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Belarus President: no more welfare mentality in the society
|Alexander Lukashenko at the meeting focusing on the results of socio-economic development of Belarus|
“I have repeatedly said that the state will not squander money on ungrounded benefits and privileges. By giving money to one group of citizens we take it away from others,” said the Belarusian leader.
“Belarus has cultivated a positive living and working environment. The new jobs are created, wages and pensions are paid timely. Various types of scholarships, bonuses and allowances are given to students. The most talented young people become prizewinners of the presidential funds,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
“An able-bodied person can and should work, provide a family, children and parents,” the President noted.
state should create conditions for proper life of people
“Instead of giving out charity wrapped up as privileges the state should create conditions to allow citizens to earn proper living,” stressed the President. “People should be given jobs, decent salaries, pensions and scholarships while the state support should be granted to low-income, socially unprotected people, who are unable to look after themselves on their own.”
“Next year the government will have to work harder to raise salaries, subsidies and pensions for individuals,” remarked the head of state. “People should not be misled. We should genuinely demonstrate that by liquidating the privileges that up to seven million citizens used to enjoy we will provide people with opportunities to earn more than they would have got using their privileges,” added the President.
Alexander Lukashenko underlined, “Privileges are not bonuses added to salaries, pensions, and scholarships. The support should be individual and targeted. For example, universities should distribute targeted aid between students. The universities know what students need the targeted aid best of all. Which is why this money should be sent to universities under certain terms and they will deal with it,” explained the President.
Similar procedures are necessary with regard to other categories of citizens. According to Alexander Lukashenko, “No local administration official would give money to those who don’t need it if we clearly outline the targeted aid procedures.”
The President noted, Belarus had preserved a stable social security system. “We did not raise the retirement age, a luxury even for the richest countries,” he stressed. Alexander Lukashenko also reminded, the state compensates for household bills of individuals.
no return of annulled privileges
“There has been a lot of talk recently speculating that the privileges would be fully reimbursed by individual social aid. It won’t happen,” stressed the head of state.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, the Presidential Administration and the government should establish control over the execution of the decree. “Maybe, after the regulation comes into force, we will see a multitude of practical flaws. This is why for a year the decree should be controlled. If we see that we failed to factor in or deprived some people, respective amendments will be introduced,” said the President.
“Instead of giving out crumbs we’d better concentrate money and channel it to the designated goal. We did the same thing with the so-called Chernobyl funds, which were used to build a unique radiation medicine centre in Gomel and to resolve several problems,” remarked Alexander Lukashenko.
The money freed by the adjusted privileges will be funnelled into free meals for school students, into fitting healthcare institutions with modern equipment and into all-round support of large families. The head of state underlined, within the current five-year plan the level of Belarusian healthcare should be upgraded to cutting-edge standards to allow Belarus citizens to receive all the necessary services without having to leave their home country.
Alexander Lukashenko also pointed out the importance of supporting large families. “First of all, we aid children in such families. If a family cannot sustain five or six children, the state should take care of them, making idle parents work,” explained the President. Alexander Lukashenko said, in the near future he intends to review the protection of children’s rights in dysfunctional families and the execution of corresponding laws.
The state aid should be differentiated depending on the life circumstances a specific person faces, if he cannot compete on the labour market or is distressed due to other factors, said the President. He underscored, “Creating such an aid mechanism is the primary task of the government.”
Streamlining of public benefits is well-planned and consistent policy,
“We have been streamlining benefits since my very first day in office and we have been doing it gradually, step-by-step,” the President said. He reminded that the benefits for officials were considered first and then unwarranted privileges of sanatoria treatment were abolished.
The head of state stressed that the replacement of public benefits with the targeted social assistance “is not a coercive measure to offset the allegedly difficult economic situation in the country”.
According to the President, the bill “On some measures of state support of the population” which was presented at the session, should take into account all the aspects of social security, list all the categories of people entitled to state support as well as sources and mechanisms of providing the targeted social assistance. “There should be a single approach to providing social assistance. Now we should have an in-depth discussion of the document and consider all pros and cons,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The bill was drafted in pursuance of article 2 of the law of the Republic of Belarus “On social benefits, rights and guarantees for some categories of people”.
State support will be provided in the form of targeted social assistance and cashless housing subsidies.
The support to low-income citizens in the form of a monthly benefit is supposed to be increased from 60 to 100% of the subsistence wage per capital, in the form of a lump-sum social entitlement – from 60 to 120% of the subsistence wage.
A monthly social benefit will be increased up to Br 45 thousand. The assignments will total Br 28 billion or six times as more as in 2006. The number of the recipients of targeted social assistance will increase to 200 thousand people.
The terms of providing cashless housing subsidies will be altered. The number of the families entitled to the subsidies will grow from 113.1 thousand to 160.6 thousand.
In general, the expenses to implement the draft decree are estimated at Br34.8 billion a year. No additional funds from the budgets will be needed. The total number of recipients of state support is expected to make up around 360 thousand.
Belarus President wants draft privileges decree ready by December 1
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has given an instruction to elaborate the draft decree “Certain measures for the state support of the population” by December 1. The document is to come into force on December 17, 2007 simultaneously with the bill “State social privileges, rights and guarantees for certain categories of citizens”. The President of Belarus gave the instruction after the government session, which had tabled the draft document.
