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Today's Headlines for:
Sunday, May 09, 2010

Victory Day, CIS, EU, Russia, Korea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Kazulin, NATO; News Sport, Culture and Polish scandal

  • From the Top...
  • #509

    Alexander Lukashenko: Victory Day is momentous for Belarusians

    From: BelTA
    The Victory Day is momentous for the Belarusian people, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the parade of the Minsk garrison troops dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War on 9 May.

    “The dedication and courage of those who survived the most terrible ordeals and won the cruelest war of the last century will always live in people’s memory. The meaning of the Victory for the whole humankind is timeless. It became a symbol of the triumph of life over death, freedom over slavery, humanism over racism; it embodies the fair retribution for aggression and violence, it served as a strong condemnation of wild ambitions and ideas of world domination,” the Belarusian head of state said.

    Alexander Lukashenko noted that no other country suffered from the war as much as Belarus did. Because of barbarous genocide, Belarus lost one third of its population. Almost the entire infrastructure was destroyed leaving ashes of burnt villages and ruins of once flourishing towns.

    Belarus President urges to stop revision of WW2

    It is necessary to stop the revision of the history and the perversion of the truth about WW2, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said at the parade of the Minsk garrison troops dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War on 9 May.

    “Many countries took part in the fight against the aggressor. However, the historic truth is that the key role in the anti-fascist struggle belongs to the Soviet Union. It was the Soviet Union that reversed the course of the Second World War, determined the outcome of the war, shaped the future of our Motherland and many other states and people, and in fact the whole world,” the President of Belarus said.

    Unfortunately, the head of state continued, more and more people try to pervert the truth and downgrade the importance of the Great Heroic Deed of our soldiers and partisans, besmirch patriots who fought for the liberation of their country. “The worst of it is that such efforts are becoming a political trend. Today we need to do our utmost to stop the revision of the history,” Alexander Lukashenko added.

    “The year 1941 witnessed not only the clash of the states and huge military powers. It was a global struggle between different political systems, opposing moral and spiritual values. We won this battle. All the people committed themselves to the defense of their Fatherland. This was the reason why the war entered the history as the Great Patriotic War,” the Belarusian President said.

    According to Alexander Lukashenko, the most important aspect of the Victory is a strong fraternity of the Soviet people of various nationalities. The day of 9 May is a common holiday for Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, all the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. “Today during the parade in Minsk, Moscow and Kyiv, the military of the fraternal Slavonic nations stand shoulder to shoulder. The memory of the heroic deeds is sacred. However, to avoid the tragic mistakes, we need to draw the right conclusions from the past,” the Belarusian leader said.

    “We urge all the countries of the world not to disregard new challenges and dangerous trends that threaten our security,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

    Presidents of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine unveil monument to Cities of Military Glory in Moscow

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko together with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yanukovych took part in a ceremony to unveil a monument to the cities that have been awarded the honorary title of the Russian Federation, City of Military Glory. The ceremony took place in the Alexander Gardens of Moscow on 8 May.

    The new monument continues the Alley of the Hero Cities at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Alexander Lukashenko called this event very symbolic. “This is a continuation of the glorious traditions in the sacred place in memory of the Great Victory,” the Belarusian President said.

    The Belarusian head of state stated that the presidents of the three countries are resolute to preserve the memory of the heroic deeds during the Great Patriotic War. “The fact that we are together today is a testament to it,” he added. Alexander Lukashenko stressed that Belarus holds sacred the memory of those years. “After the Soviet Union collapse we have always marked this day at the highest level. I want to assure all Russians, Ukrainians and my counterparts from Russia and Ukraine that you can always count on the Belarusians. Together, we are invincible,” the Belarusian President said.

    Addressing the veterans from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, who were present at the ceremony, Alexander Lukashenko said: “I have the one and only command for you. Please live as long as possible. Congratulations on the Great Victory!"

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the opening of the monument one of the landmark events. “This is the symbol of our common Victory,” he said and added that the Cities of Military Glory are as important as the cities that were awarded the title of hero cities in the Soviet years. “This embodies the unity and friendship between our countries and nations,” the Russian President said.

    Belarus will always honor heroic deeds of Soviet people, Alexander Lukashenko says

    Belarus will always honor the unfading heroic deeds of the Soviet people, said Alexander Lukashenko at the Minsk military parade dedicated to the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, BelTA informs.

    “We are deeply thankful to you, dear veterans. You may be confident that Belarus will always honor the unfading heroic deeds of the Soviet people,” said Alexander Lukashenko addressing the veterans.

    The President noted that all plans of the Government are aimed at the only objective – to create conditions for decent life of Belarusian people. “We need no help from the outside; we create our well-being by ourselves. Only by hard everyday labor we can make our native country a strong and prosperous state,” stressed the Belarusian President.

    “We should have faith in ourselves and consolidate our nation and society. This is the only way to the victory. This is the manifestation of high morale of the unconquerable and self-respecting nation. Hopefulness and consolidation is the key to success. This motto of the generation of winners will always be up to date,” Alexander Lukashenko believes.

    Alexander Lukashenko wished everybody good health, peace, happiness and well-being.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    CIS leaders urge to interact actively to strengthen global security and stability

    From: BelTA
    The CIS leaders urge to interact actively to strengthen the security and stability in the world, says the address by the Heads of State of the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States to the Peoples of the Member States of the Commonwealth and to the International Community in Connection with the 65th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

    On 9 May 2010, the peoples of the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. In what was the most aggressive and ruthless of wars, the multiethnic people of the Soviet Union and their Armed Forces defended the freedom and independence of their Fatherland, liberated many countries from fascist enslavement, reads the address.

    On the frontline and in the rear, our peoples showed selflessness and mass heroism, patriotism and internationalism and unheard-of perseverance, without which the victory would not have been possible. History knows no greater perseverance. Nor does it know greater determination to win.

