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Today's Headlines for:
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two Olympic Medals for Belarus, South Ossetia, OSCE/ODIHR, Zeltser gets 3 years, Chinese nukes, Harassment of civil activists, Polish scandal and More

  • From the Top...
  • #333

    Belarus wins two bronze medals at Beijing-2008

    From: BelTA
    Belarus’ Mikhail Semenov defeated Darkhan Bayakhmetov of Kazakhstan to win a bronze medal in the Greco-Roman 66 kilogramme weight class at the Olympic Games-2008. This is the second medal of the Belarusian team. Anastasia Novikova won a bronze medal in weightlifting.

    On the way to the bronze medal match the Belarusian beat Alexander Kazakevich of Lithuania 3:1, Ali Mokhammadi from Iran 3:1 and lost to Steeve Guenot of France 1:3.

    Steeve Guenot became the Olympic champion of the Men's Greco-Roman after defeating Kanatbek Begaliev of Kyrgyzstan.

    Belarusian weightlifter Anastasia Novikova also wins Olympic bronze

    Weightlifter Anastasia Novikova won the first Olympic medal for the Belarusian team on August 10.

    The 26-year-old Belarusian athlete lifted 95 kilograms in the snatch and 118 kilograms in the clean and jerk competition.
    Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon from Thailand lifted a total of 221 kilograms, pulling off 95 kilograms in the snatch and an Olympic high score of 126 kilograms in the clean and jerk.

    Her total was eight kilograms better than Yoon Jin-Hee of South Korea. Yoon Jin-Hee and Anastasia Novikova both lifted 213kg. Yoon got the silver owing to her lower weight at the pre-competition weigh-in.

    Victoria Azarenka of Belarus into 1/8 final of Olympic tennis tournament

    Belarusian Victoria Azarenka (No 16 in the WTA rating) ousted Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 6:2, 6:2 in the second round of the Olympic tennis tournament to set up a match against Venus Williams of the USA (No 8 in the WTA world ranking). Serena Williams defeated Olga Govortsova of Belarus. Belarusian Max Mirny also lost in the first round.

    Victoria Azarenka and Tatiana Poutchek will have a doubles opener today against Estonia’s Kaja Kanepi and Maret Ani. Olga Govortsova and Daria Kustova will play the Chinese duo of Peng Shuai and Tiantian Sun.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus condoles with Russia over deaths of civilians and Russian military in South Ossetia

    From: BelTA
    On behalf of the Belarusian people President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko sent condolences to President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian nation in connection with the tragic events in South Ossetia, BelTA was told in the press service of the Belarusian Head of State.

    Alexander Lukashenko stressed that the Republic of Belarus was saddened by the news about the death of hundreds of civilians and losses among the Russian peacekeeping forces.

    “The Belarusian and Russian people are grieving over the victims of the tragedy, sharing the sorrow of the people who lost their dear ones, were left without a roof over their heads and means of living. We wish them fortitude and courage in surmounting the consequences of this humanitarian catastrophe,” the commiseration message says.

    According to the message, Belarus intends to provide humanitarian aid to the people affected by the conflict.

    Sergei Lebedev expresses regret over Georgia’s intention to withdraw from CIS

    Sergei Lebedev, the CIS Executive Secretary, expressed the regret over Georgia’s intention to withdraw from the CIS. The statement was issued by the press service of the CIS Executive Committee.

    “As for the statements that came from Tbilisi on the intention of Georgia's administration to withdraw from the Commonwealth, these statements are certainly regretful. Today we can speak of nothing more than statements, for, as yet, there has been no official notification from Georgia that would state its intention to resign of its CIS membership,” reads the statement.

    According to Sergei Lebedev, the withdrawal procedure is clearly spelled out in the CIS Charter. “This is the document we will be guided by,” he said. (Article 9 of the Charter reads that a CIS member state is entitled to withdraw from the Commonwealth. In this case, a member state is to send a written notification to the depositary of the CIS Charter 12 months prior to withdrawing from the Commonwealth. The obligations arising from participating in this Charter are binding on the respective countries until met in full.)

    The CIS Executive Secretary believes, the withdrawal from the CIS will entail negative consequences, first of all, for Georgia and its citizens, as the country is still linked by thousands of economic and humanitarian ties with other CIS states. It is a party to many CIS agreements that are important for Georgia. “I would like Tbilisi to recognise the destructiveness of such plans,” said Sergei Lebedev.

    Citing remarks Georgian politicians made about the domination of one country in the Commonwealth, he underscored that the practice of mutual relations within the CIS framework and decision-making procedures do not confirm such accusations.

    The CIS Executive Committee was deeply worried and concerned by the tragic events, which took place in the last few days in South Ossetia and caused casualties among civilians and peacemakers. “Establishing ceasefire and returning to negotiations for the sake of finding peaceful solutions to the conflict was the most important thing in the situation. This is why the CIS Executive Committee was satisfied with the agreements reached on August 12 to cease military actions, provide access to humanitarian aid and withhold from using force,” said the Executive Secretary.

    Book of condolence with relatives of South Ossetia casualties open in Russian embassy in Belarus

    A book of condolence with relatives of people, who died in South Ossetia (Georgia), is open at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Belarus till 17.00 August 14, the press service of the Russian embassy told BelTA.

    August 13 was declared the day of mourning for people, who died in the South Ossetia conflict in the last few days.

