Belarus expells US Ambassador, Woman's day, Taxes, EU, Russia, Polish scandal, My Chernobyl, Angela Merkel, Gazprom and Basketball
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus with Regard to the Introduction by the US of Additional Economic Restrictions Targeting Enterprises of the Belneftekhim Concern
From: Embassy of Belarus in the USA
However, one of the participants of the dialogue, the US, having ignored the prior agreements, breached an agreed scheme of actions to normalize relations and introduced additional economic restrictions targeting enterprises of the Belneftekhim concern.
The Belarusian side declares that Belarus will reciprocate by stepping up tough measures. The American side was previously advised of the nature of those measures. One of those measures will be the recalling of the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the US, Mikhail Khvostov, to Minsk for consultations. At the same time, the Government of the Republic of Belarus insistently suggests that the Ambassador of the United States in Minsk, Karen Stewart, should leave our country to the same end.
The Belarusian side underscores, specifically, that by signing the Helsinki Final Act, the US as well as other OSCE member states has committed itself to “refraining in all circumstances from any act of economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by another participating State of the rights inherent in its sovereignty”. The latest steps of the US Administration towards Belarus are in direct breach of that commitment and in defiance of other OSCE members.
We are forced to state yet another time that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe which we are strongly convinced should be an efficient tool designed to defend the rights and interests of its member states falls short of exercising its immediate mandate in this situation and fails to respond to the gross violation of the fundamental principles of the Organization on the part of the American Administration.
Belarus demands that the OSCE should take immediate action to efficiently ensure the exercise of the fundamental principles of the Organization and its international commitments by this member state.
If it does not happen, we will have to profoundly contemplate the manner in which we should continue to build our relations with this Organization.
The US actions are in gross violation of the 1994 Memorandum, which committed the United States to respect independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus, and, in particular, not to exert any economic pressure on it in exchange for the voluntary renunciation by our country of the possession of nuclear weapons. Belarus urges the UK and the Russian Federation as the guarantors of its accession to the Memorandum to take immediate action to ensure that the Memorandum commitments are met with by all of its members. The Republic of Belarus underlines that United States’ violation of the Memorandum provisions radically undermines US trustworthiness as a partner. Can anyone trust the US after all, all the more so, in such a strategic cause as non-proliferation of nuclear weapons?
The US actions also arouse rightful indignation since they have been carried out notwithstanding the UN General Assembly resolution 62/183, which sets forth that “no state can either exert or encourage unilateral economic, political or any other measures aimed at subordinating another state which exercises its sovereign rights”. Moreover, the UNGA resolution 62/162 “Human rights and unilateral measures of compulsion” “insistently calls upon all states to stop taking or exerting any unilateral measures, in particular, measures of compulsion with all the following exterritorial consequences, which contradict international law and the UN Charter as well as the norms and principles regulating peaceful relations between states”.
The Republic of Belarus will continue to be guided in its activities by the common international principles and its own laws.
Президент Беларуси пожелал женщинам всегда быть любимыми
|President Alexander Lukashenko celebrating women's day on the 8th of March,|
На прием были приглашены депутаты Палаты представителей и члены Совета Республики, педагоги, ученые, работники органов госуправления, промышленности, сельского хозяйства и сферы обслуживания, спортсменки, офицеры и сотрудницы силовых структур, журналистки, деятели культуры, студентки и домохозяйки.
В своей речи Александр Лукашенко отметил, что белорусские женщины составляют большинство населения страны, а потому роль наших соотечественниц в развитии общества остается очень значимой. "Сегодня почти не осталось профессий, которые вы не освоили. Ваш высокий культурный и образовательный уровень позволяет достойно конкурировать с представителями сильного пола", - сказал глава государства.
"Социальная политика государства, охрана материнства и детства, развитие системы образования и здравоохранения нацелены в первую очередь на то, чтобы в стране было как можно больше счастливых семей, а значит, счастливых женщин", - отметил президент.
"С удовлетворением хочу подчеркнуть: свою активную трудовую деятельность вы успешно совмещаете с выполнением высокого и святого долга материнства", - добавил Александр Лукашенко. Глава государства поздравил представительниц прекрасной половины человечества с "днем, который по особому светел, потому что наполнен любовью и признательностью к вам, с кем связаны вечные и самые важные ценности: уют родного дома, тепло семейного очага, любовь и верность". "Без вас наш мир был бы иным. Ведь в силу удивительной особенности, данной вам самой природой, все, к чему вы прикасаетесь, несет в себе частицу красоты и нежности", - подчеркнул президент.
Многодетные семьи - особая забота государства, заявил президент Беларуси. "Нас в последнее время радует очень важный для общества показатель - рост рождаемости малышей", - сказал Александр Лукашенко. Впервые после 1995 года в стране превышен стотысячный рубеж: родились 103 тыс. 425 детей.
В канун праздника 8 Марта президент Беларуси вручил государственные награды выдающимся женщинам страны. "С удовольствием выполняю эту почетную конституционную обязанность", - отметил Александр Лукашенко.
