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Newsline - October 2, 2001




PUTIN ORDERS IMMEDIATE HUMANITARIAN AID FOR AFGHANISTAN

President Vladimir Putin ordered Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu on 1 October not to depart on the vacation he had planned to take after his work to help restore flood damage in the Russian Far East, but rather to immediately begin organizing humanitarian assistance to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, RTR television reported. That assistance, requested by the alliance, will be transported via Tajikistan, Russian news agencies reported. The aid represents a confirmation of Putin's commitment to join the U.S.-led antiterrorist coalition, Deutsche Welle reported the same day. VY

SPANISH POLICE LOOKING INTO POSSIBILITY RUSSIAN MAFIA FIGURE SOLD NUCLEAR WEAPON TO TALIBAN

"Vremya novostei" reported on 28 September that Spanish security officials, with support from agencies in the U.S., Great Britain, France, and Israel, are seeking to arrest Russian national Semen Mogilevich, who is reputed to be an organized crime figure and may have some connection to the disappearance of a small nuclear device supposedly lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The agencies are concerned that Mogilevich might have sold this portable nuclear weapon to the Taliban. VY

PUTIN TO SEEK ACCORD WITH EU ON FIGHTING TERRORISM

During his visit to Brussels this week, President Putin will lobby for the creation of a joint Russia-EU working group on terrorism, as well as one directed at expanding cooperation in energy issues, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 October. He is also expected to seek greater understanding by European officials of Russia's campaign in Chechnya, but EU officials told AP the same day that they do not plan to reduce their criticism of Moscow for violations of human rights in Chechnya. PG

EU, NATO WILL NOT CHALLENGE RUSSIAN VIOLATIONS OF CFE LIMITS

The "Financial Times" on 1 October reported that Russia is currently violating limits set by the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, but that neither NATO nor the European Union want to raise the issue when President Putin visits Brussels this week. "Such pressure would be politically inconvenient," one European diplomat told the paper. But the same official said that "many of us believe Moscow will exploit the fight against terrorism to its own advantage." PG

ROGOV SAYS U.S. HAS NOT YET DEFINED ANTITERRORIST POLICY

Sergei Rogov, the director of the Moscow USA and Canada Institute, said in an interview published in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 1 October that American officials have not yet defined Washington's counterterrorist plans and probably will not do so for several weeks. He said that whatever Washington decides, Moscow will be in a position, despite its current weaknesses, to "play a major role in the world arena" in any counterterrorist effort. PG

UNITY DEPUTY SAYS PAST ACTIONS BY MOSCOW, WASHINGTON CREATED SEEDBEDS OF TERRORISM...

Aleksandr Gurov, the Unity deputy who heads the Duma Security Committee, said on 1 October that the Soviet Union and the United States must share responsibility for the recent surge in terrorist activities because of their earlier support for national liberation movements, strana.ru reported. Such movements, Gurov said, are the direct predecessors of today's terrorist networks. He added that the U.S. intelligence community failed to assess the new threat adequately because it continues to view the world through a Cold War prism and sees Russia as a major threat. But in fact, Gurov said, the real threat comes from places like Afghanistan, not least because of the drugs being produced there. Gurov called for all countries to sign an antiterrorist convention. Those who refuse to do so, he said, will be considered "rogue states." VY

...AND SAYS RUSSIA MUST PREVENT MASSIVE INFLUX OF REFUGEES FROM AFGHANISTAN AND TAJIKISTAN

Gurov also said on 1 October that Russia will tighten its border controls to prevent a mass influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Interfax reported. Gurov said that currently there are approximately 10 million refugees in Russia from beyond the borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and that 1 million of them are illegal. He said that any massive military action by the U.S. in Afghanistan could lead to refugee flows that would harm Russia. PG

CIS SECRET SERVICE CHIEFS CONVENE

Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Nikolai Patrushev arrived in Dushanbe on 1 October to take part in a meeting of security service officials from the 11 other members of the CIS, Russian agencies reported. The news services said that the officials will discuss not only improving coordination of counterterrorist and counternarcotic efforts among the CIS countries, but also improving the monitoring of money laundering efforts by criminal entities. The BBC noted the same day that the participants may feel a special sense of urgency, as they will be able to hear the sounds of heavy military equipment transiting the Tajik capital toward the Afghan border. VY

ZYUGANOV SAYS PUTIN EVEN MORE CYNICAL THAN YELTSIN

Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 1 October that President Putin is even more cynical than was his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported. He noted that Putin is apparently willing to send Russian forces into Afghanistan even though the army is bogged down in Chechnya. And he condemned American plans to conduct "acts of revenge" in Afghanistan. At the same time, Zyuganov condemned Putin for his liberal economic policy, and said the Communists plan to launch street protests over the next month. Meanwhile, "Zavtra" reported on 27 September that secret opinion polls now show that over 83 percent of urban residents in Russia oppose any form of Russian participation in an antiterrorist strike in Afghanistan. VY/PG

GOVERNMENT APPROVES CIVIL DEFENSE PLAN...

The Russian government on 1 October approved a plan of basic measures for civil defense for the coming year, Interfax reported. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has directed government agencies to implement measures in their areas of competence, the news agency said. PG

...AND BACK PRO-NATALIST DEMOGRAPHIC PLAN

The Russian government on 27 September approved a concept paper on demographic policy through the year 2015 that calls for a pro-natalist and pro-immigrant policy to counter population declines caused by low birthrates, high death rates, and disease, Interfax reported. The same day, Deputy Health Minister Gennadii Onishchenko said that there are now approximately 148,000 registered HIV cases in Russia, of which 602 have been diagnosed with AIDS, the news service said. He also indicated that HIV cases now exceed 1,000 in 24 federation subjects. PG

SPS LEADER SAYS SELF-DETERMINATION 'RUINOUS' FOR SOCIETY

In an interview published in "Vremya MN" on 29 September, Duma Deputy Speaker and Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) member Irina Khakamada said that her party considers that national self-determination is "ruinous" for society. She argued that federal arrangements become impossible if a subject of the federation can decide on its own to leave at any time. She also said that repressed peoples should be given monetary compensation but not given their territories back. And she called for "the gradual and very careful transition to an administrative territorial system," with the first step being to stop designating the holder's nationality in passports and the second to increase the size of regions. But Khakamada said that cultural autonomy should be preserved through schools with instruction in minority languages. PG

NATIONAL BOLSHEVIK LEADER REMAINS UNDER ARREST

The Lefortovo Intermunicipal Court on 1 October refused to free Eduard Limonov, the leader of the National Bolshevik Party, who is charged with engaging in terrorism and the formation of an illegal armed formation, Interfax reported. PG

MEDIA MINISTRY MAY SUE ARMED FORCES

The press service of the Media Ministry told Interfax on 1 October that the ministry may take the Chief Educational Administration of the Armed Forces to court because the latter has failed to broadcast the military-patriotic television program "Slavyanka" as promised. The ministry had given the administration a license to show the program within two weeks but the administration has still not done so. PG

MOSCOW WILL BE FORCED TO RESPOND IF NATO EXPANDS EASTWARD

Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgenii Gusarov on 1 October repeated Moscow's earlier warnings that the Russian authorities will be forced to take both political and military countermeasures if NATO expands toward the borders of Russia, Interfax reported. Gusarov's comments follow Putin's suggestion last week that NATO should offer membership to Russia. PG

SWISS GOVERNMENT BLOCKS NOGA FROM SEIZING BORODIN BAIL FUNDS

Switzerland's Federal Court on 1 October refused to allow the Noga Company to take possession of the 5 million Swiss franc ($3 million) bail posted for former Kremlin property manager and current Russia-Belarus Union State Secretary Pavel Borodin, ITAR-TASS reported. Noga has sought to sequester Russian property abroad in order to recover money owed the company by Russian firms, but the Swiss court said bail funds are not subject to such seizures. PG

IRANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN MOSCOW FOR ARMS TALKS

Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani arrived in Moscow on 1 October for talks on military cooperation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov and also to discuss the purchase of additional Russian weapons systems, RBK and utro.ru reported. Pravda.ru reported the same day that total Russian arms sales to Iran could reach $2 billion. It added that Russia's willingness to sell Tehran its Yakhont naval surface-to-air missile has irritated Washington and Jerusalem, especially because Schachmani said before his departure from Tehran that Iran is ready to use force to prevent the U.S. from overflying Iran during any planned actions against the Taliban in Afghanistan. VY

PUTIN GREETS PRC ON 52ND ANNIVERSARY

President Putin sent his congratulations on 1 October to Chinese President Jiang Zemin on the 52nd anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China, ITAR-TASS reported. Putin said that "the achievements of the People's Republic of China are known far beyond its borders," and that Sino-Russian cooperation "is an important factor in world politics." PG

RUSSIANS MORE SUPPORTIVE OF MILITARY ACTION IN CHECHNYA

According to polls conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 1 October, 41 percent of Russians now support the continuation of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya, compared to only 36 percent who took that position at the end of July. At the same time, the percentage of Russians who would like to see peace talks begin fell from 53 percent at the end of July to 44 percent now. PG

SERBSKII INSTITUTE FINDING MAY LEAD TO FREEING OF BUDANOV

Interfax reported on 1 October that Colonol Yurii Budanov, who is accused of murdering an 18-year-old Chechen woman, may be convicted of a lesser charge and thus be subject to an immediate amnesty. Experts at Moscow's Serbskii Psychiatric Institute have concluded that he acted in a fit of passion when he killed Elza Kungaeva. PG

MORE DRAFTEES TO SERVE IN HOME AREAS

Military officials in St. Petersburg told Interfax-Northwest on 1 October than "more than 70 percent" of those drafted in the fall draft will serve within the Leningrad military district, a pattern duplicated in other regions as well. PG

SIBERIAN ASSOCIATION, NORTH FEDERAL DISTRICT COUNCILS HOLD JOINT MEETING

The council of the Siberian Federal District and the council of the interregional Siberian Accord council held a joint session on 1 September in Novosibirsk, Interfax-Eurasia reported. This is the latest example of closer coordination between the federal districts created by President Putin and the preexisting regional associations created in the early 1990s. PG

TATARSTAN MUSLIMS SAID AGAIN TITHING GRAIN HARVEST

Muslims in rural regions of Tatarstan are again giving 10 percent of their harvest as the Koran suggests for the work of mosques and medressahs, "Izvestiya" reported on 1 October. Meanwhile, an article published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 29 September said that there are an estimated 13.17 million Muslims in Russia, some 9 percent of the population. The combined populations of Tatars and Bashkirs account for nearly half of this total. PG

KLEBANOV SAYS 'KURSK' WILL BE RAISED THIS WEEK

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who arrived in Murmansk together with Northern Fleet commander Vyacheslav Popov on 1 October, said that work on raising the "Kursk" will be completed within the next five days, RIA-Novosti reported. But the delays, blamed on bad weather, have sparked speculation in the Russian media that the government is trying to conceal the real cause of the sinking of the submarine in August 2000, "Kommersant-Daily" and "Obschaya gazeta" reported on 27 September. VY/PG

SOLVING NUCLEAR WASTE PROBLEM ON KOLA PENINSULA TO TAKE DECADE

Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Lebedev said on 30 September that Russian officials will need a decade to deal with the problems of storage of spent nuclear fuel now in the Kola Peninsula, Interfax-Northwest reported. He said that Russia does not have the $50 billion needed immediately to meet international standards in the disposal of the spent nuclear fuel taken from 109 nuclear submarines and the entire nuclear materials from 44 decommissioned subs. PG

FIRST RUSSIAN GAS ARRIVES IN HOLLAND VIA YAMAL-EUROPE PIPELINE

Gazprom's press service announced on 1 October that the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline has become operational and that the first Russian-produced gas has arrived in the Netherlands, Prime-TASS reported. This year, the press service said, Russia will ship 1 billion cubic meters, a figure that will rise to 4 billion cubic meters per year by 2005. That will mean that Gazprom will dominate the Dutch gas market, the press service said. VY

SHIPBUILDERS EXPECT TO SURPASS AIRCRAFT PLANTS IN ARMS SALES BY 2003

Vladimir Pospelov, the director of the Russian government's shipbuilding agency, told ITAR-TASS on 1 October that he expects that Moscow will earn more money from the foreign sale of ships than of planes in 2003. PG

BANKRUPTCIES CONTINUE TO INCREASE

Tatyana Trefilova, the head of the Federal Financial Recovery Service (FSFO), told Interfax on 1 October that the number of bankruptcies confirmed by Russian courts continues to rise. She said that the number has increased from 4,747 in 1998 to 15,143 in 2000 and will be even larger this year. She also said that her agency may launch bankruptcy proceedings against some 300,000 debtors who are likely to fail to restructure their indebtedness as required by 1 December 2001. PG

RUSSIANS MORE INTERESTED IN ECONOMIC GROWTH THAN RECEIVING BACK WAGES

A poll conducted by the VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 1 October showed that 52 percent of Russians believe that promoting economic growth is the most important task, with only 35 percent saying that receiving payments for wage arrears is the most important. But the percentage naming the promotion of economic growth the most important task is 9 percent lower than the figure named in a similar poll one year ago. PG

TODAY'S ELITES DESCRIBED AS 'IRRESPONSIBLE'

Viktor Tretyakov, a member of the directors' council at ORT, told a Moscow conference on the role of elites in Russian society on 1 October that Russian elites today are those who have access to the Kremlin, Interfax reported. He added that today's Russian elites are "absolutely irresponsible before the country" and promote reforms only to the extent that those reforms serve their own interests. Meanwhile, an analysis of payment of utility bills in Saratov found that Russian pensioners pay their bills more reliably than do wealthier "new Russians," "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 27 September. PG

MOSCOW MINT OFFICE UNDER INVESTIGATION

Russian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the operations of the Moscow Mint, whose officials are suspected of embezzlement during the minting of Indian rupees, "Vremya novostei" reported on 1 October. The investigators are looking into both the disappearance of several million dollars that the Indian government paid the Moscow operation to mint its money and also the disappearance of two tons of special metals intended to be used for the Indian coins. VY

DIRECTOR RESIGNS AFTER ANOTHER PRISONER ESCAPES FROM BUTYRKA

Another prisoner escaped from Moscow's Butyrka Prison on 1 October, less than a week after the three prisoners who escaped on 5 September were captured, Russian agencies reported. Those developments have sparked reports that the prisoners were assisted by guards. ITAR-TASS reported that the prison's director has tendered his resignation as a result of the escapes. Meanwhile, Vladimir Platonov, the chairman of the Moscow city Duma, said on 1 October that the city is prepared to take over the management of Butyrka. PG

A NEW FACE FOR 'NEZAVISIMAYA?'

APN reported on 28 September that the new management of Moscow's "Nezavisimaya gazeta" plans to seek a broader audience by cutting analytic materials and increasing the amount of news and the number of illustrations, including some in color. The new team also plans to increase space for advertising and cut two-thirds of the paper's special thematic analytic supplements. VY

RUSSIAN CASUALTIES IN NORTH CAUCASUS ESTIMATED AT 10,500

The Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees on 27 September said that its calculations show that since 2 August 1999 Russia has suffered 10,500 combat losses, three times the official figure, Interfax reported. The group also reported on an increasing number of complaints by soldiers about mistreatment, beatings, and nonpayment of wages in the combat zone. PG

SOLDIER'S MOTHER COMPLAINS OF SLAVE LABOR

Lidia Guseva, the mother of soldier Aleksandr Gusev, has appealed to the Nizhnii Novgorod Soldiers' Mothers Committee, complaining about the conditions under which her son is serving in the Russian army, RFE/RL's Nizhnii Novgorod correspondent reported on 22 September. Aleksandr Gusev is serving not in the North Caucasus but in "peaceful" Volgograd Oblast; however, he and 15 other draftees are working 14-hour days of hard physical labor on a watermelon plantation. Gusev wrote to his mother saying that two soldiers have already died and that if she didn't bring him home, he would soon arrive in a "zinc box." With money in hand, Guseva traveled to Volgograd and brought her son home. However, he was in such a poor psychological state that he had to be immediately hospitalized upon his return. Representatives of his military unit arrived seeking his return to service, but the military prosecutor in Nizhnii Novgorod is conducting an investigation of the soldier's charges. JAC

SHUTOV TRIAL FINALLY BEGINS

The trial of former St. Petersburg legislator Yurii Shutov began on 1 October, Russian agencies reported. Shutov is accused of committing 15 serious crimes, including arranging the murders of the chairman of the board of Menatep-St. Petersburg, Dmitrii Filipov, and St. Petersburg city administration official Yevgenii Agarev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1999). Shutov was first arrested in the case in February 1999, RFE/RL's St. Petersburg correspondent reported. The correspondent also reported that some confidential sources believe that Shutov was involved in organizing the murder of State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova; however, an initial investigation failed to confirm those allegations. Federal Security Service officials are now conducting their own investigation. JAC

ELECTION SHENANIGANS ALLEGED IN OREL OBLAST

Two contenders for the governor's seat in Orel Oblast have filed complaints with the Central Election Commission, charging that incumbent Governor Yegor Stroev has been using his official position to further his candidacy in the 28 October gubernatorial elections and has committed other violations of federal election laws, "Izvestiya" reported on 1 October. Vyacheslav Alekseev and Vladimir Kapustyanskii, both of whom are members of the SPS, charge that a special "working group" was created under the leadership of Deputy Governor Mikhail Mikhailov for collecting signatures of candidates who are "doubles" for Stroev, such as Stanislav Mats, Vladimir Zyabkin, and Vasilii Molokanov. JAC

CHELYABINSK PRODUCES IRON PUTIN

Workers at a machine-casting construction factory in Chelyabinsk Oblast have prepared the first bust of President Putin done in cast iron, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 1 October. The bust measures 40 centimeters by 50 centimeters and weighs 40 kilograms. The price for the first bust may exceed 40,000 rubles ($1,400), but subsequent casts may retail for only 3,000 rubles. Commenting on the report, Democratic Union party leader Valeriya Novodvorskaya told Ekho Moskvy radio the same day that the bust is a reflection of a "Soviet-type of mentality, an inbred servility that has not gone anywhere." She added that "this is some incredible example of a genetic memory -- it seems that during the times of [former Russian President] Yeltsin, everyone should have forgotten about portraits and embroidered serviettes." JAC




ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS

Meeting with a group of visiting Russian journalists in Yerevan on 29 September, President Robert Kocharian said Armenian-Russian relations are "developing dynamically," and are characterized by a "convergence of interests" and by the absence of any disputed issues, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. Kocharian stressed that a pro-Russian orientation has been passed from generation to generation in Armenia, stressing that "there were and are no anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia." Asked why Armenia therefore does not accede to the Russia-Belarus Union, Kocharian pointed out that that union serves the interests of both member countries, but that Armenia does not share a common border with either. He added that no Armenian political party except for the Communists supports Armenian membership of the union. Commenting on the unresolved Karabakh conflict, Kocharian said the two most immediate problems that need to be solved are convincing public opinion in Azerbaijan of the need for compromise, and for the presidents of both Armenia and Azerbaijan to accept the responsibility of implementing a peace settlement that will require compromises from both sides. LF

NO ARRESTS IN DEATH OF ARMENIAN ACTIVIST

None of the members of President Kocharian's bodyguard who were suspended from duty last week has yet been formally charged in connection with the death in a Yerevan cafe in the early morning of 25 September of an Armenian from Georgia who had shouted insults at the president, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 2001). Armenian Revolutionary Federation -- Dashnaktsutiun (HHD) party member Poghos Poghosian was found dead with head and stomach injuries in the cafe toilet shortly after Kocharian left the premises. Law enforcement officials initially said Poghosian, who was 43, died of heart failure. Justice Minister David Harutiunian, who was also present at the cafe that night, told journalists on 27 September that "a most serious and impartial investigation must be conducted" and that "we cannot hush anything up," Noyan Tapan reported. LF

POLICE FORCIBLY DISPERSE OPPOSITION RALLY IN AZERBAIJANI EXCLAVE

Police in Nakhichevan on 29 September used violence to break up an unsanctioned demonstration against the Azerbaijani leadership by members of the opposition Democratic Party, Turan reported. Two demonstrators were injured and 21 detained for 15 days administrative arrest. LF

INDEPENDENT AZERBAIJANI TV STATION ACCUSED OF TRANSMITTING ILLEGALLY

Azerbaijan's State Radio Frequencies Committee has accused the independent ANS-TV of beginning broadcasts to seven rural regions without having sought permission from the committee to do so, Turan reported on 1 October. The committee has assessed ANS-TV's debts for the unauthorized use of transmitters at 354.9 million manats ($75,750), of which 141 million manats must be paid to the state budget. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S SENIOR MUSLIM CLERIC DENIES ISSUING COUP WARNING

Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukur Pashazade told Turan on 1 October that a report published that day in the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that he had warned President Heidar Aliyev that Iranian intelligence is planning a coup d'etat in Azerbaijan is incorrect. Pashazade also denied that any connection exists between that alleged warning and recent arrests of Muslim clerics in southern districts of Azerbaijan. This is by no means the first instance of "Yeni Musavat" publishing sensational allegations that later proved to be untrue: on 28 July Turan quoted that paper as reporting that President Aliyev had died. LF

GEORGIA OPENS AIRSPACE TO U.S.

The Georgian government has acceded to a U.S. request for cargo planes to transit Georgian airspace within the parameters of the expected antiterrorist strikes against targets in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told journalists on 1 October, according to Caucasus Press. LF

NEW GEORGIAN JUSTICE MINISTER APPOINTED

The Georgian parliament on 28 September confirmed Roland Giligashvili as justice minister, Caucasus Press reported. Giligashvili is 49 and has worked since graduating from Tbilisi State University in 1974 in the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor-General's Office, and from 1997-1999 as deputy justice minister. He succeeds Mikhail Saakashvili, who resigned last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2001). LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN

Leonid Kuchma ended his three-day visit to Astana on 28 September during which he and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbaev focused on expanding economic cooperation and trade, Russian agencies reported. Specifically, the two sides declared their readiness to participate, with Russia, in implementing the Dnepr space program, and agreed on the creation of a joint venture with Russia to extract and process uranium for use as nuclear fuel, ITAR-TASS and "Vek" reported. Also discussed was the possibility of increasing from the present level of 6 million tons exports of Kazakh oil to Ukraine for refining. LF

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE TELEPHONES KYRGYZ PRESIDENT

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev discussed the security situation in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia as a whole in a telephone conversation on 30 September, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported the following day, quoting the presidential press service. Powell thanked Akaev for his offer of support for the international antiterrorism coalition. Akaev announced on 25 September that Kyrgyzstan would open an air corridor for U.S. aircraft in the event of strikes on terrorist targets in Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2001). LF

KYRGYZSTAN, IMF REACH AGREEMENT ON NEW LOAN PROGRAM

The IMF's representation in Bishkek announced on 1 October that following talks two days earlier between visiting IMF official Tapio Savolainen, President Akaev, and Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev, agreement has been reached on a new three-year cooperation program, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kyrgyzstan could receive up to $90 million in new loans within the framework of that agreement, which was delayed due to the fund's displeasure at Akaev's unilateral decision in July to cut income tax rates (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 July and 21 September 2001). LF

KYRGYZ PARTY TO ABANDON 'CONSTRUCTIVE OPPOSITION'

Speaking at a press conference in Bishkek on 1 October to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of his Progressive Erkin Kyrgyzstan party, Tursunbai Bakir Uulu said that his party will shortly abandon its policy of constructive opposition and assume a tougher stance vis-a-vis the present leadership, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. He said that decision was prompted by the "many mistakes" the government has made and by its refusal to engage in a dialogue with the opposition. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT NAMES NEW AMBASSADORS TO RUSSIA, IRAN, GERMANY

President Imomali Rakhmonov has appointed the head of the presidential administration, Safar Safarov, as Tajikistan's ambassador to Russia, Ramazan Mirzoev as ambassador to Iran, and former presidential administration official Nurali Saidov as ambassador to Germany, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 2 October. Shuhrat Sultonov, who previously served as deputy chairman of the Executive Committee of the CIS secretariat, succeeds Safarov as head of the presidential administration. LF

UZBEKISTAN OFFERS USE OF AIRSPACE TO U.S.

Branding terrorism as "the plague of the 21st century, Uzbek President Islam Karimov told a meeting of senior Uzbek security officials on 1 October that his country "is ready to make its airspace available" for participating military aircraft in the event of strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan, Reuters reported. Last week Uzbek officials repeatedly denied persistent rumors that U.S. transport planes and troops had already landed at a military airport near Tashkent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 September 2001). LF




LUKASHENKA LAVISHES PRAISE ON NEW PREMIER...

While introducing newly appointed Prime Minister Henadz Navitski to the cabinet of ministers on 1 October, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said Navitski is "professional, experienced, highly educated and competent, extremely self-disciplined and efficient, absolutely decent and reliable, and extremely hardworking," Belarusian Television reported. "[Navitski] has a flexible mind and is a thoughtful man who does not make ill-considered steps," Lukashenka said. "He is able to understand someone's pain, to emotionally take it for his own, and to respond in a timely manner to this pain." Lukashenka also called Navitski a "compromise man," stressing that the new premier has worked with presidential opponents Vasil Lyavonau and Uladzimir Hancharyk in the past. JM

...WHILE OPPOSITION SEES HIM AS PRESIDENTIAL PAWN

Former Premier Mikhail Chyhir told Belapan on 1 October that the new cabinet will be run not by Navitski but by the presidential administration. "One can hardly expect that Lukashenka will respect the government," Chyhir added. According to Chyhir, Lukashenka did not reappoint former Premier Uladzimir Yarmoshyn because the latter had not shown sufficient support for Lukashenka during the presidential election campaign. Vasil Lyavonau, the chief of the election staff of Lukashenka's rival Hancharyk, told the Moscow-based "Vremya novostei" on 2 October: "The premier should be appointed in the first place and coordinate the formation of a government. Since [Navitski] did not participate in the choice of the cabinet, this fact alone is sufficient to make one realize that he will have no real influence [on government policies]." JM

BELARUS'S SUPREME COURT REJECTS COMPLAINT BY LUKASHENKA'S RIVAL

The Supreme Court has refused to open a criminal case in connection with a 92-page complaint by Hancharyk about numerous violations of Belarus's electoral legislation during the recent presidential election campaign, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 1 October. Judge Larysa Filimanikhina officially responded to Hancharyk by saying that viewing his complaint is beyond the competence of the Supreme Court. Previously Filimanikhina told Hancharyk that he has the right to question the decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC) on the presidential election in court, but now says this right applies only to the situation if the CEC declares a ballot to be invalid. "I can appeal the CEC's decision if it declares an election invalid. But I cannot if it declares it valid. This is a lunatic asylum, what other comment can I make?" Hancharyk told RFE/RL. JM

YUGOSLAV PREMIER IN KYIV

Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh met with his Yugoslav counterpart Dragisa Pesic in Kyiv on 1 October, Interfax and AP reported. The two politicians discussed ways to combat terrorism as well as bilateral issues. They spoke about the renewal of shipping on the Danube River, which Kinakh said is a "priority matter in our bilateral relations." Pesic said his government will issue a temporary permit for limited shipping this week. He added that the most pressing issue is to clear the Danube of debris resulting from the 1999 NATO bombing raids, and to construct at least one permanent bridge, with which Ukraine has promised to assist. The sides signed four documents, including a consular convention. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER WANTS COURT TO DEPRIVE 10 CABINET OFFICIALS OF PARLIAMENTARY MANDATES

Parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch has filed a lawsuit with the Kyiv City Court against 10 government officials who have not given up their parliamentary mandates, Interfax reported on 1 October. Under Ukrainian law, a lawmaker going to work in the government must resign his/her parliamentary seat. The 10 includes Premier Anatoliy Kinakh, Deputy Premier Volodymyr Seminozhenko, and Environment Minister Serhiy Kurykin. JM

UKRAINIANS OFFICIALLY EARN $61.50 MONTHLY

The State Statistics Committee on 1 October said Ukrainian workers earned an average 327.31 hryvni ($61.50) in August, Interfax reported. Bank employees, subway construction workers, aviators, and sailors are among the highest-paid, earning an average of 850 to 900 hryvni per month. The lowest-paid include farmers (178.0 hryvni), medical workers (197.10 hryvni), and teachers (227.20 hryvni). JM

NEW POLITICAL ASSOCIATION FORMED IN ESTONIA

The new political association "With Reason and Heart" elected former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann as its chairman during the association's founding congress in Jogeva on 30 September, BNS reported the next day. The congress also elected a governing board among which there are a relatively large number of local government leaders. Siimann, who served as premier from 1997-1999 as a member of the Coalition Party, said that one of the goals of the new organization is to prepare for the local elections in the fall of 2001. He noted that although some members want the association to become a political party, this is not the intention of most members. It could, however, turn into a party if the parliament approves the suggestions by some political forces and adopts laws making local elections party elections by not allowing civic associations and electoral unions to compete in them. SG

EBRD READY TO CONTINUE INVESTING IN LATVIA

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Jean Lemierre reaffirmed to President Vaira Vike-Freiberga in Riga on 1 October that his bank is planning to make further investments in the country, LETA reported. He told a press conference that the EBRD is prepared to participate in the privatization of the Latvian Shipping Company if two conditions are met -- the company must be capable of operating on its own after the privatization, and the privatization process must be transparent. Lemierre also asserted that the EBRD will devote special attention to financing the small- and medium-sized companies in Latvia that employ the vast majority of the republic's workers. He said that, if asked to do so by the government and the plan's strategic investor, the bank would grant expertise and funding for the construction of a new cellulose plant in eastern Latvia. SG

GOVERNMENT APPROVES PLAN FOR PRIVATIZATION OF LITHUANIAN GAS

The government decided on 1 October that it will support the plan for the privatization of the state-owned utility Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), which will offer the strategic investor and the gas supplier equal 34 percent shares in the company while the government retains a 24 percent share, ELTA reported. The remaining 8 percent is currently privately owned. This plan takes into account the wishes of Gazprom (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2001) that the gas supplier be given at least the same share as the strategic investor. The main competitors for investor are Germany's Ruhrgas and France's Gaz de France, as the U.S.-registered Russian gas provider Itera does not fulfill the condition that the investor must have at least 10 years of experience in gas-distribution systems. Finance Minister Dalia Grybauskaite said that the plan was coordinated with the World Bank, whose main request was that the strategic investor and government hold a majority of the shares. SG

KWASNIEWSKI REASSURES BRUSSELS ON POLAND'S EU DRIVE...

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said in Brussels on 1 October that the recent parliamentary elections, which gave a considerable number of mandates to parties opposing Poland's EU membership, will not affect Warsaw's aspirations of joining the EU within three years, AP and Reuters reported. "I want to underline that Poland's goal No. 1 is our membership in the European Union and we will work for that goal in the coming months," Kwasniewski told journalists after meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi. "The election results clearly favor political parties that back entry into the EU, so I am confident that the process will go on," Prodi said, referring to the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Civic Platform. JM

...ADVISES OPPONENTS OF EU TO REMAIN IN OPPOSITION

Answering a question about Poland's possible new government, Kwasniewski said that those parliamentary deputies who oppose the country's EU membership should sit on the opposition benches, PAP reported. "Most probably, a majority government will be formed [by the SLD] together with the Polish Peasant Party. Maybe it is not the best solution but it can be accepted," Kwasniewski added. Meanwhile, SLD leader Leszek Miller said the same day that the decision on whether to form a minority government or a coalition cabinet can be expected on 4 October. Finance Minister designate Marek Belka is to meet with politicians from the Peasant Party, Civic Platform, and Self-Defense on 3 October to present his rescue plan for public finances. JM

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES AIRCRAFT SALES WITH U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said he discussed military aircraft sales with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during their 1 October meeting in Washington, CTK reported, particularly in light of the lifting of an embargo on sales to India and Pakistan. Kavan said India is interested in some 66 of the subsonic L-159 light-attack/trainer jets, which are produced by Aero Vodochody, and said the sale "would be a significant contract" for the Czech company. The Czech air force is the only purchaser so far of L-159s. The two men also discussed Czech aircraft exports to Syria and Egypt, as well as the pullout in May of U.S. aircraft manufacturers from a tender to provide supersonic jets to the Czech military, the agency reported. The end of September was the deadline for assessing an offer of JAS 39 Gripen fighters by the British-Swedish consortium BAE Systems, the lone bidder remaining in the tender to supply 24 to 36 jet fighters. "These are vessels of communication," Kavan said in response to the question as to whether exports of L-159s would be linked to the purchase of new supersonic jets. AH

SLOVAKIA WELCOMES SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON TERRORISM...

The Slovak Foreign Ministry on 1 October said Slovakia "welcomes" the approval last week of UN Security Council Resolution 1333 against international terrorism, CTK reported. The ministry said the resolution, which calls on all states to freeze accounts of individuals and groups suspected of involvement in terrorism, is "in full harmony" with Slovakia's foreign policy interests. The ministry also said Bratislava is taking measures to implement the resolution. MS

...OFFERS TO HELP ORGANIZE NATO PRAGUE SUMMIT...

Alexander Vondra, the Czech government commissioner in charge of organizing the 2002 Prague NATO summit, on 1 October said in Bratislava that Slovakia has offered to help the Czech Republic organize the summit and that the offer will be considered, CTK reported. Vondra said the main purpose of his visit was to demonstrate support for Slovakia's NATO accession bid. He hinted that the success of the bid may depend on the outcome of the general elections scheduled for the summer of 2002. MS

...CLEARS SUSPECTED TRANSPORT OF ARMS TO ANGOLA

Economy Minister Lubomir Harach told journalists on 1 October that a shipment of arms to Angola that was stopped the previous day at Bratislava airport was legal and has been cleared, CTK reported. Harach said the Angolan government had purchased signal rockets in Slovakia and "we have no reason to suspect the deal is illegal." Harach said Angola is not subject to international restrictions on the purchase of military equipment and that the UN-imposed embargo is valid only for arms supplies to the UNITA rebels. MS

NEW RACIAL INCIDENTS IN SLOVAKIA

A group of 15 skinheads on 1 October attacked six young Romany men in Prievidza, central Slovakia, CTK reported. One Rom was hospitalized after being struck on the head with a stick. Police said an investigation has been launched to determine whether the attack was racially motivated. Also on 1 October, police said that swastikas and inscriptions of "Juden Raus" (Jews Out!) were spray-painted by unknown perpetrators on a building in central Kosice over the weekend. MS

TORGYAN STICKS TO 'UNJUST' COALITION

Independent Smallholders' Party (FKGP) Chairman Jozsef Torgyan on 1 October said that in the interest of the country, the FKGP 's coalition pact with FIDESZ must run until the end of the election cycle, "even if FIDESZ were to go on with its unjust and unworthy policies, with which it has so far stabbed its loyal ally in the back." Torgyan said the FKGP leadership will decide on the party's future after the first round of the 2002 elections, Hungarian media reported. Torgyan denied media reports that the FKGP is holding election cooperation talks with other parties. MSZ

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION WARY OF RADIO CENSORSHIP

Opposition Socialist Party (MSZP) Deputy Chairwoman Ildiko Lendvay told reporters on 1 October that her party will seek a written explanation from Hungarian Radio President Katalin Kondor as to why statements made by opposition parties are censored. Lendvay said a report on MSZP Chairman Laszlo Kovacs's recent visit to Gyor was not broadcast that same day. She also charged that radio Vice President Janos Hollos has issued internal instructions for editors to consult with him before broadcasting the opposition's criticism of the cabinet. Hollos said the alleged instructions do not exist. MSZ

HUNGARIAN RULING PARTY WANTS ELECTIONS IN APRIL 2002

Hungary's major ruling FIDESZ wants general elections to be held on 7 and 21 April 2002, "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 2 October. The daily suggested that, with recent polls placing FIDESZ and the opposition Socialist Party neck-and-neck, FIDESZ wants to hold elections before International Labor Day on 1 May in order to deny Socialists the potential advantage that day offers them. MSZ




MACEDONIAN PEACE PLAN THREATENED BY MISSING PERSONS

The speaker of the Macedonian parliament, Stojan Andov, said on 1 October that ethnic Albanian rebels must resolve the issue of 14 missing Macedonians before parliamentarians will pass any provisions of the peace plan, Reuters reported. Speaking after meeting with relatives of the missing, Andov said, "I will be compelled not to convene the national assembly...as long as the civilians are kept hostage." The 14 civilians -- who include one ethnic Albanian -- disappeared as fighting raged around the city of Tetovo in July. Parliament is due to meet on 5 October to discuss expanding the rights of ethnic Albanians. Former rebel leader Ali Ahmeti, at a meeting last week announcing that the National Liberation Army had disbanded, said all prisoners had been released. A spokeswoman for the Red Cross said it has no information on the missing people. PB

NATO CONDEMNS REBEL ATTACKS ON MACEDONIAN POLICE

Major Tim Dunne, a spokesman for Amber Fox, the new NATO mission in Macedonia, said on 1 October in Skopje that attacks by ethnic Albanian insurgents on police checkpoints in Macedonia are "unacceptable," dpa reported. Dunne said the attackers fired some 20 rounds of ammunition on checkpoints outside of Tetovo the previous day and that Macedonian police returned fire. He said NATO strongly condemns "attacks on police positions." Both sides blamed the other for starting the attacks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 2001). PB

OSCE ANNOUNCES FOURFOLD INCREASE IN MONITORS FOR MACEDONIA

The OSCE said on 1 October in Skopje that it will quadruple the size of its mission that will monitor implementation of the peace accord in Macedonia, Reuters reported. Harald Schenker, the OSCE spokesman for the former Yugoslavia, said the initial crew of 51 monitors will be expanded to 210 in an agreement between the OSCE and the Macedonian government. Many of the new monitors will train ethnic Albanians in policing methods, as some 500 Albanians are due to be added to the Macedonian police force by mid-2002. PB

NATO TROOPS ARREST FOUR IN BOSNIAN ANTITERRORIST EFFORT

The NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina said on 1 October that it has arrested four people in Sarajevo on the suspicion of having links with terrorists, Reuters and Hina news agencies reported. A Stabilization Force (SFOR) statement said the arrests were conducted in line with the SFOR mandate and in cooperation with local authorities, the agencies reported. The SFOR authorities did not reveal the identities of those detained, but Bosnian state television reported that two were foreigners and two were Bosnian citizens. Local media reported that one man was Egyptian and another Lebanese with German residency. Bosnia last week launched a plan to combat terrorism domestically and internationally, in response to the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Reuters added. AH

'CROATIAN-LANGUAGE' DAILY HITS BOSNIAN NEWSSTANDS

Bosnia-Herzegovina's first "Croatian-language" daily hit newsstands on 1 October, with the stated aim of offering readers complete and reliable coverage of "what is going on in the country and the world," Hina reported the same day. "Dnevni List" will appear six days a week with a double issue on Saturdays, the agency added. It is published by Mostar-based National Holding. The paper is printed in Banja Luka and has an initial print run of 7,500 copies to be sold throughout Bosnia, Hina reported. AH

NEW CROATIAN JUSTICE MINISTER INTENDS TO ESTABLISH WAR CRIMES BUREAU

Newly appointed Justice Minister Ingrid Anticevic-Marinovic told a press conference on 1 October that her priorities in restoring confidence in the country's judiciary include amending civil and criminal laws, Hina reported. She also said her country plans to establish a war crimes bureau to speed up evidence-gathering and local trials involving cases that date back to World War II, Reuters reported. Anticevic-Marinovic said a law is being drafted to set up the office, whose work will include collecting evidence, preparing cases, and helping track down suspects. In the past two months Croatian police have arrested more than a dozen people, mostly former soldiers or policemen, suspected of involvement in violent crimes against ethnic Serbs. Outgoing Justice Minister Stjepan Ivanisevic, who recently resigned amid speculation that he was unhappy about government policies on cooperation with The Hague-based war crimes tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2001), said the aim is "to improve cooperation with The Hague tribunal and coordination among all those dealing with war crimes in the local judiciary," Reuters reported. The current state bureau liaising with the tribunal will be incorporated into the new body, Ivanisevic added. AH

PRESIDENT CALLS FOR TALKS ON FUTURE OF YUGOSLAVIA

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on 1 October in Belgrade that there should be no preconditions before resuming talks with Podgorica on the future of the federation, AP reported. Kostunica, who suspended talks last week, seemed to soften his earlier condition that Montenegrin independence could only be attained in a referendum. But he also warned: "The federal constitution envisages repressive mechanisms in case one of Yugoslavia's two constituent republics is acting in a destructive manner... But I'm thinking of peaceful, political means." Kostunica called off the talks after Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic refused to attend the opening round in Belgrade because of Kostunica's insistence on including Yugoslav Premier Dragisa Pesic, who is an opposition politician in Montenegro. Kostunica said on 1 October that a representative of federal Yugoslavia must be present for the negotiations, but said he wouldn't insist that it be Pesic. PB

KOSTUNICA PRAISES U.S. PRESIDENT

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade on 1 October that he is "impressed" by George W. Bush's cautious handling of the situation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the U.S., AP reported. Kostunica, a frequent critic of U.S. policy, said that "it is very, very encouraging that the reactions of the U.S. administration and especially President Bush toward that big evil were measured and right." Kostunica also called for a "clear" definition of terrorism by the international community. PB

REPORT SAYS SECURITY FOR MINORITIES IN KOSOVA IS IMPROVING

Daan Everts, the head of the OSCE mission in Kosova, said in a report released on 1 October that the southern Serbian province is becoming more secure, AP reported. Everts said that over the past six months, there has been "an improvement with regard to the overall security situation." The report was conducted by the OSCE and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and monitored the situation of several minority groups living in Kosova. The report said, however, that freedom of movement is still the greatest concern for minorities. Lennart Kotslainen, chief of the UNHCR mission in Kosova, said that minorities "don't have the freedom of movement as other citizens in Kosovo. They can't go to the hospital as they wish to and they sometimes cannot access the municipal office without putting their safety at risk." PB

IRANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN ROMANIA

Visiting Iranian parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karubi told Chamber of Deputies Chairman Valer Dorneanu on 1 October that his country backs international action against terrorism, but cannot agree to an armed attack on Afghanistan, Romanian television reported. Karubi said that the U.S. must be "very careful" to avoid turning its envisaged antiterrorist action into "an attack against nations and other civilizations." He said any action in Afghanistan must take place under the auspices of the United Nations. Dorneanu told his guest that he agrees that international organizations should be involved in the struggle against terrorism but added that the U.S. "has every right to respond" after having been directly attacked. He stressed that Romania is a "de facto NATO ally" and will participate within its own means in any action against terrorism. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS POVERTY BREEDS EXTREMISM

During his visit to Bihor County on 1 October, President Iliescu warned that the growing discrepancy between rich and poor countries is "one of the most dangerous sources of international conflict and tension," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau quoted him as saying. Iliescu said that the gap between rich and poor states "breeds extremism and religious fanaticism" and said international stability cannot be restored without eliminating poverty. He said he backs a radical reform of institutions and international organizations that regulate the world economy. MS

ROMANIAN HUNGARIAN LEADER ENVISAGES DIFFICULTY IN STATUS LAW IMPLEMENTATION

Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko, in an interview with MTI on 1 October, said the Status Law approved by the Hungarian parliament "will be difficult to implement" if the Romanian government cannot be persuaded to modify its opposition to the law, Mediafax reported. Marko said, "Reaching a compromise takes a long time," and without that it will be very difficult to implement the law in Romania proper. Marko added that the UDMR is prepared to help reach a compromise. He also said the UDMR is technically able to contribute in the implementation of the law if an understanding is reached between the two governments, and that discussions are underway with representatives of the Hungarian churches in Transylvania to develop a unified position between the churches and the UDMR regarding the law's implementation. MS

ROMANIAN FAR-RIGHT LEADER CRITICIZES APPOINTMENT OF U.S. AMBASSADOR

Ion Coja, the deputy chairman of the Romanian Cradle organization and one of the most extremist political personalities in Romania, criticized the appointment of Michael Guest as U.S. ambassador to Romania, calling it a "misfortunate idea, provoking stupor, indignation, and disgust among Romanians," AP reported. In a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, Congress, and the Senate that was published in the daily "Ziua" on 30 October, Coja wrote that Guest's open homosexuality is an affront to Romanian tradition and mentality "which put duty and obligation above everything else" and added that the "supreme duty of any living person is to procreate." This is not the first time Coja has criticized the appointment of a U.S. ambassador. In 1994 he was among the signatories of a letter protesting the appointment of Alfred Moses, in what was largely perceived to be an anti-Semitic gesture. Coja is also a foremost Holocaust denier and a fierce anti-Hungarian nationalist. MS

HAS RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DISSOLVED COMMISSION ON TRANSDNIESTER?

Grigorii Marakutsa, the chairman of the Transdniester Supreme Soviet, told the Moscow daily "Izvestiya" on 1 October that Vladimir Putin has disbanded the Russian State Commission for the Solution of the Transdniester Conflict headed by Yevgenii Primakov, Infotag reported. Marakutsa said that a presidential decree on the dissolution has already been signed as a result of the commission's failure to meet its task. Marakutsa claimed that Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin lobbied for the measure because he believes Primakov held too many meetings with separatist leader Igor Smirnov. Marakutsa said the draft proposed by Primakov for solving the conflict "can serve as basis for further work." On 1 October, a Russian Foreign Ministry delegation headed by First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov arrived in Chisinau for talks with the Moldovan leadership. MS

BULGARIAN VISA REQUIREMENT FOR RUSSIAN CITIZENS COMES INTO EFFECT

As of 1 October, Russian citizens traveling to Bulgaria are required to have an entry visa, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Bulgarian Ambassador to Russia Ilian Vasilev told the agency that the Bulgarian government pledged to introduce the visa requirement when the EU lifted its requirement for visas from Bulgarian citizens in March. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it regrets the imposition of "additional barriers" to relations between the citizens of the two countries and said it will introduce a reciprocal visa requirement. MS

BULGARIAN LAND FORCES TO BE REDUCED BY A THIRD

Bulgaria will reduce its 12,000-strong land forces by 30 percent by 2004, Land Forces Chief of Staff General Kiril Tsvetkov said on 1 October. He said the land forces will be divided into deployment forces and homeland defense forces, BTA reported. Tsvetkov said some 20 percent of the forces' strength will be transferred to the reserve brigade commands, which will be in charge of guarding equipment and supplies. Tsvetkov said that this year some 60 units will be reorganized into peacetime and wartime units, 70 units will be fully disbanded, and 30 new units will be formed. MS




There is no End Note today.





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