Sidorski: Gazprom to agree, Nanobubbles may kill cancer, European values, Hungarian MPs, Russia armaments; News, Sport, Culture and Polish scandal...
Prime Minister Sidorski expects Gazprom to agree to keep its price for Belarus at last year’s level
|Alexander Lukashenko is on a visit to Switzerland. The head of state is expected to meet with businessmen and politicians of that country. The President will combine the business part of his visit which will last for the next several days with a short-term vacation.|
The Belarusian government has sent proposals for investment to Gazprom and if the Russian company finds them interesting, the price of gas will remain at last year’s level, Mr. Sidorski said, according to the Council of Ministers press office.
The press office does not say what proposals Mr. Sidorski was talking about.
The prime minister reportedly noted that the proposals were based on agreements reached by the presidents of Belarus and Russia at a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in December last year.
Belarus promptly paid for Russia gas deliveries in 2009 and continues to promptly pay this year, Mr. Sidorski said. “I think we’ll reach an agreement with Gazprom as to how we’ll pay for gas in 2010,” he added.
Gazprom currently abides by the initial conditions of the contract, setting the price for Belarus at 90 percent of the average European price against 70 percent in 2009. “Given a fall in gas prices in spot markets, we consider it possible to apply a factor of 0.75 in 2010,” Mr. Sidorski said.
Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller said in December that the price of Russian natural gas for Belarus would be about $168 per 1000 cubic meters in the first three months of 2010, or 11 percent higher than the average price in 2009.
“Owing to the absence of export duty, the gas price for Belarus is considerably lower than for other buyers of Russian gas,” Mr. Miller said. “The agreed period of transition to higher prices allows the Belarusian economy to adapt.”
The price of Russian gas for Belarus is determined by a five-year contract signed with Gazprom at the end of 2006.
Under the contract, the price for Belarus was raised to $100 per 1000 cubic meters for 2007 compared with $46.68 in the previous two and a half years. The price was to gradually increase to the European market level by 2011. It was to be 67 percent of the level, excluding delivery costs, in 2008, 80 percent in 2009, 90 percent in 2010, and 100 percent in 2011
Belarus shares European values, but opposes double standards
“The values promoted by the Council of Europe are absolutely acceptable for us, but with a remark: these values should be applied in the same way for all countries. Otherwise, they turn into double standards, which is unacceptable for us,” Anatoly Glaz underlined.
Commenting on the establishment of a task group on death penalty within the Belarusian parliament, the MP expressed confidence that the work of this group will be supported by European politicians. “I am sure, if the response is adequate, we will be able to reach an understanding,” he said.
Anatoly Glaz expressed hope that the issue of moratorium on death penalty in Belarus is the last obstacle towards restoration of Belarus’ special guest status in the PACE. “Let us hope that in case this CE’s recommendation is fulfilled, no new conditions will emerge,” the MP said.
Belarus’ CEC might invite foreign diplomats to monitor elections
The Central Election Commission (CEC) does not rule out a possibility to invite representatives of foreign embassies and diplomatic offices to monitor the forthcoming elections to the local Councils of Deputies, BelTA learnt from Secretary of the Central Election Commission Nikolai Lozovik.
He informed that Chairperson of the CEC Lidia Yermoshina met with representatives of the embassies accredited in Belarus on 4 February. Attending the meeting were diplomats from the UK, Germany, Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, France, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria and the EU.
Such meetings are traditional and are held in the run-up to each election campaign, Nikolai Lozovik said. He added that the conversation was informative, without politically tinged innuendos. The CEC officials told the diplomats about the Belarusian electoral system focusing on the recent reforms, and about the election camping to the local Councils of Deputies.
The diplomats were particularly curious about a possibility to take part in the monitoring of the forthcoming elections. According to Nikolai Lozovik, it is possible. The only requirement is obtaining an invitation from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. “If the Foreign Ministry issues such an invitation, the CEC will issue accreditation and the diplomats will be able to monitor the elections and the vote count. The representatives of the embassies just have to submit the relevant application to the Foreign Ministry,” the CEC Secretary informed.
The elections to the local Councils of Deputies of the 26th convocation are scheduled for 25 April 2010.
Belarus counts on positive and open dialogue with EU, Valentina Leonenko says
Belarus counts on a positive and open dialogue with Europe at the forthcoming conference Belarus’ Path in Europe in Minsk on 9-10 February, BelTA learnt from Valentina Leonenko, deputy of the House of Representatives’ permanent commission for international affairs and links with the CIS.
“I would like all the participants of the conference to give a fair assessment of situation and find positive solutions. The forthcoming conference should assist in coping with the problems rather than aggravating them,” said Valentina Leonenko.
The EU shows a certain arrogance in its relations with Belarus, laments Valentina Leonenko. It prevents from getting a non-biased picture of current affairs in Belarus. “We do our best to be accepted as a civilized country. And Belarus does not want to be a subject to any prejudices. It concerns the parliamentary dimension of the Eastern Partnership too,” said Valentina Leonenko.
There is a huge unemployed potential in the Belarus-EU relations, says Valentina Leonenko. She hopes that the sides will manage to hold a constructive dialogue at the conference, which will facilitate the partnership of Belarus and the EU member states.
Taking part in the conference will be Valentina Leonenko and Sergei Semashko, Chairman of the Industry, Fuel and Energy Complex, Transport, Communications and Entrepreneurship Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly.
