NEWS ARCHIVE: April 2005

April 28, 2005 "Zvyazda" (The Star) newspaper, No 75 To the Poles about opportunities of tourism and sanatoriums in Belarus

A Belarusian tourist-informational Centre has been opened in Warsaw at the address of the Pechoty Lanawej street 27a.

According to information of the press-service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Centre aims to inform different sections of the population of Poland on opportunities of tourist traveling, rest and sanatorium treatment in our country.

It is expected that famous Belarusian travel companies, houses of rest and sanatoriums located in the health resort zones - in Naroch, Braslavskie lakes, Belovezhskaya Pushcha etc - will become the partners of the Centre. The Centre will also promote an advance of the home tourist product to the Polish market.

Leonid TUGARIN
April 27, 2005 "Naviny Kamyanechchyny" (The News of Kamenetz) newspaper, No 27 Tourist routes

In conjunction with the transboundary tourism's development, a meeting of the administration of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", which represented the director general Nickolai Bambiza, deputy director on tourism Nina Bogush, head of the tourism department Igor Romaniuk and deputy director on science Anna Dengubenko, with the management of the Polish National Park, representatives of Polish firms and concerned organizations was held in Poland on April 18. Problems of visas' reception, accommodation of tourists, and development of routes were discussed. Nickolai Bambiza presented a project of prospective tourist objects and routes for the Belarusian side. Some more problems concerning a joint transboundary tourism will be considered in the near future.
April 24, 2005 The website "Lesza dla Puszczy" From Bialowieza to Belarus

(by buses across the Pushcha but inside of guided groups)

It proved to be that the frontier pass in Bialowieza exists only for guided groups agreed with the Belarusian Park's administration and allowed under guardianship of Belarusian services. The pass called for "pedestrians and cyclists" is by exaggeration because the question is only about crossing the frontier on foot! A special regime and full control are further in power.

Despite of this fact Marshalek Cimoszewicz opening the pass for pedestrians and cyclists from Bialowieza to Belarus and being accompanied by several politicians and a group of officials proclaimed on Saturday of April of 16th that there is a good chance of free movement in the whole area of Pushcha. Newspapers informed that "since Saturday it is possible to visit the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha", the border can be crossed ęby all wishing daily from 8 p.m. till 8 a.m." and the pass is "also of a trade importance because alcohol and cigarettes in Belarus are cheaper like before". A questioned by journalists inhabitant from Bialowieza said that she is glad because she will go to relatives in Belarus on a bicycle as the distance is only 16 kilometers. An official from Brest conveyed hope that tourists will reach Pushcha also from Brest while an inhabitant from the village of Grodek (nearby this pass is located) added that the situation will be good and the people will visit each other while "ecologists will find something all the same because they live to complicate the people's life".

Unfortunately, all information mentioned above and got from Marshalek and newspapers disagreed with the truth, with the exception of prices for cigarettes and alcohol. On Monday of April 18, a conference with participation of Mr Bambiza, director of the Belarusian National Park, was held in the Bialowieza National Park where principles of the pass's service were discussed. Authorities from Hajnowka and Pushcha's local municipalities and someone from Podlaskie province were also participants. Director Bambiza explained that after visa will be arranged in Bialystok and a group will be formed (the pass services only guided groups) tourists cross the frontier where a group is taking by bus and can be delivered under the Park's guides to some interesting places like the Grandfather Frost's residence, Museum of Nature, enclosures with wild animals - Bear, Bison, Wolf, Raccoon dog, Deer, Lynx - or some hotels in the area of Pushcha. A bus follows three routes in Pushcha. Roads on the Belarusian side of Pushcha are well-covered by asphalt, even a tank is possible to go. As to a bus it can serve the tourists in rain or shine. The same bus will deliver the visitors back to the state border to Bialowieza.