    ”The greatness of the exploit performed by our peoples has not been overshadowed by time. The more time passes, the clearer we realize the historic significance of the mission of the Victory soldiers who defended the right to future. This is why, addressing the peoples of the member states of the Commonwealth and the world community today, we are saying "thank you" to the veterans. We urge to pay homage to the heroes-victors not only by word but also by deed, to give care to the participants of the war and toilers of the rear on an every-day basis, give them attention and create decent living conditions,” says the address.

    For our people, the 9th of May, the Victory Day, remains a day of celebration of justice, day of pride and nationwide mourning for millions of victims of that infinitely ferocious and horrendous war. We hold sacred and dear the names of those who died the death of the brave in the years of the Great Patriotic War. We owe an unplayable debt of gratitude to those who, at the cost of their lives, defended the Fatherland and our freedom.
    We will not forget the heroism of soldiers and toilers of the rear who saved the world from fascism.

    The heads of state urge to commemorate those who died for freedom and independence of their Motherland, to make sure military cemeteries, memorial compounds, monuments, obelisks and graves of guerrilla fighters and prisoners of Nazi camps are taken good care of; to intensify the search for the remains of the soldiers and civilians who died at the hands of Nazi invaders during the Great Patriotic War.

    “We have never divided the Victory into ours and someone else’s. We have always paid homage to the courage of those who resisted Nazism. We do remember the contribution made by our allies in the anti-Hitlerite coalition to the Victory, their help to us,” reads the address. But the biggest and, ultimately, decisive events unfolded on the Soviet-German front. Our countries lost tens of millions of people during the war. Among the fallen on battlefields were people of all ethnicities.

    “Considering that the peoples of our country have made the decisive contribution to the Victory, we are urging to cultivate in the younger generation the feeling of pride for the common heroic history and for the great exploit performed in the fight against fascism. Reaffirming our commitment to the universally recognized principles and norms of international law, the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, we are urging to interact actively to strengthen security and stability in the world, enhance efforts to fight international terrorism and extremism, promote peaceful settlement of the existing and prevention of possible conflicts,” reads the address.

    EU willing to promote relations with Belarus in many areas

    From: BelTA
    The European Union would like to develop relations with Belarus in the largest number of areas possible, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Belarus Rosemary Thomas told a press conference held on 5 May to highlight the forthcoming European Film Festival in Minsk.

    The diplomat believes that it is culture that connects all the countries of Europe together. Culture is a good foundation for developing relations in other areas. Rosemary Thomas also said that cultural cooperation with Belarus is important. In her words, the European Film Festival is exactly the way to step up Belarus-EU cultural cooperation.

    Among the organizers of the European cinema art festival are the UK embassy in Minsk on behalf of the EU's presiding country Spain, embassies of European Union countries in Belarus, the European Union representation.

    The festival will begin on 10 May, the next day after the Europe Day, which is marked on 9 May by many European countries. The Europe Day is supposed to stand for peace and unity in Europe. In the European Union the Europe Day is also known as Schumann Day after the historic declaration by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, who is regarded as one of the European Union founders.

    At the festival visitors will be able to watch seventeen films from sixteen countries: Belarus, Bulgaria, the UK, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, France, Czechia, Sweden and Estonia. The festival will be opened by the Belarusian movie Reka Zhizni (river of life) at the movie theater Pobeda in Minsk on 10 May.

    The festival will take place in movie theaters of Minsk, Mogilev, and Bobruisk and will last till 4 June. Visiting the movie theaters in Minsk will be free of charge. In Mogilev and Bobruisk it will be possible to book a certain number of free tickets in advance.

    The festival will feature movies of various genres from fairy tales to historic dramas. The financial support for the festival has been provided by the European Union representation in Minsk and 15 embassies of European Union countries. The festival will be held with assistance of the Belarusian Culture Ministry.

    Belarus moves to 7th position as Russia’s trade partner

    From: BelTA
    According to the Federal Customs Service of Russia, Belarus has fallen from the 5th to the 7th position in the list of Russia’s main trading partners in Q1 2010.

    According to the statistical data provided by Russia’s Federal Customs Service, in January-March the bilateral trade made up $5.656,6 million, up 17.4% compared with the same period a year before. Belarus’ export to Russia outpaced the import. Belarus exported products worth $2.027,1 billion to Russia (up 48.9%), the import rose 5% to reach $3.629,5 billion.

    Despite the trade growth, Belarus’ share in Russia’s foreign trade edged down by 4.3%. In 2009, Belarus accounted for 5% in Russia’s foreign trade, 5.3% in Q1 2009. The drop is attributed to a more rapid trade growth with other countries.

    In 2009, Belarus was fifth largest trading partner of Russia after Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and China. In Q1 2010, the trade between Russia and Germany made up $11.050,6 billion (up 50.4%), the Netherlands $13.265,8 billion (up 87.9%), China $11.953,6 billion (up 57.9%), Italy $8.745,5 billion (up 40.6%). Apart from that, in January-March Belarus was outstripped by Ukraine and Turkey as Russia’s major trading partners. Russia-Ukraine trade amounted to $7.202,2 billion, up 103.2%, and the trade with Turkey made up $5.876,7 billion, up 31.6%.

    At the same time, Belarus posts a bigger trade volume with Russia than such economically developed countries as the US, Canada, Japan, France and the UK.

    Belarusian-Korean center for scientific and technical cooperation to be set up in Minsk

    From: BelTA
    A Belarusian-Korean center for scientific and technical cooperation is supposed to be set up in Minsk, BelTA learned from Yuri Alekseyev, Director General of the BNTU’s hi-tech park Polytechnic.

    Soon scientists of the two countries will discuss the terms of the project. Korean specialists are expected to visit Minsk the next week to consider the possibility of setting up the center, said the source. The new institution will contribute to the fulfillment of new Belarusian-Korean joint research, promotion of Belarusian products onto the Korean market, establishment of new business ties between Belarusian research centers and Korean companies, establishment of new science-intensive enterprises. The center will be able to offer consulting services to juridical and natural persons during the signing of contracts for the sake of creating joint innovation institutions and enterprises.

