Head of the special working group of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for Belarus Uta Tsapf refused to give any forecasts concerning the potential decision, that would be passed as a result of her visit to Minsk at the session of the OSCE PA Permanent Council, due to be held on February 21 in Vienna. “Our goal is to simply present the report, while the decision will be passed by the Permanent Council,” - said Mrs.Tsapf at her final press-conference in Minsk on February 5. “There exist various opinions among 55 countries, represented in OSCE PA and so any attempt to guess the results of the voting are close to fortune-telling,” – BelaPAN quotes her as saying.
The journalist of the independent Grodno newspaper “Pagonya”, closed by the authorities, Pavel Mozheiko was summoned on February 4 again to the Grodno region procuracy. “Vesna” reports that the investigator Oleg Kulevich was eager to know the whereabouts of the “Pagonya’s” editor Nikolai Markevich. During the interrogation the investigator handed to Pavel Mozheiko a court summons for February 14, having warned him that they would charge him with criminal felony. Most likely, he added, the correspondent may face indictment under art.367 of the Criminal code (slander against the president of the Republic of Belarus). One can’t rule out the possibility that same charges will be brought against Nikolai Markevich too.
Alexander Lukashenko declared that he is dissatisfied with how the things are going on at the Belarusian railroad. He cited as one of the key reasons for that “the ineffective and unsatisfactory management with a range of heads of the railroad entangled in power abuse and solving personal problems at the state’s expense,” – said the Belarusian leader on February 5 during his meeting with the leadership of the Belarusian railroad. According to him, the inspections into the railroad’s performance, carried out by both the procuracy and the Committee for state control revealed “serious omissions and even criminal actions by the railroad’s directors”.
Adoption of social research licensing will cause closure of independent research centers in Belarus. It was stated by Aleh Manaeu, the head of the Independent Institute of Social, Economic and Political research in Belarus (IISEPR). Administration of the president in its letter sent to the scientific organizations of the country – the Belarusian State University, Sociology Institute of the National Academy of Science, to the Belarusian non-state association “Sociological Society”.
Vice Premier Vladimir Drazhin voiced during the Ministry of culture’s meeting Alexander Lukashenko’s directive, obliging cultural institutions to seek non-budget funds in order to enhance their self-support capability from 10 to 30%. As a vivid example, they mentioned the Ministry of education, where the self-support level reached 36%. According to Drazhin, the Ministry of culture required to be given by the state this year 17bln rubles, but so far received only 2,5bln.
Leader of the Universal organization of the Belarusian Jews Yakov Gutman believes that the Belarusian authorities are sticking to the old practice of anti-Semitism. As an example of that he cites the state-sanctioned demolition of the former synagogue in Minsk, located in the Dimitrova street, 3. Attempts to save the building proved futile and so now they are building a residential area at that place. The Union of artists, to whom the former synagogue officially belonged, allowed the “Komikon” company to build the living quarters there in exchange for providing the artists with workshops at its attic.
The Ministry of Culture passed a ruling to merge the magazine “Mastatstva” (‘Art’) and the newspaper Kultura (“Culture”). As Radio Svaboda asserts, it is made to cut down expenses and to control the periodicals more effectively. It is proposed that the new holding “Kultura I Mastatstva” will be headed by Liliana Antsukh, and the present editors-in-chief Alyaxei Dudarau and Ludmila Krushynskaya are to become her assistants. A big staff reduction in the both periodicals is expected.
Russian Vice-Premier Viktor Khristenko declared that at the Monday session of “Gasprom’s” directorate they never discussed the project on laying the gas pipeline around Ukraine through Poland. Viktor Khristenko, who’s an active member of the company’s directorate, said this in an interview to the RIA “Novosti” information agency. Previously they reported that another “Gasprom’s” director Boris Fedorov mentioned in his phone conversation with investors that the directorate had allegedly ruled not to build the pipe through Poland, avoiding Ukraine.
