Blast investigation, EU cooperation, Venezuela, Belkommunmash trolleys, Pope accepts invitation; Opposition, Polish scandal, News, Sports and Culture
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko presented 4 July blast investigation report
From: BelTA and the Office of the President
|The president at a 4 July emergency incident investigation report|
“A serious candid talk was held. The work of all the services involved in liquidation of the blast’s consequences and investigation of all circumstances was thoroughly analyzed,” Pavel Legky noted.
Reports were made by Head of the President’s Security Service Andrei Vtiurin, Health Minister Vasily Zharko, Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov, Chairman of the State Security Committee Yuri Zhadobin, Head of the Presidential Administration Gennady Nevyglas.
The Head of State was attending the gala concert on the night of July 3rd-July 4th at the Minsk Hero City stele and visited the incident site several minutes after the explosion, as emergency doctors were helping the injured. Then, the President inspected the blast site. The President took the blast investigation under his personal control.
“It should be stated objectively: that was the only case of the kind during the Independence Day celebrations in the entire country. The only one, but sad one. Over two days I have familiarised myself with all the materials and opinions now current among not only journalists but also among ordinary citizens,” said the President before the report presentation.
No one will be allowed to conceal truth about explosion, Alexander Lukashenko says
No one will be allowed to hide the truth about the explosion, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at a session on the July 4 accident investigation.
“No law enforcement agency, no governmental body will be allowed to retouch or cover up the truth” about those events, the President underlined.
Alexander Lukashenko noted that it was the only accident that happened during the Independence Day celebrations. Over the last two days, the President studied the case and the current opinion of journalists and the common people. “I would like to underline: I have seen it all. Unfortunately, even more than any of the law enforcement ministers,” the head of state said.
The bomb that exploded at the concert on July 4 injured 54 people. All of them were evacuated within 20 minutes.
The President, who attended the concert, examined the explosion site and gave orders to immediately launch the investigation which he took under his personal control.
The investigative agencies discovered that three people out of those who were injured in the July 4 explosion in Minsk were in the same sector as the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, BelTA was told in the law enforcement bodies.
According to experts, those injured people were not far from the head of state, and the sector they were in during the concert was within the radius of damage of the explosive device.
Assistance will be provided to people injured during July 4 accident
Assistance should be provided to those who were injured in the explosion in Minsk during the Independence Day celebrations, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said when hearing a blast investigation report on July 7.
“We need to support those who were injured. It was not their fault. People came to see the concert. Let us be candid: relevant authorities failed to provide security, though to do it is simple in our country. I am a realist and I understand that it is difficult to do it when a half of a million of people gather in a small spot. But the accident happened in the territory which, as I was reported, was thoroughly checked by the security service, police, KGB. How did that happen then? How did you protect then?” the head of state said when addressing the chiefs of the relevant services and agencies.
Alexander Lukashenko demanded to look thoroughly into all issues. “I warn you: concrete versions and concrete results are needed. Three days have passed. I was promised that the first results would be known in two days. I would like to hear them,” the head of state said.
Alexander Lukashenko criticizes security agencies for slowness during July 4 accident
During the accident on July 4 the security and emergencies services did not act promptly, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said when hearing a blast investigation report on July 7.
“I am asked very often why I went to see the explosion site. I would not have done this if I had not seen dozens of ambulance cars which were queuing there until I came,” the President said. “It attracted peoples’ attention and the situation could turn into a panic,” he added. The Head of State reminded that the ambulance cars had a free way and the winking lights were unnecessary.
The President also voiced dissatisfaction with the fact why the special agencies did not organize a special brigade which could provide assistance to the injured on the spot without evacuating them.
Addressing State Secretary of the Security Council Viktor Sheiman, the Head of State noted, “I do not think that you should remain in office after the accident. It is your fault! In line with President’s instructions you have been organizing such events for ten years already. You have done nothing!”
The President also noted that he has a lot of questions he would like to hear the answers to. “We should have a serious candid talk,” he said.
Parliamentary elections can be springboard for Belarus–EU cooperation development
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Belarus Mireille Musso gave a speech as a representative of France, the EU President in 2008. Attending the meeting was Head of the Political Desk of the General Secretariat of the European Union Council Helga Schmidt.
The foreign guests got familiar with the course of the preparation for the parliamentary elections in Belarus, in particular with the organization of observation, the participation of political parties and registration of candidates. The EU representatives expressed their interest in holding the elections in a free and democratic way.
Nikolai Lozovik also said that a great number of international observers will be working at the elections. Their number will be defined by the relevant organizations. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry plans to send invitations to international organizations to participate in the election campaign.
The elections to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus are set for September 28, 2008. Territorial election committees will have been formed by July 14. The nomination of candidates will start on July 20.
Belarus takes part in Conference of Ministers of Information of Non-Aligned Countries
The Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement gave its approval for the appointment of the head of the Belarusian delegation as the deputy head of the conference.
Attending the conference were delegations from 70 countries worldwide. President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez made a speech for participants of the Seventh Conference of Ministers of Information of the Non-Aligned Countries.
In line with the results of the work of the 7th conference, its participants will adopt the joint declaration.
Within the framework of the event, the head of the Belarusian delegation had a short conversation with the Venezuelan President. She also had a number of bilateral meetings and gave an interview to the Telesur TV channel.
