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Today's Headlines for:
Sunday, November 09, 2008

President wants more homes built, European security, US relations, Energy efficiency; IMF, Putin's Russia, Opposition, Sport and Polish scandal

  • From the Top...
  • #358

    Belarus President wants more homes built

    From: BelTA
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has demanded that more homes should be built in the near future. The President made the statement on November 6 during the state award ceremony.

    “Many construction companies achieve good results. Every year the number of new homes, industrial, social, cultural and other buildings increases. In the near future we will have to build not 2-3 million square metres like we used to, not 5 million but 10 million square metres per annum. This is why the goals are tremendous,” said the head of state. He stated there are problems with construction companies. “In the nearest future we will address this shortcoming with severe requirements for construction companies and certainly relevant attention and a salary raise,” said the President.

    Conferring state awards on Belarusian medics, Alexander Lukashenko remarked, this ongoing Year of Health has been very fruitful for medics. The President thanked medical workers for introducing the latest diagnostics and treatment methods in their practices, for achievements in scientific research meant to bolster the health of Belarusians.

    “Belarus has always prided itself on intellectual advances. Nowadays as innovation-driven development of the national economy is prioritised, science and its practical applications acquire peculiar importance,” the President told scientists and pedagogues.

    The head of state bestowed orders and medals on border service and police officers. “Belarus is a peace-loving country busy with creative labour. All our endeavours and deeds are dedicated to the key goal — proper life standards for the Belarusian nation. However, like other countries Belarus faces a certain problem. Stability and public peace are the key values for us. The people, who are present here today, have made their contribution to ensuring the normal stability in the society, observance of public order and protection of external borders,” noted the head of state.

    Alexander Lukashenko underscored that national security, rule of law and law enforcement make the foundation of the strong and effective state both the economic development and spiritual progress of the society is based upon.

    The President praised efforts of heads of industrial enterprises, banks, associations of inventors and innovators, healthcare and education institutions, people of art.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus’ participation crucial to ensure regional security in Europe

    From: BelTA
    The participation of Belarus is essential to ensure the regional security in Europe, Press Secretary of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Andrei Popov said commenting on the session of the Political-Military Steering Committee on Partnership for Peace in the format 26+Belarus at the Nato HQ in Brussels.

    According to Andrei Popov, 26+Belarus is “the established format of our interaction with Nato.”

    “There is nothing extraordinary in this cooperation; it has been going on for some time already. This form of cooperation is pursuing some practical goals. We have never refused to cooperate in such a way and have always wanted this cooperation to ensure the security in Europe in the general meaning of this word. It would be impossible without Belarus which has a very important geopolitical location in Europe,” Andrei Popov stated.

    He added that such meetings had been held before. It pertains to the meetings at the level of the Belarusian office in Nato. “There is nothing unusual about it. It is obvious that it is necessary to create a consolidated security zone in the European region. It is impossible to achieve it without Belarus taking into consideration the Nato interests in Afghanistan including the flights of airplanes over the territory of our country for the transit of military cargo. We have always been ready for the constructive cooperation with Nato in this area, naturally, on the principles of mutual respect for each others interests,” the Press Secretary of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.

    Schengen visas expensive, smothered in red tape for Belarusians

    Belarus welcomes the initiative of neighbouring countries to facilitate the issuance of Schengen visas for Belarusians, Press Secretary of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Andrei Popov stated on November 6.

    “We welcome the desire of countries, first of all, neighbouring ones, to do their best to facilitate interpersonal contacts, promote economic, humanitarian and other ties between Belarus and EU member-states. It is an objective necessity. It is important for the neighbours as interpersonal contacts are the foundation for developing relations in various areas,” stressed the official spokesman of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.

    In his words, Lithuanian partners, heads of some other states take practical steps by advancing the consideration of the issue to the European Union level.

    “Belarus welcomes the efforts and believes that the present procedure Belarusians use to acquire Schengen visas is expensive, extremely complicated, and smothered in red tape to a certain extent. We believe the situation is unacceptable. We have made our view known repeatedly to our European counterparts at various levels and expect the situation to change in the nearest future,” stressed Andrei Popov.

    Alexander Lukashenko congratulates Barack Obama on his election as US President

    From: BelTA
    President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has congratulated Barack Obama on his election as President of the United States of America, BelTA learnt from the press service of the Belarusian Head of State.

    Belarus' Foreign Ministry advocates mutual respect in Belarus-USA cooperation

    Belarus deeply respects the choice of the American people, Press Secretary of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Andrei Popov told media on November 6.