The press service of the President of Belarus quoted him as saying, “I stress one more time: the mechanism for providing the state support should be transparent, fair and, most importantly, absolutely debureaucratised. It is meant to take into account interests of citizens as much as possible. All those who do need the state aid will get it. But the privileges not listed by the corresponding law and the decree will cease to be. It is more about justice than money,” said Alexander Lukashenko.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kosinets suggested that the support for needy students should be considered one more time in view of the annulment of privileges. The President gave an instruction to review the problem in order not to infringe interests of university students from low-income families. The reimbursement of travel expenses is the key point.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, on the whole, the annulled privileges of pensioners and students can be compensated for with a gradual increase in pensions and scholarships.
The administration of educational establishments is expected to play its part. The administration is expected to be granted the right to reimburse travel expenses of students using scholarship funds. However, the option will not be indiscriminate. A clear-cut mechanism of individual aid will be developed.
The President backed the proposals to work out a mechanism to support families of the military, who died on the line.
As far as support in housing construction for the military is concerned, the head of state said, an optimal mechanism has to be thought out and introduced.
Belarus elected member of UN Environment Programme governing body
Three vacant seats given to the countries of the Eastern-European Group were gained by Belarus, Hungary and Croatia. Under the rotation scheme approved within the framework of the Eastern-European Group the Republic of Belarus will be a member of the UNEP board of governors from 2009 till 2011.
UNEP is composed of representatives of 58 countries from five regions of the world. Members of the board are elected by the UN General Assembly.
UNEP was founded in 1972. Its main goal is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
Being a UN main body in the environment sphere UNEP draws up a global ecological programme, promotes the implementation of the environmental sustainable development projects within the UN framework and protects natural environment of the globe. UNEP is headquartered in Nairobi (Kenya).
Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister to meet with OSCE Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities
In a related story, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Valery Voronetsky will meet with Bernard Snoy, OSCE Coordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities. Mr Bernard Snoy is in Belarus on a three-day visit (November 13-16), Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Andrei Popov told a news briefing.
The visit is timed to coincide with the national workshop for counteracting money laundering and financing of terrorism which is organised by the National Center of Legislative Activity under the Auspices of the President of the Republic of Belarus.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the Republic of Belarus has been consistently advocating further expansion of the OSCE economic and ecological dimension, supporting the activity promoting economic stability and security and cooperation between the participating countries. OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the Twenty-First Century (Maastricht strategy) was developed in 2003 under the chairmanship of Belarus. A range of joint projects in economy and environmental protection were implemented in 2003-207 as part of cooperation programmes with the OSCE Office in Minsk. Among them were projects on renewable and alternative energy, and on mitigating the Chernobyl consequences.
The OSCE official is scheduled to meet with the leaders of the Ministries of Economy, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, energy efficiency department of the State Standard Service of Belarus.
Mr Bernard Snoy gave a lecture in the International State Ecology University named after Andrei Sakharov and visited the Berezino Biosphere Reserve.
Br50bn set aside to prepare construction of Belarus’ nuclear station
The money will be used to finance design works, engineering services connected with the choice of the nuclear station construction site, to finance the justification of investments and development of tender documents.
The construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is expected to cost about $3.5 billion. Utilisation of nuclear fuel as part of Belarus’ energy budget is an important area of efforts meant to ensure the country’s energy security.
By 2011 Belarus to channel $3.1 billion into energy system upgrade
By 2011, Belarus will utilize $3.1 billion for the energy system upgrade, head of the prospective development department of the Energy Ministry of Belarus Vera Kirilenko told reporters on November 2007.
She noted that in accordance with the state programme, the major Belarusian power plants will be fitted with the up-to-date equipment. In particular, renovation projects will be implemented at Bereza and Lukoml state district power plants, Grodno and Minsk cogeneration plants #2, Minsk cogeneration plant #3 and others. A highly efficient condensation block will be put in operation at Minsk cogeneration plant #5 in 2010.
In 2008, Belenergo will channel $601 million into modernization, in 2009 - $764 million, in 2010 - $864 million. The funding will be provided by the innovation fund of the Energy Ministry, companies themselves and investors. In 2008, budget funds will total $158 million, in 2009 and 2010 – $298.7 million and $419.3 million respectively.
According to Vera Kirilenko, bank loans will be used as well. Thus, in 2008 they are expected to be at the level of $90.1 million, in 2009 and 2010 they are set to reach $118 million and $128 million respectively. The loans will be borrowed from both foreign and domestic banks. Vera Kirilenko also noted that Belarus has been actively cooperating with China in this issue. Thus, reconstruction of Minsk cogeneration plant #2 is carried out in partnership with the Chinese party.
Four Belarusian local-fuel power plants to start operating by 2011
There are plans to commission four major power-generating facilities that will use locally available fuels in Belarus. The information was released by Vera Kirilenko, Deputy Head of the Future Policy Department of the Belarusian Energy Ministry, on November 16.
She remarked, there are plans to build a 1.5MW lignin-fired mini cogeneration plant in Rechitsa. A 2.7MW mini cogeneration plant will be built in Pruzhany to burn wood and peat. Next year Gomel Cogeneration Plant No 2 will commission a turboexpander, which will use reduced steam energy. A powerful local-fuel boiler will be installed at Zhodino Cogeneration Plant by 2009. Projects for utilising waste energy will also be implemented, added Vera Kirilenko.
“The Belarusian power grid already has five local-fuel power installations and we will continue working in this area,” said the specialist.
Parliament amends several Belarusian laws on combating extremism
According to Chairman of Belarus’ State Security Council /KGB/ Yuri Zhadobin, the draft was prepared to implement provisions of the law “On Combating Extremism”. An amendment is introduced to art.64 of the Criminal Code of Belarus, he noted. The amendment considers committing crimes from political and ideological motives as well as spreading discord in respect of any social groups as a circumstance aggravating responsibility.