За рождение и воспитание пятерых детей орденом Матери награждены заместитель начальника отдела технического обеспечения и хозяйственного обслуживания Научно-практического центра НАН Беларуси по продовольствию Ольга Артемчук, домохозяйка из Мозыря Татьяна Малашенкова, работница фермерского хозяйства "СТВИГА" Столинского района Александра Ядловская. За высокое профессиональное мастерство, достижения в области культуры, а также в развитии судебной системы удостоены медалей "За трудовые заслуги" генеральный директор ОАО "Коммунарка" Нина Атаманова, судья Хозяйственного суда Минской области Тамара Бенчук, мастер предприятия "Зеленстрой" (Витебск) Ирина Ратькова, художественный руководитель ансамбля музыки и танца "Белые росы" Гродненской областной филармонии Вера Чичина. Медалью Франциска Скорины награждена ведущий мастер сцены Могилевской областной филармонии Елена Материнко.
В заключение поздравления президент Беларуси поднял тост в честь "дорогих и любимых женщин", которым пожелал быть любимыми, всегда сохранять неувядающую красоту и крепкое здоровье.
Belarus’ Foreign Ministry slams US reluctance to hold constructive dialogue
On March 6, the US Department of Treasury published the explanation for the economic sanctions imposed on the Belneftekhim concern that restricted the access for the concern’s companies to the American market. Belarus is considered to be open for full cooperation with the USA and the EU. However, the information related to the Belneftekhim companies proved the unwillingness of the US authorities to pursue a constructive dialogue.
Mikhail Khvostov, the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the USA, has been recalled to Minsk for consultations. The Government of Belarus has advised US Ambassador to Belarus Karen Stewart to leave Belarus for the same purpose.
Payment dates for some taxes, dues, rent to change in Belarus as from April 1
The decree regulates dates for corporations to pay the land tax and rent for state-owned land plots, which are rented by rural, town, urban, regional executive and administrative bodies, real estate tax, ecological tax, dues to the national fund for supporting manufacturers of agricultural products, food and agrarian science. Dates for filing tax declarations for these payments have been set as well.
The decree comes into force on April 1, 2008.
European business approves of golden share rule removal in Belarus
James Wilson said, the fact demonstrates that one can do business in Belarus. “The decision of your country walks in step with general processes of rising competitive ability on international market. If Belarus wants to support its competitive ability, this decision is very logical,” he said.
Belarus, European business discuss new privatisation strategy
The Minsk session of the Belarus EU Business Council attended by First Vice Premier of Belarus Vladimir Semashko tabled a wide range of issues relating to Belarus’ new strategy for stepping up privatisation processes in the country, President of the Belarus EU Business Council and Macmilland Ltd company James Wilson told media in Minsk on March 6.
He noted during the first visit to Belarus they had managed to discuss many important topics, a meeting with Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Martynov also took place.
The Business Council intends to support trade relations between Belarus and the European Union. It will also contribute to bringing investments into the country. “I am glad to see that Belarus is inspired and ready to work with the European Union,” said the official. He also underscored, the main task of the Council is informing potential investors about the development of the Belarusian economy. It is important that Belarus’ economy is getting stronger, with this year’s GDP growth rate expected to reach 111%. “It is an excellent opportunity for cooperation and increasing investments. Which is why we are ready to work with Belarus, especially in such areas as agriculture, light industry, finance,” remarked James Wilson. He stressed, the Council will not seek investors, but will inform them about opportunities Belarus offers.
In turn, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Andrei Yevdochenko noted, the Belarus EU Business Council is not a commercial company, but a voluntary association of Belarusian and European businesses founded with a view to strengthening dialogue and cooperation. In his opinion, this area is acquiring a new dimension today.
During the talks in Minsk the sides discussed cooperation with Belarusian Potash Company and Santa Bremor. The deputy minister believes, other companies could join the dialogue. “This way we will be able to handle many fundamental issues relating to our presence on the European market,” stressed Andrei Yevdochenko.
Belarus to start Russia’s energy imports March 10
Pavel Yakubovich noted that the main contract with the Russian Inter RAOUES on Belarus’ imports of 2 kilowatt per hour of electric energy in 2008 had already been signed. The two sides are set to sign an additional contract on Belarus supplies with up to 3 billion kilowatt per hour of Russian electric energy. Thus, Belarus plans to import nearly 5 billion kilowatt per hour of Russia’s electric energy.
“All the issues have been settled. The two parties complete the preparation of the documents. The second contract is to be signed by March 12,” Pavel Yakubovich said. He noted that the second contract is more flexible. “We are able to choose the amount provided in the document taking into account the need of the country, price and other factors,” the Belenergo general director explained.
From the beginning of 2008 Belarus did not imported electric energy from Russia as the two sides were in talks about the cost of the deliveries. In 2007 Belarus imported 3.6 billion kilowatt an hour of the Russian electric energy.
The Belarusian energy system with the total capacity of more than 7.8 thousand megawatt is able to satisfy the needs of the country in electric energy. At the same time it is quite profitable for Belarus to import a part of electric energy to keep less efficient capacities in reserve.
Belarus maintaining Russian loans without delay - Russian Finance Ministry
Belarus maintains the loans that it gets from Russia without delay, State Secretary, Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Sergei Shatalov told the parliamentarians of the Russian State Duma.
“Speaking of the Russian loans that Belarus receives, I should say that this state maintains them accurately and always meets the deadline,” he underlined.