First Deputy Information Minister Lilia Ananich met with Venezuelan Deputy Information Minister Freddy Fernandez. During the talks, both the sides confirmed the necessity to develop the cooperation in information area. Members of the Belarusian delegation also met with Deputy Minister of Informatics and Communications of Cuba Boris Alejandro Moreno Cordovez and the First Deputy Head of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television. The sides discussed the issues regarding the expansion of the information exchange between Belarus and Cuba. They expressed the mutual interest in exchange of information materials, programmes and journalists. Moreover, on the initiative of the Venezuelan side, the head of the Belarusian delegation met with Minister for Women’s Affairs of Venezuela Maria Leon.
Parks and squares in towns of Venezuela will be named after outstanding Belarusians
The diplomat called this event, which took place during the Days of Venezuela in Belarus, a special gesture of Belarus. The Days are timed to coincide with Venezuela’s national holiday and are held in Minsk for the first time.
Simon Bolivar is the symbol of independence and freedom of not only Venezuela but the whole Latino-American continent. Owing to this legendary commander and wise politician? six states of Latin America gained their freedom. The deputy chairman of the Minsk city council, Mikhail Titenkov said that the Belarusian people who endured terrible ordeals during the Great Patriotic War understand well the aspirations of the Venezuelan people. The park named after Simon Bolivar, which will host many cultural Venezuelan events, will help Minskers learn more about this friendly country.
A monument to Simon Bolivar will be erected in the park in the near future. Minsk and Caracas are also going to sign a twin-town relations agreement.
Belarus, Venezuela plan to discuss gas issues during possible visit of Hugo Chavez to Belarus
Belarus and Venezuela intend to discuss gas production issues during a possible visit of President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez to Belarus, BelTA learnt from Head of the Venezuelan diplomatic mission to Belarus Americo Diaz Nunez.
However, Americo Diaz Nunez noted that Hugo Chavez has not adopted the official resolution concerning his visit to Russia during of which, possibly, he will pay a visit to Belarus.
“It is possible that Hugo Chavez will arrive in Belarus after a visit to Russia but so far it is not known definitely,” the diplomat noted. He also said that if the Venezuelan President visits Belarus, the sides will sum up bilateral cooperation for the past half and a year, analyze the implementation of the Belarusian-Venezuelan agreements and contracts.
The Venezuelan side positively values cooperation with Belarus despite some problems, the diplomat said.
“We have made progress in many areas. It is very important that the documents regarding the gasification of the Venezuelan town of Barinas and the joint production of Belarusian trucks in Venezuela have been already signed. “The sides will identify new areas of cooperation. It concerns gas production by the Belarusian side in Venezuela,” the diplomat noted. According to him, the cooperation in the educational area is promising as well.
Saint Petersburg to purchase 60 Belkommunmash trolleybuses in 2008
Leading producers of trolleybuses competed for the right to get access to the market of Russia's Northern Capital. At the trial drive the Minsk trolleybuses showed the best results. “Minsk trolleybuses proved to be very easy to drive, maintain and repair. The trolleybuses received very good feedback from drivers,” Sergei Kitayev said.
Apart from that, a fourth generation trolleybus is currently undergoing a running-in in Saint Petersburg. This model is Belkommunmash know-how. The company employed cutting-edge technologies while designing this trolleybus. According to Sergei Kitayev, the vehicle with a futurist design arouses delight and surprise in the citizens of Saint Petersburg. The drivers and the local press do not spare flattered remarks.
After the trial run Gorelektrotrans will hand over requests to the Minsk enterprise on the adjustment of this supertrolleybus to Saint Petersburg climate.
First MAZ trucks with YaMZ-650 engines will be delivered to Russia
Dealer centers of the Minsk Automobile Works (MAZ trademark) in Russia will soon receive first assignments of MAZ trucks with engines YaMZ-650 of the Yaroslavl Motor Plant Avtodizel, BelTA learnt from the press service of the Russian GAZ Group.
Belarusian trucks will be delivered to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, Chelyabinsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Samara, Krasnodar, Tver and Sochi.
A 970-kilo engine YaMZ-650 meets the Euro-3 ecology standards. The motor potential has been increased up to one-million-kilometer run. The new engine maintenance expenditure is down by 25%.
Service centers of the Minsk Automobile Plant and the Yaroslavl Avtodizel will provide aftersales service of MAZ trucks with engines YaMZ-650. In January 2008 the GAZ Group launched a special training programme to service and overhaul new diesel engines YaMZ-650.
New engines YaMZ have an up-to-date fuel-feeder system 2G Common Rail made at the Robert Bosch companies.
The manufacture of the engine YaMZ-650 was launched at the production site of Avtodizel in Tutayev, the Yaroslavl region, in late 2007. The production capacity is 20,000 engines per year. A French engine dCi-11 was a prototype; the GAZ Group purchased the rights for production from the French Renault Trucks in 2006.
Minsk Automobile Plant produces five-wheel tractors, dump trucks, trucks, chassis, timber lorries, trucks-timber, semitrailers, trailers, buses, trolleybuses, cranes. On the whole the company produces more than 250 models of buses, more than 60 different types of trailers and over 10 bus models. Today, over 85% of Euro-3 MAZ trucks are equipped with YaMZ engines
GAZ Group is Russia's largest automotive manufacture of light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, cars, diesel engines, power-train components and road construction equipment. GAZ Group comprises 18 leading automotive and machine building producers in Russia and LDV Group in the UK.
