NEWS ARCHIVE: OCTOBER 2004

October 28, 2004 "Sovetskaya Byelorussia" (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, No 204 This is our heritage

European citizens still know little about Belarusian architectural heritage. A recently issued album "Belarusian Heritage" garnered information on the best of Belarusian architectural monuments, ranking them as the world's famous architectural masterpieces. In his foreword to the edition, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, compared the Belarusian cultural heritage to such a legendary monument of the past as the Great Chinese Wall.

The album, which was prepared by two employees of the First National TV-channel Oleg Lukashevich and Alexander Alexeev, is not only a picture-postcard representation of Belarus for foreigners, but also some kind of advertising tool. It is noteworthy that the album was blessed by heads of Catholic and Orthodox denominations (the largest denominations in Belarus) cardinal Kazimir Sventek and metropolitan Filaret, Our main cultural heritage, after all, are temples and sacred objects which are stored there.

Although the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" and The Mir Castle are the only two Belarusian sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, there are many other sites and monuments in our country, which are also claimed to become members of this prestigious "monumental community".

Experts of the Department for Historical and Cultural Heritage Protection and Restoration at the Ministry of Culture hope the Nesvizh Palace and Park Ensemble will become the next Belarusian site in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Kamenetz Tower, Borisoglebskaya (Kolozhskaya) Church in Grodno and St Sofia Cathedral in Polotsk also have chances to get there.

Victor KORBUT
October 26, 2004 "Narodnaya Volya" (The People's Will) Newspaper, No 201 Unique nature conservation area to be created in Belarus

Ecologists from the Belarusian city of Brest are almost done with preparing scientific, technical and economic grounds for creating a new national biological reserve with the partial protection. The new "Soya" reserve will lie nearly within the Brest outskirts on the left bank of the Mukhovetz River alongside the Brest fortress.

Senior researcher of the department studying the issues related to the unique Belarus' nature area Polesye under the National Academy of Science, Victor Demyanchik, says that this is the only place in Belarus where pheasants nest. Besides, two years ago the Night heron was found here, a very rare bird species whose natural habitats are usually remote swampy areas densely covered with reeds. The "Soya" reserve will also stand out from the rest of the like protected areas in Belarus by having the largest in the country population of the Earth's smallest plant Volfiya. As to the density of the Red Data Book's plant species growing per unit area, the new reserve outstrips even the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".

The ecologists from Brest hope that the natural museum of wildlife will become popular with the Brest dwellers and visitors. By the way, Swiss ornithologists who went to the site that summer gave a high appraisal of the new reserve's flora and fauna.

Larisa SHAGANOVA
October 23, 2004 Website News Service Reporter Veronika Cherkasova murdered

The reporter of the newspaper "Solidarity" Veronika Cherkasova was murdered in cold blood in her Minsk apartment on October 20 (apart from her work for "Solidarity" she also cooperated with the Russian magazine "New time" and earlier worked for "Belarusian Business Newspaper" and "Belarusian Newspaper"). About twenty knife wounds were found on her body. Veronika Cherkasova was only 45 years old. She wrote about social issues, and also covered human rights issues for a while. She had a 15-year-old son. The robbery version of the murder is not considered, as nothing was lost from the reporter's apartment. The investigation is under way.

In 2003 Veronika Cherkasova together with other reporters stood up for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha after the press-tour which was held in the wake of scandalous publications unveiling illegal and secretly conducted felling of living old-age wood in the protected zones of the national park. She stated her opinion then in the article "DO NOT FELL, MUZHIKS!" which can be found at http://bp21.org.by/ru/art/a030203x.html.

The Initiative Group "Belovezhskaya Pushcha - 21th Century" offers its deepest condolences to Veronika Cherkasova's relatives and friends.
October 22, 2004 "Minski Kuryer" (The Minsk Courier) Newspaper, No 452 Rescue of the lake

The Russian company "Gasprom" has provided major assistance for clearing the bottom of one of the largest artificial lakes in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". During the visit to Belovezhskaya Pushcha Gasprom's representatives familiarized with the way dredging has been conducted in the lake of Khmelevskoye, which has the area of 90 hectares. The reservoir has been dredged by a local melioration company. The lack of powerful dredging machines, however, delayed the work and only one-fourth of the lake bottom has been cleared in a year and a half. If the lake is not restored duly, like any artificial reservoir it will fill up with soft mud, and, as a consequence, become shallow and turn into a swamp.

In view of that, the experts of "Gasprom" decided to assist the National Park. In less than a week the volume of work carried out in the lake of Khmelevskoye exceeded that of which the local melioration company has been capable to deliver in a year and a half. Most of the lake bottom will be cleared in the near future. It is planned to fill the lake with water and to let into it young fishes next spring. One more artificial lake, Lyadskoye, will be cleared afterwards.

Ivan KUKSA
October 13, 2004 "Argumenty i Fakty v Belarusi" (Arguments and Facts in Belarus) Newspaper, No 41 Specially protected natural areas

There are several kinds of protected natural areas in Belarus. The reserves are the natural areas with the strictest regime of protection. They cannot be used for economic purposes. There is one reserve in the country - Berezinski Biosphere Reserve.

National parks are all-embracing sites of nature protection, on the one hand, and of controlled tourism, on the other. They can be used for economic purposes, but with significant restrictions. The area of a national park is divided into zones - for example, reserved, regulated, recreational and economic zones - where different protection and use rules exist. Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the most famous national park among other Belarusian national parks - Braslav Lakes, Pripyatski and Narochanski.

The partial reserves are the territories with the restricted use of natural resources. Some of them are specially created for preservation of some rare plant or animal species. For example, the Partial Reserve "Stronga" in the valley of the rivers Lokhozva, Derevyanka and Issa preserves habitats of the trout and grayling.

The natural sanctuaries are the protected small-sized valuable unique or model natural sites like, for example, century-old oaks or boulders.

According to the data of the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection the specially protected natural areas cover 7.6 % or 1,593 hectares of the country's area, with the partial reserves of nationwide and local importance accounting for 75 % of the above figure.

Yana POLYANSKAYA
October 10, 2004 Website news service Unprecedented house-warming in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The administration of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has recently begun to advertise its achievements in the mass media. The achievements, largely small, are often passed for to newspaper readers as something really grandiose. The Minskij Courier newspaper, for instance (see an article excerpt below), referring to the BelTA news agency has announced that the administration of the National Park is encouraging all junior specialists, including graduates of Belarusian colleges, to work in the park by building new houses for them. It is mentioned, in particular, that three new houses will be built this year.

Well, house-warming is always joyful, yet the locals from Belovezhskaya Pushcha are somehow not optimistic about it. First, they say three houses for the National Park which has the area of 161,000 hectares and over a thousand workers on the staff, is a ridiculous number. Second, the administration has not been able to build even this number of houses for the last two years.

Early this year the press has broadly advertised the first individual wooden house which was "commissioned by the president" and, as it was written "constructed in the village of Kamenyuki in Belovezhskaya Pushcha" (see The Sovetskaya Byelorussia newspaper, Issue 5, January 01, 2003 at http://bp21.org.by/ru/art/a040113.html). It is October 2004 now, but the house is actually still under construction and, according to the locals, the administration granted it to two "graduates" . retiree Vyachelav Semakov who is, nonetheless, working as Father Frost (Santa Claus) in the National Park and his wife and deputy director on science Anna Dengubenko who is about to retire. The two enjoy a comfortable three-room apartment and, it appears, "are in harsh need" to better their housing conditions.

Housing in the National Park used to be allotted both by the park administration and trade union in accordance with a large list of the needy workers, which would take into account the workers' need of accommodation, service record and professional qualities, and, not in the least, the number of their family members. Today the powers to do it are virtually in the hands of the director general of the National Park. Not a single house has been built in the village of Kamenyuki, which is the administrative center of the National Park and has a population of 1,500, by the administration for the last three years. The administration, however, bought cheaply two old houses for a family with many children and the now former chauffeur of the director general. Junior specialists and graduates, including research workers, have to either live in a local hotel or rent private apartments. It is almost impossible for them to get accommodation from the administration.

This is one of the major reasons for a large-scale employees' turnover since many graduates who come to work in the National Park lose all hope to settle in their own house there and leave the place. The newspaper says "it is nearly impossible to replace retiring foresters, huntsmen and research workers by the locals" as the youth runs from the place like "the devil from the priest". The crucial factors in all that are said to be awful work conditions, low wages, disrespect the administration shows towards its workers, chaotic staff recruitment, and the fact that the place has no cultural life and enough of accommodation. This is why the declaration of the administration "to find means, if required, to further provide the employees with accomodation" sounds absolutely ridiculous as there are hundreds of families in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, that are in need of the new houses. Moreover, the houses are being built too slowly.
October 08, 2004 "Minski Kuryer" (The Minsk Courier) Newspaper, No 440 House-warming coming soon

Aging population in villages located in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha has lately become a serious problem. The villages almost have no youth. Foresters, huntsmen and research workers are leaving their jobs to retire. Since it is nearly impossible to replace them by the locals the administration encourages junior specialists from other regions of the country, including graduates of Belarusian colleges, to work in the National Park. The new workers are motivated by promises of their own houses in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Six junior specialists have been invited to work in the scientific department of the reserve only for the last few years. Three new wooden houses, completely eco-friendly three-room accommodation, will be shortly finished in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". The houses are quite inexpensive as local raw materials have been used for their building. Each house costs approximately $18,000. The administration will continue this practice and will find the means, if required, to further provide its employees with accommodation.

BelTA Information Agency
October 08, 2004 Website News Service Foresters made pupils hungry

Pupils from a local ecological secondary school in the village of Kamenyuki had their regular dinner served 2 hours later on October 7. Some of the children did not even get the dinner as they were too tired of waiting for it. Not an electricity cutoff in the school kitchen or a strike of the cooks there. it was the arrival to the school canteen of forest guards working for the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". They came not to dine, however, but to do business!

As our news service reported in November 2003 ("No more science, but more hotels" (http://bp21.org.by/ru/news/1103.html), all departments of the National Park body, including the scientific department, had to be urgently moved out of the administrative building, as the latter was closed to be reconstructed into another hotel for the reach. Scientists and all departmental workers were allotted rooms at the timber mill shops and the garage controller's office in the industrial zone. The National Park workers lost their conference hall as a consequence.

In the spring of 2004, however, the reconstruction of the administrative building was halted and nothing has changed about it since then. As for other options to hold meetings, a nearby large house of culture with a concert-hall has been also closed for the public, as it needs major repairs and has not been heated since 2002.

So it turns out that there is no place in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" even to hold a meeting for a small group of its workers, leaving alone all the staff. A new office and scientific laboratory building which was promised a year ago has not even been started yet. As a way out, the administration of the National Park decided to use the small school canteen as a. conference-hall, causing a lot of inconvenience for the pupils. With all that said, one thing is still notable. An unofficial source at the 10th anniversary of the President' Property Management Department claimed that only in 2003 - 2004 the administration of the National Park received huge sums of hard currency for the timber sold abroad.
October 06, 2004 "Zvyazda" (The Star) Newspaper, No 237 Eagle's return

Ornithologists found three habitats of the rare for Belarus pygmy eagle in Belovezhskaya Pushcha for the first time in 20 years, deputy director on science of the National park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" Anna Dengubenko said to "Interfax". It is the smallest species of the eagle family. The pygmy eagle's wingspan does not exceed 1.5 meters while the largest of these birds of prey species - the white-tailed eagle - can have the span from two to two and a half meters. A.Dengubenko added that nowadays 3 pairs of these birds constantly live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

No more than 15 pairs of the pygmy eagle live in Belarus, whereas in Poland the number of the birds is even smaller. Quite a lot of the birds, about 500 pairs, are registered in Ukraine and about 800 of them can be found in Russia. Spain is leading as to the largest number of this species counting 3,000 birds. However, the pygmy eagle was aggressively hunted in Western Europe since the stuffed birds of prey still seem to be more valuable for some people than the live ones.

Natalia KRIVETS
October 01, 2004 "Sovetskaya Byelorussia? (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, No 186 The eagle is not a "duck" but true sensation

Scientists have found three nests of the pygmy eagle, the Europe's rarest bird predator, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

For the majority of us this news means nothing but ornithologists consider it a true sensation. Pygmy eagles are rare birds. There are about ten pairs of these birds in Belarus. Few of them populate wide expanses of Russia whereas about 500 pairs live in Ukraine according to the experts.

The last time the pygmy eagle was seen in Belovezhskaya Pushcha dates to the middle of the last century. These predators are interesting not only because of their small size. They have two variations of colouring: brown and light-brown. Despite the fact that the bird is small, it is very dexterous and secretive and therefore it is not so easy to find its nests. The pigmy eagle is afraid of people: it is the hunted species in Europe and some "nature-lovers" there consider it prestigious to have a stuffed eagle in their houses. But the rare bird should like the expanses of Belovezhskaya Pushcha - the National Park is protected by the state and closed for poachers.

Valentina KOZLOVICH