In December, 2007 Belarus got the Russian state loan at the amount of $1.5 billion.
Russian State Duma ratifies Belarusian-Russian protocol on services taxation
On March 7, the Russian State Duma ratified the Belarusian-Russian protocol on collecting indirect taxes on services.
The Belarusian-Russian agreement on principles of collecting indirect taxes on exported and imported goods and services came into force on January 1, 2005. In line with the document the routine used to collect indirect taxes on works and services is stipulated by an independent protocol, which is an alienable part of the agreement. National laws stay in effect until the protocol comes into force.
The protocol will enable Belarus and Russia to apply the united country-of-destination principle both for transported goods and performed services. VAT will be collected by the country where the services are performed. Depending on the type of services, the tax collection will be determined by the place the services are rendered, the place where the tax payer, who buys the services, is registered, and the place where the tax payer, who provides the services, is registered.
The protocol also determines terms of real estate, movable property, transport vehicles, engineering services, and information processing services.
Belarus Tells US Ambassador to Leave
|U.S. Ambassador in Belarus Karen Stewart seen after her arrival in Minsk, Belarus, in this Sept.18, 2006 file photo. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said Friday March 7 2008 it had demanded that the U.S. ambassador leave the country and recalled its ambassador in the U.S over Washington's economic sanctions against the ex-Soviet nation.|
State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that U.S. Ambassador Karen Stewart has not been formally expelled.
"The Belarusian government has suggested — I think that's the polite phrase — that she return to the United States for consultations," he said, adding that Stewart will remain in Minsk while the U.S. reviews the situation.
"If the Belarusian government wishes to shoot itself in the foot, they're welcome to do so," Casey said.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said its demand that the U.S. ambassador leave the country had been prompted by U.S. sanctions imposed last fall against Belarus' state-controlled oil-processing and chemicals company, Belneftekhim.
The U.S. last year froze the company's assets and barred American companies from doing business with it.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said Belarus had warned the United States in advance that its response to the sanctions would be "harsh."
A spokesman for President Bush called Friday's move unjustified and said it "only takes them further away from Europe and the rest of the world."
"It is unfortunate that Belarus continues its repressive actions against its own citizens, and President Bush and the United States will continue to stand with the people of Belarus as they seek to live in freedom," said Bush spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
Washington also has slapped travel restrictions on Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his inner circle, as well as financial sanctions against Belarusian authorities over their crackdown on opposition and free media.
The United States and the European Union, which also introduced economic and travel sanctions against Belarus, have made clear that Lukashenko must free political prisoners and allow more democratic freedoms before sanctions can be lifted and relations normalized.
Lukashenko began signaling a desire for better relations with the West following Russia's decision to sharply hike prices for oil exports to Belarus — exports on which the country's Soviet-style, centrally controlled economy had long depended. He cast the release of several opposition activists this year as a goodwill gesture to the West.
The U.S. State Department welcomed the releases of opposition activists as positive steps, but urged Lukashenko to free another opposition leader, Alexander Kozulin, as a condition to start a dialogue on normalizing ties. Belarusian authorities allowed Kozulin to attend his wife's funeral, but then put him back behind bars.
US sits tight despite Belarus bid to banish ambassador
|The US embasssy in Minsk|
"The press reports that we got this morning had indicated she had been expelled from the country, formally told that she must leave. That is not true," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.
"Ambassador (Karen) Stewart has not been expelled. The Belarussian government has suggested -- I think that is the polite phrase -- that she return to the United States for consultations," Casey said.
"She is in Minsk, and she will remain in Minsk while we continue to review the situation," Casey said.
The Belarus foreign ministry said it had ordered its own ambassador to Washington, Mikhail Khvostov, to return home to Minsk in protest for US sanctions on Belarus' oil monopoly Belneftekhim.
The ministry added that Belarus "strongly recommends that the US ambassador in Minsk, Karen Stewart, leave our country."
The decision was one of a number of tough measures that will be taken in response to the United States, which has "violated the agreed algorithm on normalising relations," the statement said.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said: "We strongly regret this unjustified action by the Belarussian government. This is deeply disappointing and only takes them further away from Europe and the rest of the world."
The United States, which has described the regime of Belarussian President Vladimir Lukashenko as "Europe's last dictatorship," last year blacklisted Belneftekhim, freezing the accounts of its US representative office.
On Thursday, the Belarussian state news agency Belta reported that the US Treasury Department had introduced "limitations on the access of the company's subsidiaries to the US market".
Belarus had in December warned of a retaliation if the United States increased the sanctions. The United States and the European Union both have visa bans in place against Belarussian leaders.
In Friday's statement the Belarussian foreign ministry called on the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to intervene against what it called a "crude violation" by the US of the organisation's principles.
If this does not happen, Belarus will reconsider its relations with the OSCE, an international body promoting principles of democracy and good governance, the statement said.
Casey said this pressure would continue.
"It's important, we think, to have our embassy there in Minsk and to have high-level diplomatic representation there to engage with the Belarusian government on a number of concerns, including some of the ones you've heard us speak about, which is the need to release all political prisoners," he said.
