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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Slavonic Bazaar, France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Football, Culture, Economics, Clean energy, Polish scandal and 1000 posts for the PPAC page

  • From the Top...
  • #427

    Slavonic Bazaar has special magic and unique traditions, President says

    From: BelTA
    Participation in the Opening Ceremony of the 18th Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk International Arts Festival
    The Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk is the national pride of Belarus, the symbol of openness and hospitality of the Belarusian land and the people, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko noted during the opening ceremony of the 18th international festival of arts Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk on 10 July, BelTA learnt from the press service of the Belarusian leader.

    “There are significant events in the world including the Olympic Games, international film festivals which have become the symbols of the highest achievements in sport and art. I believe that our festival Slavonic Bazaar has its worthy place in the ranks of these big events,” take its place

    According to the President, the Slavonic Bazaar has reached serious results. Around 200 people from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine took part in the 1st festival in Vitebsk. This year more than 5,500 guests from 30 countries of Europe, Asia and South America arrived in Vitebsk.

    “However, the main achievement is the overwhelming love of artistes and the audience,” the Head of State added.

    According to the President, one of the peculiar features of the festival is its aura which is changing the life of Vitebsk. The town becomes the real cultural capital of the Slavonic world, the President said.

    The Slavonic Bazaar upholds the original traditions which attract people like a magnet. It is the secret of the success of the Vitebsk forum and its special magic, the President is sure.

    According to the President, the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk has combined the beauty of the ancient Slavonic culture and the rhythms and energy of the modern civilization.

    Alexander Lukashenko stressed that the freedom of art and support of art people have always been true priorities of the Vitebsk festival rather than commercial interest or PR.

    “The Slavonic Bazaar has always focused on discovering and supporting a true talent. It is very pleasing to hear our guests say that the Slavonic bazaar is a great stimulus for the development of national cultures of the neighboring and faraway countries whose representatives think it is an honour to perform on stage of the Summer Amphitheatre,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

    The head of state has awarded a special prize of the President of the Republic of Belarus "Through Art Towards Peace and Understanding" to People's Artist of Russia Valery Leontyev.

    Valery Leontyev thanked Alexander Lukashenko for the prize. The Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk has become a great tradition, and this tradition has become a true national holiday, he said.

    While in the box of the amphitheater, the President talked with Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation.

    Russia wins Vitebsk song contest Grand Prix

    The Grand Prix of the 18th international pop song contest Vitebsk 2009 went to Dmitry Danilenko from Russia, BelTA has learnt.

    He received $10,000, a special prize LYRE and Diploma of Grand Prix Winner. The First Prize ($6,000), a special prize LYRE and Diploma of First Prize Winner went to Pasha Parfeni from Moldova. Andrei Kolosov from Belarus and Vlatko Lozanoski from Macedonia were awarded the Second Prize. The Third Prize was shared by Piotr Dmitrichenko from Ukraine and Jeronimas Milius from Lithuania.

    The special prizes of the Union State Parliamentary Assembly were given to Andrei Kolosov (Belarus) and Dmitry Danilenko (the Russian Federation). Andrei Kolosov was also awarded Vladimir Mulyavin prize for brilliant performance. All the participants of the song contest received gifts and prizes from sponsors.

    The international pop song contest Vitebsk 2009 was held during the Slavonic Bazaar art festival. Taking part in the competition were 16 contestants. For the first time Brazil sent its performer to the festival. The jury was led by Laima Vaikule.

    Over the 18th year old history of the festival the Grand Prix was awarded only once – in 1994.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus President urges more affordable bank loans

    From: BelTA
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko urged paying special attention to the banking system’s lending to the real economy, including improving the affordability of loans for both individuals and corporations. The President outlined the task as Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB) Piotr Prokopovich presented his report on 14 July, the press service of the head of state told BelTA.

    Piotr Prokopovich said that the NBRB will take additional measures to fulfil the task.

    The President of Belarus was informed about the performance of the country’s banking system in H1 2009.

    In view of the global financial and economic crisis the Belarusian banking system took care of its stable operation and did its best for the sake of developing the real economy. Piotr Prokopovich remarked that these goals were reached in H1 2009, with all indicators of the monetary management policy fulfilled.

    The banking system operates steadily, with the net worth and resources on the rise. The NBRB head underlined that there are no problem banks in Belarus.