Part 1 of art.47 of the Election Code of Belarus is set out in a new wording. Propaganda election and referendum materials, speeches at meetings and reports in mass media outlets should not contain war propaganda, appeals to forcible changing of the constitutional order, seizure of the state power, creation of illegal armed units, insults and slander in respect of governmental officials. The publication and distribution of extremist materials and reports are prohibited.
According to Yuri Zhadobin, Belarus’ laws “On Public Associations” and “On Political Parties” are supplemented with provisions prohibiting the creation of organisations and parties, which intend to take part in any extremist activities. Their names should not contain Nazi symbols.
As one of the measures to prevent the spread of fascism in Belarus the parliament offers to introduce a provision, which will envisage administrative responsibility for the production, storage, distribution and public demonstration of Nazi symbols or attributes.
The Criminal Code also assigns responsibility for establishing extremist organisations, for their financing and public appeals to carry out extremist activities, the KGB Chairman underscored.
Belarus blasts U.S. sanction, summons ambassador
The Bush administration, which has dubbed ex-Soviet Belarus "the last dictatorship in Europe", has issued a long series of punitive measures against Belarus, including an entry ban on President Alexander Lukashenko.
On Tuesday, Washington prohibited Americans from doing business with the refining and petrochemical firm and froze any assets it has under U.S. jurisdiction.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Popov said U.S. ambassador Karen Stewart had been presented with a note of protest.
"The note says the U.S. government has violated a trade agreement signed by the United States and Belarus," Popov told a news conference.
"The Belarussian side demands that the United States return assets and property to Belneftekhim, their lawful owner."
Belarus said on Wednesday it was considering "appropriate" retaliatory moves against the United States in response to the sanctions, without elaborating.
Popov offered no further details. The United States has little investment in Belarus and it is not clear what form retaliation might take.
Belneftekhim, the Belarussian State Concern for Oil and Chemistry, has a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Belneftekhim USA Inc., and is made up of more than 50 petroleum and petrochemical businesses.
Belarus depends almost solely on Russia for the crude oil it refines. Beleneftekhim controls two refineries and a potash plant and provides one-fifth of all foreign currency earnings.
The United States and European Union accuse Lukashenko of harassing and jailing opponents, muzzling the media and rigging polls, including his re-election to a third term last year.
Belarus has sought better ties with the West since a spat this year with Russia over energy price increases. But it rejects any suggestion it must improve human rights and release what Western countries describe as "political prisoners".
Lukashenko, however, remains virulently opposed to the proposed deployment of a U.S. missile defence system in eastern and Popov restated a pledge to act against it.
"Belarus sees no objective reason to install a missile defence system in eastern Europe," he said. "In accordance with our military doctrine, we will act to safeguard our security."
US criticism of UN Human Rights Council fails to derail draft resolution
The U.S. opposition failed to sway the vast majority of the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee, which, as expected, approved the draft resolution on the body's working rules 145-7 through a rare vote forced by Israel. The committee generally approves measures by consensus.
The vote came days after Israel's U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, issued a scathing rebuke of the council, saying last week that some in the United Nations believed that "they were giving birth to a new baby."
Instead, "they have in fact given birth to a horrendous monster," said Gillerman. He said he realized the resolution would pass, but held out hope that "at least another few countries — brave and moral countries — will stand by us."
The new Human Rights Council replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission last year.
The U.S. listed several factors motivating its opposition to the draft, first among them was the "council's relentless focus during the year on a single country — Israel," said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
"At the same time, the council failed during the year to address serious human rights violations taking place in other countries such as Zimbabwe, DPRK (North Korea), Iran, Belarus and Cuba," he said.
France supported the draft, as did Britain and China.
The U.S., however, has repeatedly expressed its reservations about the 47-nation council, which was created by the General Assembly to assume the responsibilities of the commission.
The Human Rights Commission had been criticized for being overly politicized and ineffective. But from the outset, the U.S. objected to its replacement because it allows countries with shoddy human rights records to serve.
Joining Israel and the United States in opposing the draft were five other countries, including Australia, Canada and the Pacific island nation of Palau.
Citing only one positive accomplishment — the condemnation of Myanmar's violent crackdown on protesters in September — Khalilzad said the past year was "very bad" for the council and that it "had failed to fulfill our hopes."
Among the provisions in the draft, which must still be submitted to U.N. budget committees before moving to the full 192-member states of the General Assembly, is a periodic human rights review for all countries.
Khalilzad said the U.S. hopes the review process "will subject the world's worst human rights violators to real scrutiny and perhaps even persuade them to mend their ways."
"We hope that the Human Rights Council will stand in solidarity with victims of human rights violations around the world, not with the perpetrators," he said.
Belarus to let Israelis in without visas
"The Belorussian side has made a unilateral decision to cut down the list of documents necessary for the issue of Belorussian entry visas," the Belorussian Embassy said in a statement. "From now on, citizens of the State of Israel who wish to travel to Belarus and stay there up to 30 days do not need to present letters of invitation and other explanatory documents."
The embassy called it a "goodwill gesture" to immigrants from Belarus and other Israelis wishing to visit the country.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko sparked a diplomatic row with Israel last month when he addressed the shoddy conditions of the town of Bobruisk during a live press conference and said: "Well, obviously, it is a Jewish town. The Jews do not care for the place they live in, look at Israel, I have been there." The town was reorganized after the Jews left, he added, and called for Jews "with money" to return there.