    The hi-tech park Polytechnic already hosts centers for scientific and technical cooperation with Venezuelan, Kazakh, and Syrian scientists. It is also home to the Belarusian center for scientific and technical cooperation with Chinese provinces. “Cooperation with China provinces develops most dynamically,” remarked Yuri Alekseyev. “For instance, in the near future we plan to implement a major research project to assess heat losses of buildings. The results will benefit the two countries”.

    The hi-tech park Polytechnic of the Belarusian National Technical University was created in 1992. It offers development and the launch of batch production of new technologies, materials and equipment. In addition, it helps small innovation companies to promote their products.

  • Economics...

    Mogilevkhimvolokno affected by higher export duties on oil products

    From: BelTA
    Russia’s increase in export duties on oil products exported to Belarus has negatively affected the performance of the Mogilev-based chemical company Mogilevkhimvolokno, BelTA learned from Marina Kostyuchenko, Press Secretary of the Belarusian petrochemical concern Belneftekhim.

    She remarked that Mogilevkhimvolokno uses paraxylene as the primary material used in its manufacturing processes. Paraxylene makes up 64% of the prime cost of Mogilevkhimvolokno products. The cost of paraxylene has increased by 20-25% following Russia’s introduction of export duties on oil products in January 2010. To compensate for at least part of the increased costs, the company had to correspondingly raise prices for products made using paraxylene. The company is now on the lookout for alternative ways to acquire paraxylene.

    According to Marina Kostyuchenko, Mogilevkhimvolokno was designed and built as the basic platform to manufacture polyester threads and yarns for the USSR’s entire industry. It was supposed to get basic raw materials (paraxylene and mono ethylene glycol) from Russian oil refineries. The scheme has existed for 40 years already. Mogilevkhimvolokno is a reliable business and strategic partner. The fact is confirmed by long-term contracts signed with the Russian companies Gazprom Neft (a five-year contract), SIBUR (a three-year contract) and Nizhnekamskneftekhim (a three-year contract). The entire time Mogilevkhimvolokno has focused on supplying its products to Russian partners as a priority.

    Paraxylene is used in Russian automobile and light industries, road construction, roofing materials production, by the Emergencies Ministry. In Q1 2010 Mogilevkhimvolokno’s exports to Russia rose by 20%. Marina Kostyuchenko remarked that Russian customers are concerned by the growing import of Asian analogues of their products, which may fill the market and oust Russian manufacturers, making them to give workers the sack.

    Mogilevkhimvolokno is a major European producer of polyester yarns and fibers and the only CIS large manufacturer of dimethyl terephthalate and polyethylene terephthalate. The company was established in 1968 and reincorporated as a joint stock venture in 2002. It comprises four plants and one major manufacturing facility. The product lineup includes over 100 titles. The company employs over 10,000 people.

    Belarus, IMF to discuss cooperation prospects in Minsk on 12-25 May

    An IMF staff mission will start working in Minsk on 12 May, BelTA learnt from the IMF Office in Belarus.

    The IMF mission led by Chris Jarvis will stay in Minsk till 25 May.

    The IMF mission and the Belarusian authorities are set to discuss Belarus’ social and economic development, monetary and tax policy, prospects and forms of the further cooperation.

    A reminder, in an interview with Reuters President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarus will continue cooperation with the IMF.

    According to the estimates of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, the Stand-By Arrangement concluded between Belarus and the IMF in January 2009, played a key role in stabilizing the economic situation in the country in 2009-early 2010. The program helped maintain stability on the foreign currency market, boost the financial system and encourage investors and businessmen.

    The total financial resources provided under the Stand-By Arrangement are estimated at about $3.5 billion.

    Belarus’ international reserve assets up 6.7% in January-April

    In January-April 2010 Belarus’ international reserve assets calculated using the IMF methods were up 6.7% to $6032.5 million, BelTA learnt from the information department of the National Bank.

    In line with the methods used by the International Monetary Fund, Belarus’ international reserves are defined as marketable foreign assets, which consist of monetary gold, the country’s special drawing rights in the IMF, the country’s reserve position in the IMF and foreign currency reserves. The reserve assets can be promptly used for money market interventions in order to stabilize the exchange rate of the national currency, to finance the import of goods and services by the government, for paying and servicing the foreign national debt and for other purposes.

    In January-April 2010 Belarus’ international reserve assets calculated using national methods increased by 8.8% (by $524.1 million) to $6502.6 million.

    As of 1 May hard currency accounted for the larger part of the international reserve assets of Belarus ($3357.8 million, or 51.6%) along with precious metals and gems ($1227 million, or 18.9%). In January-April the hard currency assets went up by 32.7%, the volume of precious metals and gems was up by 8%. Other assets amounted to $1917.8 million, or 29.5%. In January-April they decreased by 17%.

    BelTA reported earlier that the NBRB expects the country’s gold and foreign currency reserves to increase by $0.5-1.83 billion in 2010. This is envisaged in the draft monetary policy guidelines of Belarus.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Foreign veterans to attend Victory parade on Red Square

    From: RIA Novosti
    Over 200 veterans from 24 foreign countries have arrived in Moscow to attend World War Two Victory Day celebrations on Sunday.

    Victory Day marks the final surrender by Nazi Germany to the U.S.S.R. in WWII, often referred to as the Great Patriotic War in Russia and other states in the former Soviet Union.

    Belarus and Ukraine sent the largest delegations of veterans to Moscow. Other delegations arrived from other ex-Soviet states and former Soviet allies in the WWII - the United States, France and Great Britain.

    This year's parade Moscow's Red Square involves over 10,000 personnel, 150 tracked and wheeled military vehicles, as well as 127 aircraft and helicopters.

    U.S., British, Polish and French troops are taking part in the parade for the first time in history.

    After the parade, the foreign veterans will lay flowers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexandrovsky Gardens near the Kremlin and attend a number of festive events in the Russian capital.

    CSTO adopts documents on Kyrgyzstan, nuclear disarmament

    From: Xinua
    The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) adopted two documents on Kyrgyzstan and the newly signed treaty on strategic arms reduction (START) respectively at the informal summit held near Moscow on Saturday.

