Belarus Investment Forum opens in London, Orphans care, Journal distorts, Economics, Missile politics, IMF, WTO, Russia, Ukraine and Polish scandal
Belarus Investment Forum opens in London
From: BelTA and the Office of the President
More than 70 investment projects are presented at the forum. They include the construction of a plant to produce buses at the Minsk Automobile Plant, the setting up of a facility to manufacture flat products at the Belarusian Steel Works, the construction of cascades of hydroelectric stations on the Zapadnaya Dvina and Dnepr Rivers, the creation of the Belarusian seaport and many other projects.
Taking part in the forum are the organizations of the ministries of industry, energy, architecture and construction, transport and communications, informatization, sport and tourism, agriculture and food, the Belneftekhim, Bellesbumprom, Belgospischeprom, Bellegprom Concerns, oblast executive committees, free economic zones and Belarusian banks.
Attending Belarus Investment Forum in London will be representatives of the foreign manufacturing, investment and consulting companies, commercial banks and financial institutions which are interested in developing business contacts with Belarus.
Share of foreign investments in Belarus will increase to 15-20% by 2010, Sergei Sidorsky says
The share of foreign investment will increase to account for 15-20% of the total investments in Belarus in 2010, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky said at Belarus Investment Forum in London on November 18.
According to him, the Republic of Belarus has been successfully implementing the innovation policy. In the near future over 100 innovation companies will be built and around 400 new high technology and high efficiency manufactures will be created in Belarus.
The Prime Minister of Belarus noted that foreign investments in Belarus have been continuously growing. In 2007 they made up $5.4 billion, or three times up over 2005, 7.5 times up over 2002. This year a good growth rate remains in place too.
The number of companies with foreign capital has been increasing in Belarus. In 2002 there were 2,000 of them. Today there are over 4,000 featuring the capital from 100 countries.
“I would like to reiterate that it is not by chance that our forum is held in London. For the past several years Great Britain has been among the leaders in terms of investments in the Republic of Belarus. Belarus’ major investors include Russia, Austria, Switzerland and the countries,” he said. The representatives of some of them will share their experiences of working in Belarus and also the problems which they sometimes face.
An important factor for potential investment is the fact that in 2007 Belarus was assigned a sovereign credit rating which confirms the stability of the social and economic development of the country. This year, which is difficult for all of us, the international agencies have confirmed the initially assigned rating.
Belarus injects significant funds in the upgrade of the companies, manufacture of new products and searching for new markets. Today Belarusian exports account for 60% of the GDP; the country trades with 180 countries.
“We have been building our economy system relying on the world experience and trying to avoid socially dangerous tendencies. The strategic goal of the Belarusian state is to enhance the level and quality of life of its citizens, to ensure high level of social security and high employment rate,” Sergei Sidorsky said.
The state does not allow criminal capital in the country, takes serious anti-corruption efforts, he added.
The national legislation, first of all, economic laws have been liberalized. “We have set forth a quite ambitious task – to join the top 30 countries with the most favourable doing business conditions. Over 30 enactments have been recently adopted to improve the legislation in different economic areas,” Sergei Sidorsky said.
Belarus, the only country in the CIS, has adopted the Investment Code which is aimed at intensifying the investment activity including the state support and protection of the rights of investors on the territory of the country. The country took unprecedented measures to abolish the procedures of declaring the origin of the capital, guaranteed full return of bank deposits, introduced a five-year moratorium on worsening economic conditions for joint ventures and foreign companies. The investment climate has been considerably improved by the abolishment of the “golden share” rule that was criticized by the international organisations and foreign companies. Time and resources to register and receive a license have been reduced. The principle of the state registration and liquidation of the organisations was adopted. The number of administrative procedures has been considerably reduced. The country amended the legislation related to the land withdrawal and allocation, introduced a unified principle on its auction sales.
In order to attract investments the country offers a set of preferences to foreign investors in free economic zones, small and medium-sized towns, the rural area, the High-Tech Park. The residents of these territories are partially exempted from taxes, customs fees and receive some other privileges.
The measures taken by the Belarusian government were so effective that the country’s achievements were spelled out in the World Bank Doing Business Report 2009.
Partaking in the forum are representatives of such well-known international organisations as the UN, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The Belarusian side is presented by the deputies, the authorities of the Administration of the President and the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, heads of the ministries, concerns, executive committees, Belarusian business circles interested in establishing bilateral mutually beneficial contacts.
Sergei Sidorsky, Lord Mayor of City of London discuss financial cooperation
According to Sergei Sidorsky, the goal of this meeting is to give new impetus to the development of the economies of the two countries during the global financial crisis, establish efficient cooperation between business and financial institutions. “The experience of Great Britain in the financial market development is of great importance for Belarus,” Sergei Sidorsky said.
Mr Ian Luder said that the current visit of the Belarusian Premier will boost contacts between Belarus and the European countries, between financial organisations of Great Britain and Belarus. “I hope today we will be able to strengthen our links and learn how Belarus is going to position itself on the international financial markets in the future,” Mr Ian Luder said.
Sergei Sidorsky: Belarus can be good player on European market
“Being an economically developed country Belarus can be a good player on the European market. This opinion was also voiced by many participants of today’s Belarus Investment Forum,” Sergei Sidorsky said.
“We should be more open, we should assert ourselves more actively,” the Premier underlined. He added that forums like that are designed to help Belarus advance on the foreign markets.
According to Sergei Sidorsky, the dialogue between Belarus and the Arab world has recently been gaining momentum. “We could hold a business forum in this region, too. The meetings in which I participated prove that Arab businessmen are interested in it,” the Belarusian Premier said.
Sergei Sidorsky invites UK parliamentarians to visit Belarus
Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky invited parliamentarians of the United Kingdom to visit Belarus. “We will be glad to see you anytime,” Sergei Sidorsky said, BelTA has learnt.
At the meeting with the representatives of the House of Lords and the House of Commons the head of the Belarusian government spoke on the economic development of Belarus and the main branches of its economy, the priorities of its further development. The UK parliamentarians asked about the steps undertaken by the Belarusian government to liberalize the country’s taxation and banking systems. The Premier also spoke on the Chernobyl accident management.
The representatives of the UK parliament showed interest in the political life of Belarus, the recent parliamentary elections and the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Belarus President orders unbiased report on implementation of orphans care decree
The Belarusian Head of State thinks that more could be done to successfully implement the decree. According to him, the participants of the meeting failed to produce a proper assessment of the situation confining themselves to reports and statistics.
“I do not accept your reports and statistics on the implementation of this decree. The progress was drowned in judicial bureaucracy. I truly believe that the efforts to address this issues were not just insufficient, they were confined to paperwork to a great extent”, the President stated.
Alexander Lukashenko warned that starting from the following day, every town and village will be checked for the incidents when irresponsible parents are still in charge of their children. “If such parents are found, we will perceive it as ignoring the decision I have made,” the Head of State said.
The President reiterated that he would not tolerate any formalism or bureaucracy. This is a priority issue for Belarus. These are the lives of children, the future of the country, Alexander Lukashenko underlined.
Belarus President wants better coordinated efforts to protect children from troubled families
The governmental bodies should take better coordinated measures to implement Decree No 18 from November 24, 2006 on additional measures of state protection of children from troubled families, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the meeting dedicated to the implementation of this decree.
“Many parents stop providing for their children and the state has to take care of them with all the expenses paid by the state. A crucial decision has been made: to take these children away from their parents and entrust them to the state. Children should not grow up in such conditions. This is why children will be brought up in state institutions until parents are able to provide an adequate care for them. If such parents return to a normal life, they will be able to take their children back.
The President believes that no additional recommendations should be attached to this decree. Heads of regional executive committees and village councils know the situation better. They should visit such families every day and make sure that children are taken away from troubled families and their parents are forced to work and provided assistance in finding a job, Alexander Lukashenko underlined. Vice-Premier Alexander Kosinets has been commissioned with the task to take the necessary decisions and coordinate this work, the President added.
According to him, the measures have been elaborated on the state level to make the parents who have neglected their children to either bethink themselves, to remember about their parental duties or to answer for the harm they did to their children. The Council of Ministers and other government agencies were charged to create an effective mechanism to implement Decree No 18. The mechanism was supposed to be simple: on the one hand, we needed to take children out from the harmful environment immediately, on the other to make these pseudo-parents work and compensate the state for the expenses on the maintenance of their children. Alexander Lukashenko noted that the document was well received in the society.
The session on November 18 focuses on the changes which have taken place since the document was adopted, efficiency of the mechanism to protect children and on the problems which still exist and which need to be settled.
The head of state stated that the growth rate of orphaned children has slowed down; the number of parents who returned to normal life and got their children back has increased.
So far the compensation payments for the expenses on children’s maintenance remain low – less than 40%. It is clear that this category of people is not going to work, the President said. “You seem to be accepting the situation as it is. Instead of making such parents work, you offer additional grounds for their dismissal,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The President paid attention to the fact that there are some sources that can be used to help pay off the debts before the state. For example, this is a more rational use of temporarily free apartments from which such parents were evicted.
The session highlights all the issues related to the state protection of children in dysfunctional families.
Wall Street Journal distorts Belarus President’s statements about Belarusian army rearmament
“The article published after the Belarusian head of state gave an interview to the US newspaper Wall Street Journal on November 11 absolutely incorrectly interpreted the statements made by the President regarding the USA plans for deploying antimissile defences in Europe and reciprocal actions of the Russian Federation, including the deployment of missile systems Iskander,” remarked Andrei Popov.
“The Belarusian head of state did not make any statement about our country’s intentions to deploy Russian missile systems Iskander in Belarus in response to the USA deployment of antimissile defences in Europe. It can be easily verified by examining the verbatim record of the President’s interview with the Wall Street Journal published on the official website of the head of state,” stressed the spokesman of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
He was regretful that the distortion of the meaning of the statements the President of Belarus made led to multiple wild guesses in other mass media, which became the reason for incorrect assessments among experts and even political circles of various countries.
“The statements meant that as part of the general rearmament of the Belarusian army obsolescent missile systems should be gradually replaced with new, more advanced ones, including perhaps missile systems Iskander. You must agree that the rearmament of the national army is absolutely normal and natural for any country,” said Andrei Popov.
He also added these intentions of the Belarusian state are not plans for the future: the work should be done step by step, including as soon as Belarus has the available relevant financial resources.
Number of foreign students triples in Belarus for recent ten years
According to Alexander Zhuk, for the recent years, Belarusian universities have intensified the promotion of the Belarusian education on the international educational market.
In 2008, more than seven thousand foreign students from 83 countries including Zambia, Argentina, Australia, Maldives attend Belarusian universities. Belarusian universities have partnership relations with research organizations and universities of 57 countries within the framework of 600 agreements. The biggest partners of the Belarusian universities are the Russian Federation, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, China.
Belarus has approved the Concept of Educational Services Export Development within the framework of the cooperation of Belarus with foreign countries. In line with the Concept, by 2010, the export of educational services is expected to be upped 1.6 times as against 2005 to make up $7.11 million.
During the International Students Day which is marked on November 17, all the conferences, seminars and festivals pay a special attention to international communication, the state and public’s attitude towards the issues of the youth culture.
Belarus to study EU standards in migration and asylum granting
Belarusian specialists are going to take part in a seminar “International Standards and Standards of the European Union in Migration and Asylum Policy”. The event is due to take place in Silichi on November 18-20, BelTA learnt from the press centre of the State Border Committee.
The seminar has been organized within the framework of the international technical assistance “Strengthening the conditions of granting asylum in the Republic of Belarus” (Enei 2). Partaking in the event will be representatives of the border services and the Interior Ministry of the Republic of Belaurs, expert of the Migration Service of Finland Matti Heinonen.
The Belarusian side will get familiar with the pan-European procedures of granting asylum, common standards for illegal migrants and persons seeking asylum, information systems of the Western countries.
Fransabank urges foreign businessmen to invest in Belarus
According to Adnan Kassar, despite the global financial crisis some businessmen have “available” capital. He believes that “Belarus is one of the countries this capital should find its way to.”
“Belarus is a very stable country. The government takes a lot of efforts, carries out reforms to improve business climate. We welcome it,” Adnan Kassar said. He also noted that the government of Belarus supports foreign investors on the highest level, offers stable and fast growing market, highly skilled personnel.
Fransabank operates in Belarus in two areas: banking and real estate. Fransa Holding Company and Fransabank acquired a 98.93% stake in the Zolotoi Taler Bank. The move is part of Fransabank’s strategy to expand the presence in promising regional and international markets with the high level of economic and investment potential. The Bank will also provide all round assistance to the arrival of international and private Arab capital to Belarus.
In Belarus Fransabank invests and attracts foreign investments in the construction and real estate, for example, in the construction of a business centre and administrative building, shopping centres with the participation of ABC Shopping Malls.
The top managers of the bank are studying the possibility to finance the construction and modernization of deluxe hotels and entertainment centers in the Belarusian capital. The investment projects of Fransabank and Belarus’ Architect Ltd. to construct office buildings, shopping malls and entertainment centers in Minsk are estimated at $320 million.
“The recent years have seen an upsurge in interest to the Belarusian banking sector on the part of major foreign financial institutions, including Arab ones,” Adnan Kassar said.
“As for the real estate sector, it represents an abundance of opportunities for investors. The tourism business also seems quite attractive. The potential of the agricultural industry is huge, too,” the Chairman of Fransabank added.
One of the reasons for investing in the Belarusian economy is the fact that Belarus was not hit that hard by the global financial crisis. “I am absolutely sure about the success of your country,” the businessman underlined.
Established in 1921, Fransabank is ranked number one on the list of banks operating in Lebanon and is the oldest bank of this country. The bank provides a broad range of retail, commercial, corporate, investment and international banking services to local and international clients. The bank has its offices in France, Algeria, Syria, Sudan, Cuba and Libya.
Deutsche Bank may guide Belarusbank into global financial markets
Deutsche Bank may act as a financial advisor for Belarusbank as the latter enters international financial markets, Belarusbank Chairman of the Board Nadezhda Yermakova told BelTA at the Belarus Investment Forum in London.
BelTA reported earlier, Belarusbank plans to come out on the market with an initial public offering, sell a minority package of shares and float eurobonds in the future.
BNP Paribas bank may act as a financial advisor for Belarusbank along with Deutsche Bank. Other variants have been considered, too, but unfortunately due to the financial crisis many banks are in an unfavourable situation.
According to Nadezhda Yermakova, this issue and other ones were discussed during her meetings with partners at the Belarus Investment Forum in London. In particular, negotiations with Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui regarding the financing of certain projects took place. A meeting with Vietnamese AgriBank executives took place. The possibility of financing supplies of BelAZs to Vietnam was discussed.
Belarus: WSJ distorted missile comments
In a statement released Monday, the Belarusian government said the Friday article "gave an absolutely false interpretation of the president's statements relating to U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile system in Europe, and on Russia's countermeasures," RIA Novosti reported.
Government officials said the newspaper's article gave the impression Belarus was seeking new short-range Iskander missiles in order to target proposed U.S. missile defense shield installations to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic -- something Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said he might do with Iskander missiles sited in Kaliningrad.
But that's not Belarus's intention in obtaining its own Iskanders, the statement said.
"What was being discussed was exclusively to do with the general rearming of the Belarusian army, and changing outdated missile systems for new, more modern ones, possibly including Iskander missile systems. Clearly, re-equipping one's own army is an entirely normal and natural process for any state," RIA Novosti reported the statement as saying.
Belarus sees no serious obstacles in loan talks with IMF, prime minister says
An IMF mission has stayed in Belarus for three weeks to discuss Belarus’ loan request.
"We are hoping for a positive outcome," Mr. Sidorski was quoted as saying. "I believe that the experts will find a compromise to successfully finish this mission."
The premier said that the Belarusian government had provided all necessary information to the IMF.
"The (IMF) mission, the experts, all take our side, at least that's what they tell us. Now the ball is on the side of the IMF mission," he said, adding that the IMF would have to take a decision "in the near future."
Mr. Sidorski noted that the loan was needed for supporting the real economy, including importer and exporters.
"The (IMF) credit ... is not only for Belarus, it would also be a credit for the partners from the European Union that are now involved in export-import relations with the Belarus industries," Reuters quoted him as saying.
Moscow has recently agreed to lend Belarus $2 billion, Mr. Sidorski said.
The National Bank said that the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves had decreased by almost $460 million, or 10 percent, in September to $4,119.9 million and fell by $68.1 million to $4,051.8 million in October.
While talking to reporters on October 30, Vasil Matsyushewski, deputy chairman of the National Bank, said that it was not vitally important for Belarus to borrow from the IMF.
The loan could serve as a “safety cushion," he said. "We’re in no hurry because this financing is not of critical importance to us."
US lawyer in Belarus prison hospital
Emanuel Zeltser, a diabetic, is an attorney who was jailed in the capital, Minsk, after his March arrest on a commercial espionage charge his lawyers call politically motivated. He was sentenced to three years in prison in August and lost an appeal.
Zeltser was placed in a prison hospital after arriving at a penal colony in eastern Belarus to serve his sentence and he is being denied medicine, defense attorney Dmitry Goryachko said.
The U.S. has called for his release on humanitarian grounds, saying freeing him would help the authoritarian government improve ties with Washington.
A U.S. Embassy official has received permission to visit Zeltser and the prison doctor on Wednesday to discuss the American's condition, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington. Zeltser was last visited by a consular officer on Oct. 20, but it will be the first time an embassy official has been allowed to talk with the Belarusian doctor attending to Zeltser, McCormack said.
Belarus sees 1-2 pct growth at end-09, FX devaluation
Separately, the deputy chief of the central bank chief said the Belarus rouble would be gradually devalued against its managed basket of currencies and that proposed bank privatisations would likely proceed next year.
The ex-Soviet state's 2009 economic growth will be significantly lower than the robust 8.1 percent it chalked up last year and the government's target of 8-9 percent this year.
"The recession might last for half a year. We suspect that after that time we might have GDP growth of 1-2 percent by the end of next year," Deputy Economics Minister Andrei Tour told reporters on the sidelines of an investment forum in London.
Tour said Russia would extend a $1 billion loan to Minsk by the end of this year and another $1 billion early next.
"We are thinking of spending it on energy resources from Russia," he said, speaking through an interpreter.
Last year, Belarus spent part of a $1.5 billion loan provided by Moscow to pay for Russian energy supplies.
Disputes over price have seen Russian gas giant Gazprom threaten previously to cut off gas supplies to Belarus.
A flare-up late 2006 saw the two ex-Soviet states agree that Belarus would pay market prices by 2011 -- a pact that Minsk has since called to be renegotiated.
Tour said the gas renegotiations were near completion.
"The agreement is ready but it's all about the pricing. By Christmas, we are going to have it settled," Tour said.
Belarus, under fire in the West for its poor human rights record, is also seeking a $2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund for what officials say is a "precautionary" measure against the impact of the global financial crisis.
In a separate briefing, Belarus' Deputy Central Bank Chairman Vassily Matyushevsky said the central bank was planning a gradual devaluation of the Belarus rouble, which is managed against an undisclosed basket.
"Next year we are going to be more flexible. We are pursuing a devaluation of the currency, a smooth devaluation process," he said, speaking through an interpreter.
"We are keeping in touch with what's happening in Russia." Russia allowed its rouble to depreciate by 1 percent last week and there is speculation of more to come.
Matyushevsky also said there had been progress on the country's plans to privatise its banks.
"We are in an advanced stage of cooperation with highly respected partner financial institutions. We expect that in the next 3-4 months, we are going to disclose the terms and conditions of these deals."
Belarus has introduced reforms to open up its economy, including getting rid of a state golden share rule, simplifying the tax system and offering some state assets for sale.
Search in Alyaksandr Milinkevich’s headquarters
From: Charter '97
The apartment in Independence Avenue where activists of the movement gather informally, is rented by the deputy leader of the movement Alyaksei Kavalets. As the politician said in an interview to the Charter’97 press-centre, officers of the court stated that a person whose property should be distrained lived in the apartment rented by him.
“The matter concerns the son of the owner of the apartment. But that person does not have any connection with the apartment for 10 years! Officers of the court refused to speak to the owner of the apartment. Despite of the fact that I showed the rent contract to them, they stated that they would seize our property if we wouldn’t confirm that every thing belongs to us. But we didn’t keep receipts after buying each compute, table or chair!” Kavalets said.
As said by the politician, officers of the court even distrained longcaseold clock, a present to Milinkevich. Policemen who had been called in by officers of the court observed the process. If there were 2 policemen in the beginning, their number grew to 6 finally.
The search ended only in the evening. “Everything has been distrained. I signed a document that I accept my own property for storage, and that I do not have a right to take it out somewhere or sell. I have a right to go to law against actions of court officers. We shall certainly do that, but I understand that we do not have independent court, and we have nowhere to complain,” the politician said.
“It is obvious an order has been made to “pressurize” us. I do not know who had done that, law enforcers or “pro-European” officials. But it is clear that repressions against oppositionists in Belarus continue,” A. Kavalets said.
Leader of the “For Freedom” Alyaksandr Milinkevich commented on search in his office to the Charter’97 press center:
“My evaluation is simple. It is a struggle in the authorities between those who want changes and those who stand against them. It is a great struggle in the authorities. This is a serious provocation, organised by those who don’t want normalizing of the relations between Belarus and Europe, those who don’t want democratization of political life of the country and economic liberalization,” the politician noted.
Slowing Russian Growth Brings State-Aid Pledge
From: Wall Street Journal
His comments, his frankest on the subject yet, came as the World Bank cut its growth forecast for Russia next year by more than half because of the country's acute dependence on oil prices. The bank said it expects the ruble to keep softening as it tracks oil prices lower.
"It's not a question of if; it's a question of how it will happen," Zeljko Bogetic, the World Bank's chief economist in Russia, said of the ruble's decline. Russian officials have ruled out a sharp devaluation, but have increasingly hinted that the currency could be allowed to weaken slowly.
Earlier this year, government officials were touting a strong ruble as a symbol of Russia's economic resurgence. But the currency has fallen by 5% against a dollar/euro basket since August, and Russia's central bank allowed it to weaken by 1% last week, triggering speculation that it will be allowed to slowly shed value.
The global financial crisis hit Russia later than it hit the West, gaining real momentum only when global oil prices crumbled. Since May, the country's two leading stock indexes have plunged by around 70%. Some of the country's wealthiest individuals have lost billions of dollars of wealth on paper.
The construction, real-estate, and financial-services sectors were the first to suffer, but until now the government has insisted that large parts of the real economy were insulated. Mr. Medvedev said that is no longer the case.
"Today it is clear that the crisis is spreading, unfortunately, from the financial sector into sectors of the real economy," he told reporters in the town of Izhevsk, an arms-manufacturing center. "Every industry is affected in its own way. It is impossible to say that one among them is sitting pretty."
Mr. Medvedev said the government is willing to keep using its reserves, the third-largest in the world, to boost liquidity and bail out troubled industries. He said the Kremlin has yet to decide on a final figure for its bailout package. So far, it has pledged more than $200 billion in loans, tax cuts, and other measures.
"We understand perfectly well that the scale of the problem is such that it is possible further measures will need to be undertaken," Russian news agencies cited Mr. Medvedev as saying.
The central bank's reserves stood at $475.4 billion on Nov. 7 but have shed $122.1 billion since their peak in early August as the government has spent heavily to support the ruble.
At the same time, capital flight has been increasing as investors have continued to pull back, a retreat that began last summer. Central-bank statistics show $83 billion in net outflows in the past three months while October saw a record monthly outflow of $50 billion.
The World Bank praised the Kremlin for its swift and thorough response to the crisis even as it said more efforts are needed. It forecast that falling oil prices would more than halve Russia's current-account surplus to around $40 billion in 2009 from $100 billion this year.
But it said Russia is much better placed to weather the crisis than many emerging economies because of its carefully husbanded oil and gas wealth.
Ukraine, for example, had to appeal to the International Monetary Fund for a $16.4 billion aid package to help honor foreign payments after plunging metals prices deepened its current-account deficit.
The World Bank said it expects Russia's economy to grow 6% in gross domestic product terms this year and 3% in 2009, down from its previous forecasts of 6.8% and 6.5% respectively. Its estimates are based on an annual average crude-oil price of $101.5 a barrel in 2008 and $74.5 a barrel in 2009. On Tuesday, oil prices were hovering at just over $50 a barrel.
Russian Trial in Killing of Journalist Open to Public
|Pavel Ryaguzov, left, and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, suspects in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, sit in the defendants' cage in a Moscow court yesterday.|
Ms. Politkovskaya was a crusading opposition journalist who covered the war in Chechnya and often criticized the Kremlin. Her killing in October 2006 brought widespread condemnation. She was gunned down as she entered her apartment building.
The authorities have acknowledged that her assailant is still at large, but they have charged three men with providing logistical support for the killing.
The judge, Yevgeny Zubov, warned that he would close the trial if there was evidence of jury tampering or other misconduct.
A lawyer for the Politkovskaya family, Karinna Moskalenko, said the decision would add to the credibility of the verdict. “The public, especially in Anna’s case, they can and they must and they have to have the right to follow this case,” she said.
The case is being heard in a Moscow military court because of a fourth defendant, Pavel Ryaguzov, a former officer in the F.S.B., a successor to the K.G.B. He is accused of criminal ties to the other defendants, but not of a role in the killing itself.
Ms. Politkovskaya’s family and editors at the newspaper where she worked, Novaya Gazeta, have asserted that the authorities have done a poor job trying to find whoever ordered the killing.
Prosecutors have denied that the government had any role in the killing, maintaining that it was arranged by someone who wanted to discredit the Kremlin.
The judge’s decision came on a day when an attack on another journalist was drawing attention in Russia. The journalist, Mikhail Beketov, editor of a newspaper in a Moscow suburb, suffered severe injuries in a beating last week.
He had written about corruption and sought to rally opposition to a local government plan to clear a forest for a road. The identities of his attackers were not known, the authorities said.
Ukraine, Georgia will not hamper Russia's WTO entry, says EU official
From: Kiev Post
Ukraine and Georgia are WTO members, and, in theory, they could block Russia's entry into this organization, he said.
However, Franco said he does not think that such a threat really exists.
Such a situation has never taken place in the WTO's history, the official said, adding he is convinced that if the United States, Europe and other countries wholeheartedly support accession to the WTO by a major economy like Russia, neither Ukraine nor Georgia will be able to hamper this process.
Commenting on WTO-related contacts between Russia and the EU, Franco said that until recently, the main problem was Russia's intention to once again increase timber export duties, which would have made a number of Finnish and Swedish companies bankrupt. But the Russian government has decided to put on hold the measure for the period of nine to 12 months, which allows the EU to formulate meaningful solutions, he said.
Some "false" problems exist between Russia and the EU, the diplomat said, adding that, among other issues, he is referring to trans-Siberian flights. A political decision on the matter has been taken, he said.
Certain questions also remain over Russia's use of regulation standards in food safety control issues, Franco said.
Poland cringes at president's diplomatic blunders
Now, many Poles are cringing over Lech Kaczynski's gaffes and fretting about the damage to Poland's image.
"He obviously doesn't feel at ease as president," said middle school teacher Wieslawa Ozelska, 57.
A childhood film star who won fame playing a troublemaker alongside his identical twin Jaroslaw, Kaczynski still enjoys support from those who admire his past anti-communist activism, unswerving patriotism and commitment to fighting corruption.
But in three years as head of state, he has made protocol blunders that have raised eyebrows in the carefully choreographed world of foreign diplomacy and made him a frequent butt of jokes.
He is also often faulted for letting personal grudges play out in matters of state.
For instance, he was criticized for not inviting Solidarity founder Walesa, who has come to symbolize the nation's liberation from Soviet dominance, to a recent gala celebrating the 90th anniversary of Poland's independence from Russia, Prussia and Austria.
The slight was seen as deliberate and rooted in animosity that has developed in past years between Kaczynski and Walesa, former pro-democracy allies.
Some blunders appear less calculated.
One high-profile stumble came just days after Obama was elected president. Kaczynski's office issued a statement saying the president-elect promised him during a phone call to stick by George W. Bush's controversial plans to build a missile defense site in Poland.
Very quickly, an Obama adviser said the future president made no such promise, forcing Kaczynski's aides into a humiliating backtrack.
Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski complained that Kaczynski had caused a diplomatic embarrassment for the country. "We shouldn't be overzealous and put words into the mouth of the president-elect that he didn't say," Sikorski said.
It wasn't the first faux pas with Washington.
In August, Kaczynski held up the signing ceremony of the missile defense deal by 10 minutes, making U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top Polish officials sit waiting for him in hushed expectation in a large hall at the prime minister's chancellery.
Kaczynski later blamed Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government for his delay, saying he wasn't allowed to use the elevator and was forced to waste time walking up three flights of stairs.
The government denied that, saying Kaczynski had simply arrived late. Many Poles saw the incident as a petty show of power.
"He's a conceited little Napoleon," freelance photographer Wojtek Antoszek, 55, said of the diminutive president. "Totally unfit for the position."
Some observers blame Kaczynski's inexperienced staff. Political analyst Jacek Kucharczyk says the problem is rooted in a suspicion of veteran politicians by Kaczynski and his ex-prime minister brother.
The twins are thought to view anyone with too much experience as potentially compromised by past contacts with former communist rulers or corruption-stained governments that followed.
"He'd rather be surrounded by people whom he trusts than by very competent people whom he doesn't trust," said Kucharcyzk, deputy director of the Warsaw-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. "If you are too competent, it's almost suspicious."
Минское «Динамо» — серебряный призер футбольного чемпионата Беларуси
Результаты воскресных матчей: "Савит" (Могилев) — "Динамо" (Минск) — 1:4 (М.Цыгалко, 25 — Мбанангой, 20, 74, Гигевич, 54, Драгун, 90), "Гомель" — МТЗ-РИПО (Минск) — 2:1 (Баранок, 54, Бохомо, 73 — Осипович, 39), БАТЭ (Борисов) — "Витебск" — 1:1 (Родионов, 68 — Усов, 90+2), "Шахтер" (Солигорск) — "Дарида" (Ждановичи) — 1:0 (Клименко, 90+2), "Гранит" (Микашевичи) — "Неман" (Гродно) — 1:1 (Волков, 58 — Коваленок, 62, с пенальти), "Локомотив" (Минск) — "Динамо" (Брест) — 2:0 (Дера, 38, 50), "Сморгонь" — "Днепр" (Могилев) — 1:0 (Колодин, 13), "Нафтан" (Новополоцк) — "Торпедо" (Жодино) — 0:0.
Итоговое положение: БАТЭ — 67 очков (разница мячей 54-20), "Динамо" (Мн) — 62 (49-29), МТЗ-РИПО — 57 (65-37), "Шахтер" — 51 (50-35), "Витебск" — 51 (39-26), "Динамо" (Бр) — 47 (40-34), "Нафтан" — 46 (41-35), "Сморгонь" — 39 (26-39), "Днепр" — 38 (45-42), "Гранит" — 36 (35-34), "Гомель" — 33 (35-47), "Неман" — 33 (36-40), "Торпедо" — 31 (25-36), "Локомотив" — 25 (28-50), "Савит" — 21 (28-61), "Дарида" — 19 (25-56).
"Шахтер" опережает "Витебск", а "Гомель" — "Неман" за счет большего количества побед.
В 30 турах (240 матчей) забито 623 мяча, из них хозяевами — 317, гостями — 306. Средняя результативность составила 2,6 гола за игру. Хозяева одержали 100 побед, 64 раза сыграли вничью и 76 раз проиграли. Наиболее популярный счет чемпионата — 1:0 (42 раза), 2:1 (41), 2:0 (31), 1:1 (29) и 0:0 (23). С этими результатами закончилось 69% матчей.
Внутренний футбольный сезон завершится 20 ноября двумя ответными матчами 1/8 финала Кубка Беларуси "Минск" — БАТЭ (первая встреча — 4:1) и "Торпедо" — "Витебск" (1:0).
Таццяна Беланогая: “Я і гітара – адно цэлае”
Падчас размовы Таццяна распавяла пра тое, чаму польскія барды спяваюць пра футра, па якой прычыне нельга адначасова кахаць і пісаць песні, і падрабязна спынілася на адрозненні “дзьвюхкроп’я” ад “кропкі”.
“…імкнуся быць падобнай да свайго лірычнага героя”
– Таццяна, у прэсе цябе называюць то бард, то рок-спявачкай, ты ўдзельнічаеш у фестывалях аўтарскай песні… Як сама можаш ахарактарызаваць стыль, у якім граеш?
– Хутчэй, гэта акустычны рок: тэмпы, рытмы, тэмы больш вострыя. Але, у той жа час, я і гітара – адно цэлае. Таму, ўсё ж, атрымоўваецца, што я і бард.
– З чаго пачалося тваё знаёмства з музыкай?
– Бацька хацеў, каб я вучылася ў музычнай школе па класе баян. Хадзіла туды месяцы два. Але гэта было відовішча не для людзей са слабымі нервамі, бо я была худой і маленькай, а баян быў удвая большы за мяне… Так што ў мяне ёсць музычная адукацыя. Жарт! (усміхаецца). А калі ўсур’ёз, то мама вельмі добра спявала, па яе лініі было шмат артыстычных, харызматычных людзей. Сваю першую песню я напісала ў 16 год. Мая сяброўка грала на гітары і навучыла мяне 4 акордам.
– Як нараджаецца песня?
– Гэта прыходзіць у атмасферы абароненасці, калі нічога цябе не адцягвае. Ты – і творчасць, і ніякай зямлі, як я гавару. Вельмі часта бывае так, што мяне нешта кранае: чалавек ці фраза ў аўтобусе. Прыходзіць асацыяцыя, яна можа жыць ува мне месяц ці два, а потым раптоўна пераўтварыцца ў песню.
– Ты і твой лірычны герой – адно цэлае?
– Думкі дык дакладна, дзеянні – не на 100 адсоткаў. Я, напрыклад, усяго баюся – такі «зайчишка-трусишка». Але я працую над тым, каб быць падобнай да свайго лірычнага героя. Гэта ідэал для мяне. Ён прыгожы ва ўсім, і ад яго сыходзіць гэтая стваральная прыгажосць.
– Свае творы ты пішаш толькі на асабістыя словы?
* Такіх песень большасць, але ёсць і на словы іншых паэтаў: Людмілы Паўлікавай, Наталлі Кучмель… Вельмі шмат на Яўгенію Янішчыц (мару запісаць адпаведны альбом). Таксама падабаецца англамоўны Робертс Фрост, пераклад з польскай Чэслава Мілаша і Збігнева Герберта. Каб я захацела напісаць песню на пэўны верш, ён павінен быць вельмі рытмічны і прыцягваць сваёй будовай. Пры гэтым я гляджу перш на твор, а потым ужо на асобу яго аўтара.
“Дзьвюхкроп’е” – альбом пра каханне”
– Таццяна, давай пагаворым пра твой новы альбом “Дзьвюхкроп’е”, прэзентацыя якога адбудзецца ў хуткім часе. Як ішла праца над ім?
– Кружэлка стала вынікам цэлага года напружанай працы: запісу, афармлення і дапрацоўкі матэрыялу. Магчымасць зрабіць альбом з дапамогай прафесіяналаў я атрымала, дзякуючы перамозе ў Міжнародным Фестывалі Бардаў “OPPA 2006”. У адрозненне ад трох папярэдніх альбомаў, якія даводзілася запісваць у сапраўды “спартанскіх” умовах, “Дзьвюхкроп’е” было зроблена ў спрыяльных абставінах, з удзелам прафесійных музыкаў (бубнач А.Сазонаў, скрыпач К.Карапецян, віяланчэлістка Ю.Глушыцкая, флейціст У.Ліхашапка, гітарыст Зм.Крамушчанка, гукарэжысёр А.Чыжык). Таму якасна альбом адчувальна выходзіць з шэрагу папярэдніх, з’яўляецца новым ва ўсіх сэнсах.
– Якая тэматыка кружэлкі? Пра што гаворыць назва?
– “Дзьвюхкроп’е” – альбом пра каханне. У ім я паспрабавала адысці ад сацыяльнай тэматыкі, распавесці пра ўнутраны свет чалавека, адносіны між людзьмі. Гэтая кружэлка змясціла і новыя песні, і ўжо спяваныя раней, але сыграныя па-іншаму. Назва альбома гаворыць пра дзве кропкі, дзвюх асоб, з якіх адбываецца пэўны працяг – сям’я, адносіны. Калі ж глядзець з філалагічнага пункту погляду, то кропка ў канцы сказа азначае скончаную думку, двухкроп’е ж паказвае не на завяршэнне, а на тое, што будзе далей. Свой першы прафесійны альбом я лічу толькі пачаткам таго, што з Боскай дапамогаю яшчэ спадзяюся сказаць у будучым.
– Каго разлічваеш убачыць на прэзентацыі “Дзьвюхкроп’я”? Якім увогуле ўяўляеш “свайго” слухача?
– Гэта мая дэбютная прэзентацыя на “вялікай сцэне”, так бы мовіць першы “дарослы” крок. Спадзяюся, што на прэзентацыю прыйдуць самыя розныя людзі, якім цікавая рэлігійная, патрыятычная тэматыка. Нехта з іх завітае паслухаць “Рэспубліку чорна-белага кіно”, “Марнага прарока”, нехта – “Мару”, кагосьці прывабіць “Адзінота ў лістападзе”.
У маральным плане “мой” слухач ідзе па складаным шляху да Бога. Ён шукае сябе, памыляецца, але працягвае крочыць. Гэта чалавек, які імкнецца да ўнутранай гармоніі, духоўнай прыгажосці.
“Барды – голас народа”
– Пытанне, якое хацелі б задаць многія: чаму твае песні такія сумныя?
– Як навучылі некалі чатыром мінорным акордам, так я на іх і спяваю (усміхаецца). Але ж галоўнае ідзе знутры: калі табе добра, ты будзеш бачыць добрае і спяваць вясёлыя песні. І наадварот. Зараз у мяне пераломны момант – песні пайшлі нейкія рок-н-рольныя, з надзеяй. Напрыклад, «Белая птушка». У будучым магчыма чакаць больш мажорных, аптымістычных песень.
– Што ты лічыш сваім дасягненнем?
– Кожны канцэрт. Калі чалавеку добра, калі яму спадабалася мая песня.
А калі браць больш канкрэтна, то тое, што я перамагла на фестывалі «ОРРА-2006». Упершыню гэта атрымалася зрабіць не паляку, і гэта сталася для іх сапраўдным шокам (усміхаецца). І, канечне, надзвычай значнай з’яўляецца перамога на «Бардаўскай восені». Яшчэ быў дзіцячы конкурс «Зоркі Маладзечна», дзе я выканала дзве песні на словы Яўгеніі Янішчыц. У той час я, пэўна, найбольш радавалася таму, што бацькам добра, што мяне ацанілі, чым непасрэдна факту перамогі.
– З чаго пачаць маладому беларускаму барду, які хоча рэалізаваць сябе?
– Першая прыступка – гэта студэнцкая ініцыятыва, выступы перад «сваёй» аудыторыяй, якая цябе слухае і прымае. Прыкладам можна назваць «Зоркі над Мінскам», якія ладзіліся ў педагагічным універсітэце.
Ёсць Клуб беларускіх бардаў на геаграфічным факультэце ў БДУ. Там, з большага, творцы, якія пішуць на рускай мове. У клубе я пазнаёмілася з некаторымі добрымі людзьмі. Але гэта хутчэй «тусоўка», чым прафесійная дзейнасць.
– Якія якасці павінны абавязкова прысутнічаць у барда?
– Натуральнасць, шчырасць, не «закос» пад некага, а такая каштоўная прастата, самасць.
– Як лічыш, тое, што беларускія барды спяваюць сур’ёзныя, сацыяльна вострыя песні – час ці менталітэт?
– Барды – голас народа. Польскія барды на міжнародным фестывалі «ОРРА-2006» спявалі пра футра і нешта падобнае. У іх усё гэта па-прыколу. У нас жа ёсць нейкая сцяна, якую трэба прабіць, і вельмі вялікія ўнутраныя сілы сыходзяць на духоўныя каштоўнасці. Таму, хутчэй за ўсё, прычына ў часе, абставінах. Калі б гэтага не было, магчыма, больш спявалі б пра каханне.
“…каханне – рухальная сіла для света, але не для творчасці”
– А якое месца займае каханне ў тваім жыцці?
– Мне падаецца, што я цалкам залежу ад кахання. Калі ты атаясамліваеш сябе цалкам каханым, шчасце гэтага чалавека для цябе найбольшае шчасце. У той жа час, каханне – рухальная сіла для света, але не для творчасці. Бо, калі я кахаю, то мне больш нічога не хочацца. А калі няма адносінаў, то і творчасць ідзе, і альбомы запісваюцца.
– Што акрамя музыкі напаўняе тваё жыццё?
– Дарога, хуткасць, сябры і іх падтрымка, каханне, дом… Я вельмі люблю маляваць. Абажаю тоўстыя рысы прадметаў. Магчыма, гэта кажа пра маю прагу да ідэала, крытычнасць: вось гэта чорны, гэта белы. У якім стылі малюю? Поўны постмадэрн! (усміхаецца). Таксама падабаецца займацца фотаздымкамі. Але музыка заўсёды са мной у жыцці. Нават прадметы я бачу па-музычнаму, яны навяваюць мне нейкую мелодыю.
– Па знешнасці цябе можна аднесці да тыпу – «дзяўчына-восень». А з якой парой года ты сама сябе атаясамліваеш?
– Напэўна, гэта будзе восень. Мне, канечне, хочацца быць і вясной, і летам – такой гарэзлівай, вясёлай… І я магу. Але мне падаецца, што толькі восень мудрая. Гэта глыбокая, філасофская пара.
– Як ты ставішся да слова «зорка»?
– Той, хто выбірае прафесію артыста, музыкі, мастака не сядзіць з даведнікам і не тыкае: я хачу быць артыстам, каб мне кветкі дарылі… Гэта тое, што даецца ад Бога, тое, што ты можаш рабіць прыгожа. Калі людзям падабаецца, што ты зрабіў – гэта тваё. І гэтак з кожным чалавекам, хто майстар сваёй справы. Мы можам тварыць цуды, але для гэтага трэба выбраць сваё месца і працаваць, працаваць, працаваць…
– Што б ты сама хацела дадаць?
– Мы ўсе разам, як ні круці. У сусветным маштабе нават: рускія, палякі, беларусы. Таму не трэба сварыцца. Трэба шмат працаваць над сабой, шукаць аднадумцаў і не марнаваць час, бо кожная хвілінка нашага жыцця – гэта вельмі важна. Рабіць нейкі прадукт і быць прыгожым!
Таццяна Беланогая нарадзілася 24 чэрвеня 1984 года ў Мінску.
Атрымала адукацыю ў БДПУ па спецыяльнасцях геаграфія і біялогія; англійская мова.
Перамогі ў музычных фестывалях: «Зоркі Маладзечна» (2003), «Бардаўская восень» (2004), «ОРРА-2006».
Альбомы: «Там, дзе мы» (2004), «Пабачыць сьвет» (2006), «Система координат»(2007), «Дзьвюхкроп’е» (2008).
Alexander Lukashenko sends greeting to participants of Belarus Investment Forum
“I am sincerely glad that we’ve managed to attract such a respected business community to the event. We consider your participation as a token of the growing interest of foreign business in our country and we will support the interest,” says the greeting.
The document reads, the rapid growth of the economy and revenues achieved in recent years, the stable domestic situation, the dynamically improving investment climate, the favourable geographical location, the high scientific, manufacturing and human potential are some of the qualities inherent in modern Belarus.
Belarus guarantees protection of investments, free management of achieved profits, quality service, comfortable and safe stay for investors. The energy, transport, transit and tourism infrastructure, introduction of new technologies in industry and agriculture are unconditional priorities of the Belarusian state and the most profitable areas for investments.
“I am convinced the forum will become the starting point for a range of projects, which look attractive to investors and are meant to develop Belarus’ economy, improve the welfare of its citizens. I wish you fruitful, productive and substantive work,” reads the greeting.