Belarus president fires 2 top officials over holiday blast
From: Ria Novosti, IHT, and Reuters
The explosion, which police have attributed to "hooliganism," went off in the middle of the crowd at an open-air concert marking the national holiday last Thursday. Lukashenko was at the event and investigators determined he was within range of the explosive device.
The president sacked the state secretary of the Belarusian Security Council, Viktor Sheiman, and the head of the Presidential Administration, Gennady Nevyglas.
No one has claimed responsibility for Friday's blast, the authorities in the ex-Soviet state have played it down and Lukashenko, who was nearby but unhurt, said he did not see it as an assassination attempt. An inquiry has been launched.
"I don't think that you should remain in your position after this incident," Lukashenko told security chief Viktor Sheyman, according to state news agency BelTA, adding:
"You are the first to be guilty."
Officials have said the bomb, which was packed with nuts and bolts and wounded 54 people, was an act of hooliganism -- a common Soviet-era phrase used to play down such incidents.
The president threatened to sack members of the security forces investigating the explosion if progress was not made in determining who was responsible for the attack.
"We cannot have a repeat of Vitebsk. If this happens, others will be working in your positions," he was quoted by BelTA as saying on Monday.
"We cannot have a repeat of Vitebsk. If this happens, others will be working in your positions," he was quoted by BelTA as saying on Monday.
In 2005, a home-made bomb wounded more than 40 in the northern town of Vitebsk, and although a little known anti-Lukashenko party claimed responsibility, no one was convicted of the attack.
Belarus police search homes and interrogate activists after concert bombing in Minsk
Opposition members and human rights activists in Belarus say police have interrogated them and searched their homes and offices after a bombing in the capital last week.
On Friday, a bomb wounded about 50 people in central Minsk during a concert commemorating Belarus' Independence Day.
Rights activist Oleg Gulak said Tuesday that Belarus' authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko is using the bombing as a pretext to "purge" opposition groups ahead of a parliamentary election in September.
Pope accepts invitation to Belarus
From: CW News
President Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus issued an invitation to the Pope in June, during a visit to Minsk by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. Although the cardinal did not respond to the invitation, he hinted broadly about the likelihood of a papal visit, comparing his own visit to Belarus to the mission of St. John the Baptist and explaining that he was a forerunner for the Pontiff.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk, the nation's capital, told a national television audience that the Pope had responded favorably to the invitation. "If God allows it, then Yes," he quoted the Pope as saying.
No dates have been discussed for a possible papal visit.
Although the Orthodox Church comprises the largest single religious bloc in Belarus-- and the restrictive religious policies of the pro-Russian government tilt heavily toward the Patriarchate of Moscow-- Catholics constitute the largest minority faith. A papal visit to the country could be seen as a stepping-stone toward a policy goal that the late Pope John Paul II set for the Holy See: a papal visit to Moscow.
Six people hurt in carousel collapse in Minsk
The accident happened at Chalyuskintsaw Park, a spokesman for the interior ministry told BelaPAN.
All of the people were taken to hospital and five had been discharged by Tuesday morning. A seven-year-old boy is in serious condition and is receiving treatment at the Children’s Surgery Center, Vital Navitski, spokesman for the emergency management ministry, told BelaPAN.
The amusement ride was recognized as safe during a technical examination this past April. The cause of the accident has yet to be established.
Belarus airliner lands safely on damaged wheels
From: Earth Times
The plane, traveling from Antalia in Turkey, was on a landing approach when ground personnel in Minsk determined two wheels in the plane's right landing gear extension had been damaged for unknown reasons.
Damage to a single tyre is normally sufficient reason to ground the aircraft.
The plane's commander delayed landing in Minsk to allow ground crew to prepare for an ultimately successful emergency landing.
Most of the 164 passengers had been returning from package tours on Turkey's south coast.
Runway debris was the most likely cause of the tyre damage, a Belavia official told Belapan.
"No One Is Going To Send a Crew to Belarus To Build Us a Bright Democratic Future"
From: IStock Analist
[Shmelkova] What is the Belarusian opposition hoping to get out of the upcoming elections?
[Lyabedzka] We currently have a fairly black-and-white situation. One the one hand, there is Lukashenka, who has usurped power and established total control over everything that moves, and on the other there is the united democratic opposition, which, after overcoming its internal disagreements, actually acted in a consolidated fashion during the presidential elections and is now jointly preparing for the so-called parliamentary elections - elections to the Belarusian House of Representatives [lower house].
We have formed a single list of parliamentary candidates - Belarus has a majority system and 110 electoral districts, and we now have 110 candidates representing 11 political organizations and structures, as well as a common message, the main idea of which is to establish the people's control over the authorities. Right now it is important for us to make the upcoming vote at least a little bit more like democratic elections, to ensure that representatives of the opposition get at least some form of representation in government. There is still only one person representing the opposition in the House of Representatives, and that means the other 199 have been representing Lukashenka's interests. Under these circumstances, of course, one cannot say that our elections are fair and open.
[Shmelkova] As I understand it, you are currently being accused of pretty much the same thing that SPS [Union of Right-Wing Forces] and Yabloko were accused of during Russia's State Duma elections - that by taking part in the elections you are playing into the hands of the authorities, creating an illusion of democratic elections. What do you think about this?
