Legendary Hockey Player Gretzky Meets Belarusian Relatives
Wayne Gretzky, the legendary Belarusian-Canadian ice hockey player, has met his Belarusian relatives during a visit to Belarus, Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi reported. Gretzky’s grandfather Anthony Gretzky (Ciarenci Hrecki) was a Belarusian immigrant to Canada. Wayne Gretzky’s Belarusian relatives still live in the Hrodna province of Belarus.
In the early 20th century Ciarenci Hrecki, a peasant from Polesia, together with his wife Hanna and son Zinovi, went to Canada. They fled the war and devastation. Four more of the Hrecki children were born in Canada: Fiodar, Vasil, Kataryna and Voĺha. The family’s history doesn’t mention why, but in the 1930s Hanna and the children had to return to Western Belarus, which was a part of Poland at the time. Ciarenci was supposed to follow his family later on, but he never did.
Ciarenci, without waiting for Hanna, married for a second time. He had more children in the new marriage, including son Walter, the future father of Wayne Gretzky.
Once the Belarusian branch of the Hreckis heard the name Wayne Gretzky, they decided to find out whether they were related. Halina Saldacienkava, Ciarenci’s granddaughter from the Belarusian town of Svislač, recalled that her father Zinovi had for a long time exchanged letters with her grandfather who lived in America. In his letters, the grandfather would often mention Wayne, who he called Vania.
From America came a letter from Albert Gretzky, Wayne’s uncle, and all were convinced that they are relatives. But at the time their relationship didn’t develop into more than an exchange of a few letters. This is the story Halina Saldaciankava told us. It turned out that she and Wayne Gretzky had a common grandfather.
President Signed Decree on Regulation of the Internet
The Belarusian government’s plans to regulate Internet have finally taken a form: last week president Lukašenka has signed a decree on “measures regarding improvement of the national segment of the Internet” (see Russian text of the decree here). The decree sets less strict regulation than in the draft earlier published by Belarusian media, but creates a wide area for potential pressing on freedom of speech on the internet. It seems like the decree would not affect the work of experienced internet-users but may scary regular users from accessing pro-opposition websites. According to the decree, many details regarding identification of internet users and licensing of internet providers are still to be defined by the Govermnent by May 2010.
A Belarusian official says that people will only be allowed to enter Internet cafes with their passports beginning this summer, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reports.
Belarusian Communication and Information Minister Mikalay Pantsyaley said at press conference in Minsk that according to a February 1 decree by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, all Belarusians wanting to enter Internet cafes must have a passport starting on July 1.
Pantsyaley said the decree — which has been criticized by human rights organizations and many Western countries — obliges Internet cafe owners to identify those who enter cafes.