    “We have the right to believe that the attitude of the US leadership towards results of political campaigns held in Belarus will be as respectful. We’ve said already and confirm it now that Belarus will work with any representative of the USA administration, who is ready to promote Belarusian-American relations on the basis of respect for each other’s interests and pragmatism,” said the spokesman of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    “We relied on it before and continue standing by this view nowadays,” Andrei Popov made clear.

    Belarus sets up council of experts for energy efficiency

    From: BelTA
    In line with Belarus Council of Ministers’ resolution No 1639, the interdepartmental council of experts for energy-efficient technologies, equipment and materials has been set up in Belarus, BelTA learnt in the Council of Ministers’ Office.

    The council is led by Leonid Shenets, the Deputy Chairman of the Belarus State Standardization Committee, director of the energy efficiency department. The council also includes representatives of the ministries of energy, municipal housing economy, architecture and construction, economy, Belarus National Academy of Sciences, State Committee for Science and Technology, companies and universities.

    The mission of the interdepartmental council is to improve the efficiency of energy and fuel utilization which stipulated in Directive No 3 on economy and thrift. The council will prepare the proposals regarding energy-efficient technologies, equipment and materials and coordinate the cooperation between national state bodies, executive committees in energy efficiency.

    The new organization will focus on the development of the system of record keeping and regulation of all kinds of energy resources, promotion of local, alternative and renewable energy, introduction of the equipment running on waste energy, creation of high energy efficiency demo sites. The council will prepare the proposals to improve the legislation in energy saving, develop documents (concepts, sci-tech and other programmes) to settle the basic problems of the rational use of fuel and energy. The council will take organizational and other measures to reduce energy capacity of products, improve their quality and competitiveness.

    The council of experts will function on a permanent basis. Its decisions should be taken into consideration by the national administration bodies, oblast executive committees, Minsk City Coucnil, other organizations.

  • Economics...

    Pavel Borodin: Belarus-Russia trade will exceed $33 billion in 2008

    From: BelTA
    Trade between Belarus and Russia is expected to exceed $33 billion in 2008, BelTA learnt from Secretary of State of the Union State Pavel Borodin on November 6 after meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.

    “It is a remarkable growth. Here it is important that the Belarus-Russia trade is not made up only by oil and gas, but also by machine-building, agricultural machinery production and agriculture,” Pavel Borodin said.

    He added that the State Union budget was discussed at the meeting with the President of Belarus. “The budget has been increased. It includes the programmes in the area of industry, construction of agricultural machinery, space, nanotechnologies,” the Secretary of State of the Union State said.

    According to him, other issues regarding the relations between the two countries were touched upon at the meeting with Alexander Lukashenko.

    Belarus sees Vietnam as platform to promote its goods to Southeast Asia

    Belarus sees Vietnam as a platform to promote its goods to the countries of South-East Asia, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Vietnam Alexander Kutselai during a meeting in Halong between a delegation of the cities and regions, businessmen from Belarus and top-ranking officials of the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh Province and regional party committee.

    The mayors of eleven towns of Belarus and their Vietnamese colleagues and businessmen discussed certain issues of cooperation. The presentation of Quang Ninh Province and Belarusian cities and regional centres were held. The sides agreed to develop long-term mechanisms of cooperation in trade, economic, tourist and cultural areas. For example, the sides considered the issue of sending Vietnamese construction specialists to Belarus. An agreement was reached to develop the cooperation programme within the framework of the agreements signed last year between Belarusian cities and Quang Ninh Province. The sides agreed to intensify innovation exchange about economic and investment potential.

    Quang Ninh Province ranks first among other Vietnamese regions in terms of trade with Belarus. Major imports from Vietnam are seafood, tea, coffee, rice, nuts, pepper, tinned exotic fruits and vegetable. Belarus supplies Quang Ninh Province with potash fertilisers, dump trucks for the coal industry, trucks, bearings, spare parts.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Imf to Continue Consultations With Belarus on Loan

    From: IStock
    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will continue consultations with the Belarusian government on providing a stabilizing loan, a source with the IMF office in Belarus told Interfax.
    "Discussions will in particular continue next week," the source said.

    Juha Kahkonen, a high-ranking official from the IMF European Department, will arrive in Minsk on November 8 to support the fund's mission, which was due to end on November 6.

    It was reported earlier that the Belarusian government and the National Bank asked the IMF to provide a $2 billion backup loan, explaining this by the need for a 'safety cushion' for the national economy in conditions of the on-going financial crisis.

    According to IMF evaluations, the crisis had impacted the Belarusian economy and its access to external financing, while the changed foreign trade situation had a negative influence on the country's balance of payments. This happens against the backdrop of falling prices on mineral fertilizers and petrochemicals, which Belarus exports.

