wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08MINSK91 2008-02-08 16:35:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Minsk
Cable title:  

EMBASSY MINSK WEEKLY POL/ECON REPORT - February 08, 2008

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM ECON ENRG BO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3439
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSK #0091/01 0391635
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081635Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6889
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1823
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MINSK 000091 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECON ENRG BO
SUBJECT: EMBASSY MINSK WEEKLY POL/ECON REPORT - February 08, 2008



1. The following are brief items of interest compiled by Embassy
Minsk.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Civil Society


--------------------------



- Opposition Communist Party Resumes Activities (para. 2)
- BKGB Questions Belarusian Christian Democrat (para. 3)
- Opposition to Campaign for Youth Activist Release (para. 4)
- Opposition Leaders Banned from Traveling Abroad (para. 5)
- Protestants Protest Pressure from Authorities (para. 6)

Domestic Economy


--------------------------



- Foreign Debt Continues to Rise (para. 7)
- Ministry Plans to Reduce Profitless Companies (para. 8)

International Trade


--------------------------



- GOB Plans Five Billion kWh in Electricity Imports (para. 9)

Quote of the Week (para. 10)


--------------------------





--------------------------


Civil Society


--------------------------





2. Opposition Communist Party Resumes Activities

Belarusian Party of Communists (BPC) spokesperson Sergey Voznyak
informed the media February 4 that the party resumed its activities
after a six-month suspension. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) warned
the BPC over alleged low membership and its participation in the
Union of Left Parties conference abroad prior to suspension. The
BPC was also facing liquidation, but the Supreme Court dismissed the
MOJ case on January 31. The BPC Central Committee met February 3
and adopted a budget and a plan of activities for first half of


2008.



3. BKGB Questions Belarusian Christian Democrat

BKGB officers questioned Oleg Leshchinskiy, Mozyr-based coordinator
of the unregistered Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD) party,
February 1. The officers warned Leshchinskiy for acting on behalf
of an unregistered organization and threatened him with
"complications at work." They also claimed that the BCD would never
be registered while led by prominent opposition leaders Aleksey
Shein and Pavel Severinets.



4. Opposition to Campaign for Youth Activist Release

Opposition forces held an organizational meeting February 4 to set
up a committee to campaign for the release of youth activist Andrey
Kim. Kim was scheduled to be released from jail February 1 after a
10-day sentence for participation in the unsanctioned January 21
entrepreneurs' demonstration. However, authorities filed additional
charges of using threats of violence against a police officer and
have kept him in prison. The activist now faces up to six years in
prison if convicted of the new charges, which supporters call
"politically motivated." The committee will keep the local and
international community informed both about Kim's case and about
persecution of other activists.



5. Opposition Leaders Banned From Traveling Abroad

Malady Front (MF) activists Dmitriy Dashkevich, Ivan Shilo and
Anastasiya Polozhanka have been banned from traveling abroad.
Dashkevich was en route to a university in Vilnius February 2 when
border guards removed him from the bus he was aboard. Shilo and
Polozhanka were turned away at the border the same day. United
Civic Party Chair Anatoliy Lebedko, who had been previously notified
that he was not permitted to leave Belarus, was stopped at the
border February 4 while traveling to Vilnius to meet with Lithuanian
MPs. Lebedko's passport was stamped "exit forbidden" in poor
Belarusian.



6. Protestants Protest Pressure from Authorities

The Protestant New Life Church (NLC) community began a week of fast
and prayers February 4 over what they call official "pressure" from
the authorities. NLC lawyer Sergey Lukanin explained that
prosecutors had been threatening NLC pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko
with criminal prosecution and imprisonment after Goncharenko
received a second warning February 5 for denying officials and fire
inspectors access to the church building. Lukanin said the

MINSK 00000091 002 OF 002


community will continue to deny officials access to its property
until the Supreme Economic Court settles the dispute over the forced
sale of NLC property.



--------------------------


Domestic Economy


--------------------------





7. Foreign Debt Continues to Rise

Belarus' Finance Ministry reported February 1 that the country's
sovereign foreign debt as of January 1 was USD 2.337 billion,
comprising 86.7 percent of total foreign debt. The foreign debt
limit for 2008 was set at USD 4 billion. The country's internal
debt increased by 1.2 percent of GDP in 2007. Under the law, the
annual increase in the internal debt cannot be more than 3 percent
of GDP. Belarus' national budget surplus in 2007 was 2.7 percent of
the GDP.



8. Ministry Plans to Reduce Profitless Companies

The Ministry of Industry announced plans February 7 to reduce the
number of unprofitable enterprises to zero by the end of 2008.
According to the ministry, currently about 14 percent of the
industrial sector's enterprises, mainly small plants, subsidiary
plants and food services enterprises, operated at a loss as of
January 1, 2008. In order to reduce the number of unprofitable
enterprises, the ministry plans to increase efficiency, reorganize
enterprises, and merge unprofitable small enterprises into
industrial associations. Industry Minister Anatol Rusetskiy stated
that plans will begin with the "optimization" of the machine-tool
industry and expand from there.



--------------------------


International Trade


--------------------------





9. GOB Plans Five Billion kWh in Electricity Imports

Vladimir Karduba, chief engineer with the Belarusian State Energy
Concern Belenergo, reported February 7 that Belarus plans to import
five billion kWh of electricity this year, noting that talks with
potential suppliers in Ukraine and Russia are still in progress.
According to Karduba, Belarus can generate a sufficient amount of
electricity domestically, but the company plans to import more
energy because the high cost of equipment maintenance makes domestic
production more expensive than imports. According to the Ministry
of Energy, the Belarusian power generation sector has a total
capacity of more than 7,800 MWt, and consists of 25 power plants
producing about 30 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.



--------------------------




10. Quote of the Week


--------------------------



Lidiya Yermoshina, Chair of the Central Elections Committee, on why
rigged elections are inconceivable in Belarus:

"People here trust the figures presented by the Central Electoral
Committee. Elections here cannot be falsified. If elections here
were ever rigged, hundreds would take to the streets when they saw
their votes did not correspond to the official totals."

Stewart