    The post-Soviet security bloc urged "the earliest possible peaceful return of public and political life into the boundaries of law" in Kyrgyzstan, said one statement as quoted by news agencies.

    Except Kyrgyzstan, leaders from all the other six CSTO members including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended the summit and voiced concern over the situation in the Central Asian state that witnessed the ouster of its president and the formation of an interim government early April.

    Regarding these incidents as Kyrgyz internal affairs, CSTO leaders said in the statement that hopefully without use of violence the Kyrgyz people could normalize the domestic situation, restore law and order, as well as legitimize the state authority as soon as possible.

    Another document adopted at the informal summit welcomed the signing of the START between Russia and the United States on April 8 in Czech capital of Prague.

    "The CSTO member states regard this agreement as an important element of the international security architecture, reflecting the substantial contribution made by Russia and the United States to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation," the statement said.

    The statement meanwhile called on all members of the nuclear club to join the Russian-U.S. efforts and contribute to the disarmament process.

    The CSTO leaders were visiting Moscow to attend the 65th anniversary of Victory Day.

    Iran launches wire, car production units in Belarus

    From: Tehran Times
    Iran inaugurated a large copper wire factory and the second phase of Samand car assembly line in Beluarus on Saturday.

    Iranian Industries and Mines Minister Ali-Akbar Mehrabian and Belarusian Minister of Industry Alexander Radovic attended the inauguration ceremonies, the Mehr News Agency reported.

    The copper wire factory was established at the cost of $8 million by Iran's private sector. The unit is projected to produce 34,000 tons of copper wire per year. The factory’s raw materials will be exported from Iran to Belarus.

    Currently the two countries’ trade value stands at $3.250 billion.

    In May 2009, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko met with Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Reza Raei, to enhance an oil production project in the Jofeir field, located in Southwestern Iran near the border with Iraq.

    Subsequently, the Central Bank of Iran agreed to lend $212m to Belarusneft for the project

    Two Belarusian Rights Activists Arrested

    From: RFE/RL
    wo human rights activists were detained by police in the western Belarusian town of Berastse on May 7, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

    Police arrested Roman Kislyak and Andrey Sharenda as they distributed texts of the "International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance" not far from the local prosecutor's office in Berastse.

    The action by the rights defenders was to mark the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of former Belarusian Interior Minister Yury Zaharanka.

    Several prominent individuals disappeared in Belarus in 1999 and 2000, including former Deputy Parliament Speaker Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasousky, journalist Dzmitry Zavadzsky, and Zaharanka.

    All of them are presumed dead. Their relatives believe the Belarusian secret services are behind the abductions and possible killings.

    Sharenda has been arrested and jailed in recent years for such things as taking part in unsanctioned gatherings and putting the opposition's national flag on a
    university building.

  • From the Opposition...

    Natallya Radzina: People fed up with lies

    From: Charter '97
    It’s difficult for me to describe the 16 years that Belarus has suffered under the dictatorship of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

    Half my life. People have been killed, abducted, arrested, intimidated, jailed and blackmailed by the regime throughout these years.

    We don’t have independent TV channels, or radio stations. Most of the free newspapers have been closed. TV journalist Zmitser Zavadski, who had at one time been a Lukashenka’s personal cameraman, was abducted and killed. Journalist Veranika Charkasova, who investigated ties between the Belarusian regime and the regime of Saddam Hussein, was murdered. Some of my colleagues were sentenced to restriction of liberty for criticizing Lukashenka in their articles. Pavel Mazheika, Viktor Ivashkevich, and Mikalai Markevich served two years of compulsory labour for this. This is a Soviet-style form of punishment — one has to live in a prison-like guarded facility, which is situated far from home as a rule, and do low-paid work, for example tree cutting.

    Until recently, the internet was the only source of true information. But now the dictatorship has decided to deprive the Belarusians of an opportunity to learn the truth about the events in the country.

    Two criminal cases have been opened against the Belarusian opposition’s most popular internet-resource (which I work for). In March our office was raided and eight computers were seized. I was beaten by a masked police man. They didn’t introduce themselves; they just burst into my apartment and hit me in the face.

    I am called in for interrogation all the time. It’s annoying and hinders my work. This is the aim of the authorities. Two criminal cases have been initiated against, in connection with articles about the corruption among high officials, who had allegedly defamed a KGB regional head, and readers’ comments on the articles on our website.

    I believe the attack on is related to the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for early 2011. The authorities are afraid of the growing popularity of independent internet resources. The people, tired of lies of the official media, are looking for the truth.

    Our website was attacked just after an interview with Andrei Sannikov, the European Belarus civil campaign leader, had been published, where he announced his decision to run for presidency. It’s no coincidence that Andrei Sannikov’s wife journalist Iryna Khalip is also a witness in the criminal case over “libel” against A KGB officer.

    Lukashenka has a great fear of the upcoming presidential elections, the greatest fear he has ever had. He knows he lost the people’s support long ago, and realises what a dangerous exercise rigging election results for 17 years is. This fear means he could do anything.

    Lukashenka’s decree on the Internet comes into force on 1 July. Under the decree, all opposition internet resources can be closed and journalists arrested.

    Anything may happen to me and my fellow journalists. We need the solidarity of journalists, human rights activists, politicians, and people all over the world. The silence of the European Union, which doesn’t react to the outrageous situation in Belarus, insults us and all those who stand for European values.

    Belarus doesn’t have oil and gas, but 10 million people live there. London has almost the same population. Imagine the same things are happening to you and your families, while the world stands idly by and says “at least people aren’t being killed in the streets.” Maybe Europe wants us to be murdered?

    Kazulin to be tried for using obscene language near Supreme Court

    From: Viasna
    Well-known politician Aliaksandr Kazulin, detained yesterday near the Supreme Court, will stand trial for alleged usage of obscene language there. The trial is scheduled for 11 a.m. on 12 May at the Leninski District Court of Minsk.

