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Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 9 was Victory Day, Real estate, Foreign investment, Belarus/Russia, NPP's, Ukraine, Polish scandals, Hockey, Hleb, Opposition, Culture and more...

  • From the Top...
  • #306

    Victory Day

    From: Office of the prsident and BelTA
    Following tradition, on 9 May President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko participated in the events celebrating Victory Day: a march of the Great Patriotic War veterans and the laying of wreaths at the Victory monument in Minsk.

    Participating in the march were top officials, representatives of government bodies, public organisations, clergy, diplomatic corps, servicemen, soldiers-internationalists, young people and foreign guests.

    Alexander Lukashenko: Belarusians highly esteem deed of Fatherland liberators

    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has congratulated fellow countrymen on the Victory Day, the presidential press service told BelTA.

    It is the most unforgettable and solemn date in the history of our nation, the date which symbolises its heroism, bravery and selflessness in the fight against Nazi invaders for the freedom of the native country, noted the head of state.

    “Deeds and actions made by Great Patriotic War heroes are worthy of eternal recognition by the world community. Devastated by the treacherous aggression, the land forged the enormously high-priced Victory,” reads the congratulation.

    Alexander Lukashenko underscored, new generations of Belarusians esteem the deed of the forefathers and demonstrate the allegiance to the legacy of those, who shed blood for our Fatherland’s right to exist, by building a peaceful sovereign state.

    The President wished all compatriots “festive spirit, optimism, well-being, and a clear sky on this truly holy day”.

    President Alexander Lukashenko sends Victory Day congratulations to CIS Heads of State, political and public figures of Russia

    The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has sent a message of congratulations on Victory Day to the CIS Heads of State, to political and public figures of Russia.

    “There is no event more significant in the history of our countries than the Victory in the Great Patriotic War,” Alexander Lukashenko said in his message of congratulations to the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev. “In those harsh years the Belarusians and Russians set out shoulder to shoulder against the Nazis, defended for themselves and the future generations the right to live,” he said.

    In his messages of congratulations addressed to the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko emphasised that the grateful descendants will always remember the feat of arms of their fathers and grandfathers who were fighting shoulder to shoulder against the Nazis.

    The President of Belarus has also sent a message of congratulations to Vladimir Putin, Sergei Mironov, Boris Grylov, Pavel Borodin, Boris Gromov, Yevgeny Primakov, Yuri Luzhkov, Sergei Lavrov, Patriarch Alexy II.

    Sergei Sidorsky: present generation of Belarusians highly esteems deed of Soviet warriors

    The present generation of Belarusians highly esteems the deed accomplished by Soviet warriors during the Great Patriotic War, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky said at a solemn meeting dedicated to the Victory Day.

    “Nowadays everything is done for those, who defended our Motherland, who liberated Belarus and other countries of Europe, who heroically survived the hardships of the war, to feel that the present generation highly esteems the deed they accomplished. It is a duty of every one of us,” noted the Prime Minister.

    “The holy duty of every Belarusian is to remember and esteem all those, who secured peace in our land, who fought on the frontline, in guerrilla units and in the underground resistance during the war, who worked hard in the rear to forge the Victory of 1945,” added the Belarusian head of government.

    In his words, now the revived Belarus is a young independent and sovereign European state. “We did not allow the destruction of our country during the Great Patriotic War and will not allow anyone doubt its sovereignty nowadays,” the Prime Minister made it clear.

    Sergei Sidorsky congratulated veterans on the Victory Day and noted it is a special, most precious and holy holiday in the history of Belarus. The Prime Minister wished good health, happiness and well-being to veterans.

    Alexander Lukashenko in favour of new Great Patriotic War Museum in Minsk

    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has backed the idea of building a new Great Patriotic War Museum in Minsk. The President made the statement when he was made familiar with projects for developing the Belarusian capital city in Minsk City Hall.

    The new museum is supposed to be built in the Pobeditelei Avenue next to the Victory Park. The building will be larger than the existing one.

    “The new Great Patriotic War Museum is extremely necessary. We should immortalise the deed of the nation. Through this our children will remember this Victory,” said the President. He also added, “Attempts are made to take our Victory away from us”.

    The head of state underscored, the new museum should be built within two years at most.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus President to get familiar with Minsk development projects

    From: BelTA
    Discussion of the Minsk city housing development scheme
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko will get familiar with the development projects of Minsk on May 8, BelTA learnt from the presidential press service.

    The Belarusian head of state will consider the projects of the open international competition for the best architectural solution of the territory adjoining the National Library.

    On March 2008, 13 projects were submitted to participate in the competition. They were developed by 12 domestic and international designing organizations from Great Britain, Canada, France, Slovakia and the USA.

    The territory to be developed is 34 hectares large. The participants of the competition are to come up with a project of a modern urban ensemble which would harmonize with the architecture of the National Library of Belarus, the park and Independence avenue.

    Belarus President wants promising investment proposals promptly considered

    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has instructed not to delay the consideration of promising investment proposals.

    “Don’t draw it out while there is building spree and interest. It should be utilised, decisions should be made and buildings built. Otherwise, we may repel investors,” the head of state told officials as he visited Minsk City Hall. Alexander Lukashenko also noted, real estate, in place of which new facilities are supposed to be built, should be assessed as soon as possible.

    The President was made familiar with project proposals of an open international contest for the best architectural development of the territory adjacent to the National Library of Belarus.

    Minsk’s Chief Architect Viktor Nikitin explained, the contest entrants are Belarusian companies and major international ones from the UK, Canada, France, Slovakia, and the USA. The results will be summed up in a week or two.

    Sharing his impressions, Alexander Lukashenko said, he is generally in favour of classicism. “But probably the area should contain modern high-tech facilities. But the construction price should not be increased with additional complications,” he added.

    The President drew attention of the city authorities to the need to rationally use the entire area, which is supposed to be developed. “Everything should be functional. There should not be any empty spots,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

    Nikolai Cherginets: no anti-Belarus steps from Vladimir Putin’s government

    From: BelTA
    The Cabinet to be shaped by Vladimir Putin will not take steps that may worsen relations with Belarus, BelTA learnt from Nikolai Cherginets, Chairman of the International Affairs and National Security Commission of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus.

    “Certainly unfriendly steps Gazprom may make cannot be ruled out but the Russian government will not tolerate a hostile attitude as those, who will make up the new government, have drawn conclusions that it would benefit neither Russia nor Belarus,” said the source.

    He also did not rule out a more drastic turn in Russia’s foreign policy towards rapprochement with Belarus. “It is spurred by the international situation: deployment of US missile defence components in Europe, similar issues in Georgia, Turkey and other countries, which speaks about the missile expansion of the United States of America in Europe. It is now completely clear that the expansion is not aimed at protection from mythical Iranian missiles. I think Russia understands that setting up missile bases in territories, which encircle Russia from various sides, is the point”, said Nikolai Cherginets.

