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Sunday, April 25, 2010

President partakes in subbotnik Kyrgyzstan ‘far from normal', Oil duties, Corruption, Jet crash, Elections; News, Sport, Culture and Polish scandal...

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  • #506

    Belarus President partakes in nationwide subbotnik

    From: BelTA
    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko took part in a nationwide subbotnik on 24 April. The Belarusian head of state placed a time capsule with a message to the descendants inside the symbolic foundation of the new State Great Patriotic War History Museum. The new premises will be located behind the obelisk Minsk – Hero City, the press service of the Belarusian head of state told BelTA.

    Once in the Victory Park the President was informed about plans regarding the museum construction as well as the restoration of the surrounding territories. The construction of the State Great Patriotic War History Museum is supposed to complete in 2013. Its area will be close to 15,000 square meters.

    According to Minsk’s Chief Architect Viktor Nikitin, the new museum’s design is praised as one of Europe’s and the world’s best. Different parts of the museum will implement different phases and aspects of the Great Patriotic War, taking visitors through the course of events. In addition, the museum’s information system will be able to provide any Belarusian with information about his or her relatives, who died during the war or participated in military operations. The museum’s information system will be connected with Russia’s largest archives.

    “Opened literally three months after Minsk’s liberation from the Nazi invaders, the Belarusian State Great Patriotic War History Museum was one of the world’s first educational and scientific institutions meant to preserve the truth about the war and about the people we owe our lives to,” reads the message inside the time capsule. “The museum is supposed to highlight combat deeds of the Belarusians and brotherly nations of the Soviet Union, to raise the youth in the spirit of military valor and fidelity to duty. May the new museum not only embellish the capital city but embody our inextinguishable memory and eternal gratitude to the liberating heroes. May new generations preserve and multiply the traditions of patriotism, courage, and humanity that the victors left to us”.

    After that a team led by Alexander Lukashenko worked on arranging a concrete slab of the transformer substation and a platform for a tower crane.

    After Alexander Lukashenko got familiar with the suggested design to create a landscape park Belarus that will be located near the exhibition facility BelExpo. In the center of the future park there will be a so-called compact Belarus. The area will be shaped like Belarus’ borders. Territories of the oblasts will be defined by alleys and landscape compositions, which are characteristic for every region of the country. Models of landmarks of Minsk, oblast cities, historical and natural items of interest on a scale 1:25 will be located inside the compact Belarus.

    It will take several years to accomplish the project. The planting of a grove dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory is the first phase. Young Belarusians, who represented the Belarusian Republican Youth Union and various unofficial youth associations, worked on it on 24 April. The head of state helped them with planting trees and making birdhouses.

    Alexander Lukashenko urges better sowing quality

    President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko believes that the pace of the sowing campaign is acceptable but the quality should be improved. The head of state made the relevant statement as he visited the agricultural company Gritskevichi in the Nesvizh Region on 23 April, BelTA has learned.

    Agriculture and Food Minister Semyon Shapiro told the President, so far 81% of the area to be under crops has been sowed. The work is complete in the Brest Oblast, is about to complete in the Grodno and Gomel oblasts, with about 10% left to do in the Minsk Oblast. Besides, 44% of the sugar beet area and 15% of the corn area have been sowed. According to the Minister, the sowing campaign goes as planned, there are no serious problems and overall the campaign will end in line with the schedule.

    Alexander Lukashenko stressed that it is necessary to draw attention to the quality of sowing work. In particular, it is necessary to reseed the areas that used to be flooded for a while. The head of state also pointed out that winter crops could do with reseeding if necessary. “Fields should be put into order,” said the President.

    Belarus President demands order in homestead lands

    Top priority attention should be paid to bringing homestead lands into order. The Belarus President made the relevant statement as he visited the agricultural company Gritskevichi in the Nesvizh Region on 23 April, BelTA has learned.

    The head of state remarked it is necessary to pay close attention to matters relating to order in homestead lands of rural Belarusians and to help them with sowing in their plots. The local authorities should also pay close attention to aid to the elderly. Rural residents themselves should put more efforts into keeping order in their own lands.

    Alexander Lukashenko also said it was necessary to put things in order near dairy farms. In particular, this year all farms are fenced along the perimeter, putting around 20-30 hectares of land out of crop rotation. It is sufficient to fence the territory close to farms and keep it in order.

    The President also paid attention to matters of quality and culture in a broad sense – both manufacturing quality and the quality of life of people. Alexander Lukashenko spoke in positive terms about the work in the Nesvizh Region in this regard.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Situation in Kyrgyzstan recognized as ‘far from normal’

    From: BelTA
    Politicians across the globe now have to admit that the situation in Kyrgyzstan is far from normal, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he met with Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Minsk on 21 April.

    “As far as Kyrgyzstan, the people and the ongoing situation are concerned, you all know my view and it is not subject to some passing considerations. My judgment is based on purely human views. I believe that such things should not happen at all,” Alexander Lukashenko told Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

    “While some politicians of several countries used to make cheerful statements before, today they are forced to admit that the situation there is far from normal. Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev said a while ago that ‘we will not cooperate with the new authorities of Kyrgyzstan before they legitimize themselves, hold elections and so on,’” said the Belarus President.

    Alexander Lukashenko believes that the elections in Kyrgyzstan cannot be held without the incumbent president of the country. “I don’t know how elections can be held without the incumbent president. It is what surprises me,” said the Belarusian head of state. In his opinion, “if it happens, it will push the situation in Kyrgyzstan more into the dead end”.

    “This is why if you need our support, open and honest support, like I promised that Kurmanbek Bakiyev would not arrive in Belarus in secret, he would arrive as the Kyrgyzstan President. We would not hide it and we are not hiding it. This is why you can always count on our support,” stressed Alexander Lukashenko.

    The Belarus President also added that Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s family will get any necessary medical aid. “I talked about it yesterday. As far as rehabilitation and help for children is concerned (doctors told me that there are some problems, especially in kids), we will do everything. We will help with medications and the rest, you can rest assured. I am very glad that your family is well. We’ve just had a few words that you have started getting some rest here lately, at least sleeping for 2-3 hours a day,” said the Belarusian head of state.

    Bakiyev: US Department of State condemned Kyrgyz opposition at first

    The US Department of State initially condemned the Kyrgyz opposition, Kurmanbek Bakiyev told a press conference in Minsk on 23 April.

    “They issued a statement immediately condemning the opposition and stated that the coup plotters should be brought to responsibility,” the Kyrgyz head of state said.