    Bear in mind, that yesterday Kazulin and many other people came to the Supreme Court to hear the verdict on the criminal case against Mikalai Autukhovich, Uladzimir Asipenka, Mikhail Kazlou and Aliaksandr Laryn, and express solidarity with the political prisoners. Mr. Kazulin was a presidential candidate in 2006, and spent 2,5 years behind bars on politically motivated charges.

    Aliaksandr Kazulin: ‘We are charged with violation of public order, shouting, expressing dissatisfaction with the court verdict and ‘used obscene expressions’. It is stated that when the police made a remark about it, we started using even more obscene language.’

    According to the politician, he was detained on the way home, at the crossing of the Lenin and Marx streets. The detention was deliberate, as Kazulin was pulled out of a group of people who walked near him. The riot police silently pulled the politician in a paddy wagon, without answering the demands to explain the reasons for the detention.

    Mr. Kazulin says that the policemen didn’t beat him. ‘I wasn’t beaten, but the youngsters who were pulled there after me, were. Yaramionak suffered quite a bit. They stopped the beating only when I rushed towards him. Before this, he was thrown down on the floor and kicked in the ribs.’

  • Russia...

    NATO troops take part in Moscow Victory Day parade

    From: DW
    Russian military jets fly in formation over Red Square on Sunday
    Foreign troops from four NATO member states marched on Moscow's Red Square for the first time on Sunday as part of a parade marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.

    Around 1,000 troops from Britain, France, Poland and the United States took part in the military parade, alongside some 10,000 members of the Russian army and soldiers from ex-Soviet countries Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

    "Sixty-five years ago, Nazism was defeated and a machine that was exterminating whole peoples was halted," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in his speech. "There was one choice – either victory or to become slaves. The war made us a strong nation."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Moscow on Saturday to take part in the commemoration, joining Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao and around two dozen other world leaders at the military parade.

    Anger as NATO prepares to join Red Square parade

    In a related Reuters story, Foreign leaders including President Hu Jintao of China and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will watch as over 11,000 troops from World War Two victors Russia, the United States, Britain and France parade to the sound of a huge military band.

    Russia's Communists, still the country's biggest opposition party, pledged to hold a protest march in central Moscow after the parade. They will chant slogans against NATO forces for marching over a hallowed square which is also home to the embalmed body of their revolutionary hero, Vladimir Lenin.

    "Foreign troops have never appeared on Red Square. It's a violation of tradition," said Sergei Obukhov, a member of the party's Central Committee.

    "The presence of foreign troops with weapons in their hands unnecessary reminder that we lost the Cold War."

    Obama, unable to come to Moscow because of a scheduling clash, praised the invitation to NATO troops.

    "President Medvedev has shown remarkable leadership in honoring the sacrifices of those who came before us, and in speaking so candidly about the Soviet Union's suppression of elementary rights and freedoms," he said in a statement.

    Victory Day is one of Russia's most important public holidays and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that this year's commemorations would be among the biggest ever, with over 102,000 troops marching in cities across this vast country.

    But contemporary concerns have also intruded. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi canceled their attendance at the last minute, citing the need to deal with the crisis surrounding the euro currency.

    Continuing a tradition begun by Stalin, Soviet and then Russian troops have marched in Red Square every year on May 9 to mark the capitulation of Nazi forces in Berlin.

    Russian leader Vladimir Putin revived two years ago a Soviet-era tradition of parading tanks, missiles and military vehicles across the square and flying helicopters, fighters and bombers low overhead.

    While Medvedev greeted war veterans on Saturday, accompanied by Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, Putin hosted a special meeting and dinner at his country retreat outside Moscow for China's Hu.

    The Kremlin, which is eager to shore up its influence and tighten ties two decades after the Soviet breakup, is using this year's parade to stress bonds among the former republics, many of whose leaders will attend.

    Among the weaponry on show this year will be Russia's latest S-400 air Defense system, which claims to be capable of shooting down up to six missiles or aircraft simultaneously at a distance of up to 400 km (250 miles).

    China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates are said to be interested in buying the system.

    British military personnel marching in the the largest-ever post-Soviet military parade
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pulled out of the event to instead concentrate on the European financial crisis.

    In an interview with the Russian Itar-Tass news agency, Merkel said the invitation to the victory celebration was a great honor.

    She said the gesture showed that Russia and Germany had learned from history and could live in peace and friendship.

    In 2005, Gerhard Schroeder became the first German chancellor to be invited to the Red Square victory celebration.

    Protests planned

    Angela Merkel is the second German chancellor to be invited to the Victory Day commemorations
    Russia's Communists, the country's biggest opposition party, were planning to hold a protest march in central Moscow after the parade.

    They were angry that NATO troops had been given permission to march on the square, home to the embalmed body of their revolutionary hero, Vladimir Lenin.

    "Foreign troops have never appeared on Red Square. It's a violation of tradition," said Sergei Obukhov, a member of the party's Central Committee.

    "The presence of foreign troops with weapons in their hands unnecessary reminder that we lost the Cold War."

    Mine explosion

    The celebrations were overshadowed by two methane gas explosions at a coal mine in the Siberian region of Kemerova, which hours earlier killed at least 12 people, injured dozens and trapped more than 80 miners and rescuers.

    The first explosion occurred late Saturday night, with the second following a few hours later as a rescue operation was underway. Renewed rescue operations continue, but the high concentration of methane gas poses a risk of further explosions.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described the situation as "difficult" and "tragic" and urged authorities to do everything possible to rescue those still trapped underground.

    Russia promises Poland to declassify Katyn files

    From: AP
    President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday promised Poland that Russia would declassify secret files on the Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet forces in World War II.

    Medvedev made the vow to acting Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, in the latest symbol of entente between the countries since the death of Polish president Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash in Russia last month.

    "Work on the Katyn case will be continued on my direct order, including the declassification of materials," Medvedev said, according to Russian news agencies.

    He also handed over to the Polish side 67 volumes of evidence from Russia's Katyn enquiry.

