NEWS ARCHIVE: February 2004

February 25, 2004 «Byelorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta» (The Byelorussian business newspaper) Newspaper, #1405 Martynov on rancho

non-multiple entry visa to Poland could cost 5 Euro, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said at a press-conference with his Polish counterpart on Sunday in Belostok, Poland. The statement was made after the ministers had had their half-official talks. By suggestion of the Polish Foreign Minister, they were mostly held on his rancho in the Polish area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
February 20, 2004 «Narodnaya Volya» (The People's Will) Newspaper, #31 (1844) Galina Zhuravkova may serve jail term

On February 19 the KGB investigators brought charges against head of the Property Management Department of the Belarusian President Galina Zhuravkova. According to KGB Public Relations head Alexander Bazanov, Zhuravkova is charged with «larceny committed by exceeding authority and by an organized group of people or grand larceny» under part 4 of article 210 of the Belarusian criminal code. If guilty, she may serve from 5 to 12 years in prison with expropriation.

Natalia GAK
February 17, 2004 «Sovetskaya Belorussiya» (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper«, #30 Fairy tale comes true

The Russian Santa, also known as Father Frost, went bankrupt. A beautiful fairy tale about his home in Veliki Ustyug flopped. Originally thought of as a project making children's dreams come true, in practice it turned into an instrument for «money laundering», according to the Russian press.

«One cannot make a project for children successful just thinking of gaining money», director of the Nature museum in Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the one in charge of the residence of Santa Clause in the National Park Grigori Romanyuk said. «Our main goal is to please as many children and adults as possible», he added. «The residence of Santa Claus is a social, non-profit project».

That is why school children will spend only 5,000 rubles for an entrance ticket into a fairy tale with Santa. Moreover, the park administration is planning to make prices even lower, all for visitors' benefit. To attract them in summer, the administration is going to offer new games and affordable hotel rooms. It also pays attention to the prices of meals in the park keeping them tourist-friendly. A fairy tale may come true, if one really wants it!

Tamara SHEVTSOVA
February 13, 2004 BelaPAN News Agency Fire in Belovezhskaya Pushcha takes lives of two children

Brest, 13 February. Two children of the workers of the Yasenski forest ground in the south of Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Pruzhany district) died in the fire which, according to the preliminary investigation, was started by their carelessness.

Valentina KOZLOVICH
February 13, 2004 «Minskiy kurier» (The Minsk Courier) Newspaper, #28 Birds are like on a reserved territory

194 different species of birds were registered in the Belarusian capital Minsk. For comparison, the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve has 197 birds' species, Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 226.

Alesya SHABAN
February 12, 2004 «Vecherniy Minsk» (The Minsk Evening) Newspaper Meeting in Belavezha

The chairmen of the Belarusian and Polish intergovernmental committee on transboundary cooperation Belarusian deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Dakovski and Polish deputy Home Secretary and head of the Administration Pavel Dakovski met in the Polish town of Belavezha which is in the Podlyasski voevodstvo. They confirmed their interest to work at opening the new border checkpoints for traffic in Belovezhskaya Pushcha's sector of the border, «Pereprav — Belavezha», and in the Avgustovski canal sector, «Lesnaya — Rudakovka».

Boris ZALESSKIY
February 11, 2004 «Vecherniy Minsk» (The Minsk Evening) Newspaper New home for bison

The number of the bison in Belarus has been doubled over the past 15 years and constitutes now more than 600 animals. Today Belarus is the second country in the world after Poland to have a large population of this endangered species. Scientists attribute the present success to the implementation of the government program of creating reservations for the bison in Belarus which started in 1998 and will end in 2005. There were only 347 animals in Belovezhskaya Pushcha when the work began. The bison population at the time was rapidly decreasing due to frequent illness of the animals. To protect them and renew their gene pool the aim was to take the bison to different parts of Belarus. As a result there are now 8 centres in the country to support and rear the bison. 3 or 4 centres are going to be built in the next two years. According to Petr Kozlo, Belarus is the only CIS country to have taken measures for saving the bison population. In this regard, the negligent policy of Russia and Ukraine has led to a decrease in the number of the bison by 2 — 3 times.

