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Belarus officials face EU-US ban

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Belarus officials face EU-US ban

Four top Belarus officials have been banned from entering the European Union and the US, in protest at a crackdown on dissidents.

The EU says Belarus failed to investigate the disappearances of three opposition politicians and a journalist between 1999 and 2000.

The EU asked for the inquiry in May, after a report by the Council of Europe, which campaigns for democracy.

Those banned include the interior minister and the sports minister.

An EU spokesman named the four officials as: Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov, Prosecutor-General Victor Sheyman, Sports Minister Yuri Sivakov, and a high-ranking officer of the special forces, Colonel Pavlichenko.

US pressure

The US State Department said it would take steps "to ensure that Belarusian officials implicated in these politically motivated disappearances will not be able to travel freely to the United States".

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli urged Belarus to "provide a full accounting of these disappearances and the ensuing cover-up, and to hold the perpetrators immediately accountable".

Earlier this year the Council of Europe published a damning report on the disappearances, accusing the Belarusian authorities of a cover-up.

Following forensic-style analysis of what little evidence was available, author Christos Pourgourides concluded that "steps were taken at the highest level" to conceal the truth.

The Pourgourides document accused Belarus officials of being behind the disappearances between May 1999 and July 2000 of former Interior Minister Yuri Zakharenko, former Prime Minister Viktor Gonchar, former electoral commission chairman Anatoly Krasovski and journalist Dimitri Zavadski.

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Didn't Belarus and Russia signed a union act in the 90s? huh.gif

What's taking that union so long? huh.gif

Anyone has info about it?

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"Belarus and Russia signed a treaty in April 1997 aimed at significantly increasing cooperation between the two states, stopping just short of union. "

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Your welcome grin2.gif

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Medics reject Ukraine 'poisoning'

Austrian doctors have dismissed allegations by Ukraine's main opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, that he was poisoned by his opponents.

Mr Yushchenko, a candidate in October's presidential election, flew to Vienna's Rudolfinerhaus hospital for treatment after falling ill earlier this month.

He said the Ukrainian authorities had tried to poison him - but the hospital said it had found no medical evidence.

The government in Ukraine has denied trying to kill Mr Yushchenko.

The Austrian hospital would not say what it thought caused Mr Yushchenko's symptoms, but released a statement saying: "False information about Mr Yushchenko having been poisoned has been widely disseminated in Ukraine and taken up by the international press, in which our hospital was directly referred to.

"The information disseminated about an alleged poisoning is absolutely unfounded in medical terms," it said. "In order to silence these rumours ... [the hospital] has decided to abandon its usual attitude of reserve and make a public statement."


The head of the Ukrainian security service, Igor Shmeshko, has given evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into Mr Yushchenko's allegations.

He told them he had had a meal with the opposition leader the day before he fell ill. He said the meal lasted into the early hours of the morning.

During a parliamentary speech last week, Mr Yushchenko was said to have had difficulty speaking, and his face was puffy, red and seemed to be paralysed on one side.

In an angry speech, which was televised, he urged deputies to stand up to the government, warning that they could be next on its list of potential victims.

He pointed to previous suspicious deaths of political opponents and opposition journalists in President Leonid Kuchma's Ukraine.

In August, an attempt was allegedly made to force Mr Yushchenko's car off a road as he campaigned in Ukraine.

He has now resumed campaigning for the presidential vote on 31 October.

He is in a close race with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who is backed by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma.

However, analysts predict neither candidate will win outright in the first round, forcing a second round in November.

Seriously though, that entire area seems to have gone too pot laugh.gifrolleyes.gif

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New tests for Ukrainian candidate

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has returned to Austria for new tests in connection with a mystery illness he developed three weeks ago.

The presidential candidate entered a Vienna clinic with an acute stomach complaint on 10 September but was later released and returned to campaigning.

Doctors have distanced themselves from initial reports that he was poisoned.

His office said he was well, but was returning to the Rudolfinerhaus clinic for new tests lasting several days.

The clinic took the unusual step on Wednesday of issuing a statement to deny having found any evidence of poisoning during the initial examination.

"We are unable to assess the cause [of the illness] so far," Dr Michael Zimpfer, head of the intensive care unit at Rudolfinerhaus, told reporters.

Mr Yushchenko's own doctor, Mykola Korpan, said on the same day that the diagnosis was still open.

"The cause or causes of the condition are still fully open and will require further examination," he said.

Dinner date

Mr Yushchenko is in a close race for the 31 October election with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who is backed by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma.

His campaign manager, Oleksander Zinchenko, announced on 17 September that said there was "enough evidence" to speak of an "attempt on [Mr Yushchenko's] life".

The candidate had been taken ill after a dinner on 5 September with top Ukrainian security officials, including the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ihor Smeshko.

Mr Smeshko told parliament this week that it was a "matter of honour" for the SBU to investigate the poisoning allegations and he urged the candidate to undergo a forensic examination.

"We will do everything to resolve the case as soon as possible," he told reporters.

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