| POLITICS |
Eminent Russian Writers Support Pahonya’s Journalists
Entries and Exits
Russian PEN-Center, an international writer human rights organization, and specifically its chairman Andrei Bitov, vice-presidents Andrei Voznesensky and Fazil Iskander, members of the executive committee Lev Timofeev, Felix Svetov, Yunna Moritz, and a director general Alexandr Tkachenko expressed their concern about the fate of the journalists of the Belarusian independent newspaper “Pahonya”, Mikalai Markevich and Paval Mazheika. On September 5, 2001 a criminal proceedings were brought up against them for publications that, according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, contained libel on Alyaxandar Lukashenka. On this pretext, as is well known, the newspaper was closed, and its journalists can be imprisoned for a term up to 5 years.
11:16, 18/01/2002, Svetlana Kalinkina, “BDG”
Mikhail Leonov Pleads Not Guilty
In the end of last week Belarus was almost rocked by another staff revolution. They say that the president was about to make the following reshuffles: to dismiss chief of the presidential Administration Ural Latypov, Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov, replace Latypov with current prosecutor general Viktor Sheiman, appoint KGB chief Erin at Naumov’s place, Security Council head Nevyglas appoint police head, head of the customs department Pavlovsky – into the Security Council, filling the remaining vacancies by first deputies. I, no doubt, support the resignation of Latypov and Naumov, for I don’t like neither of them: the former – for his friendship with Vladimir Zametalin and the latter – for the “death squads”, formed on the basis of his subordinates from “Almaz”.
Unprofitable Construction Companies in Abundance
Former director general of the Minsk tractor plant Mikhail Leonov doesn’t confess his guilt in committing the crimes, with which he’s charged by the country’s procuracy, BelaPAN was told by the suspect’s lawyer Nikolai Shalima. As you remember, Leonov is indicted for crimes, envisaged by art.166/2 of the Belarusian Criminal code of 1960 (power abuse, resulting in heavy consequences, inflicting a large-scale damage upon the enterprise), article 428/1 of 1999 (negligence at work, resulting in large-scale damage to the enterprise), article 430/2 of the same Criminal code (taking a large-scale bribe for assisting the commercial firm in signing a deliberately unprofitable contract with the plant). Nikolai Shalima also noted that both his petitions to get Leonov out of jail, forwarded to the prosecutor general on January 14 and 9, remain unanswered. As is known, both of them had been declined.
Electricity Switched Off At Mahilyou Plants
In 2001 the number of unprofitable companies in the construction industry of Belarus increased by 1,7 times, including in the construction business – by more than twice. Their percentage in the construction business reached 24,2%, in the production of construction materials – 47,4%, generally in the industry – 29%. The sum of the losses amounted to 24bln rubles, 87% of which fall on the construction materials production. Meantime, the number of profitable companies in construction fell by 30%, in construction materials production – by 20%.
Trade Minister Removes Tobacco From Kiosks
In Mahilyou region electricians started to cut off electricity at local plants for debts. 789 local enterprises had indebtedness for electricity in the beginning of this year. The main reason for money deficit is that the enterprises cannot sell their production.
Gaidukevich Irradiated with Strontium
New Belarusian Minister for trade Alexander Kulichkov ruled to cease the cigarette retail at the private commercial kiosks. This is quite unfortunate for the country’s multi-million army of smokers, who are experiencing hard times right now.
11:11, 18/01/2002, Utro
US Amb.Minikes Makes Comments on Belarus to OSCE Chair Gama
In the headquarters of the Liberal-democratic party in central Minsk they found strontium. According to “Interfax”, there had been found a sealed glass box with a plant’s stamp. This isn’t the first case when the radioactive substances are discovered in Minsk. Previously, the Belarusian KGB thwarted an attempt to sell a big consignment of uranium. Specialists claim that the containers’ radioactive level exceeded the natural one by 600 times. The Ministry of emergency situations will examine the multi-story building, whose tenant traded in radioactive stuff in order to find out whether or not the place is contaminated.
