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Newsline - September 19, 2001




RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS ON ALL COUNTRIES TO JOIN CAMPAIGN AGAINST TERRORISM

During a stop in Oslo on his way to the United States on 18 September, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called on all countries to join together for "a long-term and continuous" struggle against terrorism, Reuters reported. Norway's Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland told the news agency that the Russians "are very concerned that the situation in Central Asia does not destabilize." PG

DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MOSCOW WILL GIVE U.S. INFORMATION NEEDED TO FIND TERRORISTS

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on 18 September after his telephone conversations with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice that Moscow will provide the United States with any information at its disposal to help find "the real perpetrators of the terrorist acts in the U.S.," ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov also repeated his earlier warning that it is premature to discuss any joint antiterrorist actions by the forces of the two countries. VY

PARLIAMENTARIANS DENOUNCE TERRORISM, DIVIDED ON WHAT TO DO

Both the Duma and the Federation Council on 18 September unanimously passed resolutions denouncing international terrorism, but debates in both chambers suggested that the deputies remain deeply divided as to how far Russia should go in cooperating with the United States in the war against it. Reformist groups like Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) generally called for active cooperation, while the Communists and Agrarians were opposed, and the pro-Kremlin parties like Unity said they would follow President Vladimir Putin's decision, Russian and Western agencies reported. PG

U.S. SEEKS LONG-TERM RUSSIAN SUPPORT IN ANTITERRORIST WAR

Alexander Vershbow, the American ambassador in Moscow, told RIA-Novosti on 18 September that Washington hopes for a long-term commitment by Russia to the joint fight against terrorism. Vershbow met earlier with Vladimir Pekhtin, the leader of the Unity faction in the Duma, and the chairman of the Duma's International Relations Committee, Dmitrii Rogozin. Rogozin, for his part, told the news agency that in his view, international law should be developed as part of the fight against terrorism. At present, he said, there are gaps that terrorists often are able to exploit. VY

PUTIN, JIANG SEEK 'MECHANISM' TO FIGHT TERRORISM

President Putin on 18 September telephoned Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to discuss developing "a mechanism" for fighting "terrorism in all its forms," Russian and Western agencies reported. The same day, Beijing indicated that it would support Washington's war on terrorism only if the U.S. backs Beijing's fight against Muslim activists in Xinjiang and pro-independence groups on Taiwan, Reuters reported. PG

RUSSIA, PALESTINIANS BACK 'JOINT STEPS AGAINST TERRORISM'

ITAR-TASS reported on 18 September that Russian and Palestinian officials strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks on the United States and called for "pool[ing] the efforts of the entire world community" in the fight against such terrorism. PG

YAVLINSKY CALLS FOR RUSSIA TO TAKE ACTIVE ROLE IN ANTITERROR COALITION...

Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky on 18 September called for Moscow to take "a leading and aggressive" role in the antiterrorist campaign alongside the U.S. and Europe, RTR television reported. Indeed, Yavlinsky said, Russia should not wait for an American decision on what to do but help prepare joint actions, because such participation is in Russia's national interests. Another advocate of expanded cooperation on this point is Sergei Karaganov, the head of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council. During an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio on 17 September, Karaganov said that "Russia has no choice but to cooperate" with Washington lest it be left out in the cold. At the same time, Karaganov continued, because "our support could cost us more than anybody else, we must demand certain concessions from the West," including on NATO expansion and refinancing Russia's debts. VY/PG

...BUT ZHIRINOVSKY WORRIES NATO WILL GET BEACHHEAD IN CENTRAL ASIA

Duma Deputy Speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said on 18 September that Russia should "extend its hand to the Taliban" not only because the U.S. is getting ready to unleash a campaign against terrorists in Afghanistan, but also because NATO is going to use this occasion "to occupy Central Asia" to the detriment of Russia's interests there, RIA-Novosti reported. Zhirinovsky's statement is striking because he usually calls for campaigns against peoples to the south of Russia rather than for cooperation with them. VY

RUSSIA TO DECIDE ON CENTRAL ASIAN PARTICIPATION IN ANTITERRORIST CAMPAIGN, PAPERS SAY

An article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 September said that "the involvement of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in the operation against the Taliban will be determined in and by Moscow." The paper suggested that Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, because they are not signatories to the CIS Collective Security Treaty, could pursue a more independent course. The same day, an article in "Vremya novostei" said that "Russia will make the decision for Tajikistan," but that Uzbekistan will go its own way. Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said in Almaty on 18 September said that it is too soon for any decision to be made. PG

U.S. STRIKE IN AFGHANISTAN SEEN SPLITTING THE CIS

An article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 18 September suggested that an American retaliatory strike against terrorist camps in Afghanistan could lead to the disintegration of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The paper said that the Central Asian countries are most concerned with the threat of Islamic extremists while Moscow is most worried about the possible deployment of U.S. troops in these countries. VY

U.S. SEEN ILL-PREPARED FOR TERRORISM FIGHT

An article in "Krasnaya zvezda" on 18 September said that "the United States is not ready to fight international terrorism." On the one hand, the military paper said, Washington does not want to limit its future freedom of action by forming broad alliances on the question. And on the other, American officials have drawn the wrong conclusions from the recent terrorist attacks and do not recognize the nature of the problem they face. PG

CHECHEN VIOLENCE SEEN PUSHING PUTIN TOWARD COOPERATION WITH U.S.

According to an article in "Vremya novostei" on 18 September, the recent upsurge in violence in Chechnya may make it "easier" for President Putin to justify to Russians coordination with the United States in the fight against international terrorism. But the same day, "Moskovskii komsomolets" suggested that Moscow is putting some "diplomatic distance" between itself and the U.S. in advance of any American counterterrorist strikes. PG

PAVLOVSKII WARNS THAT TERRORISTS CAN USE MEDIA AS A WEAPON

Kremlin media adviser Gleb Pavlovskii said on 18 September that terrorists can deploy new information technologies as their "most dangerous" weapons and that he is creating a Center of Defense Technology to meet this threat, Russian news agencies reported. Pavlovskii said that this threat proves that critics of the Russian Information Security Doctrine are wrong. At the same time, he said that the world is now at the edge of a global crisis and that "for the first time in 50 years," both the Russian people and the Russian government are ready to meet it. VY

ORTHODOX CHURCH SAYS U.S. HAS MORAL RIGHT TO RETALIATE

Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, said on 18 September that the Russian Orthodox Church believes that the United States has both moral and religious grounds to retaliate against those who attacked American cities, Russian news agencies reported. VY

MORE SECURITY MEASURES INTRODUCED IN RUSSIA

The State Customs Committee on 18 September adopted new and tighter controls over border inspections, Interfax reported. Officials said they took this step to prevent the introduction into Russia of dangerous items. Meanwhile, General Anatolii Kornukov, the commander of the Russian air force, told the news agency the same day that he has proposed creating a special defense system to protect particularly important sites in Moscow, the agency said. PG

RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LEADERS CONCERNED ABOUT ANTI-ISLAMIC HYSTERIA

A declaration signed by Russian human rights activists including Yelena Bonner, Sergei Kovalev, Lev Ponomarev, Lyudmila Alekseeva, and Duma deputies Yulii Rybakov and Sergei Yushenkov expressed their shared concern about the rise of anti-Islamic attitudes around the world in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the United States, Interfax reported on 18 September. Meanwhile, another group of Russian human rights activists who are calling for immediate talks in Chechnya announced plans on 18 September for a series of national "peace marches" between Ingushetia to France in support of negotiations, the news agency reported. PG

DUMA DRAFTING BILL TO REQUIRE PEOPLES OF RUSSIA TO USE CYRILLIC ALPHABET

Kaadyr-ool Bicheldei, a Unity deputy in the Duma who is deputy chairman of the Nationalities Committee, told Interfax on 18 September that he and his colleagues are preparing amendments to the country's language law in order to require that all peoples of the Russian Federation use a Cyrillic-based alphabet unless the Russian parliament grants an exception. The measure is explicitly designed to block plans by Tatarstan to introduce a Latin-based script over the next decade. Meanwhile, an international "Language and Culture" conference in Moscow the same day came out against Tatarstan's plans to change alphabets, the news agency reported. Such a shift, the conference said in a declaration, will result in declining literacy rates, greater generational splits, and the possibility of heightened interethnic and interconfessional tensions. PG

CIS PRIME MINISTERIAL MEETING SHIFTED TO MOSCOW

Following a proposal by President Putin on 17 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2001), the member governments of the CIS agreed on 18 September to shift the venue for the 28 September CIS prime ministerial meeting from Ashgabat to Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. Those attending are expected to focus on combating international terrorism in general and providing financial support for a CIS antiterrorism center. PG

ETHNIC RUSSIAN COMMUNITY IN CRIMEA FEELS NEGLECTED

The ethnic Russian community in Crimea feels neglected by everyone, the Ukrainian authorities, Moscow, Russian businessmen, and the international community, according to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 September. Its members believe that the reunification of Russia and Ukraine would not be a bad thing, and one of the community's leaders observed to the Moscow paper that "if tomorrow Ukraine and Russia declare that they are again together, then in Crimea you wouldn't find even 2 percent of the population that would protest against such unification." PG

ORTHODOX CHURCH CRITICIZES POPE'S DECISION TO GO TO KAZAKHSTAN

Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's foreign relations department, said on 18 September that the Russian Orthodox Church is disturbed by the plans of Pope John Paul II to visit Kazakhstan, which lies within the see of Patriarch Aleksii II, without having asked for the patriarch's blessing, Interfax reported. PG

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER OPPOSES WTO ENTRY

Communications and Information Minister Leonid Reiman on 18 September told a group of Duma deputies that if Russia were to become a member of the World Trade Organization now, that would harm rather than help his sector of the economy, Interfax reported. He explained that the WTO works to defend exporters, and Russia at present is not a major exporter of communications technology. PG

MOSCOW SUGGESTS CUBA PAY DEBT WITH GOODS

The Russian government has proposed to Cuba that Havana pay its $44 million debt to Moscow with commodities, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 September. Cuba has not yet agreed to this measure. PG

RUSSIA, IRAN CONTINUE TO DEVELOP NORTH-SOUTH CORRIDOR IDEA

Russian and Iranian transportation officials met in Moscow on 18 September to continue their discussions about the development of the North-South transportation and trade corridor being pushed by President Putin, Interfax reported. The two sides agreed to develop both land and sea transport in this corridor. North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov has also been lobbying for that project. PG

RUSSIA TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN

In order to prevent any rise in tensions in Central Asia that a stream of refugees from Afghanistan would trigger, Yurii Brazhnikov, the deputy minister for emergency situations, told ITAR-TASS on 18 September that Moscow plans to provide humanitarian assistance to the northern provinces of Afghanistan. He added that if people nonetheless flee from Afghanistan to Tajikistan, his ministry is prepared "to help organize refugee camps and supply necessities to refugees." PG

RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT OVERRULES UFA

The Russian Supreme Court on 18 September overruled a decision of the Bashkortostan Supreme Court to back a decision by the republic authorities not to change their basic law and directed Ufa to bring that republic's constitution into line with federal legislation, Russian agencies reported. PG

RUSSIAN SUBMARINE LAUNCHES STRATEGIC MISSILE

For the first time since Moscow agreed not to test-fire any missile in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States, a Russian nuclear submarine launched a ballistic missile from the Okhotsk Sea in the Far East to the Barents Sea in the Arctic, Russian naval spokesman Igor Dygailo told RIA-Novosti. Dygailo said that the test demonstrated the "combat readiness and reliability" of Russia's sea-based strategic nuclear forces. VY

'OPERATION DESERTER' TARGETS THOSE WHO DESERT MORE THAN ONCE

Officials in the Far Eastern Military District have launched Operation Deserter to deal with desertions from the army, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 18 September. Typically, officers find those who have fled at railroad stations waiting for a train home. Those who have tried to escape service only once are generally sent back to their units for further service. Only those who desert frequently, the military district spokesman said, are turned over to the courts. PG

IS THE INTERIOR MINISTRY BECOMING A COMMERCIAL ENTITY?

In an article published in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 18 September, journalist Aleksandr Khinstein said that the Interior Ministry is being transformed from a law enforcement agency into a giant commercial entity where ministry officials profit from the sale of almost anything, from promotions to favorable outcomes of criminal investigations. This pervasive system of corruption was set up by General Aleksandr Orlov, formerly the personal aide of former Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo. Orlov, who recently decided to live abroad, is nicknamed "the oligarch in epaulets" and is said to have close ties with magnate Boris Berezovsky and the Alfa Group. VY

SUKHOI AIRCRAFT NOW A STATE HOLDING

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov has announced that the government has approved the transformation of the Sukhoi Aircraft Company into a state holding company in which the government retains 100 percent of the shares, "Vedomosti" reported on 18 September. The firm's main task, the paper said, will be the design and construction of a fifth-generation Russian jet fighter and the management of contracts currently worth over $10 billion. Klebanov said that the change will help the government keep control of the company's revenues. VY

RUSSIAN OIL EXPORTS UP 20 PERCENT IN 2001

Russia exported 20 percent more crude oil in the first six months of 2001 than during the same period in 2000, Prime-TASS reported on 18 September. Eighty-six percent of the 91.93 million tons were exported to non-CIS countries, including Germany, Poland, and Italy. VY

MOSCOW PLANS TO DEVELOP MAKHACHKALA PORT FOR CENTRAL ASIAN OIL AND GAS

On 18 September, First Deputy Transportation Minister Vyacheslav Ruksha told an international conference in Moscow on Caspian oil and gas that his agency plans to develop the port of Makhachkala in Daghestan in order to ensure better transportation for oil from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to the West, RIA-Novosti reported. At present, he said, Russia's port capacity is inadequate to the task. VY

INTERNET IN RUSSIA CONTINUES TO EXPAND

A conference this week in St. Petersburg called "The Russian School and the Internet" noted that there are now 16 regions in which Internet education is being pursued and that Moscow hopes to increase that to 50 regions in the near future, "Vremya MN" reported on 18 September. But Russia faces enormous costs in bringing information systems into the schools. Duma deputy speaker and SPS leader Irina Khakamada told the conference that it would require up to $400 billion to bring all of Russia's schools into the information age, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, according to research reported by the Russian news service the same day, the number of Russian Internet users grew by 30 percent between the first half of 2000 and the first half of 2001. PG

MOSCOW CITY TO PURCHASE BULLS

The Moscow city authorities on 18 September announced that they will end the controversy over what to do with the bulls that were scheduled to appear in bullfights that Mayor Yurii Luzhkov banned, Interfax-Moscow reported. The city will purchase and take care of the bulls, officials said. PG

'ONLY RUSSIAN SPIES HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO HELP THE U.S.

' In an article under that title, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 September notes that the existing legal confusion between Russia and the United States has created an unusual situation in which only Russian intelligence agencies have the proper legal basis to provide assistance to the United States. All other agencies that try to provide such help, the paper said, are acting without the necessary legal authorization provided by bilateral accords. PG

PUTIN APPOINTS AGRICULTURAL LEADERS TO NEW STATE COUNCIL...

President Putin signed a decree on 18 September naming new members to the presidium of the State Council, Russian agencies reported. Appointed were Tambov Oblast Governor Oleg Betin, Leningrad Oblast Governor Valerii Serdyukov, Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Petr Sumin, Magadan Oblast Governor Valentin Tsvetkov, Altai Krai head Aleksandr Surikov, Mordovia President Nikolai Merkushin, and North Ossetian President Dzasokhov. State Council presidium members serve six-month terms. According to the State Council apparatus, the first session of the new presidium will be held in October and will be made up of members from the largest grain-producing regions in Russia. Council members will among other issues look at the situation in the country's grain market and problems of exporting grain, Interfax reported. JAC

...AND NAMES NEW TAX POLICE DEPUTIES

The same day, Putin signed another decree assigning deputy directors to the Federal Tax Police in the seven federal districts, Interfax reported. Vladimir Lazovskii will serve as deputy director of the main directorate of the Federal Tax Police for the Siberian federal district; Vladimir Makarov in the Volga federal district, Valerii Napalkov in the Southern federal district, Viktor Parkhomenko in the Far Eastern federal district, Aleksei Sedov in the Northwestern federal district, Vladimir Senin in the Central federal district, and Anatolii Yatskov in the Urals federal district. JAC

ANOTHER REGIONAL LEADERS WARNS U.S. AGAINST ACTION IN AFGHANISTAN

In an interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 18 September, Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said that the upper legislative chamber supports the U.S. "in its fight against international terrorism." He continued: "Even an economically and militarily powerful country like the U.S. cannot succeed [in this fight] without [the help of] the international community and without a common aim and wish to keep order." Stroev also cautioned the U.S. not to rush into a military operation in Afghanistan. He declared that "the indiscriminate use of force should not be employed if it isn't necessary." JAC

GM BEARISH ON AUTO MARKET IN RUSSIA?

General Motors Corp. has liquidated its joint venture for the production of automobiles in the Republic of Tatarstan, Interfax-AFI reported on 18 September. The agency quoted GM official David Herman as telling "The Wall Street Journal" that the decision is based on the "realities of the Russian market." According to the agency, the joint venture, after being created in 1995, stopped production of the Chevy Blazer in 1999. JAC

VLADIVOSTOK POLICE FOUND GUILTY IN TORTURE CASE

Seven Vladivostok police officers were convicted of abuse of office on 18 September, and one chief of the city police department's criminal investigation division has been indicted for arranging false testimony, ITAR-TASS reported. The convictions stem from charges made by two cadets of the Far Eastern Marine Academy, who said that three years ago they were detained on the city's streets at random and were beaten severely over the course of four days in order to make them confess to a crime that they did not commit. According to Interfax-Eurasia, one of the cadets said that he was also photographed at police headquarters in a state of undress. According to ITAR-TASS, the court passed a suspended sentence of 3 1/2 to five years for each policeman. According to Interfax-Eurasia, the guilty were ordered to pay each victim 100,000 rubles ($3,395) in moral damages. JAC

ANOTHER POLITICIAN MURDERED IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA

Renaissance party leader Keram Semenov, a supporter of Karachaevo-Cherkessia's President Vladimir Semenov, was shot at point-blank range by two unknown men late on 17 September as he left the party's Cherkessk headquarters, and died while being taken to a hospital, according to Interfax on 18 September and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 September. Semenov, who had announced earlier that day his intention to contest the November mayoral election in Karachaevsk, is the second politician to be murdered in Karachaevo-Cherkessia within one week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 2001). LF

CHECHEN LEADER BLAMES GUDERMES FIGHTING ON RUSSIANS...

Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov on 18 September laid the blame for the previous day's attack on the town of Gudermes on the Russian military and police who failed to prevent Chechen fighters from entering the town, Interfax reported. "Agencies bound to guarantee the security of residents of Chechnya should be held responsible for what happened," Kadyrov said, implying that there were civilian casualties as a result of the fighting. Russian agencies have not reported any such civilian losses to date in addition to the 17 Chechen fighters and 10 Russian Interior Ministry troops said to have died. LF

...AS PREMIER DENIES OFFICIALS MISSING

In a further indication that the Gudermes fighting may have been more widespread and serious than Russian military and civilian officials have admitted, Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov on 18 September rejected as untrue reports that several senior government officials are missing since 17 September, ITAR-TASS reported. LF




ARRESTED ARMENIAN DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF ARMS CACHE

Azat Arshakian on 18 September denied any knowledge of the large weapons cache discovered four days earlier in a Yerevan building owned by the former paramilitary Independence Army that he heads, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2001). Arshakian was remanded in detention for two months on 18 September pending an investigation into the provenance of the arms cache. The Independence Army was founded in the late 1980s by Arshakian and Armenia's current prime minister, Andranik Markarian, who like Arshakian is a former Soviet dissident. The army ceased to exist as a paramilitary formation in the early 1990s and surrendered the arms it then possessed. Since that time it has engaged in charitable work. LF

FORMER AZERBAIJANI KGB OFFICIAL SENTENCED ON MURDER CHARGES

Azerbaijan's court for grave military crimes on 18 September sentenced former KGB Colonel Sadykh Aliyev to life imprisonment on charges of murder and incitement to murder, Turan reported. One of his accomplices also received a life sentence, while a second was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Indirectly implicated in the case is former KGB Chairman Vagif Huseinov, now residing in Moscow, who some observers in Baku believe is aligned with former President Ayaz Mutalibov in a bid to unite opposition forces in Azerbaijan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 2001). Huseinov is said to have set up a special squad within the KGB in 1989 tasked with identifying enemy agents. Members of that squad, which Sadykh Aliyev headed, are accused of subsequently carrying out, or attempting, a series of contract killings. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S FISHING AGENCY LIQUIDATED

Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev has abolished the state fishing and caviar monopoly Azerbalig and transferred its responsibilities and assets to the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry, Turan reported on 18 September. LF

GEORGIA REJECTS RUSSIAN NOTE OVER CHECHENS

In a note on 18 September, the Russian Foreign Ministry demanded that Georgia extradite 13 members of illegal armed groups suspected of committing crimes in Russia who were detained by the Georgian authorities in June, Interfax and Prime News reported. The men were detained after entering Georgia illegally, and the Georgian authorities are reportedly still trying to determine their identities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 2001). The note also demanded that Georgia take measures to stop the activities of Chechen "bandits" in Georgia's Pankisi gorge and close down the unofficial Chechen representation and information center in Tbilisi. Also on 18 September, unnamed Federal Security Service (FSB) officials claimed that two of the organizers of the 1999 apartment building bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk are currently hiding out in Georgia's Pankisi gorge, ITAR-TASS reported. Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze responded the same day to the Russian ultimatum, denying that any such Chechen militants are currently on Georgian territory. Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Imnadze similarly denied on 19 September that Georgia is harboring Chechen terrorists, Caucasus Press reported. He said Georgia abides by the terms of the agreement it signed with Russia on jointly combating terrorism, while Moscow protects former Georgian Security Minister Igor Giorgadze, who is wanted in connection with the 1995 car bomb attack on then-Georgian parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES ANTITERRORISM COALITION, UN SUMMIT

In an address to the UN Secretary General, the UN Security Council, and all UN member states that was circulated on 18 September, Georgian President Shevardnadze advocated creating a coalition of countries willing to participate in a coordinated fight against terrorism, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. In what "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 September termed a bid to turn the current international wave of abhorrence against terrorism to Georgia's advantage, Shevardnadze also proposed that the UN convene a summit to debate "the fight against terrorism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, nationalism, and separatism, xenophobia, fanaticism, and hatred." Georgian displaced persons from Abkhazia have failed to date in their attempts to induce the UN to formally condemn Abkhazia for genocide and ethnic cleansing against its Georgian population. LF

KAZAKHSTAN AGAIN AFFIRMS READINESS TO COOPERATE IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov said in Almaty on 18 September following talks between visiting Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo and President Nursultan Nazarbaev that Kazakhstan is ready for "the strongest possible cooperation with the U.S. and the world community in combating international terrorism," Interfax reported. Rushailo discussed with Nazarbaev, Idrisov and Defense Minister Lieutenant General Sat Toqpaqbaev the possibility of U.S. retaliatory strikes against targets in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Rushailo said he and the Kazakh leaders agreed on the need for a more intensive exchange of information on the situation in Central Asia and Afghanistan. LF

KYRGYZSTAN APPEALS FOR HELP AGAINST ISLAMIC TERRORISM

Speaking on 18 September in Vienna in the course of a state visit to Austria, Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev said his country needs help from the international community to cope successfully with the threat posed by Islamic militants who launched raids onto its territory in 1999 and 2000, dpa reported. Meanwhile Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary Misir Ashyrkulov said in Bishkek the same day that Kyrgyzstan is willing to share intelligence on international terrorism with the United States, ITAR-TASS reported. Echoing earlier statements by Kyrgyz officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2001), he warned that large-scale fighting in Afghanistan triggered by a retaliatory U.S. strike could result in an influx of Afghan refugees that would destabilize Kyrgyzstan. LF

HAS UZBEK MILITANT JOINED FORCES WITH TALIBAN?

In what may prove to be a classic example of Russian disinformation, Interfax reported on 18 September citing unnamed Afghan military sources that Djuma Namangani, one of the leaders of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, has been made commander of a Taliban military unit operating in northern Afghanistan. Meanwhile, ethnic Uzbek Afghan General Abdulrashid Dostum told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on 18 September from a location near Mazar-i-Sharif that the 14 September death of Northern Alliance military commander Ahmed Shah Massoud will not affect the combat ability of the anti-Taliban forces. "Our morale is very high," Dostum said. "We all have a united political and military position." LF




MINSK SAYS WASHINGTON WANTS TO CHANGE BELARUS'S STATE SYSTEM

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 18 September issued a statement, urging European states "to establish relations of businesslike cooperation [with Belarus]," Belapan reported. The ministry said the recent presidential election in Belarus was held "under conditions of political, public, and informational openness unprecedented for post-Soviet states." Responding to White House charges that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka stole the election from the Belarusian people (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2001), the ministry said: "Washington's intention to reject the results of the [presidential] election and force the European community to adopt a course toward refusing cooperation with the Belarusian government is one more proof of the United States's striving to change the state system in the Republic of Belarus by any means." JM

BELARUS'S RIVAL LEGISLATURES INVITED TO STRASBOURG

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has invited two delegations -- one from the official National Assembly and the other from the opposition Supreme Soviet -- to attend a PACE session in Strasbourg from 24-30 September, Belapan reported on 18 September. JM

KYIV SAYS U.S. RETALIATORY ACTION MUST BE 'PURPOSEFUL, WELL-FOUNDED'

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Serhiy Borodenkov on 18 September said the U.S. response to the 11 September terrorist attacks should be "purposeful and well-founded," Interfax reported. Borodenkov noted that a possible military action by the U.S. should avoid causing civilian casualties or religious confrontation. Simultaneously, Borodenkov stressed that those standing behind the attacks "must be dealt their due punishment," AP reported. Earlier the same day, the ministry advised Ukrainian citizens to leave Afghanistan and the regions of Pakistan close to the Afghan border and refrain from traveling to these areas for fear of U.S. retaliatory strikes. JM

BALTIC, POLISH, AND FINNISH PRESIDENTS CONDEMN INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

Presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski (Poland), Tarja Halonen (Finland), Lennart Meri (Estonia), Vaira Vike-Freiberga (Latvia), and Valdas Adamkus (Lithuania) issued a joint statement in Tallinn on 18 September condemning international terrorism and expressing solidarity with the United States, ETA reported. Meri declared: "We are unanimous that this was a declaration of war on all countries sharing the principles of democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights." The presidents discussed the expansion of the European Union and NATO, and expressed the hope that the NATO summit meeting in Prague in November 2002 will result in an invitation to the three Baltic states to join the Atlantic alliance. The leaders also talked about the need to further develop the transport and energy networks linking their countries through such projects as upgrading the Via Baltica highway and interconnecting the energy networks of Lithuania and Poland. SG

LATVIA DISCUSSES RATIFICATION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES CONVENTION

Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies Director Nils Muiznieks declared in Riga on 18 September that the ratification of the Council of Europe convention on the protection of ethnic minorities would be beneficial to Latvian foreign policy, BNS reported. Latvia signed the convention six years ago, but the parliament has yet to ratify it. Muiznieks suggested that Latvia should avoid increasing political tension by following the example of most countries that ratified the convention and not define what constitutes an ethnic minority. Parliament Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Chairman Antons Seiksts opposed this, asserting that such a definition is needed to prevent some people from manipulating the notion of "Russian-speakers," which should not be regarded as an ethnic group. Even though Latvia and Turkey are the only EU candidate countries not to have ratified the convention, it is unlikely that there will be any great demands for them to do so, as EU member countries France, Spain, and Germany have also not ratified it. SG

EU WANTS LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT CLOSED BY 2009

During his two-day visit to Lithuania on 17-18 September, EU commissioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen praised Lithuania's progress in membership negotiations, but also said that the second reactor of the nuclear power plant in Ignalina must be phased out by 2009, BNS reported. During discussions with President Adamkus the first day and with Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas the second, he affirmed that Lithuania has made more progress than expected and is a strong candidate to enter the EU during the first enlargement wave expected in 2004. Verheugen told parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas and the parliament's European Affairs and Foreign Affairs committees that no exceptions will be made regarding the closure of the Ignalina plant "because an accident in such a power plant would affect not only the residents of the country but also those of all Europe." Lithuania earlier agreed to close the plant's first reactor by 2005, and must make a similar decision on whether to close the second reactor by 2009, as Verheugen has requested. Verheugen said Lithuania would be granted considerable financial support from the EU budget to solve social and economic problems resulting from the plant's closure once it becomes a member of the union. SG

POLISH OPPOSITION LEADER NAMES KEY CANDIDATES FOR EXPECTED CABINET

Leszek Miller, the leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) that is expected to win a landslide victory in the 23 September general elections, on 19 September named key candidates for an expected leftist government, AP reported. Miller, the SLD 's candidate for prime minister, said he will appoint chief presidential economic adviser Marek Belka as finance minister. Miller's other choices are Labor Union leader Marek Pol as deputy prime minister and head of a new infrastructure ministry; former Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz as foreign minister; Krzysztof Janik as interior minister; and Jerzy Szmajdzinski as defense minister. Miller said he made his ministerial lineup public because of Poland's financial troubles and the prospect that the U.S. may soon launch strikes against Afghanistan. Miller pledged to continue Warsaw's support for any NATO military intervention deemed necessary in response to last week's terrorist attacks on the U.S. JM

POLISH PARLIAMENT BANS SUNDAY SHOPPING AT SUPERMARKETS

The Sejm on 18 September narrowly approved an amendment to Poland's Labor Code banning Sunday shopping at supermarkets as of 1 January 2003, Polish media reported. The measure, intended in part to protect small shops from competition by huge supermarkets, was backed by the Solidarity-led government as well as by the Roman Catholic Church. It was opposed by the opposition Democratic Left Alliance and the liberal Freedom Union, which said the amendment is economically unsound and will only increase Poland's already high unemployment. President Kwasniewski said the same day that he will veto the bill. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT VETOES SEVERAL BILLS OVER BUDGET CRISIS

President Kwasniewski has vetoed three bills on economic insurance and one on local government, saying their implementation would be too much of a burden to the public finances that are currently in crisis, PAP reported on 18 September. JM

SENIOR CZECH POLITICIANS DISMISS CLAIMS OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS SALES TO TERRORISTS

Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik and Interior Minister Stanislav Gross on 18 September said there is no evidence that terrorists obtained bacterial samples used in the manufacture of biological weapons from the Czech Republic, CTK reported. Czech police and government ministries investigated recent reports in the Czech and British media claiming deadly samples of anthrax or botulin were sold in the country prior to 1995 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 2001). The chairman of the lower house's Defense and Security Committee, Petr Necas (ODS), added following a closed-door meeting with the country's intelligence chiefs that there was no reason to believe that a terrorist organization had attempted to obtain such materials in the Czech Republic. Necas added that he could absolutely exclude the possibility that deadly bacteria had been obtained from military facilities. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Tvrdik apologized to Czech tractor manufacturer Zetor for publicly accusing the firm of trading with companies related to bin Laden or entities of his Al-Qaeada organization. AH

CZECH ODS PARTY PROPOSES 'RAINBOW' COALITION TO PASS BUDGET

A senior deputy within the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Budget Committee Chairman Vlastimil Tlusty, suggested his party would like to see a "rainbow budget" for 2002 that would enjoy the support of all four democratic parties in the lower house, the daily "Hospodarske noviny" reported on 19 September. Only the unreformed Communist Party would be left out of the ad hoc coalition. The ODS and two junior parliamentary parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, have already rejected the outlines of the 2002 budget the government is expected to present to the parliament. Tlusty's ODS party is keeping the current Social Democratic government afloat via a power-sharing agreement ahead of June 2002 national elections. AH

SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY REPORTEDLY AGREE ON TOKAY

Slovak Tokay wine will finally be able to compete with Hungarian Tokay wine on EU markets, TASR reported on 18 September, quoting Slovak Agriculture Ministry spokesman Lubomir Micek. Experts from Slovakia, Hungary, and the EU held a meeting from 17-18 September in Trebisov in Slovakia and reached an agreement on mutual adherence to the legislation and technological procedures accepted for the production of Tokay. The experts decided to prepare the necessary documentation about Slovakia's variety of Tokay by the end of September. However, the sides have not yet agreed on a brand name and other details. The struggle for official recognition of Slovak Tokay dates back to the 1960s. In 1993, Hungary concluded an agreement with the EU that laid claim to having an exclusive right to the Tokay brand name. The exports of Slovak Tokay wine in 1965-1990 amounted to 1,000 tons annually. During that period, the Slovak Tokay was bottled in Hungary and sold under the Hungarian brand name. JM

HUNGARIAN CABINET TO REQUIRE DECLARATION OF ASSETS FROM MORE OFFICIALS

Hungarian ministers will add to the ranks of public officials required to declare their assets beginning next year, local media reported. A government spokesman said the move, approved at a 18 September cabinet session, will compel the president, the head of the Constitutional Court, central bankers, the state ombudsman, senior executives at the State Audit Office, mayors, public notaries, heads of public foundations, and others to report their personal worth. AH




MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS TO DISARM WITHOUT WAITING FOR PARLIAMENT

The Macedonian parliament's 18 September debate on a possible referendum on constitutional changes degenerated into a "show" amid name-calling and mutual personal recriminations, Deutsche Welle reported. The discussion was scheduled to continue on 19 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2001). Also on 18 September, the ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (UCK) announced that they will continue to disarm regardless of whether the parliament keeps to its schedule for introducing political and constitutional reforms. The UCK nonetheless expects that the parliament will introduce the reforms. NATO is scheduled to begin the last stage in its weapons collection program on 20 September. NATO spokesman Peter Altmannsperger told dpa: "The rebels are willing to hand over the final third as a sign of goodwill. This will happen even before the parliament adopts constitutional changes." Observers note that the Albanians have generally been much more adept than the Macedonians in handling the Westerners (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 24 August 2001). PM

MACEDONIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OPPOSES CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

In a meeting with the speaker of the Macedonian parliament, Stojan Andov, the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Gospodin Gospodin Stefan, expressed his opposition to changing Article 19 of the current Macedonian Constitution as provided for in the Ohrid peace agreement, the Skopje daily "Nova Makedonija" reported on 18 September. In Article 19, the Orthodox Church is named as the only officially recognized religious institution. In the new article, the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Islamic Religious Community will be mentioned together with the Orthodox Church (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 3 August 2001). UB

MACEDONIAN PRIME MINISTER WANTS NATO TO CHANGE POLICY TOWARD 'TERRORISM'

Speaking in Sofia on 18 September, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said that he hopes that the attacks on the U.S. will prompt NATO to change its policy toward "terrorism" in Macedonia, AP reported. (Macedonian politicians refer to the UCK as "terrorists" even though their tactics are those of insurgents, not terrorists.) He said: "The international community was not energetic enough in dealing with terrorism in Macedonia. It flirted with the terrorists but did not always keep in touch with the legitimate institutions of Macedonia. Today, senior international politicians are saying what we kept repeating for eight months: there's no good or bad terrorism. Terrorism may not be justified in one place and condemned in another" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 September 2001). PM

VOICES CRITICAL OF U.S. IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

There has generally been much sympathy for the U.S. in the former Yugoslavia since the attacks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12, 13, and 14 September 2001). This has been especially true in Croatia and the Albanian-speaking areas. In Serbia, however, reactions have been mixed. A 13 September article in "Politika" sarcastically entitled "We are all Americans" suggested that it is only fair that innocent Americans now know the same feeling of horror and insecurity that innocent Serbs did when they were bombed in 1999. On 19 September, "Danas" ran an article that expressed concern that "the Empire" (meaning the U.S.) might start a major conflict as Austria-Hungary did in 1914. The article identified former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as a prominent war-monger. The Serbian mass-circulation "Glas javnosti" predicted that America's antagonism toward the Muslim world will be short-lived because "American is the slave of Arab oil. Americans so hate the Orthodox, especially Russians and Serbs, that they are ready to continue cooperation with their own greatest enemies, the Islamists." Meanwhile, in the Zagreb daily "Vjesnik," Croatian Islamic Community leader Sefko Omerbasic argued that American society is given to anti-Muslim prejudice. PM

MONTENEGRO BOYCOTTS BELGRADE MEETING

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and other top officials stayed away from a 19 September Belgrade meeting with Serbian leaders because Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica included Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragisa Pesic in the talks, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 2001). Pesic is a pro-Belgrade Montenegrin whose election Podgorica does not regard as legitimate. Djukanovic wrote to Kostunica that he favors negotiations on future relations between Serbia and Montenegro, but only between the governments of those two republics. He wants an alliance or union (savez) between Serbia and Montenegro as sovereign and independent states, "Pobjeda" reported on 18 September. His Democratic Party of Socialists has called for a referendum on independence in April 2002, that same daily reported on 19 September. It has widely been speculated that Djukanovic and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic might cut a deal behind Kostunica's back, but Djindjic continues to criticize Djukanovic in public, attacking his mercurial "Bedouin politics," "Dan" reported. PM

SERBIA EXHUMES 269 FROM MASS GRAVE

Serbian investigators said on 18 September that they have found the bodies of 269 persons, apparently Kosovar Albanians, in a mass grave in a police compound in the Belgrade suburb of Batajnica, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 2001). PM

CROATIA DISAPPOINTED WITH EU STABILITY PACT

Zdravko Tomac, speaker of the Croatian parliament, said in Zagreb on 17 September that his country had high expectations for the EU's Stability Pact but that these hopes have been greatly disappointed, Hina reported. He added, however, that the pact remains the only alternative for regional stability and development. The pact is a clearing house for projects and does not initiate any programs on its own. Supporters argue that many people in the Balkans unrealistically expected it to solve all their problems quickly. Critics charge that it is bogged down in its own bureaucracy and that of the EU. PM

ILIESCU CRITICIZES NATO FOR NOT ACCEPTING ROMANIA AS MEMBER

Romanian President Ion Iliescu said on 18 September that "it was NATO's mistake" to accept Hungary as a member and delay Romania's acceptance into the Atlantic alliance, Romanian media reported. Iliescu said that in order to ensure the region's stability, NATO should have applied a "both in or both out" principle regarding the two countries. He said accepting only one of the two created "an additional source of tension." Referring to Hungary's recently adopted Status Law, he accused that country of acting with "arrogance." Iliescu said that while the Hungarian minority in Romania enjoys full rights, Hungary has applied a policy of assimilation that discriminates against minorities, including Romanians. He further said other countries should not "give lessons" to Romania, "especially when they have no moral authority." ZsM

ROMANIAN RADIO JOURNALIST SUSPENDED

Following President Iliescu's protest of a 17 September Romanian public radio interview with extremist Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, journalist Paul Grigoriu was suspended from his post, Mediafax reported. During the interview with Grigoriu, Tudor reiterated his charges that in 1995 Iliescu approved the training of Hamas members by the Guard and Protection Service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 September 2001). Public radio Director Andrei Dimitriu said Grigoriu had permitted transforming the station into an instrument of political fighting. He added the radio "will not tolerate similar mistakes" in the future and will do its best to keep the radio balanced and politically independent. ZsM

SMIRNOV CANCELS MEETING WITH MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT

Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov on 18 September canceled his meeting with Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin that was scheduled for 19 September, Flux reported. Earlier on 18 September, a Tiraspol press release called on the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the OSCE to help defuse the situation created after Chisinau on 1 September introduced new customs seals. Smirnov has said Moldova thus created an "economic blockade" over Transdniester. The press release said Transdniester companies lost $9 million as a result of their inability to conduct cross-border trade. OSCE Chisinau mission chief William Hill said Tiraspol and Chisinau leaders should meet and negotiate, otherwise the conflict could deepen. Smirnov previously canceled a 30 August informal meeting with Voronin that was intended to discuss the status of the Transdniester region. ZsM

BULGARIAN OFFICIAL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NEW IMF DEAL

Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nikolai Vassilev said on 18 September in Sofia that the government will do "what is necessary" to sign a new agreement with the IMF, BTA reported. Vassilev made his comments after meeting with Jerald Schiff, the IMF's mission head in Bulgaria. Schiff said he expects "we will reach an agreement but [I] cannot say if it will be for one year or for a longer time." He added that the size of the loan will depend on what spending program the government adopts. Vassilev said that Bulgaria and the IMF have the same goals; namely, guaranteeing macroeconomic stability and increasing exports, economic growth, jobs, and living standards. PB

BULGARIAN PREMIER UNAWARE OF LANGUAGE AGREEMENT WITH MACEDONIA?

Bulgarian dailies on 19 September wrote extensively about what they view as Premier Simeon Saxecoburggotski's lack of knowledge about the country's recent relations with Macedonia, BTA reported. Saxecoburggotski told reporters after meeting with Macedonian Premier Georgievski that he and his culture minister will "do our best" to resolve the "language problem" between the two countries. Bilateral relations between the two countries were stymied for several years over the Macedonian government's claims that Macedonian is a separate language, while Bulgaria insisted it is a Bulgarian dialect. An compromise between the two on the issue was reached in 1999. The daily "Trud" said it appears Saxecoburggotski is unaware of the agreement. PB




UKRAINE PONDERS LANGUAGE POLICY AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION


By Paul Goble

The closure of Russian-language schools in Ukraine over the last decade has prompted ethnic Russian groups there to protest what they see as a policy designed to promote the assimilation of ethnic Russians into the Ukrainian nation.

Three ethnic Russian groups in Ukraine -- the Russian Movement of Ukraine, the Russian-Ukrainian Union, and For a Single Rus -- picketed the Ukrainian Education Ministry last week because of what they say is Kyiv's policy of "liquidating Russian-language education in Ukraine and [promoting] the assimilation of Russians and Russian-language citizens."

According to a press release issued by the Russian Movement of Ukraine earlier this month, the Ukrainian government over the last decade has changed the language of instruction in 1,300 schools from Russian to Ukrainian. As a result, the press release said, only 10 percent of the schools in the country are now conducted in Russian even though "not less than half of the population considers Russian to be its native language."

The Russian Movement said that this shift is taking place against the wishes of parents, and that written appeals to the education authorities have not produced any results. The group said that it will now engage in picketing government offices and other forms of protest in order to attract attention to this issue.

In most of the post-Soviet countries, questions concerning the language of instruction are among the most sensitive and contentious of all public issues. On the one hand, anything that touches the lives of children and their futures is something adults are likely to take seriously. And on the other hand, the debates taking place now reflect the continuing shadow of Soviet-era policies. But nowhere are these discussions more difficult than in Ukraine.

During the Soviet period, Moscow allowed union republics to have schools in their own national languages but promoted the use of Russian as the language of instruction both where there were sizeable numbers of ethnic Russians and where parents could be persuaded that learning the language of what was called "interethnic communication" would give their children a better chance in their future professional lives.

In Ukraine, both these groups were numerous. By 1989, the date of the last Soviet census, ethnic Russians constituted more than 20 percent of the population of Ukraine. And many Ukrainians whose language is closely related to Russian accepted happily or not that having their children go to Russian-language schools was career-enhancing.

But with the end of the Soviet Union, many Ukrainians, like their counterparts in other post-Soviet republics, decided that they could and should promote their national language as part of their general effort at nation and state building. Indeed, many of them felt that changing over to Ukrainian was almost a patriotic duty.

Such attitudes became even more widespread as Ukrainians recognized that the Russian Federation, where millions of Ukrainians live (the exact number is a matter of dispute) did not in the past and has yet to provide any Ukrainian-language schools for its citizens. And many Ukrainians were upset that international bodies that regularly urged Ukraine to keep Russian-language schools never demanded that Russia open Ukrainian-language ones.

Kyiv's gradual shift in the language of instruction from Russian to Ukrainian in many schools is widely popular among Ukrainians. But not surprisingly, it is generating a backlash among ethnic Russians and among those Ukrainians who grew up speaking Russian. As a result, Ukraine now finds itself caught between Ukrainians who want their children to speak Ukrainian and ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians who want their children to speak Russian.

The picketing is unlikely to change anyone's mind. But it will certainly call attention to a political issue that is far from resolved, one that may ultimately be more important than economics or geopolitics in determining Ukraine's future.


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