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Today's Headlines for:
Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lukashenko meets with Medvedev, Parliament finishes, Tourbusiness, Money Crises, IMF, Russia, Ukraine, Polish scandal, sport and Culture

  • From the Top...
  • #355

    Alexander Lukashenko, Dmitry Medvedev Discuss A Wide Range of Issues in Detail

    From: BelTA and the Office of the President
    Today it is very important to make specific positive signals in the relations of Belarus and Russia, aimed at intensifying bilateral cooperation, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the state-run mansion Meyendorff Castle.

    "In June we agreed with you that we would have this order of meetings and that we would certainly hold talks with you before the session of the Supreme State Council so as to identify once again our priority directions within the Union State. For us equally relevant are the issues of bilateral interaction and the problems taking place in the world, including those triggered by the world financial crisis. There is a also need for discussing some problems in economy and finance of Belarus and Russia. Your point of view is important to us because we are closely attached to Russia from the point of view of economy and financial system," said Alexander Lukashenko.

    He emphasized that nearly a half of all Belarus' foreign currency and gold reserves were kept in Russian roubles. "We have made a conscious decision to switch to the Russian rouble, having turned away from the dollar when they began to pressurise us. And it is very important to us to have your advice as to what direction we should move in," added the Belarusian President.

    According to Alexander Lukashenko, there was a number of issues to be discussed at the talks, the issues that had not been settled at the governmental level. "There is no one else who can solve these issues. The premiers have already discussed them; they have succeeded in solving them to some extent; to some extent, they have not and left these issues to us," said the Belarusian President.

    Dmitry Medvedev expressed preparedness to exchange opinions with Alexander Lukashenko on the urgent issues of Belarusian-Russian relations and the relations between the two states within the framework of the Union State.

    "We will discuss important issues including preparation for the following session of the SSC which will take place at the end of the year, will talk about trade and economic ties, investment projects," said the Russian President. He also added he would like "to discuss the current situation in financial markets".

    Dmitry Medvedev said that on 15 November the US would be hosting the summit of the Group of 20, which agenda will include the issues of how to build international financial and economic relations in the wake of the crisis. "I would like our closest partners, like Belarus, to negotiate our common position in this regard. I believe it is crucially important for our bilateral relations," he added.

    The one-on-one meeting lasted for more than three hours. Alexander Lukashenko and Dmitry Medvedev discussed a wide range of issues in detail, including trade and economic relations, transit of cargo, cooperation between Belarus and Russian in foreign policy and coordination of actions in the international arena, interaction in the military and military-technical fields.

    The two presidents also discussed a number of other issues.

    The talks took place in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

    Alexander Lukashenko and Dmitry Medvedev then continued their conversation in an informal setting at a working breakfast.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus’ parliament of third convocation completes its final sessions

    From: BelTA
    Alexander Lukashenko speaking at the Final Joint Meeting of the Council of the Republic and the House of Representatives of the National Assembly
    The National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus of the third convocation has completed its final sessions, BelTA informs.

    The House of Representatives of the fourth convocation will hold its first session on October 27 and the Council of the Republic on October 31.

    On September 28, the parliamentary elections put 110 deputies to the lower chamber of the Belarusian parliament. There are 55 parliamentarians in the Council of the Republic of the fourth convocation. One more senator from Minsk was elected at the repeat elections in November. Eight members of the Council of the Republic will be nominated by the Head of State.

    Outgoing Parliament set up good basis for activity of new parliament in international arena

    The House of Representatives of the 3rd convocation has set up the good basis for the work of the new parliament in the international arena, Chairman of the House of Representatives of the 3rd convocation Vadim Popov told a press conference on October 23.

    On October 23, the National Assembly of Belarus of the 3rd convocation finished the work of its last sessions.

    According to the Speaker, “Belarus has achieved strong positions in the oldest inter-parliamentary organisation – Inter-Parliamentary Union”. He noted that the Belarusian Parliament actively participates in the Organization’s activity; it is a coordinator of one of its geopolitical groups “Eurasia”. This attests to the high international prestige of Belarus taking into consideration that the IPU unites more than 150 countries.

    According to the politician, the House of Representatives of the 3rd convocation maintained regular contacts with foreign parliaments. The lower house includes 46 working groups which cooperate with parliaments of other countries.

    All elements of Belarus’ political system regulated by legislation

    Absolutely all the elements of Belarus’ political system are regulated by the legislation, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the final joint session of the two chambers of the National assembly of the third convocation on October 23.

    According to him, among the laws adopted by the outgoing parliament there are several documents that can be considered a new page in the national legal system: the Budget Code, the Code on Judicial System and Status of Judges, the Code of Execution Procedure of Administrative Violations.

    The Head of State turned special attention to the law “On priorities of domestic and foreign policy”. In his words, in the course of many-year discussions the parliamentarians have managed to overcome ministerial disagreements and adopt the law “On National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus”, a range of the most important juridical acts aimed at ensuring safety of the individual, the society and the state.

    Alexander Lukashenko thanked the members of the two chambers of the parliament for supporting his position on relentless fight against corruption.

    “We were right to make the issue of anti-corruption a top-priory of our policy. Today Russia, Ukraine, other countries have followed this path. There is neither efficient management nor social security in a corrupted economy,” the President said.

    Minsk to host international exhibition Tourbusiness 2008

    From: BelTA
    Minsk will host the 15th international exhibition Tourbusiness 2008 on November 5-8. Attending the forum will be more than 130 companies from 14 countries, BelTA learnt from head of the project Valentina Babako.

    According to Valentina Babako, in 2007 115 companies from 11 countries took part in the exhibition. This year the number of the participants increased. Belarus, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Great Britain, Switzerland, Cyprus, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates have announced about their participation in the tourist forum.