    Working to ensure the fulfilment of this year’s social and economic development goals is another priority of the banking system operation. With this in mind Belarusian banks constantly provide lending to the economy. As of 1 July the total loan debt was almost 50% up on the same period of 2008.

    The payment system operates steadily, with the volume of payments in H1 2009 60% up on the same period of last year.

    Piotr Prokopovich also reminded that fluctuations of the Belarusian ruble exchange range against the basket of foreign currencies remains within the 5% band. Although the fluctuation range has been extended to 10%, fluctuations are still within the 5% range, noted Piotr Prokopovich. He underlined that there is no need to exceed the threshold in the near future.

    Meanwhile, since early this year gold and foreign exchange reserves have increased by more than $200 million. The NBRB head noted that the increase is small but the fact is important. Piotr Prokopovich assured that the National Bank will do its best to increase the reserves by the end of the year and will keep the national currency stable.

    The head of state urged unfailing observance of the Major Monetary Management Guidelines in H2 2009. Alexander Lukashenko urged to fulfil all tasks regarding the banking system development and ensure stable development of the banking system in the future.

    Apart from that, the President was informed about the Brest oblast performance in H1 2009 as well as fulfilment of certain instructions issued by the head of state. Alexander Lukashenko drew attention to handling matters regarding holding an experiment for developing the Shklov and Pruzhany regions. Piotr Prokopovich remarked that the operation of these regions will be under special control. In the near future a programme for the development of these areas will be presented to the head of state.

    France welcomes rapprochement between EU countries and Belarus

    From: BelTA
    France welcomes rapprochement between the EU countries and Belarus, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Belarus Mireille Musso noted during the solemn meeting timed to the national holiday of the French Republic – Bastille Day.

    “Last autumn, during France’s presidency in the European Union, the EU countries and Belarus intensified rapprochement. We would like to accelerate and intensify it,” she underscored.

    “The formation of the European continent, its freedom, cultural and economic potential, its peaceful development is our common expectation,” the Ambassador underscored.

    According to Mireille Musso, the rapprochement of the European Union and Belarus allowed Minsk and every European country apart to restore their contacts. For instance, for the recent year, the French-Belarusian relations have intensified significantly. The diplomat underscored a visit of heads of big French companies to Belarus (MEDEF delegation). The French businessmen established contacts with representatives of the Belarusian Government, economic ministers and heads of the oblast and town executive committees. Some of the heads of French companies visited Belarus over again to discuss implementation of concrete projects.

    Belarus advocates synchronised advance towards Customs Union ratification

    From: BelTA
    Belarusian parliamentarians are interested in synchronising actions of all participants of the Customs Union in their ratification of agreements and completion of intrastate procedures, BelTA learnt from Igor Karpenko, Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs and CIS Relations Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly.

    BelTA reported earlier, a package of international agreements regarding the creation of the Customs Union that will unite Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan has been brought in the Belarusian parliament. The package of 13 agreements was presented by the Council of Ministers. The parliament has started preparing these agreements for ratification, which is supposed to take place during the forthcoming autumn session.

    According to the MP, the synchronization of the enforcement of the Customs Union’s international treaties is supposed to be discussed at forthcoming sessions of the EurAsEC IPA permanent commissions for customs regulations and border policy and for trade policy and international cooperation. The sessions are supposed to take place in Belarus in October 2009.

    Igor Karpenko underlined that the ratification of these intergovernmental agreements will be a logical continuation of Belarus’ earlier undertaken obligations to set up the Customs Union. These agreements will provide concrete content to the legal base of the Union, will define tariff and technical regulations, and organisational conditions of its operation.

    As the common customs territory is created, it is necessary to form a common external administration system, which uses similar technical approaches. Seven agreements to be ratified are aimed at resolving the task, stated the MP. Among the agreements are ones regulating customs procedures and rules, declaration of the customs value of goods, customs clearance and control.

    The agreement on the Secretariat of the Customs Union Commission is a vital document. The commission started working in January 2009. In line with the document the Secretariat is the body in charge of informational and technical support for the EurAsEC Interstate Council. Secretariat executives and employees are international civil servants.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Slavonic Bazaar welcomes Day of Belarus 15 July

    From: BelTA
    The Day of Belarus will be held within the framework of the 18th international festival of arts Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk on 15 July.

    A press conference with the participation of famous men of arts of the country will open the Days. The Belarusian state choreographic dance group “Khoroshki” will perform in Vitebsk on 15 July.

    On 15 July, the panel jury of the children musical contest Vitebsk 2009 will choose winners. However, officially their names will be announced during a gala-concert in the Vitebsk Concert Hall on 16 July.

    In the evening, the main stage of the Slavonic Bazaar Festival will welcome the best singers and bands of Belarus. Iskui Abalyan, Irina Dorofeeva, Inna Afanasieva, Anzhelika Agurbash, Belaruiskie Pesnyary, Syabry, Verasy and many others will take part in the concert programme “Hello Vitebsk!”

    Belarus, France to implement project timed to 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s army crossing of Berezina river

    In 2012, Belarus and France intend to implement the research and historical project timed to the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s army crossing of the Berezina river, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Belarus Mireille Musso noted during the solemn meeting timed to the national holiday of the French Republic – Bastille Day.

    According to the French Ambassador, it is the common event for the history of France, Belarus and Russia. “The historical events connected with Napoleon’s epoch are the memories of violent and tragic historical epoch for the French, Belarusian, Russian and other European peoples,” she noted.

    In May this year, a Belarusian delegation visited Paris to establish cooperation with the Museum of Army and the State Nursing Home. The sides discussed the implementation of the project timed to 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s army crossing of the Berezina river.

    The Head of the French diplomatic mission expressed gratitude to the Belarusian ministries of culture and defence, the leadership of the Minsk oblast for the support of the project.

    According to Mireille Musso, the current year rallied the Belarusian and French peoples by the celebrations timed to the 65th anniversary of France and Belarus’ liberation from the Nazi invaders.

  • Economics...

    Belarus’ GDP up 0.3% to Br60.6trln in H1

    From: BelTA
    in January-June 2009, Belarus’ GDP was up 0.3% over the same period 2008 to Br60.6 trillion, BelTA learnt from the National Statistics Committee.

    In line with the socio-economic forecast, GDP is projected to increase by 10-12% in 2009.

    According the National Statistics Committee, in Q1 2009 GDP increased by 1.1% as against the same period last year, in January-April by 1.2%, in January-May 1.4%.

    Manufacturing industry accounted for 28.1% of GDP, agriculture 3.5%, construction 11.5%, transport and communications 8.9%, trade and public catering 10.5%.

    Belarus’ gold and foreign exchange reserves 5.9% up to $3,877.4m

    Since the beginning of the year Belarus’ gold and foreign exchange reserves calculated using national methods have increased by 5.9% ($215.2 million) to a total of $3,877.4 million, BelTA learnt from the Information Office of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB).

    The source pointed out that the reserves have increased despite the growing demand for foreign currency in economic entities and individuals.

    According to the IMF SDDS (unlike the national methods it does not take into account currencies with restricted convertibility, precious metals other than monetary gold, and precious stones) the reserves have gained $380.8 million (12.4%) to make up $3,441.9 million.

    The current size of Belarus’ gold and foreign exchange reserves allows the National Bank to keep the national currency exchange rate steady within the range set by this year’s Major Monetary Management Guidelines, noted the source.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Belarus proposes development of renewable, clean energy in NAM states

    From: Xinua
    The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states should use renewable, clean energy and advanced energy technologies to achieve a sustainable, steady and sound growth, Belarus' delegation said in a proposal for the final document of the 15th NAM summit this week.

    According to a revised draft distributed by the summit secretariat Tuesday, Belarus suggested the NAM countries to focus on the need to use affordable and cleaner energy, advance and transfer related technologies, in particular to developing countries on favorable terms.

    The NAM leaders welcomed Belarus' proposal of the establishment of an international center and a database for transferring advanced energy technologies, a multilateral fund to finance the development, transfer and application of technologies as well as capacity building.

    As Belarus initiated, the leaders called for effective international measures to develop, disseminate and deploy such technologies to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

    Belarus received the observer status of NAM in September 1997 and became a fully-fledged member at the 12th NAM summit in Durban,South Africa in September 1998. It remains the sole European member of the movement.

    The Belorussian delegation is chaired by Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov to the 15th NAM summit, which gathers more than 100 leaders of NAM member states in Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharmel-Sheikh this week.

    Among the proposals offered by Belarus to the summit also are encouragement of the Global Partnership Against Slavery and Trafficking in Human Beings and the adoption of a global plan of action on fighting human trafficking.

    Moody's Concludes Rating Review of Four Belarus Banks

    From: IStock
    Moody's Investors Service has downgraded thelong-term global local currency (GLC) deposit ratings of four Belarusbanks as follows: Belarusbank -- to B1 from Ba1; Belagroprombank -- to B1from Ba1; Belpromstroibank -- to B1 from Ba1; and Belinvestbank -- to B1from Ba2. The rating agency has affirmed all of the banks' other ratingsincluding their E+ bank financial strength ratings (BFSRs), but haslowered the Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) of Belarusbank to B2 fromB1; the other banks' BCAs remain unchanged. The outlook on the fourfinancial institutions' long-term ratings is stable, in line with thestable outlook on Belarus's sovereign rating.

    These rating actions conclude Moody's review process, which was initiated on 26 May 2009 and was focused on Belarus's ability to provide support to its banking system, as outlined in the rating agency's Special Comment entitled "Financial Crisis More Closely Aligns Bank Credit Risk and Government Ratings in Non-Aaa Countries", published in May 2009. Moody's has refined its assessment of the ability of the Belarus state toprovide systemic support as the worsening of the local economy and theresulting reduced financial capacity and policy flexibility may adverselyaffect the Belarus government's ability to support the banking sector. Moody's previously used the local currency deposit ceiling (LCDC) as themain input for its assessment of the ability of the national governmentto support the banks. Although anchoring the probability of support atthe LCDC is appropriate in most circumstances -- regarding the provisionof liquidity to a selected number of institutions over a short period oftime -- this might overestimate the capacity, and even willingness, of acentral bank to support financial institutions in the event of a bankingcrisis becoming both truly systemic and protracted.

    Moody's therefore believes that the government's local currency debt rating (usually adjusted by no more than two notches of uplift due to the array of tools available to the central bank to support the banking system) should have a greater weight when considering the ability of thegovernment to provide systemic support. Moody's refined approach allows two notches of uplift from the government bond rating as the main input for its assessment of the ability of the national government to support the banks.

    However, given the weakening economic conditions in Belarus and significant involvement of the stateinto the banking sector and the real economy -- both dominated bystate-controlled entities -- Moody's views Belarus's government bondrating of B1 (stable outlook) as the most appropriate indicator of thegovernment's ability to provide systemic support to the local bankingsector. Amid the crisis, the Belarus government has been supportive by providingunsecured short-term liquidity to the system and some additional capitalto the four state-owned banks, as reflected by recent capital injectionof BYR3 trillion (US$1.4 billion) in December 2008. The alignment of thesystemic support input with the government bond rating also reflectsMoody's view of the state's willingness to support the banking system.

    Lukashenka reiterates that Eastern Partnership is of great benefit to Belarus

    From: Navany
    Alyaksandr Lukashenka reiterated that the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program is of a great benefit to Belarus.

    “The Europeans offer us very beneficial cooperation,” the Belarusian leader said in a July 6 interview with Austria’s newspaper Die Presse. “The European Union accounts for almost half of our trade.”

    Mr. Lukashenka suggested that Moscow is irritated over the participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership because it does not receive “enough information.” “We have repeatedly said that for us, the Eastern Partnership is not a friendship against Russia. Nobody will substitute for Russia for us and we say it frankly.”

    Among problematic issues of Belarus-EU relations, Mr. Lukashenka mentioned Schengen visas required for Belarusian nationals willing to travel to the bloc and their high cost. “Who benefits? The cost is 50 percent higher than for the Ukrainians and the Russians,” he said. “And the Europeans acknowledge that it is not normal.”

    “It is different every time,” Mr. Lukashenka said in his further comment on Belarus’ relations with Moscow and Brussels. “Sometimes, the European Union offers more promising areas of cooperation and sometimes, the Russian Federation does it. Sometimes, Russia starts putting pressure on us… and sometimes, the European Union starts dictating, so to speak, certain conditions to us. Perhaps, they are right to some extent. Both of the countries have certain interests.”

    “The most important thing is that we do not establish friendly relations against someone,” Mr. Lukashenka went on to say. “The European Union has extended a hand to us, offering cooperation. Why should we reject it? The Eastern Partnership is one of the factors. But if some think that we want to receive some dividends, money, from it, they are mistaken. We don’t need money; we need open and equal cooperation so that our goods are not blocked on their way to the European Union. And we are ready to respond adequately.”

    Germany to continue offering training to Belarusian managers

    From: Navany
    Germany and Belarus will continue cooperation in the sphere of the training of Belarusian managers, says a joint statement that is to be signed by the two countries’ economy ministries in Minsk on July 15.

    The document will be inked by Inge Toschev, a departmental head at the German ministry, and Andrey Tur, Belarus’ deputy minister of economy, Belarusian State University’s press office said.

    The statement will be signed in the framework of a meeting of a Belarusian-German management committee.

    The meeting will bring together representatives of Germany’s economy ministry, bank executives and diplomats, as well as Belarusian economy, foreign and education ministry officials, staff with Belarusian State University and the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    The statement says that “highly-skilled experts with knowledge of modern management methods can make a considerable contribution to economic development and welfare growth.”

    More than 115 Belarusian managers have taken training in Germany since 2006.

  • From the Opposition...

    Pinskdrev workers were offered sofas and fire wood instead of payment

    From: Charter '97
    Management of Adriana Plus enterprise, a part of Pinskdrev wood processing holding, offered an unusual compensation for labour.

    It was suggested that the workers should take sofas and fire wood instead of payments. When the workers expressed their dissatisfaction, they were told labour contract might be not prolonged and withdrawn.

    As “Belorusski Partizan” reports, the administration wants to fill a gap in current assets for purchasing raw materials and supplies and fill the already filled stocks.

    Pinskdrev, the biggest furniture manufacturer in Belarus, faced problems in exporting its production the Russian market. Export to Russia amounted to 80 per cent of the total output.

    Member of BPF Youth Pavel Chuduk expelled from theological faculty of Belarusian State University

    From: Viasna
    The activist of the BPF Youth Pavel Chuduk has been expelled from the second year of the theological faculty of the Belarusian State University. He encountered problems after a trip to Sweden, where he monitored the elections to the European Parliament.

    Pavel returned to Minsk on 9 July and was immediately summonsed to the dean’s office. There he was shown photos from this year’s Chernobyl Way (an action in the memory of Chernobyl tragedy that affected Belarus in 1986). At these photos he could be seen taking part in the action. Then he was told that it is impossible to combine studies at the faculty, chaired by the metropolitan of the Orthodox Church Filaret, with his civil and political activism. Later the lecturers on religious studies and German did not agree to give him credits, after which the student was expelled from the university.

    Earlier Pavel had no problems with his studies and was quite a successful student. Now he is looking for a place where he could continue his education. ‘I don’t rule out that I will file documents to the European Humanities University in Vilnius’, said the activist.

  • Around the Region...

    Russia warns Georgia over any move on Ossetia

    From: Washington Post
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday he hoped Georgia had learned its lesson and would not make any more attempts to retake its rebel provinces South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    A day after visiting South Ossetia, where the Russian army repelled Georgia in a five-day war last August, Medvedev strongly hinted Russia would again respond militarily if Georgia tried to retake either of the territories.

    "I would not like to specially recount what happened last year ... and to what we were forced to give a tough and pretty effective response," he told a meeting with senior officers.

    "I hope this lesson will be deeply ingrained in the memory of those now trying to reshape the current order, those trying to solve their personal problems by violence."

    There is widespread speculation in Russia that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, facing opposition protests, may seek to divert public attention from problems at home by trying to spark a new conflict in the turbulent Caucasus.

    Russia recognized the two separatist regions as independent states after Georgia's attempt to retake South Ossetia.

    "The main lesson for us from these events is the necessity to hold fully-fledged, on-going and highly effective exercises of all types of the armed forces of the Russian Federation," Medvedev said.


    Visiting the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, Medvedev watched military games staged by a battalion of the elite 7th Airborne Division which took part in the war. Jet aircraft and helicopter gunships whizzed overhead, bombing heights taken by an assumed enemy.

    Last week Russia completed eight-day "Caucasus 2009" maneuvers which involved thousands of troops, including those deployed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    On Monday Medvedev visited South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, and hailed the region as "a new country."

    Saakashvili slammed the visit as an "immoral gesture."

    "The president of such a big country, Russia, stole into a small region of ours and visited, as if for negotiations, (an) unwashed murderer, corrupt criminal," Saakashvili said, referring to South Ossetia's leader Eduard Kokoity, in a statement posted on his website

    Russia has no plans to abandon naval base in Ukraine

    From: Ria Novosti
    Russia is not planning to abandon its naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine, but will nevertheless re-enforce Black Sea fleet facilities within Russia, the chief of General Staff said on Tuesday.

    Russia's lease of the naval base in the Crimea expires in 2017, but Moscow is hoping to extend the agreement.

    "We have not set ourselves a goal of leaving Sevastopol," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said, adding: "We also plan to build Black Sea fleet facilities near Novorossiisk."

    The Novorossiisk facilities are planned to be completed by 2020.

    Gen. Makarov said work is currently underway to clear the Tsemes Bay, also known as the Novorossiisk Bay, of WWII-era installments.

    Yushchenko announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the Sevastopol base beyond 2017, and urged the Russian fleet to start preparations for a pull out.

    After Borat, Ukraine now set to ban Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno

    From: Guardian
    It may have been the visit to the swingers' party that did it. Or perhaps it was the scene where Brüno drops in to see a medium and simulates oral and anal sex with a ghost.

    Either way, the antics of Sacha Baron Cohen's latest comic antihero – the prancing gay Austrian journalist Brüno – all appear to be too much for Ukraine. According to reports, Ukraine's culture and tourism ministry is set to ban the film Brüno, which was due for release in the post-Soviet country next week.

    The ministry has so far not explained its decision. But it appears to have taken the view that several of the scenes – among them a mock gay parade, and one in which Brüno shows off his penis – were likely to offend conservative and religious opinion. Ukraine's Catholic west and orthodox east take a dim view of gay rights, and hold highly traditional social views. And despite efforts by Ukraine's western-leaning political elite to integrate with Europe, there is little sign of a more liberal view taking hold.

    "Ukrainian society is a conservative one. The topic is not discussed, but in reality public attitudes are exactly the same as in Russia," one Ukrainian diplomat said last night. "The west of Ukraine, especially, is very conservative on family issues. They are devoted Catholics, and Greek Catholics."

    In Russia, and much of eastern Europe, homophobia remains widespread. Last month, Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has denounced gay parades as "satanic", sent in riot police to break up a small demonstration of gay rights activists protesting during the Eurovision song contest.

    Baron Cohen's last film – Borat, or Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – was also banned in Ukraine. Other post-Soviet countries, including Russia, similarly outlawed the film, unwilling to offend Kazakhstan's touchy leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Needless to say, Kazakhstan banned Borat, too.

    Another factor is Ukraine's presidential election: the country's president, Viktor Yushchenko, is staging an uphill struggle for re-election in January. In 2004, he received the support of Ukraine's powerful Catholic church. His officials may calculate that the anti-Brüno factor could just revive his flagging appeal among elderly voters.

    Yesterday, however, some sources in Ukraine's cinema industry suggested that the controversy may simply be an elaborate publicity stunt, dreamed up by distributors Sinergia to boost the film ahead of its release.

    The Ukrainian website, however, today reported the ban was genuine.

    Since its release last Friday, the 18-certificate Brüno has gone to the top of the US box office, and earned £35m in the UK. Amid reports of queues of teenagers being turned away from cinemas, its makers are now preparing a second, more teen-friendly version, to be released in Britain on 24 July.

    Universal Pictures has trimmed the original film by 1 minute and 50 seconds. And it has excised some of the more lurid scenes, including the one with the ghost.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Former Egyptian Ambassador to Poland detained

    From: The News
    The former Egyptian Ambassador to Poland has been detained in Cairo after corruption allegations made against him involving a land deal in the Polish capital.

    The man is accused of accepting bribes to the tune of a million zloty in transactions connected with a land deal. Polish lawyers who oversaw the sale have also been detained.

    Warsaw police announced that a Warsaw-based lawyer was hired by the former Ambassador to broker the deal. “The task was carried out by Jacek M.’s office who worked together with Tomasz C.. They bought the land through a middle man who then sold it on to the embassy for an inflated price,” says Dorota Tietz, spokesperson for the Warsaw police.

    The Egyptian embassy took a loss of 1.42 million euros, added Tietz, explaining that, after the transaction, Jacek M. paid then-ambassador one million zloty (about 330,000 euro).

    Both lawyers have been detained in Poland for up to three months. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison and a heavy fine.

    The Egyptian Embassy in Warsaw to, Monday morning, that the matter refers only to the former Egyptian Ambassador, Yehya Erlamlawaya, and a deal brokered in 2007.

    Dinosaur egg smuggler caught red-handed

    From: Polskie Radio
    A dinosaur’s egg, a mammoth’s tusk and rock crystal were among items a Pole tried to smuggle from Mongolia to Russia and later to Poland.

    The smuggler was detained at the Siberian border after customs officers had examined his car with x-ray apparatus and discovered boxes with the contraband.

    The man claimed that he had been asked by his friend to deliver the boxes to Poland and did not know what was their content – which is why he did not declare the items.

    Prosecutors are looking at the case and legal action will be taken against the smuggler.

    Dead fish in Warsaw reservoir

    From: The News
    The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate is running a series of epidemiological tests in the waters of the Zegrze Reservoir, near Warsaw, after dead fish were discovered.

    The health authorities have closed down designated bathing areas in both the reservoir and the Bug river, which flows into it, on Friday, following widespread death of hundreds of fish, triggered by low oxygen levels in the waters.

    No bacteriological or chemical contamination has been detected, nor any symptoms pointing to pollution of water intakes.

    Experts have begun oxygenating the Zegrze Reservoir by means of special diffusers, aimed at preventing the fish from suffocating. These devices have never been employed over such a vast area, as they are usually used for oxygenating fish-breeding ponds, and water treatment plants, said Ivetta Biawy, from the Provincial Office of Mazovia.

    Last week, experts disagree as to what is causing the death of thousands of fish in rivers in eastern Poland.

    Recent days have seen vast numbers of dead fish floating on the surface of rivers in eastern Poland, including the Bug, Wieprz and Liwiec. Anglers consider the situation an environmental disaster, claiming that bringing the fish stock back to previous levels will take years.

  • Sport...

    Makedonija GjP - BATE Borisov 0:2

    From: Macedonia Football
    After an under average performance, Macedonian champions Makedonija GjP started the UEFA Champions League qualifications with a 0:2 defeat by Belarus champions BATE Borisov.

    Besides the statements and the spirit by Makedonija's players before the match when they claimed that they are no underdogs in this duel, BATE showed on the pitch that they are far better opponent and proved their status as big favorites. Makedonija GjP held BATE and were equal opponents only in the first 20 minutes and they even had a big scoring chance in the 9th minute when defender Mojsov headed the ball next to the goal.

    But the guests went more forward and started attacking in the second part of the first half, when Skavysh missed two good opportunities and took the lead in the 40th minute when Siarhei Kryvets entered the box from the left side and scored for 0:1.

    Couple of minutes after the second half started, Maksim Skavysh used one mistake by Makedonija's defense and converted it into a goal for 0:2. With a slower play, BATE managed to control the match and keep their lead. Makedonija had only one big scoring chance until the end of the match, but Kleckarovski's header went next to the goal.

    Makedonija GjP - BATE Borisov 0:2 (0:1) (photo gallery)
    40' Kryvets, 50' Skavysh

    Makedonija GjP: Pustinjakovich, Ambourouet, Milevski, Mojsov, Ilievski, Lena, Brnjacevski, Ivanovski (46' Felipe), Augusto (61' Montanari), Gligorovski (52' Kleckarovski), Mitrev.
    BATE: Veremko, Likhtarovich (69' Bordachov), Sosnovski, Shitov, Yurevich, Volodko, Kryvets, Nekhaichik (85' Pavlov), Radkov, Skavysh (75' Alumona), Stasevich.

    Twenty-seven countries to take part in ECU Track Championship in Minsk

    From: BelTA
    More than 300 athletes from 27 countries will participate in the ECU Track Championship, which will be held at the Minsk-Arena cycle track on 15-19 July, BelTA learned from Dmitry Shichko, Deputy Minister of Sport and Tourism of Belarus on 14 July.

    The sportsmen will compete for 28 sets of medals in U-18 and U-23 age categories.

    According to Dmitry Shichko, the cycle track of Minsk-Arena meets all the standards of the European Cycling Union. The participants of the event will be accommodated at the best Belarusian hotels; they will be able to visit theatres, historical and architectural sites of Minsk. “The forthcoming championship will be the first major competition to be held at Minsk-Arena, and we are sure we will hold it at a high level,” said Mikhail Yuspa, the Head of the department for physical education, sport and tourism of Minsk City Hall.

    Belarusian experts had visited the international tournaments to adopt the experience of the other countries, Pavel Galkin, the Director of Minsk-Arena, told reporters. French, Italian, Polish and other delegations have already expressed their approval of the cycle track and the organisation of the event. According to Pavel Galkin, the successful organisation of the European Championship will be a good advertising for Minsk-Arena, and it will guarantee that international tournaments will be staged here in the future.

  • Endnote...

    The 1000th Polish Police and Administrative Corruption post

    From: The Story
    Well, this is the 1000th post for the Polish Police and Administrative corruption page. What do you think about that? 1000 yellow stories about Poland and Polish misfits, con artists, swindlers, killers, body thieves, bilkers of old ladies, drunks, back stabbers, killers, bribe takers and of course those from the public trust and the football establishment who seem to always be ready to go the extra mile to keep things depressingly ugly in Warsaw. They say here in Belarus that Being Polish is not a nationality, it is a profession and I believe this completely. I mean, I have believed it since May of 2002 and hopefully, these 1000 stories will help convince others of the same.

    Obviously, I have sort of stopped writing for this blog. I say sort of because in my heart, I am always here. Or maybe that was a bit flowery and it is just that I keep the newspaper happening and the PPAC going. But I thought to take advantage of the occasion and say a little something. 1000 is a big number. Maybe that number would have been bigger before I allowed myself this extremely bureaucratic one-story-a-day quota to fill. Once you start being bureaucratic in any endeavor, even malice and hatred, these things tend to become monotonous and inevitable. But nevertheless, it did take a while to build up a reserve of this size and in a way, I guess I could say that I am proud of it.

    The reasons I seem to have stopped writing though are actually a bit delicate. On the one hand, the decision to stop had something to do with boredom and a feeling that I really and truly was wasting my time. As you might imagine, hopelessness can actually be rather depressing. But then there was also an idea that I didn’t want to get in the habit of writing about the people I was working with. I am talking here about the local education people and of course, the Pinsk police. I wasn’t thinking fear however, as I am sure everyoone’s first guess would be, but rather I was thinking more along the lines that I just didn’t want to talk about how ugly and corrupt my colleagues actually were (are). Sort of a “what you say here, stays here” stance which, probably somewhere in my delusional consciousness was meant to be an act of trust. Now however, with two full years having come and gone, I am not sure that I admire my decision on that all that much and actually, I really wish I would have taken the trouble to name a few names and spit at a few people who need being spit at. But I didn’t, and you know the page sort of died. Not the whole blog of course- I still have a steady flow of people coming through the newspaper and they do seem to be occasionally picking up a copy of the book on their way. That new stat counter by the way is reasonable close if a little low, so at least you can see for yourself what is going on. But yea, the story has become kind of lonely.

    But even if I have not been writing here, this doesn’t mean I have not been busy because I have. I have been teaching English here and doing reasonably well. I have just finished a film script that I am trying to get around to showing people. I am working on picking up the pieces of a rather ugly break up with Tanya and seeing if we can keep her away from a new relationship before she kills us- her main talent in life, by the way. And of course there is thinking about next year, working on the apparently never-to-be-finished second book and, well, getting out to the beach as much as I can.

    About the future though, I don’t really know. One would think that at my age I would have been dug in by now, but I don’t know that I am. I mean, I know the roads and where everything is, but I am I no way who I wanted to be when I came here. I am not saying that I wanted to be the mayor, but I did have an idea that it might be kind of cool to be a bit more in the mix socially. I have had my chances and it is not that I haven’t tried, but I don’t seem to have found the rhythm and obstacles or no, I can’t really brag about myself. I guess or I know that there is no one to blame for that but myself, but saying that doesn’t make it easier. So I am not satisfied with what I have and I need to get a bit more aggressive about making things better.

    But in any case, as far as this blog goes, redundancy or no, I will keep trying and I guess I will just keep on putting out newspapers and adding to the corruption page list. I mean, I keep thinking that something will eventually give way somewhere and I’ll catch my break. I mean, have I got a story to tell yet? But even of I haven’t, maybe, if I can get back into the groove, I’ll do what I can to put out an interesting 1000 words or so a couple of times a week. I men why not? You go out of your way to make a little media spot for yourself, and hey, why not make use of it, right? I don’t really have a handle of what the theme is- maybe I’ll just leave this open for now, but I’ll see what I can do about getting some words on the screen, even if all it ever amounts to is a little mental exercise.

    So this is the story. 1000 posts. That ain’t nothing. And really, it has always been about Poland and Polish corruption, greed, complicity, crime and social irresponsibility. And man, 1000 posts means there is a lot of it out there. And it’s all true. Take if from me. MY name is Adam Goodman and I am advising you NOT to go to Poland and offering 1000 reasons why not.


    Hopefully, more soon…