The conference is organized by Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies in cooperation with the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation office in Belarus. The participants of the conference are set to discuss political, humanitarian and economic questions. The sides will also pay a special attention to the Eastern Partnership initiative as a basis for the Belarus-EU relations.
Belarus, Russia to sign agreements to deliver and modernize armament
“The main areas of bilateral military cooperation are the purchasing of small arms, component parts, equipment to aviation equipment and communications equipment, air defense hardware and armament, electromagnetic warfare means, mutual deliveries of components parts to produce, repair and modernize the armament and military hardware,” says the Defense Ministry.
The sides are looking to establish joint modernization of air defense complexes, aviation equipment and other equipment. The sides have recently signed a range of by-laws in this area. A great number of draft agreements for the delivery, repair and modernization of the armament and military hardware are in the pipeline. They are expected to be signed in the near future.
The military and technical cooperation between the CIS member states has been vibrant too. The heads of the countries-members of the CIS have approved the program of military and technical cooperation, which is the fundamental long-term document securing the rules governing the interaction between the CIS countries in this area. The program spells out the main goals, tasks, areas and priorities of military and technical cooperation and sets out a range of measures in order to fully employ the aggregate economic, military and technical potential of the countries to strengthen their defense capacity.
New tourist project offers “to trace ancestors’ steps” along Western Dvina
The route is 350 kilometers long. A trip on a car or a bus goes through such towns as Vitebsk, Beshenkovichi, Polotsk, Disna, Verkhnedvinsk, Bigosovo, Kraslava and Daugavspils.
In Vitebsk tourists can visit the Cathedral of Holy Annunciation, St Barbara Church, the Vitebsk Arts Museum, the Vitebsk Literature Museum, the Museum of Private Collections, the Marc Chagall Museum and Art-Center. In Beshenkovichi travelers can see the Palace and Park Ensemble of the Khreptovich family (the late 17th- the first half of the 19th century), St Elijah Church, the Mould of Glory. The major sights in Polotsk along the route include St Sophia Cathedral, the Monastery of the Saviour and St Euphrosyne, the Jesuit Collegium, the Lutheran Church, the Red Bridge, the Museum of the Belarusian Printing, the building of the former Jesuit Collegium.
In Disna, the oldest settlement in the Miory region and the smallest town of Belarus, the tourists will be taken to the Stephen Bathory Island, the Hundred Years’ Bridge.
Verkhnedvinsk’s sites include the monument to 1812 war heroes, the memorial to the Nazi victims, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker temple and the Roman-Catholic church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. Bigosovo boasts the unusual building of the railway station.
In Latvia tourists will go to the town of Piedruya where they will take a Piedruya route down the Daugava valley rich in rare species and animals and also historical sites. Then travelers will go to the town of Kraslava which is famous for its cathedral, Duke Plater’s castle and museum of history and arts.
The Daugavas loki park offers to see a watchtower Vasargelishki, ethnographic old believers village of Slutishki, the site of the ancient settlement Vetspils, the ruins of the Dinaburg castle and Naujene local lore museum.
Finally, in Daugavpils tourists will be offered to visit the historical downtown, Daugavpils fortress, local lore and arts museum, monument to Pavel Dubrovin, solar clock and Russian house.
Belarus, Germany to build biogas installations, wind farms together
“I think we will come to terms about signing the agreement with the German side in August and will get the money, maybe even as grants for financing the construction of several biogas installations,” said Leonid Shenets. In his words, the sides will also cooperate in wind energy area. In April an agreement on building a wind farm in Belarus is expected to be signed with a German company.
The official was generally pleased with efforts of ministries, government agencies and local authorities in Belarus to attract foreign investments for energy effectiveness projects. A project for modernizing the social sphere infrastructure in Belarus has been successfully fulfilled using a $22.6 million loan from the World Bank. Another loan of $15 million has been acquired to continue the efforts.
2010 will see the completion of the project for rehabilitating Chernobyl-affected territories (a $50 million World Bank loan). “We have been confirmed that there will be another $30 million loan for the Chernobyl project,” said Leonid Shenets. In addition, Belarus has started assimilating a $125 million World Bank loan that will be used to accomplish six energy effectiveness projects (2 as part of the Energy Ministry system and 4 as part of the housing and utilities system).
Finance Ministry confirms Belarus’ plans to enter foreign capital markets in 2010
The Finance Ministry confirms plans to enter foreign capital markets in 2010, Finance Minister of Belarus Andrei Kharkovets said at a session of the ministry on 4 February, BelTA has learnt.
“The major goal of the Finance Ministry in 2010 is the country’s debut on the international capital market. It is important for us to penetrate into this market because this way we could promptly use this instrument when needed. Moreover, it is a serious signal for the development of corporate loans to raise investments for economic modernization,” the minister underlined.
“For half a year already we have not been able to launch the pilot project to place shares of Belarusian companies on the international financial market facing the reluctance of the Industry Ministry, the Belneftekhim concern and other organizations,” Andrei Kharkovets said.
Overall, he characterized the Belarusian financial market as underdeveloped. In 2009 the situation on the market significantly improved. “State-run enterprises do not try to raise resources for their development by issuing corporate bonds. They still find it easier to ask the state for help,” the minister said.