    Russia to equip 5 brigades with Iskander missile systems in Belarus by 2015

    From: Ria Novosti
    At least five missile brigades deployed on Russia's western border will be equipped with new Iskander-M short-range missile systems by 2015, a Defense Ministry source said on Friday.

    "By 2015, the Iskander system will be put in service with five missile brigades, primarily near Russia's western border and in the Kaliningrad Region," the source said.

    Russia believes that the placement of high-precision tactical missiles near borders with NATO countries would be the best response to U.S. missile defense plans for Europe.

    Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.

    The deployment of mobile Iskander-M missile systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) in the Kaliningrad region would allow Russia to target almost anywhere in Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

    The Iskander-M system is equipped with a solid-propellant single-stage guided missile 9M723K1 (SS-26 Stone) controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with a non-separable warhead.

    The missile follows a non-ballistic "fuzzy" path, which includes such features as violent maneuvers in the terminal phase of flight and the release of decoys.

    It is built with elements of "stealth" technology and has a reduced reflective surface. The altitude of its flight trajectory never exceeds 50 kilometers (30 miles), which makes it even harder to detect and intercept.

    The source also said Russia will supply Iskander missile systems to Belarus as part of an "asymmetric" response to the U.S. European missile shield.

    "Belarus is our ally and we ... will deliver these systems to that country on a priority and most favorable basis," the official said.

    Russia and Belarus, which have maintained close political and economic ties since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, have been in talks for several years on the delivery of Iskander-E systems to equip at least one Belarus missile brigade by 2015.

    With its maximum range of 280 km (about 180 miles), Iskander-E is likely to target U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland, which shares a border with Belarus.

    The Belarus Food Drink Report Provides Independent Forecasts And Competitive Intelligence On Belarus' Food And Drink Industry

    From: Market Watch and Lol
    Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the "Belarus Food and Drink Report Q4 2008" report to their offering.

    International investors have started to cautiously move into Belarus' food and drink retail sector. There is currently very little in the way of an organised retail sector in Belarus, with food and drink sales dominated by independents and traditional markets. However, mass grocery retail (MGR) is slowly starting to take off in response to the growing consumer demand in the country.

    In late July, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced that it had signed an agreement to partner with A1 Group, a subdivision of Russian consortium Alfa-Group, to finance the expansion of a Belarusian retailer.

    IFC is providing MGR operator Belmarket with a US6mn loan facility to finance the launch of 128 stores in the country. A1 is a leading direct investment company in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, investing in a broad range of industries, while the IFC, which is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the world's largest multilateral financier for firms conducting business in emerging economies. With this funding, Belmarket will be able to establish itself as the country's first major retail chain. This will help increase competition in the local retail sector and improve operational efficiencies. The IFC has said that it is supporting this project as it will open new channels for small and medium producers in the country to sell their goods to reliable buyers and will also create major employment opportunities.

    Meanwhile, in July 2008 Serbian retail conglomerate Delta Holdings' retail chain Delta Maxi and Russia's Finstar, controlled by Ritzio Entertainment Group, announced the establishment of a joint venture to develop a chain of hypermarkets and supermarkets in Ukraine and Belarus. Under the terms of the agreements, both companies will each invest approximately US700mn into opening a chain of Maxi supermarkets and Tempo hypermarkets over the next five years.

    Given the country's poor business environment and international reputation, such investments are few and far between, but vital for the development of the country's nascent food retail sector. However, for growth in the sector to really take off, investments, such as those detailed above, will be crucial. Modern outlets have gained popularity, particularly with the more affluent, if still very small, middle class, due to the range and quality of products on offer, the high standards of hygiene and the reliability of supply.

    This spread of MGR is also a major factor behind the growth in food consumption that we are witnessing. BMI expects per capita food consumption to rise by 39.5% between 2007 and 2012 to reach US7.71bn. The country's economic performance will also be a major factor behind this growth. Moving forward, we anticipate that GDP growth will come in at 7.8% this year, and we expect growth to remain robust throughout our five year forecast period, averaging 7.1%. If the economy continues to expand at such an impressive rate, it is likely that more international investors will dip their toes into the Belarusian food and drink sector.

    Belarus: zero custom duty for imports of concentrated juices to be imposed since January 1, 2009

    In a related story, in Belarus zero customs duty for imports of concentrated juices will be laid on from January 1, 2009. This decision was confirmed by the decree of the President of Belarus # 598; its text is presented on the National law Internet-portal.