Irina BORISENKO
February 10, 2004 BelTA News Agency Galina Zhuravkova in KGB custody

Having been relieved from her post of the head of the Property Management Department of the Belarusian President, Galina Zhuravkova has been arrested and is now held by the KGB in an investigative isolation ward. Zhuravkova is suspected of exceeding her authority (article 108 of the Belarusian criminal code).
February 10, 2004 BelaPAN News Agency1 Lukashenko dismissed Zhuravkova

Minsk, 10 February. On February 10 Aleksander Lukashenko dismissed head of the Property Management Department of the Belarusian President Galina Zhuravkova. The decision was made after chairman of the State Control Committee Anatoli Tozik and chairman of the KGB Leonid Erin reported to Lukashenko on investigations into the work of some officials in the organizations under the Property Management Department of the President. Criminal cases were initiated following the results of the financial and economic activity inspection of these organizations which was made at Lukashenko's request from September to October in 2003. Zhuravkova was appointed the head of the Property Management Department of the President on February 22, 2001. Before that she had been the head of the Belarusian state concern of art crafts («Belhudozhpromysly») under the Property Management Department of the President.

Gennadiy SHARAPKIN
05, February 2004 «Birzha Informacii» (The Information Exchange) Newspaper, #313 National property on fire

On January 30 wooden structures on the roof of the boiler-house in Belovezhskaya Pushcha were caught on fire. Only the timely arrival of firefighters helped save the library which was inside the building. In connection with the incident, Heorhi Kazulka wrote Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko an open letter in which he asks the President to pay attention to the situation in the State National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha». In his letter he also stresses that the future of Belovezhskaya Pushcha depends much on the President.

M.MIKOLAICHIK 
February 02, 2004 BelaPAN News Agency Scientist Heorhi Kazulka draws Lukashenko's attention to Pushcha

Brest, 2 February. Philosophy Doctor of biology Heorhi Kazulka wrote Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko an open letter in which he asks the President to pay attention to the situation in the State National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha».

In his letter H.Kazulka writes that in November 2003 all services of the National Park, including scientific department, had to move from the administrative building in the village of Kamenyuki (Kamenetz district of the Brest region) to the industrial zone which has a timber mill. The department was allotted maladjusted for research work motor-car workshops, and the library — a room in the boiler-house.

According to H.Kazulka, it took 60 years and several generations of scientists and administrative workers to collect and put together all the materials and books which constitute today's library and archive. The library now counts 12,000 books, including many unique editions published back at the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of specialized literature on various aspects of conservation, biology, dendrology and soil science, over 10,000 scientific magazines. There are also there papers on the scientific research, which has been carried out since the World War, and the bookkeeper's archive. All these library funds are unique, the scientist says.

On January 30 wooden structures on the roof of the boiler-house in Belovezhskaya Pushcha were caught on fire. Only the timely arrival of firefighters helped save the library which was inside the building. «Streams of dirty water, with soot and tar, have done their damaging job — about a quarter of the library funds suffered», the letter says. «Fortunately, research workers kept a large herbarium to themselves. Otherwise, the damage would have been more serious».

«Unable to watch any more how the work of several generations is now being destroyed in Belovezhskaya Pushcha at such a speed, I address to President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksander Grigorievich Lukashenko», H.Kazulka writes. He stresses, that the future of Belovezhskaya Pushcha depends much on the President.

The author of the letter goes on listing, as he sees them, the causes of damage to Pushcha. These are «the felling of living spruce forest in 2001 which was not approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection; reconstruction of old and building new water reservoirs without any environmental impact assessment; felling of the forest on permanent scientific plots which are used as a model for a long-term monitoring; ecologically unjustified large-scale man-made forest plantations in the protected area; tens of thousands of cubic metres of rotten and already low-quality timber left in the forest after felling; a wave of dismissals in the National Park; persecution of local people; unofficial possession of weapon, etc.»

«I am sure you know about what is going on in Belovezhskaya Pushcha», H.Kazulka writes. «You have had a lot of information on that. You have also enough of powers to objectively check the facts, find the truth and stop this humiliation of the unique Belovezhskaya Pushcha land and its people. Why then it has not been done? I am far from thinking that you may somehow benefit personally from this catastrophic situation in Pushcha. But then, even humanely, one cannot be so indifferent to the fate of the national pride and the world heritage».

The scientist also sent the letter to a number of non-governmental Belarusian newspapers under the title «The science in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is on fire».

Valentina KOZLOVICH
February 02, 2004 Website News Service Fire threatens library in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The news has arrived of fire in Belovezhskaya Pushcha on January 30. The flames spread over wooden structures on the roof of the boiler-house, the second floor of which was given to the library and the archive after the decision to reconstruct their former building into a one more hotel (see the site news for November). Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire and save the library funds — if burnt, it would have caused irreparable harm. Unfortunately, streams of dirty water, with soot and tar, damaged about a quarter of the library funds. Many books are now covered with tar. The room and the conditions for storing the library funds did not correspond to fire safety rules, as the room was over the boiler. It is still unclear whether the library will receive a new building.