    Every year, travel companies present their possibilities for organizing entry and outbound tourism, inform visitors about sports, adventure, recreational, children’s and family rest. The exposition of the forum will tell visitors not only about foreign resorts but also about the most beautiful places of Belarus. The list of Belarusian participants includes such famous companies as Belinturist, Dortour, Alatan Tour and Top-Tour and others. The national reserves Narochansky, Braslav Lakes, Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Pripyatsky and Berezina Biosphere Reserves, ski resorts and health centers will showcase their proposals as well.

    The aim of the forum is to promote the tourist possibilities of this country. The exhibition allows tourist companies to conclude contracts, to establish good business relations.

    Various seminars, presentations of Christmas parties, roundtables will be held within the framework of the exhibition.

    The forum is organized by the National Exhibition Center Belexpo and the Belarusian Ministry of Sport and Tourism.

    Alexander Lukashenko: no discords and conflicts on religious grounds in Belarus

    From: BelTA
    In Belarus there are no discords and conflicts on religious grounds, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II in Minsk on October 24.

    The President told Alexy II, “Your arrival in Belarus is not only an event for believers, it is a major political event. The attitude of the Belarusians to you is the same as the attitude of the Russians”.

    The President also added, the orthodox church is the foundation, it is 85% of believers. “Today nobody doubts it and nobody is zealous about it,” added the head of state.

    Alexander Lukashenko underscored, “Belarus is an orthodox country and we will follow the policy we chose once”. “Because it is what our nation wants,” said the President.

    The head of state pointed out the significant role of Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch for All Belarus Filaret in preserving the accord in the Belarusian society.

    Patriarch Alexy II thanked Alexander Lukashenko for assistance in the restoration and construction of temples. He also thanked the President of Belarus for the kind attitude towards the church. “Doing good things is a great deed. I’ve been to many places and have seen how the people esteem you,” he added.

  • Economics...

    Belarusian banks to accept deposits without declaration

    From: BelTA
    Mandatory declaration of incomes during depositing will be lifted in Belarusian banks following a decision taken by the President of Belarus and the National Bank. The decision was announced by head of state Alexander Lukashenko at the final joint session of the Council of the Republic and the third convocation House of Representatives of the National Assembly on October 23.

    “Apart from that, we should abandon the outdated system of control of power-wielding agencies over bank deposits. A decisive step in the fight against bureaucracy should be made,” said the President.

    “It looked like everything has been done properly. Relevant de-bureaucratisation laws have been adopted. But it turned out people do not benefit from the effect,” remarked the President.

    “Today I am told that foreign citizens bring considerable money for depositing in our banks. Because in Belarus corruption is not that strong like in other countries and people trust the authorities. But when people go to banks, they are told they must declare the source and ways the money was earned,” said the President.

    “Certainly, we are not abandoning the existing international money-laundering principles and standards. But excuse me, why should we hurry ahead of the entire planet?” said Alexander Lukashenko.

    In view of the facts the head of state made the decision to annul the mandatory declaration of incomes during depositing in banks. The relevant document will be signed one of these days. It will state that any controlling power-wielding agencies will be removed out of the banking industry.

    According to the President, the time the control by the power-wielding agencies was needed is over. “They will not be able to request information about deposits of natural and juridical persons without a criminal case in progress. Even if a criminal case is filed, we will try to minimise the procedures,” said the President.

  • From the International Press...

    Belarus Taps IMF For Bail-Out -- Another Black Mark For Emerging Markets

    From: Businessweek
    Another day, another bail-out. No, I’m not talking about more funds for the global financial industry, but news on Oct. 23 that Eastern European country Belarus has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a reported $2 billion loan to prop up the country’s dwindling capital reserves. The former Soviet satellite already has secured $2 billion in financing from Russia and the country’s finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, says he might ask Western states for additional help.

    Belarus is only the latest in a string of Central and Eastern European countries that have tapped international lending institutions after the freezing of global capital markets made it difficult to service foreign debt. Hungary, Serbia, and the Ukraine — as well as cash-strapped Iceland — all have gone begging for help in recent days. It’s just an example of how emerging markets worldwide also are feeling the pinch from the global financial crisis.

    Ahead of a three-day summit on Europe and Central Asia at the end of October, the World Economic Forum also has weighed into the debate. Its key concerns for the region? "Current account deficits and high levels of external debt raise the risks of a hard [economic] landing. High dependence on foreign capital amplifies external vulnerability."

    With an average current account deficit of 9% of GDP, Central and Eastern Europe definitely will feel the financial squeeze. Morgan Stanley reckons countries in the region hold approximately $1.65 trillion in foreign debt. And in Baltic states like Estonia and Latvia, which already are in recession, foreign currency-denominated debt stands at 30% and 24% respectively of total GDP.

    Times certainly will get tougher for the countries, although it's worth pointing out the region is by no means uniform. The Czech Republic and Poland, for example, have small current account deficits and minimal exposure to foreign currency debt. Bulgaria and Hungary, on the other hand, face mounting financial problems as foreign currency loans represent more than half of the countries' entire loan book. Hungary's current account deficit in the second quarter of the year stood at roughly 6%. Bulgaria's was a staggering 24%.

    That shows the financial crisis hasn't just cast a shadow over North America and Western Europe. While they didn't have access to subprime mortgages, economies across Central and Eastern Europe have been fueled by easy access to (predominantly foreign) credit. Now that it has been taken away, countries from Estonia to Bulgaria are having to tighten their fiscal belts.

    Russia, Belarus to join draw up joint position on crisis

    From: Ria Novosti
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev opened talks with his Belarus counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, on Saturday by saying that the two leaders would discuss a joint position to the global financial crisis.