[Lyabedzka] Our decision to take part in the elections was not an easy one. But after weighing all the arguments for and against it, we rejected the idea of a boycott. The most important thing for us now is to communicate with people. Unfortunately, absolutely all of the media in Belarus belong to one person: Alyaksandr Lukashenka. He is both our main oligarch and at the same time our ruler. But by taking part in the elections, our candidates will at least get the five minutes of airtime to which they are entitled by law - and they will be able to use it. This does not mean they will break through the information blockade, of course, but it is at least a tiny opportunity to bring to the people's attention certain thoughts and ideas that have not been reaching them for the past 4-5 years since the last election campaign. We have therefore decided not to boycott the elections.
[Shmelkova] Do you feel you are getting any support from Russia's democrats?
[Lyabedzka] We do of course have partners in the Russian Federation (in the case of the United Civil Party, for example, we have SPS) - we are working together, we have a common ideology, and we agree about our assessment of the situation. But as far as help is concerned, given that we have achieved far greater success than Russia's democrats in uniting the opposition and consolidating supporters of change, you might say that we could teach a thing or two to our Russian colleagues.
Our support from Europe, which is talked about so much, is often highly exaggerated. But we have always urged international support and assistance for proponents of democracy in Belarus. In my meetings with voters during the presidential elections I asked people: "What if resources were allocated for the creation of an alternative Belarusian television channel, and you got the opportunity to choose from not only the five state-run channels but a sixth one as well - what would you think about that kind of assistance?" Usually just one or two people would raise their hands in opposition this idea. People welcome this kind of assistance. A channel called Belsat has just been created in Warsaw, and if it gets the opportunity to broadcast in Belarus, where half a million people already have satellite dishes, then naturally we will glad to receive this kind of support.
On the other hand, I am completely convinced that the Belarusian issue cannot be resolved in Moscow, Brussels or Washington, but only in Minsk, and it is the people who live here who will determine whether change will come. No one is going to send a crew to Belarus to build us a bright democratic future - we must do everything ourselves.
[Shmelkova] When I was in Minsk, I was struck by the young men with swastikas who walked freely throughout the city. Is neo-Nazism a serious problem in today's Belarus?
[Lyabedzka] The problem is that this is not a problem for our authorities. The Belarusian authorities do not see neo-Nazism as a threat at all. Many of us remember Lukashenka's famous interview with a German newspaper, where he said that not everything about Hitler's rule was so bad, that some of his approaches to building the state coincide with our (i.e. his) notions about the place and role of power. Not much has changed since then: the law-enforcement agencies actively catch people with opposition symbols while taking a fairly relaxed approach towards people with swastikas. That is why neo-Nazis do indeed feel quite comfortable in Belarus, and in a way they support the authorities. I would not be surprised if they decided to hold some sort of international neo-Nazi congress in Minsk - that would be logical.
[Shmelkova] So the authorities are essentially supporting the neo- Nazis?
[Lyabedzka] Well, at the very least they create fairly comfortable conditions for them. The same is true of the criminal underworld: the opposition cannot find a venue in which to hold a meeting, but the crime bosses do not have such problems.
[Shmelkova] One gets the feeling that the Russian authorities are largely copying Belarus's experience, wouldn't you agree?
[Lyabedzka] In my opinion, it is generally a big political mistake - and, by the way, an extremely common one outside of Belarus - to view the things that are happening in our country as some sort of specifically Belarusian problem. What we call "Lukhashism" is in fact nothing more than a neo-authoritarian ideology that emerged during the difficult period of transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Neo-totalitarianism is an export commodity that is being produced in Belarus and enjoys strong demand throughout the former Soviet Union. Russia is indeed repeating, in its own way, the things that Belarus went through 7-10 years ago. This includes the system of management, the struggle against dissent, and the methods of holding election campaigns. It is just packaged a little differently.
[Shmelkova] Another similar problem in Russia and Belarus is that there is one argument against every point raised by the opposition: that the people actually love the authorities.
[Lyabedzka] Lukashenka does indeed have a lot of public support, but you cannot say that he is supported by a majority of people. This simply is not true. As long as Lukashenka was getting an energy grant from Russia to the tune of around 8bn dollars, this money could be used to bribe part of the population through social programmes. But, first of all, this assistance is now shrinking - not so quickly, but it is shrinking, and Lukashenka has been forced to adopt such unpopular measures as abolishing social benefits and guarantees for 5.5 million Belarusian citizens, such as public transport discounts for pensioners and students. For the most part, these were the very people who traditionally made up Lukashenka's base of support, and now they are disappointed. I am not even talking about other population groups, such as individual entrepreneurs, who are simply being liquidated as a class in this country: there was a whole series of by-laws passed that were aimed at destroying this social group.
[Shmelkova] Then why is the regime so stable?
[Lyabedzka] Belarus's opposition can be divided into types: the street opposition and the kitchen opposition. The street opposition consists of several tens of thousands of active people who are not afraid and who are the least financially dependent on the authorities. The kitchen opposition, on the other hand, consists of the majority of the population. These are people who are not satisfied with the current situation, but for one reason or another they are not prepared to take to the streets and openly voice their protest.
Lukashenka's regime is propped up by three things. The first is fear: in our country they did not even rename the KGB, and this is symbolic. The second is people's financial and economic dependence on the authorities: 80 per cent of our people receive pensions, benefits, or salaries from Lukashenka, and there is no alternative to this - Lukashenka simply destroys this alternative. And the third factor, as I have already mentioned, is significant support from Russia, which is expressed not only through the energy grant, but also through Russia's use of its surplus oil dollars to buy a significant proportion of Belarusian goods for which there would otherwise be little demand. It is because of these factors that Lukashenka remains on a fairly stable footing. This is why we are not predicting an economic collapse in the next year or two, even though people's lives are becoming more and more difficult. Our prices have virtually reached European levels, but we do not get European salaries - the average salary in the country is 350 dollars [a month]. A lot of people are just surviving.