    “But then there came complete silence on their part. Why? I think the Russian mass media have apparently played an important role here. The situation in Kyrgyzstan was covered in such a biased way that the only opinion you could get was the one created by the Kyrgyz interim government and Russia. In fact it was an information sabotage campaign,” Kurmanbek Bakiyev believes.

    Bakiyev insists on bringing peacekeepers to Kyrgyzstan

    Kurmanbek Bakiyev insists on bringing peacekeeping forces into Kyrgyzstan. He made the relevant statement at a press conference in Minsk on 23 April.

    The Kyrgyz leader stressed that less than nine months have passed since he was reelected president. The presidential elections were highly praised by the OSCE and other international observers. The Kyrgyz leader emphasized there were no objective grounds for what happened on 7 April. The Kyrgyzstan special services knew the opposition was going to hold a rally, “but we have always been calm about such rallies. There was no information that a violent armed assault was being prepared”.

    In his words, the events in Kyrgyzstan demonstrated that it was a staged coup. He reminded that bandits arrested the Governor of the town of Talas, took weapons from special forces officers, tied police officers to their cars and took them around the city. “Everything points to the fact that it was not a popular uprising, not a spontaneous protest. Those were well-prepared people,” Kurmanbek Bakiyev said.

    Kurmanbek Bakiyev stated that when the protesters started making their way to the presidential residence, the security service used teargas and rubber bullets. It did not help. Security forces opened fire only after several shots were made towards the window of the presidential office. “Once an armored troop carrier failed while moving towards the White House in Bishkek, they restarted it quickly and, having approached the building, opened fire from a heavy-calibre machine gun. I don’t think ordinary people have skills of driving an armored troop carrier and handling a heavy-calibre machine gun,” Kurmanbek Bakiyev said.

    Bakiyev refutes corruption allegations

    Allegations of corruption and nepotism against Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his family are invalid. Kurmanbek Bakiyev made the relevant statement at a press conference in Minsk on 23 April.

    Kurmanbek Bakiyev reminded that his brother, the head of the presidential security service, had assumed duties worthy of a general even before Kurmanbek Bakiyev became the president. “I see nothing wrong with my entrusting the security service to my brother, who earned his rank and a lot of awards back in the Soviet Union days. If I had acted otherwise, it is likely I would not have been alive now,” said Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

    “My second brother, the youngest one, was the ambassador to Germany. Before my presidency he was a member of the parliament, the head of the international relations commission. It is quite a high office. I specifically sent him off to be the ambassador to reduce influence inside the country,” said the Kyrgyz leader.

    “At last there are a lot of talks about my son Maxim. He is a businessman, it is his mentality, and he has been in business since the secondary school. Yes, he has reached the international business level. I put him in the high office in order to ensure strict control over investment flows, to prevent thieving. The so-called members of the interim government examined what happened to the Russian loan that we had acquired. It turns out that everything is used according to the stated purpose. There is nothing inappropriate, everything is transparent and accurate. My son is rather a trained lawyer to avoid shady dealings, to fail me and himself,” stressed Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

    The Kyrgyz leader also refuted accusations of misappropriating $200 million from the public treasury. “What bank could accumulate such a sum and transport it out of Kyrgyzstan within two days in such a chaos? As far as allegations that the money was found in some deposit boxes of mine are concerned, everything should be checked. Unlike the interim government I am not inclined to trust gossip. If illegal money was found with some of my relatives, they are grown-up people and should be held accountable for that,” he said.

    Bakiyev says he remains legitimate president until his resignation accepted by parliament

    At a press conference in Minsk Kurmanbek Bakiyev said he remains legitimate president until the Kyrgyz parliament accepts his resignation.

    “When the president steps down, his resignation letter should be considered at a session of parliament, and after that it comes into force. I am not going to return to Kyrgyzstan as the head of state, but de jure my resignation has not been accepted and I remain the legitimate president,” he said.

    According to Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the interim government of Kyrgyzstan was too hasty to dissolve the parliament, the constitutional court, i.e. all legitimate bodies of the country. “I think that the state leaders, first of all those of the CSTO member states, should address the issue and help Kyrgyzstan return to the legal field. Talks are needed to make sure that whatever happens in the country next will be lawful, that the people who will be in power will not be able to claim that all the documents that have been adopted are illegitimate,” the President of Kyrgyzstan said.

    He also stressed that active measures should be taken immediately to bring law and order in Kyrgyzstan.

    As for the interim government, Kurmanbek Bakiyev does not think anyone of them will come to power. “The people of Kyrgyzstan know them well. I do not think anyone of them will come to power after what has happened,” he said.

    Kurmanbek Bakiyev said he is ready to do everything to get the situation in Kyrgyzstan back to normal. “I offer my services as the legitimate president. Use my authority to normalize the situation, to help Kyrgyzstan reinstate law and order. Call a referendum, constitutional reforms, make the country a parliamentary republic,” said Kurmanbek Bakiyev. He also believes that the interim government of Kyrgyzstan needs assistance, and it can be provided by the neighboring countries. “May Russia, Kazakhstan, United Nations, OSCE make their suggestions. But there must be put an end to this debauch,” he said.

    Europe, CIS to discuss cooperation at Kyiv forum

    From: BelTA
    The fourth international forum, Europe-Ukraine, will take place in Kyiv on 26-28 April, BelTA learnt from Chairman of the House of Representatives’ permanent commission for international affairs and relations with the CIS Sergei Maskevich who is to present Belarus at the forum.

    Partaking in the forum will be nearly 400 people including parliamentarians from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, the EU countries, representatives of the government and political structures of Ukraine and the CIS member-states, the USA, the EU.

    Sergei Maskevich hopes Belarus’ participation in this international forum will help promote further development of contacts with the European Parliament, expand cooperation with the national parliaments of the EU countries and the Eastern Partnership member-states. He also hopes “to present Belarus’ position in many issues in the international arena”.

    The forum will highlight the issues of securing energy and economic stability in Central and Eastern Europe. The participants of the meeting will discuss reforms and the consequences of the global economic crisis, economic cooperation prospects and the implementation of innovation projects in the region. The forum’s seminar will be dedicated to the development of the regional cooperation in Eastern Europe under the aegis of GUAM (Organization for Democracy and Economic Development which includes Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) and the CIS.

    Youth movement Ak-Niet criticized for remarks about Bakiyev, Lukashenko

    From: BelTA
    Remarks made by the coordinator of Kyrgyzstan’s youth movement Ak-Niet run contrary to international legal and moral norms and cast the country deeper into chaos. The statement was made by Igor Buzovsky, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, as he commented on the statement made by Ak-Niet members and distributed by several electronic mass media.