    All of this necessitates resolution of common security issues. Which means Belarus’ economic interests should be taken into account by Russia, he added.

    Nikolai Cherginets remarked, “Some time is needed, time for Putin to get adapted to the new work in order to make the final conclusion what we can expect from the new Russian government”. “Then using strategic steps of the Russian government it will be possible to judge strategic plans of the country regarding Belarus,” he added.

    Continued rapprochement with Belarus

    The Russian government to be formed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was approved by the State Duma on May 8, will continue the policy of rapprochement with Belarus, BelTA learnt from Sergei Kostyan, Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs and CIS Relations Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus.

    “We will live and see, but I am confident there will be no rollback in the Belarusian-Russian relations. The move will be onward only. It may not be as fast as we would like but nevertheless it will be regardless of desires of some executives,” he said.

    “It is related to the international situation developing around Russia and around Belarus,” explained the MP. “If today Russia somehow toughens its attitude to Belarus, it will be left alone”.

    “Both Putin and Medvedev and all those who rule Russia understand it well,” added Sergei Kostyan.

    Vladimir Putin’s government to continue building up economic ties with Belarus

    The new Russian government led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will continue the policy of building up economic ties with Belarus, BelTA learnt from Sergei Gaidukevich, member of the International Affairs and CIS Relations Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus.

    On May 8 President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev appointed Vladimir Putin Russian Federation Prime Minister.

    Russia is a steadily main trade partner of Belarus, the mutual trade is on the rise, stressed Sergei Gaidukevich.

    “As the president Vladimir Putin was an immediate participant and adherent of such relations. I think as the prime minister he will still positively influence the dynamics of economic cooperation with Belarus,” believes the parliamentarian. “Economic development also builds up the political vector in relations”.

    According to Sergei Gaidukevich, with the change of power the construction of the Union State will not slow down, but will accelerate. Russia is strategically interested in friendly relations with Belarus. “I am convinced the Union State agreement will never be abandoned,” he added.

  • Economics...

    German companies plan to take part in construction of exhibition centre in Minsk

    From: BelTA
    German companies intend to invest in the construction of an international exhibition centre in Minsk or in the vicinity of the capital city. A delegation of German companies will visit Belarus on May 14-17 to discuss the participation in this project, BelTA was told in the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

    The delegation will include Peter Den, a manager of the exhibition company UBW International GmbH, and Jurgen Schenk, a manager of the Schenk Consulting investment company. They plan to hold talks with relevant Belarusian government agencies and organisations. They would also like to see possible construction sites.

    UBW International GmbH based in Hannover organizes international exhibitions in Germany, China, and CIS countries. For the past ten years UBW International GmbH has been an official partner of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation in organising international exhibitions for the companies of Russia and Germany.

    Schenk Consulting has an experience of implementing real estate projects in the Russian Federation.

    Beltopgaz to sell peat briquettes via BUCE

    In a related story, state production association Beltopgaz plans to start selling peat fuel briquettes via the Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange (BUCE), BelTA learnt from representatives of the Belarusian Energy Ministry.

    The company plans to attract new foreign buyers and increase export through commodity exchange. The trade sessions are scheduled for May 15.

    The source explained, this year’s domestic peat consumption is lower than expected, which is why it is necessary to boost exports. In line with the state programme Peat this year Belarus is supposed to manufacture 1.27 million tonnes of peat briquettes, including 1.046 million tonnes for domestic use and around 224,000 tonnes for export. However, according to signed contracts supplies for the home market stand at only 893,500 tonnes.

    The lower peat consumption for heating purposes is attributed to higher air temperature in winter and intensive development of gas distribution networks as well as larger utilisation of wood fuel. This year oblast fuel distribution companies have decreased their planned purchases. In Q1 2008 peat companies sold 195,800 tonnes of peat briquettes on the home market, 18.7% of the annual target. As the home market has no need for about 150-200 thousand tonnes of peat briquettes, it is advisable to export them, noted the source.

    Meanwhile, new energy facilities are being built in the country. They will allow increasing the utilisation of peat and peat briquettes within the next few years. For instance, there are plans to deploy a 3.7MW mini cogeneration plant in Pruzhany. The unit will use wood fuel (60%) and peat (40%). The facility can use up to 26 tonnes of peat daily. The construction of a steam boiler is in progress at Zhodino cogeneration plant. The unit is supposed to use 72,000 tonnes of peat annually.

    Belarus’ inflation at 1.2% in April

    From: BelTA
    In April 2008 inflation in Belarus amounted to 1.2%, the Ministry of Statistics and Analysis told BelTA.

    In January-April 2008 the consumer price index totalled 105.1% as against December 2007. Since early 2008 the inflation in the country has averaged 1.3% per month.

    In line with this year’s National Major Monetary Management Guidelines the annual inflation is supposed to total 6-8%. In 2007 inflation totalled 12.1%.

    Belarus’ GDP 10.4% up in January-April

    In January-April 2008 the gross domestic product of Belarus increased by 10.4% in comparable prices up on the same period of last year, the Ministry of Statistics and Analysis told BelTA.

    In line with the Council of Ministers’ resolution No 8 this year the GDP is to grow by 11%. Decree No 656 “Establishment of the most important figures of the 2008 national social and economic development forecast” set the figure at 8-9%.

    Over the four months the industrial output swelled by 13.3% (according to the decree the annual target stands at 8-9%), consumer goods output — 15.6% (9-10%). The production of foods went up by 16.1% (the forecast is pegged at 8-9%), non-foods — 14.9% (10-11%).

    In January-April, Belarus’ gold and currency reserves 6.3% up

    In January-April 2008, Belarus’ international reserve assets increased by $314 million, or 6.3%, to $5306.7 million. Last month they increased by 3.8%, BelTA leant from the information department of the National Bank.

    Hard currency reserves account for the greatest share of the international reserve assets of Belarus ($4306.7 million, or 81.2%)) and precious metals and gems ($912.3 million, or 17.1%). Over the past four months they increased by 6% and 7.7% respectively. Other assets account for $87.8 million, or 1.7%.

    In January-April 2008, Belarus’ international reserve assets calculated following the IMF methods increased by $315.8 million, or by 7.6%, to $4498 million. In April they reduced by 5.2%. A reminder, according to International Monetary Fund, the Belarusian international reserves are defined as marketable foreign assets, which consist of monetary gold, special drawing rights, the country’s reserve position in the IMF and currency reserves. The reserve assets can be used quickly for money market interventions in order to stabilize the exchange rate of the national currency, for the government to finance import of goods and services, for paying and servicing the foreign national debt and for other purposes.

    In 2007, the Belarusian international reserve assets calculated using national terms spurred 3 times, to total $4992.7 million.

    By 2010, Belarus plans to grow its international reserve assets up to $10 billion.

  • From the International Press...

    Belarusians Assess Benefits of Independence

    From: angus-reid
    Two-in-five people in Belarus think their country’s separation from the Soviet Union brought them personal benefits, according to a poll by the Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS). 43.1 per cent of respondents say they have won with Belarus’s independence, while 25.8 say they have lost as a result of it.