Jean-Eric Holzapfel: EC might grant macro-financial aid to Belarus in 2010
The European Commission might provide macro-financial assistance to Belarus in 2010, EU Charge d'affaires a.i. Jean-Eric Holzapfel told reporters in Minsk on 4 February.
“This option is still on the table. At the moment we are waiting till the new composition of the European Commission is affirmed on 9 February. The new members of the EC will consider the details of this issue,” he said.
Jean-Eric Holzapfel reminded that the EC provides macro-financial assistance only in addition to the IMF’s macro-financial aid. The EC’s subsidies are not as big as those granted by the IMF. It had been announced earlier that the approximate amount of the IMF’s grants might make up about $290 million.
The EC representative said, “Belarus honors its obligations to the International Monetary Fund. This is why I do not see any obstacles in granting macro-financial aid in the near term.”
Nanobubbles may kill cancer cells, say scientists
From: Med Guru
The breakthrough could significantly help in better diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, saving millions, the scientists said.
Currently available cancer diagnosis and treatment options are extremely difficult for both the patients as well as the caregivers.
Leukemia cells, cancer cells examined
The new study by scientists Dmitri Lapotko, who first used the technique to blast through deposits of arterial plaque in studies at the Laboratory for Laser Cytotechnologies at the A.V. Lykov Heat and Mass Transfer Institute in Minsk, Belarus, and Jason Hafner from the Rice University, Houston, Texas, U.S. tested the technique on leukemia cells and cancer cells from the head and neck.
The research, which appears in the Journal Nanotechnology, is a collaborated work of Rice University and the Lykov Institute of the Academy of Science of Belarus, Unites States.
"Single-cell targeting is one of the most touted advantages of nanomedicine, and our approach delivers on that promise with a localized effect inside an individual cell," said Rice physicist Dmitri Lapotko, the lead researcher on the project.
"The idea is to spot and treat unhealthy cells early, before a disease progresses to the point of making people extremely ill."
Using lasers, and nanoparticles, the scientists created nanobubbles of different sizes.
After carefully examining the cancer cells, they found that they could tune the lasers to craft either minute nanobubbles or big bubbles. By fluctuating the laser, the very bright bubbles can be made large or small, they said.
The short-lived bright bubbles are visible under microscope and could be used to diagnose sick cells as well as destroy the cancerous cells.
For the study, the nanoparticles were fastened with antibodies so that they could aim only on the cancer cells.
The tests proved positive, and the approach was found to be effective in successfully targeting as well as destroying the cancer cells, the researchers noted.
Lapotko mentioned, “The bubbles work like a jaskhammer.”
Past research has shown that the nanobubbles could effectively flow through all the deposits which obstruct the arteries.
Nanobubble approach useful
The researchers are hopeful that the nanotechnology technique may be applied for ‘theranostics,’ a single process which merges identification and therapy.
The technique may also be applied to post-therapeutic evaluation or ‘guidance,’ as the physicians call it.
Hafner said, "The mechanical and optical properties of the bubbles offer unique advantages in localizing the biomedical applications to the individual cell level, or perhaps even to work within cells."
Hungarian MPs visit Belarus after 20-year gap
Head of the Hungarian delegation Gabor Hars, of the Socialist Party, told the Belarusian news portal Belta that this was the first time after two decades that a parliamentary delegation had visited the country. They are there to return a visit by their Belarusian counterparts paid to Budapest in March last year, Hars said.
"Belarus's interest is to become a full-fledged member of the parliamentary chapter of the EU's Eastern Partnership programme," Speaker of the Council of the Republic of Belarus Boris Batura told the Hungarian delegation. He asked Hungary, as a member of the Visegrad Four grouping, to support this interest. He welcomed Hungary's initiative for a meeting in February of the Visegrad Four members and Belarusian parliamentary representatives, Belta said.
Deputy House Speaker Anatoliy Rubinov, who is also deputy chairman of the Belarus-Hungary friendship society, said relations between the two countries were "free of serious disputes or differences of opinion in the assessment of current events". He added that there was an open dialogue based on mutual trust.
Seized North Korea arms cache still a mystery
From: LA Times
|An unidentified member of the crew of a cargo plane loaded with North Korean weapons is escorted into a Bangkok courthouse by Thai police.|
Nearly two months after the seizure here of a charter plane carrying 35 tons of weapons shipped from North Korea, the mystery remains as to where the rockets and other armaments were headed.
Iran, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates were reportedly listed on the flight plan; the former Soviet republic of Georgia was cited as the charter company's operations base; and the captain has said that Kiev, Ukraine, was the destination.
This week, Iran denied that it was the intended recipient, according to wire reports, arguing that it had no need for the weaponry because it has its own arms industry, which makes rockets, tanks, jet fighters, light submarines and missiles.
Predictably, North Korea is not talking.
The crew of the Russian-made aircraft, four citizens of Kazakhstan and one of Belarus, remains in detention on illegal arms possession charges awaiting a decision by Thailand's attorney general on whether to seek a trial.
Meanwhile, some in the Thai government are getting antsy.
Not only is the case mysterious, it is getting costly, government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said Wednesday.
"The air force and the airport are telling us they're going to bill us very soon," he said.
"We told them, 'Can you delay the billing?' "
Among the government's costs are those for guarding and storing the weapons, as well as maintaining the impounded Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane.
There's also the likely multimillion-dollar cost of disabling and disposing of the weapons in keeping with United Nations guidelines, he added.