    Besides, a photo expo “South Ossetia 1991-2008” will open in the hall of the CIS Executive Committee at 9.30 on August 15. Representatives of the CIS Executive Committee told BelTA, the event is organised by the Permanent representative office of Russia to CIS charter and other bodies. The expo will be opened by Russian Federation Permanent Representative Yevgeny Belov.

    Belarus, Russia Premiers to meet in Moscow August 14

    From: BelTA
    Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky will pay a working visit to Moscow on August 14. The head of the Belarusian government is to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, BelTA learnt from Alexander Timoshenko, the press secretary of the Belarusian Premier.

    The parties agreed to have an August meeting during the last visit of Sergei Sidorsky to Moscow.

    The heads of the Belarusian and Russian governments will touch upon the issues related to the economic development and integration, cooperation of the enterprises of the two countries and the collaboration in the energy area, including the prices and terms of the Russian energy supplies to Belarus.

    Sergei Sidorsky added that Rosatom expressed its intention to participate in the construction of the nuclear power plant in Belarus and is ready to provide a credit for that purpose.

    The mutual crediting will also be discussed at the meeting.

    OSCE/ODIHR observers to start working in Minsk August 19

    From: BelTA
    OSCE/ODIHR observation mission for the parliamentary elections in Belarus will start working on August 19, BelTA learnt from the OSCE Office in Minsk.

    Some 41 representatives of OSCE will arrive in Belarus to monitor the parliamentary elections. Some 300 short-term observers will arrive in the country on the eve of the election day to monitor the opening of polling stations and voting process.

    The main team and long-term observers will come to Belarus from 22 OSCE member states.

    The CIS observation mission has already started to work in Belarus. Before the elections start it will count more than 300 experts. Mission’s offices opened in all the regions of Belarus.

    Belarus media law does not infringe rights of foreign reporters

    The law on mass media signed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on August 4 2008, does not infringe the rights of the foreign reporters working in Belarus, Maria Vanshina, an official with the information department of the Foreign Ministry of Belarus told a press conference on August 13.

    She dismissed the concerns over the possible restrictions on the activity of the foreign media on the territory of Belarus. The law is only aimed at boosting the existing legal practice.

    The foreign reporters’ accreditation requirement was stipulated by a 1995 media law and has been preserved in the new media law.

    Maria Vanshina noted that the foreign reporters’ accreditation requirement has been adopted by many foreign countries, including Germany, Russia, China, Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, Estonia, etc. Although there are no accreditation requirements in the countries like the US or Great Britain, these states require foreign reporters to obtain a journalists’ visa which can be viewed as a kind of accreditation.

  • Economics...

    Goods made in rural areas exempt from income tax

    From: BelTA
    Individual entrepreneurs, whose income is based on sales of goods made in rural areas, are exempt from the income tax. The exemption is laid down by Decree No 17 “Amendments and addenda to Belarus President Decree No 9 of December 20, 2007 and Decree No 1 of January 28, 2008” signed by head of state Alexander Lukashenko on August 12, the presidential press service told BelTA.

    The new decree amends Decree No 9 “Regulation of entrepreneurship business in rural communities” of December 20, 2007 and Decree No 1 “Encouragement of production and sales of goods (works, services)” of January 28, 2008.

    The new decree is supposed to regulate some issues relating to the application of special procedures the two decrees specify in such spheres as taxation, licensing, crediting, pricing, government purchases of raw materials, components and materials for corporations and individual entrepreneurs, who manufacture products in rural areas.

    The application of the special procedures specified by decrees No 9 and No 1 will be extended onto territories of rural councils excluding urban communities and regional towns.

    The special procedures will be made available not only to organisations, but their branches, representative offices, other independent divisions of juridical persons, which manufacture products in rural areas.

    The new decree will allow attracting new investments in rural areas, small and medium communities, encourage private initiatives and will contribute to the social and economic development of regions and the improvement of their economic potential.

    Belarus President urges to complete 80% of harvest within this week

    It is necessary to complete 80% of harvest by the end of this week, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting on most urgent local issues on August 12.

    The Belarusian head of state underlined: “If we do not finish 80% of the harvest by the end of the week, it will become quite a challenging task later.” He added that if the crops are not harvested in due time, unharvested fields will soon be covered with grass. To top it all, starting from August 10, we will suffer shatter losses every day.

    According to the President, the main issue on the country’s agenda is harvesting, or to be more precise, the efficiency of harvesting. “What is being done in the regions to streamline the harvesting campaign? Is everything organized carefully and efficiently? Is there any unjustified downtime of machinery?” the Belarusian head of state asked. He added that, the 2008 grain and forage output as well as the harvesting schedules were defined at the recent meeting in the Kamenets region.

    Alexander Lukashenko said that the situation in the regions requires a more detailed analysis, including the determination of the major tasks of the President’s plenipotentiary representatives in the oblasts and Minsk. “The activities of the President’s aids - the main inspectors in the regions also require much attention. Unfortunately, they have recently been working very passively,” the head of state noted.

    “I would like to remind you once again: neither aids nor plenipotentiary representatives should turn into appendages of governors. They are to be eyes and ears of the President in the regions. We have everything the wrong way, though: aids (to be honest, I do not see the results of their work) have sided with governors, echo them or try to justify their failures,” the Belarusian head of state said. “You should have another kind of leverages. You should see and notice everything and report the necessary information to the President and if possible, settle all the solvable problems locally.”

