Monday, March 13, 2006

Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda To Meet With President Bush Today; Will Call For Truly Democratic Belarus In The New Europe

"This Thursday, and on the 16th day of every month, people in Belarus will be lighting candles as they did in the square years ago. They will be lighting candles and placing them in the windows of their homes for those who disappeared at the hands of the regime, for freedom, for a future without fear. And people of all ages will be wearing blue denim, the symbol of hope for a modern, European Belarus.

Last year, near the square [in Bratislava, Slovak Republic] where we lit candles, I introduced a special group of people to President Bush. These were civic leaders who championed freedom in their homelands. These were men and women who came from countries from the Baltic to the Black seas, from Georgia to Serbia and Montenegro, and, yes, from Belarus.

Later today Bush and I will talk about this meeting. Undoubtedly we will recall the bravery of these men and women and the solidarity we felt then with these extraordinary people. As the people of Belarus approach their nation's first attempt to make a free choice, we want them to know of our solidarity and that we wish them well.

A free and democratic Belarus will be a better home for its people and for their children. It will be a good neighbor for Europe and Russia, rather than the exporter of political refugees it is today. And a free Belarus would send a message to the world that the last dictatorship in Europe has finally come to an end." ...

Slovak Republic Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda "Light the Candles Of Belarus: Europe's Last Dictatorship Will Not Endure" in Washington Post March 13, 2006 via


March 12, 2006 -- "The Belarus government is threatening to deport foreigners who may be planning to take part in activities the regime views as destabilizing ahead of the country's presidential election, on March 19.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Popov added that the authorities will take whatever measures are necessary to prevent foreign interference in Belarus's internal affairs....

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is a seeking a third term in the poll. [He has governed, and then ruled, since 1994.] European Union and U.S. officials have already said they do not expect the election to be judged to have complied with democratic standards due to the Lukashenka regime's crackdown on independent media and harassment of the political opposition."

"Belarus Threatens To Deport Foreigners Before Election" AFP, ITAR-TASS via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty March 12, 2006

Period style room in the Belarus National Museum, Grodna [Hrodna]-- a former Russian Imperial provincial palace near Belarus's borders with Lithuania and Poland. While Minsk may be increasingly gleaming as Lukashenka attempts to create his Authoritorian "Singapore on the North European Plain", the regional capitals of Belarus suffer from underinvestment, isolation from the world, flight of the young and educated, decaying infrastructure, and -- in the Southeast -- the major residual effects of the April 26, 1986 Soviet Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station disaster. The touristic potential of Belarus is vast due to the nation's historical role as a melting pot of European cultures , its more than 1000 year old history, and its natural beauty. The second oldest -- and oldest unmodified -- Kievan-Rus Orthodox 11th Century Cathedral in all of Belarus is in Grodna [Hrodna]. The oldest Kievan-Rus Orthodox Cathedral in Belarus is in the northeast of the country in Polatsk.

Lonely Planet Map of Belarus with a few Historical/Cultural and National Park Highlights:

(c) "Do Something Great For Your Country. Leave!"

Photo credit: National Museum of Belarus, Grodna. With thanks.


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