"It gets quite expensive," Panitan said.
According to a report Thailand submitted over the weekend to the U.N., the company that shipped the weapons was the Korea Mechanical Industry Co., and the cache included 49 rockets, a rocket launcher and three crates of fuses and rocket-propelled grenades.
North Korean sales of missiles, missile parts and other arms to countries such as Iran, Syria and Myanmar are believed to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually to North Korea's hard-currency earnings.
Although the sale of such relatively routine weapons would normally not be illegal, in this case it violates the ban imposed under a U.N. resolution of June 2009 designed to punish North Korea after it fired a long-range missile and mounted a second nuclear test.
Thailand has asked the U.N. Security Council how to handle and dispose of the weapons, advice that has not so far been forthcoming.
Although many in the government say it is important that Thailand follow these international rules, others have expressed concern that taking a hard line risks the wrath of North Korea, which has reacted aggressively when it felt slighted or threatened.
In October 1983, three South Korean Cabinet members and 14 other South Korean officials were among those killed by a bomb planted in neighboring Myanmar, also known as Burma, by North Korean commandos.
"That was a very vicious retaliation in Burma," said Kraisak Choonhavan, a politician and political analyst. "People are a bit worried about that."
Pranee Thiparat, a political science professor at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said the seizure "can be an opportunity and a problem."
"Some have said it would put Thailand in a dangerous position, but it's our obligation under international obligations to prosecute this case."
Kazakhstan and Belarus have asked Thailand to return the crew members to their home countries. The Thai Cabinet has also called for their release. An attorney representing the crew has said the men didn't know what they were transporting.
The seized plane may be returned to its owner, Panitan said. Authorities at Bangkok's Don Muang airport, where the plane was impounded, are expected to make the final decision.
It's still possible that, despite its fairly pedestrian nature, the shipment had Iran as its ultimate destination, given Israel's success in disrupting weapons shipments destined for Hezbollah and other radical groups supported by Tehran, said Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore. Nor is it uncommon for Eastern European citizens to be used in logistical roles for North Korean shipments, he added.
Bangkok, with its famous night life and good air connections, has hit the shady arms dealer radar before. In March 2008, Viktor Bout, a former officer in the Soviet military suspected of supplying weapons to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, was arrested at a hotel in Bangkok after Thai authorities received a tip from the U.S.
Washington has tried to extradite Bout to the U.S., a request that a Thai court rejected in August. Bout says he's an innocent businessman.
The fact that the Dec. 12 North Korean shipment reportedly landed in the military airport adjoining Bangkok's civilian airport suggests that the Thai military has previously allowed similar charters to land, Choonhavan said.
A new prime minister and military leadership have presumably yanked away the welcome mat, Choonhavan added.
The U.S. monitors North Korea through satellite and other technologies in a bid to stem proliferation of nuclear and other weapons. Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence, said in a Washington Post opinion piece in mid-December that U.S. intelligence agencies had assisted in the seizure.
"It's now up to the state attorney to decide what to do," Panitan said. "We'll base our decision on national security and the sensitivity of the issue."
Belarusians Will Need Passports To Enter Internet Cafes
|''What is the purpose of your visit to this Internet cafe?''|
Belarusian Communication and Information Minister Mikalay Pantsyaley said at press conference in Minsk that according to a February 1 decree by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, all Belarusians wanting to enter Internet cafes must have a passport starting on July 1.
Pantsyaley said the decree -- which has been criticized by human rights organizations and many Western countries -- obliges Internet cafe owners to identify those who enter cafes.
The decree requires all Internet providers in Belarus to store data on the Internet use of individuals for a full year and to hand that information over to law-enforcement agencies upon request.
It also requires Internet service providers to block access to any website within 24 hours of being asked to do so by government regulators -- a provision that goes beyond antiterrorism security rules imposed under the most restrictive Internet laws in Western countries.
Activists said the "Decree on the Regularization of the Belarusian segment of the Internet" is simply being used to tighten control over the Internet in the country.
The president's official website says the decree is "an attempt to protect the rights of Belarusian citizens, society, and the state in the field of
European Union: Decree on Internet and Eastern Partnership are interconnected
From: Charter '97
Lutz Guellner, the spokesman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, told this in an interview to Radio Svaboda.
“The EU wants to gradually engage with Belarus but it depends on tangible progress in specific areas that have been identified,” Guellner said. “The EU has regretted the lack of progress, in particular, in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms but also in how political action was dealt with -- crackdowns on peaceful political actions; the continued denial of registration of many political parties and independent media. That is exactly the context in which we are looking at this specific new decree.”
According to Guellner, as the decree comes into effect on July 1, the Belarusian authorities still have an opportunity to “look into this again”.
Guellner stressed that EU–Belarus contacts, including trade ones, as part of the Eastern Partnership initiative, is linked with the level of democracy in the country.
Belarus’s participation in the EU initiative Eastern Partnership can bring positive results to both sides in interpersonal communication and other spheres vital for Belarus. “But it can only happen when this regulatory approximation has been done,” Lutz Guellner noted.
The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also announced its intention to examine Lukashenka’s decree on the Internet.
We remind that the scandalous decree on national segment of the Internet has been signed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The decree is to come into effect on July 1.The text of the draft decree appeared on the Internet in last December. It brought on criticism by the Belarusian media community and international human rights organizations, including OSCE. The draft decree met unambiguous estimation – the document is prepared to block pro-opposition Internet resources ahead of the presidential elections.