  • From the International Press...

    Russia "perplexed" by Belarus silence on Georgia

    From: Reuters
    Russia's ambassador to Belarus said on Tuesday that Moscow could not understand why its western neighbour, nominally a close ally, had failed to offer the Kremlin open support in its conflict with Georgia. Belarus, whose President Alexander Lukashenko is accused by the West of crushing fundamental rights, has portrayed itself as a close Russian ally since the 1990s.

    The two neighbours are committed to forming a merged post-Soviet "union state", though this has been put on the backburner, especially since 2007 when they quarrelled over energy prices.

    "We are somewhat perplexed by the modest silence of the Belarussian side. You need to express yourself more clearly on such issues, especially as we have a union state," ambassador Alexander Surikov told a briefing.

    Belarus's Foreign Ministry has called on both sides to lay down their arms and start negotiating for peace.

    Surikov complained that Belarus had not even offered to send aid for people injured or made homeless in South Ossetia.

    "We have always supported and defended Belarus," he said.

    Russia has consistently defended Belarus against accusations that it violates freedom of speech and assembly, and Vladimir Putin was one of a handful of leaders to congratulate Lukashenko on his 2006 re-election, denounced as rigged in the West.

    Police on Monday detained several members of Belarus's liberal and nationalist opposition who were protesting outside the Russian embassy in support of Georgia.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a halt on Tuesday to military operations in Georgia after five days of conflict during which Russian troops pushed the Georgian army out of South Ossetia, the breakaway region Tbilisi tried to retake.

    Belarusian politicians comment on President Saakashvili's announcement that Georgia will quit CIS

    From: Naveny
    Nothing will change if Georgia quits the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich told BelaPAN.

    He was commenting on Tuesday’s statement by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili that his country would withdraw from the 12-member post-Soviet bloc.

    "The reason things will stay the same is that the CIS is merely a nostalgic organization that was established to make it possible for newly independent countries to have a civilized divorce after the breakup of the USSR," Mr. Milinkevich said. "Even the heads of state acknowledge this. The CIS has long been something like a presidents' club. 'Collapse' is an inappropriate term to use regarding the CIS, as there is actually nothing that could collapse. The presidents will continue having meetings and it isn’t important how those meetings are called."

    When reached by BelaPAN for comment, House of Representatives member Anatol Krasutski expressed certainty that Georgia’s move would not hit the bloc hard.

    “There will be no breakup of the CIS and any significant changes in its existence. After all, this decision should have been expected, as Georgia had repeatedly declared its intention to quit the CIS,” said Mr. Krasutski, a member of the House’s Committee on International Affairs and Relations within the CIS.

    Syarhey Haydukevich, another member of Belarus’ lower parliamentary chamber, echoed Mr. Krasutski's opinion. "Since recently, Saakashvili has used the CIS merely as a forum for bilateral meetings with presidents and solving Georgia's domestic problems," Mr. Haydukevich said. "Georgia hasn't been active in the framework of the Commonwealth. Moreover, we remember that the Georgian parliament has repeatedly raised this issue [withdrawal from the CIS]. That's why Saakashvili's decision was only to be expected after the last developments [conflict over South Ossetia]."

    According to Mr. Haydukevich, Georgia's decision will in no way impact the relationship between Belarus and Georgia. "In this situation, Belarus won’t take any steps that might raise any eyebrows," he said. "I believe that we'll accept the decisions that will be made by the European Union and Russia."

    Stanislaw Shushkevich, Belarus' formal head of state between 1991 and 1994, suggested in an interview with BelaPAN that Ukraine might decide to follow Georgia's example and quit the CIS. "The current situation in Georgia is comparable to the Soviet Union's intention to occupy Finland or the Czech Republic," Dr. Shushkevich said. "In my opinion, this is banditry, and one should run away from bandits, at least from the legal point of view. Georgia's move to pull out of the CIS was an entirely logical and predictable step. But I wouldn't like other CIS member countries to follow suit."

    Belarus court sentences U.S. lawyer to 3 years in prison

    From: LA Times
    An American lawyer was sentenced Monday to three years in prison in Belarus in a case that raised already high tensions between Washington and the authoritarian ex-Soviet republic.

    Emmanuel Zeltser was convicted at a closed trial of commercial espionage and using false documents.

    He is an expert on organized crime and money laundering.

    The United States protested his detention and raised concerns about his health in custody.

    Zeltser's attorney says he is not getting proper medication for diabetes.

    Relations between Belarus and the U.S. are poor.

    Washington has imposed sanctions on Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and other top officials in protest of the Belarusian government's repression of opposition parties.

    Chinese nuclear company registers interest in Belarus

    From: World Nuclear
    China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPG) has expressed an interest in taking part in the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Belarus, according to the country's deputy energy minister.

    Belarus approached three reactor constructors - Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE), France's Areva, and US-Japanese Westinghouse-Toshiba - earlier this year to express their interest in building the postulated plant. Now, according to reports citing deputy energy minister Mikhail Mikhadzyuk, the Chinese company, which has 20 years of experience in reactor construction and operation, has also expressed an interest in building the postulated two-unit 2000 MWe plant.

