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BELARUS


  

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 17,493 14,304 12,200 76
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,590 1,360 1,290 122
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Belarus

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
207,595

Population
10,310,520

Principal ethnic groups
Belarusians 77.9%
Russians 13.2%
Poles 4%

Capital
Minsk

Currency
Rubel 
(Belarusian Rouble)

President
Alexander Lukashenka


Update No: 308 - (29/08/06)

Chavez comes to Minsk
Belarus may be a pariah state for the West, with its top 50 officials banned from travelling the EU or the US, but it was on the itinerary of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently, as were Russia and another pariah for the US, Iran. 
Chavez's performance there was in keeping with the character of an eight-nation tour that took him from Argentina to Benin. At each stop, the self-styled "Bolivarian revolutionary" delivered superheated denunciations of the United States and called for a global coalition to combat "the US imperialist monster."
In Minsk, where he met Belarusan President Alexander Lukashenka, commonly known as "Europe's last dictator," Chavez received a bear hug from the hugely delighted Belarus leader. He does not have so many allies left, even the Russians distancing themselves from the maverick dictator. 
It must have been music to his ears to hear Chavez say that the United States is "a senseless, blind, stupid giant that understands nothing about human rights, humaneness, culture, consciousness and awareness," his sentiments to a tee.

Belarus court jails four election monitors 
To grasp the notion of "human rights, humaneness, culture, consciousness and awareness" upheld by Lukashenka, one can review the following.
The Minsk Central Court on August 4 sentenced four independent election monitors for their affiliation with an "unregistered" organization which "infringed on citizens' rights." The four were members of the Partnership monitoring group, which had received monetary assistance from the US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs [advocacy website]. 
The group had been planning to observe the controversial presidential election in March, which resulted in five more years of power for incumbent Alexander Lukashenka amidst allegations of fraud, but the monitors were arrested prior to election day.
The election monitors were sentenced to prison for periods ranging from six months to two years, and their convictions have been criticized by the US State Department, which called for Belarus to release all those imprisoned on politically motivated charges. Defeated presidential candidate Aleksandr Milinkevich also voiced his opposition to their detentions, saying they had received a "political punishment." 

Belarus' relations with Russia became more pragmatic
Relations between Russia and Belarus have become more pragmatic, Alexander Lukashenka said at August 1's meeting with the heads of Belarusian diplomatic missions who flocked to Minsk for annual consultations in late July. He knows full well that his regime is totally dependent on Russia and must be very worried about the succession to Putin, due to step down in 2008. 
It is not very comfortable for one state to be vitally reliant on anther for its security and the security of its governance, as the Israelis may one day discover vis--vis the US - and Belarus vis--vis Russia.
Lukashenka picks his words gingerly on this delicate subject. "I'm sure that we will find a reasonable balance in relations with Russia, proceeding from the strategic importance of ally ties for both sides. Strategy is not traded," official information sources quoted him as saying. 
According to the Belarusian leader, "the union with Russia brings Belarus both political and economic benefits, including equal rights for Belarusians and Russians on the territory of both countries, an extremely high level of economic cooperation and a common defence space." 
"Belarus and Russia also can maintain mutually beneficial cooperation in the space industry," he added. 

Lukashenka appoints new ambassador to Russia
On August 4 Lukashenka appointed new ambassadors to Russia, Great Britain and Kazakstan, as well as two new presidential aides, all key counties for Belarus
The Belarusian leader chose regime stalwarts for these posts. He appointed Vasily Dolgolyov, formerly deputy prime minister/authorized representative of the president to Russia, as ambassador to the Russian Federation; Vasily Gapeyev, another former deputy prime minister, as ambassador to Kazakhstan; and Aleksandr Mikhnevich, formerly a deputy minister of foreign affairs, as ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to the Republic of Ireland. 
In addition, the head of state appointed Vladimir Puzyrevsky as presidential aide/chief inspector for the Brest region, and Anatoly Sivak as presidential aide/chief inspector for the city of Minsk. 
While speaking to the newly appointed ambassadors, Lukashenka suggested stepping up efforts to increase Belarus' exports to Kazakstan, Russia and the UK. 
He pointed to the advancement of national interests and an increase in trade as the main tasks of the embassy in Moscow and Belarus' representatives in the Belarusian-Russian integration agencies. 
The head of state directed the new ambassadors to Kazakstan and the UK to diversify Belarus' exports to those countries. Kazakstan is an old partner of course. It was the demarche to the UK which was the more intriguing.

The London-Minsk axis
The British have been the least vociferous of the EU states in denouncing the Minsk regime; and the City of London and big business, as always, are eying investment trading opportunities there.
Lukashenka noted that the UK is one of the most influential nations in the world in both the economic and political spheres. Belarus should strengthen and expand ties with that country and look for new forms of cooperation with it, he said, suggesting that Belarus should supply Britain with not only tractors but also machine tools, optical instruments, other goods and even agricultural produce. 
Lukashenka said that both the UK and Ireland provide considerable humanitarian aid to Belarus. According to him, the two countries should switch from purely charitable activities to the "generation of serious mutually beneficial investment projects," including those aimed at the rehabilitation of Belarus' Chernobyl-affected areas. He added that banks could be involved in such projects. 
Apart from performing the functions of an ambassador, Mikhnevich will have to deal with matters concerning Belarus' bid to join the World Trade Organization, Lukashenka said.
However, one thing that will not happen is that the Queen would ever visit so long as he remains in power, unlike the Baltic states, which are welcoming Her Majesty on a three-nation tour on October 17-20. Nor is an invitation to Buckingham Palace on the cards for him. The last time a communist leader was invited to stay there, the Romanian dictator Ceaucescu in 1978, he used the occasion to arrange spying activities on all and sundry, including industrial espionage. 

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AUTOMOBILES

Iran establishes new car assembly plant in Belarus 

A new assembly plant for Iranian-designed cars has been inaugurated by Iranian Minister of Industries, Ali-Reza Tahmasbi, in the Belorussian capital of Minsk, the official IRNA news agency reported. 
The assembly line for "Samands," a model of passenger car of Iran's Khodro Industrial Group, the biggest automobile manufacturing company in the Middle East, was inaugurated in the Unison Company in Minsk. 
The plant will assemble up to 1,000 Iranian-designed "Samands" car by year's end, and up to 6,000 by next year, according to the report. 
Khodro, which "had mapped out plans for entering East European markets five years ago," picked the Belarus's Unison Company to carry out the project "taking into account the country's valuable car manufacturing experience," Tahmasbi was quoted as saying. 
The Iranian minister also predicted that the car assembly line would boost the annual volume of trade exchanges between Iran and Belarus to US$100 million, the report said. 
Belorussian Minister of Industry, Anatoly Rusetsky, who also attended the inaugural ceremony, hailed the importance of bolstering economic relations with Iran and noted that the two countries were cooperating on several joint projects. 

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AVIATION & SPACE

Belarus to announce tender for new national satellite 

Belarus will announce a tender in the near future for a new national BelKa satellite to replace the one destroyed when a Russian rocket crashed in Kazakstan in July, a source involved in the negotiations said, RIA Novosti.
A Dnepr rocket carrying the Belarusian satellite, along with several international satellites, crashed shortly after lift off from the Baikonur space centre due to a first stage engine shutdown on July 26th. 
"We expect Belarus to announce a tender for a new BelKa national satellite, in which at least three Russian companies will take part," the source said.
"One option is to build the satellite using the platform created by [Russian rocket and space corporation] Energia, and another is to use the production platform of [Russian state research and production space centre] Khrunichev, with optical and electronic work to be carried out by Belarus," he said.

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CONSTRUCTION

Iran starts building cement plant in Belarus 

An Iranian company has started building a cement plant in Belarus, MNA reported.
Iran's Azarab Co of Arak has embarked on a major project to design and build a cement production plant in this republic. The plant will be capable of producing one million tons of cement per year, the company's managing director said. 
Azarab Company's competitive advantages over its rival firms from countries such as Germany, China and Romania led to its winning the bid for the implementation of the project, he maintained. 
Development of the 160 million Euro project in the former Soviet republic will take about three years for an average workforce of 500 personnel, he also commented.
Being Azarab company's sixth foreign contract, the company has also concluded preliminary agreements with the East European republic to build a gas-fuelled and a hydroelectric power plant there, Nezamabadi further announced.

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