    Belarus seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1994, independent candidate Aleksandr Lukashenko won the presidential election, boosted by his popularity after acting as chairman of an anti-corruption parliamentary committee. Lukashenko remains the country’s president to this day.

    In late 1999, Lukashenko and then Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a bilateral treaty, where the two nations agreed to eventually merge their tax systems and currencies.

    In early 2007, Belarus and Russia’s relations were strained by a conflict over the price of oil and natural gas. Russia doubled the price of its gas—which Belarus largely depends on—and imposed a high duty on oil exports. Belarus responded by imposing an expensive tax on Russian gas in January. The impasse affected several European countries that depend on Russian oil exports, which are transported through Belarus.

    On Apr. 24, Lukashenko said that Russia is still a strategic ally of his country, adding, "The development of the Union State is an objective process, which meets the interests and follows the wishes of both peoples. No matter how hard it may be, we will try to resolve problems in the Belarus-Russia Union with the new Russian administration as much as possible."

    On May 7, Dmitry Medvedev took over as Russia’s president, while Putin became the country’s new prime minister.

    Polling Data

    Have you personally won or lost due to the fact that Belarus became an independent country?

    I have won

    I have lost

    Not sure / No answer

    Source: Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS)
    Methodology: Interviews with 1,531 Belarusian adults, conducted from Mar. 3 to Mar. 13, 2008. No margin of error was provided.

    A Partial Property Market in Belarus

    From: Nubricks
    Is Europe’s Last Dictator Bowing To Capitalism? After seeing next door neighbours Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia enjoying the fruits of having attracted massive inflows of foreign investment, it seems Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, wants in and is set to ease the heavy restrictions which have all but cut off foreign investment into this Eastern European country. However, the transition from closed market to just a partially open market will not be as smooth as in other former Eastern Block countries which may make investing in property in Belarus a hair-raising experience for speculative overseas property investors seeking to turn a quick profit.

    Under current Belarus laws every property transaction above $236,000 has to be personally approved and signed off by the president and this bureaucratic process is bound to cause substantial delays for western companies and investors hoping to make a fast buck in this potentially lucrative market. Belarus is currently still in dispute with the US regarding spying allegations despite the president surprisingly giving US property experts Colliers International permission to open an real estate office in Minsk – this is probably a ploy to attract western investors to the region, who feel safer in the knowledge that there are western companies already operating in Belarus.

    All property in Belarus is owned by the state and standard rental practice within the general population is to secure maximum 50 year leases on their properties. As to be expected in countries experiencing an economic growth spurt, there is something of a commercial real estate bubble in Belarus at present with prices rising by 25% to 30% a year and expected to do so for the foreseeable future. Quality property is in short supply and demand is running much higher than new property developments reaching completion, ensuring that a positive outlook at present.

    Belarus will not be the easiest of property markets in which to operate but slowly we are seeing signs that the president’s vice like grip is being weakened. There are hopes that once western companies and investors have a foothold in the country, they may then be able to encourage further relaxation in the regulations, but in the short term lets wait and see what becomes of the Belarus property market.

    Belarus has stricter requirements for construction of nuclear power plant than in rest of world, international experts say

    From: Naveny
    A delegation of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts said that Belarus had stricter requirements for a decision to build a nuclear power plant than in the rest of the world.

    The three IAEA experts, who represented Pakistan, Germany and Italy, stayed in the country between May 6 and 8 to share their expertise with Belarusian colleagues and study the country’s regulations.

    While talking to reporters in Minsk on Thursday, Uladzimir Babrow, deputy director of BelNDPIenerhapram, a state power generation research company, said that the delegation had informed Belarusian experts about an IAEA methodology for selecting a site for the construction of a nuclear power plant. “In general, the visit showed that we and the IAEA share approaches, but we have stricter requirements for the construction of a nuclear power plant,” he said.

    The Belarusian government plans to provide the international organization with detailed information about four possible sites of a nuclear power plant currently under consideration.

    While talking to reporters this past April, Vasil Losich of the environmental protection ministry said that the government considered building the country’s first-ever nuclear power plant in four areas, located close to the village of Chyrvonaya Palyana near Bykhaw, Mahilyow region; the village of Kukshynava between Horki and Shklow, Mahilyow region; in the Astravets district, Hrodna region, and in the Verkhnyadzvinsk district, Vitsyebsk region.


    From: Eurasia Daily Monitor,
    On April 29 Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka delivered a speech to the National Assembly on the "health" of the state that was wide ranging and more than two hours in duration. Although the speech covered a number of topics, its chief interest lies in his defiant attitude toward the West and his insistence that Belarus must follow its own course without outside interference and along the lines dictated by its leader (Komsomol'skaya Pravda v Belorussii, April 30).

    For more than two years, the president has focused on the campaign "for an independent Belarus." He is alarmed, however, by a number of problems among Belarusian families. Children, he notes, see unrestrained violence and brutality on television and computers. They have stopped reading books and going to museums and the theater, and their entire cultural development is reduced to the Internet. They are also suffering from a variety of maladies. Indeed, only one schoolchild in 10 is said to be healthy. Belarusian society is plagued with smoking and, increasingly, with drug addiction. These factors undermine the family, which Lukashenka sees as a vital part of a healthy life.

    The president continues to develop state-sponsored civic initiatives. He notes that there are 2,235 public associations in Belarus, but the pillars of society must be the trade unions, youth groups affiliated with the pro-government Belarusian Republican Union of Youth, and veterans' and women's organizations. Opposition activists are not considered a healthy phenomenon. They are said, in fact, to develop "dynasties" of professionals who have not worked for years and maintain places in their parties and movements for their children to succeed them. As noted on the Charter-97 web site, the president has chosen to overlook the facts that his eldest son is a member of the Security Council, his second son runs the presidential sports club, and a hitherto unknown third child, now four years of age, has been designated by his father as a future president of the country (, April 29).

    Once again Lukashenka extols the program to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus. The construction, he says, will stimulate the entire economy and scientific thinking. In addition to the nuclear project, he notes the strengthening of the "agro-industrial complex" and the creation this year of 271 more rural settlements. He advocates the revival of small towns, which (unlike villages) are not supported by the state. He also notes the importance of bilateral military and technical cooperation with Russia. These comments all serve to bolster Lukashenka's image of an independent Belarus.

    The speech uses stronger language with regard to foreign powers. He says that he is ready to build a Union State with Russia, which he does not consider a foreign state. If the Russians had not broached the issue of Belarus joining Russia, then more progress would have been made on the issue of the Union State. Belarusians are, however, a "proud and independent people" who for too long in their history were controlled by foreign powers: Lithuania, Poland, and the Russian Empire.

