NEWS ARCHIVE: June 2003

June 28, 2003 «Narodnaya Volya» (The People's Will) Newspaper, #116 Former National Park director Heorhi Kazulka fined unduly

The Kamenetz district court found the fine imposed on Heorhi Kazulka, former deputy director of the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha», Philosophy Doctor of Biology, for trespassing on the park land unjustified. H.Kazulka was detained in Belovezhskaya Pushcha on May 11. According to him, that day he decided to go on a bicycle ride along the central tourist trail. He had with him an entomological net and a bag with binoculars and a camera. At the place where hurricane devastated the forest two years ago H.Kazulka met the car with present park director Nikolai Bambiza and his deputy director on trade and tourist complex Ivan Batan. H.Kazulka says N.Bambiza demanded that he should leave the area of the National Park. Later, the head of the National Park guard ordered to seize H.Kazulka's camera and film. A report was drawn up on the incident stating that H.Kazulka «violated the National Park Regulations, was photographing bark beetle infested areas and collecting material for publication». The administrative committee under the Kamenetz Excecutive Body imposed a fine on H.Kazulka on the basis of the report and then the scientist appealed to the Kamenetz district court against the decision. On June 25 the court under Galina Prigozhko's chairmanship found H.Kazulka's arguments cogent and disaffirmed the fine. The administrative committee secretary and the head of the National Park guard failed to present sufficient evidence that H.Kazulka violated the National Park Regulations.

Valentina KOZLOVICH
June 25, 2003 «Zvyazda» (The Star) Newspaper, #159 What are news from the Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Belovezhskaya Pushcha has lately become a source of interesting, if not sensational news.

For example, the FIRST PHOTOGRAPH of the National Park, as research employee Nikolai Cherkas detected, was made in 1839, almost 50 years before photography would become part of life in the preserve. The recently found negative captured a ceremony of giving a symbolic spruce twig to a prince after his successful bison hunting in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

A STEAM TRAIN was piloted in Belovezhskaya Pushcha as a new means of tourist transportation. Along side the usual horse-drawn carriages, a small steam-engine will run in the National Park pulling two carriages which will be able to take on up to 50 passengers. The engine was made by own strength on the basis of the tractor model T-30.  It is expected to make a big profit, as the world famous preserve enjoys more and more visitors. Only in May of this year 14 thousand tourists visited the National Park. It is about a thousand more tourists than in May of the last year.

Ales SEDNEV
June 25, 2003 «Sovetskaya Belorussiya» (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, #115 Belovezhskaya Pushcha on the Internet

A new website, «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21st century», dedicated to problems of the National Park is now on the Internet. The site provides information on the history and wildlife of the preserve, as well as topical news about the National Park and appeals to international organizations which call for better conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The site also gives information on legislative acts which set principal regulations governing the management of special preserves. For more information, visit the site at: http://bp21.org.by.

Andrei NEKRASOV
June 17, 2003 «Vecherniy Minsk» (The Evening Minsk) Newspaper, #132 Belovezhskaya Pushcha settles Santa Claus

A new staff member — Santa Claus — will soon appear in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The construction of his manor has already begun in the National Park. Together with Santa, it will house his many helpmates — post office workers, for example. Preparations for welcoming Father Frost are in full swing, the park administration announced. A special delegation is off to study lives of our Santa Claus' colleagues, from early morning till late evening dozens of builders and designers are busy erecting future fairy-tale walls. It is possible that the residence of Belarus' Santa Claus will be open even before the New Year. Moreover, as the project authors planned, Santa Claus will work all the year round, attracting not just tourists, but also those who send letters, packets and emails and share their inmost wishes only with this generous old man.

Yuri SVYATOKUM
June 17, 2003 «Zvyazda» (The Star) Newspaper, #149 Santa Claus from Belovezhskaya Pushcha

This autumn Belarusian children will be able to send letters to their own Santa Claus and even be at the New Year ball at his fairy-tale residence. A two-storey manor house is being built for Santa Claus in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, taking into consideration the experience of his Russian colleague from Veliki Ustyug to make everything properly. The residence of Belarus' Santa Claus will stand on a glade where bison are fed. Its main purpose will be to create a fairy-tale mood. All the paraphernalia is being prepared for that: carvers are making unusual sleigh, a steam-engine and two carriages have been made for guided tours along the forest roads. Therefore, Belarusian girls and boys will be able to celebrate even this New Year together with Santa Claus. A fairy-tale house, bison, Pushcha's old forest and Santa Claus… will surely make children happy!

Alesya GOLOVCHITZ
June 19, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Kamenyuki villagers appeal to Belarusian President

An open letter signed by 191 Kamenyuki villagers (Kamenetz district, Brest region) has been sent to Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko, in which the villagers ask the president to protect them from the actions of the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» administration.

«…It pains us to see that something wrong is being done in the National Park. In this letter we draw your attention to how the park administration treats local people and local executive authority», the letter says at the beginning.

Further on, the villagers note, that «over the past two years hundreds of the park workers — local people — have not had their job contracts extended and had to leave their job.» «Most of them stood in the way of the park administration, as they are indigenous to Belovezhskaya Pushcha and, therefore, like it and are devoted to it.» Workers and specialists from other areas of the country are now replacing those who lost their job, the letter says. The increasing criminal rate in the village Kamenyuki also adds to general concern. «There were 7 criminal cases in the village in 2002 and just in the first quarter of 2003 there were 9 crimes, 6 of which were committed by people employed outside the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.» The villagers think that is taking place because «people with shady past are being employed as temporary workers.» The villagers also focus in their letter on other social issues which, according to them, are not important to the National Park administration.

«In accordance with the government policy, economy and ideology should be used to develop the regions and areas of the country, improve welfare of its people, also make the media reports on Belovezhskaya Pushcha and its people be positive so that the young do not leave the village and work in their native area. The conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha plays a huge role in this regard. At present, though, the situation is quite a different one. 'We ask you to protect Belovezhskaya Pushcha and people indigenous to it from arbitrariness of the park administration,» write the villagers in their letter to the President.

The letter was also sent to the National Assembly, the Belarusian government, the Brest Regional Executive Committee, the Attorney-General of Belarus, the Constitutional Court, the Government Control Committee, the Administrative Department of the President, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, foreign embassies which are accredited in Belarus — on the whole, to some twenty addressees.

Valentina KOZLOVICH
June 16–23, 2003 «Belorusskiy Rynok» (The Belarusian Market) Newspaper, #23(556) Happy new summer, Santa Claus!

Regardless of the summer time, Santa Claus's manor in the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» is being constructed at full speed, with builders taking into account all the necessary paraphernalia. If all goes well, this fairy-tale old man, whose candidature is being actively discussed, will move around Pushcha with the help of tame draught deer.

Belarusian children may meet their own Santa Claus already this winter, as everything is being done for that. Besides Santa, there will also be quite a bit of his helpmates to see. In the meantime, the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» is going to shortly send a delegation to Russia's Veliki Ustyug in order to study the work of their Santa Claus' home.

Anna Zhdanovich
June 16, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Take train to see Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Besides walking and horseback guided tours, it is possible now to see the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» on board a special train.

Its engine is a rebuilt tractor which pulls two carriages with up to 58 passengers on board. One can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Belovezhskaya Pushcha either through the windows of the train or off board when it stops at the most interesting places.

A special ecotourism programme is being implemented in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the National Park workers said. Weekend tours, family and group holiday offers have been worked out. All possible is being done to make Belovezhskaya Pushcha more attractive both for our and foreign eco-tourists. By the way, as the warm season approaches, the number of visitors to the National Park considerably increases. Last month, for example, the preserve was visited by 14 thousand people, with foreigners making 60 per cent of them.
June 14, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Website for Belovezhskaya Pushcha devoted its problems

A new website «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21st century», dedicated to problems of conservation of Belarus' national heritage, Belovezhskaya Pushcha — the unique wilderness area which is situated in the centre of Europe — is now available on the Internet.

Go to http://bp21.org.by or http://bp21.iatp.by and you will learn of the history and wildlife of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, as well as find out how important this National Park is to the world. The site offers the latest topical news from within and outside the National Park about the National Park. It publishes appeals to international organizations which call for better conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

The site also gives information on legislative acts which set principal regulations governing the management of special preserves.

A photo gallery by photo-artist Valentin Ezhelov from Brest shows wild forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, their virgin beauty and rare plant and animal life. Browse through the gallery and see also numerous tourist facilities of the National Park. The priority, though, is to give an insight into what endangers Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Today's ways of management of Pushcha's unique surviving forests are hazardous, according to the site developers. Their attitude and possible solutions to this and other problems concerning Belovezhskaya Pushcha are expressed in the idea of the site and their appeal to the public.

A special place on the site is dedicated to a section called «Photo fact», which shows evidence of how destructive management impacts the National Park wildlife. «We try to objectively present the situation in Belovezhskaya Pushcha and make an independent analysis of it, basing our judgment on facts. Our goal is to help people find out what they are interested in about Belovezhskaya Pushcha. We are going to add new sections to our site to give as much as possible information on this unique wilderness protection area. The site provides as multifaceted and diverse information as Belovezhskaya Pushcha itself with its mosaic forests and many problems,» say the authors of the site who represent the initiative group «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21st century».

Valentina KOZLOVICH
June 14, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Belarus' Santa Claus to live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The most important of all Belarus' Santa Clauses will live in the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha». The construction of his residence there is now being seriously discussed, the park administration said to BelaPAN. Most likely, the residence will stand on a glade where bison are fed in winter. The administration is also going to send a delegation to Russia's Veliki Ustyug to specially study the life of their Santa Claus.

There are already plans to harness deer living in Belovezhskaya Pushcha into Santa Claus' sleigh and entrust the job of Santa Claus to a Kamenyuki villager, an old-timer in the National Park whose name, though, is still a secret.

They think in the National Park that Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the best place for Belarus' Santa Claus. The park administration hopes this new attraction will draw more tourists to Pushcha's primeval European forests.

Valentina KOZLOVICH
June 13, 2003 «Radio Svaboda» (Radio Freedom) A new website called «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» has recently appeared on the Internet. As it stems from its name, the site is dedicated to this unique wilderness area situated in the centre of Europe. Its motto is «Save and preserve Belovezhskaya Pushcha». The site offers a lot of information on those disturbing processes which are taking place in the preserve. I had a chance to invite to our Minsk office the authors of the site, who introduced themselves as Kastus and Zmitrok. What makes them hide their real names? Here is what they told me:

(Zmitrok:) «The problems which are raised on the site are very acute now. That is why people who began to collect information on Belovezhskaya Pushcha and put it on the Internet do not want to be in the limelight yet.»

(Reporter:) «What in particular may constitute a threat to you? Do you mean those scandalous processes, like commercial logging, which are taking place in Pushca?»

(Zmitrok:) «Yeas, the site is actually dedicated to problems concerning today's Pushcha and to the mood of local people who live in Pushcha and try to fight these problems and find solutions to them to restore lawfulness and order in the preserve.»

(Reporter:) «If anyone who is interested in Belovezhskaya Pushcha will type these two words in a search engine, what will they find first of all?»

(Kastus:) «First of all, if you type in »Belovezhskaya Pushcha«, you will get information on tours in the National Park, which are offered by many tourist agencies, and you will also get many links to amateur photo galleries. So far there have been no websites dedicated specially to the life of Pushcha.»

I would like to add to Zmitrok's words that the site, indeed, is mainly about illegal logging in Pushcha. But it also aims at providing as much as possible information on various aspects of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, like its forests, facilities and so on.

(Reporter:) «Does the National Park »Belovezhskaya Pushcha« have its website?»

(Kastus:) «No, it seems like it is not part of their priorities. What is important to the park administration is not potential tourists, who may want to rest or work or conduct scientific research there, but the opportunity to make more money with the help of this logging.»

(Zmitrok:) «It is possible that in the near future our site may provide information on other similar Belarusian preserves. One can find general information on Belarus' nature, including Belovezhskaya Pushcha, on the site of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection. But these are only nuggets of information, very general and simplified. Our site gives more information on the National Park and this information is scientific.»

The project is the work of an initiative «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21st century». The initiative is a few people who make the site in Minsk and a lot of people, most of the members, who live and work in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, suffering from what the present park administration is doing there.

Kastus and Zmitrok also told me about cooperation of their initiative «Belovezhskaya Pushcha — 21st century» with other environmental movements. Apropos, an international campaign to protect Belovezhskaya Pushcha is being held at present. There have been sent appeals to Aleksander Lukashenko and the Belarusian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Protection. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection itself has already received over 200 faxes. The issue of Pushcha's conservation is also being raised at European and international ecological forums. You may find out about the developments of this campaign on the site «Belovezhskaya Pushcha».
June 10, 2003 «Vecherniy Minsk» (The Evening Minsk) Newspaper Bison come to Belarus' capital

A pair of bison is to be sent from Belovezhskaya Pushcha to the Minsk zoo. The animals have been expected there for several months already. Hunters could not catch a she-bison, so it was decided that a male bison should be sent to the zoo first and his «girlfriend» follow him in autumn. In the mean time, the zoo has long prepared a special enclosure for the pair of these grand animals.

Liliya TARASENKO