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Today's Headlines for:
Thursday, August 20, 2009

President urges foreign language study, Venezuela, Pedagogic conferences, Botanical Gardens, Business, Fireworks, Sport, Culture and Polish scandal

  • From the Top...
  • #437

    Belarus President urges more intensive foreign language studying

    From: BelTA
    President Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential residence Drozdy during the filming of the TV-show 'The Formula of Power'
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko believes it is necessary to step up foreign language studying at Belarusian educational establishments. The relevant statement was made as Education Minister Alexander Radkov delivered his report to the head of state on 17 August, the press service of the President of Belarus told BelTA.

    The Belarusian Education Minister informed Alexander Lukashenko about the fulfilment of his instructions concerning comprehensive school development, education system optimization, results of the admission campaign and the readiness of education institutions for the new academic year.

    Alexander Lukashenko instructed the Education Ministry to ensure high quality of education at all stages of the education process.

    The head of state pointed out the need to more actively use new technologies in education and to ensure high quality of education means.

    Alexander Lukashenko believes that it is necessary to step up foreign language studies taking into account modern requirements.

    According to the Minister, in the next few years there are plans to make a foreign language exam part of the school graduation tests. Some Belarusian universities will start offering instruction in English not only for Belarusian students but foreigners as well. The number of students that Belarusian universities will welcome this year is supposed to be around 7,000.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus, Venezuela interested in bilateral cooperation

    From: BelTA
    Belarus and Venezuela are interested in the development of their strategic alliance, co-chairman of the joint Belarusian-Venezuelan high level commission Viktor Sheiman said as he opened the plenary session of the joint commission on 17 August.

    “The development of a multifaceted cooperation with Venezuela is among the top priorities of Belarus’ foreign policy,” Viktor Sheiman said. Belarus closely watches the gradual advancement of Venezuela in Latin America and on the international arena. “We are sincerely happy about the achievements of the Venezuelan people in constructing a strong and prosperous state,” he said. Viktor Sheiman praised Venezuela’s policy aimed to achieve social equality and well-being of its population.

    “The mutual understanding achieved between the leadership of the two countries, the concerted efforts of the governmental bodies, enterprises and organizations significantly enhance our strategic alliance,” Viktor Sheiman said. “This will strengthen our positions on the international arena and will benefit the social and economic development of both Venezuela and Belarus,” he added. According to him, the recent years have seen a dynamic development of the Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation in all the areas – from economy and finances to science and culture.

    The participants of the plenary session of the commission had already held meetings at the ministries, governmental bodies and enterprises of Belarus to discuss the implementation of joint projects. The commission is co-chaired by Viktor Sheiman and Vice President of Venezuela Ramon Carrizales.

    August pedagogic conferences start in Belarus

    From: BelTA
    A whole range of issues related to the development of the education system will be highlighted at the August pedagogic conferences, BelTA learnt from the Education Ministry.

    According to the ministry, dramatic changes have been made in the education system, and the main issue today is the quality of education services.

    The August pedagogic conferences will be held in all regions of Belarus. The first meeting will take place in the Minsk region on 18 August. Other sessions will take place in the Grodno region on 21 August, in the Gomel region on 24 August, in Vitebsk on 25 August, Brest and Mogilev on 26 August and in Minsk on 28 August.

    The participants of the conferences will analyze the results and achievements of the education system in 2008-2009, outline the tasks for a new academic year. The issues concerning the readiness of the educational institutions for a new academic year, improvement of the education system, new forms and methods, curriculum and textbooks will be discussed as well.

    Nearly 100 eminent physicists to partake in ISMD 2009 in Gomel

    The 39th International Symposium on Multiparticle Dynamics (ISMD 09) will take place in Gomel on 4-9 September, BelTA learnt from the ideology department of the Gomel town executive committee.

    Attending the forum will be nearly 100 distinguished scientists from Europe, North and South America, Asia and the CIS countries.

    The symposium has been organized by the National Academy of Sciences, the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia), the Joint Institute for Power and Nuclear Research – Sosny of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Stepanov’s Institute of Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belarusian State University, the National Centre of Particle and High Energy Physics, F. Skorina Gomel State University, Sukhoi Gomel State Technical University.

    The first meeting was held in Paris in 1970. The choice to hold the symposium in Belarus proves the country’s high-level scientific and technical development, alongside its most advanced research achievements.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Central Botanical Garden can become one of Belarus’ tourist centres

    From: BelTA
    The Central Botanical Garden of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB) can become one of the major tourist attractions in Belarus, Director of the Central Botanical Garden Professor Vladimir Reshetnikov said as he met with the representatives of the National Tourism Agency of Belarus and the national travel agencies on 19 August.

    According to Vladimir Reshetnikov, it is necessary to include the botanical garden into the Belarusian and international tourist routes in order to attract tourists’ attention. “In summer we receive ten to twelve foreign delegations while the popularity of the garden among foreigners could be much higher, I believe,” Vladimir Reshetnikov said.

    In order to increase its popularity, the Central Botanical Garden needs to be included into the sightseeing lists of the tourist routes for Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. In his words, the garden should expand cooperation with the non-CIS colleagues as well. Today China, Latin America and the countries bordering the Red Sea are interested in cooperation with the Central Botanical Garden.

