The district court of Oshmyany in the Hrodna region of western Belarus has ordered the destruction of copies of a book ruled “extremist” – a collection of photos submitted to a prestigious 2011 competition for independent photojournalists. Reporters Without Borders, which showed its support for the “Belarus Press Photo” competition by republishing a dozen of the images on the organization’s WeFightCensorship site, expressed outrage and astonishment. “To describe the photos collected in ‘Belarus (…) …
Reporters Without Borders hails the Financial Investigation Department’s 25 March decision to unblock the independent monthly Arche-Pachatak’s bank account, which had been frozen since October, and the apparent intention to abandon a criminal prosecution for “financial irregularities.” “We hope that those in charge of this case will confirm in writing that no prosecution will be brought against Arche and its employees,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This independent cultural review has been (…) …
Reporters sans frontières salue le retrait d’une plainte en diffamation contre le journaliste bélarus d’origine polonaise Andreï Pachobut (Andrzej Poczobut ou Анджей Почобут), suite à des articles critiques à l’encontre du Président de la République. Le journaliste demeure cependant sous le coup d’une condamnation à trois ans de prison avec sursis dans une affaire similaire. Reporters Without Borders welcomes last week’s decision to drop the charge of defaming President Lukashenko that was brought in June 2012 (…) …
RIA Novosti / Vitaliy BelousovSome 56 per cent of Russians still regret the dissolution of the Soviet Union, according to a poll published on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the first Socialist state. However, this is almost 10 per cent less than a decade ago, a survey by All- Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) revealed. A third of Russians do not mourn over the collapse of the Soviet Union 21 years ago. That is 6 per cent more than in 2002.The majority of respondents who feel nostalgic about the end of the Soviet era are those above 45 years of age, with low education level, non-internet users and residents of capital cities of Russian regions. Youngsters, people with higher education and active web users – on the contrary – prefer life in modern Russia. Two thirds of those questioned agreed that Soviet Union furthered the cultural and economic development of peoples that lived on the territory of the country. At the same time, 20 per cent believe that it was the other way round. The state that once united 15
republics dissolved in December 1991, after the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the document which marked the end of the Soviet empire.Two decades on, over a half of Russians are confident that the collapse of the USSR could be prevented, the pollster found out. Still, 35 per cent stated that it was inevitable.Shortly after the disintegration of the country, people were split on the reasons behind it. Back in 1992, 27 per cent of citizens thought that the communist state was doomed as the transition to democracy began. With the passage of time Russians have changed their opinion: now 45 per cent of people blame politicians for bringing the Soviet empire to an end. On December 8, 1991, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the agreement on the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The document known as “The Belavezha Accords” managed to provide for a peaceful disintegration of the USSR. On December 12, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic ratified the accords on behalf of Russia and at the same time denounced the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the Soviet Union.Several days later – on December 25, 1991 – the first and only Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down from office, declaring the USSR extinct. …
The leaders of the Collective Treaty Security Organization (CSTO) meet in the Kremlin on Wednesday. RIA Novosti / Aleksey NikolskyiThe members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) focused much of their attention on the situation in Afghanistan, as well as other high-priority issues affecting regional security.President Putin said the situation requires the special attention of the security organization in view of NATO’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.The CSTO should work out a “plan of practical actions in
Afghanistan in order to minimize possible risks” for the CSTO member states, Putin said at a meeting in the Kremlin with the leaders of the CSTO countries, which include Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.The Russian leader pointed to the timing of NATO’s pullout which corresponds with Afghanistan’s presidential elections.“This will most certainly lead to some additional tensions,” Putin added. “We should take all of this into consideration in our work.”Ever since the US and NATO opened a military offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, Russia has been monitoring the situation as drug-trafficking and terrorist activity continue to plague the region. Earlier Putin criticized NATO’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan, saying the international force should stay until the job is finished. “It is regrettable that many participants in this operation are thinking about how to pull out of there,” he said. “They took on this burden and should carry it out to the end.”