And of course Lukashenka is largely being propped up by the media, which have essentially become a tool of state propaganda. To put it briefly, Lukashenka's supporters' main argument is: "It does not matter if we are poor, at least we are not at war."
[Shmelkova] Do you think this situation will change in the foreseeable future?
[Lyabedzka] We try to look at things realistically. We see the upcoming parliamentary campaign as an opportunity to prepare a platform for the next presidential election. I think it would be naive to expect any serious social upheavals in the near future that would be capable of turning the situation around, although there is a trend - the economic situation in the country can only get worse. Our analysts say this will become a serious problem in 2010-2011. Especially if Lukashenka stops getting help from Russia. The thing is that Lukashenka has not done anything for the Belarusian economy, and this is in fact the regime's biggest weak spot. Since he tries to control everything that moves, privatization becomes a political issue. He is therefore forced either to accept certain economy reforms, in which case the political situation will start to change independently of his will, or to leave everything the way it is, in which case the economic situation will inevitably deteriorate, and protest sentiments will grow.
Hrodna: police pressurize opposition’s delegates to electoral commissions
Mr. Ulasevich is sure that the only aim of the policemen was to intimidate him and destabilize his work at the upcoming elections. It is really difficult to find any other explanations for their interest in his person, not in the other ones, who are not engaged in the electoral process.
Salihorsk: number of electors decreases
Two electoral districts were formed in Salihorsk administrative district by Central Electoral Commission’s ruling #16 of 25 June 2008. These are Salihorsk town electoral district #75, which includes almost the whole territory of the town of Salihorsk and 67 531 electors, and Salihorsk rural electoral district #76, which includes the whole territory of Kapyl district, all villages of Salihorsk administrative district and a part of the town of Salihorsk and has 68 425 electors.
Though the territories of these electoral districts remain almost unchanged, the number of electors has considerably decreased in comparison with the last election to the Chamber of Representatives, which was held in 2004. Salihorsk town electoral district used to have 70 811 electors and Salihorsk rural electoral district used to have 70 910 electors. Thus, for the four last years the number of electors in the former lost 3 280 electors and in the latter – 2 500.
The same thing is observed in Niasvizh and Slutsk electoral districts. The number of electors in Slutsk administrative district and in Slutsk is 3 200 smaller in comparison with 2004, and in Kletsk and Niasvizh districts the number is 2 500.
Brest oblast: authorities change the electoral districts as they want
After the issue of the presidential decree on appointment of the parliamentary elections, the Central Electoral Commission issued its ruling #16 On creation of the electoral districts for elections of deputies to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus of the fourth convocation. By this ruling the territories, names and the number of electors of certain electoral districts were changed.
Such changes are very noticeable in Brest oblast. In particular, instead of Drahichyn electoral district #9 there was established Dneprabuzhskaya electoral district #10, which includes Drahichyn and Ivanava administrative districts. Mukhavets electoral district #13 became electoral district #4. Baranavichy western electoral district #4 became electoral district #5, Baranavichy eastern electoral district #5 became electoral district #6, Baranavichy village electoral district #6 became electoral district #7, Belavezhskaya electoral district #7 became electoral district #8, Biaroza electoral district #8 – electoral district #9, Ivatsevichy electoral district #10 - #11, Kobrynskaya electoral district #11 - #12, Luninets electoral district #12 - #13. Some houses in Leninhradskaya, Haurylava and Hrodzenskaya streets of Brest were added to Mukhavets electoral district #4 which was to have included only the districts of Brest, Zhabinka and Malaryta administrative districts. Besides, the annex to ruling of the Central Electoral Commission of 25 June 2008 does not determine the borders of Leninski district of Brest, thus violating part 7 of Article 15 of the Electoral Code of the Republic of Belarus.
According to part 6 of article 15 of the Electoral Code the electoral districts are to consist of approximately equal number of electors and the deviations in the number of electors from the average number cannot exceed 10%. The average number is 64 042. By the way, it is 543 less than the same number which was determined four years ago by ruling of the Central Electoral Commission #4 of 20 May 2004.
However, in Baranavichy village electoral district #7 and in Luninets electoral district #13 the deviation in the number of electors exceeds the legally permitted 10%.
Zmitser Bandarenka: “Terroristic act in Minsk organised by those who killed Zakharanka, Krasouski and Hanchar”
From: Charter '97
In Zmitser Bandarenka’s view, “this explosion could be organised only by villains, who had already committed impudent and cruel murders, those fro whom human life means nothing.”
“That is why I think the organisers and executors of a terroristic act in Minsk are the same scoundrels who kidnapped and killed Yury Zakharanka, Anatol Krasouski and Viktar Hanchar. These murders are unsolved now. Strong belief in their impunity puts these villains up to new bloody crimes,” the human rights activist told in an interview to the Charter’97 press center.
“Kidnapping and murders of the opposition leaders were politically motivated. As many mass media say, among them state-run ones, the bomb explosion in Minsk on 4 July pursued political aims, too,” Zmitser Bandarenka explains.
“We will know the truth about organisers and executors of these crimes only if independent international experts investigate it,” Zmitser Bandarenka said.