One of many item of the decree that cause concern reads: “Upon the request of a user, providers of Internet services effect services limiting access to information which is aimed at extremist activities”. Experts think pro-opposition websites can unlawfully be defined as “extremist”.
Minsk and Homel courts support non-inclusion of opposition candidates
The complaint by Uladzimir Labkovich was dismissed due to his unemployment. At the same time, several other members of the committee appeared to be unemployed as well.
Orsha town electoral committee loses constituency
On 2, 3 and 4 February Minsk city court and Homel regional court ruled against a number of BPF ‘Adradzhennie’, BPF and UCPB members, appealing the decisions by Minsk and Homel authorities not to include the candidates in respective electoral committees.
The complaint by Uladzimir Labkovich was dismissed due to his unemployment. At the same time, several other members of the committee appeared to be unemployed as well.
Civil activist fired over run in elections
Mikalai Rasiuk, Mahiliou civil activist, faces dismissal by Lavsanbud Ltd. ahead of running for in the local council elections. The activist says he is not going to panic and will run in the forthcoming elections.
‘I am going to run for both Regional Council and Town Council in the constituencies where people know me. So far, I am not affiliated to any political movement. However I am waiting for proposals,’ says Mr. Rasiuk.
Medvedev Confirms Revamped Military Doctrine
From: The Other Russia
Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev previously stated that while the new doctrine was based on the previous one from 2000, it included changes to properly reflect a change in global circumstances.
Patrushev insisted that the document was defensive, but that NATO expansion, international terrorism, and conflict in the North Caucasus were examples of changes in circumstances that require a change in military doctrine.
With Friday’s presidential confirmation, Russia now reserves the right to deliver a nuclear strike not only in response to direct aggression, but also “in response to a threat, against it or its allies, of the use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction, and also in response to aggression with the use of conventional weapons in situations critical for the Russian Federation.”
The document, entitled “Fundamentals of State Politics Regarding Nuclear Deterrence Through 2020,” is the third version of Russia’s military doctrine since 1993.
The version confirmed in 2000 only gave Russia the right to use nuclear force in response to the actual use of aggression, reading “the Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use, against its or its allies, of nuclear or other types of weapons of mass destruction, and also in response to large-scale aggression with the use of conventional weapons.”
The new military doctrine, which will be the third version introduced since 1993, comes at a time of heightened military hostility from the Kremlin. A recent bill passed by the State Duma expands the potential role of troops deployed abroad, and NATO has expressed concern that war games in September between Russia and Belarus were “the largest since the end of the Cold War.”
Lukoil halts oil exports to Kazakhstan
From: The Peninsula
“Since February 1 we have suspended” exports, the spokesman said.
“This is related to the fact that we do not understand what export tax should be applied to oil sales in Kazakhstan.”
Lukoil was “awaiting clarification,” from the Russian government, the spokesman said, while Russia’s Kommersant daily cited confidential sources in other Russian oil companies as saying that had also suspended their exports.
The confusion appears to have been caused by the upcoming creation of a new customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, which could eventually serve as a springboard to group membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Russia has long granted tax-exempt status on exports of oil to the Central Asian state and a spokesman for Russia’s Customs Service said that the exemption was still in force. “I refute that the tax has changed,” Vladimir Semakov said.
Kazakh Energy Minister Sauad Mynbayev said the shut-off was the result of a “technical blunder” surrounding the union’s founding documents and he was hopeful the stand-off could be resolved within days.
“The fact is that when the founding documents for the customs union were published, these documents required appropriate clarification,” he told reporters in the Kazakh capital Astana.
“I hope that Russia’s customs service will receive such clarification shortly and then supplies will be resumed. Thus, an export duty will not be imposed on supplies of Russian oil to Kazakhstan,” he added.
Gazprombank set to list on LSE
From: Daily Mail
|Gazprom is the Kremlin's most powerful assets|
It plans to float 25 per cent of its equity for more than £1 billion and is understood to be holding a ‘beauty parade’ of investment banks to choose an adviser.
A source said the listing should take place in the next few months and money raised would be used to expand in strategic investments, such as oil and gas, and expand the bank globally.
Gazprombank, one of the country’s largest banks with 44 branches in Russia, also operates in Belarus, Switzerland and Armenia, with offices in China and Mongolia.
It claims to offer banking and investment services to more than 450,000 corporate and three million private clients.
The bank, which is 62 per cent-owned by Gazprom, joins a number of Russian companies hoping to join the London market, including Metalloinvest, Russia’s biggest iron ore miner, which is considering a flotation worth up to £12.3 billion.
Pole jailed for fathering sons with his daughter
From: Irish Times
|Krzysztof Bartoszuk (47), who was found guilty this week of raping his daughter over six years.|
A court in the eastern Polish city of Bialystok found Krzysztof Bartoszuk (47) guilty of rape, sex with a minor, and physical and psychological abuse.
Bartoszuk was arrested in September 2008 near the border with Belarus after police received complaints from his wife, Teressa, and his daughter, Alicja.
Alicja, now 22, said she was 14 when her father first raped her, calling her “my little prostitute”.
He kept her locked in a room with no door handle, visiting her only to rape her, and allowing her out of the room only to give birth to two boys, in 2005 and 2007.