    This decision releases management agents from import custom duties payment for imports of concentrated juices, reported representatives of Belarusian State food industry concern. They added that decision concerns juice concentrates from fruits and vegetables which are not grown in the territory of the Republic or are in deficiency. IA “Interfax-Zapad” reported that, according to concern’s forecast, zero import customs duties will lead to competitiveness increase of domestically produced juices.

    As Dmitriy Astashenko, the director of the main shareholder “Prujanskiy tinned food factory” public corporation, reported, custom duties form a substantial part in the juice prime cost. He also added that import custom duty for one juice pack totals 0.15 euro. Exempt financial funds will be directed to production development and price decrease of Belarusian juices.

    October Revolution anniversary officially observed in Belarus

    From: Naviny
    The 91st anniversary of the October Revolution (the overthrow of a provisional government in Russia) is officially observed in Belarus on November 7 although society remains divided over whether the date is worth celebrating.

    Belarus is the only post-Soviet country where the Bolsheviks' coup d'etat on November 7, 1917, or October 25 Old Style, which was called the Great October Socialist Revolution in the Soviet era, is still officially celebrated.

    Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Friday greeted the nation on the October Revolution anniversary, saying that “the Great October’s victory opened a new page in world history.”

    “Having declared the principle of nations’ right to self-determination, it created previously unheard-of opportunities for national revival, peoples’ accelerated social, economic and cultural development. It is thanks to the Soviet government that the Belarusians obtained its statehood – the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic — for the first time ever,” Mr. Lukashenka said in the message.

    In an interview with BelaPAN, Syarhey Vaznyak, a top member of the Belarusian Party of Communists, described the October Revolution as a “historic breakthrough to popular rule” that involved “wide popular masses” in government.

    However, he said, the revolution’s ideals were corrupted following Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin’s death and “soviets’ democratic government was replaced by the party elite’s uncontrolled rule.”

    The politician expressed certainty that socialist values would be popular again in the 21st century as they are based on “ideas of social justice that are attractive to humanity in all times.”

    Historian Yakaw Basin stressed that the October Revolution had caused millions of deaths and multiple ordeals for many nations.

    “The Bolsheviks brought the monopolization of power, the nationalization of industries, violence, the destruction of millions of dissidents, as well as the destruction of the moral foundations of society’s life,” he said in an interview

  • From the Opposition...

    Mahiliou: 18-year-old activist is expelled from last year of lyceum

    From: Viasna
    18-year-old activist Stanislau Senakosau has been expelled from Mahiliou professional lyceum #2. According to him, it was revenge for his political activities, while the administration of the lyceum states that the reason is a rude violation of discipline.

    Stanislau Senakosau has been many times detained by Mahiliou police during youth street actions and the lyceum administration knew about it.

    ‘I think that my expulsion is connected with my public activities. During a talk with me the administration said that I would have problems unless I stopped my activities. They said they would expel me when I turn 18. I did not pay much attention to it at that time. Recently I have turned 18 and missed one lesson. As a result there was signed an order for my expulsion. There it was written that I had violated the internal regulations.’

    After the expulsions the boy went to an evening school. Then he intends to start working at a factory. He is not going to give up his public activities.

    The lyceum administration states that the Senakosau has been expelled for having insulted a cloackroom attendant. ‘We did not throw him out to the street. The social employment center has an evening school. But now we have some means to show to others on his example that one can’t behave like that,’ they said.

    Stanislau’s expulsion is the third one in Mahiliou. Tatsiana Shambalava (a coordinator of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party) and an activist of the Young Front Rastsislau Pankratau were expelled from Mahiliou State University for allegedly poor academic progress. In fact, the political motivation of such expulsions seems more than evident.

    Opposition youths grabbed by police during protest in Minsk

    From: Charter '97
    Seven members of the Malady Front opposition youth group were grabbed by police during a demonstration near the headquarters of the Committee for State Security (KGB) in Minsk on November 7. The young people were standing in front of the KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky's bust, holding a sign that said, “Communism must be brought before tribunal!”

    The protest was timed to coincide with the 91st anniversary of the October Revolution still observed in Belarus as a public holiday.

    The youths were brought to a district police department and interviewed. Two of the protesters, who have not yet turned 18, were released later in the day, while the others are expected to be held in custody pending their trial on a charge of participation in an unauthorized mass event, Malady Front Mikalay Dzemidzenka told BelaPAN.

    The five activists are likely to be held in the detention center on Akrestsina Street until November 10, Mr. Dzemidzenka said.

  • Around the Region...

    Russia's Putin may return as president in 2009 - paper

    From: Ria Novosti
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could resign next year paving the way for his predecessor and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a Russian paper said on Thursday citing an unidentified Kremlin official.