    As for the West, Belarus is not going to follow its orders. Please, he asks, do not knock on people's doors and demand the release of this or that political prisoner. If the Americans think they can introduce permanent sanctions and destroy Belarus, they are mistaken, he says. Nor does he fear that Europeans will join the Americans in such measures, inasmuch as Belarus is the conduit for 30 percent of the gas supplies delivered to Europe from Russia. The inference is simple: Belarus controls the transit of this essential commodity, so the Europeans cannot afford to take a strong stance against Belarus.

    Belarus simply will not endure Western (i.e., American) pressure: "You found a lousy oppositionist" (Alyaksandr Kazulin) who received less than 1.5 percent in the presidential election and have transformed him into a great political prisoner--"don't you know what kind of person he is?" Once again the president's powers of memory seem limited inasmuch as he was the one who appointed Kazulin, the onetime Rector of the Belarusian State University, as a minister in the government.

    In 2008, Lukashenka notes, the most significant event will be the parliamentary elections. The elections must be held in such a way that no one doubts the legitimacy of the elected deputies. Furthermore, he is convinced that the "absolute majority of the population" will support those candidates who endorse the progressive development of the country. He is clearly referring to the candidates who support his own policies. He is convinced that "the wise Belarusian people will make the right choice again."

    The speech portrays the president's image of and goals for the state. Belarus is becoming more insular, fearful of foreign influences like the Internet and increasingly intolerant of any internal opposition. Indeed, the comments about the opposition are derisory and dismissive, and the president has long considered its leaders as hirelings of foreign states. Though he asserts that Belarus is prepared for friendly relations with all countries, his attitude toward the United States is manifestly hostile and defensive. Finally, his concept of the state is personal rather than governmental. He notes that corruption is rife in the government and has even penetrated his own administration. Only Lukashenka himself is above criticism.

  • From the Opposition...

    Prosecutor’s office upholds KGB actions against independent journalists

    From: Viasna
    Homel oblast KGB office found no law violations in the actions of the persons who had conducted a search in the apartment of the journalist Anatol Hatouchyts, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and took away his instruments of labor. The return of the confiscated items depends on the ‘organ by which the criminal investigation is lead’.
    It was stated in letter #31/4 H-80 of 29 April 2008, received by Hatouchyts to his address to the oblast KGB office. The journalist demanded to return to him the confiscated things: computer, photo camera, books, CDs, etc., and emphasized that these items were his instruments of labor

    Earlier the prosecutor’s office of Minsk in its answer to analogical address of Hatouchyts answered that ‘the issue… will be considered again after the end of the examination of this property’.

    Student Aleh Hrubich not let abroad

    Aleh Hrubich, first-year student of the faculty of Belarusian history and cultural anthropology of the European Humanities University came from Vilnius to Minsk on holidays, but didn’t manage to return back. The border guards took him off the train without explaining anything and made him wait for five hours. Then he was taken to Minsk for ‘further discrimination’.
    On his return home the student went to the district police department to find why the foreign travel restrictions were applied to him. The police directed him to the citizenship and migration department. There the student received an official document that the Ministry of Defense has introduced him into the list of those who could not leave the country because of evasion from army service.

    At Pershamaiski district military enlistment office Hrubich was told that a year ago a criminal case for evasion from army service had been brought against him, but then was stopped as he studied in Poland on Kalinouski program. The certificate confirming that he was a student of the European Humanities University did not solve the issue. After the events of March 2006 Aleh was expelled from the Academy of Arts for political reasons with the official formulation ‘for poor academic progress’. According to the present legislation, a person expelled with such formulation, cannot receive deferment of military service even after entering a university again. Besides, at the military enlistment office he was told that KGB was paying much interest to his person.

    On 8 May, before Aleh Hrubich has come to the military enlistment office to get a document for termination of the foreign travel restrictions Aleh received a call from a KGB officer, who appointed a meeting with him. Aleh refused to meet. Then he was met by two KGB officers at the military enlistment office. They spoke politely, warned about possible troubles, proposed cooperation, etc. At the same time, A.Varvashenia, commissar of Pershamaiski district enlistment office, said that the document that was given to Aleh did not guarantee to him the absence of problems on the border, because he could be again introduced in the ‘black list’ by the prosecutor’s office after reopening of the criminal case.

    Meanwhile, Aleh Hrubich says that he is not a political activist or a member of underground organization. He is rather interested in culture and history and leads activities in this direction.

    Lukashenka has no future

    From: Charter '97
    Volha Kazulina has returned after a meeting with her father in prison. She has passed an answer of her father, political prisoner, to offensive comments of Alyaksandr Lukashenka during his annual address. Alyaksandr Kazulin has been sentenced to 5.5 years of a colony for organizing protest rallies against rigged presidential election results.

    We offer the text of Alyaksandr Kazulin’s letter without changes:

    “I was very glad, and I started to applaud when I heard Lukashenka’s address. Once again in an outburst of bubbling outspokenness he betrayed oneself completely. I have underlined many times that the president cannot degrade himself to such vulgarity, and these words are a base side of his inner state.

    I feel really pity for Lukashenka. And in general, it makes a strong impression when an antitheist speaks about God. Lukashenka has defined his fear of upcoming events himself, and he offered an actions plant for the West and the US himself openly.

    As for insulting me, how could I feel offended by a spring illness attack? I have told my children as well, that they shouldn’t go to court? Ill people are sympathized with, they are sorrowed for…

    Look at me; I am not saying what kind of a president we have. Many people see that and understand that without words. Unfortunately, he failed to raise himself and become a real president. In Belarus people are used like a toilet paper, not speaking about the Constitution and laws.

    As for my release, nobody has offered me release. Lukashenka’s nature had been uncovered to the maximum by speculations and a base bargaining under a disguise of care for my ill wife. It is obvious for many people. I am waiting for clear statements and actions from Germany, which has played the most tragic role in what has happened. I do not want to draw any parallels, in the light of recent events Germany’s responsibility as one of the leaders of the European Union to Belarusian people and humankind is great. Hard pragmatism or morality, humanity and spirituality – that is where the answer to this question is found.

    As for the opposition, Lukashenka knows very well about the situation in it. It is obvious that after my release nothing would remain from the opposition with is convenient to Lukashenka. The thing he fears most, as he had confessed in his speech would appear.

    It is good to have opposition represented by Hajdukevich or others of the kind certainly. There are rather many of them. But one shouldn’t forget that at the same time self-awareness of the nation is growing.

    Lukashenka’s address has markedly demonstrated clear signs of madness of the world which is passing. In his last efforts he is holding onto the past, trying to show it as his own achievements, but all the accomplishments of the past are in the past. Lukashenka has no future!”

  • Around the region...

    Russian tanks, missiles to Red Square parade

    From: The Hindu
    Russia showcased its revived military might and a new, young-faced president to the world on Friday, as tanks and missiles rolled across Red Square for the first time since Soviet times in a Victory Day parade that evoked echoes of the Cold War.