“He kept telling me I was a prostitute, and that was why I deserved what he was doing to me. And that was how I felt,” she told a Polish newspaper yesterday.
Polish media have dubbed Bartoszuk the “Polish Fritzl”, a nod to Austrian Josef Fritzl, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth for 24 years and fathering her six children.
Alicja Bartoszuk gave birth twice in the six years, but her father put pressure on her to give the two boys up for adoption.
The Bartoszuk family lived in a run-down house in rural north-east Poland and avoided contact with locals.
Teressa Bartoszuk said she was aware of the abuse but felt helpless to intervene.
“I am so sorry that I was not able to protect my daughter,” she told Polish media.
“Even before the first rape I noticed how he touched her where a father shouldn’t. But he said, ‘I have a right to her’, as if she was an object for him.”
Bartoszuk controlled his family by fear, telling his wife and daughter he would kill either of them if they told of what went on in their house.
The polish state prosecutor had sought a 15-year sentence, arguing that Bartoszuk displayed extreme cruelty and unusual violence to his daughter. But the court was of the view that these offences were limited to threats.
“He would threaten to kill his daughter, or say she provoked him into [having] sex,” said a court spokesperson. “But he didn’t use violence as such. She was intimated by his threats and in the end did not protest, though she never gave her consent.”
Bartoszuk plans to appeal the verdict.
Sharp rise in Poland’s unemployment rate
From: The News
The rate rose by 0.9 percent from December 2009 and is the highest since in Poland May 2007 when it reached 13 percent.
Labour Minister Jolanta Fedak thinks that the numbers are not too disturbing, however. "The rise in unemployment is seasonal. It's difficult to judge now [if the trend will remain]. We need to wait until the spring to find out," Fedak said.
Many economists are surprised at the sharp rise, however, expecting 12.5 percent.
Unemployment benefits have increased increased since the beginning of the year. Poles who register at the employment office can now receive 717 zloty (178 euro), which is 142 zloty (35 euro) more than last year.
Labour market analysts predict that the upcoming months will bring further unemployment growth.
The official data on unemployment from the Main Statistical Office are expected at the end of February.
Rapist wants presidential pardon
|Tomczak was convicted of rape in 2007|
The president’s office confirmed that it had received an official request for pardon on behalf of Jakub Tomczak, and that it would pass it on to the attorney-general for England and Wales. His family has also started a petition, which now boasts over 6,500 signatures, calling for his release.
In 2007, Tomczak was convicted in the English city of Exeter of a sexual assault on a 48-year-old woman that left his victim with permanent brain damage. On the night of the attack in July 2006 police found the woman in a car park, naked and with a cracked skull that erased her memory of the assault.
But despite the jury returning an 11-1 verdict and strong DNA evidence, Tomczak’s family contest the conviction.
“First of all, the injured party worked for the local police, and her husband is a policeman, which must have affected the attitude of the court and the public,” said Krzysztof Czeszejko-Sochacki, a lawyer working for the Tomczak family.
At the time many in the UK’s Polish community doubted that Tomczak, a grade-A law student who had travelled to Exeter to work in a hotel during the summer holidays, would receive a fair trial in the city, owing to an apparent campaign in the press to secure his conviction.
Along with fears that the trial was prejudiced, Tomczak’s legal team have also raised concerns over the DNA evidence that played a key role in the case.
Although DNA evidence found on the victim and Tomczak matched, the Pole’s legal team point out that the first sample taken by police was discarded after contamination, and the same fate also befell a second sample owing to a technical problem in computer software.
It was only at the third attempt that police managed to find a match.
The family’s lawyer also argue that other evidence used to secure the 25-yearold’s conviction was circumstantial, and that CCTV footage taken of man close to the victim appeared to show somebody dressed differently to Tomczak.
Paedo returns to terrorise family
|Locked for sexual abuse, paedophile vows to return|
For the last two years, the ex-wife of convicted paedophile Slawomir M., and their abused child Marta have been trying to put the past behind them and move on in their lives, in the town of Mirsk.
But all of this may soon be in vain, as the pervert husband, who was released from prison after serving his sentence earlier this week, has vowed to return back.
Marta was one year-old when her mum and step-dad first met, but as she grew older her he began to abuse her.
According to evidence, this lasted for approximately two years.
“I'm afraid for my daughter. I do not want her to have to go through everything again” says Renata.
“He has constantly threatened us, even from behind bars. And now that he has been released, I know that he will come here to our house at some point.
“The other problem is that his whole family lives in the town and they have also threatened us. I’m afraid for us both, especially afraid for my daughter.”
But the police are aware of the situation and have already made preparations to combat any potential trouble.
“Authorities will go to the family and explain thorough instructions on what to do if an emergency arises,” says Marek Madeksza a police spokesman.
Military students execute colleague
|Michal P. gets 25 years for executing friend|
Michal P. (20), and two friends from a military school in Zlotoryja murdered fellow colleague Maciej Witkowski three years ago.
The four boys, all students at the same institution, were believed to have been members of a secretive German-Polish association known as Dragon, which specialised in martial arts.
Police originally received notification that Witkowski was missing in January 2007, although the only information was that the last people he was seen with were Michal P. and Mark A. Both however, denied knowing any details which would aid the investigation.
Following a three month search, authorities were alerted to a grave-like trench on the Zlotoryja mountain slopes from a member of the public.
Upon further investigation, they discovered the corpse of Witkowski, his hands and feet tied and his throat slit.
