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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Resolution No. 991, Russia, the EU, Environmental issues, Weather forecasting, Construction, Opposition, Sport and Polish scandal

  • From the Top...
  • #433

    Resolution No. 991 applies to state-run companies and companies with government share only

    From: BelTA
    Resolution No. 991 “On some issues regarding the acquisition of products in Belarus” applies only to state-run companies and companies with a government share, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky said at a session of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers on 4 August.

    The major objective of the document is to eliminate mediation as much as possible in this country, Sergei Sidorsky said. The President has adopted several decisions regarding the acquisition of material assets under direct contracts from producers, he said. “But, unfortunately, amid the global financial crisis, many companies work with foreign legal entities that had 6,300 firms registered in Minsk alone. And these firms are not involved in production activities,” the Prime Minister said. They import material assets including component parts and other materials for state-run companies and companies with a government share. Products worth $600 million were imported to this country in January-June. These firms do the job of the marketing departments of state-run companies and companies with a government share.

    Sergei Sidorsky stressed that the measure is aimed to bring order to this business. The companies should be provided with material assets by marketing departments that get wages for that, the Prime Minister said.

    Council of Ministers annuls Resolution No. 991

    Under the instruction of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian government studied the situation caused by adopting Resolution No. 991 “On some issues regarding the acquisition of products in Belarus” and annulled the resolution on 4 August, BelTA learnt from the presidential press service.

    Alexander Lukashenko demanded that the government should rectify the situation caused by adopting Resolution No. 991.

    On his return from Kyrgyzstan, the Belarusian President received numerous complaints related to the adoption of Resolution No. 991 by the Council of Ministers. Similar complaints were submitted to the Presidential Administration.

    Alexander Lukashenko commissioned the government with a task to immediately deal with this situation and take measures to rectify it. The resolution was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 28 July. The document provided that legal entities irrespective of their legal form should acquire products on the territory of Belarus under direct contracts with the producers and their official trading representatives using their own resources, loans or funds of the national and local budgets.

    The national governmental bodies were commissioned to approve the list of the official trading representatives basing on the applications of the producers supplying goods to Belarus and the documents confirming the economic feasibility of the acquisition of the products from the official trading representatives.

    Using the national and local budgets as well as state specific budget fund and state non-budget and innovation funds, the government procurement contracts were planned to be carried out under direct contracts with the producers or their official trading representatives.

    The Council of Ministers believed the document would promote reasonable expenditure and help the country implement its financial policy taking into account the possible impact of the global financial and economic downturn.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus views Belgium as promising partner

    From: BelTA
    Belarus views Belgium as a promising political and economic partner, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia Vasily Dolgolev said as he met with Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Russian Federation Guy Trouveroy, BelTA learnt from the Belarusian diplomatic mission.

    Guy Trouveroy will be appointed Ambassador to Russia and Belarus on concurrent, the Embassy said.

    Vasily Dolgolev congratulated his counterpart on his appointment as Belgian Ambassador to Moscow and pointed out to the importance of holding Days of Belgium in Belarus in October 2009. According to the head of the Belarusian diplomatic mission, it is necessary to ratify the bilateral agreement on investment promotion and protection and speed up the preparation for the meeting between the foreign ministers of the two states.

    The sides shared their views on WTO accession mechanisms and the formation of the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan and the functions of the Customs Union Commission.

    Belarus to integrate environmental objects into European network

    From: BelTA
    Belarus will be able to integrate its environmental objects into the European unified network. It will be possible due to entry into the joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Commission “Emerald Network - Support for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s Programme of Work on Protected Areas in the EU Neighbourhood Policy East Area and Russia”, Mark Roekaerts, an international consultant of the project, told journalists in Minsk on 5 August.

    A national seminar on the project’s launch was held in Minsk on 5 August. The Emerald Network combines the areas of special conservation interest for Europe. “We are pleased that Belarus has joined the programme. It means Belarus’ protected areas will receive the status of the protected areas of Europe,” Mark Roekaerts noted.

    Participation in the Emerald Network will enable Belarus to access the international resources in order to manage and develop the protected areas according to the Bern Convention. Belarus is planning to join the Convention in the nearest future. Belarus will also acquire access to the EU financial and technical resources. Some €146,000 is allocated to the programme according to the European policy of neighbourhood and partnership, the consultant said.

    Belarus needs to examine the conformity of its environmental objects to the Emerald Network standards within three years.

    Belarus to improve formation of national eco-network and biospheric reserves

    The system of formation of the national ecological network and biospheric reserves will be improved in Belarus, BelTA learnt from the press service of the Belarus Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

    The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection has already developed the draft law which foresees the amendments and addenda to the law “On Environmental Protection” on formation and functioning of the national ecological network and biospheric reserves. The draft law has been already introduced before the Council of Ministers. The new law will help the country preserve biological and landscape diversity, develop socio-economic area of the regions.

    The draft law pays special attention to protection and use of biospheric reserves. According to the document, the biospheric reserve is a protected natural area and also the areas where rational exploitation of natural resources are promoted. The funding of the measures to announce biospheric reserves is expected at the expense of the international technical aid including UNESCO programme ‘Human and Biosphere’. At present, there are three biospheric reserves in Belarus – Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Berezina Biospheric Reserve and Bug-Polesie Region.

    According to specialists of the Belarus Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, preparing the draft law, experts have analyzed the experience of the legal regulation, formation and functioning of ecological network and biospheric reserves of the EU countries (France, Germany, Poland and Lithuania), CIS countries (Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Moldova).