    Lukashenko arrived in Russia earlier on Saturday.

    Medvedev opened the meeting by saying that he would like Russia and Belarus to draw up a joint position on the crisis ahead of an international summit on the issue set for November 15 in Washington.

    "I would like us to discuss with our close neighbors a joint position on this issue," the Russian president said. "We will also discuss a range of other issues with respect to the regular meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union [set for Moscow this fall] and also the development of trade and economic ties, investment projects and social issues."

    "It would only be natural to discuss the situation unfolding on the financial markets," he said.

    Lukashenko commented that his visit had been agreed upon before the before onset of the crisis. "We, as if glancing into a crystal ball, determined before the crisis that we would have to meet," he said.

    He added that "it is important for us what goes on in Russia," pointing out that around half of Belarus' international reserves were in Russian rubles.

    "We deliberately moved away from the dollar when they started to pressure us," he said, referring to earlier U.S. criticism of his rule.

    Lukashenko also thanked Medvedev for giving up his weekend to meet him.

    "We have no weekends," replied the Russian president.

    Belarus president takes five-year-old 'heir' to military drills

    From: Ria Novosti
    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko took his five-year-old son with him to the recent Fall-2008 Russia-Belarus military exercises, Radio Liberty has reported.

    The Fall-2008 exercises took place earlier this month and involved around 8,500 personnel, military and special hardware, including over 40 aircraft, more than 60 tanks and around 250 armored vehicles.

    Lukashenko's son Nikolai was photographed observing the exercises and receiving reports with his father. Both of them were dressed in the uniform of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Belarus.

    Lukashenko also referred to his son as his "heir" and the future president of Belarus.

    Following the military exercises, Lukashenko said the Belarusian army had "risen from its knees."

    "As a general and a man who has given his whole life to the army, I am ashamed," former Belarusian defense minister Pavel Kozlovskiy told Radio Liberty.

    "I've visited the U.S., French, German, Moldavian armies, and I've never seen anything like this," he added.

    According to Lukashenko's official biography, he has two sons, Viktor and Dmitry. The president, who lives separately from his wife, only admitted the existence of a third son last year. However, this is not the first time he has referred to Nikolai as his successor.

    In April, 2007 at a press conference in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, he said that, "In the immediate future the president of Belarus will be Alexander Lukashenko. Neither my first, nor my second son will become president."

    "As for the third, I will prepare the little one. He is a unique person," he added.

    The EU recently agreed to suspend sanctions against the Belarusian leadership for six months. Forty Belarusian key political figures, including Lukashenko, had been subject to a ban on entering the EU and had had their assets frozen due to a clamp down on political dissent and other human rights violations in the country.

    The U.S. earlier dubbed Lukashenko "Europe's last dictator."

    However, relations with the West began to thaw after Belarus recently freed its remaining political prisoners and invited the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to observe September's parliamentary elections.

    Lukashenko says crisis prompts U.S. to look to Belarus model

    From: Ria Novosti
    President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday the continued financial crisis had prompted the United States to look to Belarus's sociopolitical model for a greater state role in the economy.

    "The world has become less critical, has dropped criticism of the sociopolitical course pursued by Belarus," Lukashenko said. "Today even America is traveling along that road."

    "I have always said the state must not and cannot withdraw from any sphere of life. Even the Americans have come to understand this today as the crisis is becoming more acute," the president said.

    A lack of regulation has been blamed by some for the current credit crunch in the United States, which broke out after massive defaults on risky housing loans and quickly spread to Europe and Asia. The crisis has led to record losses on financial markets and a liquidity shortage in the developed world and emerging economies.

    The U.S. government had to step in with $700 billion rescue plan, the biggest state intervention since the Depression. The return to higher levels of state regulation to stabilize the financial sector and reduce the impact of new crises has been widely discussed.

    President Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet state since 1994 and was once dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington, has steadfastly opposed the privatization of state enterprises.

    Speaking in parliament, Lukashenko said Belarus would emerge as a leading economy in the next four years and urged the legislature to pass "new-generation" legislation to achieve the goal.

    Private business and foreign investment are uncommon in Belarus, which is heavily dependent on Russia in its own energy needs. The country also a major transit route for Russian oil and gas bound for Europe.

  • From the Opposition...

    “The China Syndrome”

    From: Charter '97
    Lifting of the EU sanctions against Alyaksandr Lukashenka has become a sensational event in the life of Belarus. It has happened despite of the fact that the “parliamentary elections” had been recognised as undemocratic and not free by the world community. Over the last week it has become obvious that many people understand the meaning of this event in a polar opposite way. And it is getting rather dangerous now.

    “The United Democratic Forces support partial lifting of the sanctions. We are for this formula fundamentally. And today we differ with the decision adopted in Luxemburg on one person only, on Alyaksandr Lukashenka,” said the ever-optimistic chairman of the United Democratic Party Anatol Lyabedzka in an interview to Deutsche Welle.

    A well-known German political analyst and lobbyist, director of Russia and CIS Programs for the Foreign Policy Council of Germany, Alexander Rar, is also very pleased.

    “One shouldn’t forget that Belarus is opening for privatization not just for Russian investors. Western firms are applying pressure on our governments for them to start a concrete dialogue with your country, and then the business would go there too. Everybody wants to gain money on the Belarusian market which is not so little and which is situated in the centre of Europe”.

    Alexander Rar has also noted with unconcealed amusement: “The West sees that there is no organized opposition in Belarus, it is split without one leader”.

    “Today most Belarusian citizens support the course of the government and president Lukashenka. The West does not want to wait 5-10 years till something would change in Belarus, the time has come to work with Belarus”, he concluded, meaning by ‘Belarus’ the last Belarusian dictator.

