NEWS ARCHIVE: January 2004

January 26, 2004
Best IATP.BY website

A competition for «The best IATP.BY website» was held at the end of 2003. Since our site «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21 century» is hosted by IATP.BY at as a «mirror», we also took part in it and are proud to let you know that our website won the second place.

The Initiative Group «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — XXI Century»
January 14, 2004 «Rosbalt» News Agency Belarusian Santa Claus lives better than his colleagues in other countries

The Belarusian Santa Claus enjoys the best comforts. The homes of the Lapland Santa and the Russian Father Frost in Veliki Ustyug cannot compete with his fairy-tale manor house on 15 hectares in the midst of virgin and pristine Belarusian forests, the press service of the Belarusian President said.
January 13, 2004 «Narodnaya Volya» (The People's Will) Newspaper, #3 Santa's home in Belovezhskaya Pushcha was Vladimir Yudin's idea

Back in January 2003 Vladimir Yudin from Minsk wrote Aleksander Lukashenko a letter in which he suggested organizing a Belarusian residence of Santa Claus. Twelve months have passed and here we are — the Belarusian television says «Oh, well done, Aleksander Grigorievich! It is he who came up with the initiative to »accommodate« Santa Claus in Belovezhskaya Pushcha». The real person behind the idea, though, was not even mentioned. By the way, Vladimir Yudin had to write to Lukashenko twice, as his first letter literally received just a formal reply from head of the mail department I.V.Kontsevaya. In reply to the second letter head of the culture department under the Minsk City Executive Committee V.I.Kurash wrote that a house for Santa Claus in Belovezhskaya Pushcha was not being built. That was in July 2003. Of course, Vladimir Yudin is not after taking the palm from the Administration of the President or claming a prize, though being a retired person he do needs money. Nonetheless, the truth is that he is the author of the idea.

January 11, 2004 «News» Information Agency 15,000 letters from children to Belarusian Santa Claus

The Belarusian Santa has been working for just two months, yet he has already received over 15 thousand letters sent by children not just from Belarus, but also from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and some countries of Western Europe. According to the Belarusian Embassy in Russia, more than 6 thousand children visited the residence of Santa Claus during the winter holidays. Up to 20 guided tours come to see Santa every day.

The residence of Santa stands in the heart of Pushcha on a glade where bison come to feed in winter. Its 15 hectares feature the houses of Santa and Snegurochka (his granddaughter), as well as the «Skarbnitsa» (a place where Santa keeps his presents), a wind mill and a «magic well». There are also groups of wooden sculptures designed after popular fairy tales, and two wooden knights, Dub-Dubovich and Vyaz-Vyazovich, who meet visitors at the entrance to the residence. Moreover, the territory of the residence has special open-air enclosures for three tame young elks to walk there. When they grow up, they will be harnessed to Santa's sleigh. The beauty of the residence is a 120-year-old spruce tree which is 42 metres high.

Santa welcomes visitors to his residence all the year round.
January 09, 2004 The Initiative Group «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — XXI Century» Dear readers!a

We have received the late, but still very topical news about Belovezhskaya Pushcha. We present it to your attention.
The Initiative group «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21 century»

Appeal to colleagues-journalists and mass-media

Dear colleagues and friends!

At the beginning of December I sent a letter to the publishing house «Komsomolskaya Pravda» (the Komsomol Truth) and the Ethics Committee GA «BAZH», in which I expressed my attitude to the «fairy-tale project» by the Property Management Department of the President, finding it utterly speculative and insincere. With the present letter I appeal to you not participate in the mystification, as it did and still does «Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi» and some other newspapers.

As it was arranged by the President's officials, today, on December 15, is the first day of a «New Year's fairy tale». The organizers of the «performance», first of all, want the journalists and the media to attract to it a lot of publicity, «to inform the whole country» (a citation from «Trud v Belarusi» newspaper) about the most kind Santa Claus in the world. I call on you, my colleagues, to be aware of it and not to rush into the arms of chimeras. A well-know face hides itself under the guise of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus will return to Belovezhskaya Pushcha when the forest becomes an object of holiness, not of national humiliation.

I'm ready to close dialogue,
Sincerely Yours
Valery Dranchuk
December 15, 2003
Phone +375 29 65-66-67–0

Fairy-tale instead of truth. Will we read it?

«Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi» joined a splash of falsifications about Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the state-run media having published a few months ago a double page article impressively entitled «Have demons moved in the protected forest?» (see the issue dated May 30, 2003). What happened? For the last several years the paper has had quite a different stand. The issue of the wilderness protection territories and, on the whole, of Belovezhskaya Pushcha has always been critical in it, openly presented in opposition to the authorities. But suddenly the paper made such a U-turn.

One may think there have been some significant changes in Pushcha, but that is not the case. Apparently, the paper, which enjoys a circulation of 37000, was just forced to break a responsible reporting and, simply, lie to its readers. On the one hand, the surprisingly one-sided coverage leaves no doubts that it was a product of extraordinary circumstances. Though, it is difficult to say what kind of circumstances. Perhaps, there were fears the paper might be sued for some of its earlier publications.