An autopsy revealed that the victim had not tried to defend himself and that he had died on his knees in the pre-dug grave.
Police now believe that at the time Witkowski was lured to the site under the false pretence that it was all part of a exercise and that he had no idea he would end up dead.
Upon hearing the verdict, Michal P. told reporters “I have no remorse.”
“This is a person who gets pleasure from the bullying and humiliation of other people,” said one psychological expert. “This gives him a sense of domination over another human being.”
Team GB edges past Belarus
Anne Keothavong got the Brits off to a great start with a 7-6 6-1 singles win over Ekaterina Dzehalevich, before Katie O'Brien fell in straight sets 6-3 6-3 to Olga Govortsova to leave top player Elena Baltacha and doubles specialist Sarah Borwell with the responsibility of finishing the tie off.
The partnership fell a set and 3-0 down to Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek before winning four straight games to fight their way back into the rubber, eventually securing the second set and going on with the job to claim the match 3-6 7-5 6-2.
While Thursday's loss to Austria cost Team GB the chance to play off for promotion to the World Group II, they still have a match on Saturday against the Netherlands which will determine their seeding rank for next year's Fed Cup event.
Keothavong was delighted to have made a successful contribution after her long-awaited comeback from a serious knee injury got off to a losing start against Austria's Patricia Mayr on Thursday.
"I'm glad I got through that and it's nice to get my first win after so long out of the game," she said. "It is just such a pleasure to be out there on the court - it really is.
"After I got through the first set I loosened it up and started hitting a bit more freely and gained a bit of confidence. Those are the kind of matches I need - these next few months are going to be tough for me, but this is a start!"
Wings' prospect headed to Olympics
Kolosov, who was not named to Belarus’ provisional Olympic roster in December, will depart Grand Rapids on Sunday to join his Belarusian teammates at a training camp in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Detroit’s third draft pick in 2004, Kolosov is in his second season with the Griffins. After posting 11 points and 36 penalty minutes in 70 games during his 2008-09 rookie campaign, the Novopolotsk native has contributed four points in 43 appearances this season.
Under the guidance of Griffins coach Curt Fraser, Kolosov helped Belarus qualify for the Olympics thanks to a ninth-place finish at the 2008 World Championship in Canada. The team, which still includes 19 players who were coached by Fraser in that tournament, will make its first Olympic appearance since the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, when it earned a surprising fourth-place finish.
Belarus will play a pair of exhibition games against Switzerland at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and Thursday, Feb. 11 before traveling to Vancouver. The team will compete in Group C at the Olympics, with preliminary round games scheduled against Finland (Wednesday, Feb. 17), Sweden (Friday, Feb. 19) and Germany (Saturday, Feb. 20). The qualification round (Feb. 23-24), semifinals (Feb. 26), Bronze Medal Game (Feb. 27) and Gold Medal Game (Feb. 28) will continue through the end of the month, meaning Kolosov could miss as many as 11 Griffins games during his absence.
Kolosov will become just the third player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics as an active Griffin, joining Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). In the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, Kronwall became the first Griffins alumnus to earn an Olympic medal, winning gold thanks to Sweden’s victory over Finland in the championship game.
Three of the other 11 men’s hockey teams will be counting on former Griffins in their medal quests. Kronwall (2003-06) and Stefan Liv (2006-07), who also won gold with Sweden in 2006, will look to repeat, while Slovakia’s Pavol Demitra (1996-97) and Tomas Kopecky (2002-06) and Finland’s Valtteri Filppula (2005-07) will try to dethrone the defending champs.
Government dissatisfied with preparations for 2014 IIHF World Championship
According to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Sports and Tourism has failed to provide a proper information support to the forthcoming tournament. “Your site features a countdown to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It is good, but nobody knows how much time is left until the IIHF World Championship in Belarus. There is no such countdown on your site,” said Sergei Sidorky speaking to Minister of Sports and Tourism Oleg Kachan.
Sergei Sidorsky also criticized the low investment activity. “Have a look at Russia and its PR Sochi 2014 campaign. We agreed that we would choose the symbols of the championships in December 2009. We need them to let the world feel that the 2014 world championships will be held in Belarus. We need them to have investors compete for the right to take part in the preparations. Time flies and there is still a lot of work to be done ahead,” the Prime Minister said.
He urged the organizing committee to stick to the schedule. “It is important that the schedule is kept to. Since the very first day the things were under my control. We need to analyze who made mistakes and where. The Prime Minister expressed the dissatisfaction with the absence of the mascot of the championships. Oleg Kachan said the reason was low activity of general public and companies for whom the national ice hockey federation announced a contest. The contest was prolonged as there were few worthy proposals. The Minister of Sport and Tourist pledged that the mascot will be officially approved by 1 July 2010.
Sergei Sidorsky pointed to the significance of the prompt approval of the mascot in order to enable investors to win the right to use it on their products. The raised money can be injected in the infrastructure construction.
The Prime Minister was also puzzled by the fact that the lottery timed to the 2014 IIHF World Championships and which profits can be used as additional funds for the preparations had not been launched yet.
Oleg Kachan informed that a video about the IIHF World Championships in Minsk will be launched on TV on 1 March. The Ticket-Pro Company which distributed tickets for the KHL All-Star game at Minsk-Arena may act as the major ticket operator for the 2014 IIHF World Championships.