    Although none of the three constructors already approached by Belarus provided a negative response, according to press reports, ASE would appear to be the clear front-runner, followed by Areva - although talks with Areva have reportedly been postponed. Any participation by Westinghouse-Toshiba would require a bilateral agreement between Belarus and the USA on the peaceful use of nuclear power, which could take years to negotiate. However, Mikhadzyuk told a media conference held in Minsk that Rosatom, the federal Russian company of which ASE is a part, has confirmed its readiness to build a nuclear plant on a turnkey basis as well as considering helping to finance the project.

    Belarus has not ruled out the possibility of a consortium of companies building the plant. According to Nuclear.Ru, Mikhadyuk said: "Belarus legislation on the use of atomic energy does not have limitations regarding the rights of ownership of the plant. We will consider offers of all potential partners."

    Belarus, heavily energy dependent on gas imported from Russia, is moving ahead with plans for its first operating nuclear plant. At the beginning of 2008, the country's Security Council confirmed that it intended to build a nuclear power plant, and a bill enshrining the "fundamental principles" for the introduction of nuclear power was passed in June. Studies are under way at three potential plant locations, with plans for site work to start in 2009 or 2010 once a site is selected.

  • From the Opposition...

    Harassment of civil activists for action of solidarity with Georgia is going on

    From: Viasna
    An enquiry has been made by a prosecutor in the case of a member of Salihorsk branch of the Young Front Illia Shyla.

    The enquiry is made relating to the alleged fact of beating up a policeman during a protest rally in support of Georgia in front of the Russian Embassy on 11 August.

    The documents have been sent to the prosecutor’s office. But it is difficult to imagine how handcuffed Illia Shyla could resist to policemen (the photos show how he was detained).

    As we have informed, Illia Shyla was one of the detainees on Monday rally in support of Georgia. A report for unsanctioned picketing was drawn up against him. The report is to be studied by the commission on juvenile affairs in Salihorsk.

    As we have informed, Liudmila Atakulava, a Young Front activist, has been sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest for participation in a rally near the Russian Embassy on 11 August.

    The decision has been passed by the court of Tsentralny district in Minsk. Atakulava was charged with violation of rules of holding mass events (Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code).

    The rally of solidarity with Georgia was held by the Young Front near the Russian Embassy in Minsk on 11 August. 15 activists of the organization gathered near the Embassy with streamers: ‘Stop aggression’, ‘Russia-Georgia: war with peacekeeping goals?’ ‘One sixth part of land – is it not enough?’

    Participants of the rally managed to pass the petition to officers of the embassy. The picket lasted for about 10 minutes. Then policemen arrived. Illia and Ivan Shyla, Andrei Tychyna and Liudvisia Atakulava were detained. Activists were detained brutally. Policemen had machine-guns, they were wringing hands of the activists. As a sign of protest, activists sat on the ground. As a result, policemen were to carry the activists to the police car in arms. The Young Front activists were taken to the police department of Tsentralny district of Minsk.

    Mauliuda Atakulava sentenced to 10 days of jail for action of solidarity with Georgia

    Liudmila Atakulava, a Young Front activist, has been sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest for participation in a rally near the Russian Embassy on 11 August. The verdict has been passed by the court of Tsentralny district in Minsk.

    Atakulava was charged with violation of rules of holding mass events (Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code).

    As said by a Young Front activist Tatsiana Shaputska, ‘the trial was in fact held behind the closed doors’. ‘We weren’t told when the trial started. Our witnesses were not present in the court; the lawyer hadn’t managed to arrive yet. We saw Liudmila only when she was taken out of the court building. She could just shout to us that she had been sentenced to 10 days of arrest,’ Shaputska said.

    The rally of solidarity with Georgia was held by the Young Front near the Russian Embassy in Minsk on August 11. 15 activists of the organization gathered near the Embassy with streamers: ‘Stop aggression’, ‘Russia-Georgia: war with peacekeeping goals?’ ‘One sixth part of land – is it not enough?’

    Participants of the rally managed to pass the petition to officers of the embassy. The picket lasted for about 10 minutes. Then policemen arrived. Illia and Ivan Shyla, Andrei Tychyna and Liudvisia Atakulava were detained. Activists were detained brutally. Policemen had machine-guns, they were wringing hands of the activists. As a sign of protest, activists sat on the ground. As a result, policemen were to carry the activists to the police car in arms. The Young Front activists were taken to the police department of Tsentralny district of Minsk.

    There won’t be elections: opposition not allowed joining “electoral commissions”

    From: Charter '97
    Forming of precinct election commissions for election of deputies of the “chamber of representatives” comes to an end on August 13. The final results of forming precinct election commissions are to be known on Thursday. But even today the Charter’97 press-centre receives information that opposition activists are not included into precinct election commissions.

    In 45 constituencies of Barysau (Minsk region), none of the 45 democratic activists have been put on the list of precinct election commissions members. The Charter’97 press-centre has been informed about that by the chairman of the governing body of the public association “For free development of entrepreneurship” Viktar Harbachou. As said by the businessman, who took part in the “election” representing democratic forces, mostly members of the pro-regime association “Belaya Rus” have become members of the commissions.

    “There won’t be elections! I was told in Barysau city executive committee: please do not withdraw from “elections”. They hinted rather clearly the regime doesn’t want that. But the question of withdrawing from the election has been brought up openly. On September 1 an extended session of the political council of the United Democratic Forces is to take place. A final decision on participation in this “election” is to be taken considering the results of forming precinct election commissions and registration of candidates for deputies,” Viktar Harbachou reminded.

