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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trade expansion with Brazil, rade expansion with Brazil, China, StroiExpo, Armenia, Opposition, Russia, Sport, Culture and Polish scandals

  • From the Top...
  • #498

    Alexander Lukashenko: trade expansion with Brazil through cooperation with Goias State

    From: BelTA
    Cooperation with the Brazilian state Goias will be a kind of a foothold for expanding trade and economic ties with Brazil, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he met with Goias State Governor Alcides Rodrigues Filho on 22 March.

    Alexander Lukashenko remarked he planned to choose several major areas of cooperation with Brazil.

    “Brazil is a gigantic country and we certainly do not expect to establish all-encompassing cooperation. To tell you the truth, if we make such plans, we could get lost in this space”. The President stressed that choosing the main avenue in the trade and economic cooperation was the key goal. “We need to get hold of something so that we can use the foothold to expand our cooperation as much as possible,” said the Belarusian head of state. He believes Belarus is lucky in this regard. The country has chalked out cooperation with the huge Brazilian state with a population of almost 30 million people, a huge GDP and a very developed economy that needs the goods Belarus makes.

    Alexander Lukashenko told the Goias State Governor: “I expect you to help us not only establish relations between your state and Belarus but to also help us understand Brazil and guide us in our cooperation with Brazil. It is very important for us to avoid errors here”. Alexander Lukashenko assured the Governor that Belarus will honor all obligations and will deal with any emerging problems.

    A Belarusian delegation led by First Vice Premier Vladimir Semashko visited the Goias State on 18-19 March and held meetings with the governor, business circles. Members of the delegation visited enterprises that manufacture sugar and ethanol, soy and biodiesel fuel. After the meeting the sides signed a memorandum of intent to implement joint projects.

    “Our delegation has got to know your state as good as possible. We tried to sketch out a picture of, I hope, fruitful cooperation with the state yesterday. I made sure that in Minsk we had determined cooperation avenues correctly,” said the President.

    In turn, recollecting his visit to Belarus in February 2010, Alcides Rodrigues Filho said that the delegation had been surprised by what they saw in Belarus and pleased with the hospitality of the Belarusian nation. He also said that the meetings with the Belarusian delegation had been productive. “I am convinced that they will translate into real decisions and will produce concrete results,” said the Governor.

    With the capital city of Goiania, the Goias State is located in the center of Brazil. It occupies 341,300 square kilometers. Its economy relies on agriculture (crop growing and animal breeding), mining, metallurgy, automobile manufacturing, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. In 2009 the export of the Goias State made up $3,614.9 million. The main exports are soybeans and soy oil meal, meat and meat products, copper, ferrous-based alloys, gold, asbestos, sugar and cotton. The main trade partners are China, the Netherlands, Spain and Russia. In 2009 Belarus ranked twelfth among Goias’ trade partners. Belarus exported $46.2 million worth of potash fertilizers to the Goias State.

    In 2009 Belarus-Brazil trade made up $568.3 million.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Belarus, Northern Europe to implement joint ecological, economic projects

    From: BelTA
    Belarus and Northern Europe plan to implement joint projects in ecology and economy, Chairman of the House of Representatives’ permanent commission for the Chernobyl catastrophe, ecology and natural management, head of a parliamentary delegation for contacts with the Nordic Council Mikhail Rusyi told a conference, Role of Politicians in a Changing Society, in Minsk on 22 March.

    According to the parliamentarian, Belarus has plans to implement a joint project with NEFCO (Nordic Environment Finance Corporation). “Belarus is of great interest to the Nordic Bank. The Council of Ministers and the Economy Ministry are currently considering a joint agreement,” Mikhail Rusyi said.

    The participants of the conference, representatives of nine countries of Northern Europe and Baltic states, are to discuss joint projects in various areas. In particular, the debates will focus on the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region. The theme will be considered for the first time at the annual conference on the role of politicians. Mikhail Rusyi stressed that Belarus is ready to take an active part in the discussions as Belarus’ Neman and Western Dvina rivers flaw into the Baltic sea and the country is deeply interested in the implementation of the projects on the construction of treatment facilities, natural management, small hydro energy. Besides, there is a mutual interest between Northern Europe, the Baltic states and Belarus in expanding cooperation in transport, tourism, hydrometeorology and energy.

    An important issue of the conference is a development model of the countries of Northern Europe. Mikhail Rusyi is confident that the model is useful and interesting for Belarus which can adopt a lot from the experience of these countries in the economic, social and political development.