    “Remarks made by members of the youth movement are unacceptable with regard to President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and incumbent President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Young people of a friendly country should not take the liberty to say things like that,” believes Igor Buzovsky.

    He also remarked that those “who have risen to power in Kyrgyzstan now should abide only by the law instead of ambitions, emotions and prompts of ‘well-wishers’. The youth of Kyrgyzstan should understand that they are becoming an instrument used to achieve unseemly goals,” said Igor Buzovsky.

    The Belarusian Republican Youth Union calls upon the young people of Kyrgyzstan to preserve sanity, observe laws and keep order, stressed Igor Buzovsky.

  • Economics...

    Russia’s view on oil duties Belarus pays illogical

    From: BelTA
    If Belarus and Russia are going to create the single economic space and the Customs Union, Russia’s view on the oil duties Belarus has to pay is illogical, BelTA learned from Askhat Kuzbagarov, Head of the Civil Law Chair of the Saint Petersburg University of the Russian Interior Ministry.

    In his words, in order to speak about prospects of Belarus’ suit against Russia and its validity, it is necessary to study the treaties the two countries have signed in detail. On the other hand, the Customs Union and other integration formations provide for free trade in commodities and services.

    “If some borders are introduced, then you get autonomous subjects instead of a union. Besides, if we agree on one thing and do another thing, it is likely there was cunningness initially. Or the treaties were purely formal. Actions should correspond to the treaties,” the lawyer believes.

    BelTA reported earlier that in early 2010 Russia imposed customs duties on the oil products and petrochemical raw stock Belarus buys. Meanwhile, both the countries are parties to several treaties that provide for free trade. Belarus tried to settle the matter through negotiations but eventually had to file a suit with the CIS Economic Court. The latter now acts as the EurAsEC court and will be the Customs Union court as from 1 July. The court decided to entertain the suit on 21 April. In line with the procedure the date of the court hearing should be scheduled within 30 days after the suit is entertained.

    Belarus is CIS leader in retail sales growth in 2009

    In 2009 Belarus was the CIS leader in terms of retails sales growth, deputy chairperson of the National Statistics Committee of Belarus, told reporters.

    In 2009 retail sales in Belarus including public catering rose by 3% to Br55.9 trillion. The contributions of food and nonfood sectors to the retail sales growth were equal, 50% each. Retail sales in Russia shrank by 5.5% in 2009 over 2008, in Ukraine by 16.6%. Retail sales across the CIS countries dropped by 6% on average.

    The retail sales growth was due to the increase in the sales of non-food items, Irina Kangro noted. The growth of sales of these goods was 5.8% higher than in 2008.

    Deutsche Bank AG may consult Belarus about attracting investments

    Head of the Belarus President Administration Vladimir Makei met with a delegation of Deutsche Bank AG in Minsk on 23 April. The delegation was led by Peter Tils, Chief Executive Officer for Central and Eastern Europe, BelTA learned from representatives of the Belarus President Administration.

    The meeting touched upon a large number of matters relating to the bank’s cooperation with Belarus, including promising avenues of the bilateral cooperation. The sides discussed the possibility of Deutsche Bank’s providing consultation services to Belarus with a view to attracting investments into strategic branches of the national economy, in particular, oil refining, finance and insurance.

    During the talks it was pointed out that the sides enjoy a good level of cooperation in several mutually beneficial areas. The desire for continuing and expanding the bilateral contacts was expressed.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Ousted Kyrgyz president says in Minsk that he will not resign

    From: Navany
    Ousted Kyrgyz leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev on April 21 held a news conference in Minsk to denounce his country’s interim government as a gang of impostors and say that “only death” could remove him from office, BelaPAN reports.

    Mr. Bakiyev called on the international community not to recognize Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government led by former Foreign Minister Rosa Otunbayeva.

    “I do not recognize my resignation,” he said. “Nine months ago, the people of Kyrgyzstan elected me as president and I swore an oath to serve them. There is no force that could cause me to recant. Only death can stop me."

    He said that he was "the legitimately elected president of Kyrgyzstan recognized by the international community.”

    Mr. Bakiyev branded the provisional government proclaimed by the country`s opposition as bandits and said that he wanted “every citizen of Kyrgyzstan to understand that by executing the gang`s orders, he will become an outlaw and an accomplice in crimes with the ensuing consequences."

    "Punishment for the crime is imminent,” he said.

    “I call on the leaders of the international community not to create a precedent by recognizing the gang as a legitimate government,” he said. “I demand that an international independent investigation be carried out and those guilty of deaths, looting and the incitement of ethnic hatred be punished.”

    “I am appealing to the political leaders of the CIS,” Mr. Bakiyev said. “Don’t shrink back in the face of crude force. You are responsible for your people.

    Mr. Bakiyev said that he would “do everything possible to restore the constitutional rule” in Kyrgyzstan. “Under no circumstances, I will allow the bandits to determine the fate of our people,” he said.

    The deposed president also offered his “deep condolences” to relatives and friends of those killed in an uprising against his five-year rule that left 83 people dead.

    In his Tuesday annual address to the National Assembly and the Belarusian people, Alyaksandr Lukashenka revealed that the ousted president of Kyrgyzstan had been staying in Minsk with his family members since early Monday morning. “They are currently under the protection of our state and the personal protection of your president,” Mr. Lukashenka said.

    Kyrgyzstan`s interim government said that it expected Minsk to surrender Mr. Bakiyev “for his trial for numerous crimes against the Kyrgyz people.”

    Mr. Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan last week after the bloody uprising. He took refuge in neighboring Kazakhstan and then left Kazakhstan for a destination that had not been clear, after the Belarusian leader had said that Mr. Bakiyev would be welcome in his country.

    Ousted Kyrgyz leader says he has no intention to ask for political asylum

    Ousted Kyrgyz leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who has taken refuge in Belarus after being overthrown in a violent uprising, said on April 23 that he had no intention to apply for political asylum in a foreign country, as quoted by BelaPAN.

    At his news conference in Minsk, he reiterated that he did not recognize his resignation, which he said had been proposed by Russia.

    "I do not recognize my resignation because the other party has failed to fulfill its condition," Mr. Bakiyev said.
    He said that it was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who had insisted that he sign an official letter of resignation in exchange for security guarantees for his supporters in Kyrgyzstan.

    “But the condition was not fulfilled,” he said.

    Mr. Bakiyev said that Moscow was irritated by the US air base in Kyrgyzstan, and by the Central Asian country’s foreign policy.

    He, however, stopped short of accusing Russia of orchestrating the uprising against him. “I can’t say that Russia’s special services were behind it,” he noted. “An international commission should be set up to probe the matter.”