    British Lord Timothy Bell who is preparing the visit of Belarusian establishment to the investment forum to London, is also pleased by the prospects.

    “Most Belarusians are glad and happy (…).The regime wants to attract inward investment, want Belarusian people to travel freely, they would like the visa sanctions removed from their senior people so they can gain experience of other countries.” Lord Bell said in an interview to Russian TV channel NTV.

    The former OSCE Ambassador to Minsk Hans-Georg Wieck, who visited Belarus as well as Lord Bell, evaluates the situation in the country after lifting the elections more shrewdly: “I cannot imagine that Belarusian authorities would make considerably concessions”. He believes that “a so-called Chinese model is being prepared for Belarus, when an authoritarian regime and a liberalizing economy are combined in the country”.

    We would like to remind immediately what the Chinese style of the authoritarian regime is. It means massive public executions, dozens thousands of political prisoners, total control of the party over the society, complete “filtering” of political information on the web and so on.

    It is clear that the Belarusian authorities are glad to see this scenario in action. On the day the sanctions were lifted, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affaires of Belarus Syarhei Martynau said after a meeting with Javier Solana, EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy: “The Belarusian government has done a lot to make this day come true. We have appraised the EU’s decision and expected for it to be extended and deepened as our cooperation and ties get closer.”

    At the same time, Martynau didn’t say a single word about reforms in the sector of human rights and freedom of speech.

    Alyaksandr Milinkevich, leader of the “For Freedom” movement doesn’t see anything dangerous in these events. After a meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in Warsaw, he said to Radio Svaboda on behalf the whole delegation of opposition politicians: “Everyone stands for a dialog between Belarus and the European Union that is needed for the people of Belarus first of all.”

    “What concerns tempo of the dialog, tempo of softening, steps, which should be made by one of the sides and then by another side, granting or non-granting a visa for Alyaksandr Lukashenka, it is debatable. I don’t think these discussions are principal. Belarus is interested in economic, trading, and political cooperation with Europe, this is principal,” the politician said. In this case, by the word ‘Belarus’ Milinkevich means the same that Alexander Rar understands by the Belarusian regime.

    “Not all of the oppositionists understand me. Many of them regard me as a predator. I uphold other views. I continue to think that the European Union should try to talk with the regime,” the former presidential candidate told in an interview to Polskie Radio.

    Heads of political parties and Alyaksandr Milinkevich are satisfied with their roles of advisors for Europe. They say proudly that they are preparing a new “road map” for offices of European politicians, forgot that the previous one – 12 proposals of the European Union, hadn’t been fulfilled.

    European players, who forgot about their 12 conditions, too, expect just one rather abstract thing from Lukashenka. “One of the new elements of the EU’s resolution on Belarus is connected ... with the hope that the adopted Law on Media will be softened within 6 months,” Polish MEP Janusz Onyszkiewicz told in an interview to Radio Svaboda.

    “Softening of the new law on media” - what a “severe” and “concrete” requirement for the Belarusian dictatorship for the nearest 6 months!..

    In this situation, leaders of the “For Freedom” movement and opposition parties are trying to persuade pragmatic and cynic Europeans to let them be at least consultants during negotiations between the EU and Lukashenka. But agreeing to a role of the “weak opposition” in someone else’s game, lost an opportunity of breaking up the electoral farce and demonstrating their power, they can hardly count their plaintive requests to be heard.

    This estimation may seem rather harsh, but only a realistic view of the current situation will help us to overcome the crisis.

  • Around the region...

    Developing Nation Bond Yields Soar on Russia Rating-Cut Outlook

    From: Bloomburg
    Developing nations' borrowing costs neared a six-year high after Standard & Poor's threatened to cut Russia's debt ratings as the global credit crisis deepened.

    The extra yield investors demand to own emerging-market government bonds instead of U.S. Treasuries rose 27 basis points, or 0.27 percentage point, to 8.29 percentage points, the biggest since November 2002, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s EMBI+ index. The annual cost to protect Russia's bonds from default soared as S&P lowered Russia's ratings outlook to negative on concern the cost of the government's bank rescue will climb.

    Russia has committed as much as 15 percent of its gross domestic product to propping up banks, including a $50 billion credit line to development bank Vnesheconombank. Russia's international reserves, the world's third largest, declined by $14.9 billion last week after the central bank sold currency to support the ruble as investors pulled money out of the country.

    ``There is now no safe haven globally other than a deeply indebted U.S. government,'' said Jim Reid, head of fundamental credit strategy at Deutsche Bank AG in London. ``The events of the last few days are categorical evidence of the globalization of the credit crunch and its subsequent problems.''

    Ex-Soviet republic Belarus added to requests from Iceland, Pakistan, Hungary and Ukraine for at least $20 billion of emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund as the financial crisis leaves nations unable to repay their debt. Belarus has requested ``no less than'' $2 billion and may also seek funds from central banks and commercial banks in other countries, said central bank spokesman Anatoly Drozdov.

    Argentine Nationalization

    In Argentina, lawmakers are battling to block President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner from using $29 billion in nationalized pension fund assets to repay debt as the government struggles to avert its second default this decade. Fernandez announced plans to take over private pension funds on Oct. 21, sparking a rout in the country's financial markets. Argentina last seized retirement savings in 2001, before it reneged on $95 billion of debt and triggered a global selloff.

    The yield on Argentina's 8.28 percent dollar bonds due in 2033 fell 1.42 basis points, to 27.91 percent at 5:08 p.m. in New York, according to JPMorgan. The bond's price rose 1.5 cents on the dollar to 25 cents, leaving it down almost 12 cents this week.