Belarus Ratifies Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation with Azerbaijan
The agreement which was signed in May this year is intended to provide legal basis for relationships between the two counties, which are based on sovereign equality principles, respect for human rights, and non-intervention to internal affairs, Belarusian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vasiliy Pugachev said when presenting the document to MPs. “Azerbaijan wants to develop political, trade and economic cooperation with Belarus, and supports the country in the international scene.”
In 2006, trade turnover between Belarus and Azerbaijan increased by 24% as compared to 2005 and made up some $36mln, and in January to September 2007 it exceeded $62mln, he said.
Supply of agricultural equipment to Azerbaijan, establishment of joint tractor and automobile production is among prospective directions in bilateral cooperation. Azerbaijani fuel and power field represents a special interest for Belarus, Pugachev said.
Chavez blamed in Belarus for shortage of milk
However, such products are missing in the shelves of state-run supermarkets, and consumers in the former Soviet republic are blaming especially Venezuelan President Hugo Chбvez, DPA reported.
These days for finding baby formulas or any substitute people has to resort to the black market or to barter.
State television channel Bel-1 has deliberately disregarded the shortage of powder milk. Last week, however, Bel-1's news show branded economic talks between Minsk and Caracas as "a diplomatic breakthrough."
Belarus is reportedly exporting a first shipment of 1,200 tons of fortified powder milk to Venezuela in December.
Trade relations with Venezuela are a topic the Belarus state media are reporting widely.
In October, Lukashenko said Belarus engineers would take part in exploration activities in Venezuelan oilfields. Last summer, the media reported that Belarus was exporting faro machinery and military weapons sights for night vision to Venezuela. And this time, they are reporting the sale of powder milk.
Winter comes early to Belarus
From: 7 days
The frost will begin to weaken under the strong pressure of North Atlantic cyclone. In the southwestern regions are possible the rain, weak ice crust. On the roads - freezing rain. The temperature of air in night hours will be 1-7 degrees of frost, in the daytime it will be close to zero. Abundant snowfall on this week became the reason for plural turning offs of electricity. De-energized proved to be almost two hundred populated areas.
The basic reasons for troubles became the adhesion of wet snow and the falling to the wires trees and branch, which caused breaks on the electric power lines. In connection with worsening in the weather conditions State Auto. Inspect. MVD of Belarus' imperatively are recommended to all participants in the road motion to be especially attentive and careful on the roads, to strictly soblyudat' the rules of road motion.
The 14th Minsk International Film Festival Listapad-2007 has begun
|Alexander Lukashenko at the meeting focusing on the results of socio-economic development of Belarus earlier this week|
A special prize of the President of the Republic of Belarus “For Cherishing and Developing Traditions of Spirituality in Cinematograph” was presented during the ceremony. The prize is given to art workers in recognition of their considerable contribution to realization of humanitarian and spiritual-moral ideals in cinematograph.
The ceremony was opened by the out-of-competition film Actress directed by People’s Artist of Ukraine Stanislav Govorukhin, who is a winner of the prize of the President of the Republic of Belarus “For Humanism and Spiritualness in Cinema” and a golden prize winner of Listapad-2005.
The geography of the Minsk festival is expanded on a permanent basis. This year film-makers from 41 countries will partake in the festival. For the first time the pictures from Hungary, South Korea, the Czech Republic and India will participate in the competition. Gold, silver and bronze awards of the festival Listapad will be traditionally presented according to viewership votes.
This year’s festival will focus on the Belarusian cinema first of all. The contest programme includes movies Enemies by Maria Pozhar and Chaklun and Rumba by Andrei Golubev.
On November 15 a programme of documentary films opened the 14th Minsk International Film Festival Listapad-2007. Competition and out-of-competition documentaries will be demonstrated at the festival for the first time. Some 30 documentaries from 15 countries will be shown. These will be pictures from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Lithuania, Latvia, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Iran, China and other countries. The movies will be demonstrated till November 23 in the new cinema complex Tsentr-Video and in the trading centre Stolitsa.
A traditional theater contest will be held for theatrics fans within the framework of the festival. The main goal of the contest is to support and stimulate actors of the republican theaters acting in films, to promote acting techniques, a creative research and experiments in the professional mastery. Awards for Best Actress and Actor, for Best Debut and a special prize of the newspaper Narodnaya Gazeta “For National Character and Civic Consciousness” will be presented during the contest.
This year the theater contest was opened on October 25 by a play “Sparrow Night” staged by the Belarusian Army Drama Theater and will be closed on November 22 by a new performance of the Republican Theater of Belarusian Dramatic Art. Art-Project, Film Actor Theatre of the National film studio Belarusfilm, the Belarusian Republican Children’s Theatre, the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre, the Belarusian State Youth Theatre and other companies will compete in the theater contest of Listapad-2007.
The organisers of the festival will hold a Russian Cinema Week, cinema days of the participating countries, a gala concert by stars of the festival “For Talented Belarus!” and a presentation of a solo album of theater and movie actress Vera Polyakova.
The cinema forum is organised by the Culture Ministry of Belarus, the Minsk City Council, the National State TV and Radio Company, the national film studio Belarusfilm, the Belarusian Union of Cinematographers with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, the Agency for Culture and Cinematograph of the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation and the Union State Representative Office in Minsk.
The jury of the Minsk International Film Festival Listapad-2007 is headed by People’s Artist of Belarus and the USSR Rostislav Yankovsky. Director of the festival is Valentina Stepanova.
Listapadzik propagates children’s movie created in CIS all over world, Leonid Nosyrev says
The Minsk international festival of films for children and youth Listapadzik propagates children’s movies created in the CIS countries all over the world, Leonid Nosyrev, the chairman of the animated film jury panel of Listapadzik, told reporters during a press conference dedicated to the opening of the festival on November 16.