    “There is still an opportunity today to restore the rule of law,” Mr. Bakiyev said. “This so-called interim government should establish constitutional order. But what have they done? They have dissolved the parliament and the Constitutional Court. They have dissolved everything.”

    He said that he remained the president of Kyrgystan "de jure."

    "The thing is that the letter [of resignation] must first be examined by the parliament," he said. "And the parliament must decide whether or not it should accept my resignation."

    "One may dissolve the parliament or the court, but one may not revoke the constitution," he stressed.

    Mr. Bakiyev suggested sending a UN peacekeeping force to his country to restore order and peace.

    "I am not going to return to Kyrgyzstan in the capacity of president,” he added.

    Mr. Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan last week after the uprising against his five-year rule that left 83 people dead.

    In his Tuesday annual address to the National Assembly and the Belarusian people, Alyaksandr Lukashenka revealed that the deposed president of Kyrgyzstan had been staying in Minsk with his family members since early Monday morning. “They are currently under the protection of our state and the personal protection of your president,” Mr. Lukashenka said.

    The Russian foreign minister said on Thursday that Moscow did not recognize Mr. Bakiyev as the true president of his country.

    Belarus preparing humanitarian aid package for Kyrgyzstan, foreign ministry spokesman says

    Belarus will soon send its humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan, Andrey Savinykh, spokesman for the foreign ministry, told reporters in Minsk on Thursday.

    The shipment will mainly consist of food products, the spokesman said, noting that preparations for delivering the aid were “quite swift.”

    The Belarusian foreign ministry is currently in talks with representatives of the Central Asian country on the delivery date and measurers to ensure the safety of the goods, he said.

    As for the safety of the staff of the Belarusian embassy in Bishkek, Mr. Savinykh said that the foreign ministry “follows intently” the matter and maintains “regular contacts with the competent agencies of Kyrgyzstan."

    He said that gangs of looters may “pose the major threat” to the diplomatic mission.

    In his comment on the declared plans of the Collective Security Treaty Organization of which Kyrgyzstan is a member to hold a summit, Mr. Savinykh said that he had no doubt that the summit would take place.

    The meeting, initially scheduled for June 17, was postponed, tentatively until Mary 8, he said, adding that the proposed new date was under consideration.

    Kyrgyzstan's ousted president vows not to return

    From: AP
    Kyrgyzstan's ousted president said from exile Friday he does not intend to return to his homeland as its leader, but that his resignation was invalid because officials there are reneging on a promise to protect his family.

    Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed in an April 7 uprising that left 85 people dead in the Kyrgyz capital. He fled last week to neighboring Kazakhstan and arrived in the Belarusian capital earlier this week, where he is now staying.

    Bakiyev said his resignation, signed before he left Kyrgyzstan, was not in force because interim officials reneged on a promise to protect his relatives.

    "I don't intend to return to Kyrgyzstan as president," he told reporters in Minsk, but added that "the other side has not fulfilled its conditions. They guaranteed the safety of my family, but my family is being persecuted, therefore I do not recognize my resignation."

    While at his stronghold in the south of Kyrgyzstan, where he went in the heat of the uprising in Bishkek, Bakiyev said he was told by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that he would not be blamed for the violence of the revolt but would face justice if he tried to regroup and reclaim power militarily.

    "There was the threat to me and my relatives and a threat of civil war," Bakiyev said. "So I submitted my resignation and left."

    Bakiyev said one of his brothers has been kidnapped and that authorities are seeking to prosecute other members of his extended family who have remained in Kyrgyzstan. Some other members of Bakiyev's close circle have fled to Kazakhstan, and authorities have voiced hope that Kazakh authorities would hand them over.

    Kyrgyzstan's interim government accuses Bakiyev's brother Zhanybek, the chief of the presidential guards, of issuing the order to fire at protesters in Bishkek.

    The U.S. and Russia helped broker the agreement for Bakiyev's departure from Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a U.S. military base crucial to operations in Afghanistan. Russia, which also has a base in Kyrgyzstan, is irritated at the American military presence in what it sees as its region of influence.

    Bakiyev said Moscow fumed when he reversed plans to close the Manas air base last year after Washington offered to almost triple the rent to about $60 million.

    "I closed it unilaterally," Bakiyev said. "But the Americans offered new terms, and then I agreed to resume" the lease, Bakiyev said.

    "Although Russia has a similar base, it caused great indignation," he said.

    Bakiyev stopped short, however, of accusing Moscow of supporting the revolt.

    "I can't say that Russian special services had a hand in it. A commission must be formed to investigate," he said.

    Asked how long he planned to remain in Minsk, Bakiyev said he had no plans to form a government in exile, but suggested he felt comfortable as the guest of the country's authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Earlier this week, Bakiyev told a Russian weekly magazine that he plans to open a toy factory in Minsk.

    "For kids to be happy, environmentally friendly toys can help develop children's intellect, bring them joy," Russky Reporter quoted him as saying.

    Meanwhile, Felix Kulov, a former prime minister of Kyrgyzstan and a fierce critic of Bakiyev, said in Moscow that the Kyrgyz people had already rejected Bakiyev.

    "For our people he is not a president, and he can only have a negative influence on the situation," Kulov told journalists in Moscow. "It's unlikely he'll leave Belarus. Nobody will let him into another country."

    Kulov, who endorsed Bakiyev for presidency in 2005, but fell out with him after criticizing his policies, said that Bakiyev's only positive role would be to persuade his brothers to give themselves up to the provisional government.

    Interim officials have set presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan for Oct. 10.

    Graft against corruption

    From: RT
    Tours to prisons are to teach Belarusian officials not to take bribes.

    On Thursday a group of officials from the Belarusian Ministry of Industry were taken to detention facility ?1 in Minsk. It was not part of their work, neither were they arrested on any charge, but they could not easily escape this visit as it was organized by the General Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutors in Belarus believe that this new practice can help fight corruption.
    Word spoken…

    Tours to prisons as a method to fight corruption were mentioned for the first time by Belarusian General Prosecutor Grigory Vasilevich last December. Then he said that visits to places of detention for senior officials from those institutions most exposed to corruption can help combat this type of crime, working as a preventive measure. “This will help government officials stand against temptations to make offences for corruption”, Vasilevich added. Among the most corrupt spheres he listed were trade, agriculture, construction, production and the system of state administration.