It would appear the individual pedestrians and cyclists are impossible to enter. The only transition on foot or bicycle trough the frontier is allowed. The visitors from Belarus also presented a price-list (visa in Bialystok costs 6 $, the urgent one is more expensive). The house of the Count Tyschkevich costs 215 ^, hotel in Viskuly - 36-58 ^, hotel in Kamenyuki averages 30 ^. Sauna costs 26 ^, to play billiards - 2 ^ for one hour and to play tennis - 1 ^ for hour. A special driving in Pushcha with the visiting the Grandfather Frost's residence costs 6,5 ^.

Inhabitants from local villages are already going to pay in Euro and join the guided groups' excursions coming to the Belarusian part of Pushcha.

According to the Newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" "Pushcha is open every day". For the present Pushcha paid in the form of thick layer of asphalt covered old wood glades. A building of frontier control post does not exist yet but will be constructed this year covering the area of 300 metres square. It will be built at a wood road. Newspapers write the European Union will pay for all - about six billion Zlotys.
April 22, 2005 "Byelorusskaya Niva" (The Byelorussian Field) Newspaper Bison chose areas under crops

Belovezhskaya Pushcha occupies over 62 thousand hectares in the Svisloch district of 152.2 thousands of the area of the National Park as a whole. Last year was the most recent land transferring into the Park's possession.

However in 1999, according to the Park administration's petitioning, the Svisloch Executive Committee handed hunting lands of the area of more than 23 thousand hectares located in the buffer zone over the National Park to rent for the period of ten years. The controllers found out later that such a noble step was made as an offence against the law. The Executive Committee exceeded its powers having ignored opinion of the deputies of the district council. There were authorized borders of lands neither in the decision, nor in the text of the rent contract. The concrete officials who should supervise both conducting the decision and use of the handed forest lands were not appointed.

The tenant proved to be thankless. Infringing the contract he evaded a payment for the land use in the buffer zone. Moreover, the other problem also became aggravated as the rich neighbour did not show itself from the best.

Wild animals namely bison chose areas under crops for feeding owned by agricultural farms and patches of peasant lands. In particular, in 2003, they put a significant damage to fields of winter and spring crops of the unitary agriculture "Novyi Dvor" (New Yard). The administration of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" compensated losses in a way allotted 200 cubic meters of timber to the enterprise.

But the next year the keepers of Pushcha refused any indemnifications. Controllers found out that bison damaged 50 hectares of winter crop and 30 hectares of maize in 2004. Regarding indemnification of the damage put by animals, the management of the "Novyi Dvor" sent letters to the administration of the Park on June 14, 2004 and on February 24, 2005. But it received neither the answer, nor money.

Bison damaged 20 hectares of winter rape and 29 hectares of winter rye in the agriculture enterprise "Sokolniki" last year. That is also a case as the Park's administration keeps silent and does not hurry to compensate the damage.

Last summer the wild animals destroyed a potato plantation of the area of four hundredth parts cultivated on the personal plot belonging to the pensioner (she) N. Kovalcuk, inhabitant of the village of Losy of the Novodvorsky Village Soviet (municipality). The Village Executive Committee addressed to the Park's administration on August 12, 2004 to compensate losses for the villager Kovalcuk. But the body of local authority was not answered and itself compensated the damage put to the pensioner at the expense of own means.

Now the Committee of State Control of the country has to estimate the behaviour of the Park's administration and to adjust the relations between the neighbours.

Richard KARACHUN
April 20, 2005 "Sovetskaya Byelorussia" (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, No 73 Large-scale work ahead!

(The fragment of the speech of the President of the Republic of Belarus A.Lukashenko addressed to the Belarusian people and National Assembly)

Belarus is a country of tourism

One more large-scale state task is to develop the tourism sphere. In the modern world, income in this sphere makes 12 percents of the gross world product (GWP). As to us, it is only 0.1 percents of the country's GWP. According to statistics, the tourism to go out exceeds the entry one in eight 8 times.

Money, as the saying goes, lay scattered over legs. Belarus is a unique country with richest natural potential. Over fifteen thousand objects are of historical, cultural and architectural value. No matter to mention natural resources. However one thing is to have such riches while another one is to interest thousand people to see values with own eyes. The system is necessary to invest money obtained both from Belarusian citizens and foreign visitors into our economy.

Unfortunately, the domestic travel agencies (their amount is about 600) do not hurry to be engaged in the internal tourism. They fell anxious only how to take out the Belarusians abroad. Of course, it is easier and more favorable for them. Therefore it is necessary to make realization of not only the out-tourism but also of the entry one as an obligatory condition for registration of travel agencies. The government should urgently engage in it.

A modern and attractive infrastructure of tourism should be created in the country. About thirty billions Roubles have been investing in the tourism industry for last some years and issues are available. Over 150 thousand tourists visited Belovezhskaya Pushcha last year. About 50 thousand people came to the recently constructed alpine skiing complex "Silichi" for not quite season, only for three winter months. This is certainly good result. Nevertheless we have to analyze the prices of such a leisure once again that our people can afford to pay it.

In the coming two years, it is necessary to set up a modern level in tourist zones near the perspective sites of rest including museum-areas. Among them are the Mir, Nesvizh, Novogrudok, Polotsk, Turov.
April 19, 2005 "Narodnaya Volya" (The People's Will) Newspaper, No 73 To go abroad on foot

The frontier pass "Pererov-Bialowieza" serving tourists on foot and bicycle is opened on April 16, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

BelaPan Information Agency was informed from the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" that this pass with the simplified rules of transition existed earlier but it was closed among some others approximately two years ago when Poland was going to be a member of the European Union. That decision made big problems for both Belarusian and Polish parties. Earlier inhabitants of the neighboring areas and research workers from Belarusian and Polish parts of the reserve covered the whole Bialowieza Forest could freely visit each others after they quickly went twelve - fifteen kilometers from villages to the frontier. But since the pass was close, they should go to the area of Brest to cross the frontier for meeting that made the distance ten times bigger.

Prospects on the combined tourism development in Belovezhskaya Pushcha became one more argument to restore the pass "Pererov-Bialowieza". Although the pass is intended to serve tourists on foot and bicycle, the groups of tourists would come there by special buses from both sides, then they would cross the frontier on foot and continue to explore great sites in the Belarusian and Polish reserve.

A decision to open the frontier pass "Pererov-Bialowieza" has been made at the level of the Foreign Ministries and Frontier Guard Departments of both countries.

Larisa SHIGANOVA
April 16, 2005 "Radio Polonia" (Poland) Pererov-Bialowieza frontier pass

The pass "Pererov-Bialowieza" is open for tourists at the Polish and Belarusian frontier. The Polish Sejm's Chairman Wlodzimerz Timoshevicz, General Consul of the Republic of Belarus in Bialostok Leonid Karavayka, representatives of Podliassie province and Pruzhanskiy district, and employees of frointier and custom-house services of the both countries took part in the official ceremony to open the pass.
April 15, 2005 "Respublika" (The Republic) Newspaper, No 69 New pass at the border between Poland and Belarus

The pass "Pererov-Bialowieza" will be open for tourists at the Polish and Belarusian frontier on April 16. Although an appropriate infrastructure is still absent, the tourists can cross the state border since Saturday, the correspondent of BelTA was informed in the press-bureau of the head of the Podliasie province of Poland. The frontier pass "Pererov-Bialowieza" serves the tourists on foot and bicycle. Due to opening the pass the coming from Poland tourists will be able to visit the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha avoiding any problems. The pass has the working hours from April 1 to September 30 from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. and from October 1 to March 31 from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. (all the Minsk time). The new frontier pass will obtain an international status that means not only for citizens of Belarus and Poland but also of other countries will be allowed to cross the border.
April 13, 2005 "Minski Kuryer" (The Minsk Courier) Newspaper, No 594 Songs like symbols

Sociological researches carried out in large regional centres of Russian Federation revealed that the citizens of Russia consider the song "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" by composer Alexadra Pahmutova and poet Nickolai Dobronravov the "most Belarusian one".

The results of this opinion poll are placed in the book "The illustrated history of the Allied State of Belarus and Russia" which presentation was held in Minsk. 63 percents of the interrogated voited to recognize "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" the "second Belarusian hymn" in the Russian regions. 16 percents of the Russians voted for the song "Belarus" while 14 percents of the interrogated considered "Alesya" the most Belarusian song.

The song "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" was composed in 1975 when Stepan Kochanovskiy, director of the reserve, invited the distunquished compositors to visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The famous composition which later became an unofficial hymn and symbol of Belarus has been appered after that trip . It was presented to general public in the teleprogram "Song - 1976" for the first time while the music company "Melody" produced a plate of the music group "Pesnyary" with this song in 1978 sung by Valeru Daineko.

In one's turn, the citizens of Belarus considered "Oh, frost, frost ." the "most Russian song". 40 percents of the inhabitants of large cities in our country shared this opinion. 32 percents of the interrogated voited for "Kalinka-malinka" and 22 percents of the people preferred the song "A birch stood in a field".

BelTA Information Agency
April 11, 2005 Website News Service Who will cut Belovezhskaya Pushcha Forest further down?

Unofficial sources informed that the administration of "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" National Park addressed a request to the government to sanction cutting down about 400,000 cubic metres of wood in 2005. This is two times more than the harvest in previous years (about 200,000 cubic metres) and close to seven times more compared to the level of wood extraction before 2001 (60,000 to 70,000 cubic metres). The given reason to increase the harvest of timber of 2001 was the mass appearance of bark beetles. The necessity to clear dead wood from sites which suffer the activities of bark beetle is the cause of large-scale cutting this time again.

Incidentally, this initiative of administration of the National Park is a serious infringement of the recommendations made by in the European Diploma which was granted to the National Park in 2001. In particular recommendation No 5 directly specifies the necessity "to review the silvicultural techniques applied in the Park's other zones with a view to more flexible management and to wood-cutting geared to the forest's diversity and development". Resulting a mission of experts of UNESCO in the Park, UNESCO recommended to decrease the extraction of wood in the area of the primary forest located outside of the Wilderness Protection Zone and the World Heritage Site. The current request to increase the level of wood-logging also neglects these recommendations.

It is unclear which human resources may be used to execute the scheme related to such a huge level of wood extraction. It is possible that special brigades of woodcutters will be created and dispatched to Belovezhskaya Pushcha for this purpose. In fact "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" National Park faced a serious deficit of qualified staff over the last years, including staff operating at a basic level. Many workers have come over from distant villages, although the National Park used to employ local inhabitants in the past. The middle level of the management of the Park suffers a deficit of skilled experts too. Quite often high-responsible duties are implemented by the casual people who lack appropriate education. As a solution to the "vacuum" of lacking staff, the administration of the National Park is employing pensioners.

The adventurous staff selection conducted by the managers of the National Park during last four years caused this situation. Avoiding a sanction of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, felling of living stands of Spruces started in 2001 under the pretext of fighting the struggle with bark beetle. Many workers who did not agree with the policy provided by the administration or who acted against illegal fellings were dismissed after a grandiose public scandal raised in Belarus Tens of highly skilled, cultured and educated experts were fired from the Park.

The authors of infringements avoided the punishment which stimulated the administration of the National Park to provide further illegal actions. A new scandal connected with an exposure of the administration on illegal cutting living old-aged trees was raised in 2003. Hundreds of workers had already been dismissed from the Park at that moment. Other workers were bound to short-term labour contracts which made them executors without any protection or rights. The dismissed locals were replaced by temporary workers from other regions of the country. Infringing the legislation, the level of payment of work varied for permanent local workers and the temporal workers. The latter obtained 1.5 to two times more than locals. Soon the village of Kamenyuki, the administrative centre of the National Park, was full of casual workers from distant places. This method of staff selection sharply increased the unemployment among the local population. It aggravated the criminal situation in the region.

Not much later the administration of the Park was compelled in order to legislate its practices and to pay "strangers" as much as locals. As a result much less people came over to the National Park. Locals found jobs elsewhere. Many of them do not want to return to the Park as a principle, because of the abnormal moral situation which the present administration supports among its workers. This has become the reason of the present crisis of the staff of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

In any case, the positive decision to increase cuttings in Belovezhskaya Pushcha threatens to turn this forest to a stirred ant hill where the role of ants will be executed by numerous woodcutters. As to Belovezhskaya Pushcha, it will be filled with the howling of chainsaws and timber lorries that are already powerful in this reserved wood, instead of singing birds. Independent experts believe that only public rallied actions can prevent the implementation of these plans.
April 02, 2005 BelTA Information Agency German TV-journalists will tell to the spectators about the Belarusian National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"

A team of German TV-journalists of the studio "Ottania-Media" of the city of Leipzig will arrive to the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" on April 4. They will shoot a film during one week, deputy director of the National Park Anna Dengubenko said to the correspondent of BelTA.

The journalists from Germany make a large documentary film about sights of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and its richest flora and fauna. Shootings started last winter and since first warm days they will be continued. Project Producer Gabriela Raiseld noted in a letter addressed to the Reserve's administration that Belovezhskaya Pushcha is a unique natural site saved up to now. A variety of its plants and animals is amazing and a big work on preservation and augmentation of riches of this "European pearl" conducted by scientific employees is great. Gabriela Raiseld considered that the inhabitants of Germany should know about it.

According to Anna Dengubenko, representatives of mass medias of other European countries also has a great interest to our National Park. For example, the Polish magazine "National Geographik" stated a request to publish a twenty-page essay about the Belarusian reserve.

Larisa SHIGANOVA
April 01, 2005 "Vitebski Kuryer" (The Vitebsk Courier) Newspaper, No 24 Ecologists for the balanced tourism in the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve

The Berezinski Biosphere Reserve (BBR) is under threat, representatives of the ecological movement of Belarus declared.

The reconstruction of the Serguchevski ten-kilometer channel to develop a water tourism (the channel is located within the BBR's area) is planned. The ecologists worry that due to this action the protected status of a part of the BBR's area will be liquidated. "Many visitants, a motor ship, tractors, dredges and lorries in the centre of the last Belarusian reserve actually means the end of the BBR and ecotourism in the Lepel district", Executive Director of the Public Association "Belarus Bird Life" Alexander Vinchevski assumed.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection also took position against exploitation of the Biosphere Reserve. However the ecologists are convinced of the Ministry needs the public support. Therefore, under the initiative of the Association "Belarus Bird Life", a letter signed by over fifteenth scientists and leaders of nongovernmental organizations was addressed to the Minister Leonty Khoruzhyk last Friday. They expressed their concern about the future reconstruction of the Berezinski water system and plans on development of water tourism in the BBR. They are convinced of any water-economic building will cause the change of hydrological regime and natural ecosystems which are under a status of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the biogenetic protected area twice awarded with a European Diploma. The authors of the letter considered that "the scientifically grounded program of development and management taking into account of the tourism's requirements is necessary first of all" for the BBR.

The information of the "Vitebski Courier":
The Serguchevski channel is the most extended of all channels within the Berezinski water system. It was built at the turn of XVIII and XIX centuries as a part of way from the river basin of Dnepr to Dvina and was used for timber export from Minsk province to Riga. At the end of XIX century, because of competition of railways and deterioration of ecological condition, the Berezinski water system lost the economic value and got on the decline.

Yuri STEPANOV