A general convention of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences (BNAN) on 3 February failed to approve amendments to the BNAN statute because of the lack of a quorum, RFE/RL`s Belarus Service and Belapan reported on 4 February. The BNAN Presidium suggested abolishing the secret ballot process and allowing all members of the BNAN General Assembly, not only full academicians and corresponding members as is the case now, to vote on candidates for academic titles. The changes were proposed by Ryhor Vasilevich, chairman of the Constitutional Court, who failed to win enough votes to get the title of BNAN corresponding member last year. "I think the lack of a quorum [on 3 February] was a good example for others," Academician Ivan Nikitchanka commented for RFE/RL. "It was an action of overt insubordination."
A 688-page book titled "To Stalin, Europe, Bow" is being distributed through bookstores in Minsk.
FUAinform, a Minsk-based company, published 2,000 copies of the book late last year. The authors, Yury Gumenyuk, Valery Drako and Mikhail Kurs, have dedicated the publication to the Soviet Union Communist Party veterans. The book features articles about and by the Soviet ruler, documents, 47 Stalin`s portraits, posters, Stalin-era slogans and poems.
Police have been exerting pressure on market vendors who are on strike in Pinsk, Brest region, over new taxation rules that require them to pay an 18-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods imported from Russia.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, will visit Belarus from 9 to 11 February at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the Representative`s visit, in accordance with his mandate, is to collect first-hand information on the media
situation in the country and to assist Belarus in developing a free and open media landscape in line with OSCE commitments.
The authorities appear to have stepped up the probe into a series of street protests staged by opposition forces in the wake of October’s referendum and parliamentary elections widely condemned as fraudulent.
Gavin O’Reilly, president of the World Association of Newspapers, and George Brock, president of the World Editors Forum, have petitioned several high-ranking Belarusian officials to ensure an impartial investigation into Veronika Cherkasova’s murder and stop harassment of the reporter’s family.
The Belarusian leadership attaches "particular importance" to relations with Iran, said Vladimir Konoplyov, chairman of the House of Representatives of the Belarusian National Assembly, at his meeting with the newly appointed Iranian ambassador, Abdolhamid Fekri, on Monday.
The people of Belarus have long been familiar with the minutiae of Aleksandr Lukashenko’s life. No television news bulletin in the former Soviet republic is complete without pictures of their authoritarian president opening a factory or haranguing a minister. His love of ice hockey is considered a matter of public interest.
A Threat to stop young victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster enjoying life-saving recuperative breaks in Staffordshire and Cheshire has been lifted. Youngsters from Belarus have regularly benefited from holidays in the region and are treated to days out and a diet free from the risk of radiation contamination. Experts believe the visits can save the lives of teenage cancer victims and boost a sick child`s immune system for up to two years. But future breaks were thrown into doubt by the president of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who threatened to stop the visits because he claimed children were picking up "decadent" Western values.
Belarus has fully repaid its debt to the International Monetary Fund. The last payment due to the fund was made on February 1, the press service of the Belarusian finance ministry has reported to RBC. At the same time the finance ministry did not announce the amount of the last payment; however, it noted that all payments had been made strictly in accordance with the payment schedule.
The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on February 7 suspended MinskKompleksBank’s license for accepting deposits from individuals. The measure will remain in place until the government-controlled bank raises its ownership capital to EUR10 million, the NBB Information Office told BelaPAN.
Committee for State Security (KGB) and Alfa anti-terrorist unit officers in Minsk on February 4 arrested six members of a Russian gang, which smuggled precious stones into Belarus, said the press office of the KGB Minsk and Minsk Region Department.