“It’s in our interest that we should have peace on our southern borders,” he added.It is not just the security situation in Afghanistan, however, which concerns the CSTO. All of the countries of Eurasia are vulnerable to challenges to their sovereignty. In an unmistakable reference to the recent behavior of the United States and NATO, Putin said Russia plans to seek the creation – within the framework of the CSTO – of an “efficient partner network” for countering threats to security in Eurasia. The disregard of international law and attempts “to impose one’s own template on other countries can lead to the most serious consequences,” the Russian President warned. “The dramatic development of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa are visual proof to that.”The US and NATO have shown a marked tendency for interfering in the affairs of other countries, including in Iraq and more recently Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi was murdered at the hands of a mob following an intense NATO aerial bombing campaign.Other CSTO member states pledged their support of the organization and the initiatives it endorses.Pavel Lyogky, spokesman for Belarusian PresidentAlexander Lukashenko, said Minsk has repeatedly advocated “the need for closer cooperation in the CSTO format in foreign policy, as well as in the realm of military-technological cooperation.He also spoke on the need to raise the international prestige of the organization. Belarus would like to see the CSTO cooperate with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions, and “interaction of this kind with NATO can’t be ruled out either,” the spokesman said.Meanwhile, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev advanced a number of proposals at an expanded session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council. Nazarbayev suggested strengthening “joint activities to combat drug trafficking, in particular, from Afghanistan.” He also suggested “setting up special teams of Emergency Situations Ministries of CSTO member-states and organizing their training and instruction so they could lend their assistance to each other at any time.” He offered the training range near Astana, Kazakhstan for the purpose of conducting coordinated emergency exercises.Robert Bridge, RT …
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (RIA Novosti/Alexsey Druginyn)
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has outlived its purpose, both for the West and East.
Bearing the brunt of western criticism for practically the duration of his tenure, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has outlived its usefulness.
Lukashenko argues that the 56-member OSCE “reflected the West and US interests when a powerful Soviet Union countered them.” Today, however, with the Soviet Union a distant memory, the global community “no longer needs this organization.”
The OSCE is not fulfilling its functions, therefore it is of no use for us either, he told reporters in Minsk.
The Belarus leader, who has been vilified as “Europe’s last dictator,” said the OSCE tries to force nonexistent standards upon Belarus and other countries.
Lukashenko slammed such standards as “completely politically bi
Russia in the past has expressed similar concerns toward the organization, which was established in 1973 at the height of the Cold War as an East-West forum.
In September, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted the “politicized approach” of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights towards the evaluation of the Belarus parliamentary elections.
“Once again the difference in evaluating elections vividly confirms the need to work out and adopt common, collectively agreed rules to monitor and summarize results of the voting process in the OSCE space,” the ministry noted on its website. “Since 2007, a relevant draft document…submitted by the Russian side and several other member states has been open to negotiations in the OSCE”.
The Belarusian president did not miss an opportunity to criticize the US election process, noting that international observers are warned if they cross a certain threshold at American elections they will be arrested.
“What if we acted like that,” asked Lukashenko. “We invite them and Americans act as observers in Belarus. We don’t arrest them, but…they want to be able to count votes.”
It is a manifestation of double and triple standards, and we cannot allow it, he stressed.
Commenting on the day that the American people head to the polls to select the next president, Lukashenko said the “entire world laughs at these elections.”
First, these are indirect elections; second, a man with a fewer number of votes can become the President. What kind of elections are those? But they like it this way, it is the tradition, the people are silent while the leaders are pleased. Well, may god be with you”.
He concluded by saying that as long as Belarus continues to pursue policies “in the interests of our nation in order to preserve independence and self-determination…it will not be advantageous for them.”
In such a situation, “they will challenge us and bomb us until their people rise to power in this country,” the Belarusian leader warned.
“We should build our own life and repel those who infringe upon it,” Lukashenko concluded.
Maria Sharapova (Reuters/David Gray)Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova topped Sara Errani of Italy in her opening match at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. The opener was tight, but Sharapova still had what it took to come up with an extra break when it mattered most. It was a lot easier in the second set, which Errani gave up without a serious fight, allowing the Russian to collect a 6-3 6-2 win. The result sees Maria sharing the top spot in the White Group with Agnieszka Radwanska at the season-ending event.The Pole also needed the minimum of two sets to deal with Czech Petra Kvitova, 6-3 6-2.There was also one match in the Red Group, with favorite Serena Williams proving her class against Germany’s Angelique Kerber, 6-4 6-1. World No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Chinese Na Li are to meet on Wednesday.According to the WTA Championships’ formula, two of the best players from each group will progress to the quarterfinals. …