    The European parliamentarians, on their part, demonstrate readiness to a long-term dialogue with Belarus. When opening the conference, Dagfinn Hoybraten, Norwegian parliamentarian responsible for the Nordic Council-Belarus contacts, called today’s meeting a historical one and stressed that it is held in Minsk for the first time. “We want to see Belarus in the European family. We are here to conduct and develop the dialogue,” Dagfinn Hoybraten said.

    Sinikka Bohlin, member of the Nordic Council Presidium, parliamentarian from Sweden, expressed hope for closer cooperation between Belarus and the Baltic states and Scandinavia. She emphasized Belarus’ willingness and readiness to introduce changes into its socio-political development.

    The conference will stay open till 23 March. The parliamentarians will discuss a wide range of issues including social contacts in the northern countries, the experience of cooperation between the Baltic states and northern states, the Baltic view on the model of the northern countries. Partaking in the conference are parliamentarians from Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, deputies, other representatives of the state-run organizations and NGOs of Belarus.

    PRC’s Vice-President visit to Minsk will enhance strategic partnership, Lu Guicheng says

    From: BelTA
    An official visit of the Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping to Belarus will facilitate the all-round development of Belarusian-Chinese relations and strategic partnership of the two countries, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Belarus Lu Guicheng told BelTA.

    Xi Jinping will travel to Minsk on 24-25 March. The program of Xi Jinping’s visit envisages talks with Belarus’ administration, Chairman of the Council of the Republic and Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus. The sides are going to share their opinions on the Belarusian-Chinese relations and consider the prospects of interaction.

    More than ten intergovernmental and interbank documents together with the contracts between the major companies of the two countries are expected to be signed during the visit.

    Xi Jinping’s visit will be preceded by the visit of a Chinese delegation consisting of more than 50 representatives of twenty major Chinese corporations. The Chinese businessmen intend to discuss the possibility of long-term cooperation and major projects with their Belarusian partners. “In such a way we will manage to boost the bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, technologies and investments,” Lu Guicheng believes.

    On the whole, the Belarusian-Chinese relations have a good development trend, the Ambassador believes. Belarus and China are making efforts to increase the bilateral trade, although it was affected by the crisis. And the two countries have already achieved certain results.

    Lu Guicheng stressed that the political trust between China and Belarus is constantly growing. The quality of economic and technological cooperation is remarkably increasing, and the cooperation in certain areas is a real breakthrough. The interaction in the field of energy saving, communications, and construction has promising prospects. The Belarusian industrial facilities, in particular the power plants, are successfully upgraded with the help of Chinese equipment.

    The Chinese Ambassador said that the joint project on manufacturing microwave ovens at Horizont is one of the positive examples of cooperation. At the moment, the two sides are mulling over the expansion of cooperation between Belaruskali and Chinese companies. The two countries are developing cultural, humanitarian, educational cooperation and ties in the areas of sports and information.

    Lu Guicheng expressed his confidence that after the visit of the Vice-President of China “the political, economic and humanitarian cooperation will reach a new level.’ The Ambassador is confident that the visit will be “important, comprehensive, business-like, and well timed.”

    Plans for China town in Minsk unveiled

    A China town may be built in Minsk, said Acting Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee Nikolai Ladutko as he met with top executives of the Chinese company Beijing Uni-Construction Group. The company is one of the world’s largest developers, BelTA has learned.

    Speaking about other joint projects, Nikolai Ladutko said that Minsk City Hall is interested in starting the construction of the residential district Lebyazhy as soon as possible. “Over two years you and us have gone a long way establishing mutual understanding from the organizational and technical points of view. This is why the project implementation should start faster. We should get down to building things in 2010,” said the official. The residential district Lebyazhy may become one of Minsk’s key attractions in the future.

    The sides also discussed another two major joint projects which are supposed to be implemented in Minsk within the next few years. Thus, there are plans to build a Beijing hotel. In addition, Chinese specialists may be hired to reconstruct the stadium Dynamo.

    Speaking about the overall cooperation, Nikolai Ladutko remarked that for many years Belarus and China have had steady relations. He attributed a large part of it to efforts of the leadership of the two countries. “Despite incomparable population numbers and financial capabilities we have built equal relations of long-term nature,” said Nikolai Ladutko. He underlined that Minsk City Hall is interested in using China’s financial, technological and, in some degree, human resources for implementing joint projects in the Belarusian capital.

    The complete list of objects for joint projects will be listed by the agreement the sides will sign in Minsk on 24 March.