Last year the Belarusian government planned to reform 150 state-owned companies. At 122 of them the labor teams refused to alter their companies’ status. On the basis of 23 enterprises there sprang up joint stock companies, 4 became open joint stocks, while 18 were returned back to their owners from whom they had been leased. Now there only remain in state’s property 22 companies, the leasing agreements of ten of them being expired.
The Ukrainian parliament upheld on Tuesday the deputies’ appeal to the prosecutor general of Ukraine Mikhail Potebenko on instituting criminal action against the Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, former minister Anatoly Lobov and MP Efim Zvyagilsky.
Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation for Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova Jan Marinus Wiersma and his deputies Lennart Sacredeus and Elizabeth Schroedter sent their reply to the address into the EP by the wives of the repressed Belarusian politicians – Ludmila Karpenko, Irina Krasovskaya, Svetlana Zavadskaya, Olga Zakharenko, Zinaida Gonchar and Tatyana Klimova. “We would like to reassure you, - reads the MEPs’ letter: that we will continue to express our concern over the destiny of your husbands and over other human rights violations in Belarus. Regrettably, we have not received any reply whatsoever to our letter to Mr.Lukashenko and so we will also forward a copy of this letter to him. You must know that the European Parliament pays great attention to the development of the fundamental values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law in Belarus. We intend to exert pressure on the government of Belarus in future as well, keeping up contacts with you and others in hopes for changing the situation in your country.”
The indefiniteness of the mandate of the Advisory and Monitoring group in Belarus is the basic problem in the relations of the country with the Western institutions. It was stated by Uta Zapf, head of the PA OSCE special working group on Belarus on February 4 in Minsk at the meeting with the leadership of the “council of republic”.
“Following an elegant victory at the elections Lukashenko launched total cleansing,” – an article under such heading was written by Markus Vener – Moscow correspondent of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine”, who was the first person among the European journalists to reveal truth about death quads in Belarus. The journalist notes that in course of the last four months the Belarusian dictator did everything according to his own pleasure: imprisoned heads of large companies and even sought to destroy the work of the OSCE mission in Minsk. According to the chairman of the OSCE parliamentary working group Uta Tsapf, all his actions testify to the possibility of escalating tensions between the West and Belarus. In essence, the situation resembles that of the cold war years.
The directorate of the “Gasprom Ltd.” passed a decision during its Monday session to enhance the capacity of the “Yamal-Europe” gas pipeline and declined to continue with the project on constructing a pipeline avoiding the territory of Ukraine through Poland. “Interfax” was told this during a phone conversation with the investors by a member of the “Gasprom’s” directorate Boris Fedorov.
President of the trade union of metal-workers of Germany Klaus Zvikel forwarded his letter to Alexander Lukashenko, which contains the following lines: “On behalf of the IG Metal trade union I express my disapproval over the continuing state’s interference in the activities of the Belarusian trade unions, in particular the new attempts to deprive the Belarusian trade unions of their financial support. Changes in the system of trade union dues collection in our understanding are but an element of political strategy aimed at weakening the trade unions. We will be watching over the further situation development in the Republic of Belarus, informing our government, the EU Commission and the International Labor Organization about any anti-trade union activity of the Belarusian authorities.”
Fall in the solvency demand of the country’s agricultural consumers beginning with the 4th quarter of last year, has led to the sharp decrease in the production and shipment to the interior market of phosphorous fertilizers and further – to the halt in their production. Due to their poor demand at the internal market, the factory failed to ensure the timely payment for the imported Russian raw materials, thus causing the frustration of permanent supply. According to the data of the Russian “Apatit”, the debt of the Gomel chemical plant for the supplied raw materials constitutes over $2,7mln. Meantime, the consumers’ indebtedness for the supplied phosphorous fertilizers by January 25 amounted to around $1bln rubles.
Official visit to Moldova by the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is scheduled for late February. INTERLIK’s correspondent was told in the Belarusian embassy in Kishinev that the exact date of his coming to Moldova is to be fixed by the end of this week. It is planned that in Kishinev Vladimir Voronin and Alexander Lukashenko will talk on the wide spectrum of issues, touching upon the development and reinforcement of bilateral trade-economic relations.