Film with Belarusian actors nominated for Oscars
From: Charter '97
The film is based on the true story of Nikolay Kalugin which is told in the book “Chernobyl Prayer” by Svetlana Aleksievich. The heart-rending story is about parents who lose their daughter as a result of Chernobyl disaster. The title of the film is taken from a local tradition where the dead are carried to their graves on the door of the house where they once lived.
“I want to testify – my daughter died as a result of Chernobyl. They [the authorities] want us to forget it,” Nikolay is quoted as saying in the book.
“The Door is a universal symbol of life, of death, of entering the next life. It has many associations inherent in it, both positive and negative. It can mean an opportunity gained or an opportunity lost: As one door opens, another one closes”; this is how the film’s creators interpreted their vision.
Initially it was planned to shoot the film in Belarus, so all preliminary preparations for the shooting and castings of actors were held in Minsk. Belarusian actors Igor Sigov and Julietta Kazakevich-Gering are starring in the film. Ilya Kuzniatsou was production coordinator in Minsk.
Says Ilya: “After we finished the location scouting and castings, I showed Juanita and director of photography Tim Fleming the video which I had previously shot in Pripyat, a “ghost town” in Ukraine, seven kilometres away from Chernobyl. I thought the film would be more realistic if shot there, since the story in the book is laid out in Pripyat.”.
“The film turned out to be very touching and has received many international awards,” Ilya said.
“I hope the film will remind people about Chernobyl and what people are still going through. I will definitely come back, with or without a prize and if I don’t have the prize, I will drown myself in Sovetskoye champagne”, Juanita promises
The award ceremony will take place on March 7 in Hollywood.
Tymoshenko Ready To Plunge Ukraine Into Civil War
The Neocon voice of the Wall Street Journal declared that "Ukraine Needs the West's Support"! I believe after 6 years of that support, Ukraine is more than ready to show the West the finger and already has. Not that their opinion matters. After all, the Wall Street Journal has declared that by making this vote, Ukrainians have turned away from Freedom...after all, the West is the author of freedom, as long as you choose one of the offered parties and do what you are told.
"This is a minor miracle. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new divide sunders Europe. On one side are free nations safely behind the walls of the West's elite clubs, the European Union and NATO, or about to hop over. To the east, from Belarus to the Caucasus and Central Asia, stretches an authoritarian wilderness." Declares the WSJ. Ahh, yes, if we are not a war mongering, absolutely corrupt "democracy" which cares more about Third Worlders than its own citizens, while stealing trillions of its people's present and future monies to give to the top .1%, than we are barbarians living in the wilderness.
"It remains strategically critical. A stable, prosperous and free Ukraine ensures Russia can't rebuild its regional empire; it'd also be a teachable counterexample to the deadening hand of Putinism for their Slavic cousins up north. The press is free and diverse and political parties vibrant. At all times of the year, protestors hurl abuse at their ministers or parliamentarians along Kiev's central Hrushevsky Street. Try to find such scenes on Red Square. Russian oligarchic elites who handpick their leaders hate the Ukrainian, and across the Black Sea the Georgian, experiments with free elections for good reason."
Besides stating so well that the US drive is purely anti-Russian, thank you WSJ for admitting the truth that you and those you support are our absolute enemies. As for the rest, lets see, in the US there is One Party with Two Branches that crushes any other party and a mass media owned by the owners of that One Party that does everything to destroy any politician who is not bought and paid for. In England, there is little difference either between Labour, New Labour and the so called Menshevik Tories. In Russia we have a lot more viable parties and a vote turn out of over 70%, well over 3 times of the average US election.
As for demonstrations, the scenes of US police beating protesters and tear gassing them in Seattle, Washington and other places says everything that needs to be said about the so called "Free" West. And the "free" elections in Georgia is even better, where the dictator holds over 90% of the parliment and regularly beats and tear gasses his opposition, while arresting and murdering their leadership...but he is a New York lawyer, so what is one to expect?
This while the US/EU out going puppet declares Bondera, a Nazi puppet and mass murderer of Jews, Russians, Poles and others, as a national hero.
Now the upcoming loser and still Western glamour girl, who is about to be trolloped royally, has declared that Yanukovich, who is clearly leading to win, is preparing to seize power by force. Now, madame allied to the Nazis, such as American funded Una-Unso, why would he need that? Besides, with her billions of stolen gas money, she does not need to work, but power still calls.
To that end, this "hero" of the people, who feels their pain, while counting the billions she stole in gas that was supposed to warm them, is prepared to do anything she can and so well stated in an AFP hit piece ("Ukraine's Tymoshenko accuses rival") "As in 2004, we are going to put (Yanukovich) in his place in a severe manner and he will never get power in Ukraine, whatever the circumstances," said Tymoshenko, who was one of the leaders of the Orange Revolution." God forbid, anyone actually checks up on these accusations. After all, Tymoshenko sent her goons to remove the director of a printing company which is printing the ballots for the 2nd round. Only swift action by the Supreme Court and the Rada (parliament) forced her to back down before they could print "pre-marked" ballots.
So, we can look forward to the West trying an out and out revolution, except this one will be brown, as are the true colours of this Nazi and her fascist Marxist backers in the West and will be high lighted in red, the blood of thousands of dead civilians who will suffer once more for the West's insatiable greed for our Russian (and yes Ukraine is the heart of Rus) lands and souls.