    Then it was thought of as a joke, but later it became known that such tours, indeed, took place in 2010. For example, in March a group of officials from the Belarusian Ministry of Agriculture visited a detention facility on Volodarskogo St. in Minsk, local media reported. People generally new to such places were shown investigative offices, the canteen and, of course, the cells. They were told that some of them were so overcrowded that inmates had to sleep taking turns. However, the head of the facility, Sergey Kravchenko, explained that the aim was not to scare the visitors, but to show them the reality.

    In April the visiting group of officials from the Ministry of Industry included not only employees of the Ministry itself, but also senior managers of Belarusian large industrial enterprises.

    Earlier this year, Vasilevich said in an interview to one of the national TV channels that this program would not include all officials in Belarus: “We do not talk about excursions for each and every state official. By this time there have been examples when some senior officials visited detention centers and colonies”.
    However, it seems that visits to prisons are becoming part of the national educational work in Belarus. “We even bring some students to such institutions, for example, law students, so that they could have idea about this side of life”, said Vasilevsky.
    Bird in the hand is worth two in the cell

    The Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office has many other ideas on fighting corruption. For example, Vasilevsky believes there is not enough ‘glasnost’ in fighting corruption in Belarus and offenders must not only offer redress to be released on parole, but also must repent in public. “This way we can gain the psychological effect on potential bribe takers”, he says. Also, Belarusian prosecutors propose to ban civil servants from working in organizations they supervised as state officials in the course of two years after they leave their office. Such restriction might be imposed on all categories of public officers, including military men, enforcement agencies officials and others.

    Among other recent General Prosecutor’s proposals is the tightening of income declaration rules for state officials. First, it says that civil servants must file not only their own declarations, but also declarations of their spouses and minor children regardless of their place of residence. Besides, they must account for much more data than other citizens. Officials must give account of income, property and personal interests, which include any benefit for the official, his family, relatives, friends and other people in close personal contact and also for people and entities with which he had business or common political affairs. State official must also mention any funds in banks, loans given or received, services rendered to them free of charge, etc. Some government officials may be obliged to give such income declarations after they leave office.

    The new proposals seem to be a reaction to the difficult corruption situation in Belarus. According to Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office more than 26,000 people were convicted of corruption crimes in Belarus in 2009. It is quite a number for a country with population of 9 million people and a state machine of around 25,000 public officers (1 per 427 common citizens). Besides, the 2009 corruption perceptions index prepared by Transparency International put Belarus in 140th place, between Pakistan and Bangladesh. Out of 10 points (10 means no corruption) it had just 2,4 points.

    However, both the ‘tour to prison’ practice and proposed measures fall within the country’s general anti-corruption policies. Interestingly, Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko came to power on an anti-corruption platform. Under Lukashenko, new laws on the fight against corruption were adopted twice – in 1997 and 2006. In his latest address to the nation and parliament Lukashenko said that an uncompromising war is being led against corruption in Belarus: “Regardless of posts, titles and closeness to the president, the treatment will be rough, and even severe, for everybody. I have already ordered that amnesty and other indulgences not be granted to people convicted of corruption”.

    Obviously, at a time of the economic crisis it would be much more difficult to get feasible results from any anti-corruption program. And it is more than certain that neither the number of public officials who visited prison nor the number of officials imprisoned can ensure its effectiveness.

    Two fighter jets collide in mid-air in Brest region, no casualties reported

    From: Navany
    Two fighter jets collided in mid-air while performing complicated maneuvers during training flights in the Brest region late on Wednesday, with one warplane crashing to the ground as a result, the defense ministry's press office said, as quoted by BelaPAN.

    The pilot of the badly damaged MiG-29 managed to steer the aircraft away from a populated area and ejected to safety before it crashed in a field.

    The second MiG-29 involved in the collision safely landed at a military airfield, according to the press office.
    Both warplanes are part of the fleet of the 927th Air Force Base in Byaroza, Brest region.

    The Belarusian Military Prosecutor's Office has opened an inquiry into the accident. Experts of the defense ministry, the Air Force and the prosecutor's office have arrived at the scene to establish the cause of the collision.

  • From the Opposition...

    Russian media: Lukashenka provokes revolution in Belarus

    From: Charter '97
    The Russian mass media think the Belarusian dictator provokes the EU, Russia, and US to reach an accord on Belarus’s future.

    Alyaksandr Lukashenka again criticized Russia in his annual address to the people and “parliament” and received ousted president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev on the same day. Moscow regarded this as a clearly unfriendly step and rebuked him of “giving residence to the people who have lost job”, Rosbalt news agency writes.

    “We have tackled the crisis, and we have to thank not Russia, our dear Russia, our mother Russia. Who have we to thank? Our so called enemies, the IMF, Europe, West. They gave us loans that helped the country to survive,” the Belarusian ruler said. He harshly criticized the Russia’s “pragmatism” and supposed the Russian leadership bases on a principle ““they don’t have another way out”. “But we have,” Lukashenka promised. “A country in the center of Europe won’t be empty. I cannot afford insulting my own people. We’ll live in dugouts, but we will survive!”. Lukashenka announced serious economic innovations to be set up, that demonstrate poor state of the Belarus’s financial system, though the country says it won’t cooperate with the IMF in the nearest future. In particular, he mentioned radical revising accounting system and ban for governmental grants for the agriculture.

    His speech was followed by questions. One of them was about the president of Kyrgyzstan. As Alyaksandr Lukashenka said, Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his family had been received in Minsk. “They in Minsk under the protection of our state and me personally,” the Belarusian ruler said. “He is a president of a friendly country. I will do everything I can to protect him and his family.” Besides, Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government to render “humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan”.

    It wasn’t an ordinary event. Taking into account the fact that Moscow in fact supports the interim government of Kyrgyzstan, Lukashenka, who publically said about his support of the ousted president, interfered with Russia’s policy in Central Asia. The Kremlin would probably prefer not to turn attention to this, as there is plenty of other grounds for conflict with Belarusian partners on the single customs area. But Lukashenka’s public announcement of the fact of Bakiyev’s staying in Minsk was only the beginning.

    The Belarusian ruler said next day the upcoming elections in Kyrgyzstan couldn’t be held without the deposed president. Feeling support of Lukashenka, Bakiyev said he was still the head of state, in spite of conditions, under which he and his family had left the county, agreed on by Russia, the US, Kazakhstan and China.

    This statement couldn’t arouse anything but irritation. The head of the interim government Roza Otunbaeva suggested the international institutions responsible for transfer of Bakiyev to return him back in order the people of Kyrgyzstan to take a decision on his future. A source from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that Moscow doesn’t consider the Kyrgyz politician the president, as he signed his resignation.