    In his state of the nation address on Wednesday, Medvedev proposed extending the presidential term from four to six years, which Vedomosti said was part of an arrangement devised by first deputy head of the Kremlin staff Vladislav Surkov.

    The paper said, citing the Kremlin source that under the arrangement Putin's successor needed to amend the Constitution to secure a longer term in office for Putin and to carry out unpopular social reforms. The source told the paper that Medvedev may resign citing changes to the Constitution, leading to presidential elections being held next year.

    Vedomosti said Putin could then rule for two six-year terms, from 2009 to 2021.

    "There are no reasons why Putin should not return as president next year as the current president's term is not set to expire in 2009," the premier's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the paper.

    Another source close to the Kremlin quoted by the paper said Putin had already started his election campaign.

    The premier has launched a personal website and is expected to lay out his manifesto as leader of the ruling United Russia party at a congress in November, following which he will broadcast a video link with the nation, the practice he resorted to as president.

    Political analysts and business have been playing a guessing game since Medvedev's election win in May trying to work out who is really in charge in Russia, the president or premier.

    A senior United Russia member quoted by the daily said the proposal to extend the presidential term, coupled with the increase in the parliamentary term to five years, was the beginning of constitutional reforms designed to turn Russia into a parliamentary republic.

    A source in the presidential administration said the amendments could be approved next year, the paper reported.

    Obama may freeze Europe missile shield deals - Russian analyst

    From: Ria Novosti
    As economic pressures mount, the U.S. may freeze its plans to set up a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic when president-elect Barack Obama takes office, a Russian analyst said on Wednesday.

    Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.

    "More than anything, Russia's expectations over Obama's election in the U.S. are focused on the U.S. missile defense system in Europe," said Artyom Malgin, an advisor to the rector of the international relations university MGIMO.

    "The democrats are skeptical over this Republican initiative, and it is entirely possible that the agreements that were signed with the Czech Republic and Poland will not in the end be realized," he told RIA Novosti.

    The U.S. signed agreements on the missile shield with Warsaw and Prague during the summer, but Polish and Czech lawmakers have yet to ratify them.

    "An important factor will be the economic crisis, which will not allow the American leadership to indulge in excessive and unjustified spending," Malgin said.

    He also said Obama is likely to take a different, more accommodating stance in the Middle East, in particular on Iran, which will be good for Russia.

    Andrei Kortunov, who heads the New Eurasia foundation, said Russia will need to take an entirely new approach with the incoming U.S. leadership, which will be replacing the hugely unpopular Bush administration.

    Obama's election "creates new possibilities and creates new problems for Russia... It is one thing to work with Bush, an old Republican whose foreign policy became tangled up and was strongly criticized throughout the world, and quite another to build relations with a young American president who is now highly rated worldwide," he said.

    However, he said no one should expect relations with the U.S. to see rapid improvements.

    "Russian-American relations can benefit from Obama's victory, if we do not expect rapid breakthroughs, but invest time and effort into developing dialogue with the Americans, working not only with Obama, but with Congress, public opinion, and the political elite," he said.

    Deutsche Bank economics analyst Yaroslav Lisovolik noted that Obama's victory has been well received by the markets.

    "Obama's victory is quite a positive signal for the remainder of this year. One of the effects we can already see is market growth, including in Russia."

    Russia's ruble-denominated MICEX temporarily closed earlier on Wednesday after a share price leap of more than 10%.

    Ukraine welcomes $4.5bn stand-by IMF loan

    Ukraine will receive initial loans worth $4.5bn in the next few days to bolster the crisis-hit economy under the International Monetary Fund's bail-out package, say officials in Kiev.

    Victor Yushchenko, the president, welcomed the IMF decision on Wednesday to approve its $16.5bn (Euro 10.5bn) bail-out package, calling it a "signal to the international community to boost the rating of trust in our country". Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister and the president's bitter rival, called the loan a "great victory" that would allow Ukraine to "completely stabilise" its financial system.

    The IMF approved the stand-by loan after Kiev's fractious parliament passed enabling legislation. The IMF decision, together with news that cash-rich investors were close to rescuing two troubled Ukrainian banks, were welcomed in financial markets as moves that could mitigate the impact of the global crisis.

    The IMF move follows declines in central bank reserves from $38bn to $31bn after heavy currency market intervention. The hryvnia, which gained 17 per cent, reaching 5.82 to the US dollar on Wednesday - compared with an all-time low of 7 in late October - edged up yesterday and closed at 5.79.

    The IMF said the funds would help Kiev overcome the impact of "global deleveraging and a domestic crisis of confidence". In return, Ukraine has committed itself to adopting a flexible exch-ange rate regime, recapitalising banks, reducing its bud-get deficit to zero in 2009 and tightening monetary policy.

    The IMF forecast a sharp recession next year, with output dropping 3 per cent compared with expected 6 per cent growth this year, as Ukraine struggles to cope with a fall in demand for steel and chemicals, pressure to fund imports and problems refinancing foreign loans.

    The IMF loan is expected to help Kiev bail out some of its 170 banks. In October, the central bank rescued Prominvestbank, the sixth largest, after a hostile take-over attempt triggered a run on deposits.

    This week, two consortia backed by Russian and Ukrainian investors have been competing to purchase Prominvestbank. *Hungary has announced a Ft600bn (?1.8bn) package to streng-then its largest banks. Andras Simor, central bank governor, said the funding, for which banks could apply in exchange for partial state ownership, would reassure markets, allowing banks to borrow more cheaply. The package will be financed using the IMF's $12.5bn credit line.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Janusz Wojcik bailed at half million zloty

    From: The News
    The former national football coach detained two week ago on corruption charges has been set bail at 500,000 zloty.

    According to the decision of the District Court in Wroclaw, Janusz W, the former football national team coach Janusz W. will not be put under arrest, but bail has been raised from 150.000 to 500.000 zloty.

    The Public Prosecutor's Office made 11 charges against Janusz W. who is accused of having fixed eight matches when he was coaching Swit Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki in the season 2003/2004.

    He is charged of bribing officials to the tune of 500.000 zloty and could face five years in prison.

    Although now the former coach can stay at large, he is banned from his working in football and cannot leave Poland. By 21 November the bail of 500.000 zloty must be raised.

    According to the court, Janusz W. pleaded innocent but he declared his willingness to cooperate.

    The Wroclaw prosecutor's office, south west Poland which launched an investigation into match-fixing in Poland in 2005, had called for 3-months custody over the former trainer in order to prevent him from prevaricating. He was said to act together with Ryszard F., alias Fryzjer – “the hairdresser” - accused of being connected with an ongoing football corruption investigation. So far, the police have detained about 160 people coaches, referees and players on a charge of fixing matches in the top domestic leagues.

    Poland’s 100,000 addicts

    From: Polskie Radio
    The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimates that in Poland there are some 100,000-120,000 people with addiction problems, which is close to the European average.

    Klaudia Palczak of EMCDDA told Polish Radio One that the most dangerous drugs remain heroine and its derivatives. The study by the Centre reveals that the availability of heroine has increased considerably due to the record-breaking poppy harvest in Afghanistan in 2007.

    Still, the study shows that while in countries like Great Britain or Spain cocaine and heroine are the most popular narcotics, in Poland it is amphetamine.

    Head of the National Bureau For Drug Addiction Piotr Jablonski points out that apart from the regular drugs in Poland there is also a large market of so-called “stimulators”. Among the most popular substances are diviner’s sage, Hawaiian baby woodrose, hallucinogenic mushrooms and various “party pills”. He added that these are all legal and the all the more dangerous because of it.

    The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s research indicates that every hour one European dies of an overdose.

    Poland Court Reprimands Women Over Topless Sunbathing

    From: Medindia
    A Polish court Friday reprimanded two Polish women, including a model who has appeared in men's magazines, for indecent exposure after they sunbathed topless, a rarity in the deeply Catholic country.

    "Showing nudity goes beyond social customs and norms in Poland," read part of the verdict issued by a court in Szczecin, northwest Poland. "Personal freedom ends where the freedom of another person begins."

    "I completely respect the court's verdict, but at the same time I disagree with it and I will certainly appeal it," Dorota Krzysztofek, 28, told Poland's TVN24 news channel. She also said she would be contacting Poland's ombudsman, a civil rights watchdog.

    The court also ruled the women would have to pay court fees of 130 zlotys (36 euro, 46 dollars). The verdict is subject to appeal.

    "Perhaps men will also have to cover up their torsos on the beach?" Krzysztofek said. "I see nothing indecent about the chests of men or women," she added.

    In May, policemen fined Krzystofek and her 26-year-old friend for sunbathing topless on a public beach in Szczecin.

    The women went to court after they failed to pay a fine of 150 zlotys (40 euros, 55 dollars).

    The case of the two women, one of whom is a model and has appeared topless in Polish men's magazines, sparked such massive media interest that a first hearing in September had to be postponed when too many reporters turned up to fit into the court gallery.

    The women pleaded not guilty to indecent exposure, arguing there was no explicit ban on going topless at the beach.

    They also said fellow sunbathers had not been offended, insisting that many had jumped to their defence.

  • Sport...

    Bela Rematch:
    Canada West gets another shot at Belarus in semis

    From: Edmonton Sun
    They've been idle for the past four days, a reward for topping their pool at the World Junior A Championships.

    But ironically, tonight, Canada West will be back on the ice against a team they've already lost to.

    On Thursday night, Belarus defeated Germany 7-5 in a quarterfinal setting up a semifinal matchup against Canada West. The United States and Canada East get things started in the opening semifinal (4 p.m.) at the EnCana Arena.

    "Belarus is a skilled team," said Canada West head coach Boris Rybalka. "They skate well, they handle the puck well, they like the tic-tac-toe play. The nice thing is, we've played them in Game 1. But we weren't physical against them. I think it's the same with them as it was the Russians, I think you can shut them down by being physical against them."

    Belarus shocked Canada West in the opening game of the tournament, winning 4-3 in a shootout. And it wasn't as though the visitors stole the contest, surviving a Canadian barrage and making the most of their few opportunities.

    For stretches of the game, Belarus dominated and looked the much better team. So it came as a surprise to many when they were beaten 10-4 by Russia the next night, essentially knocking them out of contention for first place in the group - which came with an automatic berth into the semifinals.

    "We like it that we already know them, having that shootout loss to them in Game 1," Rybalka said. "We're happy to have a chance at them again in the tournament."

    For their part, Canada West responded from their opening game defeat and knocked off the Russians 5-2 in their second contest. The hosts made the most of a Russian parade to the penalty box - not all of it warranted - and scored five power-play goals.

    The win gave Canada West top spot in the group and a place in today's semifinals.

    The only downside is that it's been four days since they'll have played a game. That's a long layoff in a tournament that only lasts a week.

    "What we did, is allowed the players to actually come watch a couple of games," Rybalka said. "That kept them in the tournament.

    "We've also had good practices. They've been high-tempo, we haven't slowed down any. For us, we've got a chance to practise every day for the last three days. It's an advantage, perhaps it's not game scenario but it's also working on systems.

    "Every game we've gotten better with that, our power play and penalty killing is improving."

    Canada West is the two-time defending World Junior A champions. They won the inaugural tournament in Yorkton and Humbolt, Sask., beating Canada East in the final.

    Last year, they defeated their Canadian counterparts again at the event held in Trail and Nelson, B.C.

    "When we lost our first game to Belarus and when the Russians beat Belarus, people were saying the Russians were unbelievable," Rybalka said. "But we told our guys (to) just focus on the task at hand, don't worry about anything. There may have been a few people jumping off the Canada West bandwagon saying we weren't going to do very well, but then we come back and beat Russia and all of a sudden it's both Canadian teams in the semis."

    As essentially the host team of the event - Rybalka is also the head coach of the Camrose Kodiaks - the pressure is squarely on Canada West to win their third consecutive event.

    And while they started slow, Rybalka is confident his team is good enough to win the tournament.

    "We talked about the pressure and told them that it was simple, there was only one colour, it was gold and it's great," he said. "I think our guys are ready for it. They know what's expected and they don't expect anything less. Any time you put that Canadian jersey on, there's always just one colour that's expected and that's gold."

  • Cultural Scene...

    Паэтычны слэм “Вершамі вуліцы”

    From: Minsk Blog
    Прапануем паўдзельнічаць у паэтычным слэме

    13 лістапада ў Менскім фальварку “Добрыя Мысьлі”
    а 19-й гадзіне
    адбудзецца паэтычны слэм “Вершамі вуліцы”.

    Запрашаем беларускіх маладых паэтаў паўдзельнічаць у спаборніцтве майстэрства чытаць уласныя вершы натхнёна, з узнёслым настроем і захапленьнем. “Вершамі вуліцы” – гэта спроба рэанімаваць вулічнае мастацтва чытаньня вершаў, цесна пераплеценае з перформансам і тэатральным шоў. Паэтычны слэм ня будзе мець ганаровых судзьдзяў, абіраць лепшага паэта вечара будуць выключна гледачы. А таму паэты павінны прэзентаваць сваю творчасьць максымальна арыгінальным чынам.

    Падаць заяўку можна праз email: @
    У лісьце трэба напісаць Імя, Прозьвішча, Узрост, горад пражываньня, 5-10 сваіх вершаў.
    Заяўкі прымаюцца да 10 лістапада ўключна

  • Endnote...