    The Central Botanical Garden necessitates further improvements in its infrastructure in order to maintain the interest of foreign visitors. A lot has been done recently in line with the Central Botanical Garden upgrading programme: greenhouses and laboratories have been reconstructed; a unique exposition hot-house has been built.

    Almost 700,000 people visit Belarusian health resorts in H1

    In H1 2009, Belarusian health resorts received 699,300 people, BelTA learnt from Viktor Yakovenko, director of the tourism department of the Belarusian Ministry of Sport and Tourism.

    According to him, 7% of the total number of resorts’ visitors (51,300 people) was foreigners. To compare: during the same period last year, 40,200 foreigners had rest in the Belarusian resorts.

    According to the source, all in all, over the six months this year, 2.67 million foreign tourists visited Belarus. The same number of Belarusians – 2.69 million – visited foreign countries.

    Navalnitsa 2009 fireworks festival to become one of stages of European 2010 fireworks championship

    From: BelTA
    Navalnitsa 2009 international fireworks festival, which will be held at the mountain ski sport and recreation facility in Logoisk on 28-30 August, has received the status of the stage of the European 2010 fireworks championship, head of the organizing committee Igor Sidorovich told BelTA.

    “Belarus has received the right to hold the European championship stage due to the successful performances of the Belarusian team Kalvin at international events. The team became the winner of the European championship in Germany in 2007, the international festival in Tcheboksary (Russia) in 2009. Moreover, the team was awarded prizes in Estonia, Latvia and Kaliningrad,” Igor Sidorovich said.

    According to the rules of the festival, a team of the receiving country cannot participate in the contest. Nevertheless, guests of the festival will have a chance to see an out-of-competition performance of the Belarusian team at the closing ceremony of the festival on 30 August.

    Partaking in the festival are six teams from France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The jury of the festival consists of representatives of European Fireworks Association and Russian Association of Manufacturers and Demonstrators of Fireworks.

    Each team will fire around 5,000 shots during its performance accompanied by music.

    Brest to play host to Belaya Vezha 2009 theatre festival 5-12 September

    Belaya Vezha 2009 international theatre festival will be held in Brest on 5-12 September, BelTA learnt from the Culture Department of the Brest oblast executive committee.

    The 14th theatre festival is dedicated to the 200th birthday anniversary of Nikolai Gogol. The programme includes productions based on the writer’s plays interpreted by Belarusian and the world playwrights.

    According to the preliminary information, 25 theatrical troupes from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Brasilia, Venezuela, Germany, Iran, etc. will partake in the festival. Moscow Oblast State Dramatic Theatre named after A. Ostrovsky will stage Pannochka play based on Gogol’s Viy novel. Brest theatre-goers will also have a chance to see Notes of the Madman, Or Sonata for Cello and Piano play staged by Baku Chamber Theatre. The most spectacular play is a joint project of the Meyerhold Theatrical Centre, Theatre Solutions company and SounDrama studio. The organizations will present Gogol. Evenings soundrama based on Gogol’s Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.

    The programme will also include staging of Lolita by Nabokov and Don Quixote by Cervantes. Around 30 plays will be presented in Brest during the festival. Four of them will be staged in the street.

    Belarusfilm to present film at Berlinale film festival

    The National Film Studio Belarusfilm is to present its new feature film at the Berlinale film festival in Berlin in February 2010, Belarusfilm spokesperson Valentina Belyakova told BelTA.

    The Belarusian film studio will present “The Wolves” film directed by Alexander Kolbyshev. A special working group has been created to prepare all necessary materials to be submitted to the organizing committee on 21 October 2009 at the latest.

    The working group jointly with the film director and the shooting crew has started the work on subtitles in English and German. It is one of the main conditions of the festival.

    The film studio is planning to apply to the Foreign Ministry and the Belarusian Embassy in Germany for assistance in dealing with a number of issues related to the film presentation.

    According to the preliminary critics’ reviews, The Wolves can qualify for different Class A international festivals.

  • Economics...

    Belneftekhim, Nizhnekamskneftekhim sign memorandum of cooperation

    From: BelTA
    The Belneftekhim Concern and the Nizhnekamenskneftekhim Company (Russian Federation, Tatarstan) have signed a memorandum of cooperation, BelTA learnt from the press service of the concern.

    The document was signed during a visit of a delegation of Belarus led by Belneftekhim Chairman Valery Kazakevich to Kazan and Nizhnekamsk (Tatarstan).

    The Belarusian delegation met with Prime Minister of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov, Industry and Trade Minister Ravil Zaripov, representatives of other ministries and businessmen of Tatarstan. The sides discussed promising cooperation areas in the industry, petrochemistry, construction.

    The Belarusian representatives negotiated the further mutually beneficial cooperation with the authorities of Tatneft and Nizhnekamskneftekhim including the delivery of the Grodno Khimvolokno cord materials for the Nizhnekamskshin company. Tatneft will continue the construction of filling stations in Belarus.

    Belarus builds homes abroad

    Belarus implements housing construction projects outside Belarus, Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB) Piotr Prokopovich told President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on 18 August, BelTA learnt from the presidential press service.

    Alexander Lukashenko heard out a report on the execution of his instructions on housing construction in Belarus. The President wanted to know what measures the government and local authorities undertook to meet the target of building 8 million square meters of housing by 2010.

    The President was informed about the implementation of housing construction projects in other countries. Belarusian banks actively participate in the export of construction services by providing finances to promising projects.

    Apart from that, the sides discussed the performance of 12 agricultural enterprises directly supported by the National Bank. All the instructions of the head of state regarding these companies are being carried out.

    A special attention was given to the elaboration of the Pripyat Polesye development programme that covers seven Belarusian regions adjoining the Pripyat river. This programme is aimed to accelerate the socio-economic development of this region and unlock its economic potential.

    The President was also informed about the experiments carried out at Alexandriyskoye company and the companies of the Pruzhany and Shklov regions. These experiments are aimed to find new efficient ways to boost social and economic development of the rural areas.

    Belwest reduces stock reserves by 22%

    As of August 1, 2009 Belwest Footwear Factory has reduced stock reserves by 22% as against the same period of 2008, BelTA learnt from financial director of the factory Larisa Suslova.

    In 2008, Belwest opened 18 chain stores that allowed the company to increase sales. In 2009, the factory intends to open more than 20 stores. According to the finance director, despite the global crisis, Belwest has managed to increase the client base, intensify the development of its own distribution network in Belarus and abroad.

    In H1 2009, Belwest increased export by 30% as against January-June last year. The Russian Federation is the main export region of the company. Belwest also supplies footwear to Latvia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Estonia and Ukraine. At present, the company is developing cooperation with Kazakhstan. Belwest is having talks with Poland and Germany which are expected to become new export regions of the company.

    Twice a year, Belwest renews footwear design by more than 50%. Belwest fashion designers actively cooperate with Italian designers. They regularly attend various international fairs and exhibitions.

    In January-July 2009, Belwest produced 806,000 pairs of shoes at the amount of Br64.825 billion. The production growth made up 110.9% as against the same period last year.

    Over the seven months this year, Belwest invested Br1.256 billion in the fixed assets of the company including Br472 million in retail chain development, Br784 million in production renovation.

    Belwest was founded in 1988. Today, Belwest is the Belarusian-Russian joint venture. Some 55% of the authorized fund belongs to the state, 45% to ZAO Politex Company (Russia). Belwest produces boots, shoes, sandals, moccasins and sabot.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Belarus registers first case of swine flu - Health Ministry

    From: Ria Novosti
    The Belarusian Health Ministry has registered the first case of swine flu in the country, BELTA news agency reported on Wednesday.

    The country's chief sanitary official, Valentina Kachan, told journalists that a Chinese student at Belarus State University, who returned last week from a vacation in China with his wife, fell ill on Friday. She said he is in stable condition.

    The 37 people who have been in close contact with the student, including his wife, showed no signs of the virus.

    "We are monitoring the situation and are doing everything possible to stop the spread of the virus," Kachan said.

    According to the latest figures, Russia has 180 officially confirmed swine flu cases. The World Health Organization's latest report said there have been over 219,000 cases and about 1,900 deaths worldwide.

    Iranian Banks to Run Activity in Belarus

    From: Fars
    Kourosh Parvizian
    Three Iranian banks in a joint measure are due to establish a bank in Belarus, Managing Director of Iran's Exports Development Bank Kourosh Parvizian announced on Wednesday.

    "Iran's Exports Development Bank, in cooperation with Bank Saderat and Bank Refah-e-Kargaran, is due to establish a joint bank in Belarus," Parvizian added, addressing a meeting dubbed as 'Exports, Opportunities and Challenges' here in Tehran today.

    Iranian Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Shamseddin Hosseini had earlier informed of the country's plans for developing banking ties with other states.

    Stating that other countries are also due to set up banks or open branches in Iran, the minister reiterated that Iran will help them develop banking ties with the Islamic Republic.

    Elsewhere, the minister noted the country's economic progress and said, "We have achieved success in the field of taxation as over 110 percent of the projected figure has been collected without even the slightest pressure."

    British PR guru`s contract with Belarusian government expires

    From: Navany
    The Belarusian government’s contract with British public-relations executive Lord Timothy Bell has expired and, apparently, has not been extended, EUobserver reported on August 18.

    "We had a 12 month contract from last August and it has expired," Mr. Bell, chairman of the Bell Pottinger Group, told the Brussels-based online newspaper.

    He did not give additional details.

    When reached by BelaPAN earlier this week, Mr. Bell flatly refused to comment on his relations with the country`s authorities.

    The press offices of the Belarusian Council of Ministers and the Presidential Administration told BelaPAN that they were not aware of the contract. Natallya Pyatkevich, deputy head of the Presidential Administration, said that she would not comment.

    Pyotr Lyohki, spokesman for Alyaksandr Lukashenka, said that he also could not give any details. “I myself learnt about the contract from the media,” he said.

    Speculation in Belarus’ media circles is that Mr. Lukashenka decided that he can do a better job himself without relying on advice from Western experts.

    Mr. Bell, in a previous interview with EUobserver, described Belarus as a country that "has a perfectly nice atmosphere about it." He said that Belarusian authorities are "very hospitable, very pleasant to be with."

    Mr. Bell’s PR firm struck the contract at the beginning of last August to "give advice to implement a program to improve the image of Belarus as a country."

    The PR expert earlier told BelaPAN that his firm would launch a program aimed at improving the international image of Belarus, which would consist of an information campaign and a marketing campaign.

    When asked whether he would focus on the image of Mr. Lukashenka, he replied in the negative but noted that the "president is inevitably part of the country and its image."

    Agrarians of Belarus harvested over 7 mln tonnes of grains

    From: Agrimarket
    Agricultural economies of Belarus harvested 7.05 mln tonnes of grains, declared the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on August 19. As of the same date of the previous year, the production volumes totaled 7.6 mln tonnes of grains.

    The yield of grains exceeded the previous year index and totaled 38.5 c/ha.

    According to data of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, as of August 19, agricultural organizations harvested grains and leguminous plants (without maize) throughout 1.83 mln ha, or 79.8% from the plan as opposed to 86.8% on the same date of the last year.

    Agrarians of the country harvested brewing barley throughout 96.4% of the planned areas. The production volumes totaled 333 thsd tonnes, with the average yield of 39.4 c/ha.

    Agricultural organizations continue rapeseed harvesting campaign. Agrarians harvested the oilseed throughout 93% of planned areas. Production volumes totaled 741.3 thsd tonnes of rapeseed, up 145 thsd tonnes compared to the same date of the previous year. Belarus increased production volumes of the oilseed due to the widening of the sowing areas by 37.4%.

  • From the Opposition...

    Yury Lyavonau: “Businessmen, don’t be silent! They won’t let you be!”

    From: Charter '97
    Businessman Yury Lyavonau held his first press conference after the release from the Minsk pre-trial detention center.

    Yury Lyavonau couldn’t comment on instigating new criminal cases against him and his colleagues at the today’s press conference, because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement. Nevertheless, he called all accusations “absurd” and “ungrounded”.

    He connects the change of the measure of restraint with the increased attention of the mass media, embassies of the European Union and the US to the case of entrepreneurs. “No doubts, it has played its role, because the investigation hasn’t become more liberal,” Lyavonau noted.

    The political prisoner reminded the events that had led to criminal prosecution of the Vaukavysk businessmen.

    “The judicial system and investigative bodies of the law enforcement agencies of Belarus fail to comply with the norms of the international law; they are not independent, don’t defend common people. There are two norms in the legislation – assumption of innocence and judge's belief. But these norms don’t act. How did our prosecution begin? It began with Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s decree #4 on restriction of the number people employed by an individual entrepreneur. The decree came in force in May 2003.

    About 60 employees used to work for Mikalai Autukhovich’s firm. We faced the question “What should we do?” we analyzed the decree and came to a conclusion that we could continue our activity but not fulfil the item of the decree on necessary creation of a commercial enterprise on a base of the individual entrepreneur. I was a director of Nika-Trans firm dealing with cargo transportation. We signed a contract on rending services on driving. About 60 people, working for the individual entrepreneur, were dismissed and employed by Nika-Trans company in a legal way. Thus, they began to work for me. From a legal point of view, this model, later called “grey” by minister of levies and taxes Sumar, is not grey. It didn’t contradict the law in 2003, and other people in Belarus used it. But they had claims only to us. The firm met a storm of audits, trials, then we were arrested.

    Why? Because Mikalai Autukhovich is a really brave strong-willed man able to make decisions, defend them and struggle for them. So we have been doing since 2003. We defend our rights,” Yury Lyavonau noted.

    Being a person who started his business in Belarus, lost it two times and was thrown into prison two times, he addressed other Belarusian businessmen. Moreover, it is topical today taking into account frequent cases of arrests of entrepreneurs.

    “I’d like to tell the Belarusian businessmen –don’t be silent. The problems you have mustn’t be hushed up. We shouldn’t hope that they will let us be if we are silent today. They won’t. We must tell about our problems, we must unite, must struggle,” Yury Lyavonau told.

    In Lyavonau’s view, the Belarusian business must support the Belarusian democratic opposition.

    Commenting on the arrest of the Vaukavysk entrepreneurs, co-head of the organizing committee on creation of the Association of Afghan War Veterans “Defenders of Motherland” Alyaksandr Kamarouski said:

    “The arrest of Autukhovich, Lyavonau, and Asipenka is the schizophrenia of the authorities, an element of intimidation of society to demonstrate how the “enemies of people” can be punished. In my view, the Belarusian secret services can be excused, they perform orders, like killers in Russia in the 1990ies. This outrage takes place against the background of the aggravating economic situation in the country. Do we need this confrontation in society?” Kamarouski said.

    We demand international investigation of the cases of Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, and Uladzimir Asipenka. If they really committed crimes, they must stand open trials. If the case is fabricated, then the authorities must be tried.

    These people were arrested for nothing, killers of Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar, potential presidential candidates, haven’t been found during 10 years. Can you imagine such things, for example, in the United States? They will keep everyone on toes and find the killers. But in our country nobody took responsibility,” Kamarouski said.

    It has become known today Belarusian human rights activists are going to address the international community calling to carry out independent international investigation of the cases of arrested entrepreneurs from Vaukavysk Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, and Uladzimir Asipenka and call on the Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners, including “Young Front” activist Artsyom Dubski.

    The appropriate statement will be sent to US President Barack Obama, current President of the European Union Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev.

    The address says the arrests and detention of Autukhovich, Lyavonau, Asipenka, and Dubski are politically motivated.

    We remind that Yury Lyavonau was arrested on February 8 in Vaukavysk together with entrepreneurs Mikalai Autukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka. On February 18, the entrepreneurs were charged under article 218 of the Criminal Code (intentional damage to or destruction of property of citizens). On June 23, a criminal case under article 359 of the Criminal Code (a terroristic act) in the form of preparation (article 13) was instigated against Autukhovich and “other persons”, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.

    Lyavonau was released on August 8. Investigative activity against him was stopped. The Vaukavysk entrepreneurs are expected to stand trial in November.

    Human rights activists consider the detained to be political prisoners drawing attention to the fact that Autukhovich and Lyavonau were convicted before and recognized prisoners of conscience by the international community.

    Belarus to abolish death penalty in September?

    From: Viasna
    Belarus might introduce a moratorium on the death penalty in September. Garry Pahaniaila, a lawyer from the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, reckons it will be the most conducive time.

    He said: “September, because PACE and European structures in autumn will decide on whether to extend or lift sanctions against Belarus officials. It is also possible that a special-guest status would be returned to Belarus. Therefore, our authorities would like to meet some recommendations voiced by PACE and several EU officials. September is a good time to express "good will" and demonstrate Belarus' desire to implement the recommnedations of the international community".

    Belarus is the only country in Europe with the death penalty. The Amnesty International recently launched a new campaign against the death penalty in Belarus.

    Prosecutor General speaks in favour of death penalty

    In a related story, Belarusian Prosecutor General Ryhor Vasilevich believes that grave crimes should be punished with the death penalty.

    ‘In 2009 2 persons have been sentenced to capital punishment in Belarus. The measure is severe, but fair,’ declared Mr.Vasilevich at a press-conference in Minsk.

    Speaking on the reasonableness of the verdicts, Prosecutor General said that one of them was passed to the murder of 7 elderly women in Drahichyn district, the other being the case of double murder as a result of a holdup, Interfax reports.

  • Russia...

    What to happen after Georgia withdraws from CIS?

    From: Xinua
    A lowered Georgian flag on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Minsk, Belarus, symbolized Georgia's withdrawal from the regional bloc that groups former Soviet republics.

    Georgia was the last among those republics to join the alliance in December 1993, and was also the first to walk away from it after a five-day war with Russia over its breakaway region of South Ossetia last August.

    With geopolitical races escalating in South Caucasus, what this back-off will entail for Georgia and the CIS has raised global concerns.


    Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last August, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia to retake the region that borders Russia. In response, Moscow sent in troops to drive Georgian forces out of there.

    Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states two weeks after the conflict ended, but no country has followed suit except for Nicaragua.

    On Aug. 14, 2008, the Georgian parliament unanimously passed a resolution to terminate the application for three agreements within the CIS framework. Four days later, the Georgian foreign ministry notified the CIS Executive Committee of the withdrawal.

    The CIS Charter stipulates that formal withdrawal can only take effect 12 months after the CIS executive committee is notified of the decision.

    The Georgian foreign ministry said Tuesday in a statement that the decision to withdraw from the CIS was caused by Russia's "occupation of the inalienable parts of the Georgian territory, ethnic cleansing and recognition of the so-called 'independence' of the proxy regimes set up by Russia on the occupied territories."

    Analysts said Georgia's CIS admission and withdrawal were all directly related to territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    In 1993, former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze decided to join the alliance to solve the territorial issue as Abkhazia announced its independence one year earlier.

    A Georgian Caucasus expert said that along with the outbreak of last August's conflict, it had finally dawned on Georgia that it was totally meaningless to stay in the CIS because it could not help solve the territorial issue.


    According to Georgian media, after its secession from the CIS, Georgia would inevitably concentrate more on developing relations with the United States, NATO and the European Union (EU) in order to seek more support from the West for its domestic and foreign policies.

    Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temuri Iakobashvili believed the withdrawal was a strategic geopolitical choice as it can accelerate the country's accession to NATO and the EU.

    Zurab Khonelidze, Georgia's last permanent representative in the CIS, said "the departure of Georgia will only free Russia from many obligations, including recognition in the framework of this organization of the territorial integrity of Georgia.

    "We could have still used (it) to achieve something useful for our country," he added.

    Peter Chkheidze, a Georgian expert on international relations, said the withdrawal could damage Georgia's political, economic and cultural ties with other CIS member states.

    Leonid Slutsky, Russia's first deputy chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, said Georgia's withdrawal from the CIS was an imprudent and demonstrative step.

    "The decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth will not give Georgia anything but unnecessary trouble and a doubtful political effect, and will only impact its citizens adversely," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying on Monday.

    From an economic perspective, Georgia's withdrawal from the CIS will have limited influence on its domestic economy.

    Together with other CIS member states, Georgia has signed a series of bilateral agreements on economic cooperation before it pulled out of the organization.

    According to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Georgia remains part of the 75 multilateral agreements, which is not conditional on CIS membership. This includes the agreement on visa-free movement of nationals of the CIS member states and agreement on the creation of a free trade zone.

    Moreover, Georgia is still allowed to seek economic cooperation within the framework of GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova). Ukraine and Azerbaijan, both CIS members, are Georgia's second and third largest trade partners.

    However, some experts said Ukraine was dependent on Russia due to its demands for Russian gas and the Sevastopol naval base, a Russian base located on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Azerbaijan's crude oil exports was hit hard by last August's war between Russia and Georgia.

    In view of Russia's hard-line stance on the maintenance of "superior interests" in the Caucasus region, other members states may take a more cautious attitude towards the enhancement of economic cooperation with Georgia.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry believed that Georgia's withdrawal would have a negative impact on the lives of its citizens because Georgia has to mull over signing new deals on visa-free movement, labor exchanges and education with other CIS members.


    Media and experts remain at odds over the impact of Georgia's withdrawal from the regional bloc.

    Russian media believe the development of the CIS would face more uncertainties after Georgia's withdrawal from the bloc. Among the problems is Ukraine, one of the three founders of the CIS. The intensified tensions and long disputes between Russia and Ukraine have cast a shadow over the prospects of the CIS.

    Meanwhile, CIS member states, including Russia, have prepared themselves for Georgia's withdrawal. Therefore, Russian observers believe that Georgia's withdrawal would do no harm to the CIS nor entail any changes.

    Konstantin Zatulin, a State Duma deputy and director of the Institute of CIS Countries, said the CIS would work more effectively without Georgia. The concern that other member states would follow Georgia's lead was just an overreaction.

    Russia kicks off Ladoga-2009 drills

    From: Milaz
    Russia has started the strategic component of ongoing military exercises in the northwest of the country, an aide to the Ground Forces commander said on Tuesday, Ria Novosti reported.

    The Ladoga-2009 drills, held from August 10 to September 28 as part of Russia’s military reforms, involve all units of the Leningrad military district, several units of the Siberian military district, interior troops, border guards, and the Northern and Baltic fleets.

    “In accordance with the combat training plan of the Russian Armed Forces, the Ladoga-2009 strategic exercises are going ahead under the command of the Russian Ground Forces commander, Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev,” Col. Igor Konashenkov said.

    The official said the current phase of the exercise involved the planning of strategic deployment of the armed forces in Russia’s northwest and putting the military units on high alert.

    Under the ongoing military reform, Russia held on June 29 to July 10 the Caucasus-2009 exercises, which involved all the brigades of the North Caucasus military district, the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla.

    During the Zapad (West) exercises on September 8-29, Russia will deploy two full-sized armies in Belarus.

    Russia’s Ground Forces are deployed in six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad, North Caucasus, Urals, Siberian, and Far Eastern.

    The central focus of the current reforms is the reorganization of the military command and control system from a four-tier (military district – army – division – regiment) to a three-tier structure (military district – operational command – brigade).

    Prices to be steady on Russian grocery staples despite production issues

    From: RT
    Despite data showing a downturn in land under cultivation, grain production is expected to leave plenty for both domestic consumers and exports, with declining butter imports seeing a consumer product shift.

    Recent figures out of Russian agricultural agencies haven’t eased concerns about the future of grain prices with Agriculture Minister, Elena Skrynnik, suggesting that drought could see the country up to 11 million tonnes short of grain this year. That comes in addition to data from statistics agency, Rosstat, forecasting a 2009 crop of 85 million tonnes, down from 108 million in 2008, with drought affected land rising from 148 thousand hectares to1.9 million hectares.

    However, Ivanova Marina, Director of Research and Information at Russia’s grain union, believes the outlook is considerably better and notes that the downturn comes after record crops last year.

    “It’s important to understand what we are comparing the forecasts with. I mean, last year Russia had record grain harvest, and to call those 11 million tons “a shortage” isn’t correct really. In fact, expert estimates differ from the official one, pointing to a 2009 harvest of about 95 million tonnes. Consumption is no more than 80 million, so this is enough to provide for both local and foreign markets.”

    Those concerned about the implications for their daily loaf of bread can relax according to FC Otkrytie analyst, Irina Yourodskaya, who expects any spikes in the prices of consumer staples to be capped by the Government.

    “The bread price is most likely to remain flat, as it’s a socially important product, and the Government will try to restrain the price.”

    Also central to the kitchen are dairy products, with concerns that a sharp reduction in dairy imports could hit prices, particularly butter. Unlike most other dairy products Russia imports about 40% of domestic butter consumption, and with imports down 21%, Tatyana Rybalova, Chief expert from Russia’s Institute for the Agricultural market, says Russian consumers are switching to cheaper brands, such as those from Belarus, and that prices aren’t expected to rise too far.

    “A slight seasonal price rise is likely in Autumn, but it won’t hit Russian consumers, as they’ve already adapted their needs to the changed economic environment. Today they simply enjoy cheaper butter from Belarus and buy more natural products like milk and kefir instead of yoghourts, which is quite typical during a downturn.”

    Irina Yourodskaya, from FC Otkrytie also adds that the reduction in imports largely accords with a Government policy of import substitution.

    “Indeed, the import of milk and meat is down, but this is mainly due to higher import taxes and cut quotas. And this means the Government is there to help agriculture in Russia.”

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...


    From: NPE
    Two forty-year-olds from Tarnawa Dolna are accused of chasing a St Bernard dog by car for miles until the animal collapsed from exhaustion – then they ran it over, killing it.

    The dog escaped from the garden of its owner this Monday, together with a boxer, when the gate was accidentally left open.
    The boxer returned later, but the St Bernard disappeared without trace, until this Wednesday, when the owner’s brother overheard two men boasting of how they had run over a dog, unaware of his connection to it. They told how after killing the animal they had paid a neighbour a bottle of vodka to drag the dog into the bushes using his tractor. The two men have not been arrested or interviewed yet, “We’ll do so in the next few days. First we have to gather all the evidence,” Jerzy Gorecki of Sanok police told a reporter from Gazeta Rzeszów. The two men may ultimately face a charge of killing a dog with extreme cruelty, for which they could spend up to two years in prison.

    In a related story, in Przychod, near Mlawa, a pack of dogs attacked a mother with her three-year-old daughter and then set upon a policeman called to the rescue, and all under the eye of their owner reports TVN24. The owner was walking the group of seven dogs when they set upon the passing mother and the young girl who was bitten on the foot. The girl’s mother swept her up and ran for safety into a nearby home and called the police. When they arrived the dogs set upon one officer, knocking him over and biting him on the leg. Only a warning shot into the air frightened the dogs off. Both the girl and the police officer were not seriously hurt. The 43-year-old owner, who was sober, was arrested and the dogs taken to a shelter and placed under veterinary observation. The man faces up to 10 years in prison.

    Defence ministry accused of fatal incompetence

    From: The News
    General Waldemar Skrzypczak
    A top soldier has accused the Ministry of Defence of being partly responsible for the death of Captain Ambrozinski in Afghanistan last week.

    Chief of Poland’s land forces, General Waldemar Skrzypczak has accused Ministry of Defence officials of being responsible for delays and wrong decisions in respect of necessary equipment for Polish troops in Afghanistan, which may have cost the life of Captain Daniel Ambrozinski, killed by Taliban last week.

    In a recent interview in a national daily, Skrzypczak said that if the army had unmanned aerial vehicles and adequately armed helicopters, Captain Ambrozinski may have not been ambushed by a Taliban sniper.. The contingent has been struggling to acquire this equipment for two years now, he said, but the requests of commanders have been falling on deaf ears – everything is inundated with red tape, he said.

    Defence Minister Bogdan Klich responded that the General had not notified him personally of the allegations.

    Speaking on Polish Radio this morning, head of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, Grzegorz Napieralski, said that his sympathies lie with General Skrzypczak, who is an “excellent soldier”, and that something must be very wrong for his “emotions to get better of him”. He also said he knew of delayed tenders, money shortages and further cuts being planned for next year at the MOD, which could effect the efficiency of troops.

    The funeral of Captain Ambrozinski takes place today. He was killed in eastern Afghanistan in an attack that also four others injured.

    Meanwhile, Defence Minister Klich will today present the government with a list of purchases for Polish troops in Afghanistan.

    Following his surprise visit to the Ghazi base in Afghanistan at the weekend, Prime Minister Donald Tusk concluded that more equipment was needed to help troops perform ever more difficult tasks. He also announced changes in procedures which will allow the government to buy equipment, such as helicopters, immediately. The list of necessities also includes unmanned surveillance aircraft, vehicles and personal equipment for troops.

    Poles think of themselves as WWII heroes

    From: Polskie Radio
    The Polish Hero, one who saved Jews and fought the occupier is the most prominent image that Poles have of themselves from World War II, according to a poll by Pentor.

    A majority also think that that Poles suffered more than even Jews during Nazi occupation.

    Eighty-five percent said that Poles were engaged in fighting occupying forces and 75 percent say that Poles refused to collaborate with the enemy. Eighty-one percent of respondents think that Poles helped Jews and 85 percent are of the opinion that Poles helped one another.

    The majority say the history of World War II is something that Poles can be proud of, especially pointed to heroes such as General Wladyslaw Sikorski, General Wladyslaw Anders and Saint Maksymilian Kolbe and to those involved in the Warsaw Rising and the September Campaign immediately after the Nazis invaded in 1939.

    In terms of events that were embarrassing for Poles, the poll shows that memory does not serve so well. Rather than believing that Polish people were responsible for the deaths of several hundred Jews at Jedwabne in 1941, respondents claim that German soldiers were responsible for the pogrom. Poles also consider themselves to have suffered the most of all nationalities in Europe during the war and even more so than Jews.

    “That is not reality. Poles suffered more than many nationalities but Jews were completely set for total extermination,” stated Pawel Machcewicz, historian and director of the to-be-completed Museum of the Second World War. He added that “there are breaks in national consciousness which make it hard to remember painful truths.”

    Only 31 percent of Poles consider Poland to have been victorious at the end of WWII and the same percentage consider Poland to have lost the war.

  • Sport...

    Yuri Foreman a Jewish Fighter

    From: Algemeiner
    About a year ago I met a fascinating, unique and inspiring young man.

    His name is Yuri Foreman and he is an Orthodox Jew who is studying to become a Rabbi at the Iyyun Institute of downtown Brooklyn. Oh, and he is also an undefeated junior middleweight boxer with 28 fights under his belt.

    Yuri is originally from Gomel, Belarus where he grew up in abject poverty far removed from Judaism, sometimes selling goods on the black market to earn a living and following some unpleasant incidents his mother took him to learn boxing so that he could protect himself from bullies at school.

    After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Yuri moved with his family to Israel seeking a new and better life, as boxing is hardly a popular sport in Israel (not encouraged by most Jewish mothers) he found it difficult to pursue his passion and dream, but he soon found a way, and in Yuri’s words: “I went to the Arab gym. The first time I walked in, I saw the stares. In their eyes, there was a lot of hatred. But I needed to box; and boy, did they all want to box me.”
    After winning virtually every amateur championship in Israel, at the age of 19 Yuri moved to New York in an effort to take his boxing to the next level, initially working as a laborer to pay the rent.

    He trained hard and progressed rapidly. Shortly after arrival in New York Yuri began to feel the calling for deeper meaning in his life and went on to study and practice Orthodox Judaism, and now he describes it as his “pillar of strength” that is his inspiration in whatever he does.

    On Monday of this week a purse bid was closed on Yuri’s next fight for the WBA junior middleweight crown against Daniel Santos. This will make him the first and only Israeli yet to fight in a championship bout and the first Jew in quite a while.

    Yuri’s story is special because it smashes stereotypes and it blasts away some common misconceptions.

    There are many Jews that are of the opinion that Orthodox Judaism conflicts with contemporary perceptions of success and that to live a committed Jewish life is to cut off ones wings in exchange for reserved seating in heaven.

    But in truth, living a lifestyle that combines the past and the present, taking our rich history and vibrant soul and applying it to daily living connects us with something bigger than ourselves and should only act as an ongoing source of inspiration in maximizing our unique individual gifts and talents.

    Fusing the physical and the spiritual and striving to strengthen one with the other is a basic principle of Jewish philosophy, uplifting the physical world by engaging our surroundings and utilizing it all in the effort to make this world a better place.

    As we tackle the challenges of day to day living and thriving, in one way or another we are all fighters, whether conquering an industry or hustling to scrape together a living.

    Sometimes our challenges are physical and sometimes psychological namely our inhibitions and fears. Often life’s greatest battles are fought within.

    Yuri Foreman has shown many the value of balance that leading a life of committed values can bring the inner strength fostered by a relationship with a higher power that inspires unprecedented success.

    So when life throws you a straight left to the Jaw, who is in your corner?

  • Endnote...

    Russia: Poland responsible for WW II

    From: Polskie Radio
    Russian Defence Ministry has accessed Poland of being responsible for World War II in an article published on its official web site.

    The article was written by Colonel Sergey Kovalov from the Institute of War History at the Russian Defence Ministry and published in a War Encyclopedia under the title “History – against lies and falsification”.

    “Everyone who studies the history of WW II without prejudice knows that the war started because Poland refused to satisfy German claims. However, not everyone knows what exactly Adolf Hitler wanted from Poland. His claims were rather moderate: to incorporate the Free City of Danzig (currently Gdansk) into the Third Reich and to let Germans build exterritorial motorway and a railway [through Poland] which would join East Prussia with the rest of German territory,” writes the Russian historian. In his opinion, “it is hard to regard these claims as unjustified”.

    “Poland aimed at becoming a regional super power and by no means wanted to play the role of a younger partner to Germany. That is why on 26 March 1939 it finally rejected German demands,” argues Kovalov.

    Russia knows better

    The Russian historian also justifies the attack of the USSR on Poland on 17 September 1939. He claims that Josef Stalin had no choice but to sign a non-aggression pact with Hitler in order to postpone, at least in the short term, war with Germany.

    The Russian daily Wriemia Nowostiej has criticized the article published by the Defence Ministry, saying that “the war against falsification of history ‘to the detriment of Russia’, proclaimed by the highest state authorities, is grotesque.”

    The daily ironically predicts that “soon Adolf Hitler will turn out to be an effective manager and East European countries, smashed by Soviet and Nazi ‘effective management’, will be found guilty for getting in their way,” writes Wriemia Nowostiej.

    In May, the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, created the Committee for the Counteraction against Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia. The committee consists of Russian politicians, historians, officials and secret service agents and its goal is to investigate ‘distortions of the historical record’ caused by Polish, Ukrainian, Latvian and Estonian historians.

    The Russian Defence Ministry’s deputy spokesman Aleksandr Petrunin refused to give a commentary on Kovalov’s article.