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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Presidential awards, Medvedev Elected, Kazulin, Ukraine, Youth festival, Economy, Nukes, Russia, Polish scandal, Cuba, Telecom, Hleb, Блогс и Култура

  • From the Top...
  • #286

    Alexander Lukashenko sends message to President of the Republic of Serbia Boris Tadic

    From: Office of the president
    Alexander Lukashenko conferring the Order of Fatherland, 2nd class, on Valentin Yelizaryev, the artistic director of the National Academic Bolshoi Ballet Theatre
    It is with deep concern that the Republic of Belarus has learnt the news of the declaration, in a unilateral manner, by the temporary governing bodies of Kosovo, of independence of this region, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in his message to the President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadic.

    “The heightening of tension on the territory of the Serbian autonomous province, which followed the declaration of independence, justifies our apprehensions about the increase in instability in this region, which can lead to unpredictable consequences,” Alexander Lukashenko said in his message.

    The Belarusian side is confident that the solution to the crisis between Belgrade and Pristina lies purely in the field of international law, which basis is effective UN Resolution No. 1244 (1999).

    “The use of double standards in such a sensitive matter as this is inadmissible,” said the President. “The recognition by some states of Kosovo ‘independence’ is an illustrative demonstration of the real nature of ‘friendly’ intentions of the West towards Serbia,” he said.

    In his message, Alexander Lukashenko said that the Belarusian and Serbian peoples were bound by centuries of friendship which had stood numerous tests; and today Belarus expresses solidarity with the Serbians’ desire to stand up for their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  • News Flash!...

    Putin's man wins Russia election

    From: chicago tribune
    With the election of Vladimir Putin's chosen successor, Dmitry Medvedev, as Russia's new president Sunday, the country wades into uncharted waters as it reconciles the emergence of a new leader with the reluctance of its popular, czarlike ruler to fully relinquish power.

    Russia's tumultuous history has always been grounded by one constant--that czars, general secretaries and presidents never shared the helm. That is expected to change when Medvedev is inaugurated in May and names Putin his prime minister.

    Putin has made clear he will use the post of premier as a means of maintaining oversight of the country he has ruled as president for the last eight years, and the economic and geopolitical resurrection he has stewarded.

    Putin has stated repeatedly that Medvedev will carry out a course for Russia that Putin's Kremlin has established, rather than any agenda for change that Medvedev might propose. For his part, Medvedev, a longtime protege of Putin's and one of his closest allies, has dutifully agreed to comply.

    What unsettles many in Russia is the potential for a moment in time when Medvedev steps out of Putin's shadow and begins asserting his own leadership. How will Putin, a leader known for his unyielding style of governance, accept the necessity of stepping offstage?

    "There's this feeling in Russia that, sooner or later, there will be bickering and squabbles between the two camps, and what we may end up with is paralysis of executive power," says Lilia Shevtsova, an expert on Putin's presidency and an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center. "The Kremlin elites will not know who to obey, and whose decisions are more important."

    Medvedev, 42, steps into the job without ever before holding elected office, and without any power base of his own. Many Russians said they wanted Medvedev to lead the country not because he impressed them as a candidate, but because Putin told them Medvedev was his choice.

    Ivan Petrov, a 51-year-old machinist from Kuzminki, a working-class neighborhood in Moscow, said he voted for Medvedev solely because "he will carry out Putin's plan. Putin ensures stability. He's brought order to our country."

    "Russians aren't expecting Medvedev to become an independent figure, a leader," says Boris Dubin, a senior analyst at the Levada Center, a leading Russian pollster. "Rather, they want him to be a diligent, obedient executor."

    Though considered to be more moderate than Putin, analysts do not expect the Kremlin's icy relations with the U.S. and Western Europe to improve under Medvedev.

    He isn't likely to veer from Putin's strong opposition to U.S. plans for a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, and he has already spoken out against U.S. support for Kosovo independence, promising that Russia will fully back Serbia's bid to retain authority over Kosovar territory. Experts say Medvedev's tone probably will be less aggressive than Putin's, but the underlying policy won't change.

    Experts also are split as to whether Medvedev will begin to reverse the erosion of civil society that has characterized the Putin presidency.

    Medvedev is regarded by some as more liberal and Western-minded than Putin, and in recent speeches has talked of the need to renew the ideals of freedom and the rule of law in Russian society. "I am talking here of freedom in all its different manifestations," Medvedev said in Krasnoyarsk Feb. 15. "Personal freedom, economic freedom, freedom of self-expression."

    "Medvedev has begun to talk about the need for strong institutions, which is significant," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine. "If he really tries to strengthen institutions, then it's possible we could expect some improvement in democracy-building here."

    However, Vladimir Milov, president of the Institute for Energy Policy in Moscow and a former Russian deputy energy minister, doubted Medvedev's commitment to democratic principles, emphasizing that Medvedev worked as a top Putin aide at a time when Kremlin policies grew increasingly authoritarian.

    "It was Putin's administration headed up by Dmitry Medvedev that limited democratic freedoms in Russia," Milov said. "It's too naive to trust in all those tales about Medvedev being a liberal."

    Though not a politician, Medvedev is known as an adroit lawyer and businessman, a technocrat who effectively carried out Putin's instructions, first as a top Kremlin aide and more recently as a first deputy prime minister in charge of tackling Russia's social ills.

    Like Putin, he hails from St. Petersburg. Colleagues who knew him when he studied law there and worked in the St. Petersburg mayor's office say Medvedev's intelligence and tenacious work ethic made him stand out.

    "He's very talented and analytical," said Valery Musin, one of his law professors at Leningrad State University. "And he knows how to work on a team. I think this pair, Medvedev and Putin, will be effective in ensuring stability in Russia."

    Medvedev owes much of his landslide victory not to his own rapport with voters but to his mentor's image among most Russians as the driving force behind Russia's economic revival.

    The stability that Putin brought to Russia in his eight-year presidency followed the rudderless, post-Soviet era in the 1990s under predecessor Boris Yeltsin, a period of economic decline in which millions of Russians lost their life's savings.

    Largely due to sky-high oil prices, poverty and unemployment have been reduced under Putin, and Russia's GDP has been growing at nearly 7 percent each year. Russia's remarkable economic comeback has transformed Moscow into the world's most expensive city and made success stories out of other cities in the European side of Russia, though much of eastern Russia and the North Caucasus region remains mired in economic decay.

    "Putin proved to be a good president. He ensured stability and he raised pensions," said Lilia Azizan, 67, after voting for Medvedev at Children's Music School No. 45 in southwest Moscow. "It doesn't mean that life is good for everyone, but in general it's better."

    Russians believe the Putin-Medvedev tandem is the best guarantee that the country's revival will continue. But experts say the partnership carries risk. The post of prime minister is subordinate to the president. How much power is Putin willing to relinquish once Medvedev becomes acclimated to the presidency and begins to assert his own authority?

    "Conflict between Medvedev and Putin is inevitable," said Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian liberal and a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin. "But the tradition in Russia is that the one who is in the Kremlin holds all the power. If Medvedev is in the Kremlin, then he will win this battle between president and prime minister."

    Exit polls had Medvedev scoring a landslide win, with between 67 percent to 70 percent of the vote. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov trailed far behind with 19 percent. Early returns reflected the exit polls, with Medvedev way ahead.

    Russian authorities had eliminated any meaningful opposition long before Sunday, forcing former chess champion Garry Kasparov to abandon his presidential effort and taking off the ballot former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

    The three contenders allowed on the ballot, Zyuganov, ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Andrei Bogdanov, head of the little known Democratic Party, were largely ignored by Russia's state-owned television networks. They appeared in televised debates together, but Medvedev saw no need to participate.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus President commends outstanding citizens

    From: BelTA
    On February 29 President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko conferred state awards on 73 citizens, including industry workers, medics, geologists, construction workers, lawyers, teachers, people of culture and arts, the military and policemen, executives, the press service of the head of state told BelTA.

    Alexander Lukashenko remarked, “Every one of you earned these awards in his own way. But all of you are united by an active civil stance, the fact that you dedicate you talent and energy, hard everyday work and intellect to the benefit of our country, to multiplying its economic, scientific, defence and spiritual potential and authority in the international community”.

    Workers, specialists and executives of industrial enterprises and construction companies were most widely represented.

    The President conferred state awards on workers of OAO Amkodor. An Order of Honour went to engineer of gear-shaping semi-automated machines of OAO Amkodor Viktor Mironovich, a medal For Labour Merits — OAO Amkodor director general Alexander Yanovsky, commercial director Vladimir Baranovsky, director of Udarnik plant Mikhail Sadovsky, deputy director general for economy Tamara Postoyalko and other workers. “It is important that your products are timely renewed to meet modern-day requirements and enjoy high demand not only in Belarus but abroad,” said the President.

    The head of state thanked workers of Vitebsk building companies for speedy reconstruction of the Summer Amphitheatre. Alexander Lukashenko conferred a medal For Labour Merits on Yaroslav Gribik, deputy director general, senior geologist for oil and gas of geological prospecting company Belgeologia, and on Alexander Suslenko, senior geologist of the Mozyr deep drilling oil exploratory expedition.

    “Selfless productive and quality labour in every position and company is important for us. Today it is the foundation of the dynamic development of the economy and improvement of living standards of the nation,” noted Alexander Lukashenko.

    The number of awardees also includes people of culture and arts, higher education, and mass media. An Order of Fatherland, 2nd degree, was bestowed upon Valentin Yelizaryev, director and art director of the National Academic Grand Ballet Theatre. A Medal of Frantsisk Skorina was awarded to chairman of the Vitebsk oblast department of the Writers Union of Belarus Tamara Gusachenko, director of the Yakub Kolas State Literature and Memorial Museum Zinaida Komarovskaya, art director of the production centre of Spamash company Vladimir Kondrusevich, secretary of the administration of the Writers Union of Belarus Alexander Martinovich, department head of the Belarusian State University Tatiana Shamyakina.

    A gratitude of the President of Belarus was bestowed upon department editor of the Zvyazda newspaper Natalia Karpenko, director of the representative office of the interstate television and radio company Mir in Belarus Lyudmila Sidorovich, pro-rector of the Belarusian State Physical Culture University Vladimir Vasilevsky, department head of the same university Viktor Bartash, professor of the Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after Maxim Tank Irina Novik.

    The number of awardees also includes state administration officers. “Our government executives recognise the present-day high responsibility and the need to achieve tasks the state faces. They recognise and actively contribute to the achievement of tense national development goals,” stressed the President.

    Vitebsk Oblast Governor Vladimir Andreichenko was awarded an Order of Fatherland, 3rd degree.

    An Order of Honour was bestowed upon First Vice Premier Vladimir Semashko, Deputy Head of the President Administration Alexander Popkov, Director of the Palace of the Republic Piotr Volkov.

    Information Minister Vladimir Rusakevich and Vitebsk Mayor Piotr Drozdov were awarded an Order of Frantsisk Skorina.

    Medals For Labour Merits were awarded to director of the national scientific and research centre for traumatology and orthopaedics Alexander Beletsky, Deputy Chairman of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee Viktor Petrusha and head of the department for financial and bookkeeping support for state agencies of the Presidential Property Management Directorate Alexander Voblikov. A gratitude of the President of Belarus was bestowed upon Deputy Chairman of the State Control Committee and Director of the Financial Investigations Department Sergei Baranovsky, Director of the National Law-Making Centre under the President Valery Mitskevich, department head of the Department for Alleviating Consequences of the Chernobyl Catastrophe Gennady Antsipov.

    State awards were also bestowed on officers of law enforcement and power-wielding agencies.

    Alexander Lukashenko thanked the awardees for high professional skills and industriousness, talent and energy they dedicate to the service for the Fatherland.

    Ukraine ready to aid Belarus in nuclear power plant construction

    From: BelTA
    Ukraine is ready to help Belarus in issues relating to the nuclear power plant construction, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Belarus Igor Likhovoi told media on February 29.

    He remarked, Ukraine has much experience, personnel and an industry that has been working for the nuclear power engineering complex for decades. Ukraine suggested it should participate in the project for building a nuclear power plant in Belarus.

    Ukrainian planners are already working on the creation of preliminary conditions for building the nuclear power plant, said the diplomat. In his opinion, Belarus can exploit Ukraine’s experience of processing and storing nuclear waste and other aspects of nuclear power engineering.

    Igor Likhovoi underscored, energy security issues are the most important avenue of cooperation between the two countries. Belarus and Ukraine are countries involved in the transit of natural gas and oil and have many common areas of cooperation due to the fact. The trade and economic relations of the two countries are rapidly developing. In 2007 the trade between Belarus and Ukraine exceeded $3 billion ($3.5 billion taking into account the services).

    Belarus and Ukraine have been partners for many centuries and will always need each other, said the Ambassador. “We would like Belarus to enter the World Trade Organisation like Ukraine did,” he added.

    Belarus, Ukraine to consider cooperation in nuclear waste storage

    In the future Belarus and Ukraine can consider an opportunity to cooperate in nuclear waste storage, Ukraine’s First Vice Prime Minister Alexander Turchinov told reporters in Minsk on February 29.

    Ukraine plans to build a centralized storage of used nuclear fuel not far from the Chernobyl nuclear power station. According to Alexander Turchinov, the Ukrainian side understands the importance of the issue for Belarus and presents all necessary information about the project. Alexander Turchinov noted that the issue of possible nuclear waste storage by Belarus on the territory of Ukraine did not arise.

    Vladimir Semashko, the First Deputy Prime Minister, has underlined that in case Ukraine decides on the construction of a new nuclear waste storage, Belarus will demand to conduct an ecological monitoring to prevent any negative impact on Belarusian environment.

    According to Vladimir Semashko, in the future Belarus and Ukraine can cooperate in the issues related to the nuclear waste storage. There can be mutual interests of the two countries, he considered. Nuclear waste storage and recycling are of high importance as it influences the price of the generated electric energy at nuclear power stations. The First Deputy Prime Minister reminded that Belarus decided upon the construction of a 2000MW nuclear power station with the completion of the first energy unit in 2016 and the second – in 2018.

    World Festival of Youth and Students to take place in Belarus in July-August 2009

    From: BelTA
    The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students under the motto “We are for the World without Wars” will take place in Belarus in July-August 2009. Leonid Kovalev, the first secretary of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU), Thiago Viera, the President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), and Miguel Madeira, the WFDY Former President, discussed conceptions and arrangement plans of the youth forum at a meeting in the BRYU Central Committee.

    The President of the Federation has noted that Belarus will be handed over an official flag of the festival in July 2008 in Caracas which hosted the previous, 16th, festival.

    The BRYU has offered to hold the festival in Belarus, Leonid Kovalev underlined. Belarus, as a potential forum host, has been presented by the BRYU during the events marking the 60th anniversary of the World Festivals of Youth and Students in Caracas in August 2007. Belarus’ participation in the World Festival of Youth and Students aims to develop close partner relations with youth organizations of other countries, Leonid Kovalev noted. He reminded that in 2007 the BRYU signed a cooperation agreement with the youth organizations of Greece, Syria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Cuba, Venezuela and Libya. A year before the Belarusian Union closely cooperated only with the Russian Youth Union. In the near future the Union is expected to sign an agreement with the youth organization of China.

    World Federation of Democratic Youth was established in 1945 at the World Youth Conference in London. It was viewed as a successor of the Young Communist International. The Soviet Union was represented by VLKSM (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) and the youth organizations committee of the Soviet Union. At its heyday (1985) WFDY united more than 100 million young people from 115 countries.

    WFYS to promote Belarus’ youth policy

    The World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) in Minsk will help implement the state youth policy in Belarus, WFYS President Thiago Viera stated at a meeting with the deputies of the World Federation of Democratic Youth in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus.

    “It is important for us to be here and see the efforts took for the development of Belarus. Our visit is an opportunity to show solidarity and exchange the experience. We are confident that joint efforts including the festival will help develop anti-Imperialist campaign,” the WFYS President said.

    Igor Karpenko, the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belarus, expressed confidence that “the cooperation between the Belarusian Republican Youth Union and the World Federation of Democratic Youth would give a new impetus for the development of the international youth contacts and development of the state youth policy in Belarus”.

    The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students under the motto “We are for the World without Wars” will take place in Belarus in July-August 2009. Leonid Kovalev, the first secretary of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU), Thiago Viera, the President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), and Miguel Madeira, the WFDY Former President, discussed conceptions and arrangement plans of the youth forum at a meeting in the BRYU Central Committee.

  • From the international press...

    Belarus lets jailed activist attend wife's funeral

    From: reuters
    Jailed Belarussian opposition activist Alexander Kozulin was released on compassionate leave Tuesday to attend his wife's funeral.

    Kozulin, described by the West as a political prisoner, said President Alexander Lukashenko had given in to pressure from the European Union and the United States in a bid to improve relations.

    Kozulin, jailed for 5-1/2 years for helping to stage rallies denouncing Lukashenko's re-election in 2006, was allowed home for three days. His wife Irina died of cancer at the weekend and will be buried on Wednesday.

    Speaking by telephone, Kozulin said he had been told unexpectedly to gather his things on Monday night, then been put in a car and accompanied to his home by the prison director.

    "It was the tough position taken by the European Union and United States and support from people in Belarus," he said.

    "And also probably my stand when I said I was ready to die, to be buried alongside my wife, unless they let me out to pay my last respects. That probably frightened the authorities."

    The United States welcomed the release of Kozulin and urged that it be made permanent and unconditional. State Department spokesman Tom Casey called the release of six other political prisoners in recent weeks a positive step for Belarus.

    Kozulin, 52, had gone on hunger strike and had threatened to refuse liquids from Tuesday if he was not allowed out. His two daughters had also gone on hunger strike.

    The academic is one of two remaining detainees described as political prisoners by the West, which accuses the ex-Soviet state of 10 million people of human rights abuses.

    "Should Mr. Kozulin's release be made permanent, all internationally recognized political prisoners would have been released, and we would be prepared to begin a dialogue with Belarus on further steps to improve bilateral relations," Casey said in a statement.


    Lukashenko is barred from entering the United States and the EU on grounds that he rigged his re-election.

    But since quarrelling with his traditional ally Russia over energy prices last year, he has been calling for better relations, particularly with Brussels.

    "It is clear Lukashenko is facing the need to introduce serious changes," Kozulin said. "He needs urgently to settle the issue of improving relations with the EU and the United States."

    But Kozulin was uncertain this would prompt his final release, as has occurred in recent months with other activists.

    "Given my wife's state, the fact that she was near death, I should have been the first to be freed on humanitarian grounds," he said. "But the authorities didn't do this and made it quite clear how they stand on the issue."

    Hours before Kozulin was freed, 400 people carrying candles and portraits of him and his wife gathered in a square in Minsk.

    EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner had said releasing Kozulin would be "an important signal."

    Kozulin was jailed after urging protesters at a rally denouncing the president's re-election to march to a prison where some activists were being held. He staged a 53-day hunger strike to draw attention to human rights violations in Belarus.

    Belarus should be in good relations with both Russia and West, Kazulin says

    From: Naveny
    Belarus should maintain good relations with both the West and Russia, former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin said at an online news conference that was hosted by the Belarusian service of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Tuesday.

    "We will simply lose very much without it," the opposition politician said. "Those who do not understand it either palter with truth or try to play on impossible things."

    "Russia is not only our old neighbor but also our old brother with whom many our citizens have blood and sibling connections. It is one of our major economic partners. But we should teat in the same way the European Union as well and it should have the same influence, the same spectrum of relations as Russia has regarding Belarus," he said.

    Dr. Kazulin expressed conviction that changes in the country were inevitable and they would soon happen.

    "Lukashenka has exhausted many of his resources and the longer he stays in power the worse the situation is for him personally," he said. "It is very difficult to get rid of fear, but it does not make sense today any longer to fear because there are increasingly fewer things that can be lost. What is happening in Belarus apparently shows that the socially-oriented state, the state for the people in Belarus has ceased to exist. The finishing stroke was the removal of all benefits. It was an unprecedented step that not a single other country in the world has ever seen. It is a Belarusian handwriting."

    "Something what is happening is the moral degeneration of the country and a conscientious one. It is worse than any human disease and human sin," he said, noting that "invaluable moral qualities of the Belarusians" such as compassion and mercy were being "treated with red-hot iron," and Belarus was slowly turning into a "country of slaves."

    Dr. Kazulin has called on all opposition politicians to unite.

    "It should not be that Zyanon Paznyak and Alyaksandr Kazulin, to say nothing of Milinkevich and others, act by their own. It does not matter who will be the president. What matters is how the situation in the country will change. When we learn to be democratic ourselves, inside the pro-democratic opposition, and when we start solving these issues then it will be time to come to power," the politician said.

    Kazulin says that he will no more go on hunger strike

    Alyaksandr Kazulin said that he would no more go on hunger strike while in prison.

    As the former presidential candidate said at a news conference held in the BelaPAN office on Thursday, he made this decision over the two days that he were in Minsk to attend the funeral of his wife Iryna.

    “A huge number of people turned out for the funeral,” he said. “They came up to me, expressed their condolences and said that I should not declare a hunger strike, as they need me to be alive. This awoke a sense of responsibility in me before Belarusian people.”

    Dr. Kazulin, rector of Belarusian State University between 1996 and 2003, was arrested during a post-election opposition march in March 2006 and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison in July on charges of hooliganism and the organization of group actions disturbing the public peace.

    Dr. Kazulin staged a 53-day hunger strike in his prison in late 2006 to protest what he called the illegal reelection of Alyaksandr Lukashenka for a third term and draw the UN Security Council`s attention to the situation in Belarus. He reportedly lost more than 30 kilograms during the hunger strike.

    Kazulin says that he forgives Lukashenka for "everything"

    Opposition politician Alyaksandr Kazulin said that he forgives Alyaksandr Lukashenka for "everything" what he has done.