    In his nationally broadcast speech, Dmitry Medvedev, the 42-year-old lawyer who was sworn in Wednesday, avoided the bellicose rhetoric of his mentor, Vladimir Putin, who drew parallels between United States and Nazi Germany during last year's parade.

    However, he said the history of World War II had demonstrated that military conflicts are rooted in ``irresponsible ambitions which prevail over interests of nations and entire continents.''

    ``We must not allow contempt for the norms of international law,'' he said in what sounded like a veiled criticism of the United States and its Western allies.

    Russia has consistently criticized both the U.S.-led war in Iraq and wide Western recognition of Kosovo's independence as flagrant violations of international legal norms.

    A stern-faced Putin, who was named prime minister a day earlier, hovered at Medvedev's shoulder at a colorful podium and staging built to hide a mausoleum where Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin is kept.

    As Medvedev spoke, Putin's face was prominently shown in TV broadcasts _ an image that played to the wide belief that the ex-president will continue calling the shots.

    Medvedev _ Russia's third post-Soviet president_ hailed the resurgence of the military which he said can ``give a reliable protection to the motherland.''

    ``Our army and navy are getting stronger. Just as Russia itself, they are gaining strength,'' he said.

    Over 100 combat vehicles, including intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, rolled across the famed cobblestoned square, and strategic bombers and fighter jets roared overhead in the first such display in 18 years. Medvedev smiled frequently as he watched the parade, which during the Soviet Union was an annual exercise in saber-rattling directed at the West.

    Russia's military spending has increased eightfold to an annual US$40 billion (euro25.9 billion) during Putin's eight-year tenure, thanks to the nation's oil bonanza. Analysts, however, say the armed forces suffer from the same problems that dented its capability and prestige since the Soviet collapse.

    Widespread bullying of young conscripts by older soldiers has made draft extremely unpopular, and the once-proud military has been plagued by rampant official corruption and mismanagement. Despite repeated pledges by Putin to modernize military arsenals, the armed forces have purchased only a handful of new combat jets and several dozen tanks.

    Most of the combat equipment shown in Friday's parade was slightly modernized versions of the Soviet weapons designed in the 1980s.

    ``As the Soviet Union in the past, Russia wants to demonstrate its might to potential enemies,'' military analyst Alexander Golts wrote in the online Yezhednevny Zhurnal. ``But the West clearly understands the true picture behind the talk of 'rising potential.'''

    Modern communications and control systems remain scarce, and a Russian equivalent to the U.S. GPS satellite navigation system has failed to come on line as scheduled this year amid equipment shortages. Even such basics as night goggles, portable radios and satellite phones are still rarities.

    The navy has been in particularly poor shape. Soviet-built nuclear submarines frequently need repairs and rarely leave their bases. The first in a series of new nuclear submarines, Yuri Dolgoruky, is to be commissioned later this year, but the Bulava nuclear missile developed to arm it has failed tests and its deployment prospects are uncertain.

    In a recent analysis of Putin's presidency, former government ministers Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov wrote that official corruption was the key reason behind the failure to upgrade military arsenals, despite a steep increase in funding.

    ``The lack of efficient civilian control over military spending has encouraged corruption and swelled weapons prices,'' Nemtsov and Milov wrote. ``The number of weapons delivered to the military is scandalously small.''

    Growing military spending did allow the military to intensify combat training and increase military wages. Putin last year ordered the resumption of strategic bomber patrols, and a Russian naval squadron recently visited the Mediterranean in the largest such deployment since the Soviet times.

    Putin has taken an increasingly assertive posture in relations with the West, staunchly opposing the U.S. intention to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and NATO plans to incorporate Ukraine and Georgia.

    He suspended Russia's obligations under a Soviet-era arms control treaty limiting the deployment of aircraft, tanks and other weapons in Europe, and he threatened to point Russian nuclear missiles at nations which would host U.S. missile defense sites.

    Analysts say that Russia's top military brass and defense industries pushed the Kremlin to view the West as an enemy.

    ``Putin has failed to set a rational military policy,'' said Pavel Podvig, a research associate at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. ``The military brass and weapons industries have been allowed to set course, and they did what they got used to. Generals always fight the last war.''

    2 dead, 8 injured in amusement park accident in Ukraine

    From: IHT
    Emergency officials say two people died and eight were injured when a carousel broke down in an amusement park in Ukraine.

    Channel 5 television reports that the centrifugue-style carousel slammed into its supporting pole in a park in the eastern city of Luhansk on Friday. As it continued spinning, passengers were flung away and many fell on the ground.

    Two victims, a man in his early twenties and a young woman in her late teens, died on the spot from the injuries they sustained. Eight others were hospitalized.

    Local authorities say the carousel was put up without official permission.

    Accidents in amusement parks are frequent in Ukraine, where safety rules are often neglected and many rides are not properly checked.

    As freedoms wane in ex-Soviet bloc, Ukraine fills the gap

    From: AP
    A gloomy Vladimir Putin wears a Czarist crown, clutching a bag full of dollars and a miniature television tower.

    Filipp Pishchik says this and similar cartoons, depicting the former president as a corrupt leader who stifles free speech, got him in trouble with authorities and forced him to leave Moscow last year for neighboring Ukraine.

    "Ukraine is just great," said the 37-year-old designer and architect. "Here there is hope."

    Since the 2004 Orange Revolution ushered in a vigorous, sometimes chaotic democracy, Ukraine has become an island of freedom and tolerance in an ex-Soviet bloc still dominated by authoritarian regimes, and journalists, political activists, artists, and business professionals have flocked here.

    In Soviet times, a dissident wanting to live free had only the West to look to. Getting there was hard, the culture alien, the language foreign. Ukraine, however, is an easy visa-free destination for most, Russian is spoken and speech is free.

    Rights groups complain that Ukraine is stingy with granting asylum, which guarantees the applicant's right to stay and work indefinitely. But still, the influx vividly illustrates how far the country's path has diverged from that of Russia, which by the time of the Orange Revolution had already begun rolling back democratic reform.

    The number of foreigners registered as living in this country of 46 million doubled to nearly 200,000 from 2003 to 2006, according to United Nations statistics; that does not include the unregistered. The number applying for political asylum rose from 1,800 in 2005 to 2,300 last year.

    Pishchik said he moved here after architecture magazines stopped publishing his work, longtime clients left him — hinting they were forced to do so by authorities — and he got threats from security officials. The reason, he says, was the cartoons he displayed in galleries and on Web sites.

    Today, he lives in a spacious Kiev house loaded with exciting new projects and is married to a Ukrainian artist.

    "I tell all my friends that they all will end up here one day," Pishchik says.

    Similar stories abound in today's Ukraine.

    Yuriy Svirko, a 33-year-old journalist from Belarus, decided he'd had enough of President Alexander Lukashenko's iron-fisted rule after he was accused of attacking a presidential body guard and threatened with arrest. (He says it was the guard who attacked him.)

    Svirko arrived in Kiev right after the Orange mass movement overturned a fraudulent election and brought reformist Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency.

    Ukraine today is awash in competitive elections, noisy street protests and heated debates on TV shows and occasional fist fights in Parliament. Opposition rallies are held under the windows of the president's office, and many have forgotten a time when TV channels were state-controlled.

    Savik Shuster had a TV political talk show in Russia until it was closed in 2004 as the Kremlin tightened the screws on media. Now he's in Kiev, hosting a similar program on a Ukrainian channel.

    "In Ukraine, freedom of speech still exists," said Shuster, 55. But for Russia today, "openness is like light for a vampire."

    During the past two years, Belarusian expatriates have held an annual "Belarusian Spring" festival, featuring fare banned back home — movies, poetry readings, underground rock bands.

    This year's festival kicked off with a dozen activists racing down Kiev's main avenue on cross-country skis when snow was nowhere to be seen. It was a poke at Lukashenko, a winter-sports fan who every year makes government officials and professional athletes compete with him in a ski competition which he always wins.

    But rights groups say that while Ukraine is good at welcoming professionals, it is still inhospitable to relatively unskilled political refugees, granting only 3 percent of applications for political asylum, compared with over 30 percent in neighboring Poland.

    Ulugbek Zainabudinov, an Uzbek opposition activist, fled to Russia after a bloody crackdown on an uprising in his country. But Russian authorities began arresting the refugees at the Uzbek government's request, so in 2006 he moved to Ukraine.

    That year, Ukraine deported 11 other refugees back to Uzbekistan, drawing harsh criticism from human rights groups. All the deportees have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, the groups say.

    "The very idea of freedom exists here and it is developing," said Zainabudinov said. "But I don't feel safe."

    His asylum application has been turned down, and fearing deportation, he is seeking refugee status in Western Europe.

    Experts say Ukraine has neither the resources nor the political will to take care of asylum-seekers. Natalia Prokopchuk of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Ukraine also does a poor job of helping asylum-seekers while their cases are being considered.

    Natalia Naumenko, spokeswoman for the State Department on Migration, counters that most applicants are illegal migrants caught en route to Western Europe.

    Dmytro Groisman of the Vinnytsia Rights Groups said the influx of asylum-seekers does not prove that Ukraine has developed into a tolerant and democratic society. Instead, he said, refugees simply had nowhere else to go.

    "When your apartment is on fire, you would jump anywhere — in the snow, in the water, from the 6th floor," Groisman said. "People are running where they can."

    Olga Kudrina, 22, is one of the lucky few who received political asylum. Sentenced to prison for unfurling a Putin-must-go banner near the Kremlin, she fled to Ukraine and lives with her baby daughter in a tiny apartment in Vinnytsia, 160 miles southwest of Kiev.

    Two colleagues from her banned National Bolshevik Party share her apartment in Vinnytsia and are seeking asylum.

    One of them, Mikhail Gangan, 22, came here to escape arrest for breaking into a government building in Moscow and demanding that Putin step down.

    "You live calmer, better here," said Gangan. "You won't see as many cops on the streets — you can walk down a street and not see a single one. In Russia that cannot happen."

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Donald Tusk Says Poland Is Crap

    From: Time
    It's a gray, windswept afternoon in Warsaw, and Donald Tusk, the Polish Prime Minister, is running late. His flight in from Gdansk has been delayed by a storm; the schedule is tight. The Georgian President has come to visit, and then there's the weekend trip to Washington to talk over missile defense with George W. Bush. Three guests are waiting in the Chancellery when Tusk arrives. "I am not crazy about this job," he sighs, plunking down in an armchair and unbuttoning his jacket. That's understandable. Nineteen years after his country broke free from the Soviet bloc, it is still ridding itself of the effects of communist rule. Employment levels are among the worst in Europe. Roads, telecommunications and sewage lines are in terrible shape. As for Polish political life, Tusk admits, it can only be described as "weird."

    Tusk's election last October, moreover, may mark a new consolidation of Polish democracy. Where once 20 political parties vied for space in the Sejm (the Polish parliament), now a manageable four hold the floor. For the first time since the end of communism, voters reaffirmed the ascendancy of Poland's economic conservatives. The post-communist left has now failed to win in two successive votes. Yet Tusk, 50, is keenly aware of the challenges ahead. His party has no experience in power, and he has been criticized by the opposition for being a "media star" without substance. "If the aim of government is not to disturb much, then he is a good PM," jokes Jaroslaw Flis, a political commentator at Krakow's Jagiellonian University.

    In a lengthy interview, Tusk says his government's ambition is great: to complete the transformation to a free-market system begun almost two decades ago. The disastrous legacies of 45 years of communist rule — from a bloated bureaucracy to punishing unemployment — have yet to be cleared away, he says, and Poland cannot afford to waste more time. "We have no oil and gas," he says. "We don't have high tech. Our centers of development, are far, far behind others. We will never be an extraordinary tourist attraction. Poland is quite a mediocre country in some regards. The only natural resource that we have, and with which we can compete, is freedom."

    Many Poles hope the new government is more apt to address Poland's lingering economic ills, beginning with the fact that nearly one-half the working-age population is not officially working, and public spending still soaks up 45% of GDP. Low investment in infrastructure means that it takes longer to drive from Warsaw to Krakow today than it did 10 years ago. Though the exodus is slowing, some 20% of young Poles seek their first jobs outside the country. "A poor country with a badly structured welfare state cannot become an economic tiger," says Balcerowicz. "If Poland is to become another Ireland it has to complete its fiscal reforms."
    Rean more...

    Self-Defence party members on trial in abuse case

    From: Polskie Radio
    An unprecedented trial of politicians involved in a work for sex scandal in the populist Self-Defence party continues in Piotrkow Trybunalski, central Poland.

    Today, the court is hearing Aneta Krawczyk, the chief witness and auxiliary prosecutor, who first informed the mass media about the scandalous practices, to which she fell victim as an employee in the Self-Defence party. Standing trial are the party’s leader, Andrzej Lepper, and former deputy chairman Stanislaw Lyzwinski. Both defendants plead not guilty.

    Lyzwinski, who has remained in custody since last August, is charged with rape, among other things. Both he and Andrzej Lepper are accused of demanding and accepting sex in return for job guarantees from the party women-members. The trial is being held behind closed doors.

    Kaczynski - health reform ‘worst con since 1989’

    Leader of the opposition Law and Justice party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski has criticised the Civic Platform’s proposal for the public health system reforms calling it ‘dangerous and scandalous’.

    Jaroslaw Kaczynski has called the government’s plan to restructure Polish hospitals into independent business entities as ‘the worst con since 1989’ and said that the PO’s reform was in essence an attempt to sell off the Polish medical sector, reports the Radio Information Agency (IAR).

    He recalled the words of the former Civic Platform MP Beata Sawicka, arrested on corruption charges in October 2007, who revealed that her party would definitely privatise Polish hospitals, at a price of 100 billion zlotys, and those who would handle the privatisation could make good money on it.