EU commissioner expresses hope that opening of European Commission’s office in Minsk «will help create conditions in which our relationship can grow»
The official made the remark after representatives of the Belarusian government and the European Commission signed an agreement on the establishment of the European Commission’s delegation in Belarus in Brussels on March 7.
Ms. Ferrero-Waldner expressed certainty that the establishment of the office would “help the EU to reinforce its ties with the citizens of Belarus.”
“On this important day for us, I want to recall the EU's offer to Belarus,” the commissioner said. “We are ready to re-engage with you, and move towards normalization of our relations, provided that additional serious steps are taken in Belarus towards democratization.”
Ms. Ferrero-Waldner said that the establishment of the European Commission’s delegation and the release of several government opponents widely viewed as political prisoners earlier this year “can help us build a positive momentum.”
“I look forward to Belarus confirming these signals with the release of Mr. Kozulin,” she added.
Minsk to host Day of Jewish Studies on March 9
“The organizers of Hevruta hope that the visitors of the Community House will learn more about Jewish culture and traditions, their originality and diversity”, Valentina Moroz noted.
Hevruta guests will be able to discuss the interpretation of Jewish holly texts with a professor of Jewish studies from Moscow. Visitors will learn about rabbis’ attitude to popular beliefs and superstitions, cursing and blessing and kosher style and other things. Among the topics that will be touched upon during Hevruta are “Napoleon and Jews”, “Cinematographic history of Jewish people”, “Jewish symbols” “Jews as they are”.
Hevruta guests will be able to learn some words in Yiddish, a couple of Jewish songs and the technology of making Purim masks. A distinctive feature of Hevruta is that visitors will have an opportunity not only to learn something new about the Jewish culture and take part in discussions, but also to make speeches in front of the audience.
Seven Belarusian citizens awarded Pushkin’s Medal
Seven citizens of Belarus have been awarded the Medal of Pushkin in recognition of their contribution to preserving and studying the Russian language, preserving the cultural heritage and also their contribution to cultures interaction. The awarding ceremony was held in the Russian Embassy in Minsk on March 7.
The decree on awarding has been signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Belarus Alexander Surikov told reporters.
The medals were presented to famous actors Vladimir Gostiukhin and Rostislav Yankovsky, Head of the Belarus National Academic Theater of Ballet Valentin Elizariev, deputy chairwoman of the permanent commission for education, culture, science and sci-tech progress of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly Natalia Avdeeva, director of the National Art Museum Vladimir Prokoptsov, actress Svetlana Sukhovei and also to editor of the culture department of the magazine “Gaspadynya” Valentina Polikanina.
The representatives of Belarus have been awarded the Medal of Pushkin jointly with a group of the citizens from other countries. The awarding list included 19 people.
REVIEW: My Chernobyl is fiercely funny
From: Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun
|Celine Stubel of My Chernobyl|
In this co-presentation by Richmond's Gateway Theatre and the Belfry Theatre in Victoria, the playwright's sharp slap at greed, stupidity and hypocrisy is so beautifully realized by cast and crew that My Chernobyl is one of the stand-out shows of the season. Britt Small brings her growing expertise as co-director of the small but potent Victoria theatre troupe Atomic Vaudeville to the small studio space at the Gateway, directing a stellar cast to perfection.
Andrew McNee is David, a mumble-mouthed Canadian who reluctantly travels to Belarus to fulfill a condition of his father's will. Unemployed at home, he still shows up in Eastern Europe with plenty of U.S. dollars (presumably before the greenback started its plunge toward the value of the Belarus rouble) and is soon being squeezed for every buck by Yuri (Allan Morgan) and Katrina (Colleen Wheeler). With McNee smartly playing his character as soft and slightly dim, Morgan and
Wheeler are at their full-on farcical best in a nasty counterpoint, spitting out a string of strongly accented disingenuous demands for more and more money.
Equally adept is Jacob Richmond, who shows up in the second act as a Belarus bureaucrat keeping a secret from David. But the show's stand-out is Celine Stubel as Natasha, a quick-witted blonde desperate to escape grinding poverty in a poisoned environment.
Giving full flower to Bushkowsky's beautiful grasp of heightened language and fractured syntax, Stubel shows absolute belief in her fast-talking character. Natasha is the glue holding this whole farce together, and Stubel shines in the role.
In this land of rotten potatoes and shattered dreams, Janis Ward's set is simply a dirt floor and her costumes a panoply of peasant rags. Small and Richmond co-design a series of suitably Cyrillic musical breaks, and Small manages the neat trick of using these to make the scene interludes a delight of choreographed chaos.
Your best bet for smart, cynical theatre, My Chernobyl gets a glowing recommendation.
Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin meet for talks on energy, Kosovo
|Merkel met Putin, Russia's outgoing president, and also Medvedev, his successor|
Speaking at a news conference after talks with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
Putin again warned that Kosovo's independence would only encourage separatism in Europe.
Merkel later met with Dmitry Medvedev, who won a resounding victory in the March 2 election to succeed Putin. She was the first foreign leader to visit him since the vote, which opposition groups and independent vote monitors say was stage-managed by the Kremlin.
At the news conference, Putin noted that many observers view Medvedev _ his friend and a longtime aide _ as a more liberal politician, hoping that his presidency will help ease relations between Moscow and the West.