    Belarus' first pediatric liver transplantation scheduled for 2010

    From: BelTA
    The first pediatric liver transplant surgery and heart-lung complex surgery might become a reality in Belarus in 2010, Healthcare Minister of Belarus Vasily Zharko said as he opened the 17thInternational BelarusMedica’ 2010 Exhibition on 23 March.

    According to the minister, the advancement of the national healthcare is high on the social agenda of the state. “We have achieved a lot here. In 2010 the first heart-lung complex transplant surgery and pediatric liver transplant surgery will be performed in Belarus,” Vasily Zharko said. He added that Belarusian neurosurgeons are gearing up for endoscopic surgeries.

    The state programs for the next five-year period are aimed to improve cancer and TB health services. Belarusian medical professionals advanced in a variety of areas; the introduction of cutting-edge diagnostic methods would be impossible without state-of-the-art equipment. “This is why exhibitions are an important instrument to improve the national healthcare system,” Vasily Zharko underlined.

    The ongoing exhibition features medical know-how, new equipment, medicines of domestic and foreign manufacturers. Vasily Zharko emphasized that the visitors to the exhibition will have an opportunity to see medical novelties and make proposals to improve the exhibited products.

    Taking part in the exhibition are over 400 companies from 17 countries. More than half of them are Belarusian enterprises. Naturally, the participation in such forums will be of great use and will make a considerable contribution to the improvement of the healthcare system in Belarus, Vasily Zharko concluded.

    Belarus’ TB control efforts hailed as successful

    Belarus has achieved impressive results in TB control and cure, UN/UNDP Representative in Belarus Antonius Broek told a press conference on 22 March, BelTA has learnt.

    World TB Day is March 24. The slogan On the move against tuberculosis emphasizes the need to seek new and innovative ways to stop TB. “This year’s campaign is aimed to focus on individuals around the world who have found new ways to stop TB,” Antonius Broek said.

    Considerable progress has been made, but it is clear that there is a need to scale up efforts to curb the spread of the disease, improve TB detection and cure. This pertains to many countries, including Belarus.

    Antonius Broek reminded that in 2007 the Global Fund provided a grant to Belarus to fight tuberculosis. The TB control programs are implemented by the UNDP, WHO and the Healthcare Ministry of Belarus. In line with the program, microscopy services have been reorganized, new treatment protocols have been introduced, some 200 patients with MRD-TB have received treatment. Antonius Broek praised outpatient care of TB in Belarus which envisages social support of TB patients. “We hope that this program will be institutionalized and introduced at all TB dispensaries, this time with the help of the own funds of the Republic of Belarus,” the UN/UNDP Representative said.

  • Economics...

    StroiExpo 2010 in Minsk attracts over 300 participants from 12 countries

    From: BelTA
    More than 300 companies from 12 countries are taking part in the 13th international specialized construction exhibition, StroiExpo 2010. Belarusian Construction Market Offers, Vyacheslav Konkov, the chief of the main sci-tech policy and licensing department of the Ministry of Architecture and Construction, said at an opening ceremony on 23 March.

    “The exhibition features the latest achievements in the construction industry, newest technology, economical energy-efficient building materials,” Vyacheslav Konkov said. According to him, the exhibition is one of the most important forums in Belarus for establishing direct business contacts between the companies of the construction industry. The event is held in the beginning of the construction season, which makes it even more important.

    Vyacheslav Konkov stressed that this year the Belarusian construction industry has been set very ambitious goals, namely to construct 7 million square meters of housing, sports facilities ahead of the IIHF World Championship and high-rise buildings.

    The international specialized construction exhibition, StroiExpo 2010. Belarusian Construction Market Offers, will last until 26 March. The programme of the exhibition includes several business events. The seminars will be organized to feature the Vodalis gutter system made by France’s famous company Nicol, Doorhan products and technical solutions, Prestige fire alert sets. The Artox company and the Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange will hold the workshops “Contextual advertising and promotion as an element of success of a construction company” and “Electronic exchange trade in industrial and consumer goods: advantages and prospects”.

    The exhibition is organized by the BelExpo national exhibition center with the assistance from the Ministry of Architecture and Construction, Industry Ministry, Housing and Utilities Ministry of the Republic of Belarus and Minsk City Hall.

    Belarus, Russia working out five new joint programmes

    Scientists of Belarus and Russia have been working out five new Union State programmes, First Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB) Piotr Vityaz told media on 23 March.

