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Belarus President in favour of 11-year general education
From: BelTA and the Office of the President
|Alexander Lukashenko visiting school No 24 while participating in Knowledge Day celebrations|
“I want to reassure those parents who worry that the abolition of classes majoring in particular subjects will be to their kids’ disadvantage: it will not. Instead, we will create equal opportunities for getting a secondary and higher education,” the Belarusian head of state underlined.
The Belarusian President added that the updating of entry tests will be finished soon. “I guarantee that any diligent and hard working student can get to a university without taking private lessons,” Alexander Lukashenko noted.
The President stressed that he was not happy about the reforms that took place in the secondary education over the last years. “They got everything so complicated that the first grade curriculum was about as hard as the university one,” Alexander Lukashenko noted. He underlined that such situation had to be discontinued. “We listened to the opinion of parents and teachers, at least, the majority of them, and decided to quit costly experiments and to return to 11-year general education,” Alexander Lukashenko stated.
On September 1 which is the Day of Knowledge, the Belarusian head of state took part in the opening of a new school in Minsk –secondary school No 24 in the Loshitsa residential area.
Alexander Lukashenko solemnly handed over a symbolic key to the new building to school’s headmaster Svetlana Gritsiuta and congratulated the students, parents and teachers.
The President examined the cafeteria, the classes for choreography, biology, physical training, a medical centre and the junior bloc. The head of state presented the school with bikes. In conclusion Alexander Lukashenko left a message in a book of honorary guests of the school.
Minsk secondary school No 24 is designed for 1 020 students. 750 students have already been enrolled there. The school offers special art classes. Its construction cost is estimated at Br23.5 billion, including Br3.5 billion that was spent on technical equipment.
Belarus’ education system brings up decent citizens, Alexander Lukashenko says
“Belarus is by right proud of its national system of education that gives fundamental knowledge, guarantees high-quality general and professional training, brings up decent citizens of the Motherland,” the message of congratulations says.
The President praised the fact that the renovated 11-year base school curriculum provides equal opportunities for education, free realization of the students’ abilities and full-fledged physical development.
“The state will surely take up all necessary measures to enhance the prestige of the vocational and specialized secondary education, strengthen the links of higher institutes of education with science and production,” the President underlined.
Alexander Lukashenko wished all students, post graduates and educational professionals new achievements in studies and work, happiness and welfare.
Belarus President outlines major increase in education funding in 2009
In 2009 education funding in Belarus will be increased by more than one third in comparison with 2008 according to the next year’s budget bill, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the opening of secondary comprehensive school No 24 in the Loshitsa microdistrict of Minsk on September 1.
According to the head of state the money will be used to raise salaries for teachers and kindergartners, to improve the material base of educational institutions as well as publish textbooks. Alexander Lukashenko remarked, optimal textbooks have to be created within one year taking into account accumulated experience.
The President remarked, better social support for teachers will be the most important avenue of efforts. A decision has been made to increase salaries for school teachers starting 2009, to introduce additional payments for young teachers as well as school principals and deputy principals.
Alexander Lukashenko remarked, the new school meets the highest standards: it offers opportunities for practising sports, going in for music, dancing, painting, and theatre arts in interest groups. The President wished joy from revelations, sport and art successes, flying colours in education to new school students and labour success, talented and searching students to pedagogues.
Viktor Gaisenok: Vietnam is one of Belarus’ top-priority foreign political partners
According to Viktor Gaisenok, the geographical distance is not an obstacle for cooperation between the two countries. The bilateral relations between the two countries have been considerably intensified after President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited Vietnam. Top-level talks and the documents signed in Hanoi gave strong impetus to the development of the bilateral cooperation in all areas.
The Deputy Foreign Minister underlined that Belarus keeps the track of Vietnam‘s successful development and economic growth. “It obviously creates a good base for strengthening Belarusian-Vietnamese trade and economic links, setting up joint ventures and promoting the growth of the mutual trade turnover,” Viktor Gaisenok said. The Deputy Foreign Minister thanked Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Vietnam to Belarus Vu Xuan Ninh, whose diplomat’s term in office in Belarus nears expiry, for a considerable personal contribution to the development of an efficient mutually beneficial dialogue between the two countries.
Vu Xuan Ninh noted that Vietnam attaches great significance to the friendship with Belarus. The Vietnamese Ambassador expressed gratitude to the Belarusian soldiers-internationalists who helped Vietnam in a struggle for independence.
The Ambassador underscored that today the two countries closely cooperate in all areas, collaborate within the international organizations. After the visit of Alexander Lukashenko to Hanoi, the two countries opened a range of new cooperation areas. For example, contacts are being established between the Emergencies Ministries of Belarus and Vietnam, in personnel training and retraining spheres, tourist and sports sectors.
Belarus, Vietnam to develop regional cooperation
Belarus and Vietnam intend to develop regional cooperation, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Vietnam to Belarus Vu Xuan Ninh told the press conference timed to the national holiday of that country – the Independence Day.
The diplomat noted that important steps on the way of development of the regional cooperation were made last year when a delegation of heads of the Vietnamese provinces and business circles visited Belarus. “These first contacts promoted the growth of trade turnover between the two countries,” the Ambassador highlighted.
According to him, this year Belarusian partners intend to organize a return visit. The Vietnamese side is sure that the trip will promote more active relations between the regions of the two countries.
According to Vu Xuan Ninh, the Belarusian-Vietnamese trade is not big so far. In H1 2008, the trade between the two countries made up $54 million including around $42 million of the Belarusian exports. Belarus mainly exports potash fertilizers and machinery to Vietnam. In turn, Vietnam exports fresh-frozen fish, agricultural products, tea, coffee, canned goods and printers.
As for setting up the joint ventures, at present the two countries are developing several projects. According to the Ambassador, we need time to realize these plans. Vu Xuan Ninh also stressed that Belarusian equipment is in popular demand on the Vietnamese market.
The Vietnamese Ambassador also noted the close contacts of Belarusian and Vietnamese researchers. The academies of sciences of both the states actively cooperate and carry out joint projects successfully.
Belarus and Vietnam have created a good legal base to develop mutually beneficial ties. At present, it is necessary to implement the signed agreements, Vu Xuan Ninh noted.
The head of the Vietnamese diplomatic mission noted that Belarus and Vietnam closely cooperate within the framework of international organizations.
Candidates for deputies start TV, radio appearances today
|"Oh no. Not more reality TV."|
In most constituencies air time will be available between 18:00 and 18:30 for TV appearances and between 18:30 and 19:00 for radio appearances. In constituencies with many candidates (mainly Minsk and oblast centres) air time will be available between 17:30 and 18:30 for TV appearances and between 18:00 and 19:00 for radio appearances.
The order of appearances was defined by drawing lots. Every candidate is entitled to five minutes of TV time and five minutes of radio time. Appearance days are separated by constituencies: one day for one constituency (either radio or TV time).
Speeches by Minsk candidates will be broadcast by Lad TV channel and radio station Stolitsa. Candidates registered in oblasts other than the Minsk oblast will be given air time at local TV channels and radio stations. Minsk oblast candidates will be given air time by STV channel and radio station Stolitsa.
TV channels and radio stations are supposed to notify the general public about TV and radio appearances of candidates at least one day before an appearance is scheduled. TV and radio appearances are not interrupted by commercials. Recorded speeches are stored for three months since they are aired.
Air time unused due to failures of a candidate will not be compensated.
EU, US show no burning desire to accommodate Belarus' wish to normalize relations, President says
Neither the European Union nor the USA seem to rush with adequate measures to respond to the certain steps Belarus has taken to normalize the relations, Alexander Lukashenko said.
“There has been no progress on this. This encourages certain forces to step up the attempts to destabilize the situation inside the country. In this respect I would like to speak about the upcoming big political event - the parliamentary elections. Our western partners have already called these elections as the main criteria - litmus paper - in the mutual relations of Belarus with the USA and the West. I would like to repeat my principled position: these elections are held for the Belarusian people, for our country. They will be absolutely fair. Those present here, especially police officers, the workers of the State Secretariat of the Security Council, ministers, are directly engaged in the process. The police’s top priority is to secure public safety. The State Secretariat is to coordinate the activity of the law enforcement bodies in this area. We have a lot of observers who have been long working in the country. We allowed entry to everyone, even to those who were previously denied entry to the country. Not all of them are our supporters. But my opposition is let them see the real life in Belarus and how political campaigns are held here; let them make comparisons with other countries,” the President stated.
Alexander Lukashenko noted that in any country elections are held in accordance with the legislation of that country. “We have the laws; the election-related legal base has been developed and we will conduct the elections in accordance with these laws,” Alexander Lukashenko added.
President urges to step up anti-corruption efforts
At a session dedicated to new apportionments on August 29 President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko urged to step up anti-corruption efforts and improve the crime detection rate, BelTA was told in the president’s press service.
The President emphasized that economic crimes still happen in Belarus and that the negative trends in the crime rate remain in place.
“Today’s appointments at the State Border Committee are a continuation of the personnel policy aimed at attracting energetic professionals. These approaches have proved right considering the positive trends we have seen in the activity of the border committee. Given today’s circumstances the protection of economic interests and promotion of economic links of Belarus are getting especially important. It is necessary to create optimal conditions for transit of goods, investment, tourism. The law-enforcement activity of the border service should be filled up with new contents, above all, in such areas as counteracting terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration, human trafficking, the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko has stressed the importance of bringing the level of the state border protection in line with the existing threats.
The President said that the main goal was not achieved in ensuring the public security, which is to reverse the negative trend in the crime rate and the rate of crime detection. Alexander Lukashenko spoke of the organizational and administrative drawbacks in the public security area and in crime prevention activity. Addressing the road safety issues necessitate taking a consistent and systematic approach.
The lack of an all-round approach to ensuring the reliable security at mass public events made possible the recent accident on the night of July 3-4, the President believes. This crime should be detected, the President said.
Grain gross yield in Belarus exceeds 9.1mn tonnes
The harvest by region is as follows: the Minsk oblast has harvested 2,349.100 tonnes of grain, up 378,700 tonnes from 2007. The yield in the Grodno oblast reached 1,751.500 tonnes, up 516,900 from 2007. The Mogilev oblast cropped 1,407.900 tonnes, up 194,500 tonnes from last year. The Brest oblast harvested 1,316.900 tonnes of grain (up 362,800 tonnes over last year), the Vitebsk oblast 1,168.000 tonnes (up 27,800 tonnes from 2007) and the Gomel oblast 1, 140.500 tonnes (up 257,000 tonnes as against 2007).
This year’s harvest is a record high for agricultural organisations: 8,671.600 tonnes as against 6,874.500 tonnes last year (up 1,797.100 tonnes).
According to specialists, the Minsk oblast has posted the highest gross yield among agricultural companies: 2,247.160 tonnes (in 2007, the gross yield was 1,866.870 tonnes). The Grodno oblast harvested 1.7 million of grain as against 1,195.10 tonnes in 2007. The top three grain producers also includes agricultural companies of the Brest oblast. The Brest oblast cropped 1,280.780 tonnes of grain as against 925,350 tonnes in 2007. The gross yield of the Mogilev oblast agricultural companies is 1,279.800 tonnes, or 195,000 tonnes up as against 2007. The gross yield of agricultural companies of the Vitebsk oblast exceeded 1,108.000 tonnes. Last year, the Vitebsk oblast harvested 994,400 tonnes of grain. Agricultural companies of the Gomel oblast cropped 1,055.200 tonnes of grain, or 247,300 tonnes up as against 2007 (last year the region harvested 807,900 tonnes of grain).
According to specialists, personal subsidiary farms cropped 102,600 hectares, or 77.5% of the total agricultural areas. The Brest, Gomel and Minsk oblast almost finished the harvesting campaign. The grain yield of personal household farms made up 364,700 tonnes of grain (the crop yield is 35.5 centners per hectare, or 5.9 centners up as against last year). Farms harvested 83.4% of the total area under crops. Farms cropped 90,700 tonnes of grain (the crop yield is 34.4 centners per hectare). This year the crop yield is 6.6 centners more as against last year.
Analyzing the gross grain yield over the last 15 years, the Belarusian Ministry of Agriculture and Foodstuffs noted that the mark of 7 million tonnes was passed in 1993, 2004 and 2007 when the gross grain yield amounted to 7,230. tonnes, 7,016. tonnes and 7,217. tonnes correspondingly.
Six million tonnes of crops was harvested in 1994, 1997 and 2005: 6,095.00 tonnes, 6,420.000 tonnes and 6,421.00 tonnes correspondingly. In 2002 and 2006 the agricultural enterprises of the country cropped 5,990.000 tonnes and 5,923.000 tonnes. The gross grain harvest rose as the agricultural technologies were streamlined.
In 2008 the crop productivity reached 38.8 centners per hectare vs. 19.4 centners per hectare in 2000. High crop productivity was registered in 1993, 2004, 2005 and 2007. In the Grodno and Mogilev oblasts the crop productivity exceeded 50.5 centners per hectare and 40.3 centners per hectare correspondingly which is 13.7 and 5.6 centners per hectare up from the previous year.
The Agriculture Ministry noted that the record high productivity of 2008 is to be analyzed by scientists and experts. But the fact remains: the 2008 crop yield was the highest Belarus has ever seen.
BELARUS RESPONDS CAUTIOUSLY TO GEORGIAN CRISIS
From: Eurasia Daily Monitor
Belarusian Television, as well as the official media, greeted the news that war had broken out in Tskhinvali with silence. For several days most residents of Belarus received news feeds about events only from the Russian television channels. Even investigative programs such as Panarama failed to mention the war.
On August 12, four days after the conflict began, Aleksandr Surikov, Russia's ambassador to Belarus, commented angrily on what he called the "incomprehensible silence" of official Minsk with regard to the Russian-Georgian war. Despite the fact that Russia had always backed Belarus, particularly during its international isolation based on its treatment of opposition leaders, Belarus had not supported Russia's position in the war, nor had it offered aid or sanctuary to troops and civilians from South Ossetia who were injured or homeless (Reuters, August 12).
The Russian on-line newspaper Vzglyad likewise described Belarus's reaction as a "betrayal" of its close ally and seemed particularly incensed over a Belarusian media spokesperson’s call for an end to the conflict and the laying down of arms by both sides (http://vz.ru/politics/2008/8/13/196365.html). Surikov noted that only a minor official from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry had provided a statement concerning Belarus's response. In the main organ of the presidential administration, the newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussiya, a balanced article by Ihar Kalchenka called for an end to the armed conflict and a peaceful solution (SB Belarus' Segodnya, August 9).
At a previously scheduled meeting with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at Sochi on August 19, however, Lukashenka decided to offer support to Russia. He thanked the Russians for "establishing peace in the Caucasus" and declared that Russia's thrust into Georgia did not constitute an act of war. Rather it was a calm response that led to peace in the region. Everything was done, he commented, "excellently, very calmly, wisely, and beautifully" (krasivo). The two countries then announced that they would sign an agreement on a unified air defense system later in the fall (Belorusy i Rynok, August 25-September 1).
After Medvedev ratified the Russian Duma's decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Lukashenka sent a message to Moscow, stating that with the situation getting ever more complex, the only moral choice for Russia was to support South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He did not, however, offer recognition from Minsk and went on to say that it would be expedient to examine the issue of the two regions' independence at the forthcoming meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Moscow on September 5 (Belapan, August 28), along with the other members of the organization: Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
Russian news agencies then reported that although to date no countries had followed Medvedev's appeal to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Belarusian authorities intended to do so "in the next day or two." Almost immediately, a government source in Minsk issued a statement that no further comment would be forthcoming from Belarus (RIA-Novosti, August 28; Reuters, August 28). In other words, Belarus has stopped short thus far of recognizing the breakaway regions.
On August 16, just over a week after the conflict began, Lukashenka issued a pardon for the last remaining designated political prisoner, Alyaksandr Kazulin, who was detained at a penal colony in Vitsebsk region, having served just over two years of a five-and-a-half year sentence. Kazulin immediately appealed to the United States and the European Union not to commence a new dialogue with Belarus based on his release, noting the difficulties to which he and his family had been subjected. Though awarded a pardon by the president personally, he had signed no document nor had he been aware of the nature of his release. Furthermore, his conviction was not revoked (www.charter97.org, August 16; www.naviny.by, August 20).
The release of Kazulin and the nebulous Belarusian position on the Russia-Georgia conflict suggest that the government of Lukashenka is hoping for a relaxation of U.S. sanctions on its oil processing company Belnaftakhim, as well as closer cooperation with the EU through its Eastern Neighborhood program. Such concessions would not be forthcoming if Belarus were to take an unequivocal position alongside Russia with regard to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Adding to Belarus's dilemma is the planned construction of a U.S. anti-missile base in Poland, which Lukashenka has strongly opposed, and at the same time the need to reach a modified agreement with Russia on a new $2 billion loan as well as on gas prices, which some sources fear could rise sharply. Russia has also demanded frequently that the two countries switch to the use of a single currency, that is, the Russian ruble (Kommersant, August 20). Thus, the authorities are conducting a balancing act, not wanting to offend either Russia or the West.
Lukashenka has assured Medvedev that Belarus remains a close friend and supporter of Russia (BelTA, August 28). However, in reality Belarus' position is that of a reluctant partner of Russian adventurism. As one writer noted, the republic would likely be the first casualty of a new Cold War and would be incorporated into a new imperial Russia.
Conference on investment in Belarus to be held in South Korea in mid-September
Delegates of leading Korean banks, as well as companies engaged in the transport, energy, construction, microelectronics and household waste recycling spheres will participate in the meeting, said the Belarusbank press office.
Established in 1984 initially as Ssangyong Investment Securities, Good Morning Shinhan Securities is one of Korea's leading securities companies, providing a wide range of financial services to individuals, corporations and financial institutions. The company is headquartered in Seoul with 83 branches nationwide and has 2 overseas subsidiaries based in New York and London.
All regions of Belarus begin winter grain sowing
As of September 2, the farmers have sowed winter grain throughout 91.000 ha, or 6.4% of planned territory, said G.Romanuk. 611.100 ha of agricultural lands were prepared for winter grain sowing within 43% of the planned territory.
Further, the agricultural organizations have been prepared with enough technical equipment, fertilizers, and fuel for the campaign, according to the officials. The planned sowing area of winter grain totals 1.42 mln ha.
Belarus: canneries of Gomel oblast increased output of green peas by 10%
In a related story, The canneries of Gomel oblast practically finished processing of green peas. This season they produced 10.5 msc (millions of standard cans) of green peas, up 10% compared the to last year, the representative of the regional committee of food industry reported to the correspondent of BELTA.
JSC Turov, Koptsevichskiy vegetable dehydration plant, JSC Yelskiy cannery and Brilevo are the main producers of green peas in the oblast. This year, JSC Turov produced the main volume of this product – 7 msc of peas.
Canned green peas are produced in glass jars under twist-off lid and in tins. According to the specialists, within two weeks, the processing enterprises of the region will start canning of sweet corn. In total, during the season they are to procure 1.5 msc of the products. At that, the canneries of Gomel oblast have already processed 160 tonnes of cucumbers.
The conditions of detention in the Republic of Belarus
This report is an scarce source of recent information on the conditions of detention in Belarus. Due to the absence of independent mechanisms for the control and monitoring of the penitentiary system, both at national and international level, conditions of detention in the country still remain largely unknown. This absence of monitoring is all the more preoccupying as the death penalty has not been abolished yet and executions are still practised in complete secrecy.
This report, which is based on interviews with former detainees, members of their families, lawyers and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), presents a very grim picture of the penitentiary system in Belarus.
Detainees are systematically deprived of legal protection. The conditions of detention for administrative detainees are reported to be particularly harsh, with overpopulated prisons, no beds or bedding in cells, administrative detainees are regularly being deprived of showers and of the right to take walks, to receive parcels with food supplies, as well as poor quality of food and water. The detention centres of the Ministry of the Interior (Home Office) are also overpopulated. The air in cells is very poor in summer and heating in the cells is totally inadequate in winter, food is of mediocre quality and a tuberculosis epidemic is ravaging amongst the prison population. Prisoners placed in solitary confinement de facto find themselves held incommunicado, with cells sometimes unheated and their size prohibiting any physical activity. Food rations for these prisoners are very small. The conditions of transportation for detainees to be taken to the courts are also extremely preoccupying, with persons sometimes deprived of food and water for several days.
The mission delegates have also gathered testimonies revealing torture and inhumane and degrading treatment during the administrative and penal investigations, where beating and all kinds of humiliation are widespread.
In conclusion of the report, the FIDH and the Centre for Human Rights of Belarus (“Viasna”) call upon the Belarusian authorities to:
Abolish administrative arrest, as it does not offer the necessary fair trial guarantees;
Adopt an immediate moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards abolition;
Open independent and impartial enquiries in case of allegations of torture ; and establish criminal, civil and administrative sanctions for violation of legal procedures (arrest, interrogation, treatment of detainees);
Implement the recommendations of the UN bodies with regards to Belarus and respond positively to the requests made by some of these mechanisms to carry out a visit to the country;
Ratify the UN Convention for the Prevention of Torture and its optional protocol, as well as the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Torture.
World remembers about forceful disappearances in Belarus
From: Charter '97
The action of memory was held from 2.00 till3.00 pm (local time) at Leidseplein, a central square of Amsterdam. The event was authorised by the local authorities.
Participants of the peaceful demonstration carried a banner with portraits of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski, and Zmitser Zavadski and inscription “Involuntary Disappeared in Belarus”. They also had a bunch of blue and white balloons with photos of the disappeared Belarusians fixed to them.
At the end of the action the participants released balloons and portraits of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski, and Zmitser Zavadski flew up.
The action aroused interest among large number passers-by in the Amsterdam center. Many of them came to participants of the action and asked what the action was dedicated to, asked about the situation in Belarus and expressed their solidarity with those who are trying to find out the truth about the forceful disappearances.
In 1999, three famous people disappeared in Belarus, namely former minister of internal affaires Yury Zakharanka, vice speaker of the XII Supreme Council Viktar Hanchar, big businessman Anatol Krasouski. These people had one common feature – they were opponents of the regime of Lukashenka. In summer 2000, former personal operator of Lukashenka Zmitser Zavadski disappeared. Relatives of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski, and Zmitser Zavadski have no information about their destiny.
Kremlin: Interview given by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Television Channels Channel One, Rossia, NTV
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I think this decision was inevitable in the given situation, and that it has been effective is clear to all now. We really did try throughout these 17 years to hold together a state that was in effect coming apart, and we encouraged all possible settlement efforts. Our peacekeepers were on duty day and night, helping to keep conflict at bay. We prevented large-scale bloodshed in the 1990s. There would probably have been continued chances for achieving a settlement were it not for this idiotic adventure launched by the Georgian leadership, which effectively put an end to hopes that Abkhazians, Ossetians and Georgians could live together. Not only did it put an end to these hopes but it caused a great number of deaths. Civilians, our citizens among them, lost their lives. Peacekeepers, who were trying to keep the conflicting parties apart, lost their lives. That Georgian peacekeepers opened fire on their own colleagues is especially monstrous. All of these things ultimately led to events taking this most dramatic and serious turn. We were left with no choice but to respond to this absolutely insolent and brazen attack, return things to normal and protect the lives and dignity of South Ossetia's people. A separate plan to attack Abkhazia had been prepared. Our General Staff made it public just recently. This plan followed the same scenario. We therefore made our decisions in order to prevent any future genocide and exodus of Abkhazians and Ossetians from their territories. As I said, events have shown that these decisions were evident and necessary.
K. POZDNYAKOV (NTV): Dmitry Anatolyevich, our Western partners have responded to Russia's decision as was to be expected, with moderate to very sharp criticism. What kind of reaction can we expect from our closest neighbours, from the CIS countries, for example? How important for Russia is it to have other countries follow our example and recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia? How much influence will this have in determining our next steps?
DMITRY MEVEDEV: Russia has already taken all the main steps that were necessary in this situation. As you should realise, this was not an easy decision, but it was necessary. Reactions in other countries have indeed varied, and this was probably to be expected. Our closest neighbours have been completely objective in their reaction. I met with most of these countries' leaders at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. They understand the motivations for the decisions Russia has taken.
Recognition is a separate issue. I want to remind you that each country makes its own individual decision on recognition. There is no collective action in this situation. Take the example of Kosovo. It is clear that in this situation some countries will agree to emergence of new states, while others will consider their emergence untimely. But according to international law, a new state becomes a subject of law, as the lawyers say, from the moment it gains recognition from at least one other country.
From a legal point of view these new states have come into existence now. The process of their gaining recognition might be a long one, but this will not affect our position. We have made our decision and it is irreversible. Our duty is to ensure peace and calm in the region, and this is the basis for our position.
A. KONDRASHOV (Rossia): What steps will Russia take now in these republics? What form will Russia's plans take?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: We will help these republics in every way we can of course. Work is underway on drafting agreements, already international agreements now, between our countries: between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia, and between the Russian Federation and South Ossetia. These agreements will set out our obligations regarding all forms of support and aid: economic, social and humanitarian aid in the broad sense of the word, and military assistance. We will establish normal full-fledged relations under international law with these republics and build relations as allies with them.
A. KONDRASHOV (Rossia): Dmitry Anatolyevich, everyone realises now that Russia's place in the world has undergone serious change since the events of August 8. The whole previous system of agreements is changing dramatically before our very eyes. A number of international institutions have already demonstrated their total ineffectiveness in resolving this conflict. But Russia and the West are not ready, as I understand it, to completely break off relations. How do you see the world's future, the future world order, and Russia's place in it?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I will make five principles the foundation for my work in carrying out Russia's foreign policy.
First, Russia recognises the primacy of the fundamental principles of international law, which define the relations between civilised peoples. We will build our relations with other countries within the framework of these principles and this concept of international law.
Second, the world should be multi-polar. A single-pole world is unacceptable. Domination is something we cannot allow. We cannot accept a world order in which one country makes all the decisions, even as serious and influential a country as the United States of America. Such a world is unstable and threatened by conflict.
Third, Russia does not want confrontation with any other country. Russia has no intention of isolating itself. We will develop friendly relations with Europe, the United States, and other countries, as much as is possible.
Fourth, protecting the lives and dignity of our citizens, wherever they may be, is an unquestionable priority for our country. Our foreign policy decisions will be based on this need. We will also protect the interests of our business community abroad. It should be clear to all that we will respond to any aggressive acts committed against us.
Finally, fifth, as is the case of other countries, there are regions in which Russia has privileged interests. These regions are home to countries with which we share special historical relations and are bound together as friends and good neighbours. We will pay particular attention to our work in these regions and build friendly ties with these countries, our close neighbours. These are the principles I will follow in carrying out our foreign policy.
As for the future, it depends not only on us but also on our friends and partners in the international community. They have a choice.
A.VERNITSKY (Channel One): Dmitry Anatolyevich, are the priority regions the territories that border Russia?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: The countries on our borders are priorities, of course, but our priorities do not end there.
K. POZDNYAKOV (NTV): Dmitry Anatolyevich, you said that Russia would respond to any act of aggression committed against it. Do you think our laws give sufficient power to do this? Is this written into our laws?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Of course.
K. POZDNYAKOV (NTV): Perhaps a separate law is needed?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Everything has long since been done. The international community has approved the UN Charter, which states countries' right to self-defence. We have the Constitution and we have special Russian laws on which we base decisions on counter-measures, including the use of Russia's Armed Forces. The legal framework is in place and working, and there is no need for adjustments.
A. VERNITSKY (Channel One): What about diplomatic and economic sanctions?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: We are not in favour of sanctions in general and they are something we consider only in extreme cases. But, like other countries, we are sometimes forced to resort to sanctions. A number of countries have special laws regulating the imposition of sanctions, and if needed, we could also adopt similar special laws, but I think this is the most unproductive road.
Turning Russia Into a Terrorist Enclave
From: Moscow Times
This moral support came at a difficult time for the Kremlin. In recognizing the breakaway republics, President Dmitry Medvedev said he wasn't afraid of the prospect of a new Cold War. I don't know about a Cold War, but I would compare these events to what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
Al-Qaida does not possess even a tiny fraction of the human, intellectual or financial resources held by the free world. This is because al-Qaida has never made a scientific discovery, never built a factory to produce something useful and has never done anything to benefit humanity in general. Nothing. Al-Qaida's raison d'etre is to destroy the infrastructure and achievements built by the free world.
Al-Qaida doesn't need to produce or invent anything to survive. All it needs is evil intentions. And it is almost impossible for the free world to dissuade terrorists from blowing up a passenger airplane or holding schoolchildren hostage when they are convinced that these are legitimate ways to fight against the West. In this way, al-Qaida's resources can't be compared to those of the West.
Similarly, Russia's resources also cannot be compared to those of the West. This is because Russia has nothing but oil and gas. Our stores sell Turkish clothes, Chinese electronics, Indonesian sneakers, Finnish toilets, Taiwanese cell phones, and so on. Even cement is now cheaper to import from abroad than to produce in Russia.
Anybody who thinks Russia's confrontation with the West is another Cold War has been misled. In a real Cold War, two countries have comparable military budgets, but this is definitely not the case with Russia and the United States. Much like al-Qaida, the main resource available to the Kremlin is malicious intentions.
With a lot of effort, the free world may be able to stop individual terrorists or small terrorist groups. But it is entirely incapable of combating terrorist enclaves, such as those controlled by Hamas.
The greatest strength of these organizations lies in their ability to turn the entire local populations into accomplices. Ask a poor Palestinian who the Jews are, and he'll tell you they are subhuman, terrible people who killed his cousin who was on his way to blow himself up in an Israeli kindergarten. At the same time, it will never occur to this Palestinian why Israelis don't blow themselves up in Palestinian kindergartens.
Ask a resident of Tskhinvali who the Georgians are, and he will answer in all sincerity that they are also subhuman. After all, it was the Georgians who attacked Tskhinvali with the sole purpose of killing its children. "Thank God we're rid of them now," many South Ossetians say.
But South Ossetians will probably never concede that tens of thousands of Ossetians who live peacefully in Georgia proper. Has it ever occurred to them that the notoriously bloodthirsty Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili hasn't attacked Ossetians in Gori, Tbilisi or Poti, where they are vulnerable and unprotected by South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity?
It would seem that enclaves like South Ossetia and Abkhazia cannot be defeated. Relying on the full support of their populations -- at least those people who did not run away -- these statelets can survive indefinitely. But there is no rational reason for Russia to support these enclaves -- or for turning itself into a terrorist enclave.
Ukraine sinks into new crisis
Leaders of Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party were due to announce their decision to Parliament last night, followed by talks with the President.
If carried out, the decision would come into force in 10 days after being approved by a narrow majority of 39 out of the party's 72 deputies in the Parliament, Ukrainian media reported.
The move came in response to the adoption of a series of laws that would weaken the powers of the President, laws initiated by the pro-Russian opposition in league with the Tymoshenko Bloc.
The Tymoshenko Bloc is headed by the Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is at odds with the President, despite sharing his pro-Western political goals.
In a heated Parliament session on Tuesday, the President's party stormed out of the chamber in protest at the adoption of the laws, which would also ease the rules for impeaching the President, Ukrainian media reported.
In a sign of deepening divisions, the ruling coalition also failed to agree to a joint declaration about the war between Russia and Georgia, which, like Ukraine, is trying to join NATO and the European Union.
Mr Yushchenko has accused Mrs Tymoshenko of "high treason and political corruption" for allegedly siding with Moscow over the conflict in Georgia last month, a charge she has denied.
If the pro-Western allies Our Ukraine and Tymoshenko Bloc do not get back together, members of Parliament would have a further 30 days to form another coalition government. The President would have the right to dissolve Parliament if talks failed.
Mrs Tymoshenko has long had rocky relations with Mr Yushchenko despite their alliance in the peaceful protests known as the Orange Revolution of 2004.
She is believed to be planning to run against Mr Yushchenko for the presidency in elections due next year or 2010.
Mrs Tymoshenko abstained from a vote in Ukraine's Security Council last month imposing restrictions on Russia's Black Sea fleet, which is based in southern Ukraine and was involved in military action against Georgia.
European officials including the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, and the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, have warned that Ukraine could be the next target of political pressure from Russia.
More than 700 Polish hooligans arrested before cup match
The hooligans were arrested Tuesday evening in the largest police action against rioting football fans in years, she said.
The youths, some of them minors, threw stones and firecrackers at security forces who were escorting them to a Legia vs. Polonia cup match.
Violence erupted after some 1,000 hooligans met outside a hotel in the capitol and headed towards the stadium, the Rzeczpospolita reported. Fans from each team had been escorted, separately, to the stadium by police. One group later split up as police tried to contain them.
Security forces managed to rein in some 400 hooligans on a grass lawn near the Old Town before they were attacked.
One police car was destroyed in the rioting and three hooligans were injured. The hooligans, some with masked faces, also damaged two private vehicles after jumping on top of them, reported the Polish Press Agency. They were fans of Legia and a 'couple other teams.'
The cup match between the two Polish Premier League teams - both from Warsaw - ended in a draw. There were no incidents during the match.
The rioters face custodial sentences of one to 10 years.
Vice-premier Grzegorz Schetyna said some of the hooligans will be charged, and promised a tougher,'no tolerance' policy against violence in football.
'If there's disapproval of hooliganism and anonymity, we'll effectively throw out these people from the stadiums,' Schetyna said. 'They must be cut off from football and sport.'
Schetyna said new stadium regulations could take effect from 2009, and will include tougher punishments for hooligans.
'We won't lack determination to make Polish stadiums safe,' he said.
'It's important to us that a ban from the stadium will become a European ban. That those who got (a ban) won't have entry to Euro 2012 matches and to every European Championship or World Championship.'
Polish authorities had previously pledged to crack down on hooliganism, but the issue has recently become sensitive as Poland prepares to co-host the Euro 2012 football championship.
The arrest on Tuesday sparked debate on how to best deal with the hooliganism that's plagued the nation's stadiums for years.
In June, Prime Minister Donald Tusk had said it's 'better not to' organize the Euro in Poland if hooligans continue to rule the stadiums.
Tusk said those who come to games armed with weapons are potential murderers and should be treated as such by police. The biggest problem in the nation's stadiums, he said, is the tolerance football fans show towards hooligans.
Polish driver faces jail after killing pedestrian
From: Rugby Today
Polish national Aleksandra Kalinowska had denied causing the death of 54-year-old mother and grandmother Susan Vernon by dangerous driving in October last year.
Her barrister Gregory Fishwick argued: "Have we moved into a blame culture? Sometimes accidents do happen. It was a very tragic accident, but that is all it was."
But the jury at Warwick Crown Court took just 80 minutes to find Kalinowska guilty by a unanimous verdict.
The case was adjourned for a report to be prepared on Kalinowska, who was granted bail with conditions that she lives at her new address in Craven Road, Rugby, and reports to the police once a week.
Judge David McEvoy QC told her: "I must warn you that I shall be contemplating sending you to prison."
At 6.20am on October 3, Mrs. Vernon was crossing Bilton Road on her way back to her home in nearby Sissinghurst Close after buying some milk
when she was hit by Kalinowska's red VW Golf.
Tragically Mrs. Vernon, a married woman with children and grandchildren, suffered multiple internal and external injuries and died at the scene.
Kalinowska had pulled into the centre of the road as she passed some roadworks. She said she did not see Mrs. Vernon until she had hit her - but denied speeding.
Kalinowska claimed she had thought the limit was 40mph on the 30mph stretch of road, but denied she was going anywhere near 50mph.
Asked if something was happening in the car, she replied through an interpreter: "I was not on the phone and I was not changing the radio.
I cannot explain why I did not see her, I just did not."
Ziobro gives up parliamentary immunity
From: The News
The resignation of immunity comes after the Parliamentary Regulations Committee reopened the case this morning.
MP Jaroslaw Urbaniak (Civic Platform - PO), presented the Sejm, the lower house of parliament with the charges brought against the former justice minister.
In July this year, the Rzeczpospolita daily wrote that the Prosecutor’s Office from Plock, central Poland, wanted to take away Ziobro’s parliamentary immunity, in order to charge him for allegedly disclosing secret court records to his party chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in 2006.
The confidential files included depositions of a businessman and former Polish Deputy Labour Minister Krzysztof Baszniak, who claimed that huge bribes had been involved in a contract between the state-owned Orlen and Russian Yukos Oil in 2003 when the post-communist SLD was in power.
Urbaniak argued that the Polish Constitution stipulates that “all citizens are equal before the law” and that “no one can hide behind an MP’s immunity”.
He also criticised the incident at the previous meeting of the Regulations Committee in July, when the Committee members from the Law and Justice (PiS) left the conference room in protest against government counterparts, who wanted to proceed in spite of Ziobro’s absence.
Zbigniew Ziobro, initially present at today’s meeting, left the conference room once again, in protest at Jaroslaw Urbaniak’s speech.
In a related story, Former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro claims his statements accusing Doctor Miroslaw G of murder were taken out of context.
Doctor G. has accused former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro of defamation and demands an apology and 70,000 zloty in compensation after comments he made last year when the doctor was arrested for corruption and murder.
Ziobro said after the famous Warsaw based surgeon was arrested on murder charges subsequently dropped: "This man will never take someone's life again.”
During yet another day of the trial, the judge ordered a 3,5-hour recess, Monday. A few days ago, the representatives of the politician submitted such extensive pleading that the court gave the surgeon's representative time to get acquainted with it. The heart surgeon did not appear in court, though the former minister did.
Zbigniew Ziobro told journalists that the pleading includes evidence that his statement was taken out of context and misinterpreted. He said that during the press conference when he said those words, he repeated several times that he was talking only of the charges against Miroslaw G., not facts. The politician also blamed journalists for blowing the case out of proportion.
Heart surgeon Miroslaw G. was detained by the Central Anticorruption Bureau in March last year on corruption and murder charges. He was then the head of the heart surgery unit at Warsaw's Internal Ministry Hospital. He is now charged with, among others, corruption and mobbing, but the District Public Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw dropped the murder charges against him.
Cannabis farm raided in Lodz
From: Polskie Radio
Tomasz Kowalczyk, spokesperson for the Laska police, stated that “The plantation was made up of 500 independent, mature bushes. Each of them were well-tended.”
Police had been observing the location for some time, when three men, between the ages 19 and 25, arrived and provided an opportunity to move in. The police raided and caught the men just as they were bringing one of the largest plants to their vehicle.
All of the plants were confiscated and taken to a police storehouse while their net worth is being calculated.
The minimum sentence for the illegal growth of marijuana is three years in prison, though the maximum sentence is eight years, depending upon the size of the crop.
Russia-Georgia junior football match to be held in Minsk
The meeting was first planned to be held in Moscow. However, the situation has changed in view of the recent events. In this respect the Russian Football Union addressed the Belarusian Football Federation with a request to hold the match in Belarus. On August 29, a decision was reached to conduct the game at the stadium Traktor in Minsk at 18p.m. Though there has been no official confirmation yet, said Mikhail Vergeenko.
The national team of Spain is leading in the 4th qualifying group with six victories in the six matches, 18 points. The Russian team has 12 points, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Poland – six points each.
Minsk hosts international exhibition Sportexpo
More than 50 companies and organizations of sports industry are participating in the 5th international exhibition Sportexpo which opened in Minsk on September 3.
During the opening ceremony, Minister of Sport and Tourism of Belarus Alexander Grigorov noted that the health life style, physical culture, sport and tourism promote the development of a strong state. Attending the opening ceremony was also Minister of Youth and Sports of Lebanon Prince Tatal Arslan who is in Belarus on a working visit.
Sportexpo is being held for specialists, wholesale buyers, representatives of sports stores and clubs. Participants of the exhibition have an opportunity to demonstrate and promote their products and new technologies. The main goal of the sports forum is to establish cooperation between the producers and customers engaged in the sports branch.
Taking part in the exhibition are the companies which are involved in reconstruction and modernization of various sports facilities, producers and suppliers of sports equipment and outfit, sports associations, federations and also specialized mass media.
Visitors will be able to see a wide range of various sports equipment: fitness machines, gym suits, tables for tennis and billiard, backboards, gym mats, squared rings, balls, sports editions and many others.
Business programme of the sports forum includes seminars “New Architecture of Sport” (Aluvid Company) and “Medical-Biological Aspects to Ensure High Sporting Achievements” (Health Ministry of Belarus).
A special entertainment programme will be held within the framework of the exhibition Sportexpo as well. Trainers of the sports club Fitness World will organize a special show. A table tennis tournament will be held on September 4. Alfasport Company jointly with the Minsk City Federation of Kickboxing and Thai Boxing will hold a Muay Thai tournament.
The exhibition Sportexpo has been organized by the National Exhibition Centre Belexpo under the auspices of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of Belarus and the Minsk City Council. The forum will be running through September 5.
Belarus to stay away from arms race
“We are not going to get involved in the arms race. The Armed Forces of Belarus work to ensure the reliable protection of the country’s sovereignty and security, to prevent any problems, the most complicated problems from being resolved through force,” said Leonid Maltsev.
He remarked the creation of the Belarusian-Russian united air defence system is part of the plan for cooperation between the two countries and is implemented within the framework of the concept for building up and developing the Armed Forces of Belarus. “The Armed Forces of Belarus is not an instrument to wage wars but the key means to prevent them,” stressed the Minister.
Speaking about the creation of the united air defence system, Leonid Maltsev said the parties are now working on mechanisms of future cooperation. They will be regulated by a treaty and efforts are now exercised in this area.
Commenting on the statement by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Belarus Alexander Surikov who said that Russia would be willing to place Iskander missiles in Belarus and, possibly, strategic bombers in response to the deployment of the US air defence in Europe, Leonid Maltsev underscored that all actions in this area must correspond to the political and military political situation. If the situation requires concrete actions and relevant decisions are taken by the heads of state, the armed forces will act in line with the situation. “Reading tea leaves is a futile effort now,” added the Minister.
Hundreds Remember Slain Web Site Owner
From: Moscow Times
The mourners gathered in Ingushetia's main city, Nazran, to protest the shooting death of Magomed Yevloyev, who was buried Monday.
"All of them are expressing their discontent with what is happening in the republic," Kaloi Akhilgov, Yevloyev's lawyer and friend, said by telephone.
Akhilgov said some 3,000 people turned out to protest, while Interfax put the number at 500. A Reuters reporter said there were more than 1,000.
Yevloyev's relatives, meanwhile, vowed to avenge his death and declared a blood feud against Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and Ingush Interior Minister Musa Medov, Akhilgov said.
"According to Ingush traditions, a blood feud calls for the murder of a male member of Zyazikov's and Medov's families," Akhilgov said.
The Ingush opposition has accused Zyazikov and the Kremlin of being behind Yevloyev's murder.
Yevloyev was detained at the Magas Airport outside Nazran on Sunday as he stepped off a plane from Moscow and placed into a police car, according to witnesses and authorities.
Regional Prosecutor Yury Turygin repeated the subsequent version of events provided by local police, telling Interfax on Monday that while being taken in for questioning, Yevloyev attempted to seize an automatic weapon from one of the police officers.
Yevloyev was struck in the head by a bullet accidentally discharged in the scuffle, and he subsequently died in the hospital from the wound, Turygin said.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Monday that Yevloyev's death had formally been classified as manslaughter and that a criminal case had been opened.
But Roza Malsagova, the editor-in-chief of Ingushetiya.ru who has fled Russia with her three sons and applied for political asylum in France, implicated Zyazikov in Yevloyev's death, accusing him of ordering "another extrajudicial killing." "This is how you wanted to silence us," Malsagova said in an open letter to Zyazikov posted on the web site.
A spokesman for Zyazikov, Bers Yevloyev, dismissed the opposition's accusations as "total gibberish" and said he could not comment on Malsagova's accusations because they had appeared on a "nonexistent web site" that "was shut down by a court order."
Last month the Moscow City Court upheld a lower court's decision in June to close Ingushetiya.ru on charges of carrying extremist content.
Vasily Likhachyov, a Federation Council Senator for Ingushetia, confirmed that Zyazikov and Yevloyev had taken the same flight from Moscow to Nazran on Sunday but dismissed suggestions that the two had quarreled.
"The president of Ingushetia is a modern person who understands perfectly that in a democracy you can't live without criticism," Likhachyov said, adding that he had spoken with Zyazikov on Monday.