The government of the United States joins the European Union and the OSCE chairmanship in decrying the decision of the Belarusian authorities to deny a visa extension for the last remaining program staff member of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group (AMG) in Belarus. With the forced departure of AMG staff member Meagan Fitzgerald, a United States citizen, the AMG has reduced its activities to administrative work. The United States supports the efforts of the Portuguese chairmanship of the OSCE to find a solution to ensure the continuation of the work of the AMG in Belarus and urges the government of Belarus to reconsider its decision. The recent action by the government of Belarus does not contribute to a constructive resolution of this problem. The government of the United States calls upon the government of Belarus to comply with its international obligations undertaken within the OSCE. Failure to do so can only harm the interests of Belarus. The United States notes with concern the continuing deterioration of conditions with respect to human rights and democracy in Belarus, areas where the AMG can make a crucial contribution. Belarus must return to the path of political liberalization and respect for human rights if it hopes to improve relations with the international community and end its self-imposed isolation.
Alexander Lukashenko, an authoritarian ruler of Belarus, is fearless. He openly proclaims himself the “most perfect from the moral point of view world leader”, claiming that he never stole anything in his life and is a convinced believer. However, he acts more like a prosecutor towards those, who doubt his honesty, newspaper “Narodnaya Volya” being no exception. He accuses them of thefts and threatens with judicial persecution, in retaliation for the reporter’s question about the secret “presidential fund”.
At the moment 86 prisoners, sentenced to life terms, are held in the Zhodino jail. The overwhelming majority of them are aged 30 and over. The state pays 150thsd rubles a month to cater for the needs of each of them, said the Minister of internal affairs of Belarus Vladimir Naumov during his meeting with the students of law of the Belarusian State University earlier in the week. As for the capital punishment, the Minister said that this year 5 death row inmates were executed, while last year there were 7 of them and two years ago also 5.
Alexander Lukashenko entitled Viktor Sheiman, the prosecutor general of Belarus, chair of the Committee for state control Anatoly Tozik and head of the Supreme Economic Court Viktor Kamenkov to “render assistance to the Federation of trade unions of Belarus” in putting things into order in trade union’s household, returning the misappropriated or sold property.
Belarusian procuracy halted investigation on the former head of the Belarusian railway Viktor Rakhmanko and passed over the documents into the country’s Supreme Court. Other scandalous case files – that of the former “Atlant” director Leonid Kalugin and MTP Mikhail Leonov – remain under consideration for almost a year. The country’s procuracy again prolonged the investigation period on them.
Former director general of the Minsk tractor plant Mikhail Leonov was detained in January this year. He’s indicted for power abuse, large-scale embezzlement, criminal negligence and bribery. Leonov’s detention term was prolonged to October 7.
One of my acquaintances, operating as most of other businessmen in a shadow market, told me the following: “If I worked legally and paid all taxes, then one earned ruble would cost me 1,40 rubles of taxes”. That happened last year. This year he would probably have to pay two rubles.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Alexander Mihnevich said that the head of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Khvostov agreed with the OSCE chairman-in-office to hold in Vienna a round of consultations on further Belarus’ cooperation with this organization. Former deputy Foreign Minister, Charter’97 international coordinator Andrei Sannikov deems that the talks will be futile: “Official Minsk requires the change of mandate, which automatically implies the recognition of the current state of affairs in Belarus. OSCE will never consent to that, for it would clearly contradict the assessments and statements, voiced by the organization earlier. Minsk will be just trying to win time, while the Belarusian authorities, ostensibly busy with consultations, will keep evicting OSCE officials outside the country. Seemingly, OSCE doesn’t want for some reason or may be cannot halt Belarusian membership in OSCE,” – said the diplomat.
During his recent press-conference Alexander Lukashenko called deputy Defense Minister of Belarus Vladimir Ushopchik a “great general”. However, in Vilnius they call him “a hangman of the Lithuanian nation of January 13, 1991”. The general was in command of the Vilnius division in January 1991, when the troops opened gunfire at the assembled crowd near the TV tower. And now the procuracy general of Belarus demands extradition of him.
At the press-conference Alexander Lukashenko declared that the Polish authorities wholly depend on the USA. According to him, after a visit to Poland of the Minister of internal affairs of Belarus Naumov, the Poles have allegedly been trying hard to whitewash themselves before the Americans for their contacts with non-democrats. Lukashenko is convinced that the reason for such relations is a $40bln Polish debt before the States. Radio Svaboda asked to comment on the statement the former Foreign Minister of Poland Bronislav Geremek:
Official Kiev is convinced that Luakshenko mixed up things in his commentary over the agreement on the Ukrainian debts to Belarus. In reality, there’s no such agreement. It still needs to be signed, while in the near future there will be no meeting of the countries’ Premiers.
A meeting between the leaders of Belarus and Russia will be held during the summit of CIS member-states in Kishinev, Moldova, “Interfax” was told by the deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Alexander Mihnevich.
Session of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly will start on September 23 in Strasbourg. The PACE invited to the event Valentina Polevikova (United social democrats), Vintsuk Vyachorka (BPF), Vladimir Nistouk (BSDP NG) and Anatoly Lebedko (UCP). The Belarusian problem is high on the session’s agenda.
One cannot rule out a possibility for electing Lukashenko for the third presidential term in a row, deems deputy chairman of the commission for industry, fuel and energy complex, transport, communications and entrepreneurship of the “house of representatives” Mikhail Poplavsky. In an interview to “Mediafact” the “parliamentarian” reminded that the US president Franklin Delano Rusvelt ruled over the country during four terms.
The Cabinet of ministers of Belarus passed a ruling, which renews the cash-free transfer of trade union dues, said during the extracurricular FTU session the organization’s leader Leonid Kozik. According to the order, the trade union fees will be transferred cash-free to the bank accounts of the trade unions organizations. This will coincide in time with the payment of wages period, stressed Kozik. As you remember, the authorities banned this operation in the aftermath of Vladimir Goncharik’s participation in the presidential ballot.
Belarusian entrepreneurs will embark on a national limitless strike on October 1, “Interfax” was told on Thursday by the representative of the United council of the country’s entrepreneurs Anatoly Shumchenko.