E-bulletin of IISEPS Center for Documentation, N 12, 2004 (only Russian)



Theme of the month:
Sitting of Union’s Council of Ministers: who attacks, who yields?

Person of the month
Case of M. Marinich: criminal or political?

Document of the month:
Press Releases of EU and US Embassy: support of civic society or interference into home affairs?

Organization of the month:
Belarusian Association of Journalists: award for proficiency or for political stand?


Dear readers!


We offer to your attention the next issue of “Infofocus” bulletin. In the previous issues, we have already addressed the problem of Russia-Belarus relations in view of its importance. Now, experts come to the conclusion that the relations have turned rather chilly over lately. The two leaders don’t have meetings, previously announced big integration projects (Union State’s Constitution, introduction of a single currency, etc.) have all been suspended and A. Lukashenko gave up his integration-oriented rhetoric. In this regards, sitting of the Union State’s Council of Ministers with Russian Prime Minister M. Fradkov participating is worthy we think to become the “Issue of Month”. The parties examined seventeen issues, yet the result does not encourage. They haven’t solved two main problems – prices on Russian gas and introduction of a single currency.
What was the purpose of holding a joint Council of Ministers then – just for the sake of appearances or to repair bilateral relations? Why didn’t they seek for a compromise in gas prices and single currency then? How will Russia-Belarus relations develop in the future? We asked these questions to L. Zaiko, Head of the analytical center Strategy, and V. Suryaev, Director of Analytical Department in the Belarusian Academy of Administration.
This time the column “Figure of Month” is given to M. Marinich, ex-minister and ambassador, who has finally stood trial after six months in jail. He is accused of illegal possession of weapons and stealing of office equipment. M. Marinich, to be given up to twelve years of imprisonment, and human rights centers all insist that the trial has a political background. The EU and the USA stood out for M. Marinich’s support. Are the statements on political reasons of ex-minister’s criminal persecution grounded? What will be the sentence of the court? Will M. Marinich stay in big politics after the hearings and in which capacity then? We offer you the opinions of former Prime Minister M. Chigir who scraped through a similar mess several years ago and a political observer of Belarusian TV Y. Prokopov.
We always considered it inappropriate to tell about conditions of our work as well as about pressure of the authorities over the IISEPS when most of our partners and collaborates suffer the same pressure. However, recent events forced us to give up this rule. We have received a flow of letters from the Ministry of Justice with formal and far-fetched claims, an official notice from this office that we consider illegal and will appeal against it in the court as well as the search conducted by KGB in the apartment rented by IISEPS Deputy Director A. Sosnov where Institute’s employees gather for scientific discussions. This is why we present already two documents in our column “Document of Month” this time – press release of Italy on behalf of Holland presidency in the European Union and US Embassy’s press release. These papers came out right after the visit of EU member states’ and US ambassadors to our Institute during which the guests expressed their support to IISEPS as well as “to all those who promote democratization in this country”, as Italian Ambassador in Belarus G. Ardiccone said. In the place of usual comments, we publicize our statement on the recent events concerning the IISEPS.
In our opinion, the Belarusian Association of Journalists awarded with Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament has become the “Organization of Month”. While giving the award For Freedom of Thought, President of the European Parliament J. Borrell has underscored that this way they express “respect to the journalists who daily jeopardize their lives for the sake of truth.” The Belarusian authorities responded to award presentation with silence. What does such a high assessment of BAJ’s activity mean? How reasonable are the claims that they were noted for a political standpoint rather than professional attainment? Does the West have a possibility to influence the freedom of press and state of journalists in Belarus? We offer you the opinions of O. Panfilov, Director of Moscow Center of Extreme Journalism, and V. Chikin, Editor-in-chief of the weekly Seven Days, on these issues.
We hope that you will find these materials helpful and interesting. All comments and requests are welcome!

IISEPS executive board

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