US criticises 'bellicose' Russia
|The Czechs have signed up, but the Poles are hesitating|
Russia said it would be forced to react with military means if the US went ahead with its plan for a shield based partly in the Czech Republic.
The reaction was "designed to make Europeans nervous about participating" said a Pentagon spokesman.
A White House spokesman said dialogue with Russia would continue.
"We seek strategic cooperation on preventing missiles from rogue nations, like Iran, from threatening our friends and allies," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
He said the US and Russia should be "equal partners".
Moscow says siting the system near its borders could weaken its own defences, despite US assurances that it is designed to counter a threat from the Middle East, not from Russia.
It has previously threatened to aim its own missiles at any eventual base in Poland or the Czech Republic.
A deal, signed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Prague on Tuesday, allows a tracking radar base to be set up on Czech territory.
'Not our choice'
The Russian foreign ministry statement said: "If a US strategic anti-missile shield starts to be deployed near our borders, we will be forced to react not in a diplomatic fashion but with military-technical means."
It said there was "no doubt that the grouping of elements of the strategic US arsenal faced towards Russian territory" would mean Moscow had to "take adequate measures to compensate for the threats to its national security".
"This is not our choice," it added.
The foreign ministry said it would continue to monitor developments but would remain open to constructive talks on issues of strategic stability.
The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington cites Russia's ambassador to the UN as suggesting that the phrase "military-technical means" does not mean military action, but more likely a change in Russia's strategic posture, perhaps by redeploying its own missiles.
More likely still, our correspondent says, is that the Russians are trying to frighten the Czech parliament into backing out of the whole deal.
The next question, he says, is whether Poland will accept missile defence facilities as well, and how the Russians will respond to that.
The plans remain unpopular in the Czech Republic, while the US has failed to reach agreement with Poland on placing other parts of the system there.
The plans involve siting the tracking radar system in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. The US wants the sites to be in operation by about 2012.
Bully-boy Russia needs a lesson in manners
The leaders met against a backdrop of alarming reports that Russia now constitutes the third largest threat to Britain's national security after Iran and al-Qa'eda, and that Moscow's FSB intelligence service was directly responsible for the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium-210 in a London hotel in 2006.
Not surprisingly, Mr Brown is keen for Moscow to hand over the prime suspect in the Litvinenko murder case, the former FSB agent Andrei Lugovoi, to stand trial. The Prime Minister also sought an assurance from Mr Medvedev that he would reopen the British Council offices in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, which were closed when Britain decided to press charges against Mr Lugovoi.
Mr Medvedev responded negatively to both requests, as he did on another urgent issue: the future of BP's joint venture with a consortium of Russian investors to develop Russia's vast energy resources. Lord Robertson, the former defence secretary, who is the venture's deputy chairman, has accused his Russian partners of waging a campaign of intimidation to force BP to end its participation.
Mr Brown sought assurances that the Russians would stop causing difficulties for BP employees working in Russia, but received none.
It is all a far cry from those heady days five years ago, when Vladimir Putin made his historic state visit to Britain. That was when Tony Blair and other world leaders believed Russia could become a valued ally and partner in tackling global issues, from climate change to terrorism. It also explained Moscow's invitation in 1998 to participate in the annual G7 summit for world leaders, which duly became G8.
That was before Russia's oil riches began to swell the Kremlin's coffers, since when Moscow's ruling elite has been inclined to indulge in the politics of gangsterism and corruption, rather than democracy and the rule of law. Britain is far too small a country to tackle Russia's bully-boy tactics alone: that is a job that requires the Western powers to act in unison.
They could make a start by threatening to expel the Russians from the elite G8 club, unless they agree to mend their uncouth ways.
Ukraine Naftogaz says owes $897 mln to gas middleman
Large Ukrainian debts for gas have caused disputes between Kiev and Moscow and earlier this year led to brief supply cuts. Europe gets most of a quarter of its gas needs from Russia via Ukraine and watches such disputes closely.
"As of July 1 this year, the debt of Naftogaz Ukraine to RosUkrEnergo was no higher than $897 million. Out of that total, $650 million is debt for gas imports which the company acquired in June 2008," Naftogaz said in a statement.
"The present debt will be paid in the established way. Other debts are questionable and need to be agreed on by both sides," the company said.
It also said RosUkrEnergo owes Naftogaz $142 million in transit fees and another intermediary, UkrGazEnergo, owes a further $150 million.
Naftogaz' finances have deteriorated as the price for gas imports has steeply risen in recent years and UkrGazEnergo, created in 2006 together with RosUkrEnergo after another dispute, took away from Naftogaz industrial clients.
Ukraine now pays $179.5 per 1,000 cubic metres of imported gas, up from $130 last year and as little as $50 n 2005. Gazprom has said its neighbour may have to pay more than $400 next year as Central Asian states raise their prices.
Ukraine Embassy Worker Arrested for Radioactive Smuggling
|The suspects were found with radioactive material worth millions|
The man and the security manager of a local bank were detained near the central Ukrainian city of Cherkassy with radioactive metals in their possession worth 3.1 million euros ($4.9 million), said police, as reported by the Interfax news agency on Monday, July 7.
According to reports, the two suspects had been transporting uranium and cesium in an automobile.
The confiscated radioactive elements were believed to have been removed from a special holding facility in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for sale to an organized crime group, according to the report.
The police did not make clear where the pair intended to transfer the materials.
As a result of the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited a massive nuclear arsenal and substantial reserves of radioactive materials including weapons-grade materials.
Kiev formally rejected the use or storage of nuclear weapons in 1994, but since then much of the country's atomic arms research and development infrastructure has remained operational, though nearly always underfunded and poorly-secured.
Ukraine's present government has argued its controls over nuclear materials meet international standards. International safety monitors however have questioned the claims citing poor Ukrainian accounting for nuclear materials, and corruption among government employees.
Former Justice Minister to lose immunity
From: Polskie Radio
When the Justice Minister signs the motion, it will be submitted to the Lower House, the Sejm, for further consideration. If Zbigniew Ziobro loses his MP immunity and is charged with ‘abusing his powers as a public officer’, he may be sentenced to up to three years imprisonment.
“This is just revenge for my determination to combat corruption,” Ziobro commented on the prosecutors’ motion.
“I am not going to hide behind the immunity”, he added.
Rzeczpospolita daily has found out unofficially that the Prosecutor’s Office from Plock, central Poland, wants to rid the former Justice Minister of his parliamentary immunity in order to hold him responsible for disclosing secret court records to his party chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in 2006.
The court records included an investigation conducted by the Plock prosecution into a contract signed in 2003 between the Polish state-owned energy company PGNiG and a Hungarian paper tiger Eural Trans Gas, controlled by Semion Mogilevich, who is believed to control the largest Russian mafia syndicate in the world.
In the records were depositions of a businessman and former Polish Deputy Labour Minister Krzysztof Baszniak, who claimed that huge bribes were involved in a contract between the Polish state-owned oil company Orlen and the Russian Yukos Oil Company.
In 2006, Baszniak told investigators that the bribes could have amounted to 16,000,000 dollars and had been divided between the former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former PM Leszek Miller (formerly from the Democratic Left - SLD).
According to Rzeczpospolita’s information, Baszniak’s depositions had been left untouched until May 2007 and no charges have been presented to date.
The motion for stripping immunity of Zbigniew Ziobro includes charges regarding “overstepping authority by a civil servant”, the Press Officer from the Plock Prosecutor’s Office told Rzeczpospolita.
According to the current Justice Minister, Zbigniew Cwiakalski, Ziobro had no right to disclose any of the court records to Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
“It wasn’t a coincidence that he took the records to the chairman of his political party,” Zbigniew Cwiakalski told Radio Zet.
Art vandal Polish MEP's diplomatic immunity
From: Polskie Radio
The art work in question was a statue of Pope John Paul II being crushed by a meteor.
The decision to waive Tomczak's immunity was first made on 25 June by a European Parliament committee. The MEPs have now formally confirmed it by an overwhelming majority during a session in Strasbourg.
Tomczak destroyed "La Nona Ora" by Maurizio Cattelan when it was on display at the Zacheta gallery in Warsaw in 2000. The politician, who then belonged to the catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR), came into the gallery and removed the art work, resulting in the statue's leg falling off.
The work of art was then withdrawn from the exhibition.
Tomczak explained that he did it in the name of his beliefs and that his voters expected him to do so.
This is the second time that the European Parliament has agreed to waive Tomczak's immunity - the first time in February. Tomczak was then charged with insulting police officers in 1999 and breaking traffic regulations.
Poland's top 1,000 companies run by the secret service?
The former head of the committee for verification of the Military Intelligence Services (WSI) Antoni Macierewicz announced in an interview for Rzeczpospolita that the Constitutional Tribunal is protecting secret agents of special services by declaring relevant resolutions.
He also continued to claim that the 1,000 most important companies in Poland are being run by people connected with the secret services. In the interview it was revealed that the controversial annex to the report on the WSI will be made public by President Lech Kaczynski.
Moreover, Macierewicz claimed that there is a connection between the sudden removal of the documents related to the WSI report and the crises in the negotiations with the US administration on the anti-missile shield.
Man faces jail for cutting of duck's head
From: The News
The 33-year-old was drinking alcohol with friends close to a pond in Wolomin, near Warsaw. All of a sudden, he grabbed a duck, cut of its head and threw the dead bird into the pond.
The police arrested the man after being informed of the incident by a chance witness.
This is another instance of cruelty to animals in Poland that came to light in the last few days. Journalists from Lublin, south-eastern Poland, recently revealed a shocking video they received from an anonymous source made by three teenagers showing how they tortured a puppy.
Earlier this year, tourists in the mountains in the south of the country were convicted for killing a bear cub.
Hleb Denies Cesc-Wenger Rift; Inter Meeting
Hleb Denies Cesc-Wenger Rift; Inter Meeting
Arsenal midfielder Aliaksandr Hleb's mis-quoted interview set the record straight surrounding the circumstances of his inevitable departure this summer...
»Comments (51) Print This Story Send To A Friend Contact Us galleria zoom The Belarussian has been the subject of intense speculation for a number of months as he edges closer to a move away from the Emirates Stadium, having joined from VfB Stuttgart in 2005.
There have been allegations of an illegal approach made for the player by Internazionale when Arsenal were in Milan for the second leg of their Champions League second round tie.
Since Jose Mourinho's introduction as boss of Inter, speculation has lessened and Barcelona have emerged as front-runners for the playmaker, with Bayern Munich also thought to be interested, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insisting that Hleb will be playing at one of the two clubs next season. Real Madrid boss Bernd Schuster also expressed an admiration for the player.