    Russia went further: the attempts of CIS partner and “union state” member to provide its own policy in Central Asia was so strong that president Dmitry Medvedev couldn’t restrain from caustic hints regarding Lukashenka. After a number of strategic agreements with another “brother” state’s colleague Viktor Yanukovich had been signed in Kharkiv, Medvedev pointed Ukraine as an example and called to “watch how the statements are followed by results”. There’s a question: for what and for the sake of what. Real partnership is one thing, but declaration of intentions is another thing. One thing is serious work, another thing is to take a decision on granting residence for people, who have lost job,” the Russian leader rebuked Lukashenka.

    So, it’s not excluded that being inspired by sudden rapprochement with Poland and Ukraine, Russia will dare to further toughen it policy towards Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukashenka realizes that he continues to lose leverage over the largest neighbour, but tries to find new means of pressure, as the events with Bakiyev shows.

    However, he hasn’t gained much success, as his awkward diplomatic actions affect not only Moscow’s interests, but also violate acting unofficial arrangement between Russia, China and the US. As a result, bewaring of a collusion of the big states aimed at overthrowing him like Bakiyev, Lukashenka seems to provoke reaching Kyrgyzstan-like friendly arrangement on Belarus’s future between the EU, Russia, and the US.

    Minsk: candidate Ales Lahvinets demands to cancel elections at Sukharauskaya constituency #30

    From: Viasna
    The candidate lodged complaints with the procuracy, the Minsk City Election Commission and the Central Election Commission, asking to cancel the elections at the Sukharauskaya constituency #30 because of gross and purposeful violations of the Constitution and the electoral legislation by state officials.

    In particular, Mr. Lahvinets states that a considerable number of electors weren’t introduced in the register of electors, which is a violation of Article 15 of the Electoral Code. The candidate argues that there are 17,127 apartments in his constituency, whereas the official number of registered electors is 20,401. ‘This number of electors contradicts to any common sense. With such number of apartments the real number of electors must be about 34,000’, he says.

    Ales Lahvinets also points at the failure of the authorities to abide by the requirements of decisions of the Minsk City Executive Committee concerning agitation materials:

    ’The Frunzenski District Executive Committee and the Frunzenski District Election Commission didn’t implement point 3 of Ruling #475 of the Minsk City Executive Committee of 25 February 2010, and Zhaholkina Z.U., Chairperson of the Frunzenski District Election Commission, refused to provide me with the list of the places that were determined for posting agitation materials of candidates for the Minsk City Council of Deputies of the 26th Convocation and gave only the list of the places where the informational stands were installed with the concurrence of the executive committee.’

    The official also refused to inform the candidate about the number of citizens in the lists of electors at each of 11 precincts of the constituency in the Sukharauskaya constituency, which is a violation of Articles 34 and 74 of the Electoral Code.

    Moreover, the candidate draws some strange facts. In particular: ‘During the first day of voting, the attendance at the precincts where there were no observers was several times higher than at those where observers were present. I and my proxies weren’t let to familiarize with lists of electors and verify the signatures of those who received ballot papers at the precincts where there were no observers.’

    Besides, the candidate registered facts of abuse of the official powers by the people who head the precinct commissions of the Sukharauskaya constituency #30. He states that the following address of the pedagogical collective of gymnasium #33 was hanged out on 20 April at the entrance of gymnasium #33 and school #212 where precincts #17-21 are located:

    ’Dear parents! The pedagogical collective of gymnasium #33 asks You to take an active part in the early voting (on 20.04, 21.04, 22.04, 23.04, 24.04) at 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4 – 7 p.m. We hope for cooperation and thank You for understanding.’

    Ales Lahvinets points that A.Yakubouskaya, headmistress of gymnasium #33, and H.Andrushchanka, headmaster of school #212, are heads of precinct commissions #19 and #20 respectively. That’s why he considers the aforementioned address as a form of pressurization of electors, abuse of official powers and interference with the electoral process.

    Salihorsk: ‘Kidnapping’ vs. ‘Young Front’ candidate

    Candidate Aliaksei Valabuyeu has become a real headache for the local ideologists. Having finished with the promotion campaign of his rival, colonel Zainchkouski, the local media proceeded to indirect criticism aimed at Valabuyeu.

    The candidate mentioned his membership in the unregistered youth organization Young Front in his electoral program that was handed out to the electors. In response, the local authorities started regularly broadcasting the Kidnapping, a movie that had been prepared by workers of the Belarusian TV in close cooperation with KGB and is aimed at denigration of the youth organization. Activists of Valabuyeu’s electoral headquarters don’t believe in such coincidences and are convinced that such regular broadcasts are directly connected to the electoral campaign.

  • Russia...

    Thousands protest in Ukraine over deal with Russia

    From: AP
    Several thousand Ukrainians rallied in front of parliament Saturday to protest a deal allowing Russia to keep its navy in Ukraine for another 25 years.

    Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told the protesters that all opposition forces must unite to resist the deal signed earlier this week which she denounced as an "unprecedented step of national treason and shame."

    The agreement signed Wednesday is the first concrete sign that newly-elected President Viktor Yanukovych will steer Ukraine back into Russia's orbit, reversing his pro-Western predecessor's attempts to decrease Moscow's influence.

    The pact allows Russia to extend its lease of the Black Sea Port of Sevastopol for another 25 years after the current lease agreement expires in 2017. Russia immediately rewarded Yanukovych by giving the ex-Soviet republic steep discounts for the natural gas on which its industries depend.

    Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders said the deal amounted to ceding control over the nation's territory.

    "We are losing our territory, we are restricting our sovereignty," Tymoshenko said at the rally. "Yanukovych will split Ukraine in two as nobody has done before."

    Yanukovych has broad support in the Russian-speaking east and south, but faces strong opposition in western Ukraine. He narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in February's vote.

    The agreement is set to come up for ratification Tuesday in Russia and Ukraine. While Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders said they would try to block the vote, they will face an uphill battle in parliament controlled by Yanukovych's party and its allies.

    Tymoshenko's ally, deputy parliament speaker Mykola Tomenko, said that even if parliament ratifies the deal Tuesday, "we will do our best to denounce it anyway, if not now, then later."

    Police separated opposition demonstrators from several hundred Yanukovych supporters.

    "We are defending the new authorities," said one of them, Valentyn Bodvin, a businessman. "The opposition has lost its chance. They were doing nothing for five years."

    Austria, Russia sign natural gas pipeline agreement

    From: Xinua
    Austria and Russia on Saturday signed a cooperation agreement on a proposed natural gas pipeline project known as the South Stream.

    The deal will expand Russia's capability to supply more natural gas to the European Union through the planned 3,700-kilometer pipeline.