According to him, animators of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries work at a high professional level. “However, it is too difficult to oppose against the aggression of the Hollywood movies. They have another financing. We have no such material opportunities,” the famous cartoons-maker highlighted.
According to Leonid Nosyrev, he expects good impressions and openings from the festival as a lot of interesting works are presented at the present contest.
Russia abandons European arms pact
From: Times Online
|Slim Pickens riding the bomb|
General Yuri Baluyevsky, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, said the moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty was “the correct, logical step from the political and military point of view”, Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Nato criticised Russia’s withdrawal from the 1990 CFE, which places strict limitations on the deployment of tanks and other equipment across Europe. President Putin ordered the moratorium on July 13 amid a row over US plans to install an antimissile shield in Eastern Europe.
The treaty’s demise highlights the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Nato as Mr Putin’s administration pushes to reassert Russia on the international stage.
“This will be an indicator of Russia’s seriousness in its uncompromising stand on ensuring its defensive capabilities,” Leonid Slutsky, a state Duma deputy, told Itar-Tass.
Putin supporters clamor for him to remain 'active leader' of Russia
From: PR Inside
The gathering in Tver, a city about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Moscow, was the most visible in a string
of recent demonstrations, testimonials and appeals across Russia's 11 time zones that have urged Putin to remain in power somehow after his second consecutive presidential term ends in March.
Speakers at the «All Russia Council of Initiative Groups to Support Putin» pledged allegiance to a president who is officially heading for retirement.
«We will follow Putin as we followed our commanders during the war,» declared Mikhail Shebanov, who took the stage dressed in a uniform jacket resplendent with Soviet-era medals and ribbons.
Pavel Astakhov, a prominent lawyer and television personality, told reporters that the council wanted Putin to remain in power regardless of what title he chose.
«We will offer Putin a position from which he will be able to lead the country,» Astakhov said. «The choice is up to him between prime minister, speaker of parliament or the head of the largest party.
Critics have said the outpouring of support for Putin shows that a personality cult has sprung up around the 55-year-old former KGB lieutenant colonel, similar to the adoration accorded some Soviet leaders, including Josef Stalin.
But Astakhov said there was no Putin personality cult, saying «there is no place for it in modern Russia.
Critics have also questioned whether the Kremlin is helping organize and coordinate the ostensibly grass-roots movement.
Irina Blokhina, one of the All Russia Council coordinators, said its expenses have been paid with donations from businessmen and sympathizers. She said none of the participants in Thursday's meeting had received money.
Over the past year, supporters have urged parliament to change the constitution to allow Putin to serve a third consecutive term as president, but he rejected that idea. Putin has said recently that, if he seeks to become prime minister, he would not use the post to maintain power.
Putin has left open the possibility of running again for president in 2012 or earlier, after a break from the job, as the constitution bars him only from serving more than two terms consecutively.
Two killed, 13 injured in Polish train crash
From: News From Russia
The train, traveling from Gdynia on the Baltic Sea cost to Zielona Gora in the southwest, rammed into the truck north of Bydgoszcz, in central Poland, police spokeswoman Katarzyna Witkowska said on TVN24 television.
The train's conductor and a female passenger died in the crash, and the injured were rushed to hospitals in Bydgoszcz, Witkowska said.
Television footage showed the train's engine and four cars had rolled onto their sides after derailing, while the roof of a first-class carriage was ripped open.
"From initial information, we know that the driver of the truck drove onto an unmarked railroad crossing and the train hit the truck," Witkowska said. "But it's hard to say right now who is to blame for the accident."
19 killed, 83 missing in Ukraine mine blast: ministry
Rescuers were searching for 83 other miners who had been working in the Zasyadko mine in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, ministry spokesman Igor Krol told AFP. A fire ignited by the blast was still burning underground, he said.
Shocked family members gathered by the mine on Sunday morning, many desperate for news of their loved-ones.
"I detest them, these mines," said a middle-aged woman, in tears as she tried to get news of a relative.
A massive rescue operation has been initiated with 65 rescue teams and 21 medical units deployed to the scene, the ministry said.
More than 450 people had been working in the mine when the explosion occurred at 3:11 am local time (0111 GMT), a statement said.
So far some 350 miners had been evacuated, said Mykola Maleyev, an official with Ukraine's work safety authority.
"Work has been complicated by the fact that the incident has affected the ventilation system," Malayev said.
The Zasyadko mine, one of Ukraine's largest, employs some 10,000 people and produces up to 10,000 tonnes of coal every day.
After several deadly accidents it has gained a reputation as one of the most dangerous in the country.
A gas leak in September 2006 killed 13 miners and made dozens more sick.
In 1999 an explosion there claimed 50 lives, while in 2001 another blast claimed 55 lives.
Most of the disasters were caused by build-ups of methane gas, which can occur suddenly in the mine shafts, said Anatoly Akimochkin, deputy head of Ukraine's Independent Miners' Union.
"A lot has been done in the mine since those earlier accidents... but the situation in particular work areas often varies from the standards of the mine as a whole," he said.
Ukraine's coal mines are concentrated in the eastern part of the country and are considered among the most perilous in the world, with many poorly financed and employing outdated Soviet-era equipment.
One miner was killed on Saturday in the Lenin Mine, also in Donetsk region, after a section of tunnel collapsed, Interfax news agency reported, citing the emergency situations ministry
Ukraine clears hurdle to WTO entry
From: Kiev Post
Ukraine has made joining the world's biggest trading club a priority, as it needs foreign investment to boost its economy.
Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that, by signing the agreement, Ukraine had overcome the last major hurdle to acquiring WTO membership.