Oil In the End of A Tunnel
On January 15, in his report to the OSCE Chairman-in-office Gama the US ambassador Minikes touched upon the situation in Belarus. Following is an extract from his speech:
11:09, 18/01/2002, Vremya Novstei
Leonov Faces 10 Years of Jail, Property Confiscation
In 2002 in Belarus the largest oil chemical factories and oil refineries are to be privatized. Key petroleum companies and oil refineries of Belarus will issue stock in 2002. The supposed price of the enterprises’ assets is about 500-550 million dollars. Transformation of the state-run enterprises to the joint-stock societies is necessary to start privatization. Shares’ sale of the newly-formed Belarusian companies to the private investors (the only buyers now are Russian oil companies), will begin, according to the head of Belneftehim concern Ivan Bambiza, right after the shares issuing.
Legal Action Against BMP
On Thursday the Belarusian procuracy officially brought charges against the former director of the Minsk tractor plant Mikhail Leonov. The former MTP director, according to the indictment, may receive 10 years of imprisonment and property seizure.
One-Year Old ZUBRs
The Belarusian metallurgic plant in Zhlobin again came into the spotlight of police attention. The Gomel department of the committee for organized criminality and corruption opened legal action under art.424/3 – power abuse, entailing financial losses. The committee for organized criminality doesn’t mention the names of those, under examination. However, we know that the reason for starting the lawsuit was the fact that in the period from November 6-December 30 last year the plant illicitly wrote off into the trash the metal spare parts worth 111mln rubles.
11:06, 18/01/2002, “Dyen”
Pope May Visit Belarus This Year
January 14 turned one year since the formation of the youth movement ZUBR. A year ago forty patriotically-minded young men and women gathered in the Belovazhskaya Puscha forest reserve, which is a remarkable place for Belarus, in order to proclaim as their motto “Honor! Motherland! Freedom!”, having set up an organization, which attracted thousands of volunteers in the first year of its existence. Their objectives are quite serious, for they are convinced that their own destiny depends on their country’s future. There’s plenty of adolescent romanticism in their actions and even elements of games, and no one can accuse them of bellicose radicalism or NAZI principles. These young ZUBRs are our own children who have realized that the words “motherland”, “freedom” and “democracy” aren’t just void sounds but decent lives of individuals in a respected country.
Our today’s guest is one of the ZUBR movement’s leaders Timofei DRANCHUK.
Lukashenko’s New Decree – Mockery Over Liberalization
Vatican officials are discussing Pope John Paul-II’s possible trip to Belarus this year, reports Associated Press. The Pope will also visit Bulgaria in May, a week after he turns 82. That trip will be part of his efforts to improve relations with Orthodox Christians, a visit the Vatican hopes will pave the way for a hoped-for trip to Russia.
“Lukashenko’s decree#40 can be called a mockery over the very liberalization idea,” Belarus Set to Privatize Oil Refineries
– said chairman of the public association “Alternative XXI” Sergei Balykin in an interview to BelaPAN, in which he commented on the presidential decree “On additional measures to regulate economic relations”. According to him, “having annulled a few most odious decree, like number 14 “On some measures to put economic relations back in order”, Lukashenko now reproduced almost the same sanctions, envisaged by those decrees”.
Belarusian Privatization May Fail
Leading petroleum companies and oil refineries of Belarus (such as the “Naftan” oil refinery, petroleum chemical plants “Polimir”, “Azot”, “Belshina”, “Khimvolokno” enterprises – in Mogilev and Svetlogorsk) will turn joint stock in 2002. The expected cost of the companies’ assets amounts to some $500-550, reports “Vremya Novstei”.
Belarusian Foodstuffs Do Not Meet Standards
Expectedly, the Belarusian budget will receive from privatization 100bln Belarusian rubles. “Izvestia” correspondent reports that the Department for managing state property of the Ministry of economy is entitled to attract these means into the budget. This sum exceeds by ten times the one, stipulated in the last year’s budget. However, in 2001 instead of 10bln rubles the state treasury received only 1,6bln.
In the last year more than 3700 enterprises that manufacture and sell foodstuffs, were checked by the state inspection. Infringements were detected at 2600 enterprises. These facts were reported during the round table in the Civil Press Center of the Press House in Minsk by the head of the state standards inspection Viktar Narygin. As said by him, the violators who sold foodstuffs of bad quality, are fined. The sum of fines is equal to more than 486 millions roubles.