    According to the opposition leader, his party will do its best to have the package rejected by Parliament.

    Former Deputy Health Minister Boleslaw Piecha (PiS) appealed to government to explain the ‘unofficial’ pre-election comments made by Sawicka. He also pointed out that the government announced its proposal for public health sector restructuring at exactly the same time as predicted by Sawicka, who told an undercover anticorruption agent in the summer of 2007 that Civic Platform would announce privatisation plans for hospitals in May or June 2008. (mj)

  • Sport...

    Russia defeats Belarus in shootout 4-3

    It was Victory Day in Russia and Belarus yesterday, but their national hockey teams weren't in a mood to celebrate at the World Hockey Championship.

    "Anytime you win, it's good, but I wasn't happy with the way we played," Russian head coach Vyacheslav Bykov said after his heavily favoured team finally knocked off pesky Belarus 4-3 in a shootout.

    "Nobody in our room is happy," countered Belarusian coach Curt Fraser, whose team led 2-0 after the first period. "I thought if we played a little more aggressive, especially in the second period, we might have come away with a win."

    In fact, the Belarusians were winners. They played a team that Fraser described as "one of the two best in the world" to a draw through 65 minutes and did it with a 28-year-old goalie making his first appearance in the world championships.

    "You saw the real Vitali Koval today," Fraser said after the goaltender made 53 saves in regulation time. "He was in a difficult position because (Andrei) Mezin was hurt, but he came up big for us."

    Ruslan Salei, the Colorado Avalanche defenceman, noted that Belarus has one victory over the Russians in the past, but nobody was denying the importance of the shootout loss.

    "It was a huge game, because we had good performances from the younger players," Salei said. "We should be getting better in the future."

    The youngsters included three Canadiens - brothers Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn, and Mikhail Grabovsky, who assisted on two of three Belarusian goals.

    "In the past, Mikhail would come into an important game like this and he wouldn't produce," Fraser said. "Today, he competed hard and showed the progress he's made. His ice time was a bit limited, because there were a lot of penalties - and he does kill penalties - but you'll see him play more as the tournament goes on."

    Fraser said the Belarusians were handicapped in the shootout, because they had two injured players and the team's best shootout performer, Andrei Kostitsyn, wasn't available.

    That's because Kostitsyn took a penalty with 1:04 remaining in the five-minute overtime. He was in the box when time ran out and, under International Ice Hockey Federation rules, he wasn't permitted to participate in the shootout.

    Koval, who made at least four spectacular saves on Alexander Ovechkin, was beaten by Sergei Mozyakin and Alexei Morozov on the first two shots he faced in the shootout. At the other end of the ice, Mikhail Biryukov was beaten by Dmitry Meleshko, but he stopped Sergei Kostitsyn and Alexei Ugarov.

    Andrei Mikhalev and Dmitry Dudik scored for Belarus in the first period. Buffalo's Maxim Afinogenov scored the first of his two goals in the second. Ovechkin finally solved Koval with a radar-guided strike at 7:21 of the third to tie the score and Afinogenov gave Russia its first lead at 13:51.

    But the Belarusians showed their resiliency as Ugarov tied it at 16:12 when he redirected a pass from Grabovsky.

    The victory allowed the Russians to match Canada as the

    only unbeaten teams in the tournament, but the loss might have been more significant for their poor cousins.

    Belarus needs wins over the Czechs and Denmark to stay alive in this tournament. It's probably not realistic, but they have played well enough to hold on to the No. 9 spot in the IIHF rankings, which would mean an automatic birth for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

    By that time, those youngsters should be seasoned veterans.

    Hleb on his way out of Arsenal, agent says

    From: AFP
    Alexander Hleb, the Belarus midfielder who has been one of Arsenal's outstanding players this season, is set to follow Mathieu Flamini out of the Emirates Stadium, according to his agent.

    Hleb, 27, has the option of buying himself out of the remainder of his Gunners contract at the end of the season and his agent, Nikolai Shpilevski, has confirmed that is what he intends to do.

    "Alexander is preparing to make one of the most important moves of his life," Shpilevski said in comments made to the Belarus newspaper Pressball and picked up by British media.

    "He is leaving Arsenal even though they want to offer him a new long-term contract and better conditions. Only time will tell if leaving is the right decision, but there's no way back now. Everything will be cleared up in the next two weeks."

    Hleb is expected to move to Internazionale, who have been accused by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger of "tapping up" Hleb, a charge the Italian club deny.

    Hleb joined Arsenal from Stuttgart in July 2005 for 11.2 million pounds. His first season was marred by injury problems but he has been a first-team regular in the last two campaigns and his dribbling and deft passing have become key components of Arsenal's ability to open up opposing defences.

    The apparently inevitable loss of Hleb will increase the pressure on Wenger to spend big in the transfer market this summer.

    Arsenal's French manager has already lost the services of Mathieu Flamini, who departed for AC Milan on a free contract earlier this week, and there must be concern that the exodous will affect the thinking of more valuable assets such as Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor, both of whom are coveted by some of Europe's biggest clubs.

  • Society...

    Migration in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine compensating for decline in population

    From: BelTA
    Immigration and emigration represent an important factor that contributes to the change in the number of population in the CIS member states. In the recipient countries – Russia, Belarus, Ukraine – migration partially compensates for the decline in population. This statement was made at the seminar on the international migration which is being held in Minsk on May 6-8.

    Attending the seminar are the representatives of 18 countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. The organizer of the seminar is the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Belarus.

    Denis Dokuchits, the public relations specialist of the UNFPA in Belarus, told BelTA that the participants of the seminar are studying the approaches to the management of migration processes and development of an appropriate governmental policy in this area; they also consider the relations between migration and socio-economic development as well as the potential of creating statistical database for migration.

    “In the modern world, where the borders between countries become more and more transparent and more people can be termed citizens of the world, the problem of migration becomes very acute”, Tatiana Gaplinchik, the coordinator of the UNFPA programmes in Belarus said. “I hope the seminar will mark the beginning of the long-term cooperation between the UNFPA and the governments of its member states”, she added.

    Migration in the CIS member states is characterized by a huge proportion of migration within the region and a high rate of temporary migration (in some countries it exceeds the migration for permanent citizenship manifold).

    According to the statistical data, the number of migrants that entered Belarus in 2007, exceeded 14 thousand, including 12.5 thousand that came from the CIS member states and the Baltic countries. The number of the Belarusians that left the country neared 9.5 thousand.

    Belarus, Lithuania to work out international travel route

    In a related story, an addendum to the programme for tourism cooperation between Belarus and Lithuania was signed on May 8 as a delegation of the Belarusian Sports and Tourism Ministry led by Deputy Minister Cheslav Shulga visited Vilnius. A session of the Belarusian-Lithuanian working party for tourism is taking place in Lithuania.

    A decision has been made to jointly work out an international route “Following the roads of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania”, water routes along the Augustow Canal and the Neman. The sides have also agreed to share experience of using methods of the World Tourism Organisation to calculate the number of tourists and assess tourism influence on a country’s economy. Apart from that, members of the working party have analysed the possibility of opening a Belarusian tourism information centre in Druskininkai. Representatives of Belarus were interested in tendencies and prospects of promoting rural tourism in Lithuania.

    Cheslav Shulga told BelTA, the Belarusian delegation had been especially interested in Lithuania’s practices used to attract tourists out of season. Lithuania chose the way of building new sanatoriums and developing the existing ones through setting up spas. The out of season tourism practice is supposed to be used in Belarus as well — in Naroch, Braslav and Lepel. Apart from that, it is necessary to more vigorously introduce medical tourism.

    In 2007 the number of tourists from Belarus to Lithuania increased by 50% in comparison with 2006. According to the Statistics Department of Lithuania, in 2007 over 56,700 Belarusian tourists stayed at hotels, 51.3% up on 2006.

  • Endnote...

    "Праздник со слезами на глазах"

    Сегодня мы отмечаем День Победы. 63 года назад закончилась Великая Отечественная война, которая унесла жизни многих миллионов людей. Беларусь потеряла каждого третьего своего жителя. Нет в нашей стране семьи, которой бы не коснулась эта трагедия. Как известно, население Беларуси достигло довоенного уровня лишь в 1972 году.

    День Победы в нашей стране отмечается на государственном уровне. Торжественное шествие ветеранов к Монументу Победы, праздничные концерты, салюты…

    С каждым годом ряды ветеранов редеют. В настоящее время в Беларуси проживает 57,5 тыс. ветеранов, из них 42,5 тыс. - непосредственные участники войны, партизаны, подпольщики и фронтовики. Еще в начале года их было на 2 тысячи больше.

    Традиционно накануне праздника к участникам и очевидцам тех трагических событий государство проявляет повышенное внимание. Мингорисполком в этом году принял решение оказать материальную помощь ветеранам в размере … 100 тысяч рублей. Ветеранов поздравляют школьники и активисты общественных объединений. Магазины объявляют для них скидки. Но как относиться к тому, что образ ветерана используется в рекламе очередного розыгрыша "Суперлото"?

    Люди, которые видели войну. Четыре страшных года навсегда изменили их жизнь - сломали детство, молодость. Это другие люди.

    С праздником! С Днем Победы!

    Что для вас значит День Победы?

    Сергей Костян, депутат

    - Этот праздник мне очень дорог! В моей семье на фронте погиб отец, фашисты расстреляли родителей моей жены, когда ей было всего лишь 3 месяца…Всего в годы войны в моей семье погибло 70 человек - на фронте, в партизанах, в подполье. Этот праздник со слезами на глазах мне действительно дорог, и я благодарен нашему президенту и всему руководству страны за то, что они его свято чтут и делают все, чтобы он остался навеки. Я всеми фибрами души поддерживаю все то, что делается на уровне государственном под руководством нашего президента.

    Депутат будет отмечать День Победы в Мозыре:

    - Я буду выступать на митинге перед гражданами города Мозыря, которых ежегодно собирается около 5 тыс. человек. Традиционно будет возложение венков на Кургане Славы, где похоронено более 300 солдат Красной Армии, погибших при освобождении Мозыря. Во второй половине дня я буду участвовать в митинге в деревне Мирабель, где находится могила неизвестного солдата и мемориал.

    Сергей Костян считает, что молодежи стоило бы изменить отношение к этому празднику:

    - Думаю, надо чтобы наша молодежь больше и решительнее пропагандировала этот праздник, потому что белорусский холокост для нас превыше всего. Погибло более 3 млн. граждан нашей страны, в некоторых регионах погиб каждый второй.

    Пит Павлов, музыкант

    - Гэта рэгулярнае свята. Яно супярэчлiвае. Я ўсё жыццё святкаваў яго, таму што ў вайну загiнуў мой дзед, Але ў святле таго, што афіцыйна ў Беларусi не засталося нiводнага сапраўднага свята i добрага ўчынка ў гiсторыi, акрамя ўдзелу ў другой сусветнай вайне, я пачаў да гэтага свята ставiцца iнакш. Менавіта ў сувязi з гэтай дзяржаўнай істэрыяй вакол яго, я пачаў ставіцца да гэтага свята па-iншаму. Святкаваць я гэтае свята не буду, але і не святкаваць таксама не буду…

    Александр Тиханович, музыкант

    - Это один из самых лучших праздников, которые вообще существуют в наше время. Потому что Победа, которую принесли нам наши родители и деды, дала нам возможность любить, смеяться, творить и просто жить. Жить мирно, счастливо, реализуя свои проекты. Они отдавали за нас свое здоровье, свою молодость, а порой и свою жизнь - поэтому это праздник со слезами на глазах! Моя мама ветеран войны, сегодня ей принесли премию, а с утра пришли школьники. У нас в Беларуси это делается действительно на высоком уровне. У нас чтут ветеранов, и этот праздник встречается искренне и торжественно. Я буду принимать участие в концерте, который состоится в Брестской крепости и будет транслироваться на Российскую Федерацию. Пусть Господь нам помогает и никогда не повторится то, что было в те страшные годы!

    Мы цитируем также и наших пользователей. Кстати, больше половины принявших участие в голосовании считают День Победы народным праздником.

    Miserable, 42 года
    Значимость этого дня даже не подлежит обсуждению. Для народа, внесённого в списки тотального уничтожения, не может быть более значимого дня. Благодаря этой Победе мы имеем возможность самого существования, а затем уж деления на правых, левых и оппозиционеров.

    Гэта не свята, а хіба што дзень памяці.
    Гэты дзень паставіў кропку ў перамозе аднаго акупацыйнага рэжыму над другім.
    Людзі ваявалі і гінулі нізавошта. Еўрапейцы знішчалі еўрапейцаў.
    У РФ і на Беларусі гэтая дата актыўна выкарыстоўваецца ўладамі для культывацыі псеўдапатрыятызму, кшталту "мы ўсіх перамаглі, мы прынеслі Еўропе свабоду, нам усе абавязаны".
    Але ж вядома, якую "свабоду" прынёс СССР у цэнтральную Еўропу…
    Перамога ў першую чаргу патрэбна была савецкай уладзе. Тое, што цяперашняя ўлада трымаецца за гэтае свята, - непасрэдны доказ, што гэта ўсё яшчэ САВЕЦКАЯ ўлада.

    Для меня День Победы - это великий праздник в котором, как в гвардейской золотисто-черно-полосатой ленте, чередуется горе и радость.
    В моём понимании наиболее точно ВОВ отражена в фильмах "Они сражались за Родину", "Судьба человека", "Живые и мертвые".

    Господа, встретите на улице старика с орденскими планками, так хотя бы улыбнитесь ему в глаза. Нам-то что - был Союз, не стало, какая разница, а у них ТАМ и молодость и друзья остались…