    Belarus, Russia to improve weather forecasting system

    From: BelTA
    The 44th session of the board of the Union State Committee of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring will take place in the Konstantinov Palace in St. Petersburg on 5-6 August. The session will highlight a wide range of issues of the joint activity by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus and the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of Russia within the Union State, BelTA learnt from the Union State Permanent Committee.

    In particular, the participants of the session will discuss the implementation of the programme “The improvement of the system providing the population of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus with the information on weather forecast, the environmental state and level of its pollution in 2007-2011”. The participants of the session will consider such important issues of the scientific and production activity of the committee as the preparation of the report “Strategic estimation of the climate change consequences on the environment and economy of the Union State within the next decade or two”. The session will also focus on the issues of training specialists in hydrology, the international cooperation in hydrology, other items.

    Close cooperation and joint research within the Union State Committee of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring are mutually beneficial and boost cooperation between the hydro-meteorological services of Belarus and Russia, the Permanent Committee stressed.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Mogilev to host International Music Festival Zolotoi Shlyager 1-16 October

    From: BelTA
    The International Music Festival “Zolotoi Shlyager 2009” will be held in Mogilev on 1-16 October, BelTA learnt from the Mogilev oblast philharmonic.

    Nani Bregvadze, Ekaterina Shavrina, Anne Veski, Soso Pavliashvili, Igor Nikolaev and many other pop stars will take part in the festival. The guests of the festival will have an opportunity to visit a concert of Iosif Kobzon and the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia conducted by Yuri Bashmet.

    Several other events, including retro film festival for children, applied art and handcraft exhibition, ice-cream festival, youth street show, trumpeter contest, city brass band retro concert, children concert will be held during the festival.

    The International Music Festival “Zolotoi Shlyager” was first organized in 1995 with the assistance of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The festival is member of the International Federation of Festivals, a world organization consisting of more than 150 art festivals.

    Taking part in the festival were Belarusian artistes and pop stars from more than 25 countries including Vladimir Spivakov and Virtuozy Moskvy orchestra, Ludmila Zykina, Edita Piekha, Muslim Magomaev and Tamara Sinyavskaya, Valery Obodzinsky, Ludmila Gurchenko, Mikhail Boyarsky, Alexandra Pakhmutova, Nikolai Dobronravov, Valentina Tolkunova, Virgilius Noreika, Zurab Sotkilava, Vakhtang Kikabidze, Robertino Loreti, Toto Cutugno, Boney M.

    Zdravnevo museum to receive copies of Ilya Repin’s paintings

    The Russian Federation and the CIS Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation (IHCF) will donate two copies of paintings by Ilya Repin to the Ilya Repin Memorial Estate Zdravnevo. The ceremony will take place on 5 August at the memorial estate, Nikolai Pashinsky, Chief of the Culture Department of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee, told BelTA.

    A roundtable meeting of presidium members of the CIS Academies of Arts will take place and the summer school for young artists will open at the Repin estate on 5 August. According to Nikolai Pashinsky, all the events are dedicated to the 165th birthday anniversary of Ilya Repin.

    The Vitebsk Art Museum received six digital copies of Ilya Repin’s paintings a month ago; the original pictures are kept at the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. According to the specialists, it is a very precious gift and the copies are of high quality. They were created with the assistance of the IHCF and were presented by Chief of the Russian President’s Administration Sergei Naryshkin.

    Ilya Repin bought the estate 16 kilometres off Vitebsk in 1892. The main house was reconstructed according to his sketches. The artist created “Belorus”, “Lunnaya Noch”, “Duel”, “Na Solnce” and other paintings there from 1892 to 1901. The museum was established in 1988. The museum’s collection features water-colour and oil paintings and icons by Ilya Repin as well as his authentic photographs, letters and books.

    Belarus to construct 1m square metres of housing abroad

    From: NLIPRB
    Belarus will construct 1 million square metres of housing abroad with the use of domestic materials, First Deputy Minister of Architecture and Construction of Belarus Mikhail Abramchuk told media 5 August.

    The Belarusian constructors hope to boost the export of construction services and earn foreign currency. “Although it is not easy to do it today, the Belarusian construction companies are constantly seeking customers in the CIS countries,” Mikhail Abramchuk said.

    Belarus has been constructing dwelling in Venezuela. That country has already transferred $80 million for these purposes. Foundations of the future houses have already been laid. Therefore the task set forth before the Belarusian constructors in Venezuela will be accomplished, Mikhail Abramchuk said.

    In his words, Belarusian constructors are exploring the possibilities of exporting construction services to Libya and Iraq. These countries are unlikely to export construction materials. They will use the Belarusian equipment and work force only.

    Belarus’ construction posts surplus trade of $12.5 million. In 2009, the country plans to export 400,000-460,000 tonnes of cement. The export of cement totaled 360,000 tonnes in 2008. Despite cement is in high demand inside the country, the Ministry of Construction and Architecture are not going to lose its foreign markets.

    Today the country’s overstocking of brick and silicate blocks is not high and has been caused due a decrease in their export. The issue will be settled as soon as the construction markets of Russia and Ukraine resume their full activity by the end of the year, the official said.

  • Economics...

    Ratio between industrial revenue growth and production growth in Belarus should be 101% in 2009

    From: BelTA
    The ratio between the growth in revenue received from selling products, works and services and industrial output growth should be 101% in Belarus in 2009. This target is stipulated in Resolution No. 1011 of the Council of Ministers of Belarus, BelTA learnt from the Office of the Council of Ministers.

    The government adopted a new socio-economic target for Belarus for 2009. This target is spelled out in Council of Ministers’ Resolution No. 1418 of 26 September 2008. This target is related to the ratio between the revenue growth from selling products, works and services and industrial output growth. The industry should meet a target of 96.5% in January-September 2009 and 101% in 2009 in general, including the Industry Ministry 97% (103%), Ministry of Agriculture and Food 101% (103%), Ministry of Architecture and Construction 98% (103%), Belneftekhim concern 94% (100%), Bellesbumprom concern 102.7% (103.6%), Bellegprom concern 105% (110%), Belbiopharm concern 100% (102%), Belgospishcheprom concern 101% (101%).

    Similar targets have been set for the organizations subordinate to the executive committees.

    Starting this year the Belarusian Statistics Committee calculates and publishes new statistical analytical material on this ratio. In January-May this year the ratio made up 91.6% over the same period last year. It increases on a monthly basis. Thus, in January it was 85.9%, in January-February 88.5%, in Q1 90.8%, in January-April 90.9%. The ratio of 100% will mean that the products manufactured are sold and that warehouse stocks reduce.

    Belarus to apply for WB loan for transport corridor 9B project

    Belarus has plans to apply to the World Bank for a $150 million loan for a project to develop the international transport corridor 9B, Vladimir Mardilovich, the Head of the Road Network Development Department of Belavtodor agency, told a press conference on 5 August.

    “We have been working hard on the corridor’s Minsk-Bobruisk section. This promising project is a part of the Eastern Partnership Initiative,” said Vladimir Mardilovich.

    According to him, the Belarusian side is now working on attracting foreign investments to fulfill the project. “We have already discussed the possibility of attracting investments with the World Bank. We are drafting the necessary documents to get the job done by H1 in 2010. The approximate volume of investments will be $150 million. In addition, Belavtodor is considering the possibility of raising the EBRD financing. We have concluded a memorandum of partnership with Bouygues Group (France) to attract investment in this project,” said Vladimir Mardilovich.

    The International Transport Corridor 9B links Odessa, Kiev, Gomel, Minsk, Vilnius and Kaliningrad.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Turkcell Belarus unit receives 3G frequencies

    From: Forbes
    Turkcell's Belarussian unit has been allocated frequencies to use for its third generation technology and expects to receive a 3G licence from the government soon, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

    Turkcell is the first mobile phone operator in Belarus to receive 3G frequencies. It entered the Belarussian market last year, with the purchase of BEST for $500 million. Telekom Austria also operates in Belarus.

    'We should now expect to receive the relevant licences and after that we can start work. If the regulator approves it, we expect to receive the licence by the end of September,' a Turkcell spokeswoman said.

    Turkcell is the third largest operator in Belarus with just over half a million subscribers from a population of 10 million. MTS, half-owned by Russia's MTS, is the largest operator, followed by Telekom Austrua.

    Vandals strike in Russia, Belarus

    From: JTA
    Vandals struck a cemetery in Russia and a Holocaust memorial in Belarus.

    Some 60 gravestones were vandalized in the Jewish section of a cemetery in the Russian city of Tver, according to a July 31 report by the news agency. A cemetery employee had discovered the crime the previous day.

    It marks the second time vandals had targeted that part of the cemetery. Suspects are awaiting trial in that case.

    In Belarus, vandals painted a swastika and anti-Semitic slogans on a memorial to Jews murdered by the Nazis in Slutsk in 1943, according to a July 31 report by the AEN news agency.

    It was the third time the memorial had been vandalized since it was erected in 2007, but police have yet to apprehend any suspects.

    Minsk announces end to dairy war with Russia

    From: Ria Novosti
    Belarus's Agriculture and Food Ministry says that they have met all Moscow's requirements for Belarusian milk [and dairy products] supplied to Russia. Minsk now is not expecting any problems with regard to dairy supplies to the Russian market.

    Mikhail Savelyev, Belarusian deputy minister of agriculture and food, said yesterday that the Belarusian side had complied with all agreements with Russia's trade and sanitary inspection authority Rospotrebnadzor. The government official also said that Belarusian producers had already received expert reports on products prepared for export to the Russian market. The list of 800 milk and dairy products produced at Belarusian dairy plants, which have received health and disease control certificates in line with Russia's new technical regulations, has been placed on the website of Belarus's Agriculture and Food Ministry.

    To avoid problems in the future, when Belarusian dairy plants launch the production of new products for export to Russia, Rospotrebnadzor's laboratories will issue certificates on a routine basis, the deputy minister said.

    "If our companies stop production and supplies of their products to the Russian market, we will immediately remove information on these products from our site. The list will be constantly revised and new information added to it," Savelyev said.

    The milk conflict between Russia and Belarus began in early June, when Rospotrebnadzor banned all Belarusian dairy products supplies to Russia. The regulator explained its decision by the failure of Belarusian producers and suppliers to renew their permits in keeping with Russia's new technical regulations. Overall, a ban was imposed on nearly 1,500 Belarusian dairy products. Only on June 17 did the sides manage to agree on a settlement. Moscow drafted its requirements for the documentation on Belarusian dairy products and Minsk agreed to implement them. This process was to have been completed by August 1.

    Russia's chief sanitary inspector Gennady Onishchenko said in late July that there would be no problems of Belarusian dairy products supplies to Russia after August 1.

    "The bulk of supplies and the main types of dairy products best known on the Russian market have undergone certification. Supplies will not be disrupted again," he said.

    However, despite Moscow's assurances and Minsk's statement on Tuesday, independent experts think that this is not the "signing of a peace agreement" but rather "a temporary ceasefire."

    Belarusian analyst Viktor Martinovich believes that "milk disputes are part of Russian-Belarusian confrontation."

    According to him, the best evidence of the quality of Belarusian milk will be President Alexander Lukashenko's further actions.

    "Perhaps the Belarusian side thinks that it has met all Rospotrebnadzor's requirements. But, if Lukashenko fails to sign an agreement on a joint rapid reaction force, to take over the presidency in the Collective Security Treaty Organization and to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence, anything could happen, even something unheard-of may be suddenly found in Belarusian milk," Martinovich said.

  • From the Opposition...

    Oppositionist tried for graffiti “Ban Resolution No.991!”

    From: Charter '97
    An activist of the Young Front Aleh Valatouski was kept in the police department of te railway station of Minsk for the whole night.

    As informed by the Radio Svaboda, the young activist was detained on August 5 not far from the station, when he was making graffiti on a concrete wall: “Ban resolution No. 991!” and “Government must resign!”

    Policemen drew up an administrative report for damage to private property.

    The detained activist of the Young Front Aleh Valatouski was released only at daytime. At 3 p.m. he was to come to the police department again, and he is to be taken to the court from that place.

    As we have informed, on July 28 Resolution No. 991 came into force. It banned intermediaries in trade. According to the resolution, all legal entities are to buy goods only from manufacturers or from official dealers.

    The head of the government Syarhei Sidorski there are arguments in favour of this decision. As said by him, the difference in price for the same good bought by Belarusian enterprises in Belarus varies from 30% to 260%.

    On August 4 Alyaksandr Lukashenka demanded the Prime Minister “to immediately deal with the situation” which was shaped after the resolution’s adoption “and take measures to rectify it”. On the evening of the same day it was reported the Council of Ministers denounced the resolution. As said by businessmen, over the days of forced downtime caused by the resolution No. 991, Belarusian companies have lost from $5,000 to $100,000.

    Venezuelan mass media: “Belarus is backward and poverty-struck country”

    From: Charter '97
    The Venezuelan Embassy in Belarus has told what the media write about Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime.

    As informed by the AFN, the Venezuelan Embassy in Belarus has circulated a comment on the decision of the authorities of this Latin American country to close more than 200 private radio stations (34 out of which had already been deprived of broadcasting licenses) and impose limitations on cable and satellite TV Channels broadcasting.

    The Venezuelan government has stated that it would nationalize radio stations in order to “democratize radio waves”, and Hugo Chavez has unleashed a media war against private broadcasters who are charged with resistance to his socialistic policy by him.

    In the report of the Embassy the criticism against this decision by Hugo Chavez is refuted. Among the arguments are the words that “The Constitution makes censorship in mass media impossible since 1999” and “nobody would interfere the private mass media’s criticism of the government, the president and whoever they like… every day”. According to the statement of the embassy, 34 radio stations deprives of licenses are “pirates”, who illegally occupied the frequencies for broadcasting.

    Moreover, the aim of these mass media who have “unleashed the war of he fourth generation” was it create a false impression about the country inside the country and abroad, in order to facilitate plans of foreign intervention and implementing a coup.

    However, the Belarusian public would be much more interested to know that the situation is not that bad with the level of informational awareness in independent mass media of Venezuela.

    As stated by the embassy, “according to forges stereotypes” of Venezuelan independent mass media, Belarus is “a downward country with the problem of hunger and poverty”, “Chernobyl’s consequences are present in dry milk delivered to Venezuela” and “we shouldn’t buy anything from this country”.

    “Do you believe it is true?” the address of the Venezuelan embassy in Belarus ends.

    Answering this question from the position of the Belarusian authorities that are as concerned with existence of independent mass media as Venezuelan ones, one can say indignantly: “Certainly, it is an awful lie”. But from the point of view of common Belarusians, one can answer this question by another question: “Have you ever doubted that?”

  • Russia...

    Georgia, Russia step back from fears of a new war

    From: AP
    Despite rising tensions and slashing rhetoric as the first anniversary of the Russian war approaches, top officials in Tbilisi and Moscow downplay the likelihood of renewed fighting — but for deeply different reasons.

    The deputy chief of Russia's general staff says Georgia is too weak after the war that devastated its military and caused an estimated $1 billion damage to the struggling country.

    Georgia's national security adviser, however, says the danger of new fighting appears low because of "preventive diplomacy" and because Russia knows a new war would undermine its influence among neighbors and rapprochement with the West.

    In the two weeks ahead of the Friday anniversary of the start of the war, Georgia and Russia have accused each other of preparing for new hostilities by allegedly launching small attacks in and around South Ossetia, the separatist region that was the war's flashpoint.

    The August 2008 conflict erupted after escalating exchanges of fire between Georgia and Moscow-backed South Ossetian forces. The region, recognized by Russia as independent after the war, is now home to thousands of Russian troops and cut off by roadblocks from the rest of Georgia.

    Each reported attack was followed by ominous or aggrieved words from both sides, culminating in Russia's Defense Ministry saying it reserved the right to use all available means against Georgian aggression.

    However, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn of the Russian general staff gave a milder — if no less contemptuous — assessment on Wednesday, saying "We don't see a capability for any kind of aggression."

    The statement was a distinct backing-off from Russia's recent allegations that Georgia is rearming with hostile intent.

    Georgia has warned repeatedly that Russia's and South Ossetia's recent claims echo the provocations and heated words that preceded last year's war. But Georgian National Security Council chief Eka Tkeshelashvili contends that Georgia's close contacts with the United States and the European Union are keeping the tensions from boiling over.

    Georgia has "the assurance that at this time, unlike last year, preventive diplomacy will work in such a manner that we will not see deterioration of the situation," she said. Russia understands that the political price of any action would be too high, she said.

    The preventive diplomacy may have already been called into action. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke by telephone late Tuesday, according to a Kremlin statement that mentioned only fleetingly that Georgia was a topic of discussion.

    Among the political costs of a new war, Tkeshelashvili said, could be the alienation of neighbors, notably oil-rich Azerbaijan, if Russia appears to be trying for tough regional dominance.

    "If Georgia falls ... Azerbaijan is fully encircled and then any independent thought of Azerbaijan for its energy supplies is almost a non-existent case," she said. "What we see now is a very good example that (the war) worked contrary to Russian aspirations. We see now that even Belarus, which was clearly under Russian influence, now is seeking alternative ways of development and being closer to Europe."

    Belarus deeply angered Moscow by failing to recognize South Ossetia and another separate province, Abkhazia, as independent.

    But if the war tarnished Russia's image, it also raised deep concerns in the West about Georgia's reliability as it seeks membership in NATO and the EU. Georgia's intense artillery barrage of the South Ossetian capital in the opening hours of the war unsettled allies with suspicions that President Mikhail Saakashvili is impetuous and willing to spill blood to defend national pride.

    Georgia is taking steps to counter that perception as the anniversary looms. On Thursday, the government is to issue an extensive report detailing its contention it had to launch an artillery barrage on Tskhinvali, the provincial capital, because Russian troops had moved into South Ossetia hours earlier and because of attacks on Georgians by South Ossetian forces.

    "The Georgian government concluded that it had been left with no choice but to order military action to counter what was rapidly becoming an invasion with aims that went far beyond a dispute over two Georgian territories," says a report summary obtained by The Associated Press.

    The report says some 150 Russian military vehicles entered a tunnel that connects South Ossetia and Russia some 20 hours before the Georgian barrage began. It also rejects Russia's contention that Georgia was planning genocide against Ossetians.

    Some observers suggest that Western countries' doubts about Georgia after the war reflect their own embarrassment at being unable to put pressure on Russia.

    "It's not easy to say 'We just did almost nothing ... we were weak in front of Russia'," said Thornike Gordadze, a Caucasus researcher at the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul. "It's kind of proportional, Georgia's bad image, a Western attempt to save their own image."

    New Russian base in Kyrgyzstan to be symbolic rather than strategic

    From: Trend
    Additional military contingent of Russia in Kyrgyzstan, which was reflected in the memorandum on further cooperation between the countries signed at the summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, would be of more symbolic than strategic significance, experts consider.

    Informal summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) took place in Kyrgyzstan in the end of last week. The summit was attended by heads of participating states, just Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia.

    The summit focused on the efficiency of the organization, terrorism, extremism and a number of other pressing issues.

    Russia and Kyrgyzstan signed a memorandum on further development and improvement of bilateral legal framework governing the presence of Russian troops on the territory of Kyrgyzstan and the deployment of additional Russian military contingent on the territory of Kyrgyzstan.

    According to it, there are plans to deploy a military facility, which is likely to be a training base in southern Kyrgyzstan.

    Experts consider that the new base will be less strategic, but rather symbolic.

    Establishing additional base in Kyrgyzstan, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is attempting to draw attention of international community to the situation in the south of the country, said Kyrgyz expert Venus Dzhumatayeva.

    In 1999 and 2000, militants of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan tried to enter Uzbekistan from the territory of Tajikistan through the territory of Kyrgyzstan.

    "Since that year, Kyrgyzstan has always been feeling the danger of the repetition of these events," expert, journalist of Kyrgyz edition of Radio Liberty, Dzhumatayeva, told Trend News by telephone.

    According to Dzhumatayeva, Bakiyev said at this CSTO summit that the south of Kyrgyzstan and neighboring countries - Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, is becoming a very dangerous and unpredictable territory where the CSTO should demonstrate itself as an organization, which aims to strengthen and prevent any pockets of danger.

    In addition, according to Dzhumatayeva, Kyrgyzstan needs to be protected, in particular, from the claims of Uzbekistan.

    "There are many disputed territories between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the border has not clearly defined, and Uzbekistan has a desire to expand its territory at the expense of those disputed territories," said the expert.

    Therefore, the decision to open the base was made for security purposes.

    "Kyrgyz government considers this base can be a source of protection, a symbol of protection from such threats, despite that this is likely to be no more than 400 people," said Dzhumatayeva.

    However, unlikely this base will be of vital strategic importance.

    Most likely, it will have a format of certain political demarche, said an expert on politics and interests of Russia in relation to the CIS countries, particularly Central Asia, Igor Torbakov.

    "Serious military analysts in Russia, who have expressed informal opinions, deeply doubt that this base will have some strategic importance," Torbakov, research fellow of the Finnish Institute of International Relations, told Trend News by telephone from Helsinki.

    This is Moscow's attempt to show that the dominant force in post-Soviet territory, particularly in Central Asia, is still Moscow, not Washington.

    Russian and U.S. bases have been co-existing in Kyrgyzstan for the past seven to eight years. Upon agreement between the Kyrgyz and U.S. authorities, the American base in Manas was opened in late 2001. After the Americans, the Russians opened a military base at the airport Kant, which is located 30-40 kilometers from Bishkek.

    Russian expert on the CIS and Central Asia, Leonid Gusev, also believes that the base for Russia would have a symbolic importance of strengthening its influence in Central Asia.

    "For Russia, opening the second base is important because it strengthens its role in Central Asia," Gusev, senior research fellow of Institute for International Studies of Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Foreign Ministry of Russia, told Trend News via e-mail from Moscow.

    Kyrgyz leadership needs the base in order to balance between Russia and U.S.

    Over past few months, Moscow has a strong pressure on Bishkek to squeeze out the Americans, Torbakov said.

    "There were talks before the presidential elections, Bakiyev needed money, Moscow promised big cash grant," said Torbakov.

    In winter, Russia provided percent free loan of around $1.7 billion to Kyrgyzstan. After this, Parliament had decided to close the base of NATO Air Forces in Manas.

    After that, Bakiyev agreed with the United States to rename the Manas military base into the center of transit transportations, as a result of which the contingent of NATO is still in the country.

    "They call this base as transit center, but in fact it will be used for the same purpose as before," said Torbakov.

    Russians did not like this idea, and thus the idea arose to establish a base in the city of Osh, said the expert.

    Like other elite countries of Central Asia, the Kyrgyz leadership all the time maneuvers between different centers of power, he said.

    However, the prospect of opening another base in the neighboring country is unprofitable for neighboring Uzbekistan, against which Tashkent opposed.

    According to experts, there are several reasons.

    According to Gusev, over last two years, Tashkent has again been demonstrating the desire to establish relations with the United States: the U.S. military gained access to the airbase in the border with Afghanistan, Termez (Uzbekistan), where soldiers from Germany were placed. Opening Russian base is contrary to the interests of the United States.

    In addition, this year, Uzbekistan joined the NATO project on railway transportation of non-military cargoes to Afghanistan via the territories of Russia and Kazakhstan.

    The relationship of Uzbekistan with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is relatively poor, said Gusev.

    This is associated with the problem of water, which Tajikistan controls, and the problem of militants in the region, the expert said.

    Russian navy ready to buy warships from NATO countries

    From: Ria Novosti
    Western media have reported that talks are nearing completion on the beginning of construction at French shipyards of a helicopter carrier for the Russian navy.

    The idea of purchasing Mistral-class amphibious assault ship from France was first voiced by Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky at the Evronaval exhibition last October. The ship costs 700 million euros and carries 16 helicopters, 470 airborne troopers, and 70 vehicles or 40 tanks.

    Rossiiskaya Gazeta was the first to report this sensational news. The only reason the news failed to have a wide impact was that no one took it seriously at the time. Why should Russia, which once built aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers and nuclear-powered cruisers, invest hundreds of millions of euros in the West's arms industry by ordering warships from it? Is Russia's defense industry not capable of doing what the Soviet Union did? Apparently not.

    The nuclear submarine Yury Dolgoruky has been under construction in Severodvinsk for 13 years now, and when it will join the navy is anybody's guess. In St. Petersburg, a Lada-type diesel submarine has been under construction for 12 years and still cannot be brought to proper condition. It is already afloat, but its final trials have entered their third year. Isn't that a lot for an ordinary submarine? A hundred years ago, tsarist Russia laid down the battleship Gangut, the largest of its kind at the time. A fully combat-ready ship joined the navy five years later.

    Where it concerns a quality improvement in the inventory of Russia's warships, an order for helicopter carriers in the West is more than justified. The West will build an advanced vessel more quickly and cheaply than Russia. The navy's main headquarters, besides, hopes to obtain a construction license for helicopter carriers, including the most advanced technologies.

    If this happens, Russian shipbuilding will be reborn. But will it happen? It is risky to undertake large and costly projects during a financial crisis. And it is not certain that having built an up-to-date ship for Russia, Western firms will pass all the technological secrets of its construction to Russia. Will our yards be able to master them?

    Besides, a helicopter carrier is a floating airfield for helicopters. Russia, however, does not have modern sea helicopters. The best of them, the Ka-29, was designed several dozen years ago, and its production has long been discontinued. An ideal option for a combined landing ship could be the fast Ka-92. But it exists only in sketches. Its development would cost as much as the ship itself. To say nothing of the time involved. We may have a repeat of the Yury Dolgoruky case - a missile-carrying submarine without missiles.

    The idea of ordering warships from NATO countries (the Netherlands and Spain are also considered as potential contractors) has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, national security will not be affected. On the contrary, such large orders will only strengthen trust between Russia and the North Atlantic alliance.

    Reports say that the situation may clear up this fall. Meanwhile, talks between navy representatives and potential Western contractors are going full speed ahead, although without much publicity.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Corruption in Polish aviation?

    From: Polskie Radio
    The Ministry of Infrastructure has started an inspection of the Civil Aviation Office in connection with an investigation into corruption.

    On Tuesday, the Central Anticorruption Bureau detained six employees of the Civil Aviation Office – members of the Aviation Board of Examiners and a lecturer. Those detained are suspected of taking bribes in return for giving credits at a pilot licence exam.

    The investigation into the case started after a training company Aviation Asset Management had filed a notice of an offence at the Warsaw Prosecutor’s Office.

    Kwasniewski under SB surveillance

    From: The
    Even before 1989, the communist Secret Service was watching over future president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski.

    The Secret Service (SB) was almost obsessed with Aleksander Kwasniewski’s ethnic origin – suspecting his father of being a Jew. SB officers carefully inspected the life history of Zdzislaw Kwasniewski and noted down that, in 1950s and 60s, he worked closely with “Jewish circles” and admitted in “trusted company” to being a Jew.

    The communist Secret Service also held Jolanta Kwasniewska, the future first lady, under surveillance. They established that she worked in a Swedish-Polish company PAAT, which produced goods for the USSR market. In 1988, Kwasniewska officially earned only 85,000 zloty a month (not much at that time) but, according to the SB informants, her real salary was much higher.

    “I’m surprised, outraged and shocked,” said General Wojciech Jaruzelski, former Polsh President, in a response to the SB documents on Kwasniewski. “Secret Service knew that Aleksander Kwasniewski was a promising man. In April 1989, I introduced him to Mikhail Gorbachev. He went to Moscow as my right-hand man. It’s unbelievable that a month later some ‘brutes’ from the SB, as there is no other word to describe them, were spying on a man related so closely to me and Mieczyslaw Rakowski”, said Jaruzelski.

    Polish man killed himself on remand for knife threat to wife

    From: St Albans Review
    A 29-YEAR-OLD man arrested for threatening his wife with a kitchen knife committed suicide in prison after being remanded in custody.

    Police were called to the home of Oktawian Stepka after he came home drunk, accused his wife of having a lover and threatened to kill her and her "lover".

    Emilia Jakubiak told officers on the day of the offence, Wednesday, June 3, her husband returned to their home in Birchwood Avenue, Hatfield, drunk at 5pm.

    She was asleep on the sofa when Stepka, who had been drinking for three days, woke her up and tried to hug her.

    His wife told police she told him: “Get off me, you stink,” and told him she wanted a divorce.

    Stepka asked her if she had a lover and threatened to kill him and her.

    He then went to the kitchen and tried to light a cigarette from a gas hob, which she told him was a dangerous thing to do.

    His wife told police at that point her Polish husband picked up a bread knife and started waving it at her. She left the room and dialled 999, but Stepka was gone before officers arrived.

    He was arrested a little while later and in interview said that the night before he had drunk half a bottle of whisky and four beers.

    He claimed his wife told him she had been seeing another man for four years.

    Stepka admitted in the past he had pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife and punching her in the face while on holiday in Egypt.

    Stepka, who had a surgical implant to cure an alcohol problem, committed suicide in custody on Tuesday, July 21, after being charged with affray.

    During a hearing at St Albans Magistrates Court today Helena Lewer, for the prosecution, said the Crown could only formally discontinue proceedings against the deceased after a death certificate is provided.

    Chairman of the bench Mrs Munro adjourned proceedings for two weeks until Wednesday, August 18, for the death certificate to be sent to the Crown.

  • Sport...

    Indian women's hockey team thump Belarus 6-0

    From: The Hindu
    Striker Rani Devi slammed a hat-trick to help India to a comprehensive 6-0 victory over Belarus in their Group D fixture at the junior women's hockey World Cup here on Wednesday.

    With this win, India qualified for the medal league second round as the top team from the pool.

    India scored through Roselin Dung Dung (16th), Poonam Rani (38th), Ritu Rani (51st) and Rani Devi (53rd, 54th and 58th min).

    Both teams started cautiously, but as the first half progressed India took territorial supremacy pushing action in the Belarus end.

    Dung Dung gave India the lead off skipper Ranjita Devi's set-up which was nailed past Belarus goalkeeper Veranika Mikanovich.

    Belarus attempts for an equalilser were thwarted by an alert Indian defence and a penalty corner was aborted by goalie Jasdeep Kaur late in the first half.

    India totally dominated the second half as the forwards shed off their markers and tore open the Belarus defence.

    Poonam scored the second goal three minutes into the second half with a crisp volley past defender Kibkova and Mikanovich.

    Ritu increased India's tally when she converted a penalty corner in the 51st minute.

    Rani Devi then went on a goal-scoring spree, sounding the board thrice within a span of just six minutes.

    Belarus substituted their goalkeeper bringing in Yauheniya Letsko, but it made no difference.

    India will now play hosts USA in their last preliminary pool game on Thursday.

    Sharapova takes over to beat Azarenka

    From: Daily Bullitin
    Maria Sharapova showed off her surgically repaired right shoulder Wednesday night, unleashing powerful groundstroke after powerful groundstroke during her second-round match against Victoria Azarenka in the L.A. Women's Tennis Championships.

    Azarenka took no mercy on Sharapova, smacking the ball back at her again and again as the match headed to a deciding third set. The third-seeded Azarenka won the first set, but the unseeded Sharapova took the second.

    Sharapova and Azarenka took turns blasting the ball from the baseline, their grunts piercing the cool night air as the sky above Home Depot Center turned from blue to red to purple and then finally to black.

    Finally, after two evenly played sets, there was a clear difference between the two. Sharapova of Russia overpowered Azarenka of Belarus to start the third set and pulled away for a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 victory that propelled her into the Round of 16.

    Standing in the way of a berth in the quarterfinals for Sharapova is Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine. Bondarenko defeated Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, earlier Wednesday.

    Sharapova has been to the semifinals of a tournament once this year and to the quarterfinals three times after having her 2008 season cut short because of a shoulder injury that forced her to undergo surgery in October.

    So far, she has taken only halting steps since making her return to the WTA Tour in May in Warsaw, Poland. She and Azarenka started their match by playing a game of break my serve, with neither able to hold through the first four games of the opening set.

    Everything about their play seemed to mirror each other, which made for compelling theater as the match unfolded.

    Sharapova whipped forehands that skimmed over the net at a stinging pace, and Azarenka smacked them back with just as much speed. Again and again, they battled through prolonged rallies with neither capable of overwhelming the other.

    "Come on," Sharapova bellowed after ripping winners past Azarenka.

    "Come on," Azarenka screamed after ripping winners past Sharapova.

    Soon enough, they needed a tiebreak to settle the first set.

    Azarenka's 7-4 win in the tiebreak gave her an edge she could not hold.

    Sharapova rallied smartly to start the second set, taking the first three games before Azarenka broke Sharapova's serve to make it 3-1.

    Azarenka held serve to cut it to 3-2, then broke again to draw even at 3-all.

    Sharapova went on to take the second set, 6-4, forcing the match to a third set.

    A crowd that numbered in the hundreds during the afternoon session, swelled to several thousand for the evening match. The fans had plenty to cheer right from the start as Sharapova and Azarenka played the most compelling match of the tournament so far.

    Perhaps that's why tournament officials bumped No. 1-ranked Dinara Safina to an afternoon match and scheduled the Sharapova-Azarenka match for the evening session. Safina recorded an all-too-predictable straight sets win over Daniela Hantuchova.

    Andrei Arlovski Confesses Suicide Games After Losses to Fedor Emelianenko, Brett Rogers

    From:’s tenth-ranked heavyweight “Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-7) confessed to playing Russian roulette Wednesday night, a suicidal gamble during which a revolver is loaded with a single round, the cylinder spun, and then placed against the temple. The hopeless player pulls the trigger, chancing the bullet could end their life.

    “First time I was 16, second time I was 30,” said the thirty-year old former UFC heavyweight champion. “It’s when you don’t care about anything.”

    Arlovski was knocked out in 22 seconds by fourth-ranked “Grim” Brett Rogers (8-0) at Strikeforce in St. Louis 6 June after meeting the same end in the first round by Heavyweight Champion “Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (29-1) at Affliction M-1 Global in Anaheim 24 January.

    When quizzed about the perception of a “glass jaw”, Arlovski responded, “In the heavyweight division, it’s no joke. I wasn’t knocked out [by Rogers]. He just punch me and the referee stopped the fight. I was completely conscious. I think “Big” John McCarthy did a good job. Who knows. Who knows, maybe I come back. Perhaps he could punch me a couple more times and give me some injury.”

    After his devastating second knockout loss, Arlovski returned to his native Belarus. “I talked to some priest. He read me a poem,” Arlovski related. He also spent couch time with a sports psychologist to the Russian Olympic wrestling team and communed with his family.

    “I cried a lot after my fights, you know. When I lost to Fedor, I cried. When I lost to Rogers, I cried. You might be surprised, but I had tears alot in my last relationship,” Arlovski told, referencing his relationship with Playboy model Patricia Mikula.

    “I want to box!” Arlovski announced his return to combat will be as a professional boxer at the end of September or beginning of October. “I definitely will continue to train with Freddie Roach.”

    However, Arlovski indicated there was friction between his MMA trainers and Roach, a living legend in boxing.

    “No more experiments,” Arlovski described his time with Roach training for MMA. “I have to come back to my old routines.” He announced that Roach will train him exclusively for boxing matches going forward.

    Though he proclaimed, “I am an MMA fighter,” Arlovski’s MMA future is hazy. “I don’t want to make any predictions. I have a manager,” he said, noting that fighting in Japan, “would be real interesting for me, of course.”

    BATE Borisov's champion's hopes finished

    From: IOL
    Belarus side BATE Borisov's hopes of repeating last year's qualification for the money-spinning group stages of the competition were ended as they went out on away goals to Latvian champions FK Ventspils after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.

    Sergei Krivets scored twice for BATE as they won 2-1 on the night but Igor Tigirlas's early strike proved crucial for Ventspils who won the first leg 1-0.

    UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine are also hoping to reach the playoff round later when they host Romanian side FC Timisoara having drawn the first leg 2-2.

  • Endnote...

    Leanid Zaika: During a fire people do most dire things

    From: Charter '97
    Independent experts say that the situation with adoption and denouncing the Resolution No. 991 of the Council of Ministers “needs help of psychiatrist”.

    Explanations of Syarhei Sidorski, that the notorious resolution No. 991 applies only to state-run companies and companies with a government share was unlikely to bring relief to the business-community. About 75% of Belarusian enterprises are state-owned, said the head of the analytical centre “Strategy” Leanid Zaika to the website

    As said by the expert, after the resolution No.991 was adopted, private wholesale trade was “on the verge of a foul”. “It would be impossible for private trade to survive after that,” the economist states.

    The resolution No.991 has been characterized by Leanid Zaika as a belated and incompetent attempt to overcome warehouse overstocking.

    “This resolution shows the need for a psychiatrist’s help, as they were inactive since January, while warehouse depots were shooting up like a beanstalk. And now such a resolution is adopted while in Western Europe all warehouses have been cleared. I was in Germany, Poland, in the Czech Republic. There are massive sales there; everything has gone under the hammer. And here in Belarus some strange kind of wholesale trade is being created. It is too late, it is incompetent,” the expert said.

    The government acts like during a fire, and addresses of officials have created a deplorable impression, Leanid Zaika said.

    “As for statements of Zajchanka and Sidorski, they had a rather sad impression on me. People are just talking formally that something should be done. Lukashenka is to check non-distributed stocks, and they will pretend that they are moving something, some parcels; some carriages are moved by their manly ministers’ shoulders. This could be estimated professionally as a situation resembling a fire. When a fire starts, people are doing most dire things. You know, what people start to carry away first? Samovars, pillows… That’s the kind of a samovar we have here,” the economist said.

    As we have informed, on August 4 Alyaksandr Lukashenka demanded Prime Minister Syarhei Sidorski “to immediately rectify” the situation with the Resolution No. 991. On the evening of the same day it was informed that the Council of Ministers denounced that document. As said by businessmen, over the days of forced downtime caused by the resolution No. 991, Belarusian companies lost from $5,000 to $100,000.