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  • 93th birthday anniversary of Uladzimir Karatkevich

    Pavel Latushka: Deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador Karatkevich, through his talent and mastery of the Belarusian language, showcased the uniqueness and richness of Belarusian national history and culture. His contributions have had a significant impact on the present and future of the Belarusian nation. In 2010, during my tenure as Minister of Culture, I collaborated with like-minded individuals to initiate the publication of Uladzimir Karatkevich's renowned novel, "The Wild Hunt of King Stakh," simultaneously in Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian, and English. The objective was to make the work available in both the native language and foreign languages, enabling people from other countries to become acquainted with Belarusian culture through the works of this esteemed Belarusian writer. The edition featured illustrations by Yuriy Yakovenko. Interestingly, thirteen years later, the classic book was sold for a significant sum at an auction, with the proceeds going toward supporting Belarusian political prisoners. During my tenure, I also took the initiative to erect a monument to Uladzimir Karatkevich in Kyiv, Ukraine, as the writer had strong ties to the country. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology at Kyiv State University named after T. Shevchenko and wrote works in the Ukrainian language. Today, representatives of Lukashenko's regime are attempting to remove Uladzimir Karatkevich's novel, "Spikes Under Your Sickle," from the school curriculum. This novel is one of the most famous works of the esteemed Belarusian author. Such actions undoubtedly reveal the true nature of the regime—an anti-Belarusian, anti-people, and anti-national stance. However, Belarusian culture cannot be destroyed. It withstood challenges a century ago and will continue to endure today. Thanks to individuals like Uladzimir Karatkevich, we can take pride in our cultural, literary, and historical heritage.

  • “Far arc” of Lukashenko’s schemes

    Pavel Latushka: Deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador On November 29, 2023, Lukashenko traveled to the United Arab Emirates, announcing a series of meetings with African leaders. He stated, "You all must understand that this is a far arc of our cooperation, but this does not mean far countries. We have good relations with some of them, including trade and economic relations." So, what are these trade and economic relations with the "far arc" countries, and who benefits from them? At first glance, it may seem that Belarus and its citizens benefit from these relations. However, this would only be the case if the Belarusian economy were "the economy of a healthy person" and not "the economy of a smoker." Belarusian state-owned enterprises are supposed to supply their products directly to the markets of the Middle East and Africa and receive foreign currency for their exports. The profits would then go to the state and be redistributed among citizens through taxes. However, the reality is different. State-owned enterprises do not directly supply their products to the "far arc" countries. Instead, they go through a mysterious private company called AFTRADE DMCC, registered not in Minsk or Shklov but in sun-lit Dubai. Consequently, the proceeds from the sale of goods produced by Belarusian state-owned enterprises do not benefit them. Instead, the funds end up in the accounts of this peculiar office, which is associated with notorious individuals such as Alexander Zingman, Viktor Sheiman, and, of course, Lukashenko himself. As a result, Belarusian state-owned enterprises receive only meager returns after the revenue is funneled through this shell company. This is the fundamental principle of Lukashenko's system: Belarusians work hard to create goods and produce products, but it is Lukashenko and his associates who reap the majority of the benefits. Therefore, sanctions primarily affect businessmen who profit the most from the sale of Belarusian products, including both natural resources and goods created through the mental and physical labor of Belarusians. Ordinary citizens, contrary to propaganda, are not the primary target of these sanctions. One might wonder if imported goods from Africa and Asia satisfy the needs of Belarusians. Lukashenko often talks about establishing new production facilities in African countries and providing support and assistance, particularly in technology. However, the reality is that Lukashenko, with his like-minded associates, engages in mining activities there, including gold, diamonds, and oil. These activities are not organized by the state or the Republic of Belarus but by private companies established by Lukashenko's trusted individuals. The proceeds from the sale of these resources do not benefit the budget or ordinary Belarusians but rather flow into Lukashenko's pockets, his family, and his inner circle. This is the nature of trade and economic cooperation with the countries in the "far arc." So why did Lukashenko go to Dubai under the pretense of attending a climate summit? Does anyone genuinely believe he cares about environmental and climate issues? Lukashenko is skilled at creating such illusions. Throughout his decades of rule, he has been responsible for a series of environmental disasters, including the Svetlogorsk pulp and paper plant, the Brest battery plant, the Ostrovets nuclear power plant, and periodic issues such as discolored or foul-smelling water in Belarusian cities and waste discharges into rivers. Lukashenko's visit to Dubai was not about addressing environmental and climate concerns. His goal was to sort out his ill-gotten gains, redistribute his financial flows, and maintain control over his numerous businesses in the countries of the so-called "far arc." These are businesses built at the expense of Belarusian citizens and to their detriment. Additionally, he sought to establish new schemes to evade the sanctions imposed on his regime.

  • Krzysztof Michalski Prize for Belarusian Journalists in Exile

    I have the great honor to inform you that the Embassy of Austria in Warsaw has announced the acceptance of applications for participation in the competition for the "Krzysztof Michalski Prize for Belarusian Journalists in Exile". As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Award, at the request of the Ambassador of Austria in Warsaw, Andreas Stadler, I would like to convey this information to all interested parties. In the period of brutal suppression of democratic aspirations in Belarus, the dedication of courageous journalists and investigators is more important than ever. They shed light on the truth and thereby make a vital contribution to the formation of civil society and future democracy in Belarus. Their aspiration is encouraged by the award dedicated to the Polish democratic activist and philosopher Krzysztof Michalski. Materials are accepted in 3 categories: analytical journalism that shows the role of Belarusian politics in the international context; journalistic investigation related to Belarus; young talent: for authors under 30 years old (at least 1 year of journalistic work is required). Conditions of participation: Belarusian author(s) in exile; materials must be published after summer 2020: articles, blogs, published or online (3,000–30,000 characters) materials, audio and video materials (from 5 min. to 1 h); a translated version/extended summary (EN) must be available; only one material may be accepted from one author (a list of the author's other publications and a short biography are additionally attached). The total prize fund of the award is 30,000 euros (3 categories of 10,000 euros each). The decision to award the award will be made by an authoritative independent jury, which will include well-known representatives of the journalistic community, embassy employees, and members of the Award's Board of Trustees. Applications should be sent to the email with "Prize for Belarusian Journalists" in the subject of the letter. Winners will be notified by email. The award ceremony will take place in Warsaw in 2024. Sponsor: STRABAG SE. Applications for the Krzysztof Michalski Prize for Belarusian Journalists in Exile are open until December 4.

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