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Oct 8, 2015

Belarus’ veteran leader poised for re-election, eyes better ties with West

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 21 years, is virtually certain to win a fifth term in office on Sunday in an election observers say is unlikely to see the kind of violent mass protests that marred the 2010 poll.

The West has long ostracized Lukashenko, a feisty, heavily built former state farm manager, over his human rights record and his clampdown on political dissent and has imposed economic sanctions on some Belarussian officials and companies.

Oct 8, 2015

Belarussian writer wins Nobel prize, denounces Russia over Ukraine

STOCKHOLM/MINSK (Reuters) – Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union and in her first public response denounced Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as an “invasion”.

The Swedish Academy said Alexievich’s work, which chronicles the lives of Soviet women during World War Two as well as the consequences of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl and the Soviet military adventure in Afghanistan, was “a monument to suffering and courage in our time”.

Aug 23, 2015

Belarus leader pardons six jailed opposition figures

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenko has pardoned six jailed opposition figures, including Nikolai Statkevich who was imprisoned after running against him for the presidency in 2010, his administration said on Saturday.

Lukashenko, who has been in power in the ex-Soviet republic since 1994 and is running for a fifth consecutive term in an election in October, had been motivated by humane principles, his press service said.

May 6, 2015

Ukraine leader warns of worsening conflict, peace envoys more hopeful

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko warned on Wednesday of a growing threat of large-scale military action in the east of the country, but peace envoys reported some progress toward full implementation of a fragile ceasefire agreement.

Earlier Ukraine’s military said five of its servicemen had died in the past 24 hours, while pro-Russian separatist officials said three rebel fighters had been injured in the same period in attacks from the Ukrainian side.

Mar 19, 2015

Belarus surprises rivals with China potash deal

MINSK/MOSCOW, March 19 (Reuters) – Crisis-hit Belarus
reached an unexpected agreement with China on Thursday over 2015
prices for the crop nutrient potash, undercutting Russian and
North American rivals who were negotiating for higher rates.

Potash prices collapsed after Russia’s Uralkali
broke away from a joint trading venture with the Belarussian
Potash Company (BPC) in 2013. They have failed to fully recover,
amid competition between global producers who had previously
maintained high discipline on pricing.

Feb 20, 2015

After Ukraine mediation, EU looks to embrace Lukashenko

MINSK/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s hosting of Ukraine peace talks may be having a side effect — thawing relations between the European Union and a man the West calls “Europe’s last dictator”.

A meeting in Minsk on Friday with the foreign minister of neighbouring Latvia, travelling in his capacity as chair of the EU ministerial council, marked another step in what diplomats say is an accelerating process that could see some easing of sanctions on Lukashenko and even an invitation to a May summit.

Feb 13, 2015

To reach Ukraine accord: high diplomacy, ‘dirty games’ and pig’s fat

MINSK, Feb 13 (Reuters) – The talks lasted more than 17
hours, during which a couple of “buckets” of coffee were drunk,
and took place in what Ukraine’s foreign minister, with some
understatement, described as a “difficult psychological

The ‘family photograph’ of participants at the start of the
four-power marathon in the Belarussian capital Minsk told much
of the story in advance: Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko
stood at one end of the line-up – with the leaders of Germany
and France keeping him well apart from Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Feb 1, 2015

Ukraine peace talks collapse, Kiev and separatists trade blame

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Peace talks on Ukraine collapsed on Saturday after just over four hours with no tangible progress towards a new ceasefire but with Ukraine’s representative and separatist envoys angrily accusing each other of sabotaging the meeting.

Ukraine’s representative, former president Leonid Kuchma, left the talks in Minsk, Belarus, telling Interfax news agency that separatist officials had undermined the meeting by making ultimatums and refusing “to discuss a plan of measures for a quick ceasefire and a pull-back of heavy weapons”.

Jan 31, 2015

Ukraine, rebels gather for peace talks as fighting rages in east

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – A new round of peace talks were about to start on the Ukraine crisis on Saturday, even as fighting between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists raged in the east, claiming civilian and military lives.

A Reuters reporter in the Belarussian capital saw the main participants in the so-called ‘contact group’ — including Ukrainian former president Leonid Kuchma, a Russian diplomat and rebel officials — arrive at Minsk airport and then drive off towards the city.

Jan 30, 2015

Ukraine peace talks aborted as civilians die in east

DONETSK, Ukraine/MINSK (Reuters) – Civilians were killed on both sides in heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine on Friday, while an attempt to reopen peace talks in neighboring Belarus was aborted before it began.

Rebel delegates flew to the Belarus capital Minsk, only to announce that no talks would take place on Friday and they were flying straight back to Moscow. Any talks would be the first since a five-month-old ceasefire collapsed with a new rebel advance last week.