    Russia, Belarus and Ukraine offer arms to Qaddafi

    From: Ria Novosti
    “We have a unity of approaches to the forming of a just and multi-polar world order. Belarus has always believed that states should be equal members of the world community. We view Libya as a close partner, with which we are prepared to hold a dialogue in all issues. We hope that your visit will give a new impetus to mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas,” said President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at today’s meeting with Leader and Guide of the Great Libyan Revolution Muammar al-Gaddafi.
    Russia is unlikely to get what it wants from Libya.

    Before Muammar Qaddafi came to Moscow, analysts thought he would sign military contracts worth between $2 billion and $4.5 billion with Russia. However, while the Kremlin staff was busy searching for a place to build a Bedouin tent for Qaddafi, the "son of the desert" was thinking about his bargaining tactic in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

    Russians view the three countries as fraternal, but Qaddafi sees them as the "Slavic bazaar" where they compete against each other.

    The colonel's itinerary was carefully plotted, from Russia to Belarus and to Ukraine, because in Moscow the Libyan leader saw the full range of Russian military items for sale, such as the Ka-52 Alligator helicopter, the Su-35 multirole fighter, the T-90 tank, and the latest version of the S-300 air defense system.

    Even the Russian army lacks most of these novel systems, which definitely are not cheap. Russia has other cheaper, simpler arms for sale. It inherited them from the Soviet Union, just as Belarus and Ukraine did.

    I was a military translator in Libya in the mid-1980s and I know that the Libyan army had Soviet arms made in the 1960s and early 1970s. They proved highly effective during war games and as well as in wars. Qaddafi was fighting a war in Chad at that time, which Libya did not advertize.

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko offered Qaddafi Soviet-made weapons.

    Two factors - the price and the buyer's feeling about the seller - are crucial at a bazaar where sellers offer similar goods. Qaddafi is an experienced politician with a personality comparable to those of Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Belarusian President Lukashenko.

    It is therefore not surprising that during their visit to Minsk the leaders of Russia and Belarus spoke about their countries' similar positions and the need to build a multipolar world.

    Muammar Qaddafi recalled that it was Belarus that "extended a hand of friendship" to Libya when international sanctions were imposed on it.

    Qaddafi first met with Lukashenko in 2000, when the Belarusian president was in Libya on an official visit during which the two leaders created the groundwork for bilateral relations. Qaddafi told Lukashenko he was always welcome in Libya, and the Belarusian leader promised to come to Tripoli again.

    The colonel knows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev very little, but Vladimir Putin, then Russian president, visited Libya in April 2008 to remove the main obstacle hindering the development of bilateral relations. He wrote off Libya's $4.5 billion debt to the former Soviet Union in return for its pledge to sign new contracts with Russia.

    In Moscow, Putin not only attended Medvedev's talks with Qaddafi but also accompanied him to the concert of Mireille Mathieu in the Kremlin Palace where he introduced the high Libyan guest to the famous French singer in a surprise move.

    Qaddafi was received in Kiev without much pomp, which was logical given the political situation in Ukraine. But President Yushchenko said at a news conference after their meeting that current bilateral military technical cooperation was not up to its potential.

    Analysts are worried that no official statements on the signing of Russian-Libyan documents were made in Moscow, while Belarus has signed agreements. However, this does not mean that Medvedev, Putin, Lukashenko and Yushchenko have not agreed with Qaddafi on military matters. I rather think they have but decided not to comment on their achievements, for understandable reasons.

    It is still not clear if Russia will have a naval base in Benghazi, Libya. According to the business daily Kommersant, Qaddafi discussed the issue with Medvedev.

    A group of warships from Russia's Northern Fleet led by the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser recently called at Tripoli, and the Neustrashimy destroyer stopped at the port on its way to Somalia.

    The newspaper writes that Qaddafi thinks Russia's military presence would protect Libya from possible attacks by the United States, which is not willing to embrace the colonel despite numerous conciliation gestures.

    Russia apparently has at least three advantages over Belarus and Ukraine.

    First, it offers brand-new high-tech arms that are better than many foreign analogues.

    Second, the three Slavic countries may agree what to sell to Qaddafi and at what price, despite the numerous political differences between them, especially between Russia and Ukraine over Ukrainian arms deliveries to Georgia.

    And third, Russia may still decide to establish a naval base at Benghazi, because it will cost a lot and Libya needs the money. But can Russia do it in conditions of the global financial crisis, when its international reserves are decreasing by day and the once full flow of petrodollars is dwindling into a small creek?

    Which of the three Slavic brothers will the Libyan leader choose? From whom will he buy more arms? We will know the answer only when more warships, aircraft and tanks marked "Made in USSR" are sent to Tripoli under the watchful eye of space-based monitoring systems.