    "I extend my hand to him before the cherished memory of my wife and the Belarusian people. Because I have understood that violence should not be responded with violence, or else we will become similar to the present-day authorities," the former presidential candidate said at an online questions-and-answers session that was hosted by BelaPAN’s online newspaper Belorusskiye Novosti on Thursday.

    Dr. Kazulin was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in 2006 after post-election protests. On Monday, he was granted a three-day leave from prison to attend the funeral of his wife who died on February 23 of cancer.

    "I have woken up a bit of a different person after these two days. Calm and peacefulness settled in my soul," Dr. Kazulin said.

    Economy ministry raises purchasing prices of milk, meat

    From: Naveny
    The economy ministry on February 26 raised the purchasing prices of milk by 10 percent and of beef and pork by five percent, said the press office of the agriculture ministry, BelaPAN said.

    The retail prices of these products are expected to gradually rising within four months by 1.5 or two percent per months on the average, the press office said.

    The price at which milk and meat are purchased from farms had to be increased because of the negative profitability of production and because purchasing prices in neighboring countries were higher, according to the press office.

    The agriculture ministry had earlier suggested raising the purchasing prices of cattle and first- and second-grade hogs by five percent and of milk by 25 percent.

    In November, the purchasing prices of milk were raised by 25 percent, of cattle by 10 percent and of hogs by 8.5 percent. Retail prices of “socially important” dairy and meat products were also raised in November, which entailed higher retail prices.

    Belarus to develop nuclear power with Ukraine

    From: earth times
    Belarus will develop nuclear power in cooperation with Ukraine, a senior government official said Friday. Vladimir Semashko, Belarus' Vice Premier, said his government had signed a contract with a division of Ukraine's national nuclear power agency to design and build Belarus' first nuclear reactor, the Interfax news agency reported.

    "Our cooperation on nuclear power has moved beyond plans and talk," Semashko said. "We will go forward with this project."

    The news is likely to be upsetting for neighbouring Poland and the Baltic states, where anti-nuclear activists have campaigned against Minsk's plans to develop nuclear power, branding them unsafe.

    A reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl station melted down in March 1986, causing the worst nuclear power accident in history.

    Semashko claimed Ukrainian nuclear power technologies were among the world's best, and that Ukraine "is a nuclear energy superpower."

    Despite the Chernobyl accident, Ukraine has remained an enthusiastic proponent of nuclear energy, using reactors to generate just over half its electricity.

    The reactor to be built in Belarus would be an advanced third generation reactor far safer than the one that melted down at Chernobyl, Semashko said.

    The Belarusian decision to use Ukrainian nuclear technologies had been widely predicted by observers, because of the small number of nuclear-capable nations willing to assist politically-isolated Belarus.

    Aleksander Lukashenko, Belarus' President, is a pariah with most developed nations for his authoritarian rule.

    He has rejected the idea of developing nuclear weapons for Belarus, but is a strong proponent of nuclear power as a way to ensure Belarusian energy independence.

    Lukashenko fell out with Russia, another possible source for Belarus of nuclear technologies, one year ago after the Kremlin overnight doubled the price of oil and gas sold to its western neighbour, leaving Ukraine as one of the few countries with functioning commercial relations with Minsk.

    Semashko said that at least some of the components of the reactor would be produced in Ukraine, but the bulk would be produced in Belarus.

    The disposal of Belarusian nuclear waste - another worry in the European Union - was "still under discussion," he added. "This is a sensitive question."

    Belarus and Ukraine, in that order, were the nations most badly polluted by radiation from the Chernobyl accident.

    Almost one quarter of southeast Belarus still is to some extent radioactive, with hundreds of square kilometres considered unsuitable for human habitation.

    Use of the area for storage of nuclear waste would, however, cause problems for the Lukashenko regime, which has embarked on a national campaign to reclaim radioactive areas for use.

    It's better in Belarus, telecoms boss warns Brussels

    Belarus is better for business than Brussels, the chief executive of a top European telecommunications group said yesterday, in an out-spoken attack on the European Commission's efforts to cut mobile phone charges.

    "We have been much better treated in Belarus than in Brussels. That's not a political statement. That's a business statement," Boris Nemsic, head of Telekom Austria, told the Financial Times in an interview.

    Mr Nemsic was responding to comments by Viviane Reding, the European Union telecommunications commissioner, who called on the mobile phone industry last week to cut the costs of text messaging and mobile internet access for customers travelling abroad. Speaking at an industry conference in Barcelona, she set a deadline of July 1 for industry action.

    Ms Reding's latest move against the mobile operators comes after a law she pushed through last year forced companies to cut the costs of making and receiving calls between EU member states.

    Mr Nemsic made clear he was satisfied with the way the Belarusan authorities had treated the company last year when it acquired a 70 per cent stake in a leading local mobile operator for Ђ730m.

    But Mr Nemsic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, said the Commission's moves to establish retail price controls reminded him of communism. "I lived under communism and I hated regulated prices," he said.

    Mr Nemsic said it would be reasonable for the EU to create a single telecoms market with an overall regulatory framework. But such a framework did not exist. Instead, there were layers of "incompatible" EU and national regulations.

    "The European Commission says it's one market. But it's done nothing to make it one market. They're simply taking the low-hanging fruit in populist ways . . . The framework isn't there but the Commission is regulating retail prices."

    He urged EU leaders to create a regulatory framework for the future as the telecoms industry prepared for the next big capital investments including fibre-optic networks and the roll-out of 4G new generation mobile telephony.

    "This is a challenge for policymakers. If we want to make in Europe one telecommunications market - and I agree fully that we do - let's have one clear framework.

    "You won't see the benefit in one or two years but in five or 10 years. I urge politicians to think beyond one election term."

    The principal users of cross-border telecoms services were not tourists but business people. Making decisions on the basis of "extreme cases" of holidaymakers running up big bills made for "bad policy", Mr Nemsic said.

    "The liberalisation of telecommunications [in Europe] was successful. Competition was established and it works. But you can't make more competition by regulating prices. If we get the same prices [because of regulation] there will be no competition."

    Cuba offers to establish close cooperation with Belarus, Venezuela

    From: Itar Tass
    Visiting Cuban Minister of Government Ricardo Cabrisas offered on Wednesday to establish close tripartite cooperation of Belarus, Venezuela and Cuba.

    “We believe it would be interesting to discuss such issue as the establishment of three-party cooperation,” the Cuban official said at talks with Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky.

    “We proceed from the fact that over the past few years, Belarus and Venezuela on one side, and Cuba and Venezuela on the other have become a lot closer and have established close economic relations,” the minister of government stressed.

    According to him, a current revival in relations between Belarus and Cuba “will contribute to giving a boost to three-party cooperation”.

  • Cultural scene...

    National History and Culture Museum of Belarus to present Alla Tkachenko photo exhibition

    From: BelTA
    Belarusian dance company Khoroshki prepares new programme
    On February 29, the National History and Culture Museum of Belarus will feature the photo exhibition by Alla Tkachenko “Encounters that fate has willed”.

    The exhibition displays up 150 photos of famous photographers from Belarus, Russia and other countries from the still library of Alla Tkachenko. These photos were the result of the 8-year work of the author, BelTA learnt from the organizers of the exhibition.

