belarus traditional child ornament

Uladzimir Katkouski Memorial Prize

April 14th, 2008

In the spring of 2006, shortly before the tragic accident Rydel won the Gran Prix in the content competition organized by . He was very happy to have received this price, although unfortunately he was not able to hold it in his own hands.
Uladzimir’s family decided to have a prize in the name and honor of Uladzimir in the context of the yearly web content project organized by When we looked through the candidates, we were trying to select the winner using the criteria that Rydel would use. We hope that we did not get it wrong. This year’s prize went to Твой стыль.
The prize was handed over to them by Uladzimir’s father. In his speech Leanid also used the possibility to address the blogging community and appeal to them in order to help and continue the work that Uladzimir started on the internet, especially relating to and
We thank all of you who have been and continue to be by our side!

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Uladzimir’s family

For more links on the subject please see:

on Radio Free Europe
on Nasha Niva
video on
on Your Style


May 30th, 2007

Dear Friends,

All of you that knew Uladzimir Katkouski, personally or through the net, may come and pay your respects to him, on Saturday, the 2nd of June till 15:00 at the address: Mensk, Sharanhovicha street, house.52, apt. 161. The funeral procession starts at 15:00 and we will all go towards the Piatroushchyna cemetery (crossing between Chyhunachnaja street and avenue Dziarzhynskaha) where the funeral will take place.

Thank you

Uladzimir’s family

Piatroushchyna Cemetery

May 26th, 2007

Dear Friends,
Tonight was the saddest day of our lives. Uladzimir, after a long fight passed away in Prague. We believe it was his wish to be returned to his home country Belarus. He will be buried next week in Minsk. Our consolation is that a lot of people are feeling for him and are with our thoughts in this moment. It has been a blessing to have had him with us!

Uladzimir’s family

Genocide at a Russian Opera

June 12th, 2006

Contemplating Genocide at a Moscow Opera:

I try very hard not to be Russophobic, and most of the time I succeed. There is one place, however, where I frequently have fantasies of mercilessly hacking to death scores of Russians with a blunt machete — the concert hall. It’s one thing when high-school dropouts and small children talk and laugh their way through cinema showings, but it’s quite another when grown men and women, who think themselves to be “kulturny,” casually talk and cough all through concert performances given by professional musicians…

I wonder how it is that the people of this nation [Russian], which is responsible for some of the longest and most profound novels and operas in the history of mankind, are unable to concentrate for more than about three seconds. And why is it that it seems to be only me whose blood pressure soars when my evening out is ruined by the blathering vermin in the row behind me? I suppose that having learned, over decades, to put up with hearing your next door neighbor beating up his wife, having piss leak through the ceiling of your disgusting box-like apartment, and seeing people literally drink themselves to death on your doorstep, a little chatter at the opera is hardly going to test your levels of endurance.

I think, it also applies to Belarusians, at least partially.

On a few occasions I myself was one of those “high-school dropouts that talk and laugh their way through cinema showings”. It’s just my mother always brought me to operas by force, so I always felt out of place there, sometimes restless, sometimes very tense and uncomfortable, and almost always experiencing this bizarre urge to laugh, I guess in order to relieve this internal tension.

Now I’m getting old, and there seems to be a direct correlation between my age and my music taste. Nowdays I have several gigabytes of classical music in mp3. Though, I have to confess, I have no Russian recordings, except Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

P.S. Strangely enough, this article is located on the same website that published that disgusting story from an American whore-hunter in Slutsk, Belarus.

Lucas Cranach && Extinct Shark

June 12th, 2006

On Saturday we visited Lobkowicz’s castle near Prague, saw the original paintings of Lucas Cranach, Rubens, Breugel, and many other famous painters, including unique paintings of Spanish artists from 15th and 16th century. Walking through the castle rooms I felt awed and even subdued by the weight of this centuries-old art and European civilization. And this is all just a private collection of one man, prince Lobkowicz who lives in the States.