    ``It's becoming a mess in emerging markets,'' said New York University professor Nouriel Roubini. ``There are about a dozen emerging markets that are now in severe financial trouble.''

    Slowing Growth

    Emerging-market stocks, bonds and currencies are getting battered as the financial crisis that began with U.S. mortgages last year pushes the global economy toward a recession, crimping demand for the commodities that sustain most developing nations' finances. The IMF forecast global growth will slow to 3 percent in 2009, from 3.9 percent this year, meaning a world recession under the fund's informal definition.

    Emerging-market bonds have lost 22 percent so far this month, compared with a decline of 15.6 percent for U.S. high- yield debt, Merrill Lynch & Co. indexes show. Stocks in emerging markets have tumbled 59 percent this year, compared with 43 percent for developed countries, according to MSCI Indexes.

    The MSCI Emerging Markets Index of shares fell 3.8 percent to 514.29, the lowest since December 2004. The Budapest Stock Exchange index dropped for a sixth day, declining 3.43 percent to the lowest in five years. Mexico's Bolsa index slid 5.3 percent. Russia's Micex stock index dropped the most in a week, falling 4.66 percent.

    South Korea's won fell 3.35 percent to the lowest since 1998 on concern demand for the nation's exports is dwindling and the Kospi stock index slumped 7.5 percent. Poland's zloty decreased 1.3 percent.

    Brazil's real erased earlier losses of almost 6 percent after the central bank pledged to sell $50 billion of currency swaps to stem the currency's 29 percent plunge over the last two months. The real gained 5.2 percent. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the global financial crisis may be ``particularly severe'' on developing nations.

    ``The global financial crisis may have an unfair and particularly severe impact on developing countries,'' Lula said in a speech in Brasilia. ``The gains our countries have made are at risk.''


    ``It's all about de-leveraging,'' said Paul McNamara, who helps manage $1.2 billion of emerging-market assets at Augustus Asset Managers Ltd. in London. ``It has to do with how people were positioned before this all began. The market is dysfunctional.''

    The cost to protect debt payments by 14 emerging-market governments from Argentina to Ukraine surged overnight by 2 percentage points to 10.88 percentage points, according to Deutsche Bank prices on the CDX Emerging Markets credit-default swap index.

    Credit-default swaps protect bondholders against default by paying the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a borrower fail to adhere to its debt agreements. An increase indicates deterioration in the perception of credit quality.

    `Legitimate Reasons'

    Argentina's five-year credit default swap climbed 3 percentage points to 39.59 percentage points, according to Bloomberg data. Default protection on Russia for five years rose 1.05 percentage points to a record 10.63 percentage points.

    ``There are legitimate reasons to be slightly worried about Russia, but the rise in credit-default swaps has very little to do with the credit risk of Russia and more to do with who holds emerging market debt,'' said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Moscow-based Alfa Bank. ``Funds are getting redemptions so are having to sell into a weak market, and if they can't sell the equity they may sell the debt as a proxy.''

    Russia's foreign ministry slams US sanctions

    From: AFP
    Russia warned Friday that US sanctions on a Russian firm accused of defying a ban on sales of sensitive military technology to Iran will affect talks between world powers on Tehran's nuclear programme.

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained in a press conference that Washington's unilateral approach was "inadmissible," not based on international law and threatened to wreck Iranian cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    Russia's foreign ministry described the sanctions against Rosoboronexport are an "unfriendly act which cannot but have negative consequences as regards our dialogue with Washington, in particular in discussions between the Six," a statement said.

    Thirteen foreign firms, including Russia's biggest arms exporter, were listed Friday in the US State Department's Federal Register as being "engaged in activities that warrant imposition of measures" under its Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-Proliferation Act.

    The United States says the sanctions -- also targeting firms from China, Syria and and Venezuela among other countries -- are meant to punish the firms for sales that have "potential to make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction or cruise or ballistic missile systems."

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meanwhile accused the US of seeking to apply domestic legislation in the international arena.

    "These sanctions have been introduced without any international legal basis," Lavrov told a press conference, adding they were an example of "overseas application of American laws.

    "If someone in Washington thinks the United States will achieve reconciliation with Russia and will obtain acceptance of the US approach to solving the Iran problem, they are mistaken.

    "This approach (the sanctions) is inadmissible. We are going to try and put an end to such a tactic, incompatible with the new realities of the modern world and which flows from a unipolar world view.

    "All our economic and military cooperation with Iran is done in strict conformity to international legal norms.

    "We are going to continue speak on behalf of the ongoing work of the IAEA in Iran and against severe measures enviseaged by some of our partners which threaten to halt Iranian cooperation with the IAEA and provoke a crisis," he said.

    On Wednesday, Lavrov warned Howard Berman, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the US House of Representatives, that unilateral sanctions against Iran would be "counterproductive" in efforts to force Tehran to suspend its sensitive nuclear fuel work.

    The United States and its European allies had pushed for new, tougher sanctions against Tehran but ran into resistance from Russia -- among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- and China.

    The West and Israel have accused Iran of using its nuclear programme as a cover to build nuclear arms. But Tehran insists its programme is strictly peaceful and solely aimed at generating electricity.

    The UN Security Council has slapped three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which can be used to make the fissile material for a nuclear bomb.

    But Tehran says it has a right to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and denies allegations of seeking atomic weapons.

    Ukraine suffers from the economic crisis along with the rest of Eastern Europe

    From: Telegraph
    It was as if MPs had spent Black Wednesday ripping up the House of Commons carpet and using the mace to jam the lobby doors.

    After years of easy credit and a property boom that had turned the Ukrainian capital, Kiev into a Asia-style boom town, Eastern Europe's biggest country abandoned the defence of its currency in the dying hours of last week's market trading.