On the other hand, it is more likely that the paper got a chance to rehabilitate itself by fulfilling a «creative assignment» — thinking of a super project for Pushcha. A commercial super project. The National Park is a source of big money now. Why spend it so uselessly, as it has been done so far, when one can spend it in a big way, attracting a large readership!?

Whatever it is, the journalists of «Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi» have done that job saving their face. The job (a dirty one this time) was done «professionally», so they may be proud of it. The authors present it as if they, Yulia Slutskaya, Viktor Malishevski, Aleksander Konotop (the editor-in-chief, his deputy and a photo correspondent), went to Pushcha, truly saw there bark beetle and… made a story. Later there was that article about a «project», about a New Year carnival in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. «Bisons wait for Santa Claus who, in a few weeks, will come to live beside them under a 150-year-old spruce tree», it said (see the issue dated November 22, 2003).

An average reader will surely not spot a falsification. I have carried out a small poll only to prove it. The situation is just wonderful. Do those who generate falsehood want anything else from the newspaper?

But the fight for Pushcha keeps going on. The officials hide the truth, distort facts and cover up crimes against this World Heritage Site. They have been persistently refusing to acknowledge the environmental threats for Pushcha (except for wind-fallen trees, which ensured a smooth work of an imported high-capacity power saw-bench). They have been ignoring the principles and the requirements of the Convention on World Heritage and are doing their best now to stop international experts from inspecting the National Park.

Scientific research has been literally ground to a halt in Pushcha. The priorities are decided by those who handle the national property. They cut down the forest and most importantly are not going to stop doing it to save it. In such a situation, the stand (or rather demarche) of the popular newspaper is like a blow to their fellow-journalists, those who, overcoming great difficulties, have been trying to give a fair account of the situation in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The sham projects like a «fretted magical gate» with the house of Santa Claus in Pushcha «which will be like a fairy tale for children» are just a frightening front side of the tragedy which lurks behind the scenes - vast moonscape-like clearings, hypocrisy and lies of the officials. The New Year festivities on 15 hectares of Pushcha are held at a time when the situation in the forest is deteriorating and the bison, one of the «participants» of the performance, is seriously ill. Unwanted visitors, including some journalists, are now not welcome to Pushcha. They are persecuted, ambushed, and sometimes even beaten. Let me ask you, innocently, my fellow-colleagues working in «Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi»: And what about the traditions set by Vasili Peskov or the work of an independent and truthful journalist Dmitry Zavadski whom we will not forget?

Finally, here is one detail.

The management of Pushcha, based on the principles of exploitation of the wilderness protection forest, makes money (like a streetwalker) only to remain wanton. Timber deals, hunting and «confiscation» raids cannot be regulated by professors of ecology. They are authorized by other people and, it turned out, with the help of the democratic and «independent» press.

A sad fairy tale it is. So shall we read it?

Valery Dranchuk, leader of the public environmental initiative «TERRA-Convention founder and editor of the newspaper «Belovezhskaya Pushcha», Ales Adamovich' prize-winner
January 06, 2004 «Sovetskaya Belorussiya» (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper«, #2 Figure

The Belarusian Santa has been working for just two months, yet he has already received 15 thousand letters sent by children not just from Belarus, but also from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and some countries of Western Europe. Almost every second letter has enclosed pictures or decorative objects, which are immediately displayed on a special exhibition. The first days of the New Year saw a wave of visitors, about 700 — 800 people coming to see Santa every day.

BelTA News Agency
January 03, 2004 «Minskiy kurier» (The Minsk Courier) Newspaper, #1 Santa's residence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Loved by all, coved with snow and fairy-tale glory Father Frost, or Santa Claus, has now his own residence in our country. It stands in the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha».

The homes of the Lapland Santa and the Russian Father Frost in Veliki Ustyug cannot be compared with a fairy-tale manor house on 15 hectares in the midst of virgin pristine Belarusian forests. This new tourist and cultural site has become an excellent contribution to all tourist facilities in the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» and, also, set a new tradition of New Year's celebrations for children and adults. Today in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, besides a choice of comfortable hotels and guest houses, a chance to try a tasty Belarusian cuisine, walk along many Pushcha's ecological paths or enjoy a wide range of other recreation services, one can experience a fairy-tale world of Santa Claus. The residence includes the Santa's manor house and museum, the house Snegurochka (his granddaughter), a wind mill, a magic well, groups of wooden sculptures «12 months» and «Snow-white» and Seven Dwafs', as well as shops and other public amenities. The residence also has the highest (40-metre high) growing spruce tree in Europe which is now beautifully decorated.

Ekaterina NECHAEVA
January 02, 2004 RBK Highest New Year's tree in Europe grows in Belarus

A giant 40-metre high spruce tree grows in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, according to the workers of the National Park. It is now decorated with small electric bulbs, toys and tinsel. But, of course, its main attraction is that it is natural and living.