The Belarusian bank, Infobank, accused of money-laundering for the regime of Saddam Hussein by The U.S. Treasury Department, has decided to change its name. On February 21, 2005 the Ntaional bank registered the changes to the Statute of the closed joint stock company Infobank, accepted by the stockholders` meeting on 21.01.2005, including the changes related to the change of the bank’s name. Henceforth the bank is to be called the closed joint stock company “Trustbank”. The bank was also issued new licences, while registration numbers were preserved, information department of the National bank informs.
Opposition leaders shrugged off Aleksandr Lukashenko’s accusations of relying on criminals and financial aid from the West to destabilize the situation in Belarus. While speaking at Tuesday’s government conference, the Belarusian leader said that Western countries have been providing sizable amounts to support an anti-government campaign in the country. “They [Western countries] believe that Belarus is ripe for some kind of an orange or cornflower revolution,” official information sources quoted him as saying.
Today Alyaksandr Lukashenka again demonstrated his pathological fear of democratic changes. Opening the consultations of the law-enforcing and controlling agencies on questions of struggle with corruption, the Belarusian dictator stated again that that he knows about financing of the Belarusian opposition by the West, and that he would not allow any revolutions in the country. “We receive more and more information about financing of the activities of our so-called opposition. The West is not sparing expense for that, they believe that Belarus has ripened for some orange, or, what is rather frightening, for blue or cornflower blue revolution. Such `blue` revolutions are the last thing we need,” told Lukashenka.
On February 2 in Minsk an attempt has been made to detain the chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front Party Vintsuk Vyachorka. Policemen tried to detain him and take him by force to the Prosecutor’s office for interrogation. The attempt of detention took place in the Justice Ministry right after the meeting with the deputy Justice Minister Krautsou. V. Vyachorka was released after a telephone conversation with the investigator of the prosecutor’s office Kukharonak. In the phone talk the BPF leader told that he would come to the prosecutor’s office voluntarily.
The trial of Sergei Antonchik, a Belarusian opposition activist, is expected to resume at the Sovetsky District Court in Minsk on February 24. Judge Oksana Relyayeva considered the case on February 21 but she failed to decide on whether the ex-MP committed any wrongdoing by meeting with his associates at a private apartment. Mr. Antonchik and his associates were arrested at a Minsk apartment on February 5 and kept a police station for three hours. The ex-MP was charged with “public disorder” and organizing an unsanctioned gathering.
Belarus’ Supreme Court on February 21 ordered the closure of Adradzhenne Aychyny, a non-governmental organization that assisted women in exercising their political and social rights.
Right for resistance 12:18, 22/02/2005, Dmitry Bondarenko, member of the Council of civil initiative "Free Belarus"
For the last couple of years I didn’t watch Belarusian TV: doring, primitive, disgusting. Yesterday night, however, I was called by some folks who told me: “You have to see it, it’s exciting”. I thought that perhaps they were showing a program on why our hockey players didn’t get through to the Olympics. However, it turned out to be something different. The anchorman in a happy voice was telling how the heroic special services confiscated a notebook from a Slovak. And that the computer allegedly contained the fullest information on who, how and in what amounts sponsors the Belarusian opposition. They described a horrifying picture: dozens of foreign foundations – IRI, NDI, IREX, USAID and others pass over packs of dollars to the sly oppositionists so that they could undermine stability in a country of blue lakes and remove its constitutional guarantor from power. They also demonstrated schemes with arrows, photos of opposition members during seminars and all kinds of propaganda materials.
The civil initiative “We want to know the truth!” together with the United Civil Party and the “Human Rights Alliance” with the assistance of the parliamentary group of Lithuanian parliament “For Democratic Belarus” and Norwegian Embassy in Belarus have organized a rest in the health center of the town of Druskininkai for the relatives of those who had fallen victim of the Belarusian regime. For a fortnight Volha Zavadskaya, mother of the disappeared journalist Dzmitry Zavadsky, and Vera Rozum, mother of the Vice Speaker of the 13th Supreme Soviet Henadz Karpenka, who died under puzzling circumstances, will take a rest and improve their health in the health resort of the town of Druskininkai.
The last time they sat down, President Bush politely asked President Vladimir Putin about Russia`s retreat from democracy. Putin, according to U.S. officials, responded with a testy tirade on Russian history, filibustering for so long that Bush, left with an extended list of other issues to cover in a short private lunch, let the matter go without challenging the former KGB colonel.
This week`s summit in Bratislava between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will showcase Slovakia, which shook off Soviet-era communism and has become a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Norwegian PEN will continue working with the media and human rights organizations in Belarus to attract international attention to the country, Anders Heger, a Norwegian publisher, said on February 20 at the end of a Norwegian PEN delegation’s six-day stay in Minsk.
Dozens of prominent politicians and public figures of the world addressed an open letter to US President George Bush before his meeting with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. They urged George Bush to raise a question of serious erosion of democratic freedoms in Russia and publically express his disagreement with the authoritarian policy of Russian president. It is also noted in the letter that “Russia`s indulgent position towards two neighboring states that are internationally condemned as pariahs--Belarus and Turkmenistan--should not go unchallenged. Belarus languishes in the grip of a president who has manipulated recent ballots to promote his potentially unlimited tenure in office while simultaneously eradicating parliamentary opposition, and has also removed challengers to his authority through politically-motivated prosecutions and state violence. Freedom of expression and association continue to be eroded. Yet Russia continues to support the Belarusian regime politically and to sustain it economically,” the open letter emphasizes. The open letter was signed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Counselor at Center for Strategic and International Studies and former National Security Advisor; Mark Palmer, Vice-Chairman of the Freedom House Board of Trustees, Bruce P. Jackson, President of the Project on Transitional Democracies; Radek Sikorski, Executive Director of the New Atlantic Initiative; Vladimir Bukovsky, former Soviet dissident; Andrei Sannikov, international coordinator of the Charter `97 Civil Initiative, one of the leaders of the Council of Civil initiatives “Free Belarus”, and many others political and democracy activists of the world.
Trade in high-profit goods, tobacco products and sugar above all, should be constantly monitored by the government, Aleksandr Lukashenko said while receiving Trade Minister Aleksandr Kulichkov on February 21. According to the Belarusian leader’s press office, the meeting focused on the performance of the trade and consumer services sectors in 2004.
The Belarusian Union of Entrepreneurs (BUE) and Sadruzhnasts, a trade union of small business owners, plan to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court of Belarus about the requirement that sole proprietors who pay a fixed amount in so-called single tax irrespective of their proceeds should also pay value-added tax on goods originating from Russia.
A probe of the slaying of the US editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine remains open and Russia is awaiting extradition from Belarus of two men in connection with the case, ITAR-TASS news agency on Monday quoted Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov as saying.