Lucas Cranach (1472-1553). Nelahozeves
Wer unter euch ohne Sünde ist, werfe den ersten Stein

It really amazed me how little the German language has changed in the last 500 years, at least, according to this inscription by Lucas Cranach.

And on Friday I bought a fossil shark tooth at the National museum gift shop in Prague:

The big tooth supposedly belongs to an extinct shark Otodus obliquus, the Great Grandmother of the Megalodon, and is one of the earliest mackerel sharks. Otodus obliquus was the king of the early Eocene, approximately 50-55 million years ago. This tooth comes from Morocco.

The smaller tooth belongs to Odontaspis substriata, some obscure small sand shark that is also now extinct. There’s very little information about it on the Internet.

After our field trips we came home and I immediately went online (of course), to my usual places of interest, but seeing all those trifle, insignificant news and raging “flame wars”, I suddenly felt how meaningless and futile is all this blogging “activity” on the Belarusian Internet.

I lie down on the floor, touch the shark tooth and try to imagine that this shark was alive 50 million years ago, and then I try to visualize my own life span on that time scale.

Germany - Czech Republic (not football)

June 11th, 2006

Ze Germans are still pressuring Czechs about “bad treatment” of Germans during World War Two and apparently are planning to engage in WWII revisionism:

Even before a new Czech government has been constituted, prominent German politicians are exerting pressure on Prague. They are demanding the indictment of former members of the Czechoslovakian resistance against Nazi-occupation. The Prime Minister of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, called on the conservative winners of the elections in Prague to meet this demand. Last weekend, Stoiber was the keynote speaker at a German revisionist federation’s meeting (”Sudeten Germans’ Day”). Under the slogan “Banishment is Genocide” they declare that the resettlement of Germans, in the aftermath of WW II, are crimes without a statute of limitations and can therefore be prosecuted at any time.

Read more @ There are some very interesting statements from Edmund Stoiber. Does it mean that Germans feel strong and nationalistic again? Does it mean German nationalists are becoming WWII revisionists?

P.S. Also, please note how this German “expert” describes Radio Free Europe:

“Radio Free Europe was founded by the US secret services” (!)

Tomasz Wacko killed by Norwegian police?

June 9th, 2006

Tomasz Wacko (pronounced Vah-ts-koh) died exactly three years ago. Until yesterday I didn’t even know he existed.

He was an opposition (”Solidarnosc”) activist from Poland, who found refuge in Norway and became a prominent human rights activist at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, also devoting a lot of time and effort to the democracy cause in Belarus. And then in 2003, totally unexpectedly, he died from the hands of … the Norwegian police.

Unfortunately, there’s very little information in English about the circumstances of his death. It’s as if someone is trying hard to cover it up. Here are some bits and pieces that I’ve found:

The Wacko case: Police charged with involuntary manslaughter

Tomasz Wacko, known to his large number of friends both in Norway, Poland and throughout Central and Eastern Europe, as Tomek, was only 44 years old when he died under terribly tragic circumstances earlier this year. To his premature death, however, there is also an element of almost unbelievably cruel irony. From his years in the then permanently persecuted Polish underground opposition, Tomek had survived numerous clashes with General Jaruzelski´s Police, Army and Security Forces, and also two periods behind bars, during which he became a natural leader for his fellow prisoners of conscience. After fourteen years in Norway, twelve of them spent as a full-time human rights activist, he died at the hands of the Norwegian Police.

Here are three news sources in Norwegian that I’ve found:

Død av oksygenmangel (Dead from oxygen deficiency?) “Han overlevde mye, unntatt norsk politi. Han reddet mange, unntatt seg selv.” An article in a popular Norwegian newspaper “Dagbladet.”

Politimann tiltalt for drap. An article in another popular Norwegian newspaper “Aftenposten.”

Dødsfall i Politiets varetekt. Apparently it’s a collection of stories about police violence and crimes committed by Norwegian policemen, and some of the material, as far as I could understand was about Tomasz Wacko’s case.

If someone who speaks Norwegian could make a short English summary of these articles, I would be very thankful.

I’ve also found some information in Polish and Belarusan:

Tomek Wacko (1958-2003) historyk, obrońca praw człowieka, polityk. Od 1990 rok w Norwegii pracuje w Komitecie Helsińskim. Pomaga organizacjom i ruchom walczącym o prawa człowieka w krajach b.ZSRR. Znany i popularny wśród działaczy politycznych i społecznych w Rosji, Czeczeni, Ukrainie, Białorusi. W 2003 roku umiera w szpitalu w Oslo po absurdalnej i brutalnej interwencji norweskich policjantów.

My translation: “Tomek Wacko (1958), a historian, human rights activist and politician. From 1990 he worked at the Norwegian Helsinki committee. He was helping human rights movements in the former USSR. He was well-known in the political circles in Russia, Chechnya, Ukraine and Belarus. In 2003 he died at the hospital in Oslo after an absurd and brutal intervention of the Norwegian police.”

And one of the comments at some online forum from someone with a nickname kLaudiusz:

policja norweska to chuje!…sam doswiadczylem tego, gdy spalem sobie spokojnie w samochodzie na parkingach a te cioty sie do mnie przypieprzaly…tym wieksze bylo moje wkurwienie gdy Jacob powiedzial mi o okolicznosciach jego smierci!

Approximate translation: “Norwegian police are dickheads! I myself can testify to that, when I was calmly sleeping in my car on a parking lot and those idiots bothered me… That’s why I was even more mad when Jacob told me about the circumstances of his death!”

See also:

Ostatnie pożegnanie Tomasza Wacko — some photos from the funeral

Tomasz Wacko died three years ago — a former Polish ambassador to Belarus Mariusz Maszkiewicz explains that Tomasz Wacko was very involved in Belarusian affairs. He says that thanks to Wacko Norwegian politicians became aware of Belarus and the he laid the groundwork for Alexander Milinkevich’s visit to Norway.

It’s a very weird story.

MOVIE: Five Fingers

June 5th, 2006

A movie about terrorists? A psychological thriller? A political commentary on US-Arab situation? Lawrence Fishburne speaking with Arabic accent and pulling a great performance? A movie that is shot in one room but never gets boring? Is that something that would interest you? Then I highly recommend you a new movie “Five Fingers” (imdb).

Belarus or Belgium? It’s the same

June 3rd, 2006

Is it just me or geographical mix-ups with Belarus are now happening more and more often? New Dehli TV (India) reports from Paris:

“Bhupathi and Xavier Malisse of Belarus registered an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory over Gilles Muller of Luxemburg and Christophe Rochus of Belarus to move into the second round of the clay court event.”

I guess when you are coming from one-billion strong nation on another continent (or “subcontinent” as they like to call themselves in भारत गणराज्य), Belarus and Belgium might appear very similar, especially because they are so damn similar — both start with a “Bel”. How are you supposed to distinguish between the two? It’s very hard.

P.S. By the way, Moscow has been moved to a more proper place on that funny Sky Europe map, but Belarus border is still not drawn. So our country is still non-existent or already nuked, according to Sky Europe.

Roland Garros Shock

June 1st, 2006

As you can see, Eurosport editors put up the national white-red-white flag (!) next to the name of the Belarusan tennis player Anastassia Yakimova who was playing against Belgian star Henin-Hardenne today on the main court of Roland Garros. The white-red-white flag was banned by Alexander Lukashenka in 1996. Since then he forbid using it and made the revamped Soviet-era BSSR flag our state symbol again. You can be beaten up or arrested by police in Belarus if you publicly display a white-red-white flag. Kudos to Eurosport for using this flag today! This is really an amazing “mistake.” The national flag was banned by the dictator more than 10 years ago, so I’m pretty sure it’s not an accidental mistake of the Eurosport editors and the “good” flag was chosen on purpose.

This might seem like a meaningless trifle, but this caused an amazing excitement in the Belarusian blogosphere. Dozens of bloggers wrote about it today (some also in English).