“Bone-crunching” – an article under such heading, dedicated to Belarus, saw print in The Economist magazine. The article reads about the construction of the Minsk beltway on the place of mass burials of Stalinist terror and also sheds light on the current political situation in Belarus.
“Pahonya’s” editor-in-chief Nikolai Markevich’s call for help was well heard in Vilnius. Tomorrow, on November 20, at 8.30a.m. at the square opposite the old town hall building, hosting the session of the Political Committee of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly, there’ll be held a picket in support of the Grodno newspaper “Pahonya”, run by the Community of the Belarusian Culture in Lithuania.
Brest activists of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Belarusian social-democratic party (Narodnaya Gromada) submitted to the Brest town hall a petition with a request to allow them to hold on November 29-30 a picket opposite the local publishing house in connection with the events around the non-state newspaper “Brest Courier”.
The conflict at the Mogilev car-building plant arose two years ago. The trade union committee and the plant’s personnel undertook assiduous efforts to draw the attention of the proprietor to the aggravating economic situation of the company. And so, on October 17 the town council finally consented to the factory’s shutdown. Its owner – the Mogilev executive committee – didn’t react to the incident. Moreover, it rendered a heavy blow at its own child.
After a festive November 7 the personnel of the Gomel grease factory didn’t go to work on November 8,9. For the very first time in five years the company ceased its operation. It seems like the workers will stay without work for another week or so, as far as the shortage of funds doesn’t allow them to purchase the necessary raw materials. And there’s little chance that the factory earns anything from the Russian markets where it trades: Russian producers also offer customers mayonnaise, butter and soap but at a lower price.
Chairman of the Sate Committee of the Frontier Forces Alexander Paulouski does not leave out that after the end of the military operation in Afghanistan the number of refugees from this country can increase, he informed on November 15 while answering journalists’ questions at the border-control post Novaya Guta, situated in the Homel section of the state Belarusian-Ukrainian border.
Almost half of the national Belarusian squad at the winter Olympics will be represented by folks, who are no Belarusian nationals at all. The globalization idea, which characterizes the new millennium, has penetrated into sports as well. Let’s take the Belarusian sport for example. We are getting more athletes, representing other countries in our teams. Similar practice has been applied elsewhere for a few decades now. Let’s taken the famous NHL hockey as an example. In general, every country, which attained certain success at the international arena, can cite examples from its own practice. Such a situation is witnessed everywhere. However, never before had we seen the whole team of foreigners join the national squad. And we’re talking about our country.
Belarus declared a contest, whose winners will supply alcoholic beverages to Belarus in the year 2002. According to the special commission, responsible for the contest’s implementation, the competing sides will have to present their offers by December 7 at the latest to the Ministry of Trade.
“Belarus may only overcome its isolation through the openness of the society, regard for human rights and freedoms,” – deems the deputy of the European Parliament, Vice-chair of the special deputies’ group for relations with Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova Elizabeth Schroedter. Being a member of the EP commission for foreign affairs, Elizabeth Schroedter is dealing with issues, that have to do with the acceptance of new candidates into the European Union, as well as with the improvement of relations with the EU-bordering countries. Speaking of Belarus Elizabeth mentioned that so far Europe hasn’t worked out a distinct position toward her.
An action “Chain of Those Who Care” which was dedicated to the closure of the non-state newspaper Pahonya is to take placer today from 12 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. in Hrodna, in the Soviet Street. Pahonya’s editor-in-chief Mikalaj Markevich in his interview to BelaPAN agency told that he is going to address the Belarusian Diaspora in Vilnius, that shares democratic values and the idea of independent Belarus, with an appeal to hold a picket in newspaper’s support on November 19-20, while the PACE Political Committee sitting is to take place in the capital of Lithuania. Pahonya’s editor-in-chief is also determined to call upon the parliament of Poland to hold a hearing to discuss the closure of the non-state newspaper.
For the past seven weeks, Belarusian opposition groups and non-governmental organizations have been protesting against the government-ordered reconstruction of the Minsk beltway near a wooded area called Kurapaty, where the Stalin-era NKVD conducted mass executions and burials of "enemies of the people." The protesters fear that the expanding beltway will cut into and destroy a significant part of the Kurapaty burial ground, which is on the list of Belarus`s historical and cultural heritage memorials.
Construction works go on in Kurapaty. More and more crosses erected along the road are strewed with sand. On Friday Radio Svaboda correspondent in just a few hours observed about 20 tip-up lorries with sand coming to Kurapaty. The crosses are being covered with this sand. As one of the constructions’ masters informed, all the crosses put up at the distance of 22 meters from the road’s axis soon will be destroyed. On Friday several crosses have already been smashed down, and an iron one among them.
Belarus witnessed another scandal. In the National Academic Theatre, named after a classic national play-writer Yanka Kupala, the authorities removed from the repertoire his play “Tuteishiye”, written in 1922. The viewers would not be able to see a play, put up in 1990 by a prominent scenarist Nikolai Pinigin. In 1992 a group of artists, all playing key roles in the play, was awarded a National state reward.
Due to the soaring indebtedness for the consumed energy the Minsk porcelain factory ceased operation. The city gas supplier no longer provides it with gas for the lack of payment for the previous periods. The plant’s personnel, which may well be left jobless in winter, launched a spontaneous strike, holding the administration of the company responsible for all their misfortunes.
Some points in the budget for the next year, discussing which the Belarusian deputies have started yesterday, evoke, as a minimum, bewilderment. Sponsoring Orthodox Church is isolated as a separate line in the budget. Neither Catholics nor Protestants have no special state funding, which is natural, as the religion is separated from the state according to the Belarusian law. A preference of the Mahilyov region is worthy of note as well: by fifty per cent more money is allocated to it as compared to the other regions. Yet again the disbursement for presidential security service raise. Next year Presidential security service receives more than three million dollars, which is more than money allowance for the parliament and government.
November 18 Lukashenko initiated a decree #667 “On nullification of certain presidential decrees”. In particular, he cancelled the decree #40, passed on November 23, 1999 “On certain measures to compensate the damage, inflicted upon the state”. As you know, this decree allowed the confiscation of organization’s property without trial.
In the project of the budget for 2002, which was approved by the Belarusian parliament in the first reading, the government cut down subsidies for municipal economy and transport. A gradual reducing of privileges of cross subsidizing is planned, that means that people will pay more for gas and electricity, housing and public transport fees will increase. Population of the areas close to Chernobyl with radiation pollution level from 1 to 5 Curies will not receive so-called “coffin money”. About 1 million 300 thousand people will lose symbolic sums of 600 –700 BLR ($1=1,520 BLR). So the government, stating that the budget has a social orientation, diverges from the reality. However, the expenses for law enforcement agencies and defense will grow by 0.1% from GNP.
”Lietuvos Energia” refused to sell Belarusian energy debt, worth $45mln. The Russian company “Vangvard”, without explaining the reasons, declined to sign a treaty on the payment of 55% of the debt’s size. Meantime, the European Union urges Lithuania to liquidate the debts within next 1,5 months.