On February 23 at the reception on the occasion of the Defender of the Fatherland Day Alyaksandar Lukashenka rewarded lieutenant-general Uladzimir Uskhopchyk (Vladimir Uskhopchik) an order “For Service to Homeland” of the 1rst degree. Uladzimir Uskhopchyk received this high award for “long conscientious service in the Military Forces, a model doing of a soldier’s duty and high personal progress in service”. The head of state noted that he is a real general devoted to the Belarusian people and his soldier`s duty. Though he is finishing his service, he is to continue to serve to his Homeland, President emphasized. Let us remind that General Uskhopchyk had been looked for for many years by the Lithuanian Prosecutor’s office. In 1991 Uskhopchyk headed the Vilnius-based division of Soviet troops that stormed the city`s television tower in January 1991, killing 14 unarmed civilians, defenders of the Lithuanian independence. Vilnius accuses Uskhopchyk of being a principle at the January 1991 massacre in Vilnius.
Economic administrative department of the Administration of President of Belarus’ Affairs refused to prolong a contract of renting premises for the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions’ office without any justification. The independent trade unions’ center is regarding it as a political provocation a few days before the visit of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and European Union commissions who are to investigate violations of trade unions and employees’ rights.
On February 20 a report was drawn up against one of the leaders of traders’ union Valery Levanewsky. He was charged with “activities on behalf of unregistered or not re-registered political parties, trade unions or other public associations” by the service of public order defense and crimes prevention of the Interior Affairs Department of Lenin district of Hrodna. It’s the continuation of the story when personal correspondence of Levanewsky with diplomats accredited in Belarus was seized. As we have informed, the letters sent to diplomatic representatives by Levanewsky was illegally seized by law-enforcing agencies of Belarus. Levanewsky is in correspondence with diplomats as a Chairman of the Strike Committee of Entrepreneurs of Belarus.
An action devoted to the theme of political kidnapping in Belarus was held on February 22 in Minsk. More than 100 people with portraits of Yuri Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasowsky, Dzmitser Zavadsky and Hienadz Karpenka, lined along the Skaryna Avenue at 2 p.m. Young people stood facing the roadway from the October Square to the General Post Office at intervals of 2-3 meters. Beside Zubr activists, mother of the abducted journalist, Volha Zavadskaya, took part in the action.
“Absence of such contractual obligations as transit or gas supplies, one way or another put either side in a very interesting position: it looks either like a smuggler or as a thief”. These are expressions employed by Russian vice Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko when speaking of the row between Moscow and Minsk about the gas price. Initially his visit to Belarusian capital was not connected with gas row, but unpredictable events of the last few days amended the high official’s plans. The Russian authorities have almost lost their patience. As the Russian FM declared the day before, Alyaksandar Lukashenka had ventured upon provocative statements addressed to the Russian Federation. On February 20 Khristenko was to meet Lukashenka. However the Belarusian side cancelled the meeting. The talks on the gas issue have not led to new agreements. The sides only agreed to continue dialog within the next few days.
The first day when Russia’s gas blockade of Belarus raised, demonstrated that the conflict between the two countries on the issue of the gas relations is to have more serious effect than Moscow expected. Belarus is ready to turn down integration in the gas sphere, but in return for real independence of Beltransgaz, which for instance Ukrainina Naftogaz possesses. Now Minsk does not hurry to buy gas from Gazprom. Long-term contract with Beltransgaz was discussed in Moscow and in Minsk, but its perspectives are vague, Kommersant informs.