    “Five new programmes are currently elaborated, with ten more in plans,” Piotr Vityaz said. In particular, the scientists are considering the draft LED programme Pramen. The programme envisages the development and implementation of energy saving technologies and equipment. “We hope the project will be implemented next year,” Piotr Vityaz said.

    The two sides have been preparing a programme on laser technology. The scientists are also looking into the new joint projects on high-technology components for the engineering and chemical industries, polymer production projects.

    According to Piotr Vityaz, a new joint programme has taken its start in the Union State to produce modern materials for space engineering. “The chief institution from Belarus responsible for the programme in the Heat and Mass Transfer Institute,” Piotr Vityaz stated.

    Besides, Belarus has been implementing new projects on up-to-date materials for the powder metallurgy industry. Thus, NASB is setting up the production of LED lamps and lighting equipment for the utilities industry, hothouse equipment. There are plans to produce nearly 1,000 LED lamps by the end of the year.

    As for the cooperation with the Phillips company in the field of LED equipment, Piotr Vityaz noted that “the two sides are working on the issue. The agreement has not been signed yet”.

    EXPO 2010 to expand Belarus-China cooperation

    Participation in World EXPO 2010 Shanghai will help Belarus expand the cooperation with the PRC, enhance the image of the country in the international arena and advance the country’s scientific, economic and culture interests in the world, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky told a session of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers, which reviewed the preparation of Belarus’ national exposition at World Expo 2010.

    The theme of World Expo 2010 is Better City, Better Life. It will open on 1 May and last until 31 October 2010. Taking part in the event will be 192 countries and 49 international organizations.

    Belarus’ organizing committee handling the preparation for World Expo is led by Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Burya. Speaking about the course of preparation for World EXPO 2010, Viktor Burya said that Belarus has invested great effort and funds in the preparation of the national exposition. These investments are justified. “The participation in the exhibition is a unique opportunity to mold a positive image of our country abroad, to showcase the national image of the country and to present Belarus as a rapidly developing state,” he said.

    “As the global economy is recovering from the crisis we can show that our country is strong enough and can participate in the World Expo just as developed countries,” Viktor Burya said. World Expo provides an opportunity to present Belarus as a competitive and active participant of the global sci-tech progress and to attract additional investments into the country and develop cooperation with the PRC, Viktor Burya added.

    Belarus will have a separate pavilion of the total area of around 1,000 square meters in one of the most prestigious places of the World Expo. The position of the pavilion has been coordinated with the head of state and approved by the Belarusian government. China’s Exhibit Works of Shanghai has won a tender to construct the Belarusian pavilion. The company started the construction in late January 2010. According to Viktor Burya, the pavilion will be delivered on schedule.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Brazil, Belarus to Forge Closer Ties

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and visiting Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko made a commitment to strengthen bilateral relations.

    The two leaders stressed “the importance of giving a greater institutional base to the bilateral relationship” in a joint statement issued after their talks in Rio de Janeiro.

    “The two presidents agreed on the need for expanding and diversifying trade and bilateral investment, as well as for cooperation in the industrial area, and committed themselves to encouraging the exchange of business missions” such as those that occurred recently, the text said.

    Both agreed to open their respective embassies in Brasilia and Minsk and to expand trade relations with the signing of accords in different fields of cooperation including agriculture, technology, education, sports, tourism and culture.

    Trade between Brazil and Belarus in 2008 reached a record sum of $1.3 billion, according to official Brazilian figures.

    Lukashenko also said he will take part in the 3rd Alliance of Civilizations Forum to be held this May in Rio de Janeiro.

    The joint declaration following the first visit by a Belarusian head of state to Brazil expressed both governments’ backing for expanding political dialogue under “democratic principles” in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations, a U.N.-sponsored initiative launched by Spain and Turkey.

    The stimulation of biofuel production and the need to reform the U.N. Security Council were other points dealt with in the joint declaration, with Belarus supporting Brazil’s bid for a permanent seat on the council.

    Orlen may benefit from Belarus' oil troubles

    From: WBJ
    From May, Venezuela will begin to supply crude oil to Belarus. However, the oil can only reach Belarusian refineries through pipelines belonging to Orlen's Lithuanian unit. Relations between Minsk and Moscow have soured since Russia forced Belarus to accept increased duties on its oil, which will cost Minsk at least $3 billion.

    Russia has now agreed to supply 6.3 million tonnes of oil without the additional duty, but this is too little to protect Belarusian refineries from losses.

    Moscow is still insisting that full duties be paid on 15 million tonnes of crude used for the production of fuel for export. Minsk cannot afford this.

