President meets with Turkcell, Belarus abandons "golden share" Medvedev, BNR, Iran’s NMT, Women’s Day, China, Polish scandal, Blogs and Hockey...
Belarus market to accept only socially responsible investors
From: The office of the president and BelTA
|President Alexander Lukashenko meeting with the top management of Turkcell, Turkey's major telecommunications provider|
“I would like companies to enter the Belarusian market not only for earnings, but for helping people in the social sphere,” noted the head of state. “Because Belarusians will help with the earnings and certainly something should be left to them”.
In turn, the Turkcell executives said they are very interested in investing in telecommunications and other branches of the Belarusian economy. While choosing projects, they intend to take into account recommendations of the country’s leadership. The Turkish side underscored Turkcell has been recognised as socially responsible: in all the countries the company worked in much attention was paid to the social and humanitarian sphere. Turkcell carried out projects relating to education, insurance and the construction of social infrastructure.
Belarus waives golden share rule
Belarus has waived the golden share rule. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko signed relevant decree No.144 on March 4, BelTA was told in the press service of the head of state.
The move is expected to help attract foreign investments in the real production sector of Belarus, meet the 2008 economic targets, enhance Belarus’ rating at the international level and protect the rights of investors in the securities market.
The decree comes into force on the day it is officially published.
Turkcell presents exceptionally interesting investment proposals to Belarus
Proposals of Turkish company Turkcell regarding investments in the Belarusian economy are of exceptional interest, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Turkcell’s top executives on March 4.
“You are of exceptional interest to us, as you are one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies,” said the head of state.
“We’ve never had any problems with Turkey in economy or politics. This is why we are interested in encouraging Turkish business to work on the Belarusian market in various branches, including civil engineering,” remarked the President.
The head of state said, in Belarus all major investment projects, especially if they involve corporization of companies and their shares, require an approval of the President. “If a company is interesting to us, we work out variants of cooperation with it,” explained Alexander Lukashenko.
He remarked, Belarus’ leadership is very precise in choosing investors. “You should understand that investors vary. There are some best avoided,” said the President of Belarus. “Besides, today we attract quite enough investors. A country should attract as much investments as its economy can process”.
“And the key thing is any investor should understand that we are interested in investments in the areas we deem necessary,” stressed the President.
Turkish company Turkcell is intent on entering the Belarusian mobile communication market. The ways to do it vary from setting up a new mobile company in Belarus to acquiring a share in existing Belarusian telecommunication operators.
President congratulates Dmitry Medvedev on his election as President of the Russian Federation
From: The office of the president
“Having supported you, Russian electors have voted in favour of continuing the constructive policy which aim is to restore the strong state, enhance the unity of Russia,” the President of Belarus said in his message of congratulations.
Alexander Lukashenko has expressed the confidence that, under the leadership of Dmitry Medvedev, there will be a continuation of effective implementation of national projects and economic programmes currently underway, which meet, above all, the interests of people at the grassroots level.
“The Belarusians are really pleased at Russia’s achievements in recent years. I am confident, by uniting our efforts we will manage to impart dynamism to Belarusian-Russian integration processes, create a basis for boosting further the wellbeing of the citizens of our countries, together hold out against today's increasing threats and challenges,” said the President of Belarus.
President of Belarus sends message to Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
“March 2nd, 2008 became a landmark in the contemporary history of Russia. On that day the citizens of your country voted in favour of preserving stability and continuing the reforms aimed at strengthening Russia's statehood. The unanimous choice is demonstrative of a convincing recognition by the society of the political, social and economic transformations you have been making,” the President of Belarus said in his message to Vladimir Putin.
“It is largely due to your activity that Russia has been reviving. The people’s welfare is growing, the country’s authority is rising in the international arena,” said the Head of State.
“I value highly our relations based on trust and mutual respect and will always be glad to welcome you on the Belarusian soil,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “I hope, your huge socio-political experience and a wealth of knowledge will continue bringing benefit to Russia, and will not once serve our common cause, which is the creation of the Union State,” he added.
80.9% of Russian citizens in Belarus vote for Dmitry Medvedev
1.46% of the Russian citizens voted for Andrei Bogdanov, 6.99% - for Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 9.86% - for Gennady Ziuganov. The results of the voting were sent to Moscow in the night of March 2.
The total of 8.372 thousand Russian citizens permanently or temporarily living in Belarus took part in the presidential elections. It exceeds the turnout at the recent elections to the Russian State Duma 1.5 times, Alexander Frolov noted.
According to him, the turnout was high in Belarus, the elections were organized well, and no accidents were reported. The observers did not officially express their intention to monitor the elections.
Alexander Frolov expressed his gratitude to the Belarusian side for the assistance in the organization and holding the elections of the Russian president on the territory of Belarus.
CIS observers recognise Russia presidential elections as free, open and transparent
The CIS observers have recognised the Russian presidential elections as free, open and transparent, Nauriz Aidorov, the head of the CIS observer mission, told a press conference on March 3.
He noted that the CIS mission consisted of 100 observers, including Belarusian parliamentarians. They monitored the elections in 37 regions of Russia. Nauriz Aidarov stressed that the elections were held in compliance with the Russian legislature and international law.
According to him, there were some minor violations, single instances of which however did not affect the outcome of the elections.
The head of the CIS observer mission also noted the competitive character of the presidential elections in Russia.
Nauriz Aidarov said that the observers were assisted in all the ways possible to carry out the monitoring of the elections. “The monitoring was independent, based on the principles of transparency and openness”, he noted.