«Some of our partners can't wait to see me stop fulfilling my duties so that they could deal with another man. Of course, I have long gotten used to labels according to which it is difficult to talk to a former KGB agent,» he said.
Medvedev, he said, «will be free from proving his liberal views. But he is no less of a Russian nationalist _ in a positive way _ than me. And I don't think it will be easier for our partners to deal with him. This is a patriot who will defend Russia's interests internationally.
Later, at her meeting with Medvedev, Merkel said she expected cordial ties between the two countries to continue under the new Russian leader.
Merkel referred to Putin's comments at her meeting with Medvedev, telling the incoming president that even if things won't be easier with him, she hoped they wouldn't be harder.
At his news conference with Merkel, Putin again warned that Kosovo's independence would only encourage separatism in Europe and said Russia would only recognize it in accordance with international law. And he accused the West of trying to replace the United Nations with NATO.
«An endless expansion of the military bloc under modern conditions when there is no confrontation between two hostile systems _ we can see that it is not only unfeasible but harmful and counterproductive,» he said.
Merkel rejected Putin's assertion about the Western alliance.
«NATO does not want to become the second U.N., this is an alliance of absolutely defensive nature that is based on common values,» she said.
Russia says Kosovo independence _ and Western recognition _ could fuel other separatist movements, particularly in the former Soviet Union. Nations that recognize Kosovo's independence from Serbia, however, say that situation was unique.
Putin served in East Germany during the waning days of the Soviet Union as a KGB officer and is a fluent German speaker _ a fact that has contributed in the past to his friendly ties with German leaders.
Merkel and Putin began their talks at the presidential compound with some light joking about International Women's Day _ a major holiday in Russia.
«You thought up the holiday, but in Russia we do it in a big way. For us, it is a nationwide holiday,» he said.
Merkel asked how Putin was marking the day: «Did you cook breakfast for your wife
«I've prepared some gifts for her, and you and I will have breakfast together,» Putin responded.
«Breakfast _ that means lunch for you, yes?» she joked.
The Kremlin said the two leaders' discussions would focus on economic ties and joint projects in the energy sphere, particularly the prospective US$7.3 billion (€4.74 billion) Nord Stream pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.
The 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) undersea pipeline would carry 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas annually from the Russian port of Vyborg to the German port of Greifswald, bypassing current routes through Poland, Belarus and Ukraine.
It has provoked strong opposition in Poland and Baltic nations, but the EU backed the project, saying it would increase energy security for the EU.
Construction is due to start in 2010 and the pipeline's owner, Nord Stream AG _ controlled by Russia's state gas monopoly OAO Gazprom _ said it would complete an environmental impact assessment this summer.
Medvedev also is Gazprom chairman.
Russia’s oil and gas giant Gazprom may fund 2012 Olympics
From: Times On-Line
The company has held talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with a view to becoming one of 12 potential “global” sponsors after the Beijing Games this summer.
Gerhard Heiberg, chairman of the IOC’s marketing commission, flew to Moscow last November and is expected to meet Gazprom executives again later this month.
If a deal is struck it will come at a time when diplomatic ties between Britain and Russia hang in the balance. Gordon Brown is hoping that relations will improve following the election of Dmitry Medvedev as Russia’s new president.
Last week Gazprom was criticised for temporarily cutting gas supplies to Ukraine over unpaid bills. About 25% of Europe’s gas comes from Russia, most of it through the Ukraine.
The IOC has already signed up nine companies, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa, as global sponsors for 2009-2012. It aims to raise about 500m pounds.
About 75m pounds of this sum will go towards the London Olympics in 2012. London officials hope to raise a further 670m from “domestic” sponsors to help cover the ?2 billion cost of hosting the Games.
A potential stumbling block to Gazprom’s Olympic ambitions is the fact that the IOC is allowing London to choose an exclusive sponsor from the “oil and gas” sector. For Gazprom to become an IOC global partner, it will probably have to bid separately for the London contract.
Moscow Warns against NATO Membership for Georgia, Ukraine
|A Russian armoured personnel carrier watches trucks loaded with mandarines at the Russian-Georgian checkpoint of Nizhnyi Zaramag in North Ossetia. During the communist era, Abkhazia was a bountiful source of fruit for the Soviet Union and produced around 120,000 tons of citrus a year. |
Russia is again warning against providing former Soviet satellite states Georgia and Ukraine with NATO membership. The attempt by the Americans to "force Georgia into the Western alliance is a provocation that could lead to bloodshed," warned Moscow's ambassador to NATO, Dimitri Rogozin, in an interview with SPIEGEL to be published on Monday.
Membership in the alliance would mean "Georgia's end as a sovereign state," Rogozin cautioned, because its renegade Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, which have long been run by Moscow-aligned separatist leaders, would never join. "If Georgia became part of NATO, it would lose these regions forever."
Ukraine membership, he warned, also threatened to have dramatic consequences because he claimed the majority of the population was opposed to becoming a NATO partner. He warned that admitting Kiev would divide the country and destabilize Europe. Both Ukraine and Georgia are expected to strengthen their bids for membership at the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania in April.
Rogozin also described American plans to build missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic as an "unfriendly act," adding that if it happened, Russia would point nuclear weapons in the direction of the installations in both countries.