    The cooperation agreement will allow Russia to meander the pipeline into Austria before turning west into Bulgaria, Turkey and Italy.

    Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Austrian Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner signed the agreement during a ceremony witnessed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.

    Austria has been a supporter of the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, which has been deemed as a competing route against the South Stream.

    The Nabucco pipeline, planned by the United States and the European Union, is to measure 3,300 km.

    Both the South Stream and Nabucco pipelines have bypassed Ukraine, which has been causing supply difficulties to EU countries due to its price disputes with Russia.

    The South Stream was expected to completed in 2015 at an estimated cost of 20 billion U.S. dollars while the Nabucco pipeline also is to be finished in the same year at a cost of 12.3 billion dollars.

    Russia supplies Austria with about 70 percent of its natural gas needs and provides all of Europe with about 20 percent of its requirements.

    Russia's Medvedev says he may seek second term

    From: AP
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published Saturday that he may run for a second term in the 2012 presidential election.

    Medvedev's predecessor and mentor, Vladimir Putin, has previously said they wouldn't compete against each other, but "sit down and decide" who will run.

    Putin is still widely seen as the nation's most powerful politician despite moving into the prime minister's seat. Most observers expect him to elbow Medvedev out and easily regain the presidency in 2012.

    Medvedev told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten in an interview posted on the Kremlin Web site Saturday that he "doesn't exclude" seeking re-election in 2012, a statement similar to his previous remarks on the subject.

    "If it's necessary for my country and for preserving the policy course formed of recent years, I mean both the period when Vladimir Putin was the head of state and the period I have been in charge, I don't rule out anything for myself, including participating in the election," Medvedev said.

    He said that he would make a decision on whether to run if the public is satisfied with his work during the first term and if he is confident of his electoral performance.

    "As a minimum, the results of my work should be acceptable for our citizens," he said. "And we also should seek to achieve the result, not just take part."

    Medvedev, a lawyer by education, has sought to cast himself as more liberal than his predecessor and promised to create a more tolerant environment for business and to expand political freedoms. But critics say that he has accomplished little so far and Putin has continued calling the shots.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Peado-killer dad found Dead

    From: NPE
    The body of Drasius Kedys, the man wanted for shooting dead a judge and his female companion who helped abuse his four year-old daughter, has been found approximately 30 km from his home town of Kaunas, Lithuania.

    Kedys hit the headlines in October last year after taking justice into his own hands and was believed to have been hiding from the Lithuanian law in Poland.

    But this week family members positively identified the body, eradicating any suspicion that he may still be alive. The circumstances surrounding his death however, are still not known.

    According to the District Prosecutor’s office in Lithuania, a post-mortem examination has still to be conducted but there is little doubt that the body is that of Kedys.

    Fearing foul play, the family have also requested that the body is examined by an independent forensic expert from Warsaw.

    The ‘Death Wish Dad’ became something of an icon in his home country, and indeed around the world, for shooting dead judge Jonas Furmanavicius, 47, and Violeta Naruseviciene, 29, after learning from his daughter that she had been abused.

    His pleas for justice fell on deaf ears. After sending out around 200 letters and DVD discs featuring his daughter to politicians, members of the European Parliament and the national media, he decided to act on his own.

    Police later found the bodies of Furmanavicius and Naruseviciene shot to pieces and a gun registered to Kedys lying nearby.

    Despite an international warrant for his arrest, Poles and Lithuanians living in Poland had offered him shelter which officials believe he had accepted.

    Exactly how Kedys ended up dead so close to his home remains a mystery.

    The investigation continues.

    Thieves on the run

    From: NPE
    The three men jailed for stealing the Auschwitz sign are missing after being let out of jail on compassionate leave.

    Two of the men, brothers Lukasz and Rodoslaw M., had been entrusted with weekend passes in order to visit their ill mother. The third man, Pawel S., had also been allowed out, to organise wedding plans with his fiancée.

    But police have confirmed that all three have failed to return to the jail in Wroclawek and arrest warrants have now been issued by Krakow’s District Court.

    The men had been sentenced for their roles in the theft of the famous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign that sits above the entrance gate to the Nazi death camp in December last year.

    Police are now worried that their no-show could affect the outcome of the case against Anders Hogstrom, the man who is believed to have plotted and staged the entire theft.

    Hogstrom, who founded Sweden’s anti-immigrant National Socialist Front in 1994, was extradited to Poland this month to face trial - with most of the evidence based on statements from the men who are now missing.

    The former neo-Nazi leader has pleaded innocent, stating that he was merely asked to collect the sign from the Polish gang in order to pass it onto a buyer. If convicted of the crime, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

    Miracle escape

    From: NPE
    A 20-year-old driver and his 48-year-old passenger can talk about a miracle escape after the car they were in was hit by a speeding train in Leczno near Bialogard. On arriving at the scene, police were amazed no one was hurt when looking at the wreckage of the car – an Opel, which had its entire back end ripped off in the incident.

    Officers have established that the young driver stopped as required at the open crossing, then for some reason set off again right in front of the speeding Szczecin-Bialogard train. The car almost made it across in time, but the electric locomotive caught the rear end and proceeded to reduce it to a twisted heap of metal. Both driver and passenger, though, emerged from the front half of the wreck completely unscathed.

    More in the way of suffering was inflicted on the passengers of the train, who were stuck for two hours waiting while police carried out their investigations.

    National Bank in turmoil

    From: NPE
    The tragic death of the head of the National Bank of Poland Slawomir Skrzypek in Saturday’s plane crash leaves questions open about who will replace him, and how his loss will affect monetary policy and other issues.

    The succession issue is a major one, since both the parliament and the president must make the choice jointly. Because President Lech Kaczynski was also killed in the crash, it is unclear whether a permanent replacement will or even can be made before the presidential election scheduled for June.

    The Monetary Policy Council, which determines interest rates and is headed by the NBP president, announced on Monday that Vice-Chairman Piotr Wiesiolek will preside over the body until a new head can be named.

    The announcement came during a previously scheduled meeting of the MPC and was made after its members consulted with constitutional experts. “We will hold normal meetings unless somebody, such as the Constitutional Tribune, decides that it is against the law, MPC member Andrzej Bratkowski told Reuters.

    The law states that a member of the MPC must be replaced within three months, which is roughly when a new national president will be elected. Since acting president Bronislaw Komorowski does not possess all the powers of the office, it is uncertain whether he can select a replacement.

    On Wednesday, Komorowski said that choosing a successor to Skrzypek should not be made in haste. “I don’t want to rush the procedure for selecting a new NBP president,” he said.

