Books on Belarus
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 301 - (30/01/06)
Gloom in Minsk
President Alexander Lukashenka has been down in the dumps. The various 'coloured'
revolutions in the FSU recently have not appealed to him one bit.
He feels his regime to be very vulnerable. He knows that nearly all thinking
people in Belarus are against him, and that absolutely every thinking person
outside is, except those in the Kremlin or the Duma.
He is not unaware of the fact that his rule flouts every principle of civilized
governance yet propounded by the political philosophers. Hence why he is a
pariah in the West, who could have his passport impounded and be sent to join
Milosevic in The Hague if he ventured into the EU.
Actually, this would probably not happen, because he has not perpetrated a crime
against international law, unlike Milosevic. But he must fear it would, not
being too honed up on the niceties of the same.
He knows the West detests him - and the Russians only put up with him on
sufferance because he is so unacceptable thereabouts. "He may be a
scoundrel," says Putin. "But he is at least our scoundrel."
Russia wants to boost Europe-bound gas supply via Belarus
Lukashenka has had good news of late. He is immensely cheered by the latest gas
Russian gas giant Gazprom wants to increase the volume of gas it sends to Europe
via Belarus, a top company official said. Gazprom and Belarus' Beltransgaz
company have agreed to set up a working group to discuss joint projects, which
include underground gas storage facilities in Belarus and expanding its transit
capacity for Russian gas supply to Europe, Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander
Medvedev was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying after talks in Minsk
with Lukashenka. The storage facilities area could be expanded by up to one
billion cubic meters.
Gazprom provides about half the gas consumed in the European Union and 80 per
cent of that amount is sent through pipelines that cross Ukraine.
Medvedev's announcement came four days after Russia and Ukraine ended a bitter,
months-long dispute over gas supply. The gas dispute led Russia to briefly cut
off gas to Ukraine and sent shivers to Europe where supply shortfalls sparked
concerns of its energy security.
While the price of Russian gas for Ukraine has increased, Belarus will receive
Russian gas at the same price as in 2005, that is $47 per 1,000 cu m. This of
course is for highly political reasons.
Belarus; Russia's favourite client state
Russia and Belarus have outlined plans to unite into one state and already make
use of common economic and financial standards.
Gazprom also owns the Belarussian part of the pipeline from the Russian deposit
at the Yamal peninsula to Europe that transports over 50 per cent of Russian gas
exports through Belarus. In 2005 the two countries resumed negotiations to
establish a joint enterprise on the basis of Belarus' Beltransgaz to direct the
Belarussian gas transport system.
Belarus signs electricity import deal with Ukraine
Belarus has signed a contract worth US$52m to import 2.5bn kilowatt-hours of
Ukrainian electricity at US$0.022 per kWh in 2006, Belarusian Ambassador to
Ukraine Petr Velichko said recently, New Europe reported.
Belarus wants to import electricity from Ukraine in order to utilise the
Chernobyl-Mozyr and Chernihiv-Gomel power transmission lines. Belarus currently
imports electricity from Russia only. In May Ukraine carried out a trial
delivery of 27m kWh of electricity to Belarus.
Minsk, Moscow sign joint fuel and energy balance for 2006
Russia and Belarus have signed their joint fuel and energy balance for 2006, a
source in the Belarussian Economics Ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported
The appropriate protocol was signed following a session of the Russian-Belarussian
Union state government on December 19th, after which a union's state decree was
signed, the source said. According to the budget, in 2006, Russia is to ship 21
billion cubic metres of natural gas to Belarus (20.5 billion in 2005), 19.5
million tonnes of oil (same as in 2005), 4.5 billion kilowatt/hours of
electrical energy (5.5 billion in 2005) and 220,000 tons of coal (260,000 in
2005). The signing of the long-term fuel and energy budget for up to 2020 has
been postponed until the first quarter of 2006 by a decision of the Union State
Ministers Council. Currently Russia is unable to agree with Belarus's
proposition, which forecast an increase in gas and oil consumption to 25 billion
cubic metres and 25 million tonnes, correspondingly, by 2020. In 2005, Russia
was the sole supplier of gas, oil and electrical energy to Belarus. The
situation is not expected to change in 2006.