However, the ambassador did suggest unexpected preparedness for cooperation in Afghanistan. Russia, he said, plans to use the summit to "reach a number of very important agreements with its Western partners," aimed at fighting the Taliban and contributing to efforts to rebuild the country.
Ukraine PM rejects gas supply deal with Russia
The deal would "preserve corrupt schemes and abuses, lead to the bankruptcy of (state gas firm) Naftogaz and contradict national interests," Tymoshenko said in an open letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko released by the government.
Yushchenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin struck an agreement in Moscow on February 12 intended to end a dispute over Ukraine's unpaid debts for Russian gas and to reorganise the gas supply relationship.
The terms of the deal were never made public but Tymoshenko made it clear that she did not agree with Russian demands, prompting Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom to cut supplies by 50 percent over Monday and Tuesday.
Gazprom restored the supplies on Wednesday but the substance of the dispute did not appear to have been resolved. In a joint statement on Wednesday, Gazprom and Naftogaz said negotiations would continue.
Gazprom has demanded that Ukraine settle a debt of 600 million dollars.
"I will fulfil the agreements between the presidents of February 12 as far as the necessity of an urgent normalisation in relations in the gas sphere is concerned," Tymoshenko said in her letter.
But, she added: "The cabinet of ministers cannot agree with several terms of these agreements," such as the gas price for 2008, the use of an intermediary company and moves to limit Naftogaz access to Ukraine's domestic market.
Polish shopper who murdered elderly employer then went on 10,000 pound shopping spree jailed for 20 years
From: Daily Mail, UK
It took Jolanta Kalinowsica just a week to empty 94-year-old Thea Zaudy's bank account of 10,000 pounds after she strangled her.
Kalinowsica attacked the “frail” pensioner in her home, stamping on her body as she lay on the floor.
With the help of her son Adrian Ryszard Lis, Kalinowsica, 41, then stuffed her Jewish employer's body into a suitcase and disposed of it in July last year.
Mrs Zaudy fled to Britain with her husband during the Second World War to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
The couple had no children and after her husband's death Mrs Zaudy was left with no close family.
But she maintained a close circle of friends and, despite her age, lived independently in a flat in Notting Hill.
Before her husband's death, the couple ran a carpet shop and Oxford Crown Court heard that Mrs Zaudy was "very comfortably well-off".
Police believe that Mrs Zaudy discovered Kalinowsica stealing money from the large stash of cash she kept in the house and a confrontation ensued.
Kalinowsica, Lis and his unwitting girlfriend, Monilca Sienkiewicz, took the suitcase on a London Underground train before being driven to Milton Common near Oxford, where they dumped the body in a field and set light to it.
A jury today found Kalinowsica, from Cavendish Avenue, Ealing, west London, guilty of murdering Mrs Zaudy.
Lis, 23, of the same address, was found guilty of assisting an offender in the disposal of a body.
Miss Sienkiewicz, 19, of the same address, was cleared of assisting an offender by removing evidence and by the removal of a body.
Lukasz Gadja, 25, also from Ealing, was also cleared of assisting an offender by removing a body.
Mrs Zaudy's charred remains were found in a field the day after Kalinowsica and Lis dumped it.
Police initially issued an appeal for help in identifying the body, which was obviously that of an elderly woman.
But it was not until Mrs Zaudy's worried bridge partners reported her missing that officers could put the pieces together.
The pensioner had been strangled in her own flat and kicked and stamped on as she lay on the floor.
After the killing, Kalinowsica bought cleaning products with Mrs Zaudy's own cash cards and scrubbed the flat clean of all traces.
During the three-and-a-half-week trial, the jury saw CCTV footage of Kalinowsica and Lis, accompanied by Miss Sienkiewicz, lugging a heavy suitcase away from Mrs Zaudy's flat.
But the jury heard that Miss Sienkiewicz had no idea of what the suitcase really contained and thought they were helping Kalinowsica carry wet blankets home to dry.
The trio took a Tube train to Ealing Broadway, where they met Mr Gadja, who was waiting to collect them in his car.
He had been told that Kalinowsica had been "paid good money" to destroy some documents and thought that the suitcase contained these papers.
Miss Sienkiewicz went home none the wiser about what her boyfriend and his mother were doing and the remaining three drove down the M40 to Oxfordshire.
Kalinowsica, who denied the charges against her, told the court that before her death Mrs Zaudy had built up a large debt while playing bridge.
She said the elderly woman demanded to borrow ?10,000 from her cleaner to pay the debt.
In return, she said, Mrs Zaudy allowed her to use her bank cards to recoup the borrowed money.
But the jury rejected her explanation and Judge Hall sentenced her today to life in prison with a minimum term of 20 years.
He said: “The jury have convicted you on overwhelming evidence of the murder of Thea Zaudy. She was a defenceless, frail, elderly lady who was otherwise very much on the ball.
"Having killed her, you went out and spent all her money in a spree of spending.
“The killing was utterly callous and thereafter you have been devious and manipulative in the way you got other people to help you.”
Sentencing Lis to four years, half of which will be served on parole, Judge Hall said: “I have no doubt that your mother was the driving force behind this terrible catalogue of events.