    None of the democratic activists has been put on the list of precinct election commissions’ members in Smarhon region. Three persons were nominated. They were nominated through collection of signatures. In order to underline that they are offered as candidates from opposition, the voters’ applications were brought to the regional executive committee on August 10 by a would-be candidate of the united democratic forces Iryna Veshtard with a special accompanying letter.

    On Monday, August 11, the regional committee of Smarhon authorized the make-up of precinct election commissions, but applications of pro-democracy activists haven’t been satisfied.

    As we have informed yesterday, out of 34 representatives of the Belarusian Popular Front party, none has been registered as a member of precinct election commissions in three constituencies.

    On August 12 the make-up of precinct election commissions in Kobryn electoral constituency No. 12 and Vitsebsk rural constituency No. 21 was announced. The BPF candidates there are Alyaksandr Mekh and Leanid Autukhou. None of the members of the precinct commissions has been approved. In Kobryn electoral district No. 12 8 BPF members were nominated, and in Vitsebsk rural constituency No. 21 – 15 members of the BPF, the BPF website informes.

    In Rechytsa electoral constituency No. 44 where the head of Homel regional branch of the BPF Valery Putsistky runs, none of the 11 nominated members of the BPF has been approved.

    The democratic forces have nominated 1,300 candidates to the precinct election commissions. The Charter’97 press-centre has been informed about the decisions in 500 of them. Only 4 representatives of the opposition have been included into precinct election commissions.

  • Around the region...

    Georgia-Russia Shaky Cease Fire

    From: ABC
    Russia responded angrily to President Bush's harsh words this morning about their handling of the situation in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Washington was playing a dangerous game by supporting the Georgian leadership.

    "We understand that this current Georgian leadership is a special project of the United States, but one day the United States will have to choose between defending its prestige over a virtual project or real partnership which requires joint action," Lavrov said.

    While the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was meeting at Meiendorf Castle with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Lavrov minced no words in his criticism of Bush's remarks, calling it the work of "bad speechwriters."

    "Frankly speaking, once again I was surprised by the skills of the speechwriters who prepared the statement of the U.S. president," Lavrov said.

    "Bush's speech said nothing of how Georgia was armed all these years, including by the United States," he said, adding, "We have more than once warned our partners that this is a dangerous game."

    Earlier today, President Bush warned Russia to "keep its word" and end attacks on Georgia, as he dispatched a military plane loaded with supplies for Georgian refugees.

    The president spoke briefly in the White House Rose Garden after Georgian officials accused Russia of violating the cease-fire both sides agreed to on Tuesday.

    "To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe and other nations, and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis," Bush said.

    He announced that he will send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Paris and then Tblisi to help negotiate the peace plan and to show the administration's "unwavering support" for the Georgian government.

    "The United States stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia and insists that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected," Bush said.

    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was standing next to the president and Rice, is to coordinate humanitaran relief in the region.

    A U.S. C-17 military cargo plane, loaded with supplies, arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi today with a second flight scheduled for Thursday. Bush said that Russia must ensure that "all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, roads and airports" remain open to let deliveries and civilians through.

    He expressed his concern at reports that Russian forces were active around the eastern side of Gori, a key town in central Georgia. Reports said that militias from the adjacent province of South Ossetia were looting the town.

    "Russia has also stated that it has halted military operations and has agreed to a provisional cease-fire," Bush said. "Unfortunately we've been receiving reports of Russian actions that are inconsistent with these statements."

    The White House said that Bush was delaying a planned vacation trip to his Texas ranch to for a "couple days" to monitor the situation. He was scheduled to leave Washington on Thursday.

    Georgia and Russia traded verbal barrages this morning. Despite the announcement of the cease-fire suspicion and accusations were rife on both sides.

    Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili claimed earlier today that the Russians had violated the cease-fire and were still deploying ground troops within Georgia.

    "As I speak the Russian tanks are attacking the town of Gori and are rampaging through the town," he told reporters earleir today.

    The Russian Defense Ministry denied that any of their tanks were in Gori. Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told reporters, "I can tell you with all responsibility that there are no and cannot be any [Russian] tanks in Gori."

    Danish television showed pictures of what they say are Russian tanks on the road outside Gori and BBC reporters confirm that they had seen Russian troops on the outskirts of the town.

    Interfax, Russia's official news agency, reported that Russian forces, in their capacity as peacekeepers, were evacuating a storage of military equipment and weapons in the area of Gori.

    However eyewitnesses leaving the city described a dire situation, telling the BBC that Ossetian separatists -- allegedly backed by Russia -- are torching homes and robbing locals at gunpoint.

    "The world seems to talk about cease-fires while the worst kind of atrocities are being commited in my country," Saakashvili said at a press conference, flanked on the podium by the presidents of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.

    The Eastern Bloc allies flew to Tblisi to show their solidarity with their pro-Western neighbor.

    The president of Ukraine, addressing the crowd after Saakashvili called for more international intervention, said, "Let the world finally wake up and take action and provide real security for the region."

    Russia vehemently denies any wrongdoing. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at a press conference today, called the Georgian troops in South Ossetia "cowards and traitors" and said they would not be allowed to resume their duties as peacekeepers.

    A cease-fire plan negotiated by French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy calls for Russian and Georgian forces to move back to their positions before the fighting broke out Aug. 7. The plan is being debated by European Union ministers in the Belgian capital Brussels today.