    This week it hopes to enter the equivalent of receivership, but only if it can meet the terms of a $14 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bail-out.

    It is a big if. The markets were torrid last week but the country's parliament was a melee. Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko's supporters sought to prevent a December general election being called at any cost. With strips of tinfoil, coins and paper clips, followers of the charismatic former gas trader caused an electronic sytem breakdown of the chamber's voting system.

    The immediate aim was to prevent a vote on demands for a general election by President Victor Yushchenko, Mrs Timoshenko's great rival and one time Orange Revolution ally. But the scenes called into question the country's ability to adopt reforms demanded by the IMF to provide the financial lifeline desperately need to stave-off a punishing financial meltdown.

    The head of Ukraine's central bank was forced to plead with the country's politicans to stop bickering. "It's like slow death," said Volodymyr Stelmakh. "The more we delay, the more problems will multiply."

    Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, has lost a fifth of its value in the last eight days. It now leads a host of former Soviet-controlled states in Eastern Europe that, severely exposed by the new mood of fiscal rectitude on the financial markets, have turned to the IMF to stave off collapse.

    The Eastern bloc states, Hungary and Belarus, have joined Ukraine in making formal applications for IMF bailouts but others, including the Baltic States, all members of the EU, have entered secret consultations for international help.

    With a range of continuing disputes with the Kremlin during an intractable domestic political dispute, economic collapse has rendered Ukraine vulnerable to a resurgence of Russian influence. Last week a Russian consortium was seen as a leading contender to take over the failed Ukrainian bank, Prominvest.

    Ukraine's pro-Moscow opposition has spent months warning that the government had steered disastrously away from Russia, a path that jeopardised its economy. Last week Serhyi Taruta, the country's leading steel magnate, compounded its crisis by warning of mass lay-offs in the vital industry.

    "Elections are coming, and the steel industry employs 500,000 people," said leading analyst, Peter Vanhecke, head of investment banking for Renaissance Capital in Ukraine. "If no supportive measures are taken by the government, the steel industry will most likely have to reduce its headcount substantially. Output has gone down due to the global economic slowdown."

    The fallout from the crisis goes beyond the realms of the economic. Ukraine's efforts to join Nato and set up a close alliance with the EU is in Moscow's cross-hairs. The Kremlin last week formally renewed its requestion for an extension of the lease on the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home its Black Sea fleet.

    "There's broad consensus that the aspiration for Ukraine to join Nato in the near future is now highly unlikely," said Mr Vanhecke. "The last thing you want to do is to start haggling with your energy suppliers at a time of economic downturn. My sense is that Ukraine will move closer to a more neutral, non-provocative position towards Russia."

    The stakes in the second round of Lithuania's general election today could not be higher. The expected winner, Andrius Kubilius of the right-wing Homeland Union last week warned that he would be forced to grapple with an economic collapse if he takes office. "I see a serious crisis," he said. "In Lithuania's case, we have a double crisis: one that we've built up ourselves due to economic overheating. On top of that, we are also experiencing the impact of the global financial crisis."

    It amounts to a double-whammy that jeopardises many of the gains made by the ex-Soviet satellites since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some in the Baltic states are now blaming the EU for their woes. "The main effect on Latvia has been a dramatic fall in economic growth, from 12 per cent when we joined the EU to 1 per cent now," said MEP Rihard Piks, who was the Latvian foreign minister when the country joined the EU in 2004.

    The crisis has seen the region cracking into spheres of influence. Estonia, which like the other Baltic nations has been a target of Russia's increasingly hostile foreign policy, has pleaded with Swedish banks not to pull the plug on its heavily indebted economy.

    With more than 10 per cent of its domestic lending denominated in Swiss francs, Hungary has been forced to hike interest rates to double digits and give guarantees to lenders to staunch a run on the florint.

    Belarus, a dictatorship that is widely seen as the "last dictatorship in Europe", has already borrowed heavily froom Moscow. Now it is so fearful that a currency collapse would grant Russia complete control of its economy that its mercurial president, Alexander Lukashenko, appealed for an unprecedented gesture of support from the West, through the IMF. "He is trying to avoid total dependence on Russia," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. "He prefers to hang on to two ropes rather than one. Belarus is a very vulnerable country."

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    President pleased with progress into football corruption scandal

    From: The News
    President Lech Kaczynski will meet representatives of the government next week to discuss the next step in reforming Poland’s allegedly sleaze-ridden football association, the PZPN.

    The president will have talks with both the minister of sport, Miroslaw Dzewiecki, and his own representative for sporting matters, Michal Kleiber.

    President Kaczynski said that he was pleased with the government’s attempt to finally cleans Polish football of corruption, a scandal that has now seen over 160 arrests at all the levels of the game. He said that it was important to return PZPN to full autonomy as soon as possible, as the world governing body, FIFA has demanded, but said it was crucial to return “the rule of law” to the game in order to regain trust of football supporters within and outside Poland.

    This week saw the high profile arrest of a former coach of the national team, Janusz W., who has been charged with 11 cases of corruption involving hundreds of thousands of zloty in bribes.

    Soccer-Prosecutors charge Polish FA secretary general

    From: Reuters
    Polish Football Association (PZPN) secretary general Zbigniew Krecina was charged with mismanagement of funds on Wednesday, state news agency PAP quoted prosecutors as saying.

    Krecina is favourite to replace PZPN head Michal Listkiewicz in an Oct. 30 election that is being held to avoid sanctions from world body FIFA and the potential loss of the country's right to co-host Euro 2012 with Ukraine.

    Krecina is accused of illegally transferring 350,000 zlotys ($120,000) to Widzew Lodz soccer club. He denies the charge.

    Prosecutors said the investigation was not aimed at derailing the election.