Presidential elections in Russia fully meet international standards, Nikolai Cherginets says
The presidential elections in Russia were held in full compliance with international standards, Nikolai Cherginets, the Chairman of the Permanent Commission for International Affairs and National Security of the Council of Republic of the Belarusian National Assembly, told a press conference in Moscow on March 3. Nikolai Cherginets is the head of an observers’ team representing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Belarus-Russia Union State which was part of the CIS observer mission.
According to Nikolai Cherginets, the Belarus observers are the experienced experts who monitored the elections not only in CIS member states but also in the USA, Great Britain, Poland, Serbia and other countries. During the election in Russia, they visited polling stations in Moscow, Kazan, Krasnodar and also in the Kaluga and Moscow regions.
Nikolai Cherginets has confirmed the general conclusions of CIS observers that the presidential elections in Russia were held in strict correspondence with the Constitution and the Russian legislation.
Nikolai Cherginets noted the stable situation during the elections in Russia. “We were impressed to see polling stations in airports, railway stations and border checkpoints,” he added.
Nikolai Cherginets expressed disappointment at the refusal of the OSCE/ODIHR and OSCE PA observers to monitor the presidential elections in Russia. According to him, this fact shows that the policy of doubles standards continues. “We should also think about the relations with the OSCE which is so selective in its attitude to elections,” Nikolai Cherginets highlighted.
In conclusion, he congratulated Dmitry Medvedev on winning the Russian presidency.
Iran’s N.M.T. company to invest Br12bn in business centre construction in Brest
According to the chairman of the oblast executive committee, Konstantin Sumar, recently trade and economic relations between the Brest oblast and Iran have grown significantly. As of today the Iranian investments in the regions have exceeded $1 million. A large project to construct a multifunctional office compound in Brest is being implemented by N.M.T. The foreign private trade unitary company “Pershia” with a share of Iranian capital has been granted the permit by the Brest town council to develop the design estimates of the reconstruction of the building it has purchased.
Konstantin Sumar expressed confidence that these projects will give a new impetus to the mutually beneficial relations between the two countries.
In turn, Abdel-Hamid Fekri noted the readiness of Iran to cooperate with Belarus in various spheres. He said that Iranian business is interested in such spheres as construction and reconstruction of real estate.
The Iranian guests got familiar with business opportunities in the free economic zone “Brest”.
Russia’s Vester to open two supermarkets in Minsk in April-May
The Russian trading network Vester is going to open two supermarkets in Minsk in April-May, BelTA learnt from the company’s press service.
Vester intends to put nearly $4.5 million in the project. The shopping space of the first supermarket will make up 1.4 thousand square meters, possible attendance is projected to total 6.2 thousand customers a day. The second supermarket with the total area of 2.6 thousand square meters is forecast to be visited by 5 thousand clients a day.
Founded in 2006, the federal network Vester is presented in 22 regions of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
In January Belarus’ internal debt is 0.8% down; external debt remains same
The internal debt of the Republic of Belarus decreased by 0.8% in January, 2008 and totaled Br 6080.1 billion as of early February, BelTA learnt in the Ministry of Finance.
The debts under the guarantees of the government upped by 0.2% to Br1833 billion or 30.1% of the total internal debts. The debt of the central government totaled Br4247.1 billion which is 1.3% down in January, 2008.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the external state debt in January stood at Br5023.5 billion (about $2.34 billion) as of February 1, 2008. The approved limit for Belarus is $6 billion.
The external debts under the guarantees of the government are Br682.1 billion or 13.6% of the total external debts. This index grew by 2% in January, 2008. The debt of the central government is Br4341.4 billion or 86.4% (all of them are long-term loans). According to the Ministry of Finance, this index decreased by 0.3%.
The overall debts in January sank by 0.5% and totaled Br11 103.6 billion in early February.
Margarita Martynova meets with wives of foreign ambassadors on occasion of Women’s Day
Explaining the location choice, Margarita Martynova said it is one of Belarus’ youngest museums. The museum has things worth of displaying but few people know about them.
The meeting started with the documentary movie “No beads game…”, which highlights the art of Anna Balash, designer of unusual dolls, who is also known as a stylist, a designer, an art director and a painter. The movie was directed by Nadezhda Gorkunova, well-known Belarusian movie director, author and production director of many gala concerts, art soirees and musical shows.
The high guests visited the expo “Gold portfolio of Belarusian cinema”, which includes around 800 exhibits highlighting the best Belarusian movies.
The guests were especially impressed by an exhibition of historical costumes made by Zhanna Kapustina and Anna Igrusha for the movie Anastasia of Slutsk.
The meeting continued with a visit to the Minsk gallery Ars Longa and the exhibition “Where dreams may lead”. The gallery showcases works of young painters, tries to reveal new talents and support daring and unconventional projects, which can open up new aspects of human lives.
Margarita Martynova heartfully congratulated all women on the oncoming spring holiday, wished them health, good mood, successful achievements, love and be loved.
Constitutional Court changes to leave Belarusian government system balanced
|Swearing in Judges of the Constitutional Court|
The press service of the Belarusian head of state quoted Alexander Lukashenko as saying, “Many laws and government regulations have become obsolete, some contradict others. It is necessary to use the best achievements of market economy countries, including those regarding the immunity of private property, banking confidentiality as the basis to revise the Belarusian legislation. It is not the rejection of the general policy we’ve been pursuing in building the socially oriented state. But there are things where we should liberate the initiative of market participants. For example, we defined that economy needs competition and the legislation should be tuned to avoid hampering the legislation”.
Alexander Lukashenko underscored, all proposals judges of the Constitutional Court presented today should be thoroughly analysed and worked on together with representatives of the parliament, specialists of the President Administration and the government. The final decision on these issues will be taken later during a regular meeting of the head of state with judges of the Constitutional Court.
Belarus President speaks for liberating initiative of market participants
Alexander Lukashenko does not rule out the possibility that the authority of the Belarusian Constitutional Court may be extended, however, ill-conceived steps should not unbalance the government system in the country. The President of Belarus made the statement on March 3 as he administered an oath to judges of the Constitutional Court.
“A fine and accurate approach is needed. We already have legal area boundaries for every agency and an attempt to expand the boundaries of one agency at the expense of another can lead to certain collisions,” believes the head of state.
The President underscored, such communication between the country’s leadership and representatives of the Constitutional Court should become regular. Such meetings could be held once in six months roughly speaking.
“Government is not a self-contained caste where everything is settled and follows the trend. As a result of such discussions we will secure the right decision,” added the President.
Belarus abandons notion of state "golden share"
From: The Guardien
Lukashenko's press service said a presidential decree had done away with the practice, seen by Western investors as a hindrance to increased interest in the ex-Soviet state.
"Abandoning this practice will help create favourable conditions for direct foreign investment in the Belarussian economy's real sector, the achievement of 2008 growth forecasts, an improved international rating for Belarus and the defence of investors on the securities market," it said in a statement.
Lukashenko and other senior officials have called for improved relations with the West, including an influx of investment, since Belarus last year quarrelled with traditional ally Russia over energy prices.
Lukashenko, accused in the West of crushing fundamental rights, has pursued economic policies of heavy state intervention in the economy, including substantial subsidies and benefits. But authorities have also called for increased borrowing on international markets and selective privatisations.
Yelena Rakova of the Institute of Privatisation and Management, discounted the effects of the "golden share" in post-Soviet Belarus but welcomed its disappearance.
"The very fact it existed, the fact that at any time the state could start issuing orders to a company someone had bought amounted to a scarecrow for all foreign investors," she said.
"But a real inflow of investment will depend on how consistent government policies will be," Rakova added.
Chinese, Belarusian defense ministers hold talks on further military cooperation
Cao said China-Belarus relations were developing smoothly and both countries had expanded cooperation in political, economic, cultural and technological fields in recent years.
China took a positive attitude in developing relations between the two countries and armed forces based on equality and mutual benefit, he said, adding China was willing to pushing the bilateral ties to a new height.
China attached importance to its friendly relations with Belarusian armed forces and would make joint efforts with Belarus in stepping up friendly cooperation between the two armed forces, Cao said.
Maltsev said Belarus was active in developing friendly relations with the Chinese People's Liberation Army and would make new efforts in pushing for bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Maltsev was here on a four-day official visit at the invitation of Cao.
Youth opposition organizations set to take active part in Belarusian National Republic anniversary celebrations
A demonstration on that day will be the first in a series of events by which the opposition is going to mark the Year of Belarusian Statehood, Artur Finkevich, an activist of an unregistered youth group called Malady Front, said at a news conference held at the Minsk office of the Belarusian Popular Front on March 3.
“In addition, we’ll run a major campaign to return Belarus into the European fold,” Mr. Finkevich said. “We’ll stage demonstrations, pickets and festive events, display the European Union’s flags in Belarusian cities and distribute copies of the European Commission’s 12 conditions for Belarus.”
“I would like to point out that Belarus has been in the European family since the days of the Grand Duchy of Litva,” Mr. Finkevich said. “However, on March 25, we’ll celebrate the establishment of a distinctly Belarusian state. This is our true Independence Day, which will sooner or later be observed as a national holiday. ”
The 25th of March also marks two years since the imprisonment of former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin, who is chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Hramada” (BSDP), said Ales Straltsow, leader of the BSDP youth wing. “That’s why our organization will participate in this demonstration,” he added.
No grounds for Kazulin's amnesty, interior minister says
General Navumaw noted that the prisoner had a poor disciplinary record, whereas amnesty might only be granted to those serving their sentences properly. He said that Dr. Kazulin had received four disciplinary penalties, with the most recent one in December 2007.
He noted that the ministry would not apply for amnestying Dr. Kazulin.
Alyaksandr Kazulin, who serves a 5 1/2-year prison sentence in a correctional institution just outside Vitsyebsk, was on a three-day leave last week to attend the funeral of his wife, who had died of cancer.
ETech: What Happens When Countries Censor All of Web 2.0?
He fears that governments will simply decide to go after the Web 2.0 tools that activists are using to publish.
Increasingly dissidents in the Middle East, China and places like Belarus are turning to server-based tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LiveJournal -- the communication tools at hand -- to get their message out, according to Zuckerman, who works for Global Voices - a group dedicated to spreading online conversation.
"If you build tools specifically for activistss they won't use them, but if you build tools not for activists, they will use them," Zuckerman told a packed room of attendees at the O'Reilly Emerging Tech conference in San Diego Tuesday.
That's because for most activists outside the United States, it's not a lifestyle choice or a profession.
They become dissidents after something terrible happens to them or a family member, and turn to the tools closest at hand.
But that brings up an inevitable question.
"What happens when the governments wake up?," Zuckerman asks.
He sees a future online world that will increasingly look like the world the press currently works in -- free in the U.S. and other Western democracies, but heavily censored around the world.
Most worrisome is China, according to Zuckerman, and not simply because it blocks more communication tools wholesale than any other country.
They also have more Web 2.0 startups than almost any other place in the world , including Silicon Valley.
"China blocks most of the Web 2.0 companies you know and provides alternatives," Zuckerman said. "It's a really unique form of censorship. You not only block Web 2.0 but you have censorship baked into the replacements."
Still some services remain too big for even China to block. For instance, Gmail is popular among Communist party elite, so neither it, nor encrypted url, is blocked. Likewise, Skype is too pervasive and useful for communicating with the outside world for China to block.
Since Skype now supports chat rooms, it's a perfect platform to pipe out or in a podcast or online radio station, Zuckerman said.
And the tools do help.
Zuckerman specifically noted that Twitter, the micro-blogging tool that can be read on the web or sent out as SMS messages, is being used in developing countries for news reporting, since mobile phones, not traditional computers, dominate in those countries.
One Egyption dissident, Alaa, constantly Twitters his status so that if his feed goes quiet, his supporters will know to immediately re-launch the FreeAlaa.com site.
Daria Nadina from Minsk takes 2nd place at children’s international art festival
|Thirty-nine groups from six countries are taking part in the Orthodox music festival “Kolozhsky Blagovest”|
Dasha attends the Vladimir Muliavin National Center of Music led by famous Belarusian music specialist Svetlana Statsenko. This contest is the second one in the artistic life of the girl. Earlier she had participated in the International Children’s Contest The Golden Bee which is held in Belarus.
More than 400 children from all over the world took part in the Window in Europe Festival that consists of two rounds. Only a half of the participants were short listed to participate in the second round. Dasha Nadina was the youngest singer in her age group (12-15 years). In the first round Dasha sang the song “My city” and “Kite”, in the second one she performed the song “Willow”.
French Cinema Week opens in Minsk
A Week of French Cinema opened in the capital of Belarus on March 3. The Cinema Tsentralnyi showed the film Address Change.
Belarusian film amateurs will see five pictures of contemporary French producers, BelTA learnt from Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Belarus Mireille Musso.
The films are very different but all of them narrate on the feelings and hopes of the young people. In their daily life wishes and disappointments come across each other, the power of love and friendship beget amazing relations. These so-called modern tales about the French society and its social problems give a hint how important it is to find out more about each other for reaching mutual understanding.
The Week of French Cinema opened the Francophonie holiday that would last from March 3 to March 25 in Minsk.
Two exhibitions to open in Belarus’ National Library
Two exhibitions will open in Belarus’ National Library on March 4 and 5, BelTA learnt from organizers of the exhibition.
The opening of the exhibition on March 4, is timed to the International Women’s Day. The exposition is dedicated to women; this is why most of attention will be focused on flowers. The exhibition will take place in the gallery “Rakurs” of Belarus’ National Library and will feature up 130 artists working with pictorial art, water-colour, batik, graphic arts and photography from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Serbia and Norway. The exhibition will be running through April 25.
On March 5, the same gallery will host the opening of the photo exhibition “Metaphysical cities”. This exhibition illustrates an urban life in Italy of the 1930s. This period is very important as a transition to the modern Italian art and the featured photos preserved the images of the real history. The exhibition will be open till April 4.
EU sends Russia's Medvedev a barbed bouquet
The Slovenian EU Presidency said Sunday's election had been calm and peaceful but expressed regret that Europe's main election watchdog had not been able to monitor the poll.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights cancelled plans early in February to send a monitoring team because of what it termed unacceptable restrictions by Moscow.
"The EU also regrets that the electoral process did not allow for truly competitive elections," a statement said.
"The lack of equal media access for the opposition candidates is of particular concern," it added.
But the statement expressed hope that a strategic partnership in political, economic, cultural, scientific and other spheres would be further strengthened under Medvedev.
Big EU states have voiced hope that the election of the 42-year-old former lawyer will ease tensions and boost cooperation in spite of a vote they say fell short of democratic standards.
Medvedev, Vladimir Putin's chosen successor, was elected with 72 percent of the vote. Kremlin opponents denounced the election as a one-sided farce and monitors said it was neither free nor fair.
Russia is at odds with the EU over the decision by many of the bloc's members to recognize Kosovo's independence and has clashed with it over U.S. plans to put parts of a missile shield in central Europe.
But Europe is also mindful that Russia is its biggest energy supplier and, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, is a crucial partner on dealing with the Iranian nuclear question and other global issues.
Russia has a new president who is the product of an old system
From: Taipei Times
Sunday's election was a coronation rather than a competition. Medvedev's only opponents were has-beens from the 1990s like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who long ago converted himself from proto-fascist into a Kremlin loyalist, and Andrey Bogdanov, an ersatz "democrat" permitted to run by the Kremlin in order to dupe the West into thinking that a real contest was taking place.
It is therefore surprising that Medvedev should be hailed by so many in the West as a "liberal." Is this just because we have been maneuvered into fearing someone worse, a sabre-rattling silovik (past or present member of the security services), like former defense minister Sergey Ivanov? Or does Medvedev represent a genuine opportunity to unfreeze the current mini-Cold War between Russia and the West?
Medvedev is indeed personable. Putin's background was in the KGB, while Medvedev is a lawyer who has attacked Russia's "legal nihilism" and denounced the fashionable concept of "sovereign democracy."
Medvedev is familiar to the business world after seven years as chairman of the board of Gazprom. He can talk the talk at Davos. He wears nice suits. He does not look like an archetypal post-Soviet bureaucrat or KGB agent. He is a big fan of 1970s rockers Deep Purple.
But we need to understand the system that made Medvedev before rushing to embrace a new face that may turn out to be only a cosmetic improvement.
Russia's problem is not that it is an imperfect democracy, but that its governance is corrupted by so-called "political technology." This involves more than just stuffing the ballot box. Political technology means secretly sponsoring fake politicians like Bogdanov, setting up fake NGO's and "patriotic" youth movements like Nashi (Ours) to prevent a Russian version of Ukraine's Orange Revolution and mobilizing voters against a carefully scripted "enemy."
In 1996, the enemy was the Communists; in 1999 to 2000, the Chechens; in 2003 to 2004, the "oligarchs." Now it is us -- the supposedly hostile West and the threat posed by "color revolutions" to Russia's hard-won stability.
Medvedev himself may find some or all of this distasteful, but Russia now has an entire industry of political manipulation that is hardly likely to disappear overnight.
We also need to understand the mechanics of Russian succession politics. In the Russian context, "liberal" does not mean little more than opposing the siloviki. It means being in a different clan, at a different part of the feeding trough.
The uncertainties of the succession have created a covert war for property and influence between a handful of different clans, but the system cannot afford an outright winner.
In recent months, the most powerful clan, led by Deputy Head of Kremlin Administration Igor Sechin, whose company, Rosneft, received the biggest chunk of Yukos in 2004, has threatened to engulf the others. Another company, Russneft, worth an estimated US$8 billion to US$9 billion, seems to be heading its way, after its owner, Mikhail Gutseriyev, was evicted by the same recipe of legal threats and tax liens that was used against Yukos, and after the mysterious death of his son in a car crash. There are rumors that Sechin's clan has designs on Russia's Stabilization Fund, which has been pumped up to over US$140 billion because of soaring energy prices.
In other words, rebalancing the system, not any sudden desire to reverse the increasingly illiberal course Russia has taken since 2003, was the key reason for choosing Medvedev. Putin's ambition to stay in power as prime minister is also rooted in this rebalancing act. He needs to stay on as Medvedev's "minder" to keep any one clan from dominating the others.
So there should be no race to be Medvedev's new best friend and no staring into his eyes and speculating about his soul. Instead, we should concentrate on what Medvedev does, not on what he says, because there can be no real transition in Russia unless and until he begins to define the system rather than being defined by it.
Russia halves gas supply to Ukraine
Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas group, said yesterday it had been forced to make additional cuts after an initial 25 per cent reduction in supply on Monday failed to bring Ukraine back to the negotiating table over $600m (?302m, €395m) in gas debts.
"If the Ukrainian side does not return to the negotiation table, I can't rule out that there will be another reduction in supplies," Sergei Kupriyanov, a Gazprom spokesman, said last night.
Naftogaz Ukrainy, the Ukrainian state energy monopoly, warned that the reductions could hit Europe, opening the way for possible repeat of a 2006 standoff between Moscow and Kiev that led to shortfalls in supplies to Europe. Russia provides Europe with 25 per cent of its gas supply, most of which goes through Ukraine's pipeline system.
The cutbacks came just hours after Gazprom's chairman, Dmitry Medvedev, won Russia's presidential election on Sunday. The move was seen as a sign he would -continue to pursue a hard line in a row that has its roots in a geopolitical standoff over Ukraine's turn to the west.
The conflict has been exacerbated by rivalries between Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's firebrand prime minister, and its president, Viktor Yushchenko. Ms Tymoshenko looks to be battling Gazprom for control over Ukraine's domestic gas market, a key lever of political influence and revenue, analysts said.
Andris Piebalgs, the European energy commissioner, called for a "determined effort" to resolve the dispute and said he was convening a meeting of the EU's gas co-ordination group to formulate a response. He said the cutbacks had yet to affect supplies to Europe.
Naftogaz said it had enough gas in storage facilities to withstand the cuts for about another two weeks. But a spokesman said that if the weather worsened - or if the cutbacks deepened - Naftogaz would raise the issue of reducing transit of gas through Ukraine. "If we are being treated in such a way with ultimatums and Europe is not reacting, then we have no choice."
Deutsche Bank said the conflict posed "a major challenge to Gazprom's status as a reliable gas supplier to Europe".
However, Renaissance Capital, a Moscow investment bank, said the cutbacks were unlikely to affect European consumers as they had in 2006. "Europe is not facing any kind of cataclysm as a result of this dispute," the bank said. "Gazprom's EU customers are more alert these days to the risk of such supply disruptions."
Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, and Mr Yushchenko three weeks ago signed an accord on payment of the debts and on eliminating two middlemen from the gas trade. But Gazprom says Naftogaz has yet to finalise the accords and has taken 1.9bn cubic metres of gas without contracting for it since the beginning of the year.
Ms Tymoshenko on Saturday appeared to renege on Mr Yushchenko's agreement to replace the intermediaries, Rosukrenergo and Ukrgazenergo, with a joint venture between Gazprom and Naftogaz. She called instead for Naftogaz to take sole control of Ukraine's distribution market.
Ukraine Says It Could Cut Europe's Gas
Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom on Monday reduced shipments to Ukraine by about a third and on Tuesday threatened a further 25 percent cut if Ukraine did not resolve a dispute over debts and contracts by the evening.
Much of the gas that western Europe buys from Russia comes in pipelines that cross Ukraine. Gazprom has promised that gas destined for Europe would not be affected by the dispute.
But Dmytro Marunich, a spokesman for Naftogaz, Ukraine's natural gas company, said the company ``reserves the right to resort to adequate and symmetrical measures to defend the interests of its consumers.''
Only about one-quarter of the gas imported by Ukraine is of Russian origin; the rest comes from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in pipelines controlled by Gazprom. By raising the reduction above one-quarter, Gazprom apparently would be cutting the Central Asian gas as well as Russian-origin gas.
Marunich said cutting Central Asian gas ``grossly violates technical agreements between the two companies.''
Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said another 25 percent reduction would be imposed at noon EST unless an agreement was signed.
Gazprom portrays the dispute as strictly commercial, but suspicions of a political agenda persist. Gazprom is controlled by the state and its chairman, Dmitry Medvedev, is Russia's president-elect.
Ukraine, under President Viktor Yushchenko, has persistently irritated the Kremlin with efforts to move out of Russia's sphere of influence and become more closely integrated with the West, including seeking to join NATO.
Gazprom last month threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine over a $1.5 billion debt dispute, timed to coincide with Yushchenko's visit to Moscow. That cutoff was avoided by a last-minute agreement between Yushchenko and President Vladimir Putin.
But documents formalizing that agreement have not been signed by Ukraine's natural gas company.
``In connection with the lack of progress in talks, the lack of Naftogaz signing contracts for the purchase of gas, including for the amount already delivered in January and February, a decision has been reached to cut gas deliveries for Ukraine by another 25 percent,'' Kupriyanov told reporters.
There was no immediate comment from Naftogaz on why the contracts have not been signed. But the delay appeared likely to be connected with disputes over the use of middlemen companies in the Russia-Ukraine gas trade.
Both the Central Asian gas and the Russian-origin gas that Ukraine imports is purchased from RosUkrEnergo, an intermediary company half-owned by Gazprom and half by two Ukrainian businessmen. The gas in turn is sold to UkrGazEnergo - jointly owned by Naftogaz and RosUkrEnergo - which then supplies Naftogaz.
Critics say the laborious arrangement is essentially a mechanism for siphoning money into private pockets. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has called for direct dealings with Gazprom.
The agreement reached by Putin and Yushchenko last month foresaw the elimination of the intermediaries, but Gazprom President Alexei Miller later said two other middlemen operations would be created, each to be half-owned by Gazprom and Naftogaz.
Polish police chief quits
From: The News
The name of the new police chief will be announced Thursday, says spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, Wioletta Paprocka.
She would not comment on reports this morning in the Polish media that a major investigation into the activities of the police force will be undertaken by the government.
MEP Geremek refuses again to undergo vetting
From: The News
Bronislaw Geremek told the TVN24 channel yesterday that he would not undergo the vetting process and, like a year ago, he would not submit his ‘lustration’ form, as required by the Polish Lustration Law.
Geremek refused any further comments and only said that the matter was his “private business”.
Members of the European parliament rallied to Geremek’s support last year after the then Polish government led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski threatened to recall the MEP back to Warsaw and strip him of his seat. Eventually, however, the lustration law was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Tribunal.
Bronislaw Komorowski told Polish Radio One Tuesday morning that Western politicians were critical of the Polish Lustration Law, because they did not fully understand the rationale behind the vetting procedure.
The present government led by Civic Platform are currently drawing up another lustration law which will require all elected politicians to disclose any contact they made with the communist secret services.
Criminal persecution of protest action participants continues
At present moment the following activists are suspected:
Earlier all those activists were sentenced to administrative arrests for up to 15 days for participation in the entrepreneurs’ rally. Tatsiana Tsishkevich, the only girl in this group, served 20 days in jail.
Interrogations began yesterday, February 26th. Siarheyeu and Kryvau received statements that they were recognized suspects in the case. Straltsou could not come to interrogation because of his illness.
The other 10 people from the list are summoned to the investigation department of Minsk city police for February 28th.
It is worth reminding the readers about another criminal case under investigation. Three participants of the European March are suspected under Article 339 part 2 of the Criminal Code (“Hooliganism”). Maksim Siarhiyets, Lilia Subach, and Matvei Bialiay are suspected of damaging two police cars during the rally, causing losses of 8, 691,879 BYR (around 4, 300 USD).
The Polish 68-ers
From: The Beatroot
Commemorations of what happened that year will take place on March 5.
The Communists took away Polish passports and gave Jews a one-way ticket, usually to Austria, where most went on to reside in Israel.
In 2006, when President Lech Kaczynski was in Israel trying to mend difficult relations between the two countries over the decades, promised that any Jewish Pole who wanted their citizenship back could have it, ‘as if they had never been away’.
Problem is – it isn’t in the president’s power to give back their passports. The local authorities, as I understand it, have that privilage, and many are not too keen. Giving back their citizenship would also give them back property rights. Israelis are also none too pleased about having to go through a rigorous procedure that many see as demeaning.
1968 – the year that rocked
Mark Kurlansky’s 1968: the year that rocked the world – available in Polish and English language bookshops - unravels the connections between the revolutionary events of that year in Paris, Prague, America and Poland.
Like 1945 or 1989, 1968 is one of those years that are seen as pivotal to the history of the 20th century.
We were only one year away from the first human being walking on the moon. It was a time of civil rights and anti-war protests, of new and inventive music and sub-cultures, of scientific and social experiment. A very different time, then, from the one we live in today, characterized as it is by aversion to risk and a fear of the new.
The motor of this movement for social change were young, mostly middle class sons and daughters of the old ruling elites. It was a time when students were concentrating more of sit-ins and love-ins than they were on their study-ins. It was a time of hallucinogenic drugs, which my granny used to tell me made one want to jump from the top of multi-story car parks in the mistaken impression that one was an albatross.
Most people, except perhaps the most historically challenged, will have heard of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Abie Hoffman in the US; or in France, Henri Comte and Jean Paul Satire; or in the Czechoslovak capital, the students and Alexander Dubcek. All over the world, ruling elites had lost their legitimacy and were under pressure.
But few in the West have heard of the names associated with events in Poland of that year: Jacek Kuron, Adam Michnik…
From: cat`s crew from Belarus
У него вообще сегодня, но в понедельник многим на работу и решили начать 1-го с плавным перетеканием во 2-ое. Я был с ночи и поспав пару часов поперся к Саня помогать тащить сумки и магнитофон. На коттедже долгое время все готовили и под вечер начали заливать.
Саня сказал что бы поздравляли после 12, так что пили за все подряд. Мы с соратником М. за победу МЮ в очередном туре. Понемногу подгребал народ. Саня припер с деревни 1,5 литра самогона. Я его и глушил.
Обрубились под утро. Я спал на матрасе на полу. Но Сане приперло всех будить, разлаживать какие-то диваны. Ну а в общем повеселились на славу.
Подорвались часов под 11. Сгоняли за пивом и водкой. Я попил пивка и погнал домой. Договаривались с одной мадам погулять. Назад ехать бухать что-то не прет.
До 5-го я на выходных, а потом ОТПУСК!!! Буду сидеть в Орше, выезжая дико отжигать по выходным!
СПЕКТАКЛИ ПЛАСТИЧЕСКОГО ТЕАТРА
ВЯЧЕСЛАВА ИНОЗЕМЦЕВА «ИнЖест»
From: Minsk Blog
12 марта (среда)
(реальное шоу в 1-м действии)
музыка – Виталий Артист (группа «beZ bileta»)
видео – Матвей Сабуров
21 марта (пятница)
(хроника падшего карнавала в стиле Буто)
музыка – Матвей Сабуров и группа «Плато»
Начало спектаклей в 20.00
Билеты продаются в кассе Дворца железнодорожников (тел. 224-89-95, 207-88-29),
у распространителей (тел. МТС 832-75-41, VELCOM 121-73-26 )
и в арт-галерее «Подземка»
Цена 12000 рублей.
СПЕКТАКЛИ ДЛЯ ВЗРОСЛЫХ ! NO KULTPOHOD !!!
«…ПОСЛЕ» не игрался с мая прошлого года из-за отсутствия компромисса с дирекцией и техническими службами Минского ТЮЗа, все ограничилось двумя премьерными показами, приуроченными к 25-летию «ИНЖЕСТА». На «ДК ДАНСе» больше трех лет висело «табу» после скандальной истории со школьным культпоходом в Театр эстрады.
Все это время «ИНЖЕСТ» играл свои спектакли (в том числе «REVERSIO» и «Х- Традицию») на различных международных фестивалях , получал призы, участвовал в совместных проектах, проводил мастер-классы – в России, Польше, Германии, Румынии, Словакии, Латвии.
В Минске приходилось довольствоваться клубными и корпоративными выступлениями. Театр искал подходящее место для своих спектаклей и, кажется, оно найдено.
На вопрос: какой из белорусских театров самый оригинальный и необычный, конечно же, отвечу – пластический театр «ИнЖест». В его уникальном стиле сплавлены приемы пантомимы, клоунады, буффонады и восточного танца Буто, который называют танцем глубины, танцем освобождения от условностей, когда тело становится выразителем тайных движений души.
(«Труд в Беларуси» 1.06 2006)
«После» - самый технологичный, самый изобретательный, самый загадочный спектакль в стране на сегодняшний день. Каждый элемент его, каждая секунда показывают блестящее умение театра работать с пластикой, сценографией, костюмом, светом, звуком, видео - с любой, даже самой маленькой и незначительной составляющей действа. Это изысканное, гурманское зрелище для ценителей настоящего, не разбавленного местным колоритом, дешевой идеологией и отечественными традициями театра.
(«Белорусская газета» 5.06.2006)
… «ДК Данс» … выплескивает в зал такую энергетическую волну, что у публики поневоле открываются все шесть чувств. Спектакли «ИнЖеста» непросто осмыслить – их хочется впитывать, пробовать на вкус, ловить на кончики пальцев.
(«Время» 17.11.2006 о спектакле «ДК Данс» в Центре Мейерхольда в Москве)
Pride of Belarus arrives; Salei has solid start on Colorado defense
From: Denver Post
|Ruslan Salei has added some offensive punch for the Avs with a goal and two assists in his two games with Colorado.|
Center Peter Forsberg?
Defenseman Ruslan Salei, acquired from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Belarus' 2002 Olympic quarterfinal victory over Sweden at Salt Lake City was so monumental, a member of the Writers Guild could have killed time during the strike writing a screenplay for "Miracle on Ice II: Belarus."
"Beating that Swedish team was an amazing feeling," Salei said in the Avalanche locker room Saturday night. "That was like a gold medal for us and our whole country."
Salei, then with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, was the only NHL player on the 2002 roster for Belarus, the small former Soviet republic that was reborn as a nation in 1991. Belarus' 4-3 victory over the Swedes — including Mats Sundin, Markus Naslund, Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Nick Lidstrom, Mattias Ohlund and beleaguered goalie Tommy Salo — was, well, a miracle.
Belarus lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game, but that didn't lessen the sense of accomplishment. After his teammates went back to Europe, Salei returned to the NHL, adding to his unlikely story.
He was raised in Minsk, the capital city of the republic that was devastated during World War II. There were only two rinks in Minsk, he recalled, but at age 7, he chose hockey over soccer. After playing for Minsk's team in the Russian Elite League, but going undrafted by the NHL, he came to North America at age 20 to play for the Las Vegas Thunder in the IHL for the 1995-96 season.
"They signed me as a cat in the bag," Salei said. "Nobody saw me play and nobody knew who I was. . . . They gave me a chance, and I really appreciate it."
Salei didn't speak English when he first encountered the city of all-you-can-eat lobster tails at the buffet, bright lights on the Strip and casinos. "At first, I thought that's how all of America is," he said, smiling.
The NHL quickly realized he had been overlooked, because the Mighty Ducks took him with the ninth selection of the 1996 draft.
"Being as old as I was and being a first-round pick, it was amazing," he said.
He was with Anaheim through the 2005-06 season, and his physical game generated some controversy, most notably when he was suspended for 10 games in October 1999 for a check from behind on Mike Modano. Modano went face-first into the boards and suffered a concussion and a broken nose. That night, Salei made no attempt to rationalize the hit and said he was "very sorry," but that didn't quiet some criticism.
Otherwise, he built a reputation as a respected and solid stay-at-home defenseman, and he signed a four-year, $12.1 million deal with Florida as an unrestricted free agent in 2006. The Avalanche inherited that deal when it sent Karlis Skrastins and a third-round draft choice to the Panthers for Salei, and he has a goal and two assists in two games with Colorado while providing steady play on the blueline.
Salei is living in a hotel, awaiting the arrival of his wife, California native Bethann, and two children, Alexis and Aleksandro, from Florida. "That's the toughest part of this right now," he said.
Andre Kostitzin sets new Belarusian record
29 февраля в поединке "Баффало" и "Монреаля", завершившемся крупной победой гостей - 6:2, форвард "Канадиенс" Андрей Костицын отметился 19-й заброшенной шайбой в нынешнем регулярном чемпионате НХЛ. Тем самым нападающий сборной Беларуси перекрыл рекордный для наших полпредов в сильнейшей лиге планеты результат Владимира Цыплакова, который в первенстве-97/98 забил 18 голов за "Лос-Анджелес".
Это случилось на 3-й минуте заключительного периода. Костицын-старший изменил цифры на табло на 5:1, а ассистентами его выступили партнеры по первому звену Андрей Ковалев и Томаш Плеканец.
Отрадно, что Сергей Костицын и Михаил Грабовский тоже были весьма заметными фигурами в рядах 24-кратного обладателя Кубка Стэнли. Костицын-младший, забросив на 58-й минуте шайбу, установил окончательный счет в матче, а центрфорвард белорусской сборной, игравший преимущественно вместе с Марком Стрейтом и Майклом Райдером, записал себе в бомбардирский актив две результативные передачи - при втором и шестом взятии ворот голкипера "Сэйбрз" Райана Миллера.
И еще один момент, который нельзя оставить незамеченным. Когда Сергей Костицын забрасывал свою 8-ю шайбу в Национальной хоккейной лиге, на льду, помимо ассистировавшего ему Грабовского, находился также и Андрей Костицын.
Эта победа позволила "Монреалю" с 79-ю очками возглавить таблицу Северо-Восточного дивизиона, обойдя на один пункт долго лидировавшую "Оттаву".
На хоккейном чемпионате Беларуси аутсайдер "Брест" одержал вторую победу подряд
Последний зимний тур хоккейного чемпионата Беларуси ознаменовался второй подряд победой "Бреста". 29 февраля аутсайдер выиграл на своей площадке у "Гомеля" со счетом 3:1.
Двумя днями раньше брестчане взяли верх над жлобинским "Металлургом" — 4:3, прервав серию из 23 поражений кряду.
Остальные результаты пятницы: "Керамин" (Минск) — "Химик-СКА" (Новополоцк) — 4:2, "Химволокно" (Могилев) — "Витебск" — 3:1, "Неман" (Гродно) — "Металлург" — 3:2.
3—4 марта пройдут встречи "Химик-СКА" — "Брест", "Витебск" — "Неман", "Металлург" — "Динамо" (Минск), "Гомель" — "Юность" (Минск) и "Керамин" — "Химволокно".
Положение команд: "Керамин" — 118 очков (53 игры); "Юность" — 99 (51); "Динамо" — 95 (51); "Витебск" — 83 (52); "Металлург" — 82 (52); "Химволокно" — 76 (53); "Химик-СКА" — 67 (52); "Неман" — 67 (51); "Гомель" — 63 (52); "Брест" — 27 (51).
90th anniversary of Belarusian National Republic
From: Charter '97
National flags remind Belarusians of 25 March
A national white-red-white flag was noticed on the roof of a three-storey dwelling house on Herzen Street in Vitsebsk about half past seven in the morning on 1 March.
As Vitsebsk oppositionist Barys Khamaida said to BelaPAN, a notice was fixed to the flag. It runs “Glory and respect to politician of the Belarusian National Republic and prominent scientist Vaclau Lastouski. Glory to heroes of the BNR! Long live Belarus! Miron!”
A white-red-white flag in honour of one of the BNR founder and author of the third charter of the republic Anton Lutskevich was also hung out on the roof of a three-storey house opposite the Vitsebsk district court on 26 February. A flag, which appeared on the power line above the roadway Vitsebsk-Polatsk on 19 January, was hung out in honour of the first BNR prime minister Yazep Varonka.
In B. Khamaida’s view, white-red-white flags dedicated to the BNR figures will be hung out in Vitsebsk till 25 March: the day when the 90th anniversary of the BNR proclamation will be celebrated.
“Miron” hangs out national white-red-white flags in Vitsebsk in hard-to-get but open for observation places since 1995. Militia watch the appearance of flags, but haven’t managed to detain a person, signing up as Miron.