    Russia May Focus on Pro-U.S. Ukraine After Georgia

    From: Bloomburg
    Now that Russia has humiliated Georgia with a punishing military offensive, it may shift its attention to reining in pro-Western Ukraine, another American ally in the former Soviet Union.

    Moving to counter any threat, Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko today restricted the movement of Russia's Black Sea fleet, based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, citing national security. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow denounced the decision as a ``serious, new anti-Russian step.''

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's first order of business in confronting Ukraine likely will be to try to thwart its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    ``We still don't know who's next,'' said former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who was foreign minister under the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped end the Cold War. ``Ukraine most likely,'' because of its Russian- speaking population and naval base in the Crimea, Shevardnadze said in an interview today.

    The U.S. has long seen Georgia and Ukraine as counterweights to Russia's influence in the region. Opposition leaders in the two countries came to power after U.S.-backed popular protests in 2003 and 2004. Their ascension advanced an American strategy that seeks to expand NATO to include both countries and secure energy routes from the Caspian Sea that bypass Russia. The BP Plc-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey runs through Georgia.

    Policy in Doubt

    The future effectiveness of that policy is now in doubt, with Georgia's U.S.-educated president, Mikheil Saakashvili, 40, weakened by a five-day blitz that his American patrons were powerless to halt.

    Medvedev, 42, and Putin, 56, say Russia began the offensive in response to a drive by Georgia to restore control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Now Russia has ousted Georgian forces from there and from Abkhazia, another separatist region, and destroyed much of the central government's military.

    ``Georgia will be enormously more careful in its actions in the future, and much less confident of its relationship with the United States,'' U.S.-based geopolitical advisory group Stratfor said in a research note.

    NATO is scheduled to review the two countries' bids to join the Western military alliance in December. NATO leaders in April promised Ukraine and Georgia eventual membership while declining them fast-track status. Russia, which has also denounced U.S. plans to station missile defense sites in former Soviet satellites Poland and the Czech Republic, says the expansion of the Cold War-era alliance to its borders is a security threat.

    `Similar Fate'

    NATO should affirm the potential of Georgia and Ukraine to become alliance members in the face of Russia's incursion into Georgia, senior U.S. officials said yesterday in Washington.

    ``Russia may find it convenient to raise the level of tension with Ukraine in the run-up to the December NATO review,'' Citigroup Inc.'s London-based David Lubin and Ali Al- Eyd wrote in a note to clients. ``If the conflict with Russia decelerates or reverses Georgia's integration with the West, a similar fate could also affect Ukraine.''

    Ukraine, a country of 46 million people that's almost as big as France, has a large Russian-speaking population in the south and east that opposes NATO entry and looks to Moscow. Russian officials warn that if Yushchenko pushes Ukraine into NATO, the nation may split in two. Russia has made its displeasure with Ukraine clear, temporarily cutting off gas supplies to the country 2 1/2 years ago and reducing deliveries last March.

    Show of Solidarity

    Yushchenko, 54, yesterday flew to the Georgian capital Tbilisi to show solidarity with Saakashvili along with the leaders of four ex-Communist eastern European nations that joined NATO as a bulwark against Russia.

    Today, he cited national security needs when he insisted Russia's Black Sea fleet coordinate its movements with Ukranian authorities. Russia has leased the port since 1991, and ships from there took part in hostilities against Georgia.

    ``The previous liberalized regime for Russian fleet movements gave the opportunity for Russia to cross Ukrainian state borders and to move across the Ukrainian part of the Black Sea without any control,'' Yushchenko said in a decree, published on his Web site.

    `A Warning'

    The military operation in Georgia will serve ``as a warning'' to Ukraine that it should desist from petitioning for NATO entry, said Janusz Bugajski, director of the New European Democracies Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ``Otherwise, Moscow may intervene to protect the allegedly threatened interests of the Russian population.''

    Russian Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu today rounded on Ukraine for its public support of Georgia in the conflict.

    ``One week before these events, we send a column of humanitarian aid to Ukraine to help flood victims and the next we find they're offering military aid, arms for the destruction of civilians,'' Shoigu told reporters in Moscow.

    Germany and France opposed NATO entry for Georgia, a country of 4.6 million people that is almost as big as the U.S. state of South Carolina, and Ukraine because of the Georgian separatist disputes and opposition to membership among some Ukrainians. They now will feel their concerns have been justified, said Cliff Kupchan of New-York based Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm.

    NATO Membership

    ``Considering both European reticence and possible fears about Ukraine, I think it is very much on the slow track,'' he said, referring to NATO membership for both states.

    The assault by Russian artillery, tanks and bombers inflicted significant damage on Georgia's armed forces, which last month increased their size to 37,000 soldiers. Russia's military has 1.13 million personnel. The U.S. trained and equipped Georgia's military and in 2006 approved almost $300 million in aid over five years.

    Ukraine has about 214,000 soldiers, which include 84,000 paramilitary troops, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

    ``A substantial part of our military power has been destroyed,'' said Georgian National Security Council chief Kakha Lomaia. ``However, we did preserve the core of our army, and have managed to regroup it close to the capital.''

    An airbase in Senaki was destroyed and three Georgian ships were blown up in the Black Sea port of Poti, he said.

    Base Bombed

    A month ago, about 1,000 U.S. soldiers joined 600 Georgians and 100 from Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia in joint exercises at the Vaziani military base near Tbilisi. Russia repeatedly bombed the base during this month's war.