    For decades, Moscow blamed the Katyn massacre on Nazi Germany, until Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev finally admitted in 1990 that the Polish officers had been executed by Stalin's NKVD secret police.

    Parliament speaker Komorowski, who is acting head of state until a new president is chosen in elections, is in Moscow to take part in celebrations Sunday for the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

    "The crime of Katyn, the lie of Katyn is a stumbling block (in relations) between our countries," said Komorowski.

    "The truth of Katyn is a shared experience, a Polish and a Russian one. It should be a basis for developing relations between our countries," he added.

    While Russia last month published archive material relating to the massacre on the Internet in a hugely symbolic gesture, key material is still believed to be locked away as top secret.

    In 2004, Russian military prosecutors closed a long-running probe into Katyn and classified their files from the investigation, a move that strained ties between Warsaw and Moscow.

    About 22,000 Polish officers were executed by the NKVD at Katyn, in western Russia, and a number of other sites in present-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in April and May 1940.

    One of the documents posted online is a memorandum from Lavrenty Beria, the head of the NKVD, to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin proposing the thousands of Polish prisoners be shot. The document is personally signed by Stalin.

    Ironically, Kaczynski was heading to Katyn for a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre when his plane crashed in April, killing all 96 people aboard.

    The crash prompted an unprecedented outpouring of grief in Russia and signs of a reconciliation between the two countries which have had often prickly relations since the collapse of Communism.

    But there has been criticism in Poland over the pace of the inquiry into the Smolensk air crash and the opposition, led by Kaczynski's twin brother, said on Thursday it wanted Warsaw to take over the probe.

    Medvedev assured Komorowski that the investigation would go "right to the end" and vowed that all its findings would be made public.

    "The conclusions must be published and made known to the widest circles of the public," he said.

    Russian investigators have said the pilots failed to follow instructions from Russian air traffic controllers warning about thick fog and telling the crew to land at another airport.

    However one month after the disaster, investigators have yet to announce final conclusions about the cause.

    "To find out absolutely all the details is an absolute imperative," a senior Russian diplomatic source said ahead of the talks.

    Post-Soviet security bloc urges further disarmament efforts

    The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Saturday called on all 'nuclear club' members to join the Russian-U.S. efforts and contribute to the disarmament process.

    The post-Soviet security bloc, which held an informal summit near Moscow, adopted a joint statement welcoming the signing of the Russian-U.S. strategic arms reduction treaty.

    "The CSTO member states regard this agreement as an important element of the international security architecture, reflecting the substantial contribution made by Russia and the United States to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation," the statement said.

    The Russian-U.S. arms pact, signed on April 8, stipulates that the number of nuclear warheads is to be reduced to 1,550 on each side over seven years, while the number of delivery vehicles, both deployed and non-deployed, must not exceed 800.

    The CSTO summit opened at the Russian president's Gorki residence just outside Moscow.

    It was attended by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirzieyev and CSTO General Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha.

    The meeting is expected to discuss current international issues, in particular the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

    The CSTO is a security grouping comprising the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

    Kyrgyzstan did not participate in the summit. Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko said on Friday the reason was that the country had not formed its constitutional government.

    The CSTO pledged humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan.

    It adopted a joint statement, stating its readiness to provide assistance to Kyrgyzstan and promote "constructive cooperation with other countries and international organizations along these lines."

    The Kyrgyz opposition took power in the former Central Asian Soviet republic in early April after anti-government protests in several cities turned violent, particularly in the capital, Bishkek.

    The country's ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed and fled the capital taking refuge in Belarus.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Polish banks trapped in their own monopoly

    From: Polish Market
    You will be forgiven for having missed the headline, but epic news was out just recently. News of herculean efforts that in ancient times would have forced the chroniclers to sit down with their pens to save the saga for the ages. In the current age, I've been handling the paeons, putting it up blow by blow on my service, capped with a recent six-part feature in April.

    So here it is: The Polish chemical group Ciech signed a debt restructuring deal with its numerous creditors. After some 18 months of negotiations.
    Underwhelmed? You shouldn't be.

    Polish banks face huge problems when the time comes to restructure the debts of a troubled corporate client. Ciech is only the latest in a long line of tragi-comic examples. Troubles usually involve having too many banks around the table - seventeen in the case of Ciech.

    Polish banks have a stranglehold monopoly on corporate finance as Poland does not yet have a corporate bond market that can attract serious financial investors. But the banks are too small to handle the financing of major firms alone. The result - any number of large-cap firms have loans at nearly every major bank in town.

    To wit: the combined assets of Poland's commercial banks, now at nearly PLN 1 trillion, constitute a mere 17% of the group assets of Deutsche Bank. Poland's largest bank, the state-controlled PKO BP, has just 15% of that total. And prior to the financial crisis, more and more banks were working overtime to muscle their way in.

    Tough market. Unless you were a large-cap borrower, that is. A financial director at any respected large firm could bicker down interest rates and often secure funding without even putting up fixed assets as collateral. When worse comes to worse - and it did - any number of banks find themselves negotiating debt restructuring without much collateral to back up their demands for repayment.

    Find seventeen different banks around the table and you likely get seventeen different approaches to the client. Perhaps thirty-four, once you count in those foreign parents.

    One bank throws the deal quickly to the collection team, a pretty "get-serious" approach. Another bank might go easy. Clients naturally begin to play one bank off another. Alternatively, one bank might have collateral and another might not, meaning one can play hard ball, the other can't. One bank might have the liquidity to rattle on with tough talks, one might be in a position of preferring fast cash. First versus last in, collateral, capital and liquidity strength and the attitude of the parent bank all shape behavior.

    Why struggle in such talks for 18 months when a bankruptcy filing would do?, you might ask. Not Poland, where bankruptcy courts move slowly, are subject to numerous appeals and give creditors little sway over the actions of the receiver. The average bankruptcy runs three years and bears costs at up to 20% of the estate, the World Bank's and EBRD's 2010 report "Doing Business in Poland" states. Creditors recover an average of 30 cents on the dollar. The OECD average is a 1.7 year procedure bearing costs at 8.4% of the estate and with a recovery rate of 68.6%. Bankruptcy filings are reserved for only those cases in which a bank fears that a third party might cart away assets.