    The works by Alla Tkachenko have been exhibited in the best show-rooms of the country. The artist actively cooperates with the Belarusian Media. You can see her works in the books “Vladimir Muliavin. The song of fate” and “Women of Belarus”.

    Alla Tkachenko also found her vocation in the cinematography- she makes documentals and music videos, she also writes poems and composes music.

    The opening of the exhibition will be attended by People’s Artists of Belarus Ivan Misko and Leonid Shchemelev, People’s Artiste of Belarus Nikolai Skorikov and Honored Artists of Belarus Izmail Kaplanov and Irina Dorofeeva, laureate of the Special Fund of the President of the Republic of Belarus for Support of the Talented Youth Ksenia Sitnik and others.

    The exhibition will be open till March 2.

    Alfonso Lopez music to be premiered in Minsk

    Alfonso Lopez Chollet is an outstanding Venezuelan composer, violinist and conductor. He has arrived in Minsk to attend the premiere of his compositions in the Belarusian capital. The concert will take place in the Belarusian State Philharmonics on February 28, BelTA learnt from the embassy of Venezuela in Belarus. The programme of the State Chamber Orchestra concert includes the music of Alfonso Lopez, Piotr Chaikovsky and Fritz Kreisler. The conductor is Yevgeny Bushkov (Moscow), the soloist – Yulia Bushkova (violin).

    The embassy underlined that the Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation in culture and music is a new trend in bilateral collaboration. An agreement on cooperation in culture was signed during the visit of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to Venezuela in December 2007. The agreement aims to develop closer links in all cultural areas.

    Belarus and Venezuela intend to implement several joint cultural projects in the near future. In particular, the National Dance Company of Venezuela plans to tour Belarus in 2008. Venezuelan artists are expected to take part in the international contest Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk.

    Minsk to host Edvard Koinberg’s photo-exhibition

    Exhibition of Swedish photographer Edvard Koinberg “Herbarium Amoris” will be held in the Belarusian National Museum of History and Culture from March 13 to April 13. It will be timed to the 300th anniversary of famous Swedish botanist Karl Linne.

    Edvard Kroinberg’s photo-exhibition “Herbarium Amoris” was displayed in Stockholm in 2003 for the first time, BelTA learnt in the Minsk Office of the Swedish Embassy which is the organizer of the exhibition under the auspices of the Swedish Institute. According to specialists, the Dutch painting of the 17th-18th centuries is a source of photo-artist’s inspiration.

    “Herbarium Amoris” has been displayed since 2007 all over the world including China, Australia, the USA, South Africa and European countries.

    A session with Edvard Koinberg will be held in the art gallery NOVA of the Kupala’s Central Library in Minsk on March 12. Belarusian photographers, students and everybody who wish are invited to attend the meeting.

  • Around the region...

    Medvedev presidency to be 'direct continuation' of Putin era

    From: Ria Novosti
    As he cruised to victory in Russia's presidential polls, Dmitry Medvedev said his presidency would be a "direct continuation" of the policies of the man who backed him to lead the largest country on Earth.

    Medvedev has so far received 69.22% of the vote with 70% of the ballots counted in Russia's presidential polls, according to Central Election Commission data. His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, is on 18.26%.

    Speaking to journalists at a news conference, Medvedev said that his presidential program would be "the path chosen by our country eight years ago."

    This path was, he clarified, the one "being followed by President Putin."

    Russian First Deputy Premier Medvedev was publicly backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as his successor in mid-December, and was later nominated by the ruling United Russia party as a presidential candidate.

    Putin later announced that he would take up an offer by Medvedev to become prime minister if his 'heir' were to win the presidency.

    Many political analysts suggested that Medvedev would struggle to make an impact as president with Putin as premier, and there were also suggestions that a change in the Constitution may give Putin more power.

    However, Medvedev seemed to rule this out on Monday, saying that, "According to the structure of authority, the president has his own powers and the head of government his own. This is derived from the Constitution and the law. No one is proposing to change this."

    The inauguration of Russia's new president is set for May 7.

    Many Western observers, including the OSCE's main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors, however.

    Critics also pointed to pressure on voters to cast their ballots, especially employees of state-run organizations. The refusal of the Russian election authorities to register a number of candidates from Russia's opposition due to 'irregularities' in their applications was also cited, as was the lack of media coverage of the candidates given permission to stand.

    A CIS election monitoring mission said the elections had been held in full accordance with the law. The CIS is an alliance of a number of former Soviet republics.

    Election monitors from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have yet to comment on the polls.

    Making Russia safe for the richest

    From: The Star
    Roman Abramovich
    Outgoing President Vladimir Putin brought stability to Russia, after chaos. Surfed the oil wave. And restored national pride. Give him that.

    But Putin also empowered the Kremlin and officialdom at the expense of democracy and the rule of law. Cowed rivals. And left people cynical and fearful of politics.

    So what can Russians expect of his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, who will sweep tomorrow's farcical presidential election?

    An easing of Putin's stifling political control? Not likely. But Medvedev does inspire middle class hopes that the oil-fueled 7 per cent growth that has enriched them will continue on his watch.

    Tellingly, his first order of business seems to be to make Russia safe again ... for its billionaires.

    Russia now boasts 101 top rollers, says Finans magazine, led by Oleg Deripaska, with $40 billion. Only the United States has more. A dozen sit in parliament, mostly for United Russia, Putin's fan club.

    Many cashed in on the big post-Soviet asset sell-off, amid chaos, and currently sit atop a murky $1.4 trillion economic system where Kremlin-fearing bureaucrats call the shots, lawlessness prevails and assets can be seized by force.

    But now that Russia's economic shakeout has produced its winners, Medvedev seems to want to secure their gains by cracking down on the "legal nihilism" that afflicts the country. He has grand plans to rein in high-handed officialdom, restore the rule of law and shore up property rights.

    "The state should safeguard property in a way that sets an example," he declared the moment Putin threw his hat into the presidential ring for him.

    The very notion of making Russia safer for the new boyars might cause some to reach for the vodka.

    And Medvedev's slogan —Freedom is better than non-freedom– is Orwellian in its vacuity.

    But realists may calculate that what's good for a Deripaska may be good for a working Ivan, too.

    No one expects the Kremlin to become an icon of democracy any time soon. Not with Prime Minister Putin pulling freedom's strings from the White House close by.

    But Medvedev claims to believe Russia has evolved to the point where a "radical reduction" in bureaucratic meddling, a "completely independent judiciary" and a war on corruption are required, to let the nation get on with the business of biznes. They also are pillars of a healthier democracy.

    Trickle-down reform, Kremlin-style? Russians can only hope.

    Russia's Economy Stabilized Under Putin

    From: AP
    On one side of central Moscow's Kievskaya Street, the gleaming European Center mall stands tall — seven stories of boutiques, cafes and an ice rink.

    On the other side stand huddled women, their arms draped with cheap scarves, clumsily knit sweaters and heavy-duty plastic bags they hope to sell to people streaming toward the mall.

    Both sides of the street are emblematic of outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin's economic policies during his eight years in office.

    Analysts credit Putin — whose successor will be chosen in elections Sunday — with policies that brought an immense boom to Russia, but say he could have done much more. The women on Kievskaya Street are just as ambivalent.

    "Life is getting sweet for many; in general, it's getting better," said a scarf-seller who gave her name only as Maria.

    But Natalia Mironova, laden with bunches of roses wilting in the cold, butted in with a loud "No!" "I milked cows for 20 years. Now my legs hurt and I can't find work," the 53-year-old former collective farm worker said. "They have cheated me."