    ``The American role in the region has been weakened,'' Jan Techau, a European and security affairs analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, said in an interview. ``It's a reassertion of Russia's dominant role in the region.''

    Ian Hague, a Bank of Georgia board member and fund manager with $1.8 billion in the former Soviet Union, said the attack on Georgia discouraged Western investments in energy infrastructure by raising the risk premium.

    ``It's somewhat reminiscent, in 1939, when Stalin attacked Finland,'' former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told Bloomberg Television. ``I think this kind of confrontation is the best kind of answer as to why they are seeking to be members of NATO.''

    Lech Kaczynski: “If the principle of territorial integrity is violated, Europe will face chaos”

    From: APA

    Presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Prime Minister of Latvia has held a press conference in Tbilisi today and expressed full support for Georgia, APA reports quoting Regnum.

    Leaders of EU member states called on the western states to interfere in the situation for solving Georgian-Ossetian, Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts and forcing out Russian troops from the territories of unrecognized republics.
    President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus said that Georgian government should be allowed to protect its citizens, who had undergone violence in the territories under Russian occupation.

    “It is clear that Georgia has no right to solve the conflicts in its territory. Sovereignty is only on paper and the international community is not active enough. If we want peace to be established here, occupation troops should leave Georgia,” he said.
    Mentioning World War II, Adamkus noted that connivance caused death of millions of people.
    Polish President Lech Kaczynski demanded to put Article on recognition of Georgia’s territorial integrity into cease-fire pledge.

    “If the principle ensured long-term stability in Europe is violated, Europe will face chaos”, he said. Kaczynski added Georgia had obviously been undergone aggression and called European Union to be active.

    “I call our biggest ally, responder for global security the US to ensure security of Georgia. Strict measures have been demanded on the situation occurred in Georgia”, he said.

    Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves accused Russia of still believing “the era of the empire was coming back”.

    “Security of small nations and countries should be ensured by NATO, EU and the US. If we win aggression against Georgia, we will see restoration of situation existed till 1991”, he said.

    Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis announced that main subject of the negotiations should be focused on Georgia’s territorial integrity.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Twins separated at birth sue state in Poland

    From: The News
    Two families are demanding compensation from the state treasury in Warsaw after twins were separated at birth by hospital staff 20 years ago and two children given to the wrong parents.

    Kasia and Nina were born in December 1983 in a Warsaw hospital. But due to a mix up during bathing time, another baby, Edyta was mistaken by nurses at the Medical Academy for Nina and given back to the twins parents along with Kasia.

    For 16 years the two families lives unaware that they had the wrong babies. Edyta believed she had a twin sister, and Nina was happy in the belief that she was an only child.

    It was only in 2000 that the mistake was uncovered and the two twins were reunited once again.

    Both families are suing the state for separating the families. But scientists are interested in the very rare occurrence of two twins being separated at birth and could give psychologists vital new understanding of the development of humans and the influence of both nature and nurture on our personalities, intelligence and other related issues.

    Daily Mail removes anti-Polish content

    From: Polskie Radio
    The Federation of Poles in Great Britain has won a battle with British Daily Mail which has removed “offensive” stories.

    The British tabloid Daily Mail has given in to the pressure applied to the newspaper by the Federation of Poles in Great Britain and removed from its website the content that the Polish community on the British Isles regarded as offensive, informs the Radio Information Agency (IAR).

    The Polish organisation mainly criticised Daily Mail for publishing texts about Polish economic immigrants in the UK. According to members of the Federation, the tabloid’s publications provoked negative feelings and animosity towards Poles living and working in Britain.

    The daily had rejected the accusations for a long time and continued to voice negative opinions about the Polish community in Britain.

    But as a result of a complaint filed in March by the Federation of Poles with a British committee specialising in investigating content published in printed media, a round of negotiations was held and Daily Mail gave in to the Federation’s demands.

    In today’s issue the tabloid printed a letter from the Federation’s Spokesman, Wiktor Moszczysnki stressing the significant contribution that Poles have made to both the Polish and British economies.

    “There have been hundreds of cases of hate crime against Poles in this country recorded in the last 2 years, some leading to death or permanent injury, and we would not want these incidents to be encouraged by potentially inflammatory newspaper stories or headlines”, reads the letter.

    The Federation of Poles was established in 1946, when the British Government formally withdrew recognition of the Polish Government in Exile formed after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.

    Allegations of Child Rape Rile Clinic Staff

    From: NWE
    Prosecutors are investigating allegations that an 8-year old boy was raped by two 13-year old fellow patients at Lodz’s Babinski psychiatric hospital. The story, splashed over the front cover of the Super Express tabloid on Aug. 4, has prompted anger from the hospital’s management, who say journalists have twisted the facts of the incident. But the parents of 8-year-old Patryk say they were informed by doctors that he had been attacked sexually and beaten by other patients in the ward and prosecutors are looking into both charges against the attackers and hospital staff.

    “The doctor told us that someone had sex with Patryk,” his mother said. “She advised us to say nothing about the incident, because then people will single him out (as the boy who was raped). At the end she ordered an HIV test for him.” The hospital’s director, however, says they only have evidence that Patryk was “touched” by other boys both with and without his clothes on. They say media reports that he was raped in the ward’s showers are not borne out by the facts.

    “Doctors talk to the younger patients on a daily basis and he [Patryk] at no point told us in words that something like that had happened,” director Zbigniew _ucki told Dziennik L?dzki.

