A nationwide strike of market vendors starts tomorrow in Belarus. Self-employed entrepreneurs of Belarus protest against the new procedure of collecting value-added tax by Russia and Belarus, and demand to cancel the agreement with Moscow. Tomorrow, on March 1 market vendors are to gather in October Square of Minsk at noon. According to organizers of the protest, about 50,000 entrepreneurs are to take to the streets of Minsk. They are going to hand in an appeal to Alyaksandr Lukashenka with a demand to abolish the VAT in trade with Russia. The leaders of the entrepreneurs state that if the authorities would not meet halfway, political demands – government and A. Lukashenka’s dismissal - would be added to the economical ones.
On February 28 in the conference hall of the state criminal experts’ center Uladzimir Navumau, Internal Affairs Minister of Belarus, plans to hold a session of the board of the ministry, where the questions related to search of the disappeared without traces are to be considered. Will the disappearances of politicians Yuri Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasouski and ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski be discussed there?
Market vendors warned on Monday that they are ready to begin a nationwide open-ended walkout on March 1, as the government does not plan to bow to their demands and exempt them from an 18-percent value-added tax on imports from Russia.
The leader of the Nationwide Strike committee of entrepreneurs, member of the Council of Civil Initiatives “Free Belarus” Valery Levaneuski was transferred from Mahilyou colony number 19 to the colony 22 in Damanava settlement, Ivatsevichy district, Brest region, where he was kept earlier. The reasons for this transfer are unknown, told the son of the political prisoner, Uladzimir Levaneuski, to the press center of the Charter’97.
The Minsk city government has allowed the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BCDTU) to stage a rally in Minsk on March 3. The Congress picked an area near Vaneyeva Square in southern Minsk as the venue for the rally. It may not be attended by more than 100 people.
Zubr activists hanged white-red-white flag in the center of Mahiliou last weekend. It was hanged on the bridge over the animated road. Hundreds of cars pass under the bridge every hour. The flag was taken away by police.
As we have informed, during the US-Russia summit in Bratislava the leader of civil initiative “We Remember”, member of the council of Civil Initiatives “Free Belarus” Iryna Krasouskaya, and the head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhana Litsvina had a meeting with US President. Besides, before the summit an international conference “A New Quest For Democracy” took place in the capital of Slovakia, in which beside the abovementioned persons participated other representatives of Belarus. Among them was the international coordinator of the civil initiative “Charter’97”, member of the “Free Belarus” Andrei Sannikov. According to him, meetings in Bratislava would promote development of democracy in Belarus.
President George W. Bush`s visit to Slovakia has exposed differences between the United States and Europe - and among the Europeans themselves - over how to deal with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, according to East European officials and diplomats.
Democracy activists from 13 countries in Eastern Europe who gathered in Bratislava this week for a conference on the sidelines of the U.S.-Russian summit say they welcome U.S. President George W. Bush`s support for their efforts. A select group of these activists had the opportunity to meet Bush in person and say they were impressed by the U.S. president`s commitment to spreading the cause of freedom.
President George Bush yesterday underlined the symbolism of holding his summit with President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia by drawing parallels between the east European country`s overthrow of communism in 1989 and recent extensions of democracy in Georgia, Ukraine and Iraq.
The civic campaign PORA which took part in the Orange Revolution, will expand its activities in Belarus and Moldova. Vladyslav Kaskiv, the leader of PORA, announced the organization’s intention to support democracy in Belarus during a meeting in Bratislava of George Bush with representatives of pro-democracy organizations.
Nikolai Statkevich’s supporters in the conflict-torn Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Narodnaya Hramada” (BSDP) on Saturday voted to declare his expulsion from the party illegal and reelect him BSDP chairman.
Sergei Kalyakin, leader of the Belarusian Party of Communists (BPC), plans to propose himself as a potential opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential election. The matter was under discussion at Sunday’s session held by the BPC Central Committee.
Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko told cabinet officials on Friday that the government should collect taxes from money provided by other countries for “the so-called presidential candidates from the opposition” in the run-up to the 2006 presidential election. “We need to introduce tighter tax measures, and to ward off criticism we should model them after US tax evasion legislation. We can even adopt less sever laws, considering that our system is not yet established. They have extremely tight laws, so let us learn from this stronghold of democracy,” he said.
The European Union is to press Russia today over concerns that Moscow is not working hard enough for democratic reforms the EU says are crucial to generating economic growth and investments. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Javier Solana, the EU security affairs chief, will meet Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov for talks to further a broad co-operation agreement.
Today the court of Lenin district of Hrodna convicted one of the leaders of the MP group Syarhei Skrabets (Sergei Skrebets) to a fine of 200 basic units (4,800,000 BYR, or 2,180 US). The court found that Syarhei Skrabets was one of the organizers of the meeting of Hrodna entrepreneurs on February 10. Before the meeting a leaflet was handed out in Hrodna. It called the citizens of Hrodna to take part in the protest action of market vendors. Among others there was a signature of Syarhei Skrabets under the appeal. On February 14 another leader of the parliamentarians group “Respublika” Valery Fralou was fined for the same violation 300 basic units (7.2 mln BYR, or 3270 USD).
Around 40 activists of pro-democracy parties and non-governmental organizations rallied in Vitebsk on February 27 to protest the government’s reported plans to construct a nuclear power plant and inform the public about the alleged project.
Eduard Naryshkin, head of the Belarusian State Light Industry Concern (Bellegprom), came under heavy criticism from Aleksandr Lukashenko at Friday’s government conference that focused on the country’s economic performance in 2004.