    From May, Venezuela will begin supplying Belarus with four million tonnes of oil per year, increasing later to five million tonnes. According to Belarusian company Belneftekhim, the oil will be unloaded from tankers at Lithuania's Butynga terminal and transmitted by pipeline.

    The pipes are owned by Orlen Lietuva. Orlen said there are no talks ongoing on the subject with the Belarusian side, adding that without its participation there is no way to transport the oil to Belarus.

    Meetings of the Belarusian Delegation Continue

    On March 23 the parliamentary delegation of the Republic of Belarus, which is on an official visit in Yerevan led by the Vice Speaker of the Belarus Parliament Valery Ivanov and the Committee Chairman of RA NA Standing Committee on Defence, National Security and Internal Affairs, the Co-Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee of Cooperation between the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Hrayr Karapetyan visited Tsitsernakaberd and laid down flowers and a wreath at the monument perpetuating the memory of the 1915 Armenian Genocide victims and paid a tribute to the memory of the one and a half million innocent victims observing one-minute moment of silence.

    The high-ranking guests were in the Genocide Museum, got familiarized with the documents confirming the Armenian Genocide.

    The Vice Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Belarus made a note in the Book of the honorable guests.

    On the same day in the National Assembly the meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee between the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus continued.

    The parliamentary delegation of the Republic of Belarus led by the Vice Speaker of the Belarus Parliament met with the RA Minister of Economy, the Co-Chairman of the Armenian-Belarus Inter-Governmental Joint Commission Nerses Yeritsyan. The Committee Chairman of RA NA Standing Committee on Defence, National Security and Internal Affairs, the Co-Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee of Cooperation between the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Hrayr Karapetyan and the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Armenia Stepan Sukhamenko.

    In the course of the meeting the sides discussed issues of cooperation in the spheres of industry, agriculture and economy. The interlocutors referred to the ways of implementation of predetermined programmes. They discussed issues concerning the sitting of the Armenian-Belarus Inter-Governmental Joint Commission to be held in April.

    The Vice Speaker of the Belarus Parliament Valery Ivanov noted that they are ready to support for the implementation of the programmes of the Armenian-Belarus Inter-Governmental Joint Commission on economic cooperation by improving the legislative field.

    The Chairman of the NA Standing Committee of State and Legal Affairs Davit Harutyunyan received the delegation led by the Vice Speaker of the Belarus Parliament Valery Ivanov.

    In the course of the meeting the sides discussed the strengthening of relations between the parliaments of the two countries, cooperation in international organizations, the works of the PACE and the Euronest, parliamentary format of the Eastern Partnership.

    Highly assessing the Armenian-Belarus relations the sides highlighted the cooperation in the international structures, where Armenia and Belarus permanently support each other. In the meeting they also touched upon the organization of the democratic elections of the local self-government bodies being held in Belarus on March 25, PACE Resolutions, the works of the Sub-Committee, which was set up on Belarus in PACE.

    Belarusian Activists Detained For Protesting Death Penalty

    From: RFE/RL
    Four Belarusian activists protesting recent executions were detained today near President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's office in Minsk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

    Activists Ales Byalyatsky, Valyantsin Stefanovich, and Iryna Toustsik along with journalist Syarhey Sys were protesting last week's execution of Andrey Zhuk and Vasil Yuzepchuk.

    The two had been convicted in 2009 of several crimes, including murder.

    Amnesty International has condemned the executions and called on Lukashenka to impose a moratorium on the use of capital punishment.

    Belarus is the last country in Europe to retain the death penalty. There were no executions in Belarus in 2009.

  • From the Opposition...

    Respect to you, courageous businessman!

    From: Charter '97
    A vendor at Zhdanovichy market area hung a national Belarusian flag at his vending kiosk.

    This market vendor with a stand number 1068 in radio market in Zhdanovichy is well-known to many Minsk dwellers. And for a reason, as he is the only one out of all local vendors who speaks good Belarusian to his clients, a blogger chudentsov writes.

    As the blogger writes, on March 20 this businessman placed a white-red-white flag on his stand. As soon as it happened, some unkown people in mufti came out of the blue. One of them showed a service certificate to the vendor (who wrote down the information carefully) and demanded to remove the flag and follow them.

    The rest of them, three persons, addressed the blogger. They asked him not to hide the camera. Otherwise, they promised "it would be paiful and you would regret... the years lived aimlessly".