    “At the point in time when the rape was supposed to have taken place, there were 16 patients on the ward and none of them were bathing without the help of a member of hospital staff. The doctor and psychiatrist in charge were told by other patients that the 13-year-old may have touched the intimate parts of the 8-year-old boy.” The charges against the older boys have been passed to a family court, and prosecutors say they are looking into whether hospital staff showed serious neglect of duty in the incident. They say the investigation has been held up briefly by doctors declining to reveal details of conversations with patients.

    Prosecutors will order the opening of medical records, clearing the way for the investigation to move on.

  • Sport...

    Russia beats Belarus in Women's Basketball

    From: Beijing 2008
    The Russian Women's Basketball team beat Belarus 71-65 in a group A match in the preliminary round of the Olympic Women's Basketball tournament on Wednesday, August 13.

    Belarus' Natallia Marchanka gave the best performance, netting 16 points, which included hitting four crucial three-pointers. Her teammates Katsiaryna Snytsina and Yelena Leuchanka made 15 points apiece.

    Russian player Maria Stepanova was the biggest contributor to her team with 13 points and eight rebounds.

    The first quarter saw the two teams' scores neck-and-neck, reaching 13-12 in Russia's favor midway through. Right before the buzzer ended that quarter, Marchanka shot an amazing three-pointer from near half court to cut the Russian lead to only one point, 20-19. In the second quarter, Russia made another 15 points to cushion their lead. At the half, the scoreboard read 35-27.

    The third quarter saw Russia further outscoring Belarus, in spite of large efforts by the Belarusian women to catch up. In the fourth, Russia stayed comfortably ahead until two minutes before the end, when Marchanka made her second vital three-pointer to close the margin, 63-58. Another three-point basket by Marchanka in the last minute helped keep Belarus alive, but Russia would not allow much more, closing the game at 71-65.

    "We had a little trouble in the first half and that's when we lost the game. We didn't score the easy baskets when we had the chance," said Nataliya Trafimava of Belarus.


  • Boxing - Light Heavyweight (75-81 kg)Men's Light Heavy Weight (81kg) Round of 32-
    BLR Ramazan Magamedau lost to Ramadan Yasser of Egypt by decision (10-10)

  • swimming Men's 100m Breaststroke - Heat 5 BLR Viktar Vabishchevich took 8th place in 1:03.29 DNQ

  • Equestrian - Individual Dressage
    Viachaslau Poita of team ENERGIYA scored 165.70 for 53rd place. Alena Tseliapushkina scored 167 for 54th place.

  • Men's Individual Sabre Final Ranking
    Aliaksandr Buikevich scored 13 points and placed 8th. Dmitri Lapkes placed 24th and Valery Pryiemka 27th.

  • Weightlifting - Women's 48-53kg
    Nastassia Novikava 468.6 Took the Bronze Medal

    Men's 69-77 kg
    Siarhei Lahun lifted
    767.8 lbs, 10th place

    Women's 63-69 kg
    Hanna Batsiushka 495 lbs for 7th place

    Men's 56-62 kg
    Henadzi Makhveyenia 611.6 - 10th place

    Men's Under 56 kg
    Vitali Dzerbianiou DNF

  • Judo - Men's Middleweight (81-90 kg)
    Andrei Kazusenok took 7th

  • Wrestling - Men's Greco-Roman 60-66 kg
    Mikhail Siamionau took the Bronze Medal

    Men's Greco-Roman 55-60 kg
    Yury Dubinin placed 20th

    Men's Greco-Roman 66-74 kg
    Aleh Mikhalovich placed 5th (four wrestlers took medals)

  • Shooting - Women's 25-Meter Sport Pistol (30+30 Shots)
    Viktoria Chaika 581.0 13th place
    Zhanna Shapialevich 569.0 36th

    Men's 50-Meter Free Pistol (60 Shots)
    Kanstantsin Lukashyk took 11th and Yury Dauhapolau took 12th

    Men's 10-Meter Air Rifle (60 Shots)
    Vitali Bubnovich 592 18th

    Women's 10m air pistol (40 shots)
    Viktoria Chaika took 4th
    Zhanna Shapialevich took 43

  • Cycling - Men's Individual Time Trial
    Vasil Kiryienka 1h06:12.19 21st place

  • Endnote...

    Belarus' Karsten eyes third Olympic gold

    From: xinhua
    Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus has set her sights on a third Olympic gold medal in Beijing, but the single sculler admitted here Saturday that she would be pushed hard by strong rivals.

    Karsten, who won the single event in Atlanta and Sydney and three world titles since 2005, said she was not so confident if her bid for a third Olympic gold would be successful, as her main rivals also trained very hard.

    The 36-year-old won Heat Three comfortably in 7 minutes 40.03 seconds, but finished the 2,000m course nearly two seconds behind Zhang Xiuyun of China. Zhang clocked a time of 7:38.16 in heat one, the fastest among all 26 competitors in six heats.

    The strong favorite, who arrived in Beijing on July 27, said the hot weather wasn't a big problem for her. "I've quite gotten used to the weather here during the pre-Games training," she said.

    Asked if she had plans for the 2012 Games, the silver medalist in Athens said: "That is quite long way from here, but I might appear there."

    Asked if she'd like to see her little girl to undertake rowing, Karsten said: "She isn't very much interested in rowing. Instead she loves volleyball."