    When Putin took office on New Year's Eve 1999, there were a lot more people like Mironova on the streets. Some sold rusty tools that they had scavenged or incoherent assortments such as a woman who traded in smoked fish and brassieres. The lot where the European Center now stands was then strewn with collapsed drunks and stray dogs nursing pups.

    Russia owed tens of billions of dollars in foreign debt. The ruble had collapsed the previous year. The classic image of a Russian businessman was someone with a bulletproof vest, a hot girlfriend and zero ethics.

    Eight years later, not only is the debt paid off but Russia has such a budget surplus that it's considering strategies for how to invest $32 billion in a sovereign wealth fund — and it has another $125 billion stashed away in a stabilization fund.

    The ruble is stable and even being touted as a potential reserve currency. The economy grew 8.1 percent last year, and the middle class has grown dramatically. Russia stands 79th on the World Bank's ranking by gross national income per capita at $5,780 — behind Mexico but ahead of EU members Romania and Bulgaria.

    The single most important factor in this stunning transformation has been skyrocketing prices for oil and gas. Oil was about $20 a barrel when Putin took office, roughly a fifth of current prices. Russia has earned about $1 trillion in oil and gas revenues during Putin's years, according to calculations by Moscow's UralSib bank.

    "There's no doubt about it, they got extremely lucky with the oil price," said UralSib research head Chris Weafer. But "they did a couple of positive things as well, such as reforming the tax system from what was a real upturned plate of spaghetti in terms of all the various options and routes and exceptions that were in the system."

    Andrew Somers, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, said Putin first boosted the economy by establishing a sense of order.

    "When he came in, it was close to chaos, at least in the minds of most business people. He brought basic stability and then he introduced some far-reaching legislation, most primarily the tax legislation ... a corporate tax system that is basically consistent with the way the rest of the world treats business," Somers said.

    The simplified system — including a 13-percent flat income tax — encouraged longtime scofflaws to pay taxes, which in turn brought a predictability that spurred growth, the analysts said.

    But Putin's penchant for imposing control may have caused him to miss economic opportunities. After his first term of focusing on political stability and rationalizing tax legislation, much of the next four years focused on bolstering state-dominated "champion industries" in oil, gas, weapons and other sectors.

    The politically charged prosecution of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which briefly shook investor confidence in Russia, appeared to be part of that drive: Khodorkovsky's Yukos oil company was eventually auctioned off by the state, with most of its assets going to the state oil company Rosneft.

    That focus has slowed Russia's attempts to diversify its economy, to establish viable industries to supply the domestic market, earn export income and create jobs.

    "They really should have been using this money as they were earning it to push for growth and create incentives in the broader economy," Weafer said. "They could have been targeting these industries four years ago."

    Somers in turn criticized Putin for hesitating to put more money into infrastructure, education and general social welfare programs.

    Putin's anointed successor, Dmitry Medvedev, who is almost certain to win Sunday's election, is expected to step up emphasis on such programs.

    Putin himself has expressed dissatisfaction that he was unable to curb inflation — 11.9 percent last year — and that corruption remains endemic.

    Others suggest that Putin has undermined Russia's economic development by pursuing an aggressive foreign policy that discourages investors.

    That could be particularly important as Russia aims to broaden its economic base beyond oil, where huge foreign investors tend to have thick skins about political tensions, said Weafer.

    "The Exxons of this world and the Shells of this world really don't care," he said. "But the likes of HSBC and Wal-Mart and Microsoft ... they are generally much more risk-averse."

    "These are exactly the sort of industries and companies that Russia needs to attract as its partners if it is going to be able to develop a more diversified economy."

    Gazprom to reduce Ukraine's gas

    From: BBC
    Gazprom, Russia's gas monopoly, says it will cut supplies to Ukraine by 25% on Monday after talks between the two sides ended in failure.
    The state-run Russian company said its efforts to get Ukraine to pay its debts had "reached a dead end".

    Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko reached an outline deal, but the details could not be agreed.

    Western commentators accuse Moscow of using Gazprom as a political tool.

    Gazprom said it was ready to continue negotiations over the weekend.

    But Ukraine's deputy prime minister said the money had already been transferred and that documents to confirm this had been sent to Gazprom.

    "The issue of whether money from intermediaries arrives to Gazprom is Gazprom's business," Oleksandr Turchynov said.

    A previous row between the two sides saw Russia cut gas to Ukraine in 2006, also hitting exports to Western Europe.

    The European Commission has said it has been assured by Gazprom that supplies to the EU will not be affected by any renewed cut in exports to Ukraine.

    Missing gas

    Gazprom says it is owed $1.5bn (Ј770m) in arrears by Ukraine for gas already supplied.

    Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said in a statement that talks with Ukraine on Thursday and Friday had failed to produce results.

    "Considering that the situation has reached a dead end, to guarantee its own economic interests, Gazprom will reduce its gas supplies to Ukrainian consumers by 25% on 3 March at 1000 [0700 GMT]," the statement said.

    Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko to try and settle the payments dispute.

    Mr Putin agreed to Ukraine's demands to replace two intermediary gas trading companies through which Ukraine pays for imported gas with a more transparent firm.

    Ukraine likely to join NATO MAP at Bucharest summit

    From: xinhua net
    U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor said Thursday that Ukraine is likely to join NATO membership action plan (MAP) at an upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest.

    "I think the summit in Bucharest will be very positive both for Ukraine and NATO," Taylor told a briefing during an international forum "Europe-Ukraine" in Kiev.

    "Today, there is big probability that the summit in Bucharest, which is to take place this April, will accept Ukraine's bid (to join NATO membership action plan)," he said.

    Taylor noted that the bid to join NATO MAP was different from a bid to join NATO.

    "Ukraine is not prepared for membership of NATO, and the alliance not ready to offer Ukraine membership," he stressed.

    In January, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Parliament Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuksent a letter to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, expressing their hope that the country could join the NATO membership action plan at the NATO summit in Bucharest.

    The MAP application prompted a blockade of the Ukrainian parliament by opposition lawmakers since mid-January, demanding a referendum on the issue.

    Opinion polls showed the majority of Ukrainians are still opposed to the idea of joining the 26-nation alliance.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Can you trust judiciary in Poland?

    From: Polskie Radio
    The Polish press reports on how the Poles evaluate the courts of justice in the country.

    Generally, Poles don’t trust the judicial system in Poland, a poll in Gazeta Prawna reveals.

    Almost 70 percent of respondents said that verdicts by Polish courts are too lenient and 67 percent negatively evaluated the impartiality of judges. The poll showed also that only 2 percent of Poles support restoration of the capital punishment – a figure much lower than is generally expressed to pollsters.

    Dziennik daily has found that in a few day’s time Washington is to offer Poland help in modernising the Polish army. This is on of the conditions Poland’s government set in exchange for the country’s consent to deploy elements of antimissile shield on its territory. The next round of Polish-US negotiations is to take place on Friday.

    Polska writes about the proposed changes in Polish law making it easier for patients harmed as a result of treatment to assert their rights in court. The project, prepared by the opposition Law and Justice, would also stipulate new, more rigid penalties for corrupt medics, including financial fines and restrictions on exercising a profession.

    Harassment at the German-Polish border

    From: Courrier INT
    Andrzej Krasnicki reports that motorists have been harassed on both sides of the German-Polish border in recent days. It started with the German police imposing fines against Poles for below-standard first aid boxes. The Polish police then punished German drivers for not having fire extinguishers, which are required in Poland.

    Says Krasnicki, "Today, if residents of Swinoujscie want to visit Germany, they take along a well-equipped German first-aid kit. These are selling like hot cakes in the markets on the border, with a price tag of 6 euros. On the other side, German Federal Police inspect the contents with embarrassing precision.

    Before he knows it, the Polish driver is drowning in fines of 10 to 50 euros, for failing to have thermo foil, for having bandage scissors of the wrong size, or for a missing first-aid box, which is not required in Poland."

    Polish Police Use Jamming Kit to Block Protesters Phones

    From: cellular-news
    The polish newspaper, Dziennik has reported that the local police used jamming equipment to block the mobile phones belonging to nurses who had occupied the Prime Minister's Chancellory during last summer protesting for higher wages.

    It's reported that the equipment used was so strong that it affected phones belonging to bystanders and residents within a mile of the building. Polkomtel, owner of the Plus GSM network, told the Electionic Communication Office (UKE) that several thousand of its customers had problems with making connections. After three hours, the company cancelled its complaint. Quite why the security services did not simply ask the operators to suspend the local base station has not been clarified.

    Last June, around 1,000 nurses protested outside the Chancellory in makeshift camps in protest over wages, which average US$500 per month. National wages tend to average US$900 per month in the country. Four nurses broke into the building and occupied Prime Minister's Chancellery for two weeks.

    President of Olsztyn arrested on rape charges

    From: The News
    Police have arrested Czeslaw Malkowski, president of Olsztyn, northern Poland, on charges of harassing female employees of the town hall and raping one of them.

    Malkowski's office in the town hall is currently being searched and documents found there are being secured. The president will testify later today.

    Yesterday Malkowski announced that he would be taking two days off, assuring at the same time that he is innocent and the evidence against him, recordings on which he makes indecent proposals to his employees, are not genuine.

    The investigation concerning the sex scandal in Olsztyn's town hall is run by the District Prosecutor's Office in Bialystok, north-eastern Poland, and was handed over to it by the one in Olsztyn to avoid accusations of partiality.

  • From the blogs...

    Human Rights Center “Viasna” protests against politically motivated persecution of students

    From: Viasna
    During the last month the following students were expelled for political reasons: Zmitser Zhaleznichenka (expelled from the 3rd year at Mathematical faculty of Homel State University; Katsiaryna Salauyova (expelled from the 2nd year of faculty of history and philology of Polatsak State University; Fiodar Charankou (expelled from the 1st year of Mazyr State pedagogical University; Franak Viachorka (expelled from the 3rd year of faculty of journalistic of the Belarusian State University; and Anton Kalinouski (expelled from the 1st year of Minsk State Linguistics University).

    Zmitser Zhaleznichenka, Katsiaryna Salauyova, Franak Viachorka, and Anton Kalinouski always showed good academic results, they had a high GPA; that is why we consider their expulsion from universities as persecution because of their civic and political activities and membership in political parties and movements.

    Katsiaryna Salauyova was expelled twice. After the first expulsion her status of a student was restored under the public pressure. She is charged under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code, for activities on behalf of an unregistered non-governmental organization.

    Zmitser Zhaleznichenka was also expelled twice. The court found the first expulsion illegal. After the second expulsion he was immediately drafted to the army. Court hearing on the lawfulness of the university administration to expel him again has not taken place yet.

    Franak Viachorka and Anton Kalinouski were expelled from their universities when they had served administrative arrests after the protests actions in January 2008. Serving the arrests, they had no chance to take exams in time, which was evaluated by the administration as “poor academic progress”.

    The Human Rights Center “Viasna” considers expulsion of Franak Viachorka, Anton Kalinouski, Zmitser Zhaleznichenka, Fiodar Charankou, and Katsiaryna Salauyova politically-motivated persecution and demands from university administrations to take immediate measures for restoring these students in their universities.

    The Human Rights Center “Viasna” also expresses concern with the facts of KGB pressure on the active students, with agreement and assistance of administrations of higher educational establishments. We believe, participation in the planned political persecution of students is incompatible with the notion of academic freedoms and unacceptable for democratic countries.

    We demand to stop this shameful practice and reserve the right to address international students organizations, and European university organizations and separate universities with the request to stop all contacts with the higher educational establishments, administrations of which participate in the political persecution of students.

    Завтра Праздник
    П Е Р В О М А Р Т !

    From: Валацуга
    Поздравляем Всех-Всех-Вас
    Всемирным Днем Неизвестного Художника

    Всемирный День неизвестного художника (ВДНХ) праздник пробуждения и усугубления
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    который ежегодно отмечается 1 марта
    Первомарт !!!
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    2. ДЕЛАЙ САМ.
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    UPD. Время и место проведения празденств вполне обсуждаемо (а то под мостом уже как-то не оригинально). Для всяческих вопросов звоните Свете lattruaz +37529 5304716 и выползайте из норок в барабан греметь да весне радоваться!

    Прессбол» отлучили от Олимпиады!

    From: Minski Blog
    Спортивная общественность в шоке: самая популярная спортивная газета Беларуси «Прессбол» лишилась решением НОК аккредитации на Олимпиаду-2008! Как объявил руководитель комиссии НОК по работе со средствами массовой информации Алексей Мирошниченко газета своими публикациями «оскорбляет чувства олимпийских чемпионов»…

    Говоря простым языком, газета слишком часто писала о негативных явлениях, скандалах и скандальчиках тем не менее имевших место в спортивном мире Синеокой республики. И вот за критику пришлось ответить таким странным образом.

    Хотя пенять на зеркало, как-то более чем странно. За межолимпийский сезон между Турином и Пекином наш бравый спорт как-то все больше разочаровывал, чем наоборот. Сам Президент страны бросил в лицо министру спорта Григорову более чем красноречивую оценку выступления наших зимников в Турине-2006: «Позорище!»

    Но бывший боксер г-н Григоров сдержал удар и не моргнув вывалил на головы неравнодушных к спорту беларусов еще с пяток поводов пошуметь прессе, ну, той, что не любит молчать. Чего только стоила смена тренера национальной сборной по футболу в самый что ни на есть переходный период в момент игр за выход на Европейский чемпионат-2008. Коней на переправе не меняют, как правило, но решили рискнуть. В результате немецкий тренер, начудив с составом сборной, проиграл четыре кряду матча, включая и игру с самой слабой в Европе командой - сборной Люксембурга, куда входят чистой воды любители, играющие в футбол в свободное от работы время.

    Дальше больше: скандал с договорными играми. Наша доблестная милиция возбудила уголовное дело по подкупу наших футболистов бывшим белорусским голкипером, работающим сейчас в России. Вполне логично было бы попросить россиян прислать нам нашего гражданина-нарушителя, но дело, почему-то передали на доследование в Россию. Это одно и тоже, если его аккуратно завернуть в газетку и положить в мусорный бак – так по крайне мере посчитал «Прессбол» и с этим согласились почти все.

    Теперь многострадальный биатлон. Провалы наших биатлонистов на Играх в Турине следовали за провалами теперь уже на Кубке мира и чемпионате мира и Европы, словно насмехаясь над заверениями тренеров, что все идет по плану. Светлану Парамыгину, в бывшем знаменитую белорусскую биатлонистку и нынешнюю журналистку «Прессбола» постоянно возмущали покупки российских легионеров, за которых выбрасывали значительные суммы, в то время как эти «варяги» не показывали ровным счетом ничего выдающегося. И это при наличие точно таких же биатлонистов внутри самой страны, но бесплатных!

