Russian Foreign Ministry received official Minsk’s decision on the deportation from Belarus of NTV correspondent Pavel Selin, reported today the official representative of the Russian Federation’s Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko.
On Friday in Moscow there will end another joint meeting of the Belarusian-Russian intergovernmental commission on the military-technical cooperation. Meantime, in Minsk there will be held consultations between the Ministries of foreign affairs of Belarus and Russia, where the sides will discuss the issues of cooperation with Latin America. They will also work out the mechanism of interaction in lobbying and promoting the interests of Belarus and Russia in Latin America. The issues, raised simultaneously in Minsk and Moscow, have pretty much in common. Arms trade is perhaps Belarus’ only interest in the Latin American market.
On the daily agenda of the last PACE session there was no Belarusian issue. In September last year they passed resolution, which unambiguously stated that the state of affairs in Belarus deteriorated. And for as long as the Belarusian government fails to meet democratic criteria, such as freedom of speech, investigation into disappearances, cancellation of death penalty and new electoral law, they won’t restore Belarus’ “special guest” status with PACE.
Vasil Bykov never loved those in power. The only Soviet head of state, whom the national writer of Belarus respected, was Mikhail Gorbachev, whom he also criticized quite frequently. This lack of sympathy to Bykov was also manifested by the officials of all levels and times. However, their hatred took on different forms. Let us not concentrate on the Soviet times, but rather turn to the history of independent Belarus.
“Marat” publishing house – publisher of “BDG” – learned about the fate of two thousand copies of “Predprinimatelskaya Gazeta’s” issue #17 of June 9-16, 2003. That issue was prepared by the “BDG” editorial board, being published in Smolensk. As it turned out the whole print run was destroyed upon the order of deputy head of the Mogilev police transportation department, major Artemenko.
On June 30 morning in Vitebsk the human rights defender and journalist Valery Schukin was seeking Vitebsk residents’ support in the solution of his personal residence problem. Approximately 300 meters away from the regional executive committee he had been passing for 1,5 hours the flyers with the text of his address to the head of the local officials Vladimir Andreichenko, pleading with him to solve his residence problem, which had been in consideration of the Polotsk town hall for over three years. By so doing, Schukin intends to attract public attention to the problem, which may prevent him from engaging in the presidential elections 2004.
Russia is trying to pressurize Belarus through the “weapons of mass destruction”, that is mass media, said the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko on June 30 in an interview to the three domestic state-owned TV channels – BT, ONT and CTV.
Moscow and Minsk are once again on the edge of a scandal. This time the reason for the rupture in their relations is television. NTV correspondent Pavel Selin was stripped of accreditation card and exiled from Belarus, followed by a five-year travel ban, imposed on him by the Belarusian authorities. The official Minsk is awaiting public excuses from NTV company, otherwise threatening to shut its representation in the country.
At 11a.m. July 1 there will be held another meeting between the teachers of the National Humanities Lyceum and the Education Ministry’s officials. As you remember, the Lyceum was liquidated upon the Ministry’s order of June 26, while its premises, after the repair works, will be taken over by the Minsk Humanities Lyceum.
In Belarus they not only suspend publication of independent newspapers and deport foreign TV correspondents. The dismissed professors of the Institute of modern knowledge assert that upon Alexander Lukashenko’s order they annihilated the very system of the non-state journalistic education.
Pavel Selin, the Minsk correspondent from Russia’s leading nationwide channel NTV, was given 24 hours to leave Belarus on Saturday. Belarusian authorities accuse the reporter of biased coverage of the writer Vasil Bykov’s funeral. This is not the first time that Minsk has found fault with Selin’s reports. He had already received two official warnings for previous reports.
Alexander Lukashenko said that he doesn’t intend to embark on complete privatization of state property. “We will sell only those companies, which we cannot manage on our own. We can also sell some normal, operational ones, but for a good price,” – said the Belarusian incumbent in an interview to the national TV channels on Monday. At the same time, he said that the so-called oligarchs are envying us and our companies, wishing to take them over right away.”