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Newsline - September 13, 2001




PUTIN SPEAKS WITH BUSH ABOUT COOPERATION AFTER TERRORIST ATTACKS

President Vladimir Putin on 12 September telephoned his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush to discuss expanding cooperation against terrorism, Russian and Western agencies reported. Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said that the attacks could lead to greater cooperation between Russia and the United states "in the fight against international terrorism." Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Russia believes there should be a G-8 summit on terrorism and a global system to counter terrorism. Vershbow said the U.S. will consider those proposals. PG

PUTIN DIRECTS GOVERNMENT TO IMPROVE SECURITY, ASSIST U.S.

President Putin on 12 September directed his government to ensure that all security arrangements in Russia are working and to take steps to fill any gaps, RIA-Novosti reported. He specifically asked Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to ensure that Russian crisis planning is in order and to offer assistance to the United States following the terrorist attacks there. Meanwhile, Russian officials across the country stepped up security at transportation and other facilities and limited air traffic. Russian officials also called off some military flights lest they lead to more tension. To highlight Russian concern, Putin issued a decree calling for a minute of silence in Russia on 13 September to commemorate "the victims of the tragedy in the United States." VY

RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE CALLS FOR ANTITERROR ALLIANCE...

Sergei Lebedev, the director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), said that the attacks on the U.S. highlight the global nature of terrorist threats, "Trud" reported on 12 September. He said that his agency is maintaining close ties with its American and European counterparts in order to counter the terrorist threat. Meanwhile, Yurii Drozdov, a veteran Soviet intelligence officer who earlier supervised the elite Vympel special forces group, said that the 11 September attack was carried out by individuals who know the weaknesses of the United States and who worked long and hard to perfect their operation. Because such an operation would have required much time, Drozdov added, the failure of U.S. intelligence services to detect it highlights their shortcomings. That could point to more problems ahead, he suggested. VY

...WHILE FSB SAYS IT THINKS IT KNOWS WHO ATTACKED U.S...

A spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB) said on 12 September that his service strongly suspects that the Jamiya Al-Islamiya group based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia was behind the attacks on the U.S., ITAR-TASS reported. He added that this organization has both the financial resources and knowledge to implement such a terrorist action. "Izvestiya" reported the same day that an FSB official has handed over to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency its information on that group. Meanwhile, the FSB released information about its high success rate in identifying terrorist groups and preventing terrorist actions, Interfax reported the same day. VY/PG

...AND AIR FORCE COMMANDER ASSURES RUSSIANS IT COULD NOT HAPPEN IN THEIR COUNTRY

General Anatolii Kornukov, the commander in chief of the Russian air force, said on 12 September that any terrorist act like those that hit New York and Washington could not take place in Russia, Interfax reported. He said that "if I found out that a passenger plane had been seized by terrorists and was heading toward the Kremlin, I would give the order for its destruction, however sad that would be. At the price of the lives of the hostages, we would save the lives of many hundreds and thousands of others," Kornukov concluded. But "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 September quoted Kornukov as acknowledging that if an aircraft with terrorists took off from the environs of Moscow and set course for the Kremlin, "frankly, we would not have time" to shoot it down. PG

RUSSIAN MEDIA FOCUSES ON TERRORIST ATTACK

The Russian media on 12 September were filled with stories about the terrorist attacks on the United States. Some of the stories, as in "Kommersant-Daily," suggested that similar things could happen in Russia. Others, in the same paper, suggested that the U.S. had trained the terrorists involved. And still a third theme, like in "Komsomolskaya Pravda," suggested that the U.S. should now be more understanding of Russia's fight in Chechnya. But most were like "Vremya novostei," and carried headlines like "The World Has Collapsed." PG

POLITICIANS REACT TO THE ATTACKS

The Duma Council decided on 12 September not to convene a special session of the parliament but it did adopt a call for a UN resolution condemning terrorism and approved a statement expressing sympathy to the U.S., Russian agencies reported. Duma deputy speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that he expects the Israelis to provide the U.S. with the precise addresses of terrorist camps and for the U.S. to strike possibly with tactical nuclear weapons "from Pakistan to Algeria," Interfax reported. But he added that "for the next 40 years, no one will be able to defeat terrorism." Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin said that the U.S. and Russia must work together to counter the terrorist threat and to develop a new international system, RTR reported the same day. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that the "bestial attack" highlighted America's weakness, but he warned against fanning prejudices against any nation or religion, Interfax reported. That view was echoed by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, who noted that "terror does not have a nationality," the news service said. Meanwhile, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky called for avoiding "acts of revenge" that will only spread the flames of conflict, but at the same time he urged the international community to come down hard on those who inflict terror on others, Russian agencies reported. PG

REGIONAL LEADERS EXPRESS HORROR, ORDER INCREASED VIGILANCE FOLLOWING ATTACK ON U.S...

The reaction of regional leaders to the terrorists acts in the U.S. on 11 September was a mixture of horror and concern. Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed and Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov both suggested that the U.S. should reexamine its security systems. Rakhimov noted that the events demonstrate the complete failure of the highly praised American security system. Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev suggested that Russia should call a session of the State Council to discuss measures aimed at preventing terrorist acts on Russian territory, Interfax reported. Tuleev also called the incident a "barbarous act of terrorism" that threatens "the entire civilized world." Meanwhile, the Siberian Military District in connection with the incidents increased security measures on 12 September, Interfax-Eurasia reported. In Chita Oblast, the Antiterrorist Commission conducted a meeting at which they discussed measures to prevent terrorism in the region. JAC

...AS WORKERS VOLUNTEER FUNDS, SERVICES

In Ulyanovsk Oblast, the workers collective of a private food store, "Tikhii omut" decided to send their wages and store proceeds for three days to those victims of the incidents, Interfax-Eurasia reported. The store's manager, Ruslan Shibokaev, is currently trying to find out how to transfer the funds, according to the agency. And, in Primorskii Krai, specially trained workers from the Far Eastern regional center of the Emergency Situations Ministry are prepared to travel to New York to assist in search and rescue operations, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

RUSSIANS EXCHANGE DOLLARS BUT CENTRAL BANK DOES NOT...

Even as countless Russians expressed their sympathies to the United States, many of them, frightened by the possible economic consequences of the terrorist attack against the United States, on 11-12 September sold dollars and drove the street price down from just under 30 rubles to the dollar to 20 or even less, Russian and Western agencies reported. But Russian officials, including Prime Minister Kasyanov, said there are no fundamental reasons for the dollar to decline, and the official exchange rate declined only slightly to 29.45. Meanwhile, Central Bank Deputy Chairman Oleg Mozhaiskov said that his agency will continue to keep the same 80 percent of its reserves in dollars as it has in the past. By close of business, the street price of the dollar had risen closer to the official rate. VY/PG

...AS REGIONAL RESIDENTS' FAITH IN DOLLAR WAVERS

While the street value of the dollar plunged in Moscow, residents of Rostov-na-Donu and Volgodonsk in Rostov Oblast tried to get rid of their U.S. dollars, Interfax reported. In Volgodonsk, up to 100 people stood in lines from the early morning to sell their dollars. Some private traders were trying to buy them for 15-20 rubles. In Tatarstan, the dollar dipped by four rubles on local exchanges to 25-26 rubles, according to ITAR-TASS, and there were no lines at exchange points. In Krasnoyarsk, "black market" traders were buying dollars for 15-20 rubles. In Khabarovsk, the value of the dollar dipped to 20.6 rubles from its previous level of 29.6 rubles. JAC

MOSCOW WANTS TO KEEP CHEMICAL WEAPONS FROM FALLING INTO TERRORIST HANDS

Sergei Kirienko, the Presidential envoy to the Volga federal district and the head of the state commission overseeing chemical disarmament, said on 12 September that Moscow is prepared to discuss the acceleration of the destruction of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists, RTR television reported. Kirienko noted that chemical and biological weapons are the most dangerous as far as international terrorism is concerned. VY

ANALYSTS CONSIDER POSSIBLE FALLOUT FROM THE ATTACKS

Andrei Piontkovskii, a Moscow political analyst, told AFP on 12 September that President Putin will be seeking "political gains" from the attack and will insist that Washington "stop criticizing Russian actions in Chechnya" in exchange for Moscow's support now. Sergei Karaganov, the head of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, suggested that one or another state must have helped the terrorists since it would have been "impossible" to carry out such an attack otherwise, Interfax reported. Gleb Pavlovskii, the head of the Fund for Effective Policy and a Kremlin adviser, said that the attacks show that the old model of international relations based on alliances and power is no longer relevant, and that the leaders of the international community must cooperate to fight terrorism, the Russian news agency reported. Former FSB Director Nikolai Kovalev suggested to Interfax the same day that the terrorist acts against the U.S. reflect an intelligence failure not only there but in other countries as well. PG

FSB CONDUCTS COUNTERTERRORIST EXERCISE

On 12 September, the FSB conducted a counterterrorist exercise in Volgodonsk to test procedures for defending nuclear power stations and transportation facilities from terrorist attacks, Russian agencies announced on 12 September. It was the final stage of the FSB's ATOM-2001 exercise and was announced prior to the terrorist actions in New York and Washington. PG

PUTIN REVAMPS PARDONS COMMISSION

President Putin has approved a new chairman and new members for the Presidential Pardons Commission, Russian agencies reported. Vladimir Kartashkin, a scholar from the Institute of State and Law, will now head the group in place of writer Anatolii Pristavkin, who was considered too liberal in many quarters. Among other new members are Institute of Europe Director Nikolai Shmelev, "Vek" Editor Aleksandr Kolodnii, actor Georgii Zhzhenov, and a number of officials from the Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Federation Affairs ministries. VY

PUTIN POINTS TO 'UNIFYING STRENGTH' OF RUSSIAN LANGUAGE

In a message to a conference of Russian specialists in Poland on 12 September, President Putin said he is especially pleased by the interest shown in Poland and elsewhere in the Russian language because of the "unifying strength" of the language, Interfax reported. PG

DUMA OBSERVERS SAY BELARUS VOTE CONFORMED TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

Members of the Russian Duma who observed the 9 September presidential elections in Belarus said on 12 September that the vote there conformed to international standards, Interfax reported. They acknowledged that the election process in Belarus had certain shortcomings, but they suggested that Western criticism of the election is misplaced. PG

RUSSIANS RETAIN ANTIPARTIES ATTITUDES

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by "Vremya MN" on 12 September, 52 percent of Russians say that political parties only bring harm. The paper suggested that this attitude is a remnant from the Soviet era when many people believed that even one party was too much. The paper added that the weakness of Russia's parties, combined with the dependence of those organizations on the personalities of their leaders, has only reinforced that attitude. As a result, "Vremya MN" said, those who portray themselves as above or beyond the party system often attract support. PG

BEREZOVSKY SAID PREPARING TO RELEASE NEW WAVE OF 'KOMPROMAT'

Gennadii Gudkov, a member of the Duma Security Committee, on 12 September called embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky "one of the figures of an information war directed against the president of Russia and the FSB," Interfax reported. Gudkov said that Berezovsky was responsible for stories in the press suggesting that Putin is a creature of the security organs, and then for another batch of stories pointing to the rise of security officers in the Putin administration. Gudkov said that he has information that Berezovsky is planning to release new compromising information ("kompromat") on 18-19 September. PG

SUPREME COURT TO CONSIDER CHALLENGE TO SECRECY DECREE

The Russian Supreme Court on 12 September began hearing a challenge to a Defense Ministry decree on state secrets that has often served as the basis for charges against researchers and others, Russian and Western agencies reported. The human rights activists who filed the challenge to the 1996 decree argue that it violates both the Russian Constitution and the law on state secrets. PG

RUSSIA-U.S. TALKS ON STRATEGIC ARMS RECESSED

Following the terrorist attacks on the U.S., the strategic stability consultations between Russia and the U.S. were recessed, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 September. Before that decision was taken, Russian officials stressed that Moscow seeks a radical reduction in the number of warheads, and the American side said it would provide Moscow with information on proposed cuts, Russian and Western agencies reported. Meanwhile, Russian officials stressed that the missile defense system proposed by the U.S. and opposed by Moscow would not be able to prevent terrorist attacks like the ones on the U.S. this week, an assertion with which American diplomats concurred. PG

MOSCOW MIGHT BE WILLING TO SEND TROOPS TO MACEDONIA

Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on 12 September that under certain conditions Russia might be willing to take part in an international peacekeeping operation in Macedonia, Interfax reported. Among those conditions are the acceptance of the territorial integrity of that country and the inviolability of its borders, Yakovenko said. Earlier, Russian Defense Ministry officials had suggested that Moscow would not take part. PG

DENIAL OF VISA TO DALAI LAMA ANGERS RUSSIAN BUDDHISTS

According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 September, Moscow's decision to deny a transit visa to the Dalai Lama of Tibet may have appeased Beijing, but it has infuriated many Russian Buddhists who view that action as an indication that Moscow is not interested in defending their interests. President Kiran Ilyumzhinov of the predominantly Buddhist Kalmyk Republic complained to Putin about the visa denial and told RFE/RL's Russian Service that the authorities are now obligated to invite the Dalai Lama to Russia. PG

MILITARY OPPOSES SHORTENING LENGTH OF DRAFTEES' SERVICE NOW

Colonel General Vladislav Putilin, the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said in a reply to a Duma inquiry that the military opposes cutting the length of time draftees must serve from two years to six months at the present time, Interfax reported on 12 September. Putilin said that such a reduction in service time might be possible when the percentage of professional soldiers and sergeants has increased from its current 20 to 50. Meanwhile, Duma deputy (Union of Rightist Forces) Sergei Yushenkov said on Ekho Moskvy radio on 11 September that his organization opposes the introduction of military training courses for students in the upper grades. He said that that represents "the further militarization" of Russia. PG

IZHEVSK PLANT PRODUCING ANTIAIRCRAFT MISSILES FOR IRAN

"Vremya MN" reported on 12 September that the Izhevsk Kupol plant is currently producing Tor-M antiaircraft missiles for Iran. PG

FINANCE MINISTRY TO REDUCE EXPORT DUTIES

Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Ignatiev told Prime-TASS on 12 September that the government will reduce by up to 20 percent the export duties on all commodities except oil and gas. Some duties will be reduced gradually, he said, and others will be eliminated altogether, "Vedomosti" reported on the same day. The planned action reflects both weakening demand abroad for Russian products and charges of dumping against Moscow. VY

RUSSIAN AIRLINES SEE INCREASE IN PASSENGER TRAFFIC FOR FIRST TIME IN NINE YEARS

Valerii Okulov, the general director of Aeroflot, said in Moscow on 12 September that Russian airlines have carried 15 percent more people so far in 2001 compared to the same period in 2000, Russian agencies reported. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov noted the same day that 2001 is a transition year, adding that the government plans to help firms lease more aircraft. He also pointed out that the terrorist attacks in the U.S. demonstrate that Russian airlines also need to improve their security measures. PG

SPENDING ON ADVERTISING TOPPED $1 BILLION IN 2000

Officials of the Russian Advertising Council announced that spending on advertising rose 45 percent between 1999 and 2000 and topped $1 billion in the latter year, "Vremya MN" reported on 12 September. But according to a Gallup Media poll cited by the paper, only 30 percent of Russians like advertising, and most are unwilling to admit that it has any positive effect on them. PG

BONNER SAYS STATE CANNOT FORM CIVIL SOCIETY

In a wide-ranging interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 September, Yelena Bonner, the widow of academician Andrei Sakharov and a leading human rights activist, said that civil society cannot be created by the state but must evolve on its own. She added that this process is inevitably long and often difficult, and criticized President Putin for thinking that he can help develop civil society by organizing a Civic Forum later this year. Putin came to power because of his backing of the war in Chechnya, and now "he does not know how to get out of it," Bonner said. Moreover, she added, Putin has "become the hostage of those forces that are prosecuting this war." PG

SALVATION ARMY'S MOSCOW BRANCH ORDERED TO DISBAND

A court in Moscow on 12 September ordered the closing down of the Moscow branch of the U.K.-based Salvation Army, Interfax reported. The court announced the decision before the Army's lawyer could appear; he arrived 15 minutes late. The humanitarian assistance organization will appeal the decision. PG

SUFISM DEFENDED AS INTEGRAL PART OF ISLAM

An article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Religii," No. 17, argues that Sufism should not be treated as some "special" or "mystical" tendency in Islam but rather viewed as essentially "a truly Islamic path of spiritual perfection for a Muslim." Such a view is at odds with the approach typically adopted by both Russian and Western writers on this aspect of Islam. PG

INTERFAX, AVN COMBINE OPERATIONS

The Russian news companies Interfax and the Agency for Military News (AVN) officially announced on 12 September that the two will combine resources to produce Interfax-AVN, Interfax reported. Interfax will continue all of its current services, but the new combined agency will draw on its military experts as well as those of AVN to double the number of news stories covered by AVN to 60-70 a day. PG

SCHOOLS RECEIVE TEXTBOOK ON EMIGRE WRITERS

The Prosveshchenie publishing house has just issued a handbook for teachers on Russian emigre writers, the "Ex Libris" supplement to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 September. Entitled "From Merezhkovskii to Brodskii," the book was prepared by literary scholar Oleg Mikhailov. PG

BUTYRKA ESCAPEES STILL AT LARGE, MAY HAVE LEFT RUSSIA

Justice Ministry officials said on 12 September that the three prisoners who escaped from Moscow's Butyrka prison on 5 September are still at large and may now be beyond the borders of Russia, Interfax reported. Among the places where they may be, officials said, are "Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Baltic countries, and even Poland." PG

PRISONERS IN NOVOSIBIRSK ORGANIZE ART SHOW

Paintings produced by inmates in the correction institutions of Novosibirsk Oblast are now on view at a Novosibirsk city art gallery, "Izvestiya" reported on 12 September. The collection was introduced to the public earlier this month by Tatyana Lyakh, who was released from prison three months ago. PG

PROSECUTOR SLAMS ACTIVITIES OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN SAKHA

In an interview with "Vremya MN" on 12 September, Deputy Prosecutor-General Vasilii Kolmogorov called the restoration effort in the city of Lensk in the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic extremely ineffective. Kolmogorov recently traveled to Sakha, where he conducted a check of how monies to liquidate the effects of last spring's flood have been spent. He said that dozens of useless commissions have been created to cope with the disaster, but their activities frequently lead to muddles and abuses of office. "Vremya novostei" reported the previous day that Kolmogorov, who was born in Sakha, may run for president of the republic in December 2001 elections. JAC

NIZHNII GOVERNOR CONSOLIDATES POWER

Nizhnii Novgorod's Legislative Assembly voted on 12 September to support recently elected Governor Gennadii Khodyrev's proposal that he act not only as governor but also as prime minister of the oblast's government, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 2001). According to the legislature's speaker, Anatolii Kozeradskii, Khodyrev agreed in return to seek the legislature's approval of his candidates for the ministers of finance and property relations. The previous prime minister, Sergei Obozov, who was a former employee of presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Kirienko, quit shortly after Khodyrev's election. JAC




ARMENIAN OFFICIAL'S MURDER LINKED TO HIS 'PROFESSIONAL DUTIES'?

Armenian Interior Minister Hayk Harutiunian told parliament deputies on 12 September that "we have no concrete results yet" in the investigation of the 11 September murder of Gagik Poghossian, an aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). Harutiunian added that he believes Poghossian's death was connected with his "professional activities," but did not elaborate. Poghossian served from May to October 2000 as tax minister, and from July 2001 as head of the government oversight committee, which is responsible for launching financial inspections at government agencies suspected of misuse of public funds. "Hayots ashkharh" on 13 September said that shortly before his murder he provided the paper with documents implicating former Environment Minister Murad Muradian in corruption. The paper claimed without citing its sources that Poghossian was killed by the "mafia." LF

ARMENIA, IRAN SEEK TO EXPAND TRADE, ECONOMIC TIES

Iranian Trade Minister Mohammad Shariat-Madari told journalists in Yerevan on 12 September following two days of talks with top Armenian officials that agreement has been reached on expanding bilateral trade and commercial ties, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Noyan Tapan reported. Specifically, Shariat-Madari said that an agreement has been drafted that would loosen current restrictions on more than 40 types of goods manufactured in Armenia and exported to Iran. He also said that experts from both countries are continuing to put the finishing touches to plans to build a 140-kilometer gas pipeline to supply Armenia with Iranian gas and a hydroelectric power station on the Araks River, which forms the southern border between the two countries. During talks earlier on 12 September, Shariat-Madari and President Robert Kocharian agreed that the close ties between their respective countries constitute "an important factor for peace and stability in the region." LF

ARMENIA RELEASES TWO AZERBAIJANI POWS

One Azerbaijani serviceman and one civilian, both of whom were taken prisoner some two months ago by Armenian forces, were released on 12 September through the good offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Turan reported. The two men have returned to Azerbaijan. LF

PACE CHAIRMAN VISITS GEORGIA

Lord Russell-Johnston held talks in Tbilisi on 12 September with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili, parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, and members of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze assured Russell-Johnston that Georgia will comply fully with the commitments it made when it was accepted into full membership of the Council in April 1999. (On the eve of the British peer's visit, the Georgian press had quoted a summary of a draft document prepared by the PACE Monitoring Committee that reportedly detailed instances of Georgia's failure to meet those commitments.) Russell-Johnston discussed with Zhvania Russian-Georgian relations and preparations for the 4 November local elections, which most opposition parties intend to boycott. Meeting with Arsenishvili, he expressed concern at the magnitude of the problem posed by corruption in Georgia, and said he thinks ministers guilty of corruption should be dismissed "without delay." He also expressed regret that little progress as been made toward resolving the Abkhaz conflict, but singled out as an encouraging factor the desire of both sides to resolve that conflict peacefully. LF

CHINESE PREMIER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

Following his talks with Russian officials in St. Petersburg (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 September 2001), Zhu Rongji traveled to Astana where he met on 12 September with his Kazakh counterpart Qasymzhomart Toqaev to review the present state of bilateral relations, Caspian News Agency reported. Representatives of the two governments signed six joint documents including one on cooperation on the use of transborder rivers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 15 April 1999 and 12 June 2001), and one on avoiding dual taxation. LF

IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TOURS SOUTHERN KAZAKHSTAN

On a recent visit to Shymkent Oblast in southern Kazakhstan, which is home to a small Iranian minority, Iranian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Morteza Saffari discussed with the oblast's governor, Berdibek Saparbaev, the prospects for expanding economic and cultural contacts between Shymkent and Iran, Caspian News Agency and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 11 September. Saparbaev said he would welcome investment by Iranian businessmen in the oblast's infrastructure, especially highway construction, and in drilling for oil. Saffari also attended a local festival of Iranian culture. LF

THREE KILLED IN YET ANOTHER HELICOPTER CRASH IN KAZAKHSTAN

All three crew members were killed when a Kazakh military helicopter on a routine night flight crashed in southern Kazakhstan on 11 September, Reuters and Interfax reported the following day. It is the third fatal crash of a Kazakh military helicopter this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January and 20 February 2001). LF

TAJIK POLICE IDENTIFY CULTURE MINISTER'S KILLER, DEAD BOMBER

Tajikistan's Interior Ministry has established the identity of the young man who perished on 9 September when a bomb he had prepared exploded prematurely, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 12 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 2001). The police have also identified the man who escaped after shooting Culture Minister Abdurahim Rahimov in Dushanbe on 8 September, but will not disclose his name, the agency reported, quoting a senior police official. LF

REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR SACKED IN UZBEKISTAN

Acting on a directive from President Islam Karimov, on 11 September the Samarkand district administration dismissed its head, Erkin Ruzaev, and appointed Shavkat Mirziyaev to replace him, Interfax reported on 12 September. Karimov, who addressed the session personally, deplored a recent decline in output by the district's factories, failure to encourage small and medium businesses, and the fact that registered unemployment in the region has reached 7 percent. LF

MORE CENTRAL ASIAN REACTION TO U.S. TERRORIST ATTACKS

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov on 12 September sent messages of condolence to U.S. President George W. Bush following the previous day's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Nazarbaev expressed concern lest those attacks spark a global confrontation between Christians and Muslims, according to Interfax-Kazakhstan. Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov and Zharmakhan Tuyaqbaev, speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, both said Kazakhstan must join the global fight against terrorism, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. LF

UZBEKISTAN, UKRAINE REGISTER INCREASE IN BILATERAL TRADE

Trade turnover between GUUAM member states Uzbekistan and Ukraine increased by 32 percent during the first eight months of 2001 to reach over $200 million, Ukraine's ambassador in Tashkent, Anatolii Kasyanov, was quoted as telling Caspian News Agency on 12 September. (Visiting Tashkent last week, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said trade between his city and Uzbekistan amounted to only $113 million -- see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). Kasyanov said Ukraine delivers to Uzbekistan products from its metallurgical, chemical and electronics industries, tires and medications, and imports natural gas, cotton fiber, textiles, copper, zinc, and agricultural produce from Uzbekistan. LF




LUKASHENKA RESHUFFLES TOP ADMINISTRATION

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 12 September replaced presidential administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich with Security Council Secretary Ural Latypau, Belapan reported. Lukashenka named Myasnikovich his aide "for special assignments," and appointed presidential security chief Henadz Nyavyhlas to Latypau's former post. Lukashenka also sacked two presidential administration deputy chiefs, Uladzimir Zamyatalin and Yury Sivakou, replacing them with Security Council Deputy Secretary Stanislau Knyazeu and Deputy Prime Minister Leanid Kozik. JM

BELARUS'S AVERAGE MONTHLY SALARY IN BUDGET SPHERE TO RISE TO $100 BY 2002

Economy Minister Uladzimir Shymau on 12 September announced that the government will increase the average monthly salary of employees in state-funded organizations by 26.6 percent by the end of this year, Belapan reported. The average salary will be increased to reach the equivalent of $100, in compliance with President Lukashenka's pledge earlier this year. According to Shymau, the average monthly salary in the country in July amounted to 138,700 Belarusian rubles ($99.3 at the official exchange rate). JM

BELARUSIAN COURT SENTENCES ITALIAN IN ESPIONAGE CASE

The Minsk City Court on 12 September sentenced Italian citizen Angelo Antonio Piu to 4 1/2 years in prison for espionage, Belapan reported. Piu's interpreter, Belarusian citizen Iryna Ushak, was sentenced to four years for treason. The Belarusian KGB arrested Piu and Ushak in April during an exchange of materials containing military data. Both pleaded guilty in a trial conducted behind closed doors. Piu's lawyer Syarhey Kazlou said the two are hoping for a pardon. JM

BELARUSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST RELEASED FROM PRISON

Human rights activist and journalist Valery Shchukin was released from jail on 12 September, after serving three months for his attempt to force his way to Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau's news conference in January, Belapan reported. Shchukin told journalists that he spent 20 days of his term in a punishment cell for what the prison administration said was his "negative influence" on inmates. Shchukin said he was instructing his inmates on their legal rights. Shchukin commented on his stay in the lockup: "They took away all warm clothes and ordered me to put on light prison overalls... I slept for about 40 minutes and then felt shivery, legs and hands becoming stiff. I walked for 40 minutes to warm up. I woke up five-six times every night." JM

UKRAINE'S NATIONAL BANK CANCELS U.S. DOLLAR TRADING

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) on 12 September canceled the sales of U.S. dollars to banks in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the U.S., Interfax reported. The agency reported that Ukrainians sold U.S. dollars at currency-exchange booths that day at rates fluctuating between 4-5 hryvni per dollar, but the booths offered the U.S. currency for sale at rates not falling below 5.35 hryvni per dollar. In another move intended to stabilize Ukrainian currency markets, the NBU limited the day-to-day fluctuation of the price of a foreign currency in Ukrainian banks to a maximum of 5 percent. JM

UKRAINIAN RADICAL NATIONALISTS SEE ATTACKS ON U.S. AS 'MORAL SATISFACTION'

While most Ukrainian parties and politicians condemned the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S., the radical nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO) said these attack are a source of "moral satisfaction" for "millions." According to the UNA-UNSO, the attacks can be seen as revenge for the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan and air raids on Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Yugoslavia. "The boomerang of history has begun to come back," Interfax quoted from a UNA-UNSO statement. The UNA-UNSO noted that any global destabilization in the wake of the attacks will add to Ukraine's power in the future. JM

WIFE APPEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION INTO UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST'S DEATH

Myroslava Gongadze, the wife of slain journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, has appealed for an international investigation into the death of her husband, Interfax reported on 12 September. "As long as such an independent investigation is not ordered and carried out, and the charges against you are not refuted, I will consider you to be guilty of the destruction of my husband," Myroslava Gongadze said in an open letter to Ukrainian President Kuchma. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS LAW ON PENSIONS

The parliament on 12 September by a vote of 47 to 26 adopted a law on compulsory investments into pension funds, ETA reported. The pension system in Estonia will now consist of three parts: the pension paid by the state, compulsory payments into pension funds, and voluntary payments into pension funds. The compulsory payments into pension funds will amount to 6 percent of gross salary. Those payments were previously fully voluntary, but will now be obligatory for new workers. Another article of the law enacts taxes on all pensions exceeding 3,000 kroons a month. The average pension in the country is now slightly above 1,000 kroons, but the average pension of parliamentary deputies is currently about 17,300 kroons per month. The law will go into force on 1 January 2002. SG

ECONOMY MINISTER URGES DISMISSAL OF TRUSTEES OF LATVIAN SHIPPING CO

Aigars Kalvitis said on 12 September in Riga that the trustees of the state-owned Latvian Shipping Company (LASCO) should be fired for not carrying out their responsibilities in fulfilling the recent agreement to purchase three tankers, BNS reported. He complained that the trustees did not inform the Latvian Privatization Agency and the Economy Ministry about the signing in early July of an agreement to purchase three tankers -- each costing around $42 million -- from the Greek company Tsakos. LASCO has already made a nonrefundable down payment of 10 percent of the purchase price. Kalvitis said that he learned about the down payment only in late August from the media. The trustees responded, however, that they do not believe that they are to blame, as their trustee agreements do not mention that they are to inform the Economy Ministry of expected deals. SG

LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT FAVORS RAISING TAX-EXEMPT MINIMUM INCOME

The cabinet decided on 12 September to propose to the parliament that the basic tax-exempt minimum income be raised from 214 litas to 250 litas ($62.50) beginning on 1 January 2002, BNS reported. The last time the minimum was raised was in February 1998. The government also proposed that the tax-exempt income for first-class disabled persons be raised from 368 to 430 litas, for second-class from 324 to 379 litas, and for families with three or more children under the age of 18 from 368 to 430 litas. The Finance Ministry estimates that if parliament approves the amendments in 2002, the budget revenues of local governments would decrease by 136 million litas and health insurance revenues by some 58 million litas. SG

POLISH PARTIES CURB ELECTION CAMPAIGN OVER ATTACKS ON U.S.

The Freedom Union has announced that as a result of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, it has changed the formula of its election campaign, PAP reported on 12 September. The party said it will not organize mass rallies or jubilant campaign festivities in the run-up to the 23 September general elections. The Civic Platform has also decided to restrain its campaign, giving up rallies and suspending media promotion. Andrzej Wiszniewski, the head of the election staff of the Solidarity Electoral Action of the Right, called on other parties to curb election campaign festivities. "Let this campaign be full of solemnity," he said. JM

POLISH POLICE SEARCH GERMAN MINORITY ORGANIZATION OFFICE

Police officers on 12 September searched the office of the German minority organization Reconciliation and Future in Katowice, southern Poland, PAP reported. The officers said they were looking for museum pieces that were allegedly misappropriated by Reconciliation and Future head Dietmar Brehmer. Brehmer commented that the police search was meant to intimidate the German minority in the region and spoil his chances in the 23 September general elections. Brehmer is running in the elections as No. 1 on the list of the German Minority of Upper Silesia election committee. JM

CZECH PRESIDENT, POLITICIANS SUPPORT NATO POSITION

President Vaclav Havel and Czech cabinet ministers emerged from a Security Council meeting on 12 September voicing support for a NATO Council decision to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, CTK reported. The Czech Republic has been a NATO member since 1999. Among parliamentary parties, only the Communist opposition has said it does not support NATO participation, pushing instead for UN-led activities to respond to the 11 September terrorist attack on the U.S. The Czech Foreign Ministry reported on 13 September that 45 Czech citizens were presumed to be in the U.S. and are unaccounted for since the ministry set up a hotline following the attack. AH

HAVEL SAYS CZECHS PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE TO LUKASHENKA ABUSES

President Havel, after a meeting with Belarusian writer Vasil Bykau, expressed his hope that "the situation in Belarus will change," CTK reported on 12 September. A longtime champion of human rights, Havel said President Alyaksandr Lukashenka heads "a highly authoritative regime which suppresses human rights, concentrates all instruments of power in the hands of one person, controls the media, and does not abhor applying very hard methods of struggle against the opposition." The president added that Czechs, in particular, should be sensitive to human rights abuses given their experience under communism. AH

CZECH GOVERNMENT REJECTS PUBLIC ACCESS TO SECRET POLICE FILES

The Social Democratic government on 12 September rejected a Senate proposal to declassify and make public files kept by the former communist secret police, or StB, CTK reported. Ministers concluded that such a step would be an infringement on personal rights and a newly enacted data-protection law. Limited access is already granted to individuals who wish to view their own files, but right-wing parties have been pushing for complete access to all files for anyone over the age of 18. AH

IRISH PRIME MINISTER POSTPONES CZECH VISIT

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern canceled a two-day visit slated for 13 and 14 September in order to stay home and observe an official day of mourning for the victims of this week's terrorist attacks on the U.S., CTK reported. The trade delegation will go on as planned, however, allowing Irish business leaders to meet with their Czech counterparts. AH

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT MULLS OVER BILL ON LOCAL ADMINISTRATION COMPETENCIES

The parliament on 12 September adopted a competency bill, an important law related to the country's public administration reform, in the first reading, TASR reported. The bill transfers some state powers to municipalities and territorial administration units. On 25 August, the ethnic Hungarian SMK party tied its further stay in the government coalition to the adoption -- by the end of September -- of a package of laws on the decentralization of state power. The parliament decided to consider the competency law in fast-track legislative proceedings. JM

HUNGARIAN BREAKAWAY SMALLHOLDERS' GROUPS UNITE

Jozsef Ferenc Nagy, chairman of the breakaway 1930-2000 Smallholders' Party, on 12 September signed an agreement to merge his group with the Reform Smallholders headed by Katalin Liebmann, Hungarian media reported. Describing the agreement as a symbolic example of how to combine the forces of the different party factions, Liebmann said Nagy is the "last legitimate chairman of the morally clean version of the Smallholders." Two other Smallholders' parties, the Democratic Federation of Independent Smallholders led by Defense Minister Janos Szabo, and the Smallholders' Federation headed by Sandor Cseh, signed an electoral cooperation agreement in August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August 2001). All Smallholders' factions said their goal is to form an alliance of groups opposed to Independent Smallholders' Party Chairman Jozsef Torgyan. MSZ




THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE FOR U.S. IN KOSOVA

Several thousand Kosovars demonstrated in Prishtina and other cities and towns on 12 September in sympathy with the U.S. and against the terrorist attacks, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 2001). Meanwhile in Sarajevo, a conference on relations between Christians and Muslims in Europe opened, and several speakers referred to the tragic developments in the U.S., "Avaz" reported. The Orthodox archbishop of Albania -- who himself is Greek -- led a prayer for the victims. PM

MIXED REACTIONS IN SERBIA TO ATTACKS

Shock, horror, and disbelief were the predominant reactions in the former Yugoslavia to the terrorist attacks, RFE/RL reported on 13 September. An openly anti-American attitude was displayed only by a few Serbian extreme nationalists linked to the former regime, such as Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj. Some Serbs nonetheless expressed satisfaction over the attack on the Pentagon, dpa reported from Belgrade on 13 September. Others charged that U.S. policies have served to generate terrorism. Predrag Simic, an adviser to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica not known for his pro-American sympathies, told "Blic" that he hopes that the U.S. will soon reduce its role in Kosova and Macedonia. He added that he fears an "irresponsible reaction" by Washington to the terror. There have been no reports of anti-American demonstrations in Serbia or elsewhere. In related news, NATO and U.S. forces in Bosnia, Kosova, and Macedonia have tightened security as a precaution, "The Wall Street Journal Europe" reported on 12 September. PM

CROATIA ANNOUNCES DAY OF MOURNING

Prime Minister Ivica Racan said in Zagreb on 13 September that the following day will be an official day of mourning for the victims of the "insane terrorist attacks" in the U.S., dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 2001). He added that "democratic Croatia is willing to make its contribution to the international struggle against terrorism." PM

BROAD CONDEMNATION OF ATTACKS BY MACEDONIA

President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva, and Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski strongly condemned the terrorist attacks against the U.S., Makfax news agency reported from Skopje on 12 September. The article noted that "this country shares the grief of the American people. The grief is even deeper given that Macedonia has also been subjected to terrorist attacks over the past six months." "Nova Makedonija" wrote that "no such aggression against one country has been carried out before" and likened it to the dropping of two atomic bombs in World War II. PM

RUSSIA RECONSIDERING ROLE IN MACEDONIA?

While most international political attention is riveted on the U.S. and the lessons to be learned from the attacks, Moscow has apparently concluded that it might want to send troops to Macedonia after all, Interfax reported on 12 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko noted that "various circles are discussing options of a possible military presence in Macedonia that could be deployed after the NATO operation for collecting arms." He added that "so far we have not received any official proposal regarding possible peacekeeping forces on the territory of Macedonia." Yakovenko stressed, however, that any such mission must be backed by a UN mandate and limited to carrying out the Macedonian government's objectives: "securing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, monitoring the borders with Kosovo and Albania, promoting the solution of ethnic and other problems -- including the return of refugees and temporarily displaced persons, observing [unspecified] existing international standards, and supporting the Macedonian administration's efforts to preserve a single multinational state." PM

NATO HAS COLLECTED TWO-THIRDS OF WEAPONS IN MACEDONIA

A NATO spokesman said in Skopje on 13 September that the Atlantic alliance has collected 2,200 out of a scheduled 3,300 weapons from ethnic Albanian fighters in Macedonia, dpa reported. Later that day, the parliament was to debate holding a referendum on the political settlement. Representatives of the international community have pointed out that a referendum is not provided for in the peace settlement. A parliamentary election is scheduled for January 2002. And on 12 September, guerrillas and government forces engaged in a brief firefight near Tanusevci. The rebels subsequently withdrew into Kosova. No government soldiers were injured. PM

MACEDONIA DENIES REPORTS ON PARAMILITARIES

The Macedonian government denied reports by NATO and some Western media that the Interior Ministry or other state bodies are sponsoring paramilitary groups, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported on 12 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August and 11 September 2001). A spokesman said that the security forces are under the authority of Trajkovski. In the past six months, the Interior Ministry has enlarged and expanded its own special antiterror and anticrisis units, one of which has been in existence for 40 years. The spokesman added that the police chief of Prilep has been sacked because of unspecified shortcomings in his work. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said in a statement that reports about the existence of paramilitaries constitute an "attempt to ruin the reputation of...members of the Macedonian police," dpa reported on 11 September. PM

MACEDONIAN MINISTER BALKS AT FOREIGN PRESENCE

Hard-line Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski said in Skopje on 12 September that Macedonia will have no need of a foreign armed presence after NATO ends Operation Essential Harvest on 26 September, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 11 September 2001). Boskovski added that any such presence must have a UN mandate and be limited to patrolling the borders with Kosova and Albania. That same day, the top Macedonian leadership discussed the deployment of security forces into areas now held by the National Liberation Army (UCK) after Essential Harvest ends. Many ethnic Albanians fear that Boskovski's police in particular will seek revenge (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2001). PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT PLEDGES TO IMPROVE STATUS OF MINORITIES

The new government of Prime Minister Ilir Meta easily won a vote of confidence in the parliament, Reuters reported on 12 September. In addition to its main priorities of promoting Euro-Atlantic integration and eliminating power cuts, the government wants to bring its policies toward ethnic minorities more into line with European standards, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 2001). The government also plans to devote more attention to working with the various religious communities and the diaspora. The Greeks are the largest single minority, but Macedonians and other Balkan Slavic and non-Slavic groups are also present. The main religious communities are Sunni Muslim, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Bektashi. All have reemerged with new vigor following decades of persecution under communism, partly with the help of their respective coreligionists abroad, such as the Greek Orthodox Church and the Bektashi community of Detroit in the U.S. PM

SERBIAN LEADER HAS OFFER FOR MONTENEGRO

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said in Belgrade on 12 September that he will propose to Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic that the two republics divide responsibilities in foreign affairs between them on a proportional basis. RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. There are about 10 Serbs for every Montenegrin. The Montenegrin leadership wants each republic to be internationally recognized and have its own representation abroad. PM

ROMANIAN SUPREME DEFENSE COUNCIL TAKES MEASURES AFTER ATTACKS ON U.S...

An extraordinary meeting of the Romanian Supreme Defense Council (CSAT) on 11 September decided to take "special measures" to protect important institutions, foreign embassies, and international institution buildings, a CSAT press release stated. The CSAT decided to set up a crisis committee for the government, while the Defense and Foreign Affairs ministries set up their own similar committees. It also decided to adopt "all necessary measures" to prevent the population being affected by eventual "worldwide economic fluctuations." Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu on 12 September said the Romanian economy will not be significantly affected by the evolution of the global market, "Adevarul" reported on 13 September. Tanasescu said the ministry, together with Romanian National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, have decided to tie the Romanian currency to the Euro instead the U.S. dollar. ZsM

...WHILE INFORMATION SERVICE EXPECTS NO VIOLENT ACTIONS

An 11 September press release of the Romanian Information Service (SRI) said there is little probability that violent actions by anti-U.S. organizations will occur in Romania. The SRI also warned that it watches over such organizations and is ready to intervene if necessary. The Romanian media on 13 September reported that there have been several bomb alerts in Bucharest and Iasi recently, all of which have proven to be false alarms. ZsM

VORONIN INTENDS TO LEGALIZE DUAL CITIZENSHIP

Meeting with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Rolf Ekeus, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said he intends to modify the country's constitution in order to allow dual citizenship, Flux reported. According to a presidency press release, the two discussed governmental efforts to integrate ethnic minorities. Voronin said the recently adopted law on language in the country is the result of an effort to "maintain the activities of national minority representatives in society." He added that national minority representatives are present at different levels of state institutions, the sole condition for their career advancement being professionalism and competence. In other news, Voronin and Ekeus called on international institutions to unite in eliminating terrorism. ZsM

ECHR TO EXAMINE BESSARABIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CASE IN OCTOBER

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has decided to examine a case filed by the Bessarabian Orthodox Church against the Moldovan government, Flux reported on 11 September. The Bessarabian Church, which is subordinate to the Bucharest Patriarchate, filed a complaint to the court following repeated refusals by consecutive Moldovan governments to register the church. Premier Vasile Tarlev's cabinet had previously asked for a postponement and expressed its readiness for settlement. According to Popular Party Christian Democratic deputy Vlad Cubreacov, the ECHR rejected the cabinet's request for an additional postponement. ZsM

NEW PARTY SET UP IN MOLDOVA

Former Party of Revival and Conciliation Deputy Sergiu Mocanu on 11 September announced the formation of a new political party, Flux reported. The party, called Democratic Unity Party, is "pro-European," and will primarily focus on social issues, Mocanu said. He added the party insists on the definition of "Moldovan" as being identical with "citizen of the Republic of Moldova." As for external policies, the party considers Moldova "a bridge between West and East." Mocanu said Moldova should end special relations with Romania, thus facilitating Romania's accession to NATO and the EU. Later on, Romania could help Moldova integrate into the EU, Mocanu added. The party is to hold its first congress in November. ZsM

CANADIAN DEFENSE MINISTER PRAISES BULGARIA'S NATO CHANCES

Arthur Eggleton said during a trip to Sofia on 12 September that Bulgaria is a "strong" candidate for NATO membership, BTA reported, citing the newspaper "Bulgarska Armia." Eggleton, who made his comments after a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Svinarov, added that Ottawa has not yet decided which countries it will support for membership, although he said that decision will be made soon. PB

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR COOPERATION AMONG WESTERN DEMOCRACIES

Solomon Pasi said in Sofia on 12 September that the terrorist attacks in the U.S. inflicted "a huge wound on democracy," BTA reported. Pasi, upon returning from a visit to Brussels, said that the incidents in the U.S. are another reason for "democracies to get closer." He added that the attacks have shaken the world's "vision of peace and stability." In Brussels, Pasi took part in an informal meeting of foreign ministers from EU member states and applicant countries. He said he received positive signs from several of his counterparts about Bulgaria being invited to join NATO during its next expansion, expected to be announced next year at the 2002 NATO summit in Prague. PB




There is no End Note today.





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