    And those are just the standard barriers.

    Ciech went the extra mile to make matters interesting. Ciech had taken some of the market's worst headlines in the FX options scandal that had given Poland its own form of toxic asset. Before Ciech could talk out a broader deal, the firm had to sit down with its banks to avoid a crushing margin call on FX options gone bad. Bankers started the game with a load of mistrust to the firm. When they saw that all their banker colleagues around town had sold speculative FX options to Ciech, they also lacked a lot of trust for one another.

    Police track Polish man to mother’s house and bring him back to Britain

    From: Telegraph and Argus
    West Yorkshire Police today warned criminals there is no hiding place after a third Polish national was locked up for attacking a fellow countryman.

    Remigiusz Klata, 26, was jailed for eight and a half years at Bradford Crown Court after he was brought back to the UK.

    Detectives teamed up with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Interpol to bring him to justice.

    Klata and his two accomplices inflicted grievous bodily harm on Artur Wojtowicz at his flat in Bankfoot, Bradford, in 2007.

    He suffered stab wounds to his shoulder and hand and stamping injuries that left a shoe imprint on his back.

    Rafal Krajewski, 31, of Manningham Lane, Manningham, was jailed for nine years last August after he was tried in his absence when he jumped bail and went back to Poland. He later handed himself in at Milton Keynes.

    Grzegorz Holubowicz, 29, of Parsonage Road, Tyersal, was given a seven-year prison sentence after standing trial.

    Klata, of Seaton Street, Barkerend, fled the country after pleading guilty in June 2008.

    He was arrested on January 20 at his parents’ home in Poland and extradited to the UK. Klata’s barrister, Nick Askins, said he went back to Poland because of the death of his grandfather and did not return because he knew he was in trouble.

    The Judge, Recorder Jonathan Sandiford, branded the assault a pre-planned “ordeal of injury and humiliation.” Klata played a leading role, holding a knife to Mr Wojtowicz’s throat and lunging at him with the weapon.

    The judge commended West Yorkshire Police officers Detective Constable Julia Tiplady, Detective Constable Neil Sharpe and case worker Johanna Bolt for their work on “a difficult and, at times, distressing case.”

    He praised officers for surmounting the language barrier and for their persistence in seeing all three men were brought to justice.

    A Polish police officer is the last person he should expect to harm him

    From: NPE
    A Warsaw resident was awarded PLN 80,000 this week for injuries suffered when a police anti-terrorist squad raided his flat, only to discover later they had the wrong address. The mix-up occurred in February 2008 when masked officers burst into the home of 28-year-old Piotr D. shouting, “On the floor!” before throwing the IT consultant to the ground.

    As a result of the incident Piotr D. is unable to play sport and claims to have mental scars as well. He was demanding PLN 200,000 in compensation but Bialystok Police Headquarters, who ordered the arrest, refused to pay. Bialystok Police admit the mistake, but say it was the anti-terror squad, who come under the jurisdiction of the Central Police Headquarters in Warsaw, who should pay.

    Delivering her verdict, judge Hanna Jaworska said, “Citizens should have faith that a police officer is the last person he should expect to harm him.”

    Outrage at Smolensk scavangers

    From: NWE
    The country was rocked this week by the news that less than a month after the tragic air disaster at Smolensk, people are making their way up to the site in order to scavenge around and find personal belongings once owned by the victims of the crash.

    As ordinary citizens make their way up to the swamp ground to pray and pay their last respects to those who died in the airplane accident, many are taking the opportunity to stage their own personal ‘treasure hunt’, hoping to take away their own personal souvenirs from the crash that has caused deep shock amongst the nation.

    While there have been calls from the Polish government to secure the area, it seems that little has been done by the Russian side to uphold the requests.

    “As we arrived, there were already a line of parked cars on the road ahead of us,” says Mrs Wieslaw, who went to visit the site. “Not only that, but Polish trucks and several cars with Russian number plates too.”

    And it appears that for those wishing to make a bit of an effort, the searching around in the mud and dirt has already paid off dividends.

    Amongst some of the items that have been reported to have been found is a 36th Special Air Transport emblem from one of the onboard seats, fragments of the aircraft and other assorted cables and wires.

    According to one searcher, Rafal Dzieciolowskiego, a member of his group was able to track down the passport belonging to Gabriela Zych, the Chairman of the Kalisz Katyn Families Association.

    “We had to clean up the document first as it was covered in dirt, but it was still completely intact,” he says.

    “But the worst thing we came across was a large piece of flesh,” continues Dzieciolowskiego. “It was slightly bigger than a human hand and caked in mud. It was monstrous and the smell left us with little doubt as to what we had found. The only thing to do was move to a dry patch of ground and bury it with dignity.”

    While there have not yet been reports of people profiting from goods and items found at the site via the black market, one group told of how they were approached by a Russian man who was willing to pay for what they had found.

    “On one occasion, we were approached by a Russian man offering us as much as PLN 500 for a piece of the plane, however we had already decided that we were not looking to profit from the trip and refused to discuss this matter with him.”

  • Sport...

    Belarus’ team to be rewarded for every win at IIHF World Championship

    From: BelTA
    One of the children’s hockey schools in Belarus will be getting Br25 million as Belarus’ national team scores a win or clinches a draw at the IIHF World Championship in Germany, BelTA learnt from the press service of the president’s sports club.

    The Br25 million certificates will be awarded to the scorers and to the goalkeepers in case of the draw. These hockey players will decide which children’s school will get the money after the worlds. The money should be used to buy the equipment, upgrade the facilities or organize sports events, the president’s sports club said.

    The president’s sports club wished good luck to the Belarusian team and the coaches. In a message to the team, the chairman of the club, Dmitry Lukashenko, said that the successful performance of the team at the IIHF World Championships will further popularize the sport in the country and promote the children’s hockey. “You are the example for thousands of young hockey players who are your most loyal fans,” Dmitry Lukashenko said.