“You are no angel but I'm not sure how much of a devil you are. I think you were drawn into this by your mother.”
Another arrest in Polish football corruption scandal
From: The News
The police arrested a third league football referee Konrad B. (31) in Poznan Wednesday morning. Today, he will be moved to Wroclaw to be questioned by the prosecution.
Another third league referee Arkadiusz T. (31), who used to be in charge of training programs for football refs in Wielkopolska region, western Poland, will also hear charges of “setting up match results” today.
So far, over 100 people have heard charges, 17 have been sentenced and 17 more have been on trial since December.
The main suspect in the Polish football corruption scandal is Ryszard F., also known as “Barber”, who has heard over 50 charges.
Investigators allege up to 30 Polish football clubs were involved in the corrupt practices.
Polish police on strike
From: The News
Polish police employees, who are not allowed to go on an official strike by law, have gone on one-day sick leaves, taken the Thursday off or gone to give blood instead of turn up for duty.
The Polish police headquarters are unable to confirm what the scale of the protest will be. “Regional heads of police will monitor the situation on an on-going basis and make decisions accordingly”, the police HQ spokesman, Mariusz Sokolowski has told the newspaper.
The police force in Lodz was the first to go on strike. On Wednesday, only 158 out of the total of 350 officers turned up for work. They all called in sick for a few days.
Police HQ have announced they will check the legality of the doctors’ certificates produced by the officers.
Polish police employees are dissatisfied at the recent pay rises. On average, they were promised an increase of 520 zlotys a month each. A junior police officer earns 2200 zlotys a month, informs Dziennik.
Yesterday, Minister of Internal Affairs Grzegorz Schetyna assured that the announced strike of Polish policemen will not paralyze the forces of law and order as the customs officers' strike did with border traffic last month.
Schetyna told Polish Radio said that some funds in the budget had been earmarked for pay hikes, and that the recent raises the police received were the highest in years.
Pensioner to Be Tried for Threats to Lukashenka
According to the police operation record, Viktar Rakusevich phoned to them at 6 p.m. on 17 February and expressed his negative attitude towards the liquidation of benefits for pensioners to a duty operator. He also threatened bodily harm to president Aliaksandr Lukashenka and his family.
The officer on duty took the threat seriously. The telephone number was determined and operational group headed by a lieutenant colonel. The offender was detained and guarded to the temporary detention facility.
The ‘political terrorist’ himself says he doesn’t remember anything about this case. He was drunk and was sleeping heavily, and was awaken by the police officers, who came to avert the threat hanging over the head of state. The offender was guarded to the police department for questioning, but the he had high blood pressure caused by alcohol and anxiety. So the police officers had to call for emergency two times. They didn’t leave him in the cell till morning, as they had planned before, but let him go. They promised the investigation would reveal the details of his artful plan, and he would have great problems.
“Ezhednevnik” has found Viktar Rakusevich and asked him about the events:
‘I thought they could break the door, when they were trying to open it. A mob of policemen came, among them a lieutenant colonel, a major and a captain. They invited attesting witnesses, and a man in civvies took pictures of my flat. They asked where I kept arms and how I was going to fulfill my plan. Then they took me to the police department and interrogated me there. I wrote in the report I disagreed with the accusation. I claim now that I didn’t phone to anywhere and didn’t say anything like that.
I was dead drunk, was sleeping heavily, and the door was open, anyone might come in and phone. Well, what is the advantage for me to destroy physically the president? On the contrary, I voted for him three times. I said to the police I had nothing against Lukashenka. The only bad thing I could say that I regretted he had deprived us pensioners of benefits. If he allowed paying 25 per cent of transport fare, it would be easier to live – pension is small, but prices are growing.
Why has US imposed new sanctions?
From: Charter '97
In response Belarus has recalled its ambassador from the United States and recommended the US ambassador to leave the country.
What claims does the US have against Belarus? First of all, it is political prisoners. Former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin and youth leader Andrei Kim are in prisons. Entrepreneurs’ leader Syarhei Parsyukevich is in custody.
The US and the EU repeatedly called the Belarusian authorities to release prisoners of conscience. Political prisoners Artur Finkevich, Zmitser Dashkevich, Mikola Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, Alyaksandr Zdzvizhkou, and Andrei Klimau have been released during the last month.
US State Department’s Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said on 26 February the final release of Alyaksandr Kazulin would mean all political prisoners would have been released in Belarus. After that “we would be prepared to begin a dialogue with Belarus on further steps to improve bilateral relations,” T. Casey said.
Russian Finance Ministry: Belarusian Economy’s Subsidizing Finished
Russia in fact subsidized the economy of Belarus by cheap gas deliveries in recent years, as “issues of oil export duties at resale of oil products by Belarus haven’t been solved”, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov stated today in the State Duma.
“We have settled these issues to a large extent over the recent years, by adopting a program of increasing gas prices and solving the problem of oil duties,” said Deputy Finance Minister.
As we have informed, in December 2007 Russia agreed with Belarus on granting a stabilization credit of 1.5 billion dollars for 15 years.
The deputy minister noted that Belarus services loans from Russia without any delays.
“Speaking about credits received by Belarus, the state serves the debts on time. That is why we cannot speak about gratuitousness of this support,” Shatalov stated on Friday, March 7.