"The final protocol, which was extremely important to finishing the negotiations process, has been signed," he said in remarks broadcast on Channel 5 television.
Kyrgyz Ambassador to Ukraine Erkin Mamkulov confirmed the deal had been signed.
Ukraine now has to complete a number of formalities to actually join the WTO, which Yatsenyuk said could take place this year. Experts were skeptical, however, and predicted Ukraine would join in early 2008.
Гродненские предприниматели челобитную не подписали
А.Шумченко пояснил, что принятие данного обращения инициировала “Перспектива”. Документ подписан председателями и членами советов ИП крупнейших торговых объектов столицы и областных центров, а сами советы были созданы по решению властей.
- “Это лишний раз свидетельствует о том, что проблемы, о которых твердят предприниматели, действительно серьезны и очень актуальны. Почему власти не хотят слышать тех, кого сами создали в 2005 году? Я думаю, что на разрешенном Мингорисполкомом митинге, который пройдет 19 ноября в парке Дружбы народов на площади Бангалор в Минске, данное обращение к главе государства будет поддержано”, — отметил А.Шумченко.
- “Мы ждали этот документ, рассчитывали на понимание важности нашего труда для будущего нашей процветающей Беларуси. К сожалению, наши надежды не оправдались. Указ № 760 стал горьким разочарованием, ударом в спину для сотен тысяч граждан”, — отмечается в документе.
- “Ваша репутация и народная поддержка поставлены под серьезную угрозу. Ведь это ваша подпись стоит под документом, который с 2008 года сделает деятельность большинства индивидуальных предпринимателей невыполнимой”, — говорится в обращении к А.Лукашенко.
“Введение ограничения на наем трех работников только из числа близких родственников направлено, в первую очередь, против молодежи и бывших работников госпредприятий и учреждений в регионах. Данная мера приведет к массовым увольнениям, созданию социального, а потом и политического напряжения. Доход потеряют десятки тысяч семей. Потеряет бюджет страны. В целом проиграет вся страна”, — подчеркивается в обращении.
From: Беларуская палітыка
Зьдзяйсьняецца тое, аб чым сябры Фронту і патрыёты Беларусі ўвесь час папярэджвалі заходнія ўрады і грамадзтвы: тэрыторыя Беларусі выкарыстоўваецца Масквой як трамплін для ваеннай пагрозы заходнім краінам, як плацдарм, брутальна вырваны з эўрапейскага кантэксту і аддадзены маскоўскаму агрэсару. Магутныя ракеты будуць падсунуты на 500 кілёмэтраў бліжэй да эўрапейскіх гарадоў. І гэта толькі пачатак. А брусэльская намэнклятура, эўрапейскія СМІ і палітыкі працягваюць бессэнсоўныя гульні з падстаўной менскай псэўдаапазыцыяй, робяць выгляд, што нібыта змагаюцца за дэмакратызацыю Беларусі. Яны ўсё тэарэтызуюць пра “збліжэньне апазыцыя з уладамі”, “дэмакратычныя выбары” і “лідэра, акцэптабельнага як у Брусэлі, так і ў Маскве”. Эўрпалітыка давядзе да няшчасьця эўрапейскія народы. Але ў чарговы раз палітпрайдзісьветам ужо ня ўдасца пабудаваць эўракамфорт, аддаўшы ў маскоўскі палон беларускі народ.
"We're against everything. We're patriots"
From: Accidental Russophile
This was the 3rd annual such march in Moscow. While last years march resulted in many arrests, this year Moscow police issued a march permit for a relatively low-traffic area of the city.
The march included the cowboy hat wearing Preston Wiginton, a white supremacist from Texas. Wiginton spoke to the crowd, cheering "Glory to Russia," with the audience responding "white power" back to him in English.
Hey, so there is something we Americans and Russians have in common. Racist bigots. Hurray.
- "Russia for Russians!" the demonstrators shouted in unison, followed by slogans such as "For a Slavic, Russian nation!" or "Slavic, Russian, Powerful!" The demonstrators stretched out their arms in the Hitler salute between slogans. Their loud shouts of "Slavic Russia!" were followed by the sound of drum rolls.
"We are opposed to the immigration of Caucasians and Asians to Russia. Our people must remain pure. Russia belongs to us," 32-year-old Andrey Bukov explains. The trained media expert says he has been "serving" in the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) for four years. He waves its white, yellow and black flag, which features a symbol resembling a swastika.
The utter brilliance of the marchers is demonstrated further into the Spiegel article, by a short interview with Olga and Darya:
- Pensioner Monika Nikolayeva [says] "When it comes to our children, there is not even enough money to send them to university in Russia." That is why she believes it is good that young people take to the streets and protest. "Young girls in particular only get limited education!"
The young girls she means are technical university students like Olga and Darya, who are marching beneath the flags. "We're against everything. We're patriots," rants 18-year-old Olga. She and her 19-year-old friend have traveled to Moscow from Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia to attend the demonstration. Asked what they are demonstrating against, she is at a loss for a moment. Then she stutters: "Against the anti-Russian policy in the world -- I can't say it any more clearly."
From the Associated Press article on the event:
- "This is just an outbreak of national identity feelings, which is noticeable worldwide, and it has affected Russia too," said Vyacheslav Postavnin, deputy director of the Federal Migration Service, the Interfax news agency reported.
In the first Russian March in 2005, thousands marched through central Moscow, some shouting "Heil Hitler." The march horrified many Muscovites, and the following year it was blocked by police.
"The first Russian March was unexpected good luck, the second one was about overcoming the resistance of the authorities, and the third one is already a new Russian tradition," said Konstantin Krylov of the nationalist Russian Social Movement.
Other marches on National Unity Day included the Yabloko party rally against fascism and xenophobia. The pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group assembled a "peace quilt" from the contributions of thousands of young people across Russia.
Sean's Russia Blog discusses how National Unity Day has actually served to highlight Russia's fractured and disunited nature. Neo-Nazi marches certainly add an exclamation point to his discussion.
Now, it appears we may know the details of that "plan."
The Moscow Times reports that the Russian newspaper "Nezavisimaya Gazeta, citing a source close to the presidential administration, reported Thursday that Putin was planning to resign after the Duma [parliamentary] elections [in December] and become a deputy [member of parliament], giving him the legal right to run in the March presidential election."
In other words, the Russian Constitution doesn't allow Putin to take a third consecutive term as president, but it doesn't stop him from resigning, even one day before the next presidential election, and then running against his hand-picked "successor" (the non-entity Viktor Zubkov who Putin recently named Prime Minister) who would, by taking the oath of office and governing even for one minute, have sufficiently interrupted Putin's rule to allow its continuation.
Quite a "plan," huh? And Part II is to amend the Constitution extending the presidential term so that Putin can rule for 14 years without having to do it all over again. Then again, maybe just amend it to declare Putin "President" for life.
Concert of Neuro Dubel Banned
‘Addressing the people who came to listen to the band, Kulinkovich said: ‘Don’t worry. I do not know how we will perform yet. We will live and work. We won’t kick a bucket, that’s for sure. We have no such plans, though they would like us to have some.’
What concerns the name of the album, Kulinkovich said: ‘Stasi was the secret service of the former DDR. It was unseen, but nevertheless existed. It reflects the situation of Neuro Dubel in Belarus.’
Bear in mind, that Neuro Dubel and a number of other bands and musicians faced troubles after participation in a concert after an opposition meeting related to the 10th anniversary of Lukashenka’s presidency.
Belarus brush Albania aside 4-2
|Belarus coach Bernd Stange|
Romashchenko fired the visitors ahead just before the half-hour mark, but two goals in four minutes from Erion Bogdani and Edmond Kapllani saw Albania take the lead before Kutuzov's equaliser in added time at the end of the first half. Kutuzov grabbed a second in the 54th minute before Romashchenko (63) sealed the win from the penalty spot.
The hosts had the best of the opening chances and almost took the lead in spectacular fashion in the 20th minute, Klodian Duro's long-range effort fizzing narrowly wide. Belarus fired a warning through Romashchenko before the same player drilled the ball low into the net from way outside the area for a lovely opener.
Touch of class
Albania's leveller also had a touch of class about it, as Bogdani picked up the ball just inside the penalty area and fired a shot high into the centre of the goal. Kapllani and Kutuzov then traded goals, while the latter edged the visitors back in front when sidefooting the ball in. And worse was to come for the hosts as Romashchenko scored from the spot having been felled himself.
The two teams return to action against the nations who have qualified from the section on Wednesday, when Albania travel to Romania and Belarus finish against the Netherlands in Minsk.
Belarus to partake in World Table Tennis Championships in Sweden
Two Belarusians will play at the World Table Tennis Championships in Sweden.
In Stockholm Belarusian Vitaly Nekhvedovich beat Singaporean Yi Teng Guo 4:0 and Austrian Daniel Habesohn 4:2.
In women’s doubles Belarusian Viktoriya Pavlovich paired with Dutch Ju Li defeated the Russian duo Nataliya Bolshakova and Anna Kozlovskaya 3:2 and the Rumanian pair Daniela Dodean and Elizabeth Samara 3:1.
The matches will start on November 16 and finish in the Swedish capital on November 18
Aqua park to open in Zhlobin in December
In December this year an aqua park will be opened in Zhlobin, BelTA learnt in the committee for construction and architecture. Now finishing works are underway.
The facility will include two swimming pools, one for children and one for adults with a 30m slide and jacuzzi, saunas, massage rooms, solarium, recreational rooms with jacuzzi and hydro massage baths.
This will be the first aqua park in the Gomel oblast. The total cost of the project is Br 20 billion.
The park will be part of the Zhlobin sports and leisure center which also incorporates an ice palace, a swimming pool and a hotel.
Illegal immigrant trapped between two worlds; Wife fears: ‘I have lost him’
|Yury M. Zhuk |
With or without music, the Zhuk family is in tears.
Matvey’s father, Yury M. Zhuk, is an illegal alien who has been held since February at the South Bay Correctional Facility in Boston by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A 45-year-old engineer who fled political oppression in his native Belarus in 2000, Mr. Zhuk recently was granted a “voluntary departure” under which he must leave the United States, but can later apply to return.
But Tatyana Zhuk says she fears that if her husband goes back to Belarus, “I have lost him.”
A report supporting Mr. Zhuk’s application for asylum by a Harvard University expert on Eastern Europe stated: “Were Mr. Zhuk to return to Belarus today, he would face a palpably more hostile and unpredictable environment than he would have faced several years ago. His fear of persecution and danger to his person and well-being is better grounded than ever.”
Yury and Tatyana Zhuk live in a third-floor walkup at 44 Lake St. with Matvey and Katya, Mrs. Zhuk’s 15-year-old daughter. Mrs. Zhuk, also a native of Belarus, became a U.S. citizen in 2006. She said the couple over the past five years here worked steadily, took English language classes, paid their bills, filed tax returns and paid taxes.
But for a number of reasons, Mr. Zhuk did not seek asylum and has lived as an illegal alien in the United States since 2001.
Mrs. Zhuk, 37, a middle school teacher in Belarus, works in the laser department of a local high technology company. She came to the United States in 1999 when she won the U.S. government’s green card lottery, which issues 55,000 visas at random each year that give the recipient a chance to apply for permanent resident status.
She came without family, her daughter joining her later. She came, she said, “for more freedom of life.”
Mr. Zhuk, a graduate of Grodno University who majored in radio physics, left Belarus in 2000 after his work with the Belarusian Popular Front led to arrests and beatings that caused him to fear for his life.
He went to Canada in 2001, and came to the United States a year later. He met Tatyana Sidorchuk in Trenton, N.J., the next year. In 2003, they moved here, and he worked jobs in construction and siding.
But Mrs. Zhuk said her husband’s illegal status caused him great stress and has taken a toll on the family.
“Sometimes, speaking broken English is enough for someone to ask for your papers,” she said. “He was feeling like a shadow in life.”
Mr. Zhuk’s status was discovered when a family argument last February attracted the attention of police. ICE took him into custody.
Lawyer Claudia Gregoire of Glickman Turley, a Boston law firm which has represented Mr. Zhuk since February, said his detention at South Bay was not a criminal sentence and that he had no criminal convictions.
“Some people are detained when there are deportation charges against them,” she said. “It’s at the discretion of the immigration judge.”
Ms. Gregoire said applications for asylum and to “withhold a removal” (deportation), were filed on Mr. Zhuk’s behalf, but were withdrawn late last month before a scheduled hearing.
Had either application been denied, she said, Mr. Zhuk would have been deported with no chance to return. And there was a very good chance they would have been denied.
Those seeking asylum, with some exceptions, must do so within one year of entering the country, which Mr. Zhuk did not do. And even if Mr. Zhuk’s application to “withhold” his removal was approved, it would have left him without legal status and no chance to gain permanent resident status, according to Ms. Gregoire.
“If was a difficult decision for the family,” Ms. Gregoire said. “There’s certainly a great amount of anxiety. I’m sure that this has taken its toll.”
However, she said, voluntary departure is not an unusual action because it allows a person to seek legal entry into the Unites States.
From 1997 through 2006, 284,486 people were granted asylum in the United States, either by the application process or by a judge, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Of that number, 1,173 have been from Belarus, 207 of them last year.
As of January 2006, there were an estimated 11.6 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, 6.6 million of them from Mexico, according to DHS. About 4.2 million had entered the country in 2000 or later.
DHS reports that ICE removed more than 186,600 illegal aliens in fiscal 2006, 10 percent more than the year before.
|Tatyana Zhuk is shown with her children, Matvey, 4, and Katya, 15, in the hallway of their apartment building in Webster.|
She said an immigration lawyer in the United States told him it was difficult to get asylum and advised him to wait for immigration reform.
“Some lawyers say stay quiet. We didn’t know what to do. We decided to stay quiet, wait for change in immigration law. It’s not changed yet,” Mrs. Zhuk said.
Anna Kundron, who owns and lives in the apartment house at 44 Lake St., says she came here 42 years ago from Poland at age 17 because she wanted “a better future. You feel you are more free here.”
She has known many European immigrants who have come to the United States, some of whom have lived in her apartments.
“They work hard,” she said. “They want to get something more.”
She praised the Zhuks and said they spend holidays such as Christmas and Easter with her and her husband, Edward.
“The family is always together. Yury is always with his wife and kids. He is quiet, very friendly, can do anything. He helped me repair one of my apartments. I hope he can come back and live here.”
The Zhuks are members of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Epiphany in Roslindale. The family continues to attend Sunday services, although now Mrs. Zhuk and her children go to South Bay Correctional Institute after service each week to visit Mr. Zhuk.
Mrs. Zhuk is worried about his return to Belarus. She said she went to Belarus in 2005 and was under surveillance. She said she received telephone calls asking about her husband and threatening her and that a friend who is a police officer told her police could not protect her.
In his report supporting asylum for Mr. Zhuk, Timothy J. Colton of Harvard University, a political scientist, said Belarus is one of the “most authoritarian states” in Eastern Europe and is patterned on the former Soviet-style dictatorship.
In a speech in Latvia a year ago, he said, President Bush described Belarus as “a place where peaceful protesters are beaten and opposition leaders are ‘disappeared’ by the agents of a cruel regime.”
Mr. Colton, director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard, said Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko “has been increasingly ruthless in dealing with real and imagined dissent.”
He said Mr. Zhuk’s hometown of Grodno was a “one of the hotbeds of anti-Lukashenko dissent” and a stronghold for the BPF. Mr. Zhuk’s active participation in that organization would make him known to the Belarusian KGB, or state security committee, according to Mr. Colton.
Mr. Zhuk, who in his application for asylum said he had been fired from an engineering job for his BPF involvement, would not be able to get a job or loan or buy a car if he returns, according to Mr. Colton. Nor would he be able to leave Grodno without police permission.
“I was against Lukashenko regime, too,” Mrs. Zhuk said, and that was the reason she entered the green card lottery.
Ms. Gregoire says there is reason for optimism. Because Mr. Zhuk is leaving the United States voluntarily and is married to a United States citizen, chances are good he could return on a “relative visa” and then apply for permanent resident status, she said.
Tatyana Zhuk said her husband is “trying to see the bright side,” but that she only sees the Dec. 10 deadline for him to leave the country and uncertainty beyond that.
“We make a plan to stay here, get (residency) papers, go to work, buy a home. Now everything is broken,” Mrs. Zhuk said. “Now I’m going to buy a ticket for him to Belarus.”