    However, neither the vendor nor the blogger hid the flag or the camera. They explained that no laws forbid to place flags of any colours at one's private property, and to make pictures. After that people in mufti left in direction unknown.

    "After that an idea occured to me. We do not even know each other with this vendor, but we have similar thoughts... Respect to you, a man of the right stamp!" blogger chudentsov wrote.

    ‘Administrative itch’ of Orsha officials

    From: Viasna
    Orsha town executive committee passed an unprecedented decision on the authorized canvassing locations in the town, specifying separate sites for each of the 30 constituencies.

    According to the local leaders of pro-democratic political parties, the decision is ‘an administrative itch’ of the town authorities, obsessed with controlling each and every turn of the electoral campaign. It would have been more logical to determine a general list of canvassing locations, allowing the candidates and their campaign teams to choose among the options.

    Besides, the decision abounds in mistakes, e.g. it names the non-existent Lenin Square as one of the authorized canvassing locations and omits opportunities for candidates running for the Vitsebsk regional council.

    Canvassing allowed near death care store in Mahiliou

    Mahiliou city executive committee released a list of canvassing locations, with only one site available for public electoral events, making an unfortunate ‘misprint’ in the building’s address – the decision names 64 Chaliuskintsau (a 4-storied block of flats adjoined by the local death care service), instead of 64A Chaliuskintsau (traditional place of authorized street events in the Kuibyshev Artificial Fiber Factory Palace of Culture).

    Local human rights activist Barys Bukhel called the location ‘a reservation of the democrats.’ ‘The building is an accident waiting to happen. It is being reconstructed now and one cannot enter it. The local authorities should not have determined the location. We will try to make the city executive committee allocate another building for the candidates. We are going to lodge complaints with the city executive committee, the regional executive committee and the Central Election Commission,’ said Mr. Bukhel.

    No electoral competition in Homel region

    According to preliminary data, there will be no competition in local council elections in Homel region, with 2,933 candidates to contest 2,898 seats in village constituencies, 156 candidates claiming 146 seats of town councils and the 30/30 ratio in urban constituencies. 101 candidates will be running in the 40 constituencies of the city of Homel.

    Vasil Paliakou, head of the UCP Homel regional office, says that a decision on the UCP regional members’ run in the elections may be announced by the end of the week, except for the candidates nominated by collecting of signatures.

  • Russia...

    Russia says has not been asked for tanker bid

    From: Reuters
    Boeing's KC-767 tanker
    Russia has not been asked to participate in a bid to supply aerial refuelling tankers to the U.S. Air Force but would examine any such request "with attention," Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday.

    "We have received no official request to participate in the tanker contest," Ivanov, who is also board chairman of state-run United Aviation Corporation, told reporters in Paris.

    "If (UAC) received a request it would study it with attention," he said after the signing of a new co-operation agreement between Air France (AIRF.PA) and Aeroflot (AFLT.MM) in the civil airline sector.

    On Monday Russia denied a U.S. lawyer's statement that UAC planned to bid against Boeing (BA.N) and Europe's EADS (EAD.PA) on a $50 billion contract to replace the U.S. Air Force's fleet of air tankers. [ID:nLDE62L0AX]

    Analysts said such an extensive tie-up between former Cold War foes would be a major surprise in the defence industry.

    Ivanov branded the episode a hoax.

    "Yes, I agree it was a hoax," he told a group of reporters in Paris. "I said it on the record ... It's a hoax."

    The U.S. lawyer, John Kirkland, a Los Angeles-based attorney, had told various news media over the weekend that UAC would announce a joint venture with a U.S. defence contractor on Monday to enter the bidding for the tanker deal.

    Kirkland also sent Reuters and other news services copies of letters on what appeared to be UAC letterheads saying that high-level Russian approval of a bid was imminent.

    In Moscow on Tuesday, UAC said that the copies of the letters it had seen were not genuine.

    "The letters we have seen, which purport to have UAC letterheads, are fakes," UAC Vice President Alexander Tulyakov told Reuters.

    Kirkland did not respond to an emailed request for comment on the remarks by either Ivanov or Tulyakov.

    A spokesman for his law firm, Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP, managing partner Kurt Kicklighter, declined comment and said it had nothing to add to a statement issued on Monday.

    Russia says Iran sanction ineffective

    From: Presstv
    The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of Russia, Mikhail Margelov
    A senior Russian official says that despite efforts by certain Western countries, halting Iran's nuclear program will be a "difficult task" to accomplish.

    Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of Russia, in an interview with Radio Echo of Moscow questioned the "efficiency and effectiveness" of sanctions against Tehran.

    The officials said, "Iran is the most powerful country in the Middle East and the Muslim world."

    The US and its allies have been trying to use their privileges at the United Nations Security Council to push through a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, while China and Russia have been reluctant to go along with the plan.

    Although UN nuclear watchdog inspectors stationed in Iran have not been able to find evidence to support Western claims of diversion in the Iranian nuclear program, the US and its allies allege that Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian program — a claim rejected by Tehran.

    Iran says, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at civilian application of the technology.

    Margelov also said that he does not believe "sanctions will serve as a means to come to an understanding between Iran and the international community."

    Ukraine govt draws blank in first Russia gas talks

    From: Reuters
    A first attempt by Ukraine's new government to secure lower Russian gas prices ended without visible success on Tuesday, although Kiev might refresh talks at a meeting of the countries' prime ministers later this week.

    Russian state-run gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said in a statement late on Tuesday that its chief executive, Alexei Miller, met Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Boiko in Moscow to discuss Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.

    Gazprom said that Ukraine took less Russian gas in the first quarter of 2010 than stipulated by its contractual obligations and that, by next winter, Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz should have enough gas in storage to meet domestic demand and transit needs for Europe.

    The visit by the Ukrainian delegation was the first attempt by the new leadership of President Viktor Yanukovich to secure a revision of what Ukraine says are onerous prices for Russian natural gas.

    Ukraine's economy relies hugely on gas imports from Russia, but the country has struggled to pay its bills under a 10-year agreement worked out in January 2009 that brought an end to a dispute that severed midwinter gas supplies to parts of Europe.

    Yanukovich was quoted on the presidential website on Monday as saying he wanted a series of bilateral agreements to be prepared for signing in time for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Kiev in mid-May.

    "This was just a try; the beginning of a dialogue," a source in Russia's Energy Ministry told Reuters about Tuesday's meeting between Gazprom and the Ukrainian delegation headed by Boiko.

    Yanukovich's press service said earlier on Tuesday that the Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers, Vladimir Putin and Mykola Azarov, would meet in Moscow on Thursday, without elaborating.

    On Tuesday, Medvedev and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who oversees the energy sector, were attending a meeting in western Siberia.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    'Sexist' Polish mammogram campaign 'encourages molestation'

    From: Telegraph
    The Opole cancer hospital sent letters in recent months to company directors in south-western Poland asking them to encourage female employees to have breast cancer checks.

    The letters contained the campaign slogan: "I check the breasts of my employees myself."

    Joanna Piotrowska, of the feminist Feminoteka group, said the slogan was sexist and that it encouraged molestation and treating employees like property.

    Krystyna Raczynska, who ran the hospital campaign, said the hospital had tried to use humour in order to draw attention to the issue. She said no offence was intended.

    5 million cigarettes stolen from truck in Germany

    From: AP
    Thieves have stolen more than 5 million cigarettes from a truck at a highway rest area in western Germany as its driver slept in the cab.

    Police said Tuesday that the thieves spirited away the cigarettes at some point during the night — emptying about half of the vehicle's trailer. They believe the booty was loaded onto other vehicles and driven away.

    The 35-year-old Polish driver had parked his vehicle and was asleep in the cab at a rest area on the A2 highway near Dortmund. Police said the stolen cigarettes likely were worth more than euro1 million ($1.35 million).

    Trainer denies shots contained EPO

    From: ESPN
    Kornelia Marek
    A trainer for the Polish cross-country skier who tested positive for EPO at the Vancouver Olympics has acknowleged giving her injections but denies they contained banned substances.

    Vitali Trypolski said Tuesday from his home in Kiev, Ukraine, that the injections he gave to Kornelia Marek contained no EPO. He said he did not know how the banned blood-boosting hormone got into her system and refused to say what the injections were.

    Poland's Ski Association has suspended Marek and fired Trypolski. A commission is to question Marek and Trypolski about the case.

    Marek tested positive after helping Poland finish sixth in the women's 20K relay.

    The IOC is also investigating. Marek could be disqualified retroactively and stripped of her results.

    Government lawyers nearly unbeatable

    From: WBJ
    The average Polish citizen or firm does not stand a chance when taking the Polish government to court, reports Puls Biznesu.

    In 2009, the Treasure won proceedings worth zl.1.7 billion.

    It only had to pay zl.80 million in damages. Those seeking compensation from the government are having a tough time beating its lawyers.

    There was almost a precedent-setting case last week, where MCI Management was awarded zl.38.5 million for the demise of its JTT Computer, which was fueled by bad moves from the Treasury.