The Belarusian national basketball team still lacks a coach
The most important thing to know remains the awareness of the exact players and the policy of management at this elimination fall marathon. Before supposedly getting into the strongest division in 2010, it is rather reasonable to count on youthful teams. After a defeat from Austria in 2005, Alexander Borisov made a mistake preferring to involve the experienced basketball veterans instead of filling up the standby group.
So far the fans care less about the coming half-tournament in September 2008. In case of failing the team will keep on suffering that critical situation. Therefore, that would be quite reasonable to lay the foundation for the future. And the best way to do this is to make up a team consisting of experienced basketball-players who perform overseas and talented young players.
We already possess a backbone of the national team. And that would be foolish to neglect the service of Kuz'min, Alekseev, and moreover of Yahor Meshcharnakou due to their age.
Together with Arseni Kuchinsky, Alexander Kudrautsau , Pavel Ulyanko and Dzianis Korshuk they make up a team basis in that forthcoming elimination tournament. The issue is not so about Vladimir Veremeenko, who repeatedly had problems with arrival, moreover, the forward of the Moscow vicinities team Khimki in his interview told us about his wish to show himself in the summer NBA camps.
Anyways, all this leaves vacant places for talented young players, who in the nearest future will have to carry the burden of the national team. Be that younger Yahor Meshcharnakou or Parakhovskiy, residing now in the USA, as well as Efremov or Trostineckiy, playing for the best homeland clubs.
The succession of generations, thrown in the past, should be present these days, if we want to be on the prominent position on the basketball map.
*** BELARUSSIAN PLAYERS ABROAD***
Austria: Paliashchuk Dmitri Arkadia (A Bundesliga)
Cyprus: Kuchinsky Arseni AEL (Division A)
Germany: * Zyskunov Aleksandr Bremerhaven (1.Bundesliga)
Hungary: Aliakseyeu Nikola Falco (A Division)
Israel: * Ermichin Vladi Hap.Y./Megido (National L.)
Kazakhstan: Duvakin Yegor Barsy Atyrau (D1)
Sukhavetsky Aleksei Barsy Atyrau (D1)
Verenich Aleksandr 1 Tobol (D1)
Poland: Korshuk Dzianis AZS Koszalin (DBE)
Kudrautsau Alexander Energa Czarni (DBE)
* Olchevsky Aleksiej Zubry (1Liga)
* Sinielnikow Andrzej Tur Bielsk Podl. (2Liga)
Russia: * Karpov Sergei Zaretchny (B Superleague)
* Nikiporchik Pavel Kursk (Higher League)
* Pustahvar Aliaksandr Zaretchny (B Superleague)
* Veremeyenka Uladzimir Khimky (A Superleague)
* Yurchik Valentin Spartak-2 SP (Higher League)
Slovenia: Lashkevich Aleksei Helios (1A)
Slovakia: Zarovskiy Sergei Dolny Kubin (Extraliga)
Zotov Dimitri Dolny Kubin (Extraliga)
Ukraine: Baidakov Ruslan Polit.Lvov (Superleague)
Kojenets Oleg Sumihipr. (Superleague)
Kouzmine Dmitri Polit.Lvov (Superleague)
Kuznetsov Gennadi BS Odessa (Superleague)
* Mescheriakov Yegor Azovmash (Superleague)
Ulyanko Pavel Polit.Lvov (Superleague)
Yushkin Oleg BS Odessa (Superleague)
USA: Meshcharakou Nikita Georgetown
Parakhouski Artsiom S.Idaho JC
BELARUSSIAN COACHES ABROAD
Germany: Krutikov Aleksander Bremerhaven (1.Bundesliga)
Poland: Griszczuk Igor Energa Czarni (DBE)
Krivonos Andrei Energa Czarni (DBE)
Sinielnikow Andrzej Tur Bielsk Podl. (2Liga)
Zeludok Sergei Sportino I. (1Liga)
Russia: Samarskiy Gennadi Lipetsk (Higher League)
Ukraine: Voronin Valentin Polit.Lvov (Superleague)
March 8th is International Women's Day
|The 1932 Soviet poster dedicated to the 8th of March holiday. The text reads: "8th of March is the day of the rebellion of the working women against the kitchen slavery" and "Down with the oppression and narrow-mindedness of the household work!". Originally in the USSR the holiday had a clear political character, emphasizing the role of the Soviet state in liberation of women from the second-class citizens' position...|
Started as a political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries (primarily Russia and the countries of former Soviet bloc). In some celebrations, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love to the women around them in a way somewhat similar to Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day mixed together. In others, however, the political and human rights theme as designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.
The IWD is also celebrated as the first spring holiday, as in the listed countries the first day of March is considered the first day of the spring season.
The first IWD was observed on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (New York, 1911), where over 140 women lost their lives. The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. By urban legend, women from clothing and textile factories staged one such protest on 8 March 1857 in New York City. The garment workers were protesting against very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.
More protests followed on 8 March in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. In 1910 the first international women's conference was held in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset) by the Second International and an 'International Women's Day' was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified (). The following year, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. However, soon thereafter, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City killed over 140 garment workers. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women's Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s.
Demonstrations marking International Women's Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in Russia, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women's Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR "in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace."