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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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

Update No: 319 - (26/07/07)

The Belarussian blimp
Belarus is in a time warp, somewhere at the height of the lamented Cold War. Its president and top 50 officials are ostracised in the West. 

Its president, Alexander Lukashenka, is an extraordinary man. He is extraordinarily brave, which only goes to show that courage is a secondary virtue (Hitler had the Iron Cross, First Class, Goering the record bag of hits as an airman in the Lufthaffe after Richtofen); he is also foolhardy in the extreme. He is quite unaware of what he is doing, like most of the world's leaders, it must be said

The last of the Mohicans: Chávez, Lukashenka and Fidel become emblems in Russia
Russian communists intend in their upcoming presidential campaign to use the images of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and Alexander Lukashenka - three characters outstanding for their drastic rhetoric about the West, said the Russian news agency Novosti on its website. Ivan Melnikov said the Cuban leader, the Venezuelan President and the Belarus ruler could be deemed "symbols" of the campaign the KPRF is waging for parliament elections next December.

The last stand of the communists? No, of the Mohicans or the last of the Marxists? It is not quite clear which the gallant three are closest to. Actually not a single one of them has understood Lenin, who realised the need for a New Economic Policy accommodating capitalist business very quickly, which he inaugurated as soon as the Civil War was over in 1921. 

No new NEP from the communists
It is certain that there will be no similar concession to the bourgeois world. When Lenin, a titan of world politics whatever one may think of his views. decided on NEP, he knew what he was doing. He was going for the long haul.

He reckoned on several generations of salvation, preparing for the make-over of all values, the mischievous upheaval of the world, in which everything eventually goes upside down. An abstemious man himself, he was quite content with a modest way of life, unlike Lukashenka, who relishes the good life. 

Russian Communist Party leader Guennadi Zugyanov in transient June, 2007 announced that he was willing to run for Russian presidency in the March 2008 vote. Zugyanov (63) has run for Russian presidency twice: in 1996, when he lost to Boris Yeltsin, and in 2000, when he was defeated by Vladimir Putin.

"We are going to use their images within the legal framework," he said, adding that Castro's, Chávez' and Lukashenka's "successful practical work shows the validity of our political and economic platform."

Polish spies uncovered in Belarus
Regimes like the Minsk one are full of paranoia and are fearful of spies everywhere. There is something about Minsk that has long attracted the denizens of espionage and dirty tricks (Lee Harvey Oswald lived there in the 1950s).

Officers of the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) have uncovered Polish intelligence residents in Belarus, KGB deputy chairman Viktor Vegera said on the air of the Belarusian ONT TV Channel on June 15th. Five people, former soldiers, who were gathering information in the interests of Poland's intelligence agencies were detained, the deputy chairmen said, adding that the information dealt with the condition of the joint Russian-Belarusian air defence system. 

Spies have, nevertheless, not damaged Belarus' defence capacity, Vegera said. His vigilance and that of his service saw to that.

Meanwhile, former serviceman, Vladimir Ruskin, said that at his trial that Polish intelligence agencies had recruited him in Poland. Polish customs officers found five times as much alcohol as was permissible in his luggage, he said, adding that Polish intelligence agencies proposed to him that they would shut their eyes to the fact, if he become a resident in Belarus working for them. 

Another suspect, former head of military intelligence at a Belarusian air and missile defence brigade, Viktor Bogdan, was detained in his office. 

Moreover, one more suspect, a Russian citizen, had already surrendered to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). A criminal case was opened on charges of spying (Part 1 of Article 356 of the Belarusian Criminal Code) against them. The case was taken to court, 

This sort of thing keeps Big Brother in Minsk happy, the recurrent backdrop to his court.

Belarus to Close U.S.-Funded NGOs
President Lukashenka on July 13th vowed to shut down non-government organizations found receiving U.S. funding, saying Belarussians who take such financing are destroying the country. Lukashenka also demanded that Washington stop supporting Belarussian opposition parties. He and other top members of his government have been hit with travel and financial sanctions in the European Union and the United States.

Lukashenka did not name any specific nongovernmental organizations, but said they would be closed quickly. "Those who bring money into Belarus illegally, they are destroying themselves with this money," he said.

US President George W. Bush "needs to deal with his own problems -- Iraq, other hot spots the United States has created -- and worry less about those countries where they're trying to support the opposition," he said. "Bush has significantly more problems then we do. Here's one place where money can be sent: the inflation of the dollar has taken on horrifying sizes," he said.

Earlier this year, a dispute with Russia over cheap energy exports resulted in a showdown that led to Russia sharply hiking oil costs for Belarus, whose Soviet-style command economy is still heavily reliant on cheap Russian supplies.

Lukashenka subsequently sent signals that he sought to ease relations with the West, but the EU and the United States demanded his government release all political prisoners as a condition for talks. "When the Europeans begin proposing some kind of step-by-step strategy, this embarrasses me," he said.

Belarus is among several former Soviet republics that have targeted nongovernmental organizations after seeing the key role that foreign-funded groups played in uprisings that toppled the governments of Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004. 

Months after saying he would not tolerate the use of foreign money in politics, President Vladimir Putin early last year signed a law that required all nongovernmental organizations to reregister with the government under tighter rules and to open their financial books to state scrutiny.

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VEB buys 53.2% of Belvnesheconombank

Russia's Vnesheconombank (VEB) has bought 53.2 per cent of Belvnesheconombank, a source in the Belarussian bank told Interfax News Agency. 
VEB bought stakes owned by NBB (33.52 per cent), the State Property Committee (6.66 per cent), government enterprises (7.2 per cent) and a number of stakes from minority shareholders. As of June 12th, 2007, VEB had invested US$24.1 million in Belvnesheconombank shares. VEB has been buying up shares since May 3rd at a market price of 403 Belarussian rubles for one share with a par value of 100 roubles. The share purchase will continue until November 2nd. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko allowed VEB to buy shares in Belvnesheconombank in December 2006. The Russian government approved VEB's initiative. The biggest shareholders in Belvnesheconombank are the Russian National Space Bank (32.4 per cent) and CJSC Pinskrdev (6.2 per cent). 

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ABN Amro inks deal to modernise refineries

The Belarusian government and ABN Amro signed a cooperation agreement on June 21. Belarusian Prime Minister, Sergei Sidorsky, defined four areas of cooperation at the meeting with ABN Amro officials, namely, oil and gas transit projects; modernisation of Belarusian refineries; funding of the Belarusian Oil Company; and financial cooperation in chemicals and petrochemicals, New Europe reported.
The sides also signed agreements on training and consultations for personnel at the Belarusian Oil Trade House and the Belarusian Oil Company, and statements of intent on terms of pre-export credits for Naftan and the Mozyr refinery. Belarusian refineries yearly process over 20 million tonnes of crude and their modernisation is rapid, Sidorsky said. "Our next step would be the centralisation of resources at the Belarusian Oil Company, which will be launched in July. The company will become the leading exporter f petroleum products to Europe," he said. ABN Amro evaluated Beltransgaz assets, "which created mutual confidence and enabled further cooperation," he said. The bank has offered the Belarusian government a long-term loan of up to 500 million Euro. 

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