bills.
Authorities told WPBF that federal agents assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Poland attempted to speak with Zaniewska by telephone but were denied by nursing home staff because Henryka Bell had allegedly told the home not to allow the woman to speak with anyone. Police said agents eventually were able to contact the 93-year-old and bring her back to Palm Beach.
Aron and Henryka Bell were denied bail at their first appearance in a West Palm Beach court Tuesday morning. Zaniewska returned to the U.S. last week and is staying temporarily at a nursing home in Palm Beach County, police said.
Nurses set up tent village in Poland
Everyone loves the nurses ...
The "public" received the protests very positively. A great majority in the country supported the action and agreed with the wage demands, according to polls. Many people came along spontaneously and brought food, blankets or sleeping bags. People were impressed with the women's determination and optimism. Many seemed to have been waiting for this movement which exemplified the concerns of a large part of society: Poland is modernising and turning into one of the EU's extended workbenches, but wages have remained low . The nurses also made the connection to the current emigration move: "Stay healthy, we're leaving!" or "We want to work not emigrate".
Support came not only from almost all left-wing groups and grouplets  but - at least verbally - also from the neoliberal opposition who likes anything that gets the religious-right-wing government into trouble. PO  leader Tusk condemned the police brutality just like Warsaw's PO mayor, former central bank boss Gronkiewicz-Waltz. Stars and starlets from the cultural scene gave concerts and/or spent a night in a tent.
Even though other unions like left-wing Sierpie? 80 tried to get their foot into the door of the action, their influence remained limited to participation in the tent village's assemblies which discussed practical questions like protection from attacks. The OZZPiP seek their allies among neoliberals - for instance they asked the boss of the private employers' association, Bochniarz, to negotiate for them -, but politically their monopoly was never questioned.
... but what exactly was it about?
Despite all the positive public feedback hardly anyone knew what actually happened in detail. For instance, many declared their solidarity with the "nurses' strike" although the nurses did not strike at all . There was no lack of strikes in Poland this year, however, like warning strikes for wage rises at Fiat in Tychy and Bielsko-Biala, at Opel in Gliwice or repeated wildcat strikes at the Cegielski machine factory in Poznan. The bus drivers in Kielce ...
The nurses' concrete demands were as little known as the fact that there was no strike. Somehow they're asking 30 per cent more, right? In reality, the OZZPiP did not demand a direct pay rise but demanded the extension of the law concerning the rise of subsidies to personell costs from 2006. After a doctors' strike in early 2006, this law made additional subsidies for the National Health Funds NFZ available in order to raise personell spendings by 30 per cent in the period from July 2006 to September 2007.
Polish hospitals are permanently skint  and regularly receive similar financial support. The public Polish health system is chronically underfinanced (Poland spends about 4 per cent of its GDP on its health system, compared to 10 per cent in Germany and 15 per cent in the USA). There are lobbies in all parties who would like to commercialise the health system in order to open up the potentially huge health business for clinics, private practices and the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries. However, nobody knows how to finance this. On the one hand, raising the current health insurance contributions of 11,45 per cent or making the employers pay (in Poland contributions are paid exclusively by workers) are seen as politically inacceptable. On the other hand, an official return to budget funding would effectively block the road to commercialisation. So further small steps are being made on this road, like the introduction of private supplementary insurances (so far only between 1 and 2 per cent of people in Poland have something like that) and the creation of legal possibilities for doctors to make money on the side (so far they take an estimated 1 to 3 billion Euros of bribes a year from patients ). At the same time, the current system is kept on its feet with temporary exceptional regulations.
The OZZPiP demands to extend the abovementioned law for several years after 1 October 2007. They want to raise health spendings - no matter if through subsidies or through rising contributions - i.e. they want to enlarge the cake and thereby also enlarge the total wage year by year. On the other hand, nobody has ever talked about a 30 per cent wage increase, neither in the future nor in the past. According to the OZZPiP, the 30 per cent cost increase through the 2006 law has resulted in an average 17 per cent wage increase. 
In the background: the doctors' strike
The fact that the 30 per cent cost increase was written into a law at all was due to a doctors' strike. And in 2007 they are fighting for their interest again. Because the biggest strike in 2007 - the longest and the one with the biggest participation - was the doctors' strike which started on 21 May. Current wages are very heterogeneous and some of them below 1,500 Zl. The doctors' union OZZL has made clear nationwide demands: They want three times the national statistical average wage for specialised doctors, double for the others. Thus doctors not only talk about concrete amounts but also mark the social distance they would like to keep. The union left the decision about strikes to local strike committees in individual hospitals - just like negotiations and agreements. According to the union, there were strikes in different forms in about 230 of Poland's 800 state hospitals. In some places planned operations were cancelled, in others there were only emergency services, still others boycotted the settlement of accounts with the NFZ. Additionally, about 3,500 of 120,000 doctors in the Polish Health Service gave notice of termination. By now (late August) most hospitals have signed different agreements - and many doctors have called off their notices of termination. OZZL leader Bukiel - also advisor of the ultra-neoliberal party UPR - used the attention created by the strike - and the nurses' protest - to keep reiterating his main demand: privatisation of the Health Service!
Unlike the nurses' the doctors haven't endeared themselves to the public. On 21 August patients even occupied a hospital in Radom to protest against the doctors' strike. The doctors have neither shown a lot of consideration for patients nor tried to struggle together with the nurses.
Similarly, the OZZPiP see themselves as a representation of certified nurses and keep their distance from other hospital workers (assistant nurses, ambulance drivers, cleaning workers etc.). Instead, they attach themselves to the doctors and their representatives who were frequent and welcome guests in the "white town". They still do not plan any strikes although their demands have not been met. In late August, the union put up some tents again in front of Parliament and talked to the press. They also promise continued protests in September.
And the nurses?
Although many nurses in Poland liked the action this does not necessarily mean that they share the union's view about doctors or about the privatisation of the health system. But they have not spoken out nor organised any actions of their own. The "white town" looked a lot more lively than the usual plastic-bag-dress union rituals in Germany but still the action was organised from above - even though it must have been great for the participating nurses to get out of their usual lives, get to know colleagues from other cities and bathe in the "public's" sympathy for a few weeks.
Maybe the nurses in the country simply reckon like this: The average 17 per cent wage increase they received in 2006 still mean low wages in absolute figures (about 200 Zl more) and compared to other occupational groups. But they are among Poland's highest percentual wage increases in the last years. Workers in the automobile industry got less: After years of almost no wage increases at all, this year the union (Solidarno??) felt obliged to stake a stand and organise warning strikes and then signed quick and poor agreements: For example, Solidarno?? at Opel in Gliwice had demanded 500 Zl more per month and then signed a single payment of 2,500 Zl (approx. 200 Zl per month) with an average monthly net wage of about 2,300 Zl. In the postal service a spectacular wave of wildcat strikes last year resulted in a disappointing increase of 110 Zl monthly . Therefore the nurses may speculate that the union will get them a good result again. By attaching themselves to the doctors who receive all the anger, they do not even have to spoil their moral position with the "public" and the patients. It remains to be seen whether this speculation will work out.
Eviction looms as end to defiant Polish nuns' holdout
More than 100 police officers have been given the task of removing 9 former members of the Sisters of the Bethany Family, who have illegally occupied the convent for months.
The eviction-- which was ordered by a Polish court after the nuns refused a May order to vacate the premises-- is the latest development in a running battle that began when the Vatican ordered the removal of a mother superior. The ousted superior refused to accept that order, and took up residence in a convent in Kazimierz along with some members of the congregation. Since that time the women have continued to occupy the convent despite a series of judgments against them in both ecclesiastical and civil courts.
In February of this year, the Congregation for Religious issued a decree saying that the women were no longer members of the religious order. A year earlier, Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin-- in whose jurisdiction the convent is located-- had forbidden the administration of the sacraments in the disputed convent. While the former sisters have been offered temporary lodging at three local retreat houses, most are expected to return to their families.
Russia bars "provocative" art from Paris show
|Era of Mercy|
V.Mizin and A.Shaburov. From the series "Vogue of Labor"
Artists and experts said the move to pull 17 works from the exhibition was an act of state censorship -- something that went against the artists' desire to display the diversity of modern-day Russian life.
The pictures, photographs and installations, brought together by Russia's State Tretyakov Gallery, are due to be shown in the Maison Rouge exhibition hall in Paris as part of France's "A Year of Russia".
But officials said the 17 exhibits would bring disgrace on Russia and were a "political provocation" by the artists.
"If this exhibition appears there (in France), it will bring shame on Russia, and in this case all of us will bear full responsibility," Russian media quoted Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov as telling a news conference.
He said "it is inadmissible ... to take all this pornography, kissing policemen and erotic pictures" to Paris.
Lidia Iovleva, deputy director general of the Tretyakov gallery, told Reuters: "To my regret, this is a sheer political provocation (by the artists), and a state-sponsored museum has no right to condone this. We are not a private gallery."
The exhibition would have never left Russia, if the banned exhibits had not been thrown out on the insistence of the Federal Culture and Cinema Agency, she said.
The photograph of the two Russian policemen, in uniform, kissing and fondling each other in a birch-tree grove, was by an art group called Blue Noses. It is titled the "Era of Mercy".
Slava Mizin, a co-founder of the group, dismissed the criticism as unfounded and "radical, lopsided thinking".
"We did not mean something else, we wanted to show -- here's an era of mercy coming after the harsh 1990s, and two people are kissing. Full stop," the artist told Reuters.
"I admit there is something provocative in this. But if people just take it as pornography or eroticism, then it's just silly in the end."
Liberals say Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB agent, has trampled basic freedoms and backtracked on democracy.
Officials say that Putin's Russia is far freer than the Soviet Union but democracy must not mean all-permissiveness.
In comments published in Vedomosti daily, culture expert Daniil Dondurei said even the culture minister's personal opinion could now push museum workers across Russia to impose self-censorship.
"It's his (minister's) attempt to outline the future borders of state cultural policy," he said. "It's his attempt to erect new ideological barriers."
"European Choice" as a ticket for "Titanic"
Therefore when I read those calls to come to European March, I simply don’t know what to feel or think. Please don’t misinterpret me: we should go there - but for a different reason.
Calls for eurointegration resemble calls to provide everyone with free meet for the rest of their lives: here is an example of a typical logic employed today:
- Belarusian pension is something you can only cry on, not live on. Like an elderly lady who had worked all her life like an accountant asks why a German accountant who had worked at the same job, with the same responsibilities (but only in Germany) gets 600 EUR pension and can travel on that. Whereas she gets only 150 USD. They both worked the same time, with the same effort, but the Belarusian lady can survive only with her sons help, whereas the German Frau can travel around Europe. This cry shows all! The lady wants to live in Europe, get European pension for a European work . And the only thing that barrs her from that is that she lives outside Europe. Just a bit outside…
Democratization and europezation won’t GIVE people their long-wished well-being: they will ALLOW them to EARN it through hard work. It is difficult to fight agains Lukashist populizm without being a populist yourself, but democratic populism still remains demagogy, from whatever side it comes. Or may be Belarusian nation can not accept more complicated arguments?
No one asks a question how long European heaven will hold and what will it bring us. We just hear a “hardtalk” which all the time finishes in a conclusion that “we should move to Europe coz we are Europeans”, and that “when we join the EU, we will start earning like the Europeans”.
However, eventual accession of Belarus to the European Union brings lots of negative things as well. Bureaucratic apparatus created by Brussels weighs so much that the “old Europe” economy almost does not grow. This is the reality where shops are forbidden to work after 7 and where tax pressure exceeds 50% on average. These tax money are further redirected into such welfares when unemployed people get subsidies reaching an average salary in their country. They are also transferred into salaries of bureaucrats in Brussels. Salaries which are more than high.
This is a real social union. And social union (or state) is inflation plus unemployment, and that exactly what we see in the EU case. If it had been limited by just some states - one could carry that, but such standards are being imposed on all new members. Say, Estonia had to stop its several liberal trade programs and even increased import tax for some non-EU goods just because membership conditions required that.
European socioeconomic model does not simply deeffectize economy, but turns some categories of people into parasites (in a milder form than in social economies, but they still think that the state should take care of them in difficult situations).
And this is the MAIN THING THAT IMMIGRANTS LIVING ON SUBSIDIES IN THEIR GHETTOS LEARN ABOUT EUROPEAN LIFE. And what is the awfulest thing here - that those people living on subsidies are RATIONAL in their behaviour: “Why should I care when the state will take care about me. Why should I work when the industrious pay half of their income to support such lazybones like me?”
Election debates and other spectator sports
Eight million people watched the first TV debate last Monday – which in these days of multi channel TV and internet, is a televisual blockbuster.
Kaczynski will now likely debate leader of the Civic Platform on Friday evening and there will probably be a three way debate on Monday between Kaczynski, Tusk and the ‘face’ of the Left and Democrats campaign, former president Aleksander Kwasniewski.
That the Left and Democrats have to put Kwasniewski into the ring for them – someone who is not even standing for parliament – is a rather pathetic sign of what a race of pygmies they have become.
Fact is, he is still their biggest personality, and TV debates are all about personalities.
In Britain, where I am from, prime ministers don’t do debates – why run the risk of making yourself look an idiot? (Risk is not on the menu for UK politicians – look at the mess Gordon Iron Jaw Brown has got himself into: people are shocked by his lack of guts, ignoring the fact that Brown has a long history of bottling it.).
Usually, prime ministers can only lose debates, opposition politicians might just win one. In last Monday’s debate both candidates managed not to lose any support. The more Kwasniewski taunted Kaczynski that he was making his country a laughing stock abroad (and there is no doubt he has) the more Kaczynski’s supporters cheered him on – they want his confrontational stance in the European Union and elsewhere.
On Friday it is Kaczynski versus Tusk. Tusk, being from Civic Platform, will do what the Democrats do in the US – they will try and appeal to reason and give lots of little policy initiatives that they think their supporters want.
Kaczynski will continue to act like a US Republican: give them one big message – ‘Poland is ruled by corrupt liberals and ex-communists’.
Kaczynski seems to understand campaigning much better than Tusk, who is getting the reputation as being a bit of a wuss - a wish-washy dullard, who lacks the balls for a fight (a Polish version of the UK’s hapless leader, perhaps).
The coming TV debates are likely to emphasize these differences. Kaczynski is giving his supporters - those in rural areas, the old, the poor, the ones who lost out in the transition to capitalism - what they want. Tusk is frustrating his. We have had two years of the weirdest government I have ever seen. If Tusk and Kwasniewski haven’t been able to nail Law and Justice by now then they will not be able to do it - no matter how many TV debates they have - in the remaining couple of weeks.
Get ready for a Kaczynski win. The only thing really in doubt now is whether he will get a big enough majority to rule alone.
From: publius pundit
Власти Гродно согласны восстановить исторический центр города?
From: Блог Гродно s13
В частности, в письме за подписью председателя горисполкома Александра Антоненко отмечается: “Работы по реконструкции Советской площади не носили радикального характера, что позволяет при благоприятных экономических условиях восстановить утраченные архитектурные объекты на ее территории (ратуша, дворец Радзивиллов, фара Витовта)”.
В этой ситуации, полагает председатель ТБМ, общественность должна начать кампанию по сбору средств для восстановления в Гродно самого большого католического храма Великого княжества Литовского — фары Витовта (фарного костела Пречистой Божьей Матери), возведенного в конце XVI века в стиле готики и маньеризма. По словам О.Трусова, восстановление этого памятника зодчества, взорванного 46 лет тому назад, в годы советской власти, а также дворца Радзивиллов и ратуши будет способствовать не только возрождению исторического силуэта Гродно, но и упрочению позиций защитников историко-культурного наследия.
Bubba-loshn: September’s Best Babushka
|Valentina teaches the alef-beis. She keeps her students' attention with her warm smile and bright orange hair!|
During the pre-WWII Soviet Period, the Yiddish language enjoyed a period of flowering.
By the 1930's there were more than 1,200 Yiddish schools and several teacher-training institutions, as well as departments of Jewish studies and chairs of Yiddish language and literature at the Universities of Moscow, Kiev and Minsk. Yiddish, in fact, was so prolific that it was among the 4 official languages of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic displayed on the emblem of Belarus, the three others being Russian, Belarusian, and Polish. There were also Yiddish puppet theaters, drama societies, and daily Yiddish papers throughout the Belarusian Soviet Republic and throughout the Soviet Union.
Now, years after World War II and Stalin’s repression, the momoloshn is back in full force in this Mother Land. There are no Yiddish schools or newspapers, but already since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been a true renaissance of Yiddish. Few remain that can speak the language fluently, but hundreds of elderly Jews in Belarus are coming out of the closet as Yiddophiles.
The Minsk Jewish Campus now hosts two Yiddish language courses. One is Shmues, a Yiddish language and culture club organized by Hesed, the Joint Distribution Committee’s main welfare organization in Minsk. Hesed also has a Yiddish puppet theater, Yiddish choir, and even puts on an annual Yiddish-only Purimspiel.
The second is Momoloshn, a weekly lesson headed by one of the only Yiddish teachers in Belarus and this month’s Best Grandma, Valentina Pugachova, who puts her Babushka heart and soul into teaching Yiddish at the Minsk Society of Jewish Culture, also in the Minsk Jewish Campus.
Valentina’s first childhood memories are of her life in the Minsk ghetto. She, like most other Jewish Minsk residents has relatives who were murdered in the Yama pit in the center of Minsk. Despite the dangers, Valentina and her husband spoke to one another in Yiddish during the Soviet Union, determined not to forget their national language. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Valentina has had the pleasure of openly sharing her knowledge with her community every Tuesday night at 6:30pm with other less-knowledgeable Yiddish enthusiasts. Valentina is has two Yiddish-speaking grandchildren, one who lives in Minneapolis and one who lives in Chicago.
Belarus win bronze at European Women’s Basketball Championships
|Belarus survived a furious comeback by Latvia to win 72-63 and capture the bronze medal in their very first appearance at the EuroBasket Women.|
Belarus beat Croatia, Serbia, Italy and defending champions Czech Republic en-route to the semifinals, where the team were defeated by favorites Spain.
The Belarusian squad clinched a berth at next year’s Olympic qualifying tournament thanks to their successful performance at the championships.
The team led by as many as 25 points late in the third quarter but had to hold on for dear life as the Baltic side closed the gap to 61-57 with 3:29 to go on Ieva Kublina’s four-point play.
Anatol Buyalski, head coach of the team, expressed hope that the team’s third-place finish at the top tournament would prompt Belarus’ authorities to devote more attention to the development of the sport in the country. “We have the [necessary] potential, one needs only to use it properly,” the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted him as saying.
The coach promised that the team would be a serious contender in the race for 2008 Beijing Olympics slots. “We will try to improve certain aspects of our game ahead of [the tournament] and I guess we will look even more convincing at the pre-Olympic tournament,” he said.
Click HERE for more photos
Belarusian oil-refining enterprises are on the brink of bankruptcy
From: Charter '97
The decree will touch upon the supplies appointed after August 1, 2007. According to the decree, the state subsidy for each ton of oil transported by railway is to make $93 starting from October 1 ($83.3 per ton of oil supplied August-September), the subsidy for oil transported by pipelines is to make $80.5 ($72 per ton of oil supplied August-September), Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.
The state subsidies for Russian oil suppliers was launched on February 1, 2007, as a reaction of the Belarusian government to the new terms of oil supplies to Belarus introduced in January 2007 by Russia who decided to move to market relations with its former ally. So now Belarus has to pay income duty for the oil imported to the country as well as a higher export duty for the oil and oil production exported from the country.
As a result, oil-refining operations with Belarusian enterprises became unprofitable for Russian suppliers. They had to purchase oil to load the factories themselves in the first quarter of 2007. Some of the suppliers left the Belarusian market, but some came back after the state subsidy had been introduced. Nevertheless, the higher oil prices become, the higher the income duty is.
The amount of the state subsidy (it made 90 percent of the income duty before the recent raise) couldn’t compensate for suppliers’ losses. The income duty is a calculated figure and it is linked to the customs price of oil exported from Russia. It made $65.6 per ton before October 1, and the state made up for $59 of this amount.
Suppliers refused to transport oil by railway because of high transport fees, which became another problem for Belarus. In case the oil balance planned (21.5mln tons, with 4mln tons transported by railway) is not fulfilled, the amount of oil supplies for 2008 will fall. To prevent the crisis, the Belarusian government offered a higher subsidy for the suppliers who use railway transport. According to the decree signed, the amount of the compensation for “railway” oil is to make 127 percent with 110 percent for “pipeline” oil.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta has already reported about the plans of the Belarusian government on a higher subsidy. Oil manufacturers have been waiting for the decree for two months, as both the Finance Ministry and President’s Administration demanded adequate reasons for allocation of the state budget funds. According to the sources of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the Belarusian oil refinery enterprises are on the brink of bankruptcy.
Belarus has nearly ceased to export the raw oil manufactured in the country in order to load the factories: only 150 tons have been exported in 2007, with 873 tons exported in 2006. This year Russian companies have supplied 8 percent less oil than the amount of 2006. This is solely a higher state subsidy that could at least keep the situation with no changes, experts say.