    He downplayed his own potential role in the process, adding that the decision should be “as uncontroversial as possible and best handled by the Polish Parliament.”

    Some experts expressed concern about the idea that Komorowski would wait until after the election to select a candidate to succeed Skrzypek. “This might be too long for the markets. There may arise some uncertainty, some fears about the stability of the NBP,” Maja Goettig, head economist for Bank BPH told Gazeta Wyborcza.

    Although analysts doubt that monetary policy is likely to change much under Skrzypek’s successor, the fact that a president from the ruling Civic Platform is likely to choose the new head of the NBP may well lead to some change in policies. Among these issues are the amount of profits to be paid from the central bank to the budget and how quickly to move Poland into the eurozone.

    It may also test the government’s commitment to a truly independent central bank, since it found itself at odds with Skrzypek on such issues in the past. Markets remained calm after Skrzypek’s death, which indicates that investors do not expect any major changes in monetary policy under the new head.

  • Sport...

    Alexander Steshenko of Belarus wins silver at European judo championships

    From: BelTA
    Belarusian Alexander Steshenko claimed silver in the +81kg category at the European judo championships held in Vienna, Austria.

    On the road to the pedestal the Belarusian defeated David Tsokouris of Greece, Swiss Christoph Keller, Aljaz Sedej from Slovenia and French Antoine Jeannin. Alexander Steshenko lost a gold-medal fight to Russian Sirazhudin Magomedov. Bronze went to Euan Burton of Great Britain and Guillaume Elmont of the Netherlands.

    Belarus ranks last at IIHF U18 World Championship

    Belarus became 10th at the 2010 IIHF U18 World Championship that takes place in Minsk and Bobruisk.

    On 22 April Belarus lost to Latvia (4-5, by shootouts) in the last game of the relegation tournament. That means that the host nation of the World Championship has lost all matches of the tournament.

    Canada beat Slovakia (4-2) to win the 7th place. The final standings of the relegation tournament are as follows, Canada – 9 points, Slovakia – 6, Latvia - 2, and Belarus – 1. Belarus and Latvia have been relegated to division A. They will be replaced by Germany and Norway at the next World Championship.

    Switzerland claimed 5th position after outscoring Czech Republic (6-5).

    The IIHF U18 World Championships have been held since 1999. Belarus played seven times in the upper division. In 2002 Belarus led by Mikhail Zakharov won the 5th place, and on 2003, also with Zakharov, Belarus were 8th. The other coaches of Belarus U18 hockey team failed to escape relegation to the lower division.

    The United States play Sweden in the World Championship final at Minsk Arena on 23 April. Russia and Finland are set to play in the third place game at the Sports Palace.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Five nations to partake in Europe Cup arts festival in Minsk

    From: BelTA
    Five nations will take part in the 2nd international contest, the Europe Cup, in Minsk on 22-25 April, BelTA learnt from one of the contest organizers Natalia Skopets.

    Arts groups and solo performers from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Israel will present their skills in various arts, such as painting, photographing, clothes designing, signing, dancing and theater arts.

    Delegations from Bulgaria and Italy will not participate in the festival due to flight disruption caused by volcano eruption in Iceland.

    Refereeing the contest will be experts from the Culture Ministries of Belarus and Russia, tutors of the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, journalists, photographs, designers, production directors, etc.

    The winners of the festival will be named at the final gala concert on 25 April. They will be able to participate in international festivals, contests and master classes in Russia, Spain, Germany, the United States and other countries.

    The Europe Cup arts festival is organized by the culture department of the Minsk City Council, the Culture Ministry of the Russian Federation, and Our Future charity foundation.

    Belarus presents over 400 books at St. Petersburg Book Salon

    Belarusian publishing houses are presenting more than 400 new books at the 5th International Book Salon in St. Petersburg, BelTA has learnt from the Belarusian Information Ministry.

    The Belarusian exposition showcases the books published by the publishing houses Belarus, Pyatrus Brouka Belaruskaya Entsyklapedyya, Vysheishaya Shkola, Mastatskaya Litaratura, Narodnaya Asveta, Aversev, Tetrasistems, Literatura I Iskusstvo and others.

    The St. Petersburg International Book Salon is held on 22-25 April 2010.

  • Endnote...

    Zhirinovsky: Lukahsneka to lose the vote, and besides he can be brought to court

    From: Charter '97
    "16 years in power. Everybody is fed up with that already. Nothing comes of his actions, Lukashenka is a failure, he is to lose the vote, he must step down," stated the leader of the he Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).

    The LDPR leader, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Vice-Chairman of the State Duma Vladimir Zhirinovsky is a controversial personality, who has been visible on the political arena of Russia for 20 years. His statements often become aphorisms, and his most daring forecasts come true. The eccentricity and weirdness of the politician often obscure his ablility to convey a message in an unusual form, or to send up a trial baloon for the Russian ruling elite.

    We offer quotes from the interview of the politician as quoted by BelaPAN.

    About Lukashenka

    Lukashenka is jealous! Nothing comes of his actions, Lukashenka is a failure, he is to lose the vote, he must step down. Moreover, he could be brought to court for persecuting dissenters, imprisoning businessmen and making them pay money.

    16 years in power. Everybody is fed up with that already, no matter what a name is! Even when everything is alright, people get tired! One and the same person, his manners, his voice, his face! But we all are human, why should we tolerate that? Why another man cannot be a president? That's the essence. Besides, there are other problems: the general crisis worldwide. Presidents, parties, flags are changing everywhere, so why should he stay?

    The most important thing is: we supported him in all elections when he ran. I had been arriving personally! And now who would support him, when he acts like that? And without MOscow's support, those who had supported him, would turn their back on him, realizing that he does not have support he had earlier. For how long had he been tightening screws for private business? [They are] discontented! Young people? This is forbidden, that is forbiggen: restictions are everywhere! There are restrictions for intellectuals. There are restrictions for businessmen: they should go abroad, or in prison, or do everything under the command of officials, like it was under Soviet power.

    So many people are discontented, and their number is growing. The older generation for whom he symbolized the Soviet power is dying every year, the older generation is departing. Those who voted for him: village, workers, the poor. The new generation is arising: the Belarusian youth who have internet, who go abroad, who hear and see a different world, who want elections with a result which is not known from the start.

    It is gorgeous in Ukraine! Nobody knew till the last moment who [would win]: Tymoshenko or Yanukovych. That is the election, and everybody likes that. Like in the Baltic states which are near. Well, he will say he is, and what's next?

    I respect him, but I believe that people do not want him, they are tired.