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31 Mar 2016

Belarusian polar explorers to return from Antarctica in summer

MINSK, 31 March (BelTA) – The eighth Belarusian Antarctic expedition will return to the home country at the beginning of summer, BelTA learned from Vladimir Gusakov, Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB), on 31 March.

The official said: “According to the latest reports we are getting from the expedition, with which we are constantly in touch, they are supposed to arrive in Saint Petersburg on board of the Russian research vessel Akademik Fyodorov on 1 June. After that we can expect them to appear shortly in Belarus.”

The vessel carrying the Belarusian expedition was initially supposed to return in April 2016. However the Akademik Fyodorov ship needed repairs. “At present our polar explorers are at the Russian station Novolazarevskaya where they are waiting for the repairs to finish,” said the NASB head.

On 12 February participants of the Belarusian Antarctic expedition left the site near Vechernyaya Mountain where the Belarusian Antarctic station is being built. “The first module was installed and our polar explorers joined the Russian expedition. They had to fly for six hours for that,” said Vladimir Gusakov.

BelTA reported earlier that the eighth Belarusian Antarctic expedition solemnly began during the expanded-participation session of the NASB Presidium bureau on 29 October 2015. The Belarusian expedition includes five people. All of them are novices except for the expedition's leader Alexei Gaidashov: the surgeon Leonid Nikityuk, the weather observer Sergei Torbik, the engineer and radio operator Maxim Gorbatsevich, and the mechanic Alexei Zakhvatov.

In 2015 the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus prepared a draft new government program for monitoring polar areas of the Earth, creating a Belarusian Antarctic station and enabling the operation of polar expeditions in 2016-2020. Apart from a large number of scientific projects the first startup complex of the Belarusian Antarctic station will be built within the framework of the program's implementation. With a full-value station of its own, Belarus will be able to make the final step, secure its presence in Antarctica, and get the status of a consultative party to the Atlantic Treaty.

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