    "This part of the investigation had been started in June. The prosecutors were not interested in elections at the PZPN," head of the prosecutors office in the city of Wroclaw, Edward Zalewski, told PAP.

    The prosecutors' move comes just a few weeks after the PZPN's management board was suspended by the country's arbitration tribunal at the request of Warsaw's sports ministry in an anti-corruption drive, triggering the row with FIFA.

    FIFA, whose rules forbid government interference in FA matters, had warned the Polish government that it was facing the possible suspension of its national soccer team.

    The dispute was resolved when the government reinstated the association. The agreement to hold PZPN elections was part of the deal.

    Asked if he still intended to run in the election, Krecina told PAP that he would.

    As part of the same investigation, police detained former Poland head coach Janusz Wojcik, who led the Polish team to an Olympic silver medal in 1992, on corruption charges.

    The charges are related to his time as a coach of small Swit Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki club in 2003-2004 but no further details were available.

    More than 150 Polish officials, referees and players have been accused of match-fixing and corruption, with 17 on trial since 2007.

    Satnav leads Polish driver into lake

    From: Digital Spy
    A Polish man drove his vehicle into a lake after following the instructions of a satellite navigation system, police have said.

    The Mercedes mini-van driver ignored a series of warning signs before using an abandoned road which led to the lake. His vehicle was almost entirely submerged by the time emergency services arrived on the scene, but the man and his two passengers had already escaped unharmed.

    "The man took a road that was closed a year ago when the area was flooded to make an artificial lake serving as a water reservoir - he ignored three road signs warning of a dead end," Piotr Smolen, police spokesman in Glubczyce, southern Poland told AFP.

    "It was still night time and he didn't notice the road led into the lake. His GPS told him to drive straight ahead and he did."

    Smolen confirmed that the man in question made his first emergency call while he was still inside the sinking van. He then sat on the vehicle's roof with his passengers as they waited for assistance.

  • Sport...

    Лига чемпионов. И снобы, здравствуйте!

    From: Pressball
    Тему для размышлений вдогонку матчу БАТЭ в Санкт-Петербурге подбросил... прошлый век. А именно 1999 год, когда делал первые шаги в роли корреспондента "Прессбола": август, дебют малознакомого мне белорусского клуба в еврокубках, редакционное задание под грифом "мнения игроков гостей" и объяснимое волнение в связи с неизведанной работой на поединке международного уровня, да еще с таким рейтинговым соперником! Шутка ли, в Борисов пожаловал московский "Локомотив", являвший собой силушку буйную - команда два сезона подряд доходила до полуфинала уж почившего в бозе Кубка кубков. Причем в розыгрыше-98/99 при двух ничьих на этой стадии уступила римскому "Лацио" лишь из-за гола, пропущенного на своем поле!

    Тогда "Локо" ковал новейшую клубную историю, по крупицам завоевывая популярность избалованной московской публики. Значит, действовать вполноги он не имел морального права априори. Вот и налетел с разбегу молодой тренер Юрий Пунтус на капканы опытного охотника Юрия Семина.

    Рискнув пойти на прожженного бойца в штыковую, БАТЭ получил в ответ артиллерийский залп с пугающей точностью попадания снарядов - 1:7...
    При всей унылости итога моя задача упрощалась. Кто из триумфаторов откажет в общении после столь убедительной победы?

    Представьте наше удивление, когда коллега Сергей Дашкевич на просьбу об интервью услышал от первого вышедшего из гостевой раздевалки футболиста, как показалось, оброненное с долей сожаления: "Нам вроде нельзя..."

    Случившийся буквально через несколько минут диалог Сереги с Семиным обескуражил:
    - Юрий Павлович, вы запретили футболистам давать интервью?
    - Кто вам такое сказал?
    - Сами ребята...
    - А, вы белорусская пресса? Ну правильно: возьмите Лаврика, и хватит с вас.
    В ответ на столь вызывающий снобизм оставалось лишь объегорить капитана гостей Игоря Чугайнова (кстати, оказавшегося очень приятным собеседником), мол, "Палыч разрешил"...

    С того времени ждал, когда мы поборемся с россиянами хотя бы на равных. Думается, с не меньшим нетерпением жаждал этого весь нынешний тренерский штаб БАТЭ и его капитан:
    ту домашнюю встречу с железнодорожниками проводили Александр Федорович в воротах, Виктор Гончаренко в обороне и Вадим Скрипченко с Александром Ермаковичем в средней линии.

    Не клеилось мучительно долго. В повторной дуэли с москвичами БАТЭ снова получил увесистую оплеуху - 0:5. Потом, уже в новом веке, дважды по 0:2 "сгорел" самарским "Крыльям" в 2005-м, а спустя еще год потерпел поражения от казанского "Рубина" с общей разницей мячей 0-5! Все матчи были сыграны в формате Кубка УЕФА, при этом из белорусских клубов чаще с россиянами в евротурнирах не пересекался никто. И как же здорово, что стереотип "вечно младшего брата" сломали сами борисовчане! Доселе уничижительная статистика взаимоотношений (+0=0-6, 1-21) наконец расцветилась первой единичкой в графе "ничьи", случившейся в седьмой встрече с командами из России.

    Расхожее выражение "седьмое небо" в привязке к Питеру, с его белыми ночами да синими водами Невы, здесь очень кстати. Пожалуй, гонором по отношению к белорусам у обладателей Кубка УЕФА и Суперкубка Европы за версту уже не пахло. Если всплывали рудименты высокомерия, то они граничили с опаской. А после матча сменились заслуженным уважением.