    Однако тренеры не любят, когда выносят сор из избы, и на прославленную экс-спортсменку ополчились. А маразм, тем не менее, крепчал. Апогеем стала покупка спортивного коня в Австрии за миллион долларов, который оказался… белорусским конем, проданным некогда России по куда как более скромной цене. А тут и сама спортсменка для которой этого коня покупали на Олимпиаду в Пекине заявила, мол, староват он для Игр, мол, 18 лет уже ему, не пойдет.

    Миллион за конскую колбасу?! Не многовато ли? Тут за украденный ящик водки в пятьдесят долларов посадить могут, а здесь… И кто ответит за такую дорогущую покупку? А в ответ тишина и лишение аккредитации «Прессбола».

    Конечно, о проблемах белорусского спорта, о допинговых скандалах наших штангисток, о том, что «купили коника, а коник… без ноги», можно было бы и патриотично промолчать. Именно так и считает комиссия НОК, мол истинные патриоты должны только хорошие новости доводить до болельщиков, но нашлись, блин, правдолюбы, возмутились, потребовали работы и отдачи. Дотребовались. Именно Парамыгина стала причиной, по которой популярную газету лишили аккредитации, мол, раз критикуете, так получайте!

    Самое любопытное, что вся эта скандальная история с аккредитацией повторяется с точностью до имен ее главных героев (Алексея Мирошниченко в частности) после летней Олимпиады 2000 года. Тогда «Прессбол» также лишили права поехать освещать Олимпиаду, но вступился Президент Беларуси, и правда восторжествовала. Главный редактор газеты Владимир Бережков и сейчас обратился с открытым письмом к НОК и лично Президенту, как его председателю, чтобы заступились. Ведь более, чем странное решение вынесли без присутствия самого председателя! Интересно, как все обернется на сей раз?

  • Sport...

    Hleb Dismisses Inter Rumours

    Arsenal midfielder star Alexander Hleb has poured cold water on reports linking him with a possible move to Internazionale.
    Reports earlier this week suggested that Italian Serie A champions and current leaders Inter Milan were lining up a summer swoop for Arsenal's midfield playmaker Alexander Hleb.

    Belarussian Hleb has enjoyed an excellent season so far wit he Gunners, and his scheming has been a key ingredient in their suistained challenge for the Premier League title.

    However, the high level of Belarus international Hleb's performnces has inevitably attracted interest from other top clubs, including, reportedly, Inter and Barcelona.

    But Hleb says firstly that he is not aware of any interest in him and secondly that he is happy at Arsenal anyway.

    "All I can say is from my side there is nothing going on," Hleb told

    "I am very proud to play for Arsenal."

    And his agent, Niki Spilevski, also confirmed that the former Stuttgart midfielder is happy with his life in North London.

    "I can understand why clubs would be interested in Alex," Spilevski told "But Alex loves life at Arsenal. He feels he is at the best club in the world."

    Belarus pondering league proposals

    From: UEFA
    The BFF has offered some radical proposals for restructuring the league
    The new Belarussian season starts at the beginning of April but confusion still reins as to who will be competing and what format the Vysshaya Liga will take.

    Four options
    In early February, the Belarus Football Federation sent four proposals to the 16 clubs who will compete in the 2008 campaign as to the format the league will take. The first was for the 16 teams to play each other home and away, with two teams being relegated at the end of the season and two more going up. The second proposed a similar format, but with three teams going down and just one coming up, reducing the number of teams for the 2009 campaign back to 14.

    Radical cuts
    However, the general consensus in Belarus is that the league should be cut down more radically with a view to improving the general standard. With the likes of Croatia, Serbia, Denmark, Austria and Scotland all having more success than Belarus in European competition despite having top flights consisting of just 12 or fewer teams, the latter two BFF proposals were the ones which received the most positive response in the football world.

    Five relegated
    The first of these suggests that after the 16 clubs have played each other twice, the bottom five sides should all be relegated, with only one team from the second tier coming up. Plan D, meanwhile, proposes that the league should split into eight-team championship and relegation sections after eight rounds, with the bottom five in the latter section going down and, once more, one side being promoted from the second tier.

    Dissenting voice
    Evgeni Shuntov, who was in charge of Belarussian football from Soviet times until the start of the 1990s saw a problem in the latter plan, saying: "In the first stage some will have to face, for example, the champions at home while some will have to do it away. This is a big difference. I believe there is no need to make any changes for the coming season but we certainly have to decide in time for the season after the next one."

    Licence applications
    Club representatives met on 14 February to discuss the new proposals but could not come to an agreement, leaving the BFF executive committee to have the final say. However, BFF general director Leonid Dmitranitsa hinted that it might not take until the end of the season for the Vysshaya Liga to shed its underperforming clubs. "It's far from certain that all the 16 clubs will manage to successfully pass the licensing process," he said.

  • Endnote...

    Kazulin denied early release

    From: Charter '97
    Administration of the penal colony #3 informed in written form relatives of political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin that he was denied of parole release. The official letter runs that Kazulin “gave a negative account of himself: he has 10 breaches of discipline.”

    On 24 January the commission of the supervisors of the brigade 1 was described as a “malicious discipline violator,” the letter from administration says. On 30 January the commission on parole release denied A.U. Kazulin of early release, as he “doesn’t try to mend his way,” the letter runs.

    Political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin, former candidate for presidency in Belarus, came back to the Vitsebsk colony yesterday. He attended the funeral of his wife Iryna Kazulina, died last Saturday from hard disease. His three-day release, given by the Belarusian authorities under pressure of the world community, is over.

    The EU and the US demand permanent and unconditional release of Alyaksandr Kazulin as a starting condition for beginning of negotiations with the official Minsk on normalisation of relations with the West. It was said in the statement of Tom Casey, US State Department’s Deputy Spokesman spread on 26 February. He stressed the permanent release of Alyaksandr Kazulin would mean that “all internationally recognized political prisoners” would be released. As soon as it will happen, the US is “prepared to begin a dialogue with Belarus on further steps to improve bilateral relations,” T. Casey said.

    Kazulin’s breaches of discipline –complains, unfastened button (full list)

    The administration of the colony #3 denied Kazulin of release, because he has 10 breaches of discipline. The Charter’97 press center learnt these “breaches”.

    During three days of releasee, he got to attend his wife’s funeral, Alyaksandr Kazulin what “breaches” he has:

    1. Left the local site of his brigade

    2. Complained about detention regime that influenced negatively other prisoners

    3. Came to supper dressed in tracksuit jacket and trainers

    4. Tried to pass a notice to lawyer.

    5. Was absent at his sleeping site.

    6. Complained during a roll call

    7. After dinner left canteen before time

    8. Laid on his sleeping site under blanket (after 53 days of hunger strike)

    9. Didn’t fasten a button on his prison uniform

    10. Fell asleep 5 minutes before timetable allows it

    “Such penalties may be given to anyone several times a day. If Kazulin had collected just ten penalties under total control, it means he behaved with dignity and didn’t allow to be provoked. Of course, we will appeal against all these “breaches.” Kazulin must be at large,” Ihar Rynkevich, representative of Kazulin’s legal service, said.