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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08VILNIUS502 2008-06-27 11:18:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
Cable title:  

BELARUS WEEKLY POL/ECON REPORT - June 27, 2008

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM ECON ENRG BO 
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1. The following are brief items of interest compiled by Embassy
Minsk.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Civil Society


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



- Christian Democratic Activist Expelled (para. 2)
- Christian Democracy Party Denied Registration (para. 3)
- National Bolshevist Party Activist Fined (para. 4)
- BKGB Questions Opposition Youth (para. 5)

Domestic Economy


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



- Retail Sales Rise in Jan-May 2008 (para. 6)
- AlfaBank Ukraine Acquires Stake in ITI-Bank(para. 7)
- Foreign Debt Up Eight Percent in Jan-March 2008 (para. 8)

International Trade


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



- Russian Crude Oil Prices Rise in June (para. 9)

Quote of the Week (para. 10)


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





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


Civil Society


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





2. Christian Democratic Activist Expelled

The Pedagogical University expelled first-year Belarusian philology
and culture student Anna Antonova on June 24. Antonova, an activist
with the Belarusian Christian Democratic party, allegedly violated
university regulations by applying to Minsk city authorities to
demonstrate in support of political prisoner Aleksandr Kozulin. The
university dean claimed that as long as Antonova is a student at a
state-run school, she must follow "our governmental and our
president's policies" and not listen to what "they say at a church."




3. Belarusian Christian Democracy Denied Registration

On June 20, the Justice Ministry (MOJ) denied state registration to
the Belarusian Christian Democratic party for the second time. The
party's Co-chairman, Pavel Severinets, stated that the MOJ's denial
notice made reference to improper citation of the party's goals and
tactics in the party statute. He noted that the party would appeal
the decision to the Supreme Court.


4. National Bolshevist Party Activist Fined
On June 24, a Vitebsk district court fined activist Aleksey
Mitrofanov, from the unregistered National Bolshevist party, 70,000
rubles (USD 30) for petty hooliganism. Coordinator Khristofor
Zhelyapov of the Vitebsk-based For Freedom (FF) movement filed an
administrative case against Mitrofanov for throwing eggs at FF
leader Aleksandr Milinkevich during a public meeting at a market in
Vitebsk. Mitrofanov called himself "a victim," and Zhelyapov said
that the fine was mild for this "politically motivated" offense.


5. BKGB Questions Opposition Youth

An unnamed BKGB officer questioned opposition youth activist Ales
Golovach on June 25. The officer summoned Golovach, a fifth-year
student at the University of Culture, into the dean's office and
inquired about his membership in opposition groups, participation in
unsanctioned demonstrations, and other political activities. When
Golovach refused to answer, the officer threatened him with
expulsion.



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


Domestic Economy


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





6. Retail Sales Rise in Jan-May 2008

The Ministry of Statistics reported on June 23 that Belarus' retail
turnover, including the public catering sector, between January-May
2008 has risen 19.6 percent on the year and reached 18.6 trillion
rubles (USD 8.8 mln). Entrepreneurs accounted for 32 percent of
total trade and larger retail companies for 68 percent.
Belarusian-made manufactured consumer goods' and foodstuff share in
retail turnover reached 75.3 percent and 84.7 percent, respectively,
excluding market trade. The number of private companies engaged in
retail trade grew by 0.3 percent to 81.9 percent, and the share of
foreign companies fell by 0.1 percent to 3.2 percent.



7. AlfaBank Ukraine Acquires Large Stake in ITI-Bank

On June 20, the National Bank of Belarus sold its 38.94 percent

VILNIUS 00000502 002 OF 002


stake in the ITI-Bank (Mezhtorgbank) to a Cyprus-based subsidiary of
Alfabank Ukraine for USD 12.266 mln. Other major shareholders are
likely to offer their stakes for sale by July 1, and the Alfabank
Group is expected to spend USD 31.5 mln to purchase a controlling
share.



8. Foreign Debt U p Eight Percent in Jan-March 2008

The National Bank released a report June 20 citing an eight percent
increase of Belarus' total foreign debt to USD 13,630 mln between
January and March 2008. The Bank reports a drop in the central
government's debt by 0.2 percent to USD 2,033 mln, and the banking
sector arrears rose by 24.7 percent to USD 3,205 mln. The
manufacturing sector's debt liabilities increased by 6.6 percent to
USD 7,379 mln.



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


International Trade


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





9. Russian Crude Oil Prices Rise in June

A Presidential Administration source said June 20 that Russian crude
oil prices for Belarus rose by USD 95 per ton in June 2008 to USD
625 as compared with USD 530 in May. According to the source, oil
processing "remains lucrative" as prices for oil products are rising
worldwide. Belarus' refineries reported a 10.2 percent rate of
return, which permits them to loan funds for purchasing crude oil
and upgrade their facilities.



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


Quote of the Week


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





10. Central Election Commission Chairperson Lidiya Yermoshina,
speaking at a press conference on June 25:

"I've missed elections. Elections stir the blood; life becomes more
complex but yet more interesting."


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