While it looks as though the 27-year-old's departure is an inevitability, he has denied allegations of an illegal approach made by Inter, as well as reports of rifts with team-mate Cesc Fabregas and manager Arsene Wenger, also adding that, contrary to rumours from two months ago, he has no problem with life in London and it is not a motivating factor in him leaving the club.
"In life, everything changes. I believe that there are ten top clubs in world football, and when a couple of clubs are interested in you and offer better terms, I believe that others would have done exactly the same," Hleb explained to www.tut.by.
"But Arsenal is dear to me, I am grateful to Wenger for everything he has done for me.
"As an Arsenal player, I can say that there is no better club in the English Premiership.
"I am very grateful to Ars?ne Wenger. He is the best coach in my career. And not just a coach. He is a very good man and intuitive psychologist. I very much appreciate his support.
"I talked to him twice before the end of the season. It is also not that easy for me to leave this club, because it has become my home. I think he is upset, though it is better to ask him, maybe he is glad.
"Cesc [Fabregas] and I understand each other very well on the field. And it is very, very pleasurable for me to play with him. He's a very pleasant guy both in life and as a footballer. He is just more egoistic in goal-scoring opportunities, if he had a chance to score, he always used it, unlike me."
He also set the record straight regarding the alleged 'tapping up' incident with Inter.
"There was nothing like that, everything is not so bleak... It's all rubbish, people made up some ice cream story," he explained.
"Really, I only gave away tickets, as the son of my agent Nikolai Shpilevski came to the match, I passed on tickets for him through these people.
"They were not Inter representatives. I have spoken to Wenger about this numerous times. We have a normal relationship."
Does he have a problem with London? "No, I really liked London. It's a very old city, there are a lot of attractions. You can do something new every day and there is always somewhere to go at night.
"The fans are very friendly."
Of the speculation that he would warm the bench if he moved to Barcelona, he replied: "When I went to Stuttgart, everyone was saying that I won't be playing there. This was the same when I went to Arsenal. But I seem to be playing! I'm confident in my strengths."
Tour De France
#66 - Aleksandr KUSCHYNSKI , riding for the LIQUIGAS team is in 172nd place.
Circus Studio Arena from Mozyr wins Grand Prix of circus contest in Krasnoyarsk
As BelTA learnt from art leader of the Mozyr Studio Arena Boris Kuznetsov, air gymnasts Nikita Nagornov and Stas Plotnikov have won the victory of the event.
The international jury panel marked the good performance of the Mozyr circus performers.
Contest “Country of Miracles” gathered around 200 participants from Belarus, Russia, Armenia, China and Mongolia. The contest was organized under the auspices of the Russian Association of Amateur Circuses and the International Association of Circuses.
The Mozyr-based Circus Studio Arena under the direction of professional circus performers Maria Kuznetsova and Boris Kuznetsov was founded in 2006. Around 50 young Mozyr residents attend the studio.
Level of Song Contest at Slavonic Bazaar higher than level of Eurovision
“It was so hard to win the chance to go to Vitebsk”, Lena Valevskaya said. “The jury in Russia had to choose among several thousand young singers. And when only 15 were short listed, they learnt that only one of them will go to Vitebsk, not two like in the previous years.”
The jury of the elimination contest in Russia composed of famous representatives of the Russian show business selected Lena Valevskaya. “Three days after I still could not believe that it is me who is going to Slavonic Bazaar,” she said.
Being only 20, the young singer has managed to achieve a lot. She has composed more than 100 songs. She sings pop songs with the elements of folk and blues. She became famous after the release of the song “I like you” that she performed together with a popular Russian singer Dmitry Malikov in 2007.
In Vitebsk the Russian singer is to perform two songs. The first one is Oleg Gazmanov’s “Mama” and the second one – “Butterfly”- was composed by Lena Valevskaya herself. “I hope both the jury and the spectators will like this song. It is a very positive song about my friend-butterfly. Of course, I am a bit scared to sing a song of my own composition, but on the other hand, I could not lose the opportunity to present my own song.”
It will be Lena’s first time in Belarus. “I am happy that Belarus and Russia are building the Union State. Unfortunately, I have never been to Belarus yet. I am happy that the contest will give me an opportunity to visit the country I have heard so many good things about,” she said.
Oppositional politician offered to “have conversation” about Minsk blast
From: Charter '97
It is written in the document that he is to visit a detective officer of criminal investigation department for a conversation, BelaPAN informs.
On July 7 in the morning Zhukouski received a phone call from police. He was told that he is summoned for interrogation related to the blast on July 4 in Minsk. “The summons is written in a wrong way. It is not stated there in which capacity I am summoned, as a witness, injured party or suspect. And I do not understand what a “conversation” is,” Kanstantsin Zhukouski said. “I won’t go to the police department, they should at least write summons correctly. As a citizen I should have received a summons personally and I was to be explained in what capacity I am summoned. If I am an oppositionist, it doesn’t mean that I am guilty of something or should be a scapegoat”.
The matter is that the politician intends to stand for election as a candidate for the Belarusian “parliament” in Buda-Kashalyova constituency. He links the call from police with intention of the authorities to exercise moral coercion on him.
Representatives of the criminal investigation department of Tsentralny district refuse to comment on the reasons of Zhukouski’s summoning to police, referring to the fact that the young man was invited for a mere “conversation”. Criminal investigation department officers noted that summons to police is a part of the law-enforcing agencies’ work, and it is not a duty of police to cover investigation’s details in newspapers.