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Newsline - October 4, 2001




PUTIN SAYS MOSCOW MAY CHANGE VIEW OF NATO EXPANSION IF NATO CHANGES ITSELF...

President Vladimir Putin said in Brussels on 3 October that if NATO becomes a political rather than a military organization and if Russia is involved in the discussion of issues pertaining to the alliance, then Russia may drop its opposition to the expansion of the alliance eastward, Russian and Western news agencies reported. But he said that Moscow will not change its opposition if NATO remains as it is. Further, Putin said, the events of 11 September show that the expansion of NATO will not provide genuine security for new members and that Europe needs to "look again at regional security." At the same time, Putin said he welcomes the creation of a special body to develop ideas on the further expansion of Russia-NATO cooperation. VY

...PLEASED BY DEEPENING PARTNERSHIP WITH EUROPEAN UNION...

President Putin said on 3 October that he welcomes the fact that partnership between Russia and the European Union is becoming ever deeper, Russian and Western agencies reported. During his talks with EU officials, the two sides agreed to expand cooperation in the areas of nuclear security, space, energy, and economic cooperation and to set up various working groups to promote those goals. They also agreed to conduct monthly consultations on foreign and defense policies. Putin said he is especially pleased by the combined efforts of the EU and the U.S. to support Russia's application for membership in the World Trade Organization. PG

...PLEDGES RUSSIAN SUPPORT FOR ANTITERRORIST EFFORT...

President Putin said on 3 October that Russia is prepared to play a role in the fight against terrorists, whom he described as "bacteria" that live off the bodies of host states, Russian and Western agencies reported. He said that the struggle against terrorism cannot be confined to armed actions but must also include efforts to settle international conflicts and fight poverty. He agreed with the EU to help block the financial sources of terrorist groups. Putin also said that Russia has been informed of the list that the U.S. gave to NATO countries of planned American counterterrorist efforts. PG

...AND SAYS MOSCOW WILL NOT EXPLOIT U.S. TRAGEDY BY TAKING SPECIAL ACTIONS IN CHECHNYA

President Putin said on 3 October that Russia has no plans to "use the situation that emerged after the tragedy in the U.S." for changing its approach to the situation in Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported. Putin repeated his assertion that Chechen militants are participants in international terrorism. He noted that Russia proceeds from the assumption that "terrorists used a religious-ideological and force vacuum" in the North Caucasus to advance their aims. And he added that "fundamentalists must not be allowed to use democratic institutions to attack these same institutions." PG

RUSSIAN MEDIA, POLITICIANS REACT TO PUTIN'S VISIT TO BRUSSELS

Russian newspapers, including "Moskovskii komsomolets," "Vremya novostei," and "Kommersant-Daily," on 3 October were sharply critical of the European Union, suggesting that it is less trustworthy than the United States and more interested in exploiting Russia's current weakness. An article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" the same day suggested that the underlying tensions between Russia and NATO persist despite the positive talks in Brussels. Meanwhile, numerous politicians reacted to Russia's improved relations with NATO. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky said on 3 October that he supports Putin's call for increasing ties with NATO and working to develop joint security structures. Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy leader of the Unity faction in the Duma, said that Putin's visit gave new impetus to Moscow's ties with the Western alliance. Former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov said he no longer excludes the possibility that Russia will become a member of NATO. And representatives of Unity and Fatherland said that there are no reasons for Russia not to become a NATO member. PG

DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES RUSSIAN SPECIAL FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN

Defense Ministry spokesmen on 3 October denied a report in "The Independent" the same day that Russian special forces are "believed" to have crossed into Afghanistan from Tajikistan, Russian agencies reported. Meanwhile, General Anatolii Kvashnin, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said in Yerevan on 3 October that "there is no sense" in U.S. plans to use airbases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for attacks on Afghanistan, Interfax reported. PG

KUDRIN SAYS RUSSIA WILL WORK TO BLOCK FINANCING OF TERRORISTS

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 3 October that Russia will use all available legislation to block the channels through which terrorists are financed, Interfax reported. He noted that some of these flows concern "the financing of band formations on the territory of Russia." He added that the government has prepared a decree for the president to sign that will establish a financial intelligence service in Russia. PG

EXPERT EXPECTS STRIKES ON AFGHANISTAN TO DESTABILIZE CENTRAL ASIA

Dina Malysheva, a senior researcher at the Moscow Institute of World Economics and International Relations, said in an interview carried by strana.ru on 2 October that U.S. strikes on Afghanistan will lead to refugee flows into Central Asian countries, heighten tensions within these countries, and lead to the destabilization of the region. PG

ATOMIC ENERGY MINISTER CALLS ON SCIENTISTS TO DEVELOP IMPROVED SECURITY DEVICES

Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said in an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 3 October that he wants scientists to develop improved tools for the defense against terrorism and that he would like to see Russian and American scientists work together on such projects. PG

COMMENTATOR SUGGESTS THOSE WHO WANT TO FIGHT TERRORISM MUST BE SURE TO PROTECT LIBERTY

Writing in "Novoye vremya," No. 39, Denis Dragunskii said that "the major task" of the world today is less to punish the terrorists than to "preserve liberty and law and to safeguard democratic principles" in the course of that struggle. Dragunskii suggested that terrorist attacks represent a childlike "call for attention" by the developing world, and he urged advanced countries to pay more attention to those that are poor and suffering. PG

ZYUGANOV STEPS UP CRITICISM OF PUTIN

Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that President Putin's "flirting with NATO and delivering speeches in German is absolutely intolerable," ITAR-TASS reported on 3 October. Zyuganov said that as a result of Putin's misguided policies, Russia is now threatened with being drawn into a war on the pretext of fighting terrorism, the selling off of its lands to foreigners, the splitting up of natural monopolies, and the impoverishment of the Russian people. Zyuganov said the people will hold Putin accountable for all of that. VY

RUSSIAN REFORMERS SEEN BECOMING VICTIMS OF REFORM

According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 3 October, it has been the fate of Russian reformers to become victims of their own reforms because of the antagonism those reforms generate among elite groups. "Today," the article said, "a significant part of the elite is against [President] Putin, while the majority of the population is for him." The article concluded that the pattern of Russian history is once again "repeating itself." PG

SELEZNEV WANTS MOSCOW TO DEVELOP PROGRAM FOR COMPATRIOTS ABROAD

Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev said on 3 October in Bishkek that Moscow must develop special laws to provide support to ethnic Russians living abroad, Interfax reported. He said existing laws in this area are ineffective. PG

DUMA DEPUTY SAYS RUSSIA'S FOREIGN DEBT MUST BE 'ADJUSTED'

Vladimir Nikitin, the chairman of the state debt committee of the Duma, told Interfax on 3 October that the nearly $100 billion in debts Russia inherited from the Soviet Union should be carefully examined and revised downward because some of this debt is not properly documented and another part reflects false valuations of goods exchanged within the Soviet bloc. PG

FSB FIGHTS BUDGET CUTS

The Financial Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has sent a letter to Duma speaker Seleznev calling on him to restore 3.5 billion rubles ($118.9 million) that has been cut from its 17.91 billion ruble budget for 2002, grani.ru reported on 3 October. These cuts, made by the cabinet and approved by the Duma on first reading, would make the personnel of the FSB "socially insecure," the letter said. VY

UNITY, FATHERLAND SEEK TO FORM PARTY AT NOVEMBER CONGRESS

Representatives of Unity and Fatherland said on 3 October that each group will hold a congress in October and then convene a common congress at the end of November at which they hope to form a single party, Interfax reported. The two groups may also be joined by All-Russia, and the new party will have three co-presidents drawn from the three groups, members of the groups said. PG

PRUSAK SAYS CIVIL SOCIETY MUST BE BUILT FROM BELOW

In an interview carried by "Tribuna" on 3 October, Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak said "a civil society cannot be formed on orders from Moscow." Instead, he said, it must be built "from the bottom up." Noting that he is "one of the few democrats of the first wave who has remained in politics," Prusak said that his Democratic Party of Russia will go against Russian tradition and develop in the regions. PG

BEREZOVSKY SAYS KREMLIN HOPES TO REPEAT NTV GAMBIT

Boris Berezovsky said in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 3 October that the prosecutors' decision to summon him as a witness in the Aeroflot case represents an attempt by the Kremlin to repeat the strategy it used to take over NTV. He noted that "the desire to gain control of something illegally (the matter here concerns the TV-6 network) is accompanied by pressure from the security structures." PG

MOSCOW UPSET BY NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY PLANS TO DISCUSS KALININGRAD

The Russian delegation to preparatory talks before the 47th Parliamentary Assembly of NATO countries that will take place in Ottawa 6-9 October said on 3 October that they are opposed to a scheduled discussion on "perspectives of democratic reforms in Kaliningrad Oblast." The delegation said that they believe that discussing Kaliningrad in that way and in that forum is "impermissible." PG

U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS MOSCOW NEED NOT TALK TO 'TERRORISTS' IN CHECHNYA

In an interview published in "Argumenty i fakty" on 3 October, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said that the U.S. "remains convinced that a military solution to the Chechen problem does not exist," but he added that "when we say this, we do not have in mind that it is necessary to conduct negotiations with terrorists." He said it is Russia's "internal affair" to determine with whom it will conduct talks, and that "we support 100 percent the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Russia." Vershbow noted that "Chechen separatists receive enormous help from abroad" and that several field commanders are "foreigners." "If we are now able to convince the Chechens to break these international ties, then in this way we will create more favorable conditions for the achievement of a peaceful agreement," Vershbow said. PG

MOSCOW CONCERNED BY MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE

Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko provided Interfax on 3 October with a ministry declaration expressing the Russian government's extreme concern in connection with violations of the Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire in the Palestinian areas. Yakovenko described those who had provoked the Israeli response that led to the escalation as "terrorists" opposed to peace. PG

RESTRICTED BORDER ZONE ESTABLISHED IN BIROBIDZHAN

The government of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Birobidzhan) will set up a special five-kilometer zone along the oblast's border with China that people may enter only with special permission, Interfax reported on 3 October. PG

RUSSIA TESTS MODIFIED ICBM...

Russian space troops conducted a successful launch and flight of a modified SS-22 (Topol-M) intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk base to Kamchatka, Interfax reported on 3 October. The flight was intended to test the reliability of a booster that Russia could use to again use multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles [MIRVs] for its nuclear forces if the U.S. pulls out of the 1972 ABM Treaty. This test follows the 18 September test of a submarine-launched missile on a flight from the Pacific to the Barents Sea. VY

...EXPANDS NET OF SPY SATELLITES AND RADARS...

Colonel General Anatolii Perminov, the commander of Russia's rocket forces, told Interfax on 3 October that Russia plans to speed up the launch of new spy satellites in order to maintain Moscow's surveillance capacity during the Afghanistan crisis. He said Russia is forced to do so because many of its existing satellites are aging. He also announced that the Baranovichi early-warning radar in Belarus will enter service by the end of 2001, and that Russia intends to develop a system of mobile rocket attack warning systems. PG

...BUT TIGHTENS CONTROLS ON EXPORT OF ROCKET TECHNOLOGY

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a directive setting new and tighter restrictions on the export of Russian rocket technology, Interfax reported on 3 October. PG

CENTRAL BANK SAYS RUBLE WILL TO CONTINUE TO FLOAT

The Central Bank of Russia said in its draft policy on monetary and credit policy that it will continue to allow the ruble to float against other currencies in 2002, Interfax-AFI reported on 3 October. In other sections of the document, the bank indicated that it expects to use the euro increasingly during the course of the coming year. The draft also predicts that inflation in 2002 is likely to total 12-14 percent, or slightly more than the draft budget assumes, the agency reported, and projects growth of 3.5 to 4.5 percent for the same period. Meanwhile, a group of leading Russian economists told Interfax the same day that they expect inflation in Russia in 2002 to be higher than the government's projections. PG

MUFTI CONCERNED BY ISLAMIC MISSIONARIES

Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin, the chairman of the Central Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Russia, said in an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 3 October that "foreign aid to Russian Muslims is a myth," and that persons who enter Russia ostensibly to engage in charitable activities often work to promote extremist ideas. He said that his organization by itself cannot stop such foreign ideological expansion into Russia. PG

KOSTIKOV SHOWS U.S. INVESTORS RUSSIA'S DRAFT CORPORATE GOVERNANCE RULES

Igor Kostikov, the chief of Russia's Securities Market Committee, has shown American business people the draft Russian corporate governance code, RBK reported on 3 October. Kostikov said that this document more than anything else should serve to attract more foreign investment to Russia. VY

LEFT RADICALS MARK ANNIVERSARY OF 1993 YELTSIN-PARLIAMENT CLASH

Some 150 people assembled on 3 October at a rally in Moscow organized by left radical groups to mark the eighth anniversary of the standoff, which ended in violence, between former President Boris Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet, Russian agencies reported. Speakers said that the events were "tragic" but also "bright" because they showed that people, animated by "love for the Motherland, rose in its defense" in difficult times. More commemorations are planned for 4-5 October. PG

FORMER JUSTICE MINISTER CONVICTED, GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE

The Moscow City Court on 3 October found former Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev and his aide Andrei Maksimov guilty of embezzling state funds and bribe-taking and sentenced them to probation in lieu of nine and six years in prison, Interfax reported. The two were arrested in 1999. Both men have the right to appeal, but Kovalev said that he accepts the judgment of the court. Meanwhile, in another prominent case, the judge in the case of Colonel Yurii Budanov, who is charged with killing a Chechen woman, said that he does not believe the case will end with an amnesty for Budanov, Interfax reported. VY/PG

OMON AT THIRTEEN

The Special Assignment Militia Detachments (OMON) marked the 13th anniversary of their formation on 3 October, Interfax reported. They were set up by the Soviet Interior Ministry in October 1988 in three union republics and 14 regions of the RSFSR; they now operate as a crime-fighting force in 77 subjects of the Russian Federation and on 15 transportation links. The OMON gained notoriety for their activities against independence activists in the Baltic republics and elsewhere in 1990-91. PG

'HAVE THE SPECIAL SERVICES AFFECTED YOUR LIFE?'

This "question of the day" was posed by "Izvestiya" to five Russians, and their answers were published in the paper on 3 October. Two former intelligence service officers said that of course the special services had affected their lives, and in a most positive way. A magician said that they used to but no longer do so. A Liberal Democratic Party of Russia deputy in the Duma, Aleksei Mitrofanov, said that he had "never encountered" the special services. But Sergei Kovalev, the president of Memorial, noted that prior to the collapse of the USSR, he had spent 10 years in prison because of the special services' activities. Now, he said, their impact is much greater: "Our president is a KGB lieutenant colonel, the defense minister is a lieutenant general. Of the seven [presidential] envoys, five are generals of these agencies. So that now the special services influence our entire country and me also. How can I consider the KGB in power as a positive fact for our country?" Kovalev asked rhetorically. PG

LIFTING OF 'KURSK' AGAIN POSTPONED...

Bad weather in the Barents Sea on 3 October forced postponement of the recovery of the sunken "Kursk" submarine until at least the beginning of next week, Russian and Western agencies reported. Some involved in the effort said that the delay may mean that raising of the submarine will not take place until next year, and one newspaper, "Izvestiya," headlined its story on the delay by saying that the operation "may be postponed forever." PG

...AS MURMANSK RESIDENTS WORRY ABOUT ANOTHER TRAGEDY

Despite government assurances that there is little to fear from the operation to raise the "Kursk," residents in Murmansk remain worried. According to an opinion poll conducted in September by the research center Sotsium, 44 percent of respondents rank concerns about the safety of the operation as one of their top worries, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 October. Only 21 percent they are worried about not having enough money or low wages, and only 2 percent are concerned about the military campaign in Chechnya. In addition, 22 percent of respondents said they believe Murmansk Governor Yurii Yevdokimov is also concerned about the operation, while only 2 percent believe President Putin is concerned. Meanwhile, a representative of the Bellona environmental group told AFP on 2 October that "the main danger [in raising the 'Kursk'] lies with the unexploded torpedoes." However, Russian naval officials say that all of the ship's torpedoes exploded during last year's fatal blast. JAC

KALININGRAD'S SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE LABELED A FAILURE

Following an audit of Kaliningrad Oblast's finances for 2000, the Audit Chamber has concluded that the oblast's special economic zone is on the brink of bankruptcy, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 October. According to the daily, the oblast government is actually pleased with the chamber's report because the audit looked into the period when the oblast was administered by the previous governor, Leonid Gorbenko. And the dire financial picture painted by the auditors should help current Governor Vladimir Yegorov win new assistance from the federal Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, a new deputy presidential envoy to the oblast was recently appointed, and his duties will include looking into the administration of the special economic zone (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 3 October 2001). JAC

TATAR NATIONALIST BEATEN AND THREATENED

A local leader of a Tatar nationalist group was beaten last month by unknown assailants who threatened his life and the lives of his children if he participated in an organizing session for the Milli Mejlis public organization scheduled later this month, Tatar-Inform reported on 3 October. Shakirzyan Zalyaev said he was warned that making a fuss would not be in his best interest. Meanwhile, the presidium of Milli Mejlis has issued a statement that the attack on Zalyaev is "the beginning of a terror against Tatar national movement activists that may lead to the most unpredictable consequences." The local Federal Security Service directorate has said that it will join the police investigation of the incident if a political link is established. JAC

FEDERAL OFFICIAL COMPLAINS ABOUT PRESS COVERAGE IN BASHKORTOSTAN

In an interview with the new local newspaper "Novye lyudi," the chief federal inspector to Tatarstan, Rustem Khamitov, complained that local press and TV "seem to be prohibited from interviewing him or letting him join live TV programs, [during which] his remarks cannot be edited," RFE/RL's Ufa bureau reported on 2 October. The paper will be distributed only inside the republic. In his first interview with the paper, the federal inspector noted that he does not approve of the employment policy of Bashkortostan's authorities, arguing that "representatives of Turkic ethnic groups dominate the highest posts in the government." JAC

TEXTILE WORKERS COMPLAIN OF LEAN TIMES

Workers at the Lipchanka sewing plant in Lipetsk Oblast continued the second day of their strike on 3 October, RFE/RL's Lipetsk correspondent reported. The workers are protesting the failure of the plant's management to make good on a promise to pay all back wages owed from last June. The backlog of unpaid wages totals some 6.7 million rubles ($223,000). According to the website regions.ru, the factory makes clothing only for export to the United States and Germany. Western firms supply the fabric and accessories and pay only for the clothing's preparation. For example, the factory receives 3.5 German marks for the sewing of one pair of pants. However, the plant's chief engineer told the website that its last order of clothing was rejected and therefore the enterprise has not received any money from that order. JAC

POLITICAL PARTIES ASK PUTIN TO RESTORE LAW AND ORDER IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA

Leaders of nine political or public organizations in the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia have written to President Putin to express their concern at the accelerating breakdown of law and order in that republic, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported on 3 October. They point to the murders of "several" police officers since the beginning of 2001 compared with only six such killings in the preceding decade. The signatories appeal to Putin to intervene as the republic's president, Vladimir Semenov, claims he is unable to take any steps to improve the situation, as the police are not subordinate to him. The signatories also accuse Semenov of violating the Russian Constitution and unspecified laws. LF




RUSSIAN ANTIAIRCRAFT MISSILES IN ARMENIA AT COMBAT READINESS

Visiting the Russian military base at Giumri, northern Armenia, on 3 October, Russian Army Chief of General Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin formally put on permanent combat duty with Armenian air defense units the Russian antiaircraft missile regiment deployed there, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Russian agencies reported. The Russian regiment is armed with S-300 surface-to-air missiles that have a range of 75 kilometers. Echoing a statement by Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian in early May, when Russian and Armenian military planes first began joint patrols, Kvashnin stressed that the cooperation between the two air forces is "purely defensive" and "does not threaten anybody," ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 2001). LF

PRESIDENT WELCOMES RENEWED PUBLICATION OF 'IZVESTIYA' IN AZERBAIJAN

"Izvestiya" reported on 3 October that Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev telephoned the editors of the paper the previous day to thank them for renewing the publication of "Izvestiya" in his country. The editors commented that the appearance of their paper in Azerbaijan serves those who find it difficult to make the transition to the Latin script. At the same time, however, they stressed that the distribution of the paper across the former space of the USSR has "only one goal: to give access to information to all who need it and to promote the development of pluralism and free speech." PG

PRESIDENTIAL GUARD TO PROTECT AZERBAIJAN-GEORGIA-TURKEY GAS PIPELINE?

President Aliev's elite personal guard will be responsible for the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas export pipeline, Turan reported on 3 October, quoting an unidentified "official source." That source said that "a large number" of military personnel will be seconded to the presidential guard for that purpose. The possibility, raised last year, of creating a special NATO force to protect the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline has apparently since been dropped: at a meeting last month in Kyrgyzstan, intelligence service chiefs from Turcophone states decided to cooperate between themselves to ensure the safety of that pipeline while informing Georgia of the measures involved. LF

PRESIDENT SAYS GEORGIA MAY 'SOON' QUIT CIS

In a speech at Harvard University on 3 October on the second day of his official visit to the U.S., Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that Georgia's foreign policy orientation focuses on NATO and the West, Caucasus Press reported. He said he does not exclude the possibility that Georgia will "soon" quit the CIS, but it is not clear whether he explained what might serve as the catalyst for such a decision. Georgia joined the CIS in 1993 only as a result of economic pressure from Moscow. Shevardnadze attributed tensions in Georgian-Russian relations to the 1992-1993 conflict in Abkhazia and accused Russia of applying double standards in accusing Tbilisi of condoning terrorism by tolerating the presence on its territory of Chechen fighters while at the same time offering refuge to former Georgian national security chief Igor Giorgadze, whom the Georgian authorities accuse of masterminding the August 1995 car bomb attack on Shevardnadze. LF

GEORGIAN-CHECHEN FORCE SEIZES VILLAGE IN ABKHAZIA

In a move that was presumably timed to coincide with Shevardnadze's absence from Georgia, a joint force of several hundred Georgian guerrillas and Chechen fighters advanced from Abkhazia's Kodori gorge early on 3 October and occupied the largely Armenian- and Greek-populated village of Giorgievskoe in Gulripsh Raion after fighting with Abkhaz troops in which one Abkhaz serviceman was killed, Caucasus Press and dpa reported. Seven villagers are reported missing. Following repeated reports that Georgian guerrillas and Chechen fighters have joined forces with the aim of launching new hostilities in Abkhazia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 2001), UN special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict Dieter Boden had called on 3 October for a resumption of patrols of the upper reaches of the Kodori gorge by members of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia. Those patrols were suspended last year after UN personnel were briefly taken hostage in the gorge for the second time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999 and 5 June 2000). LF

GEORGIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS POSTPONED FOR ONE YEAR

As anticipated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 2001), the Georgian Central Election Commission decided on 3 October to postpone the local elections scheduled for 4 November until 20 October 2002 because the state budget for 2001 does not provide the 4 million laris ($1.93 million) needed to conduct that ballot, Caucasus Press reported. The commission appealed to President Shevardnadze to ensure that the budget for 2002 makes provisions for financing the elections, which most opposition parties had threatened to boycott. LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR SCHEDULING REFORM OF GEORGIAN POLICE, PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called on the Georgian government to embark on reforming the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor-General's Office by 1 January 2003, Georgian parliament's Human Rights Committee Chairwoman Elena Tevdoradze told journalists, according to Prime News on 3 October, as cited by Groong. PACE recently issued a report sharply criticizing unlawful arrests and the use of torture by Georgian police (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2001). LF

RUSSIA PROVIDES SPECIALIST LITERATURE FOR ABKHAZ HIGHER MILITARY COLLEGE

Russian military colleges are supplying manuals and other specialist literature to the Sukhum Military School, Abkhazia's First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Arshba told journalists in the unrecognized republic's capital on 3 October, according to Prime News, as cited by Groong. LF

KAZAKH PRESIDENT ENDS VISIT TO GERMANY...

Nursultan Nazarbaev ended his official visit to Germany prematurely on 3 October after a meeting with the Aga Khan to discuss the planned creation of branches of a Central Asian University in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states, which the Aga Khan Foundation will partially finance RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 31 August 2000). According to the presidential press service, at their meeting on 2 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2001) Nazarbaev discussed with Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder possible German participation in constructing new infrastructure in the Caspian. Schroeder also reportedly expressed readiness to provide assistance in improving Kazakhstan's border and customs services. LF

...FLIES TO TURKEY

Nazarbaev was originally scheduled to travel from Berlin to Munich on 4 October to meet with representatives of Germany's small Kazakh community, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. But instead he flew to Ankara on 3 October for talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Necdet Sezer on the situation in Afghanistan. LF

OIL AND GAS CONFERENCE OPENS IN KAZAKHSTAN

The annual Kazakhstan Oil and Gas conference opened on 3 October in Almaty, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. In an indication that despite Russia's willingness to cooperate with the U.S. in combating terrorism, Moscow still regards the Caspian as part of its sphere of influence, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and presidential envoy for Caspian issues Viktor Kalyuzhnii told conference participants that Russia wants to see Kazakh crude exported via its territory, Interfax reported. U.S. Ambassador Larry Napper for his part expressed his support for the export of Kazakh crude via the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Kalyuzhnii said that possible antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan will not affect the implementation of oil and gas projects in the Caspian. He also warned that the Caspian summit now tentatively scheduled for December will not adopt a final statement clarifying the status of the Caspian, although he expressed the hope that it would give "new impetus" to the process of resolving the differences on that issue between the five littoral states. LF

KAZAKHSTAN NOT IN LINE FOR OBSERVER MEMBERSHIP OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE

PACE Chairman Lord David Russell-Johnston met in Astana on 3 October with Kazakh Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev to discuss the prospects for Kazakhstan becoming an observer member of that body, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Russell-Johnston told journalists after those talks that it is "too early" for Kazakhstan to do so in view of its centralized government, which gives considerable power to the president while the parliament remains relatively weak. He also observed that the media in Kazakhstan are "not fully independent." Interfax, however, quoted Lord Russell-Johnston as offering an additional explanation why Kazakhstan does not qualify for observer membership in PACE, namely that observer membership would imply the possibility of subsequent full membership, which is restricted to states that are geographically part of Europe. "Vremya novostei" for its part on 4 October quoted Russell-Johnston as saying the main reason Kazakhstan would not be admitted to PACE is that it retains the death penalty. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY OPPOSES ELECTING REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

The Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan convened a press conference in Almaty on 3 October at which the chairman of its executive committee, Amirzhan Qosanov, said the party opposes the planned election later this month of local administrators, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. President Nazarbaev decreed in late September that for the first time, local administrators in two villages in each of Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts are to be elected. At present, Nazarbaev appoints the oblast governors who in turn appoint lower-level administrators. Qosanov argued that no such elections should be held before the present election legislation is amended, and that not just village administrators but also oblast governors should be elected. LF

MORE HIZB UT-TAHRIR ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN TAJIKISTAN

Four members of the radical Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir have been arrested in Tajikistan in recent days, Reuters and AP reported on 3 October. Two of the four were said to have been in possession of literature calling or the overthrow of the Tajik government. The arrests bring the total number reported so far this year in Tajikistan to at least 40, three of whom were women. Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to establish an Islamic state in Central Asia by peaceful means. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE DISCUSS ANTITERRORISM COOPERATION

In a telephone conversation on 3 October, President Imomali Rakhmonov assured U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell of his readiness to cooperate with the U.S. government and other interested countries on antiterrorism measures, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Rakhmonov also appealed to Powell for more U.S. humanitarian aid for the civilian population of neighboring Afghanistan. Meanwhile the Tajik Foreign Ministry on 3 October rejected as untrue a report published in "The Washington Post" that 1,000 U.S. troops landed in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan late the previous day. A spokesman said there are no U.S. forces in Tajikistan. LF

UZBEK GOVERNMENT FAILS TO CONFIRM PRESENCE OF U.S. TROOPS

Uzbek presidential spokesman Rustam Djumaev told ITAR-TASS on 3 October that he "cannot confirm" the Western media reports of a U.S. troop presence. But dpa on 3 October and the "Chicago Tribune" on 4 October both quoted Uzbek military sources as confirming the presence of some U.S. troops. According to dpa, those troops arrived in Uzbekistan 10 days earlier and are preparing for combat missions in Uzbekistan. The "Chicago Tribune" reported that a U.S. advance force is assessing possible locations for the deployment of U.S. forces, focusing in particular on the former Soviet air base at Khanabad. Also on 3 October, Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov and British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed by telephone international efforts to combat terrorism, including the need to strike at international terrorist bases in Afghanistan, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Karimov repeated that Uzbekistan is prepared to make available its airspace for that purpose. LF




TRADE UNION FEDERATION CONGRATULATES LUKASHENKA ON REELECTION

The board of Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB) has congratulated President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on his reelection, Belarusian Television reported on 3 October. The FTUB board said it hopes for the continuation of social partnership and cooperation with the government. FTUB leader Uladzimir Hancharyk was Lukashenka's rival in the 9 September presidential election, which was assessed by OSCE monitors as unfair and undemocratic. The 3 October "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" reported that the FTUB board on 1 October discussed what to do with Hancharyk following his election defeat. Most of the FTUB board members reportedly spoke in favor of leaving Hancharyk in the post of FTUB chairman. Hancharyk's fate will most likely be decided at a FTUB conference in December. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WARNS PARLIAMENT AGAINST STOPPING WORK

Leonid Kuchma on 3 October said he will most likely veto the parliamentary election bill passed by parliament last month, Interfax reported. The president said he has a number of objections to the bill, including to the provision that extends the campaign time frame for elections slated for next March to six months. "Parliament will not be working for as long as six months. What shall we do again with the Tax Code, the Land Code, [the law on] the judicial system, and so on? I want to reiterate that if the Tax Code is not adopted this year or we try to introduce it in the second half of next year, this parliament must be held responsible for Ukraine's economy, for the negative consequences," New Channel television quoted Kuchma as saying. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER GIVES UP PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE

Anatoliy Kinakh has requested the parliament to relieve him of legislative duties as required by the constitution from lawmakers who choose to work in the government, Interfax reported on 3 October. Asked why he waited so long with this request (Kinakh was appointed prime minister on 29 May), the premier said that earlier he did not want to divert the parliament's attention from passing a bill on the cabinet of ministers. Parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch recently filed a lawsuit with the Kyiv City Court against 10 government officials who have not given up their parliamentary mandates (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 2001). JM

POWER TO TELEVISION, RADIO NETWORKS CUT IN WESTERN UKRAINE

The UT-1 national television network, the radio station Promin, and the Ukrainian radio Channel-1 were not broadcast for a second day throughout the Lviv region, New Channel television reported on 3 October. The local energy company warned that if the Lviv transmission center does not repay its overdue debt, all of the other television and radio channels that broadcast via that center will also have their electricity supplies cut. JM

FOUR PRO-KUCHMA PARTIES FORM ELECTION BLOC

Four Ukrainian pro-presidential parties -- the Popular Democratic Party, the Party of Regions, the Agrarian Party, and Labor Ukraine -- said on 4 October that they are beginning the creation of an election bloc named For a United Ukraine, Interfax reported. JM

BROADCASTS OF ESTONIA'S TELEVISION STATION TV1 HALTED

The Broadcasting Transmission Center stopped transmitting the programs of the commercial television station TV-1 on 3 October because the center is owed 1.5 million kroons ($88,000) by that station, BNS reported. TV1 board Chairman Rait Killandi said he had signed an agreement with the station's owner, Poland's Polsat Media, in Warsaw the previous week for the payment of the debts, but the promised money has not been received. The personnel of the station have not been paid for August and September and several employees have already quit their jobs. Killandi noted that he had been assured by Polsat, which also runs Baltijos TV in Lithuania and LNK in Latvia, that it is interested in the continued broadcasting of the station's programs. TV1, the smallest of Estonia's four national television stations, held a 9.5 percent share of national television viewership in August. SG

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS ACTION PLAN FOR SCHENGEN REQUIREMENTS

Interior Minister Mareks Seglins stated on 3 October that the government has accepted an action plan for the complete introduction of the Schengen requirements on Latvia's borders that will become necessary should Latvia become a member of the European Union, BNS reported. The plan has a number of categories, including border control, visas, migration, police cooperation, drug control, legal cooperation, the Schengen information system, and protection of personal data. The largest expenditures under the plan are for securing Latvia's external border and establishing the Schengen information system, which based on Finland's experience in installing the system is estimated to cost about 7 million lats ($11.3 million). The plan notes which Schengen requirements Latvia is already in accordance with, and sets a time frame for responsible institutions to develop additional required legislation. SG

GERMAN NORD/LB ONLY BIDDER FOR LITHUANIA'S LAST STATE-OWNED BANK

Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (Nord/LB), which has had a branch office in Vilnius since 1999, was the only bank to file an application on 3 October to participate in the privatization of Zemes Ukio Bankas (Agricultural Bank), ELTA reported. Previous attempts to privatize the third-largest bank in Lithuania, which has assets of 1.66 billion litas ($416.5 million), failed in 1998 and 2000. The minimum price for the 76 percent state-owned share is 100 million litas. In early September three other Western banks -- Austria's Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich, the Nordic bank Nordea, and Finland's Sampo Bank -- purchased documents for the privatization of the bank, but did not file applications. The government hopes to ink a sales agreement by the end of this year in order for the deal to be closed in the first quarter of 2002. SG

POLAND MOVES TOWARD SLD-PSL COALITION CABINET...

The postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on 3 October advanced toward forming a coalition government with the leftist Peasant Party (PSL) after the SLD's finance minister designate Marek Belka presented to PSL politicians his plan for rescuing public finances, Reuters reported. "We have made one or two steps in the right direction, and that direction is forming a strong government," the SLD's chief negotiator, Marek Borowski, commented after Belka's presentation. "The atmosphere of the talks was positive and we agreed on many issues. For now, everything looks promising," said the PSL's Stanislaw Dobrzanski. It is expected that a final decision on a possible coalition government will be taken by the SLD and PSL executive organs this coming weekend. JM

...WHILE SELF-DEFENSE MAKES UNEXPECTED COALITION BID

The militant Self-Defense farmers union, which won 53 parliamentary seats, unexpectedly declared on 3 October that it would like to join the SLD-PSL coalition government that appears to be in the offing, Polish Television reported on 3 October. The SLD has yet to officially respond to Self-Defense's coalition proposal. Quoting unofficial statements by SLD politicians, Polish Television said joint rule with Self-Defense is not on the SLD agenda. According to those politicians, the SLD objects to Self-Defense's "lawbreaking" past and fears reactions from abroad to such a ruling coalition. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT DESIGNATES MILLER AS PREMIER

Aleksander Kwasniewski on 4 October designated Democratic Left Alliance leader Leszek Miller as prime minister, urging the quick formation of a new government to stave off a crisis in public finances, Reuters reported. "I am ready to form a government, even though it will be the biggest challenge of my life," Miller said of his task. JM

REPORT SAYS SUSPECTED TERRORIST MET IRAQI AGENT IN PRAGUE

The daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 4 October wrote that Mohammed Atta, one of the suspected perpetrators of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, conferred with an Iraqi agent in Prague before flying in June to the United States, CTK and dpa reported. The Iraqi Embassy in Prague denied the report. "Hospodarske noviny" cites a "high representative of the Czech Intelligence Service," as providing the information. After arriving in the United States, Atta attended a flight school in Florida. Last month, Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross confirmed that Atta had spent one day in the Czech Republic, but said he was only passing through while traveling. MS

HAVEL SAYS RUSSIA HAS NO PLACE IN NATO...

President Vaclav Havel on 3 October said a NATO enlargement to include Russia would not contribute to strengthening relations between the West and the East, CTK reported. Havel told journalists that the current friendly relations between Russia and Western countries are based on a "cooperation among partners," and that Moscow "can cooperate well if it knows that Russia is Russia and NATO is NATO"; that is to say "two separate entities." Havel said Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and the Baltic states "should in no case be left out of NATO" and added: "If they want it, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria could join too. And in the last phase [of expansion] it could be Croatia, Serbia, and Albania." Havel described Prime Minister Milos Zeman's speech of 2 October on the Czech offer to participate in strikes against terrorism as "admirable," but said he personally regretted not hearing "a sentence saying that the war is against terrorism, not against Islam." MS

...IS CONVINCED BY U.S. EVIDENCE AGAINST BIN LADEN

Havel said after receiving Craig Stapleton that the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic had provided evidence of Osama bin Laden's engineering of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S. and that he does not doubt the accuracy of that evidence, CTK reported. Havel and Stapleton also discussed preparations for a retaliatory action against the terrorists. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said they agreed that "this is not a war against Muslims, but against terrorists." MS

MOST CZECHS SUPPORT INVOLVEMENT IN ANTITERROR OPERATIONS

Seventy-two percent of Czechs are in favor of the Czech Republic's participation in an armed struggle against terrorists, CTK reported on 3 October, citing a TNS Factum poll. Twenty-two percent are opposed and 7 percent gave no answer. The poll, which allowed multiple answers, found that eighty-four percent want bin Laden to be targeted, 70 percent cited the Taliban as a target, and 20 percent said Afghanistan should be attacked. MS

SLOVAKIA READY TO ACCEPT REFUGEES FROM AFGHANISTAN

Interior Minister Ivan Simko on 3 October said media reports that a large number of refugees from Afghanistan are waiting to be transported to Europe are not accurate, but added that Slovakia is ready to accept a "sizable number" of people from Central Asia in the event of U.S. retaliatory strikes against terrorists, CTK reported. Simko added that "it is more important" to coordinate refugee policies with neighboring countries, as well as with Romania and Bulgaria. He toured Slovakia's eastern border together with his Belgian counterpart Antoine Duquesne, with whom he discussed cooperation within Europol to combat organized crime and international terrorism. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES CIVIL SERVICE LEGISLATION

The parliament on 3 October approved the last three laws in a package of legislation aimed at reforming the civil service, CTK reported. Slovak Coalition Party (SMK) Chairman Bela Bugar said after the vote that "the SMK now has no reason to leave the governing coalition." MS

MIEP COLLECTS SIGNATURES TO PROTECT CHRISTIAN HUNGARIANS

The extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) has launched a signature-collection drive to protect "Christian Hungarians," party Chairman Istvan Csurka announced on 3 October before becoming the first to sign his name on the petition, Hungarian media reported. Outlining the initiative with clearly anti-Semitic undertones, Csurka said "We have had enough of the exclusion of Hungarians and Christian Hungarians in their own homeland, we have had enough of the continuous lies spread by the left-wing liberal press, and we have had enough of the conscious misleading of the broad masses." He also demanded that former state security officials, party functionaries, KGB operatives and foreign agents not be allowed to work in the media, particularly in public service radio and television. MSZ

HUNGARY READY TO AID U.S. MILITARY ACTION AGAINST TERRORISM

Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said on 3 October that in the detailed request presented by the United States to NATO outlining the support it expects from its allies for military action against terrorism "there are no problematic or essentially new elements," "Nepszabadsag" reported. Martonyi said the request does not include Hungary's participation in military strikes. According to the daily, Hungary can support antiterrorist efforts in several ways, including the sending of military medical teams to treat coalition soldiers, while being left out of direct military operations. Defense Minister Janos Szabo said Hungary has already offered its cooperation by opening its airspace and airports, but additional ways to cooperate will be studied upon receipt of the U.S. request submitted to NATO. MSZ

AFGHAN REFUGEES COMPLAIN ABOUT THEIR SITUATION IN HUNGARY

Afghan asylum seekers and refugees at a camp in Debrecen complain of being held as prisoners and are asking the Hungarian government for freedom of movement, Ferenc Koszeg, the head of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee told Hungarian media on 3 October. In their letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the refugees said: "We almost feel that our situation here is more hopeless than it was in the prisons of the Taliban." All Afghan refugees were moved from various reception camps in Hungary to the center in Debrecen and their free movement has been limited. Zsuzsanna Vegh, head of the Interior Ministry's Immigration and Citizenship Office said recent measures taken at Hungarian detention centers in the wake of terrorist attacks on the United States "would be considered usual anywhere else in the world." However, Koszeg did say that the order violates Hungarian law, which allows refugees and asylum seekers who have passed a medical checkup to leave their camps during the day. MSZ




PEACE IN MACEDONIA IN JEOPARDY AS POLICE SET TO MOVE INTO REBEL AREAS...

Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski said in Skopje on 3 October that security forces will begin returning to ethnic Albanian rebel-held areas in northwestern Macedonia even though no amnesty for former insurgents has been declared, Reuters reported. Boskovski met early on 4 October with the leaders of two ethnic Albanian villages near Skopje, Grusino and Orlance, to discuss his plan. He said the previous day that "tomorrow is D-Day for Macedonia, when Interior Ministry forces will return to occupied territories with light arms and [ethnically] mixed patrols." He added, "Macedonia cannot wait for some missionaries to say whether this condition or that condition is fulfilled. Macedonia is a sovereign country and we have our red line." Boskovski's decision was supported by the country's Security Council, which was convened by President Boris Trajkovski on 3 October. The council said in a statement that it recommends "that security forces enter the crisis region in the next several days." PB

...DEFYING THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY...

The decision by Macedonia's Interior Ministry to return to ethnic Albanian-held areas without first issuing an amnesty was resolutely condemned by international officials working in Macedonia, Reuters reported. After holding talks with Macedonian officials well into the night of 3 October, four international envoys -- the U.S.'s James Pardew, the EU's Francois Leotard, NATO Ambassador James Speckhard, and the OSCE's Max van der Stoel -- issued a statement saying the international community "will be unable to support or be associated with any such decisions." It also accused the Macedonian government of dodging a "fully transparent planning process" that involved officials from both the international and ethnic Albanian communities. It criticized the government for not demobilizing rogue police reserves and paramilitaries; for not granting an amnesty to former rebels; and for failing to adopt minority rights reforms. PB

...AS REBELS WARN OF MORE WAR

Meanwhile, a senior former commander in the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) said the "war will resume" if security forces move into rebel-held areas before an amnesty is issued, Reuters reported. The commander, known as Leka, led a rebel group that operated in the Tetovo valley that is north of the country's second largest town of Tetovo. He said, "I think there is no way that something like that [the police moving in] can happen but if tomorrow police do come into this area," fighting will break out. Several former leaders of the UCK who were disarmed and demobilized over the last few weeks have made it clear that although they are looking toward the amnesty as a sign of good faith on the part of the Macedonian government, they are prepared to rearm if such a clemency is not granted before police return to the areas the rebels control. PB

MINERS AT SERBIA'S LARGEST COAL MINE GO ON STRIKE

Workers at the Kolubara mine 60 kilometers south of Belgrade went on strike on 3 October to demand the unfreezing of their wages one year after playing a key role in the general strike that helped topple former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from power, Reuters reported the same day. "We decided to go on strike after last night's talks with the government and the management failed to bring any results," said Zdravko Vucetic, head of the trade union that says it represents over 16,000 workers at the mine. The miners had already twice threatened to strike this year over low wages and poor working conditions but decided to continue to work after the government met some of their demands. "We participated in the changes and hoped that the new regime will create a new relationship toward the workers," Vucetic said. DW

ALBANIAN PARTIES KICK OFF KOSOVA ELECTIONS WITH CALLS FOR INDEPENDENCE

Launching the 45-day campaign period for the 17 November general elections, the main ethnic Albanian parties all stressed their goal of independence from Yugoslavia, Reuters and dpa reported on 3 October. Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the Democratic League of Kosova, which won local elections last year, said in a statement, "These elections are to show that it is about time that the independence of Kosova is recognized, and that its people are capable of building a democratic society and state, capable of building freedom." Hashim Thaci said his Democratic Party of Kosova "is ready to rule together with all those within the political spectrum in Kosova who are sincerely committed to its independence." The leader of the third ethnic Albanian party, Ramush Haradinaj, said at a meeting of his Alliance for the Future of Kosova, "By supporting the Alliance, you will make your well-earned dream of freedom, dignity, economic well-being -- the dream of the state of Kosova -- come true." DW

BOSNIA SIGNS FREE-TRADE AGREEMENT WITH SLOVENIA

Bosnian and Slovenian officials on 3 October signed an agreement on free trade aimed at launching a new era of economic relations between the two countries, AP reported, citing Onasa news agency. The deal abolishes all customs duties for Bosnian products in Slovenia beginning on 1 January 2002, while Bosnia will begin reducing customs duties for Slovenian products and completely abolish them by 2005, AP reported. The agreement should help rebalance mutual trade, which currently heavily favors Slovenia as that country exports seven times more to Bosnia than it imports from that country, AP reported. AH

PEACEKEEPERS RELEASE BOSNIANS DETAINED AFTER RAID ON SAUDI RELIEF GROUP

NATO-led peacekeepers in Bosnia released two Bosnian citizens detained in a recent raid on a Saudi humanitarian-aid organization, the defense alliance said on 3 October, according to AP. The men were working as guards at the offices of the Saudi High Commission for Relief in Bosnia and were suspected of supporting terrorism, the agency cited Stabilization Force (SFOR) spokesman Daryl Morrell as saying. The two men were held at an SFOR base, but were released on the night of 2 October after they were no longer needed for the investigation, an SFOR statement said. Two foreign citizens detained in separate actions and suspected of involvement in terrorist activities, a Jordanian and an Egyptian, remain in custody while the investigation continues, the agency reported. AH

CROATIAN AUTHORITIES ASSIST PROBE INTO U.S. BUS TRAGEDY

The Croatian Embassy in Washington will assist U.S. investigators probing a fatal bus accident that took six lives on 3 October, apparently at the hands of a Croat war veteran who was in the United States illegally, Hina and dpa reported the same day. State-run HRT television in Croatia said the alleged attacker, Damir Igric, 29, "had fought in the homeland war" of independence from Belgrade in the 1990s, dpa added on 4 October. Igric, who slit the bus driver's throat before the vehicle hurtled off a Tennessee highway, was among those killed in the accident. The Croatian national had "a record of mental problems," according to an FBI spokesman quoted by dpa, and entered the U.S. in 1999 on a one-month visa issued by the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb. AH

CROATIAN POLICE BREAK UP PEDOPHILE RING

An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said Croatian police have arrested "around 50" people and broken up one of the country's biggest known pedophile rings, dpa reported from Zagreb on 3 October. Suspects were questioned and released, the agency reported, adding that the police action, code-named "Purgatory," is continuing. The suspected ringleader was from Split, police said, adding that it is not yet clear whether the children in seized video tapes are from Croatia or abroad. The number of suspects might rise to 100 persons, the agency reported. AH

CROATIAN, MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS COOL ON NEW REGIONAL INITIATIVES

Senior diplomats from Croatia and Macedonia effectively dismissed recent initiatives for new regional organizations in Southeastern Europe, Hina reported on 3 October. Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva, following talks with her counterpart in Zagreb, said her country instead favors "more intensive bilateral cooperation." She said both countries "believe the initiatives are not compatible with Euro-Atlantic associations," the agency reported. Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula said there are no alternatives to stabilization and association with the European Union, Hina reported. AH

CROATIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER EXPELLED FROM PARTY

Minister for Maritime Affairs and Transport Alojz Tusek was expelled from his Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) on 3 October following confirmation of a regional party decision by the HSLS's executive, Croatian TV reported. Tusek was kicked out by the Split-Dalmatia party structure over his failure to respect the HSLS inner council's decision to oppose the extradition of Croatian generals to The Hague for prosecution of war crimes, HRT1 TV reported. AH

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF OHRID, KOSOVA ELECTIONS

Albanian President Rexhep Meidani emphasized to visiting British Foreign Ministry official Alan Chariton on 3 October the importance of a quick ratification of the Ohrid peace agreement by Macedonia's parliament, ATA reported. Meidani said, "the situation will markedly improve and positive changes will occur" once that happens. Meidani also said upcoming elections in Kosova will prove decisive for its future, adding that the participation of all Macedonians and ethnic communities is very important, the agency reported. AH

...WHILE BRITISH OFFICIAL LAUDS ALBANIA'S ROLE IN MACEDONIA

The British Foreign Ministry's director for Southeastern Europe, Alan Chariton, was reported by ATA on 3 October to have hailed the role of Albania in contributing to peace in Macedonia. The agency was reporting on the results of a meeting between Chariton and Albanian President Meidani. The Albanian president's information department told ATA that the British official "appraised, in general, Albania's commitment in favor of dialogue and regional cooperation." The Albanian president asked Chariton for an increased British business presence in his country, the agency reported. AH

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER MEETS ROMANIAN PRESIDENT

Visiting Hungarian parliamentary speaker Janos Ader met separately on 3 October with President Ion Iliescu, Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, and Senate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu said he agreed with his guest that in the future, "preliminary consultations" should preempt the emergence of conflicting opinions between the two states, and expressed the hope that the two sides will be able to use such contacts to overcome their differences on the Status Law. Ader told Geoana that Hungary is ready to share with Romania its experience on negotiations with NATO and the EU, and that he does not believe relations between the two countries will be affected by the Status Law. He also said the law includes no discrimination and told Vacaroiu that Romania is alone among neighboring states in its objections to the law. MS

HUNGARIAN PRIVATE UNIVERSITY LAUNCHED IN ROMANIA

The Sapientia Hungarian-language private university was officially inaugurated on 3 October in Cluj, in the presence of Public Information Minister Vasile Dancu and Hungarian Education Minister Joszef Palinkas, Mediafax reported. The university will function in several Transylvanian towns. Palinkas said the Hungarian government, which finances the university, will continue to do so "for as long as necessary," but expressed the hope that Romania and private Romanian companies will also do so. Dancu said that "under the current conditions, Romania cannot subsidize private universities, regardless of the language in which instruction is provided." MS

RULING ROMANIAN PARTY TO BACK LIFTING TUDOR'S PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

Prime Minister Adrian Nastase on 3 October said after a meeting of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Executive Bureau that the PSD will support in the parliament lifting the parliamentary immunity of Greater Romania Party leader Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, and that it will do so "without any time limitation." The PSD decided not to invite Tudor to a meeting of parliamentary parties on Romania's efforts to join NATO that is scheduled for 5 October. He said the PSD did so "in a sign of solidarity" with President Iliescu, who broke any contacts with Tudor following the latter's claim that Romania had trained Hamas terrorists. The PSD Executive Bureau also decided to elect Foreign Minister Geoana as its executive secretary in charge of the party's international relations. Geoana, who had been politically unaffiliated, officially joined the PSD the same day. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER CANCELS VISIT TO MOLDOVA IN PROTEST

Romanian Premier Adrian Nastase on 3 October canceled a scheduled visit to Moldova to protest insulting remarks made by Moldovan Justice Minister Ion Morei, Romanian radio reported. Morei told a hearing of the Strasbourg International Court of Human Rights on 2 October that the complaint of the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church being heard by the court against the Moldovan government's refusal to register it was prompted by "Romanian expansionism." The Romanian cabinet subsequently issued a declaration saying Morei's statements are "inadmissible" and an "illustration of irresponsibility" reminiscent of the terminology used by the Moldovan Bolshevik puppet "autonomous republic" before 1940. The Romanian cabinet said in the declaration that Morei's statements are even "more incomprehensible" as they were made after Romania actively backed Moldova's accession to the Balkan Stability Pact and closer relations with the EU. As justice minister, Morei's comments could not be perceived as merely a "personal view" in Strasbourg, the Romanian cabinet said. Moldovan agencies cited Morei as having said in Strasbourg that Romania is attempting to "interfere in the internal affairs of the sovereign and independent Moldovan Republic by using pro-Romanian forces in the country." MS

RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN TIRASPOL

On 3 October, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov said in Tiraspol, where he arrived from Chisinau, that the two sides in the Transdniester conflict "must take the bull by the horns and not be distracted by issues of secondary importance," Infotag reported. Separatist leader Igor Smirnov said he is satisfied with the results of the discussions with Trubnikov and that Tiraspol is ready to resume talks with Chisinau, "but on equal terms, taking into account existing reality and without a dictatorship of the economic blockade" by Moldova. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NATO NEEDED MORE THAN EVER

President Petar Stoyanov on 3 October said that after the terrorist attacks of 11 September one can no longer "ask questions as to why NATO should exist or why it should expand," BTA reported. Stoyanov said building a global antiterrorist union of states will take a long time and raise "complicated legal questions, calling for changes in international law." Instead, Stoyanov said, one should "seriously consider how to best use the capability of existing unions and alliances, such as the EU, but especially NATO." Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Elena Poptodorova said on 3 October that Bulgaria has yet to be asked to provide military support for an action against terrorism, but added that "such a request cannot be ruled out completely." Asked to comment on media reports that a Russian memorandum mentions Bulgarian citizens as members of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, Poptodorova said the memorandum also mentions Czechs, and that Bulgaria "cannot be held responsible for possible involvement of individual persons with terrorist organizations." MS

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS NAME VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Retired General Angel Marin, who ran at the head of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) in the June parliamentary elections, has been named as the vice presidential candidate on the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) ticket -- which calls itself the Coalition for Bulgaria -- headed by Georgi Parvanov, BTA reported on 3 October. The DPS, which refused to endorse incumbent President Stoyanov's candidacy, has not reacted to the nomination. Parvanov told journalists that Marin left the army in 1998 to protest the military reforms being carried out at the time by Ivan Kostov's cabinet, but BTA said Marin was dismissed by President Stoyanov over having made public remarks disapproving of the reform. Meanwhile, Stoyanov said on 3 October that DPS opposition to his candidacy will not mar relations with that party and will not affect his positive attitude toward the ethnic Turkish minority. MS

BULGARIA RELEASES PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF 2001 CENSUS

Preliminary results of the census conducted on 1 March show that 83.4 percent of citizens consider their national identity to be Bulgarian, 9.5 percent view themselves as Turks, and 4.6 percent as Roma, BTA reported, citing the National Statistical Institute. The results are based on a sample of 2 percent of the population. All other ethnic groups total 1.5 percent. MS




There is no End Note today.





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