    That could have been a break, but the judgment was ruled invalid.

    Last year, there were 618 lawsuits against the Treasury, of which the Attorney General's office won 541, or 86.5 percent.

  • Sport...

    Belarus hockey gets new chief

    From: Universalsports
    Evgeny Vorsin was voted the new president of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association at an extraordinary assembly. He received 24 of 25 votes.

    Vorsin follows long-term president Vladimir Naumov, who quit from his position in December. Vorsin is a former Ministry of Sports and Tourism. He is also the Deputy Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Community, a customs and economic treaty that includes several former Soviet Republics, a position he will give up to fully focus on hockey.

    A next assembly will be held in May in which Vorsin wants to vote about plans for the time leading up to 2014 when Sochi, Russia will host the Olympic Winter Games, and Belarus will play host to the IIHF World Championship.

    Vorsin wants to change the statutes in order to give hockey development more power and grant representatives from hockey schools membership in the executive committee. He named the development of players the biggest task in Belarusian hockey and also wants to bring Belarusian players back to the country in order to make the domestic league more attractive.

    Another open question remains on the coaching position.

    “In the short time remaining until the World Championship you can hardly change something dramatically,” Vorsin said at a press conference. “I do not see the point in hiring a foreign coach now.”

    He named Mikhail Zakharov, who was coaching the national team at the Olympics, Alexander Andrievsky and Vladimir Tsyplakov possible candidates for the Belarusian national team at the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Lithuanian artists to present exhibition in Grodno

    From: BelTA
    Alytus, Lithuania
    Lithuanian artists will present exhibition “Colors of Neman” in Grodno, BelTA learnt from the Grodno City Exhibition Hall.

    Some 14 artists from the Lithuanian town of Alytus will present their works in Grodno. Earlier some of them have already participated in the international air painting conference which is annually held in Grodno.

    In 2009 Grodno and Alytus established twin-town relations. The Lithuanian town has old cultural traditions. In 1581 King Stefan Batory presented Alytus with the Magdeburg Right and the coat of arms. There is a theater, the center for cultural communication, art schools, the center of children’s art in Alytus. Around 50 artists, sculptors, graphic artists, aquarellists and ceramists work in Alytus. Organizers of the exhibition hope that the exposition will promote the cooperation between artists of Grodno and Alytus, stimulate exhibitions exchange.

    Exhibition “Colors of Neman” has been organized under the auspices of the Alytus Town Government and the Lithuanian Consulate General in Grodno. The exposition will open on 23 March. It will be running through 10 April.

  • Endnote...

    Back in the USSR: GTO norms to be revived in Belarus

    From: Charter '97
    Gotov k trudu i oborone SSSR
    The norms “Ready for Labour and Defence” (GTO) , a physical culture and patriotic training programme, may be revived in Belarus.

    The Ministry of Sport and Tourism of Belarus is going to revive a programme, similar to the GTO programme, Natallya Bataeva, the chief specialist of the physical culture department of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, said at a press conference in Minsk, Interfax reports.

    “We are carrying out activities to revive the analogue of the Soviet GTO norms in the republic,” Bataeva said adding that sports and health complex was being worked out. According to her, involving people in competitions to pass tests will promote healthy lifestyle among students, schoolchildren and other sections of population.”

    Ready for Labour and Defence(GTO) is a programme of physical training in educational, labour and sports organizations in the Soviet Union. It was part of the state-promoted patriotic education of the youth. The programme was implemented in 1931–1991 involving people from 6 to 60 years old.

    GTO was introduced in the USSR on March 11, 1931 on the initiative by VLKSM. It was a complement to the Unified Sports Classification System of the USSR. While the latter provided Soviet physical education system requirements only for athletes, GTO was a programme for all Soviet people of almost all ages. By the year 1976, 220 million people were awarded GTO badges[1], while in 1986 the tests were passed by 33.9 million people.

    Initially the GTO had one level with three age groups. To earn the GTO badge, a person should pass 21 tests, of which 13 had concrete norms. Sports in the country were only beginning to develop, there were a few physical culture collectives by enterprizes and organizations, that could organize physical training, and the GTO provided the unique possibility to involve people into sports activities. Hence such a variety of tests. On December 7, 1932, the second level was introduced for the same three age groups. This was done to stimulate the improvement of skills of those, who passed the first level. The second level had 24 tests, 19 of them had concrete norms. Each test result could be one of two: "passed" and "not passed".