    Правда, слегка завулированным в столь знакомых словах "им повезло", всегда грешащих отсутствием конкретики.
    Так кому подфартило на "Петровском"? Один скажет, что нам, другой запишет в везунчики питерцев. Но некоторые вопросы все же представляются риторическими. Кто на кого нарвался в тренерском споре матерого Дика Адвокаата и молодого Виктора Гончаренко? И с кем журналистам прежде всего хочется говорить теперь? Попутно умилила фраза с одного из форумов в интернете: "Чемпион Беларуси не сумел сломить сопротивление середняка российского чемпионата". При всем разнообразии оценок питерского действа такой посыл имеет полное право на жизнь!

    Сегодня уже БАТЭ, возраст которого по элитным лекалам считается "пеленочным", пишет свою новейшую историю. И дело даже не в том, сколь многое изменилось с поры дебюта борисовчан в еврокубках (всего-то менее десяти лет), а в сравнении с недалеким 2006 годом. Отрицать мощнейший импульс, полученный от попадания в групповой турнир Лиги чемпионов, бессмысленно. Однако истинную его цену начинаешь понимать после половины пути в компании трио грандов. Наверное, лишь мы сами боялись, что БАТЭ станет мальчиком для битья в "квартете смерти". А этот коллектив, закаленный квалификационными лигочемпионскими битвами с румынской "Стяуа", бельгийским "Андерлехтом", болгарским "Левски", вышел в группу и... шумно выдохнул.

    На выдохе и играет. Уверенно, стабильно, красиво. Ворвавшись в наши привычные будни изысканным монологом. С каждым шагом укрепляя без того не шаткие тактику с психологией. Наконец, просто ставя на уши всю Беларусь. Продолжает греть борисовские души и сводный рейтинг европейских клубов, в котором наш чемпион прописался в первой сотне. Из представителей России гораздо выше только "Зенит" и совсем чуть-чуть - московский "Спартак". Для полноты картины не хватает победы над питерцами в Минске, благо после вторника веры в ее реальность прибавилось значительно.
    За ответом - на "Динамо". 5 ноября.

  • Cultural scene...

    Фотовыставка «portraits»

    Николай Маминов

    Место: PhotoGallery ZНЯТА.
    К-р Центральный (пр. Независимости, 13)
    Доступна: до 14 ноября 2008 года

    Ураганный ветер дует из рая; он рвёт крылья ангела
    с такой силой, что ангел не может их больше сомкнуть.
    Ураган неудержимо несёт его в будущее,
    к которому ангел обращён спиной,
    а гора обломков вырастает перед ним до небес.
    Этот ураган мы называем прогрессом.
    (Вальтер Беньямин)

    Сочетание экспрессивного портрета с яркой палитрой осени делает моё представления о портрете именно таким. Броские цвета в одной манере и приглушённый колорит фотографий на противоположной стороне – это двоякий контраст нашего времени и моментов наших желаний, воспоминаний, любви, оттенков счастья и просто ярких счастливых глаз.

    Я смотрю на Вас сквозь образы моделей, сквозь их глаза оценивая каждого и пытаясь понять мысли которые рождаются у вас.

    И все тот же классический взгляд позволяет по-новому ярко взглянуть на них - и опустить глаза. Одно большое извинение за все неподмеченное, недосмотренное и неожидаемое в самых близких женщинах - за всех мужчин - от одного фотохудожника.

    Спасибо Ветру за участие, Солнцу за экспозицию, Дождю за драматургию, Небу за тональность, Фотоаппарату за верность, Моделям за любовь, Маме за дар.

    Об авторе:

    Николай Маминов (NIKOLODION).

    Родился в г. Минске. Художник, кинокритик, теоретик искусства, Магистр искусствоведения, оператор-постановщик кино и телевидения, арт-дизайнер, звукоаниматор. Автор ряда успешных научных и популярных статей по теме «Фото-, и киноискусство». Ныне - один из фотохудожников, работающий в разных стилях. В своём творчестве позиционирует тезис: «Как известно, художественное творчество многообразно, субъективно и по своей природе глубоко иррационально». Основываясь на данном тезисе, автор уделяет внимание популяризации следующих течений в фото- и киноискусстве, проводя параллели с традиционными и авангардными формами изобразительного искусства: абстракционизм, сюрреализм, поп-арт, китч, трэш и новым собственным синтезированным стилем «NOVACITY». Во внимании автора также находятся декадентские и урбанистические мотивы (так называемый “андеграунд”), связанные c отображением окружающей действительности и внутреннего мира. Средством художественного самовыражения является использование нестандартных методов, в некоторой степени девиативных, отличающихся от общепринятых стандартов и норм.

  • Endnote...

    Spiritual Unity Between Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian Peoples Unshakable - Patriarch Alexy II

    From: IStock
    In this age of ethnic and religious conflicts burning around the globe, Belarus manages to preserves peace and social balance at home. And the Orthodox Church should be undoubtedly given its due credit here, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on 24 October during a meeting with representatives of the Orthodox Church. Attending the meeting were Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarch Exarch of All Belarus.
    Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia is sure that spiritual unity between the peoples of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine cannot be shaken.
    "Spiritual unity remains a cornerstone of mutual understanding [between the peoples of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine]. I believe it will not exhaust, and no circumstances can undermine this spiritual bond," Alexy II said at a ceremony marking the 1020th anniversary of the Conversion of Kievan Rus in Minsk on Friday.

    Thanks to the conversion to Christianity, "the Slavic tribes could feel united, on the basis of which a common cultural tradition of the Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian peoples was created," he said.

    The Orthodox Church in Belarus is continuing to render its "salutary service," seeing the state as a "cooperator" in implementing educational, cultural, and social programs, he said.

    The patriarch also wished "success, mutual understanding, and cooperation between the state and the church in attaining the ends facing us."