Belarus presidential elections may not be recognized
According Dr Hans George-Wieck, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus, the international community may refuse to recognise the results of the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus.
"One could not be absolutely sure that international organisations would acknowledge the conditions under which the presidential elections in Belarus would be held," Wieck said in his interview to the Moscow-based Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He also noted there was no official confirmation of the world community approving of the present reading of the reformed Belarus Electoral Code.
According to Wieck, the activities of his group are very important for being able to recognise the Belarus elections as free and democratic. "This is our primary task and we have been equally co-operating with the authorities, opposition and non-governmental organisations," he added.
Lukašenka speaks out against Western money
Belarusian President Aliaksandar Lukašenka maintains that the West has already allocated millions of US dollars for the presidential election campaign to be held this autumn in Belarus.
He stated that, according to his sources, "USD 70.8 million has already come to Belarus from abroad for the presidential election campaign; the whole amount is expected to be USD 108 million."
"Of course, I won't get any of that money, unlike you, because this presidential campaign will not be held without you. And I am happy about that, and don't you say no, as this would be a good investment in our culture," Lukašenka said addressing an audience at a conference of cultural workers.
According to Lukašenka, the presidential election in Belarus will be held "just like the Belarusian people want it to be, and those abroad can say goodbye to their money, as it will not reach its destination."
Lukašenka supposes that it is the government that should support talented people rather than the "Soros Foundations." He also announced that Belarusian authorities "have recently detained a spy who worked on behalf of one of those foundations" and "did the usual thing." Lukašenka said that he did not want to overreact to this situation, but went on to add that "we will soon let the mass media know about the case."
Belarus delegates on EU expansion
The Belarus delegation led by First Deputy Foreign Minister Siarhiej Martynaw took part in the discussion on the expansion of the European Union (EU). Belarus Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Paval Latuška noted that the discussion was due to take place in Forli, Italy on 2 to 3 February. Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Umberto Raniera invited the Belarusian delegates to take part in the international conference.
According to Latuška, besides EU expansion, the conference participants were to discuss the issues of the interaction between Central and East European countries willing to join the EU as well as those who declare their eagerness for it. Another issue was going to be the role of the Central European Initiative on regional co-operation in Europe.
Belarus' position was to be brought to the attention of the conference participants. According to Latuška, "the EU should be expanded taking into account the interests of neighbouring countries." "Belarus has been making all possible efforts at preventing the emergence of a new division line on the European continent," the spokesman stressed.
Lukašenka welcomes co-operation with Iran
"There are no closed themes" in the co-operation of Belarus with Iran, stated Lukašenka while receiving the foreign minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi.
According to Lukašenka, Belarus is ready to trade with Iran in all spheres that are of mutual interest and "nobody can interfere with these issues." "As you may recall, Belarus was criticised earlier for co-operating with Iran. Today all the countries of the world want to establish co-operation with Iran," he noted.
A hunting rifle and a spy
Aliaksandar Lukašenka said he had sent a letter of congratulation and "a present for the first president of Russia" on the occasion of Yeltsin's 70th birthday.
According to Lukašenka, Boris Yeltsin was given a hunting rifle. "You know, he is a hunter," Lukašenka said.
While speaking with journalists, Lukašenka made no comments related to the arrest of Union State Secretary Pavel Borodin, detained on his arrival in the US for the inauguration of George W Bush following a request from the Swiss Prosecutor's Office. "I have said everything I wanted and I have nothing to add," the Belarusian leader said.
Yet, while speaking at the national conference of cultural and artistic workers, Lukašenka stated that Pavel Borodin was a Russian national but also "our administrative and our employee." "You see, this is our shame and a spit in our face when all that is done in such a flagrant way!" the Belarus President emphasised. He also proposed to exchange a German spy arrested in Belarus for Pavel Borodin jailed in the USA.
Lukašenka & Co
A Viciebsk-based small business called "Aliaksandar Lukašenka & Co" has celebrated its fifth anniversary. As Aliaksandar Ihnatavič Lukašenka, the owner and director of the company and no relation to the Belarusian president, has told Interfax that the company was known under this name among its numerous partners, though it was formally registered under the name of "AliK" (Aliaksandar Lukašenka i kampanija). As businessman Lukašenka stressed, "the company's seal gives expansion of the abbreviation."
According to the company owner, "naturally, I wanted to name the company after my last name, but, during the course of registering it, a representative of Viciebsk authorities unofficially banned me from using use my first and last name in the name of the company." Lukašenka, however maintains he has a right to use his own name, noting also that he is older than the president.
Miensk militia detain group of hackers
Over the last five days, the Miensk militia, with assistance from specialists from the State Centre on Information Security under the president of Belarus, has detained 26 Miensk citizens suspected of committing crimes with the help of computer technology.
According to Ihar Čarnienka, head of the information-analytical department of the criminal militia in the Miensk municipal office of the interior, the detained persons illegally broke into a number of computer systems belonging to foreign companies dealing with e-commerce. To date, 28 criminal cases have been initiated in respect to these persons and a preventive punishment has been administered to them—they had to undertake a written pledge not to leave their current place of residence.
In line with the new legislation that came into effect on 1 January 2001, the detained persons can be sentenced to a 6- to 15-year prison sentence with expropriation when found guilty of committing large-scale embezzlements.
Čarnienka, speaking to Interfax, also stated that, according to Western experts, over 50 per cent of the cyber-crimes committed by hackers from the CIS "are somehow related to Miensk."
The official believes that the number of crimes in the sphere of computer technologies "will grow." As he put it, "cyber criminals direct their efforts at improving their technologies and skills." Along the same lines, he noted that an international congress of hackers was held last December in Germany. One of the key issues during the congress was how to counteract new measures taken by law enforcers. Čarnienka also said he does not rule out the possibility that Miensk hackers may have participated to the congress.
Yuri Svirko, 2 February 2001
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