    Belarus is in Group A in the Preliminary Round. Belarus is scheduled to play Kazakhstan on 9 May, Slovakia on 11 May and Russia on 13 May. The top three teams from each group advance to the Qualification Round while the fourth-placed team in each group moves to the Relegation Round.

    Belarus beaten by Czechs in Prague

    Belarus’ hockey team lost to Czech Republic in Prague in a friendly game on 6 May.

    The final score was 2-5, Demagin and Stefanovich scored for Belarus. The match was the last of Belarus’ friendlies before the 2010 IIHF World Championship.

    A reminder, Belarus lost two games against Latvia in Riga on 29 and 30 April.

    Belarus’ headcoach Eduard Zankovets has announced the squad for the World Championship.

    Goaltenders: Mezin, Koval (both - Dinamo Minsk), Shabanov (Yunost).

    Defenders: Salei (Colorado Avalanche, NHL), Denisov, Makritsky (both - Dinamo Minsk), Ryadinsky (Yunost), Kostyuchenok (Spartak Moscow), Stasenko (Amur), Kolosov (Grand Rapids, United States), Gotovets (Shattuck-St. Mary's School, United States).

    Forwards: Kulakov, Meleshko, Mikhalev, Stas, Chupris, Kovyrshin (all six - Dinamo Minsk), Zakharov, Senkevich (both – Yunost Minsk), Demagin (Neftekhimik), Kalyuzhny (Dynamo Moscow), Ugarov (MVD), Grabovsky (Toronto Maple Leafs), Stefanovich (Quebec Remparts, Canada).

    Belarus’ coaches also count on the Kostitsyn brothers (Montreal Canadiens), provided Canadiens quit the Stanley Cup.

    Ruslan Salei was named Belarus’ captain during the championship.

    The 2010 IIHF World Championship will take place on 7-23 May in Germany. Belarus will play Kazakhstan (on 9 May), Slovakia (11 May) and Russia (13 May) at the preliminary group stage. The best three teams from each group will advance into the second round, while the fourth team will play in the relegation tournament.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Portuguese designers to debut at Fashion Mill 2010 Festival in Minsk

    From: BelTA
    Sasha Varlamov
    Designers from Portugal will make a debut appearance at the 19th international fashion and photo festival, Fashion Mill 2010, which is held in Minsk on 6-8 May. The Portuguese collections will be shown on 8 May, Belarusian fashion designer Sasha Varlamov told BelTA.

    All in all, 207 collections by Belarusian designers will be demonstrated as part of the competition program. Twelve experts from Russia, Lithuania, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, Portugal, Czechia, Belgium, Italy and France will pick up 10 best women’s collections, 5 men’s, 5 teenagers’ and 5 children’s collections.

    “The main distinguishing feature of the Fashion Mill festival is that we do not have a jury panel. It is impossible to choose the one and only collection out of 207. Every designer has his own vision on the fashion trends. Thus we give the beginners a chance to find their audience and earn the recognition of the peers,” Sasha Varlamov said.

    The semifinal of the international contest of young designers of the Russian Silhouette charity fund will be held on 6-7 May. Director of the fund Tatiana Titkova will choose the two best collections which will represent Belarus at the finals in Moscow in September 2011.

    The festival will conclude with the show of the best collections made by Belarusian designers, an award ceremony and a show of guest collections. The concluding chord will be the True Fashion Parade featuring 32 Belarusians pop singers, theater and cinema celebrities, television personalities and athletes. The project has been organized by the youth fashion center of the Belarusian State University.

    “This project is interesting as ordinary people whose parameters do not fit in the 90-60-90 standard will do the runway. The main goal for the designers was to highlight the individuality of every person, to find an approach to each participant. We will know how well the designers have coped with the task by watching the reaction of the audience,” Sasha Varlamov said.

  • Endnote...

    Backgrounder: Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War

    From: Xinua
    Russian soldiers attend a wreath laying ceremony of Russian and of former Soviet states representatives in Germany, at the eve of the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, in Berlin, Friday, May 7, 2010. Several hundreds of people attend the ceremony at the largest Soviet military memorial outside the former Soviet Union at the district Treptow. Around 7,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in the fight to take Berlin in 1945, and were buried at the memorial. With the capitulation of Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945, WW II ended in Europe.
    The Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War (1941-45) refers to the war against Nazi Germany and its European allies during World War II.

    The war broke out on June 22, 1941, when Germany, tearing up the mutual non-aggression pact between the two countries, launched a blitz offensive against the Soviet Union.

    Before long, Nazi German troops and those from Finland, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Croatia occupied the entire territory of Lithuania and most of Latvia, and much of Belarus and Ukraine.

    In October 1941, Germany started a ferocious attack on Moscow in hopes of quickly winning the war before winter.

    However, the Soviet Red Army put up a heroic and active defense, annihilating large numbers of Nazi German forces, and it won the battle January 1942.

    On November 19, 1942, the Soviet forces launched a counteroffensive against the German troops in Stalingrad. On Feb. 2, 1943, the Red Army wiped out the last of the German main forces trapped and under siege in Stalingrad. The Nazi defeat in the Stalingrad Battle threw Germany's offensive on the Soviet Union into disarray, marking a turning point in the war against Nazi Germany.

    Following up their victory at Stalingrad, the Soviet army liberated most of Ukraine and virtually all of Russia and eastern Belarus during 1943.

    In August 1943, the Germans were defeated in a battle at Russia's Kursk, thus being rendered incapable of launching any strategic attack since then.

    In 1944, the Soviets launched an all-out offensive, liberating the rest of Belarus and Ukraine, most of the Baltic States and eastern Poland from Germany.

    By August 1944, Soviet troops had crossed into Germany. In mid-April 1945, the Soviet army launched its final assault on Germany and laid siege to Berlin on April 21.

    On May 2, 1945, Soviet troops took Berlin. On May 8, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally.