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Newsline - October 5, 2001




PUTIN PREPARED TO LOSE POPULARITY BY SUPPORTING ANTITERRORIST ACTIONS

Dmitrii Kozak, the deputy chief of the presidential administration, said in an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 4 October that President Vladimir Putin is prepared to lose "a certain part of the electorate both on the left and among the Muslim population of Russia" by his willingness to support and have Russia take part in the international antiterrorist effort. Putin recognizes that his moves in this area are potentially unpopular, Kozak said, but Putin is certain in the correctness of what he is doing. An indication of the risks Putin is taking came the same day, when the leadership of the Association for the Support of the Army appealed to Putin not to allow Russia to be drawn into a war, Interfax reported. PG

PUTIN URGES EUROPEAN JUSTICE MINISTERS TO FIGHT TERRORISM

President Putin sent a message to the opening of a meeting of European justice ministers in Moscow on 4 October saying that they must help promote the fight against terrorism, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Justice Minister Yurii Chaika told the group that European countries should coordinate terms of punishment, improve the exchange of information about crimes, simplify extradition of terrorists, and create a European agency for identifying debtors, Russian agencies reported the same day. PG

U.S. RETALIATION SEEN PLAYING INTO RUSSIAN MILITARY'S HANDS...

According to an article in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 4 October, the U.S. retaliation operation "is playing into the hands of Russian generals." The article noted that Moscow is again spreading its influence to the south in both Central Asia and the Caucasus, its military has strengthened its position in Armenia, it is near an agreement with Azerbaijan on the Qabala radar station, and it is finding a more accommodating position in Georgia. PG

...WHILE RUSSIAN BUILDUP IN CENTRAL ASIA MAY TAKE TROOPS FROM CHECHNYA

Writing in "The Moscow Times" on 4 October, military observer Pavel Felgenhauer said that any significant buildup of Russian troops in Central Asia in support of the antiterrorist effort in Afghanistan may force Moscow to use troops now deployed in Chechnya. That adds pressure on the Russian government either to suppress the Chechen militants completely or move to negotiations. So far, Felgenhauer said, Moscow is trying to do both at the same time, an approach that has failed in the past "as has almost everything Russia does in Chechnya." PG

GOVERNMENT ALLOCATES FUNDS FOR AFGHANISTAN

The cabinet on 4 October allocated from its reserve fund 102.5 million rubles ($3.2 million) and $400,000 for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, Russian agencies reported. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day that Russian military assistance to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance will total $30-45 million. PG

RUSSIAN DEPENDENTS MAY BE EVACUATED FROM PAKISTAN SOON

The Foreign Ministry on 4 October said that it plans to evacuate Russian dependents from Pakistan in the near future, but a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry said later the same day that it has not yet received any official order to bring the Russians home, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

SECURITY AGENCIES SAY CHECHEN WEBSITES TO CARRY TALIBAN ANNOUNCEMENTS

Officials in Russian security agencies told Interfax on 4 October that Chechen websites like Kavkaz-Tsentr are seeking to establish and maintain ties with the Afghan Taliban movement and will carry Taliban information in the future. However, Kavkaz-Tsentr is said to be run out of Qatar by Movladi Udugov, who does not claim to speak for Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. PG

RUSSIAN ANALYST SAYS ONLY A GLOBAL STATE CAN STOP GLOBAL TERRORISM

Writing in "Obshchaya gazeta" on 4 October, analyst Dmitrii Furman argued that the globalization of terror can be countered by the creation of a global security service, which presupposes moves toward a global state sometime in the future. The alternatives, he suggested, are anarchy and apocalypse. VY

PUTIN, DEFENSE MINISTER DISCUSS MILITARY REFORM

President Putin met with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on 4 October to discuss military reform, ITAR-TASS reported. They agreed on the need to raise military salaries and improve coordination among the various force structures. Meanwhile, Colonel General Vladislav Putilin, the chief of the organization-mobilization administration of the General Staff, said the same day that the Russian armed forces will be reduced from 1.4 million to 1 million over the next several years and that the number of officer billets, including those of generals, will be reduced accordingly, Interfax reported. That would mean cutting the number of generals by 300. Putilin also said that Moscow does not plan to call up reservists in connection with the increased tensions around Afghanistan, the news agency said. PG

GOVERNMENT APPROVES BRIDGE TO SAKHALIN

The Russian cabinet on 4 October decided that the construction of a bridge from the Russian Far East mainland to Sakhalin Island is "feasible," Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said in an interview published in "Vedomosti" on 4 October. The bridge will cost approximately $4.5 billion and will need to be combined with another bridge to the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The bridge project has both supporters and opponents. Sakhalin Governor Igor Farkhutdinov told AK&M agency the same day that Russia must complete the bridge quickly lest China gain control of the East-West transit corridor. But other Russian officials said that once completed, the bridge would reduce traffic through Russia's Far Eastern ports and result in hardships there, Interfax reported. VY

ZHIRINOVSKY SEES NO IMPROVEMENTS IN RUSSIA OVER NEXT DECADE

Duma deputy speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Interfax on 4 October that "there will not be any positive changes in Russia over the next 10 years." He criticized the union of Unity, Fatherland, and possibly All Russia as an event that will mean nothing except the emergence of yet another "party created by bureaucrats." PG

DUMA DEPUTIES DIVIDED ON RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP IN WTO...

Duma deputy speaker and Yabloko leader Vladimir Lukin told Interfax on 4 October that Russia's path to membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) is likely to be long and hard because Moscow will have to defend its national interests. Meanwhile, LDPR leader Zhirinovsky said Russia should not try to join the WTO or NATO because such membership would only weaken Russia and restrict its freedom of action. Unity deputy Vladislav Reznik said that EU support for Russia's entry into the WTO will be extremely helpful. He stressed that membership in organizations like the WTO is essential to Russia's future. PG

...BUT UNITED ON NEED FOR TOUGHER IMMIGRATION POLICY

Duma deputy (Fatherland-All Russia) Konstantin Kosachev, who is a deputy chair for the parliament's International Affairs Committee, spoke for virtually all deputies on 4 October when he called for imposing visa requirements on visitors from Central Asian countries in order to prevent illegal immigration, Interfax reported. He said Russia is not prepared to have half the population of Afghanistan move north into Russian territory. PG

POWELL TELLS RUSSIAN AGENCY RUSSIA FACES TERRORISM IN CHECHNYA

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview carried by ITAR-TASS on 4 October that Russia is facing the threat of terrorism in Chechnya, but at the same time he noted that the problems there can be resolved only by political dialogue. Powell also said that the question of NATO expansion should be formulated in the following way: How can NATO be expanded without anybody regarding it as a threat? PG

FEW RUSSIANS HAVE POSITIVE FEELINGS ABOUT NATO...

According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 4 October, only 2 percent of Russians in the poll have positive associations with the name of the alliance. Meanwhile, one Russian in four associates the word NATO with "force," "war," and "aggression." Another 26 percent view it neutrally as a military coalition of capitalist states led by the United States. Moreover, comparing the results of polls taken now with polls taken four years ago, the percentage of Russians viewing NATO as an aggressive institution has increased from 38 percent to 50 percent, and the percentage seeing NATO expansion eastward as a threat to Russia has increased from 47 percent to 57 percent. PG

...OR ABOUT U.S. PRESIDENT BUSH

According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 4 October, 41 percent of Russians distrust U.S. President George W. Bush, with only 20 percent saying that they trust him. Of those willing to characterize the U.S. leader, most gave neutral answers like "president of the United States," but many said he is "ambitious," "aggressive," and "duplicitous." PG

PUTIN TELLS VISITING BRITISH PREMIER MOSCOW READY TO EXPAND COOPERATION

President Putin said on 4 October after meeting with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Moscow is ready to expand cooperation with its partners in numerous ways beyond the common fight against terrorism, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

MOSCOW'S EU ACCORDS APPEAR VERY PROFITABLE

One result of the Russia-EU summit this week was agreement on a joint program of nuclear research under the terms of which the European Union will give Moscow a grant of 700 million euros ($630 million), RIA-Novosti reported. In addition, the EU agreed to have Russia become a participant in the European global navigation system Galileo, a $26 billion project intended to compete with the U.S. VY

RUSSIAN CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT CRASHES IN BLACK SEA

A Russian Tu-154 on a course from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk exploded and crashed into the Black Sea on 4 October, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Most of the 76 people on board were Israeli tourists, and no one has been found alive. President Putin said that he "does not exclude" that the explosion and crash may have been the result of "a terrorist act," and that he has ordered Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo to head a special investigative committee. Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Nikolai Patrushev said that the investigation is focusing on the possibility of terrorism. Meanwhile, CBS reported that a Pentagon source said there is reason to believe that the aircraft was shot down by an errant missile from a Ukrainian military exercise, but Ukrainian officials denied this immediately, Russian and Western agencies reported. VY

RUSSIAN MISSILES GIVE TEHRAN EFFECTIVE CONTROL OF PERSIAN GULF

Russian defense contractors on 4 October finalized contracts with visiting Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani for Tehran to purchase Russian Iskander and Yakhont missile systems, RIA-Novosti reported. These missiles have advanced avionics packages that allow them to exchange information with each other during flight, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day. With these weapons in its arsenal, Tehran will have effective control over the oil transportation routes of the Persian Gulf, the paper said. VY

INFLATION IN SEPTEMBER TOTALS 0.6 PERCENT

The State Statistics Committee announced on 4 October that consumer price inflation during September 2001 totaled 0.6 percent, Russian agencies reported. That was up from zero inflation in August but less than half the average rate in the earlier months of 2001. For the first nine months of 2001 inflation totaled 13.9 percent compared to 14.1 percent during the same period in 2000. PG

ECONOMIC CRIME IN TIMBER INDUSTRY COSTS MOSCOW $1 BILLION A YEAR

Officials of the Federal Tax Police (FSNP) said on 4 October that a variety of economic crimes in the timber industry are costing the Russian budget approximately $1 billion a year in lost revenues, cry.ru reported. FSNP Director Mikhail Fradkov said that the scale of the timber black market and illegal exports of lumber have reached threatening proportions, particularly in the Komi and Karelian republics and in Arkhangelsk Oblast. VY

SHAREHOLDER LAWSUITS TO FREEZE COMPANY ASSETS PROHIBITED

The Russian Supreme Court has ruled that shareholders may not bring lawsuits in courts of general jurisdiction to freeze the assets of companies of which they are part owners, RBK reported on 4 October. Only the arbitration courts will have the power to make such rulings. Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak called the decision "extremely important" and called for changes in bankruptcy laws so owners cannot use their provisions to declare a profitable company bankrupt. VY

KLEBANOV SAYS 'KURSK' WILL BE RAISED

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said on 4 October that bad weather notwithstanding, the "Kursk" definitely will be raised in the next few hours or days, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

SAGALAEV ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NATIONAL NETWORK OUTSIDE OF MOSCOW

Yurii Sagalaev, the head of the National Association of Broadcasters, said in an interview published in "Trud" on 4 October that he is organizing a new national television network that will not be based in either Moscow or St. Petersburg. He said that such a network is needed because the most interesting developments in Russia are taking place in the regions. VY

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS TO APPEAL ON USE OF ANONYMOUS DENUNCIATIONS

Yevgenii Ikhlov and Lev Ponomarev, leaders of the For Human Rights group, plan to appeal to the Supreme Court to reopen their suit against the use of anonymous declarations in criminal investigations by the FSB and the Justice Ministry, "Izvestiya" reported on 4 October. The two men said that if that appeal fails, they will attempt to persuade 90 Duma deputies to sign a petition to the Constitutional Court. PG

SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS INSTALLED IN MOSCOW'S KAZAN RAILWAY STATION

The Moscow railway press service told Interfax on 4 October that 70 hidden television cameras are being installed in Moscow's Kazan railroad station, the largest rail station in Europe, in order to improve security. The press service indicated that the line intends to install similar cameras in other Moscow railway stations in the future. PG

SALVATION ARMY MARKS 10 YEARS IN RUSSIA WITH CONCERNS ABOUT ITS FUTURE THERE

John Gavans, the head of the Salvation Army, said in Moscow on 4 October that he has been surprised by the efforts of Russian officials to prevent his group from working there, Interfax reported. "We are not a sect or a militarized organization," he said. "We are simply peace-loving Christians who want to serve the Lord and help the needy." He said that his organization now works in 108 countries of the world, but has not encountered difficulties in registering anywhere except in Russia. Gavans was speaking on the 10th anniversary of the operation of the Salvation Army in Russia and in the wake of a Moscow court decision refusing it registration. PG

PARTIES SAID SEEKING TO GAIN CONTROL OVER TRADE UNIONS

Mikhail Shmakov, the head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, said in an interview published in "Vek" on 4 October that various political parties and groups are seeking to gain control over the federation and its member unions but so far have not had any success. He named the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and media magnate Boris Berezovsky as having undertaken such unsuccessful attempts. PG

LUZHKOV SAYS RUSSIANS LIVE BY CUSTOMS RATHER THAN LAWS

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said in an interview published in "Obshchaya gazeta" on 4 October that Russians -- both ordinary citizens and officials -- live by customs rather than laws, and that the country needs to develop a legal culture in order to move forward. He said that the absence of law is hindering the development of center-periphery relations, and that within the government some institutions show little or no respect for others. PG

70 PERCENT OF RUSSIAN MONUMENTS IN POOR CONDITION

Kostroma Governor Viktor Shershunov told the Congress of Historical Cities and Regions of Russia on 4 October that 70 percent of the historical and cultural monuments in Russia are today in poor condition with many in need of immediate repair to prevent collapse, Interfax-Moscow reported. He described the situation as "catastrophic." Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Luzhkov told the same group that he is against any transfer of monuments owned by cities and localities to federal control, the news service said. PG

LOW SALARIES REDUCE RESPECT FOR TEACHING PROFESSION

A poll conducted by ROMIR and reported by Interfax on 4 October found that one Russian in five believes that people who now enter low-paying teaching careers do so because they cannot succeed in any other more lucrative profession. At the same time, however, the poll found that more than 50 percent believe that teachers choose their line of work because they love children and pedagogical activities. PG

LUDMILA PUTIN TO DEFEND RUSSIAN LANGUAGE

Ludmila Putin, the wife of the Russian president, has become the head of the Center of the Development of the Russian Language that seeks to promote the use of Russian in CIS states, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 4 October. VY

BUTYRKA PRISON GETS NEW DIRECTOR

The Justice Ministry on 4 October appointed Vladimir Stupin, who had been the head of the Balashovskii Prison in Saratov, as the director of Moscow's Butyrka prison, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Chaika said the same day that Russia intends to develop additional measures to prevent the kind of escapes that have plagued Butyrka in recent weeks, the news service said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2001, 2 and 3 October 2001). PG

44TH ANNIVERSARY OF LAUNCH OF SPUTNIK MARKED

4 October 2001 was the 44th anniversary of the launching by the Soviet Union of the first artificial satellite Sputnik, Russian agencies noted. PG

COMMUNISTS, LEFTIST GROUPS MARK ANNIVERSARY OF 1993 CRISIS

The Communist Party on 4 October organized a march and demonstration to mark the eighth anniversary of the struggle between then President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Supreme Soviet, Interfax reported. Some of the participants carried signs such as "Our Motherland is the USSR." Meanwhile, leftist radicals picketed the government building as part of their Black October protest against Yeltsin's suppression of the Supreme Soviet in l993. PG

PAPER RECALLS HITLER'S 'MISTAKE' ABOUT RUSSIA

Writing in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 October, historian Viktor Anfilov recalled that 60 years ago on that date Adolf Hitler made the fatal mistake of concluding that Russia was about to fall and would "never rise again." But precisely from that moment, Anfilov said, Russian forces dug in and fought back, ultimately winning the war in Europe. VY

METAL THIEVES LEAVE MILITARY BASES WITHOUT POWER

Metal thieves in Khabarovsk Krai stole electric and telephone lines leading to military bases there last month, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 4 October. PG

TATARSTAN'S CONSTITUTION DEEMED IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL CONSTITUTION

The Tatarstan Supreme Court ruled on 3 October that parts of the republic's constitution violate federal legislation, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 4 October. According to the bureau, the court accepted major parts of the argument made by Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, the deputy prosecutor-general for the Volga federal district, but rejected some other elements. According to Interfax-Eurasia, Zvyagintsev had charged that some 42 articles of the constitution do not comply with federal law. According to deputy Tatarstan Supreme Court Chairman Ilgiz Gilazov, articles concerning representative and executive powers, in particular, do not coincide with the legal principle of separation of powers, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

URALS ENVOY THREATENS SVERDLOVSK DUMA WITH DISSOLUTION...

Presidential envoy to the Urals federal district Petr Latyshev has declared that if the Sverdlovsk Oblast legislative assembly does not bring local regulations into compliance with federal law by 12 October, he will ask President Putin to order its dissolution, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 4 October. According to the daily, normal work in the oblast's Duma has been suspended for the past six months by a political struggle over speaker Yevgenii Porunov. Since the spring, the duma has not held a working session because one party, Unity-Urals, wants to unseat Porunov. Porunov is an ally of Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, who is a rival of Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel. Latyshev is trying to force the deputies to resolve their dispute by invoking a law passed last year that gives the president the right to dissolve local legislatures (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 24 May 2000). JAC

...AS FAR EASTERN ENVOY PREPARES FOR TELEVISION DEBUT

Presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district Konstantin Pulikovskii is slated to launch his own television show using a new satellite network launched by the Far Eastern Investment Company, "Vedomosti" reported on 2 October. Pulikovskii is responsible for overseeing the new satellite project. Once completed, the new satellite network will offer a broad range of communication services from telephone to television, according to the daily. According to a Communications Ministry official, the Far Eastern project is a pilot program that will be duplicated for other federal districts. JAC

MORE ACCUSATIONS LODGED IN OREL CAMPAIGN

The Orel Oblast election commission has refused to register two candidates from the local branch of Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), Vyacheslav Alekseev and Vladimir Kapustyanskii, for 23 October gubernatorial elections, polit.ru reported on 4 October. The source did not provide the reason for the commission's decision, but SPS's press service issued a press release that charged that the decision is "proof of the weakness of Orel Oblast Governor Yegor Stroev and the Communists." The party also promised to file a Duma inquiry with the Central Election Commission (TsIK). The two candidates have already filed their own complaints with the TsIK about Stroev misusing his office during the campaign. JAC

STATE DUMA SEAT UP FOR GRABS IN AMUR OBLAST

Five candidates will vie for a State Duma seat from Amur Oblast in by-elections to be held on 7 October, RFE/RL's Blagoveshchensk correspondent reported on 20 September. The seat was vacated when Leonid Korotkov won gubernatorial elections in the oblast last April (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 April 2001). Among those competing for the seat will be Aleksandr Venediktov, head of the Svoboda cosmodrome; local Communist Party member Dmitrii Novikov; and chairman of the oblast's legislative assembly Vladimir Semenov. The oblast's election commission is concerned that the election might not have the necessary turnout of 25 percent of registered voters. A opinion poll conducted last month showed that one-third of respondents had little awareness of the upcoming election. JAC

RUSSIAN TROOPS COMMIT MORE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NEW CHECHEN 'MOPPING-UP' OPERATION

Since 1 October, Russian troops have been engaged in combing the villages of Starye and Novye Atagi and Chiri-Yurt, all of which are located in the Argun gorge south of Grozny, for Chechen fighters, Interfax and Glasnost-North Caucasus Reported on 4 October. In the course of that "special operation," they rounded up some 50 villagers on 1 October; they were beaten, some so badly that they are now crippled. Several houses have been burned to the ground. Food and water supplies in the three villages, to which human rights activists have been barred admission, are running out, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported. LF




ARMENIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Speaking in the town of Martuni on 4 October, opposition Hanrapetutiun party Chairman Albert Bazeyan warned that Hanrapetutiun and its allies, the People's Party of Armenia and the National Unity Party, may resort to unspecified acts of civil disobedience if their campaign to impeach President Robert Kocharian fails, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The three parties, which between them have less than 20 seats in the 131-seat parliament, began lobbying deputies in an attempt to raise the required two-thirds majority to begin impeachment proceedings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 2001). LF

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT 'BORROWS' FROM PRIVATIZATION FUNDS TO PAY FOR NUCLEAR FUEL

The Armenian government approved on 4 October the "temporary" use of $4 million from the proceeds of privatization as an advance payment for a new consignment of nuclear fuel from Russia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Under an agreement reached in late August between the Armenian and Russian governments, Armenia was to pay $4 million immediately and the remaining $9 million over a period of three months. The $4 million will be repaid to the state treasury within two weeks following the receipt of a new $4 million loan from the CIS Interstate Bank. The delay has led to a further postponement in reactivating the Medzamor nuclear power station that was shut down for maintenance in July. LF

TURKISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES ARMENIAN ANTHOLOGY

The Turkish government has funded publication of an anthology of Armenian literature and travel notes in order to help promote reconciliation between the two countries, AFP reported on 4 October, quoting the Anatolia Press Agency. Turkish Culture Minister Istemihan Talay wrote in a preface to the anthology that it "provides valuable insights into the culture and history of Armenian literature." It is not clear whether the volume contains works by those Armenian writers who were victims of the 1915 genocide. LF

AZERBAIJANI DEFENSE MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO TURKEY

Visiting Turkey on 1-3 October, Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev met with his Turkish counterpart Sabahattin Cakmakoglu and Chief of General Staff General Huseyn Kvirikoglu to discuss developing further the ongoing close cooperation between the two countries' armed forces, Turan and ANS TV reported. Abiev also met on 2 October with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who stressed the need to strengthen stability in the South Caucasus and to resolve the Karabakh conflict, according to Turkish TRT-2 Television, as cited by Groong. Sezer also noted that the views of Turkey and Azerbaijan on the need to prevent terrorism coincide. LF

ABKHAZ TROOPS PURSUE RETREATING CHECHEN, GEORGIAN FIGHTERS...

Abkhaz troops deployed artillery and armor on 4 October and succeeded in retaking the village of Giorgievskoe that had been seized the previous day by a group of between 400-500 Georgian guerrillas and Chechen fighters, Caucasus Press reported, citing Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001). Major General Nikolai Sidorichev, commander of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, said on 5 October that the group is retreating northward toward the frontier between Georgia and Kabardino-Balkaria, and that Abkhaz troops are pursuing them. Russian border guards are preparing to prevent the armed men from entering Russian territory. LF

...AS DEATH TOLL RISES

Mikanba said on 5 October that the death toll in the 3 October fighting has risen to five -- one Abkhaz serviceman and four civilian residents of the village whose nationality is not known. The village population is predominantly Pontic Greek and Armenian. He added that the noses and ears of the civilians had been cut off. Mikanba and Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said two of the assailants, one Georgian and one Chechen, were captured on 4 October and have been taken to Sukhum where they are being interrogated. Mikanba characterized the situation in Giorgievskoe on 5 October as calm but tense, Caucasus Press reported. LF

GEORGIAN MILITARY DENIES ANY FIGHTING TOOK PLACE...

Interfax and Caucasus Press on 4 October quoted Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Djoni Pirtskhalaishvili as dismissing the reports of fighting in Giorgievskoe as "disinformation," and saying that the headquarters of the CIS peacekeeping force had similarly confirmed that no fighting had taken place. But Giorgi Baramidze, chairman of the Georgian parliament's Committee for Defense and Security, told journalists the same day that fighting had indeed occurred. Baramidze proposed establishing a commission to investigate the incident, Caucasus Press reported. LF

...WHILE MOSCOW CALLS ON TBILISI TO PREVENT 'TERRORISTS' FROM OPERATING NEAR ZONE OF GEORGIAN-ABKHAZIAN CONFLICT

The Russian Foreign Ministry on 4 October called on the Georgian government to immediately prevent "a group of terrorists that includes Chechens" from operating in the immediate vicinity of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone, Interfax reported. The ministry said that the presence of this group on Georgian territory threatens the stability of the region. PG

KYRGYZ LEGISLATORS CALL FOR SPECIAL BORDER COMMISSION

At least 40 of the 60 deputies from Kyrgyzstan's Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament) on 3 October addressed an open letter to President Askar Akaev appealing to him to establish a special government-parliamentary commission to address problems related to Kyrgyzstan's borders with neighboring countries, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. In May the Legislative Assembly called unsuccessfully for the annulment of amendments made in 1999 to a border agreement signed three years earlier by Akaev and Chinese leader Zhao Zemin. Under those amendments, Kyrgyzstan ceded large tracts of territory to China (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June and 7 August 2001). LF

RUSSIAN STATE DUMA DELEGATION VISITS KYRGYZSTAN

A Russian State Duma delegation headed by speaker Gennadii Seleznev arrived in Bishkek on 3 October and met the same day with the chairmen of the two parliament chambers, Altai Borubaev and Abdygany Erkebaev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Seleznev proposed that the Kyrgyz parliament amend the new draft law on the state language to ensure that the rights of the country's Russian-speaking minority are "fully" guaranteed. Meeting with President Akaev the following day, Seleznev pointed out that the requirement that civil servants whose native language is not Kyrgyz be proficient in that language violates international legal norms, Interfax reported. He said such requirements contribute to the ongoing emigration of Russians from Kyrgyzstan. Some 20,000 Russian-speakers left that country last year despite the passage in May 2000 of a special law granting Russian the status of an "official language" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2000). Akaev hinted that the draft law will indeed be altered, Interfax reported. LF

TAJIKS DIVIDED OVER RETALIATORY STRIKES AGAINST AFGHANISTAN

Three points of view have emerged among Tajiks concerning the advisability of international strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 5 October, quoting political scientist R. Gani. The first position is the "European" one, which agrees almost 100 percent with U.S. and European arguments in favor of such strikes. The second is the "Islamic" one, which is outlined in a statement by the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. That view holds that while individual Muslims may have been involved in the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S., retaliatory strikes against Muslim countries should be avoided lest they trigger a "clash of civilizations." The third, "national" point of view focuses specifically on the possible repercussions for Tajikistan and for the Tajik-speaking minority in Afghanistan of possible inner political changes in Afghanistan. Its supporters fear that if exiled King Zahir Shah returns to Afghanistan he may resume the process of "Pushtunization" of the country. They therefore call on the international community to provide support for the internationally recognized government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani. It is not clear what percentage of the population sympathizes with which viewpoint. LF

TURKMENISTAN AGAIN SAYS ITS BASES NOT AVAILABLE

Meeting on 4 October with Kazakh Ambassador Amangeldy Zhumabaev, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov again clarified that in line with Turkmenistan's proclaimed neutral status, the country will not facilitate the transportation of troops and weaponry within the framework of strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan, or place its military bases at the disposal of any other state, Interfax reported. Turkmenistan is not hindering the transportation of international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. LF




LUKASHENKA WANTS BETTER RELATIONS WITH EUROPE

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 4 October instructed Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastou to work with EU countries and European organizations toward restoring the previous level of relations, Belapan reported, quoting the presidential press service. According to Lukashenka, "international monitoring of the [presidential] election clearly showed that the EU does not intend to politically isolate Belarus." Khvastou was ordered to begin talks with EU ambassadors accredited in Minsk to improve mutual political and economic relations. RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 4 October that the previous day Khvastou called his Lithuanian counterpart Antanas Valionis, asking Vilnius to assist Minsk in "difficult dialogue" with the West. Lithuania will preside over the Council of Europe in November. JM

BELARUS REPORTEDLY TRAINS IRAQI ANTIAIRCRAFT GUNNERS

The Moscow-based "Vremya novostei" reported on 5 October that 20 Iraqi air-defense officers arrived in Minsk the previous day to improve their skills at the Belarusian Military Academy during a two-year training course. According to the daily, the Iraqi officers will learn to handle S-300 antiaircraft missile systems. "Vremya novostei" added that, according to rumors, Belarus has recently sold one S-300 system to an unspecified country in the Middle East. One month of training in Belarus will reportedly cost Iraq $2,500 for each antiaircraft gunner. The daily said the Belarusian authorities are keeping the contract on the training of the Iraqis secret, not wanting to exacerbate relations with the U.S. The Iraqi Embassy in Belarus told Belapan on 5 October that the news about the training is an "absurdity and provocation." JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA SIGN GAS DEBT RESTRUCTURING DEAL

Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kasyanov on 4 October signed an agreement to restructure Ukraine's $1.4 billion gas debt. "Russia and Ukraine put a full stop in the history of gas problems, which disturbed societies of both countries for two years," ITAR-TASS quoted Kasyanov as saying in Kyiv. "The agreement is a vivid example of a compromise aimed at ensuring long-term cooperation," Kinakh commented. Kasyanov told journalists that the debt was rescheduled over 12 years with a three-year grace period. He added that the interest rate was set at LIBOR plus 1 percent. Both sides recognized the $1.4 billion debt as a corporate debt of the state-owned Naftohaz company. Naftohaz is to issue Eurobonds to cover the debt. Interfax reported that the two premiers also signed an accord on "additional measures" to ensure Russian gas transit via Ukraine. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION BILL

Leonid Kuchma has vetoed the parliamentary election bill that was passed in September, Interfax reported on 4 October. Simultaneously, Kuchma said he will immediately sign a new bill if the parliament introduces the amendments he proposes. In particular, Kuchma wants the election campaign to last 90 days instead of the 170 days specified in the bill. Kuchma also opposes the provision stipulating that candidates to territorial election commissions may be proposed only by those parties who won no less than 4 percent of the vote in the previous parliamentary ballot. In accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution, the upcoming parliamentary elections in Ukraine should be held on the last Sunday of March 2002. JM

KYIV DENIES TEST-FIRED MISSILE DOWNED RUSSIAN AIRLINER

Ukraine's Defense Ministry on 4 October denied rumors that a Ukrainian test-fired missile may have caused the crash of a Russian airliner into the Black Sea. A Tu-154 plane flying from Tel-Aviv to Novosibirsk with 78 people aboard exploded shortly after 1 p.m. local time on 4 October, which corresponded to the time that Ukrainian air defense troops on the Crimean peninsula were firing antiaircraft missiles at artificial targets. A Defense Ministry spokesman said neither the range of the missiles nor their direction "correspond to the practical or theoretical point at which the plane exploded," Reuters reported. JM

MODERATES' BOARD BACKS HOLOLEI AS ESTONIA'S ECONOMY MINISTER

The board of the Moderates on 4 October unanimously supported the candidacy of the head of the State Chancellery European Integration Office, Henrik Hololei, as the next Economy Minister, Estonian media reported the next day. Upon his appointment by Prime Minister Mart Laar, Hololei will replace Mihkel Parnoja, who unexpectedly resigned last week. According to the agreement of the ruling coalition, the Moderates are responsible for the ministry and it is clear that the premier will appoint the 31-year-old Hololei. On 5 October, Hololei said he will review the present functions of the ministry and order a thorough analysis of the positive and negative aspects of its potential merger with the Transport and Communications Ministry, ETA reported. Hololei said that the priority of the ministry will be to attract foreign investment by improving the already favorable reputation of the country. SG

LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS SLOVENIA

Indulis Berzins began a three-day working visit on 3 October by meeting his Slovenian counterpart Dmitrij Rupel in Ljubljana, BNS reported. Their talks focused on the possible effects the terrorist attacks on the U.S. will have on NATO enlargement and the two countries' negotiations to gain EU membership. The main purpose of Berzins' visit was to attend the 47th annual assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association in Bled during which the foreign ministers of 10 countries seeking NATO membership, the so-called Vilnius Group -- Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia -- also met. The ministers passed a joint statement declaring support and solidarity with the U.S. and affirming that NATO will remain the most important guarantor of peace and stability. SG

VERHEUGEN: LITHUANIA CAN EXPECT GOOD EVALUATION FROM EUROPEAN COMMISSION

Commissioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen told President Valdas Adamkus in Brussels on 4 October that the European Commission (EC) progress report on Lithuania, which will be officially released on 13 November, will give the country a positive evaluation of its preparations for EU membership, ELTA reported. Adamkus also met with EC President Romano Prodi. The central issues of the talks were the reforms of the Lithuanian energy sector and the closing of the nuclear power plant in Ignalina. The EC officials did not set any specific date for the closure, and Prodi noted that it is a problem not only for Lithuania but for all of Europe. The joint Lithuanian and EC working group of specialists analyzing the social and economic impact of the plant's closing is expected to prepare a report by the end of the year. Adamkus also presented Oskaras Jusys as the future head of the Lithuanian mission to the EU. Jusys will replace Romualdas Kalonaitis, who had served since 1997. SG

POLISH GOVERNMENT SELLS TOP INSURER TO DUTCH-POLISH PARTNERS

The outgoing government of Jerzy Buzek on 4 October approved the sale of a 21 percent stake in PZU, Poland's largest insurance company, to the Dutch-based Eureko and its Polish partner, BIG Bank, for $659 million, AP reported. Eureko and BIG Bank, which previously purchased a 30 percent stake in PZU, will now have a combined controlling stake in the company. JM

POLISH PREMIER DESIGNATE OPTIMISTIC OVER NEW GOVERNMENT...

Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leader Leszek Miller, whom President Aleksander Kwasniewski designated to form a new government, said on 4 October that the names of cabinet ministers will be made known next week, while a new cabinet can be formed on 19 October when the newly elected parliament convenes for the first time, PAP reported. Miller added that he would prefer a cabinet supported by a parliamentary majority. Meanwhile, the SLD's Finance Minister designate Marek Belka said the same day that the Peasant Party (PSL) -- the most likely ruling coalition partner of the SLD -- agreed to his proposal to limit budget spending in 2002 to 183 billion zlotys ($43 billion). The SLD and the PSL also agreed on a 40 billion zlotys budget deficit next year. JM

...WHILE RADICAL FARMERS PLEDGE TO SUPPORT LEFTIST CABINET

Self-Defense farmers union leader Andrzej Lepper on 4 October said his group will support both a minority government led by the SLD as well as a majority cabinet formed by the SLD in coalition with the PSL, PAP reported. Self-Defense, which competed with the PSL for farmers' votes in the 23 September election, has sent a letter to the PSL, voicing its "respect for PSL experience in the parliament" and suggesting talks on "cooperation in the parliament and possibly teaming together to support the creation of a minority government." JM

CZECH PREMIER SAYS PRAGUE ACCEPTS ALL U.S. REQUESTS OF NATO ALLIES

Milos Zeman said on 4 October that the Czech Republic has accepted all the requests made by the U.S. of its NATO allies, CTK reported. Zeman said the Czech Republic will open its airspace to U.S. planes and provide refueling facilities at Czech airports. The U.S. has also requested the strengthening of cooperation among NATO intelligence services; assistance to countries that are in potential danger due to their support of antiterrorism; increased security at U.S. and NATO countries' buildings; and the replacement of U.S. units by allied troops in third countries, for example in the Balkans. Zeman also said some of the U.S. requests do not apply to the Czech Republic, such as those concerning navy and early warning systems. Citing Czech Ambassador to NATO Karel Kovanda, CTK reported from Brussels that the U.S. mission at NATO headquarters has thanked the Czech Republic for Prague's attitude toward the requests submitted to NATO allies. MS

FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS CZECH REPUBLIC READY TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN AID TO PAKISTAN

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said during an official visit to Denmark on 4 October that the Czech Republic is ready to provide humanitarian aid to Pakistan, CTK reported. After talks in Copenhagen with his Danish counterpart Mogens Lykketoft, Kavan said that it is necessary to support Pakistan to avoid instability in that country that could result from the expected military conflict in the region. He also said Prague would agree, if necessary, to sent troops to Bosnia to replace the U.S. soldiers serving in SFOR. MS

CZECH CITIZEN SERVED AS AL-QAEDA INSTRUCTOR?

Responding to a report printed in "The Washington Times" on 3 October, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil said: "We know about one Czech" citizen who may have served as an instructor at a camp in Afghanistan run by the terrorist Al-Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden, CTK and AP reported. But Pospisil added there is no evidence "directly linking" the man to bin Laden or to the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. "We know his name, we know what he has been doing in the Czech Republic, and when he left for Afghanistan," Pospisil said. MS

CZECH POLITICIANS ASSURE SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER OF NATO SUPPORT

Slovak parliamentary speaker Jozef Migas on 4 October met in Prague with President Vaclav Havel, who told him Prague supports Slovakia's bid for NATO membership, CTK reported. He received similar assurances from Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, whom Migas told the results of the 2002 parliamentary elections in Slovakia will not influence the country's determination to seek EU and NATO membership. Migas also met Premier Zeman, with whom he discussed the expected U.S. retaliation against international terrorist organizations, and with Chamber of Deputies Chairman Vaclav Klaus. Klaus told Migas that the current Czech-Slovak customs union should not be abolished prior to either country's accession into the EU. MS

INFLUX OF SLOVAK ROMANY ASYLUM SEEKERS TO SWEDEN CONTINUES

The influx of Slovak Romany asylum seekers in Sweden that began in the first half of August is continuing, CTK reported from Malmoe on 4 October. The agency cited Swedish Migration Office official Marie Lindgren as saying that 213 Slovak citizens have submitted asylum requests in the past five weeks. None of the requests has been approved. Lindgren also said eight Czech citizens, "probably Roma," have applied for asylum in Sweden in 2001 and were turned down. MS

SLOVAKIA CONFIRMS BSE CASE

Tests from a German laboratory confirmed Slovakia's first case of BSE ("mad cow disease") on 4 October, Reuters reported. The results confirmed local tests conducted last week that revealed that a bovine from a herd on a farm in central Slovakia had contacted the disease. AP reported that Agriculture Minister Pavol Konkos ordered the slaughter of 34 cattle from the farm, and that further tests be carried out on the animals. MS

HUNGARY AGREES TO GRANT U.S. ALL ASSISTANCE IT REQUIRES

The national security cabinet on 4 October decided to grant all the assistance the U.S. has requested from Hungary in its fight against terrorism. Prime Minister Viktor Orban and leaders of parliamentary parties, with the exception of the extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party, agreed to support the U.S. request that in addition to American troops, NATO units taking part in a military operation be allowed to use Hungarian airspace and airports. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said none of the eight provisions in the U.S. request relate to Hungary participating in military operations, Hungarian media reports. MSZ

FOREIGN MINISTER OUTLINES HUNGARY'S EU AGRICULTURAL POLICIES

Martonyi on 4 October told an agricultural forum in Budapest that Hungary will seek access to all possible agricultural subsidies once it joins the EU, and intends to request a transition period in adopting the union's common agricultural policy, Hungarian media reported. Martonyi admitted that the toughest stage of negotiations for accession will begin when the chapter on agriculture is discussed. Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Tamas Eder said the ministry has started to prepare agricultural producers for EU accession, and consequently will increase subsidies for investments and machinery purchases. MSZ

TORGYAN'S STATEMENT STIRS CONTROVERSY IN HUNGARY

Cabinet Spokesman Gabor Borokai on 4 October said that Independent Smallholders' Party Chairman Jozsef Torgyan's statements one day earlier regarding Viktor Orban's involvement in terminating criminal proceedings against Torgyan's son Attila "have humiliated both the Republic of Hungary and its constitutional order," Hungarian media reported. Torgyan claimed that Orban had told him: "My uncle Joska, we shall terminate proceedings against your son." Torgyan's son is suspected of taking a bribe from an entrepreneur seeking state subsidies from the Agriculture Ministry. Borokai firmly refuted Torgyan's claims, and released a letter written by Orban in August 2001 rejecting any assistance to Torgyan. Socialist deputy Pal Vastagh said he will personally question Orban in parliament about the matter, as neither the constitution nor any other laws authorize the prime minister to terminate criminal proceedings. MSZ




EU POSTPONES AID CONFERENCE FOR MACEDONIA...

The European Union called off a donors aid conference for Macedonia scheduled for 15 October because of the government's failure to implement its part of a peace plan, Reuters reported on 4 October. Chris Patten, the EU commissioner for foreign relations, said in Skopje: "It's absolutely inconceivable the donors conference can take place... I could not possibly get donors to the table in these circumstances and prepared to write large checks in order to support a political agreement that still hasn't been endorsed and implemented." Patten said the situation will be reevaluated later this year or early next year. PB

...AS TALKS BETWEEN EU AND MACEDONIAN POLITICIANS END IN FAILURE

Efforts in Skopje by Patten and Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, to convince hard-line Macedonian politicians to accelerate the adoption of reforms that will grant ethnic Albanians broader civil rights ended without progress being made on 4 October, Reuters reported. Patten and Solana cancelled a news conference after the talks before heading to a meeting with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, considered a supporter of the peace process. Patten said: "The last time we were here [in mid-September] we were given assurances about timing which have now been broken. We're disturbed by the amount of time it seems to be taking [to pass constitutional amendments or to grant an amnesty to former rebels]. We think the parliamentary process...given the urgency of the situation, is interminable." The U.S. State Department said on 4 October that "We'd urge the Macedonian parliament to resume debate on the constitutional amendments and urge the members to come to a rapid and positive conclusion." PB

MACEDONIAN POLICE RETAKE SOME REBEL VILLAGES, LEAVE OTHERS

Macedonian security forces reentered some ethnic Albanian villages on 4 October but suspended efforts to move into several others, AP reported. A police official said some units took control of three villages near the northwestern city of Gostivar. But he said police in some mainly ethnic Albanian villages west of Skopje "moved out swiftly because of [a] hostile reception" from the villagers. Police also left a village to the east of Skopje after three hours of talks with the ethnic Albanian leaders who objected to the presence of the Macedonian police. OSCE Chairman Mircea Geoana said after talks with President Trajkovski and Premier Ljubco Georgievski that "we are surprised with the deployment of security forces done this morning in a few villages without the agreement and consultation of the international community. We consider deployment premature and counterproductive." Nikola Popovski, a leading official of the Social Democratic Alliance, said that if key provisions of the peace deal are not implemented in the "next seven to 10 days, the situation could seriously deteriorate." PB

EU GRANTS MONEY TO MACEDONIAN POWER COMPANY

EU Commissioner for Foreign Relations Patten signed an agreement on 4 October granting the Macedonian Power Company some 10.5 million euros ($10 million) in financial aid to help recoup lost output, dpa reported. Patten said the funds will be used to repair damage done to electric energy infrastructure during ethnic fighting in the country. Ilija Filipovski, who will coordinate the funds, said the money will "provide energy for 100,000 houses and the reconstruction of 4,800 houses" for displaced persons. PB

FORMER YUGOSLAV GENERAL TO SURRENDER TO UN IN DUBROVNIK INDICTMENT

The Montenegrin Information Ministry said on 4 October that Lieutenant General Pavle Strugar is "ready to voluntarily" surrender himself to the UN war crimes tribunal, AP reported. Strugar, 68, is one of four former Yugoslav army commanders named by The Hague tribunal on 2 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2001) in an indictment stemming from civilian deaths in the shelling of Dubrovnik, Croatia, in 1991. He told Montenegrin authorities he "intends to prove his innocence" in front of the tribunal, though it is not clear when he will turn himself in. DW

SECOND SERBIAN MINE JOINS STRIKE

The strike announced on 3 October at the Kolubara mine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001) spread to the Kostolac mine 40 kilometers southwest of Belgrade on 4 October, AP reported. The strikers are demanding an end to the freeze on wages in state-owned companies and improved working conditions. Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic dismissed the miners' demands, saying their monthly wage of 17,000 dinars ($260) exceeds the average state wage by 75 percent. The miners angrily refuted this, claiming they receive only 10,000 dinars per month. DW

UN CALLS FOR END TO ATTACKS ON SERBS IN KOSOVA

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged provincial leaders to do more to end violence against Serbs in Kosova in the run-up to the 17 November general elections, Reuters reported on 4 October. In a report to the Security Council, Annan said the number of violent armed attacks on minorities is alarming and included several hand-grenade attacks targeting Serbs and Roma. "This is a defining moment for Kosovo, and I call on all political leaders and representatives of civil society to ensure that the upcoming election campaign is free of violence," he said. DW

WESTERN GROUPS WARN RULING BOSNIAN PARTY AGAINST MEDIA INTERFERENCE...

The Bosnia-Herzegovinian mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it has received "a number of complaints" in recent months about pressure exerted by members of the ruling, multiethnic Social Democratic Party (SDP), Reuters and dpa reported on 4 October. OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said the complaints are confidential and specific cases cannot be discussed, but that the agency is alarmed by the emerging pattern. Meanwhile, Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, expressed surprise at the reports, calling the SDP a party with "a very progressive platform upholding democratic standards," Reuters added. Petritsch's spokeswoman appealed to the Western-backed party, "as well as any other party," to "refrain from pressure on journalists or editors, who must be able to do their jobs freely without any pressure," the agency reported. AH

...WHILE MEDIA SALE RAISES FURTHER CONCERNS

International officials also expressed concern about the sale on 3 October of the largest state-owned printing house, OKO, to the Dnevni Avaz publishing house, saying it may result in Dnevni Avaz having a regional monopoly in print media. The OSCE warned the decision might seriously affect the diversity of news and opinion and reduce the number, quality, and effectiveness of other print outlets in Bosnia. AH

CROATIAN UNIONS REJECT DRAFT COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT, GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO NEGOTIATIONS

The unions of police employees, customs workers, and employees in the state administration and judiciary have rejected a government draft basic collective agreement, arguing that it reduces the already limited rights of state sector employees, Hina reported on 4 October, just one day ahead of the start of collective bargaining for state services. The unions said they would proffer their own counterproposal based on the collective agreement that was canceled by the government last week, the agency reported. Meanwhile, the Independent Croatian Unions (NHS) accused the government of intending to cut labor and social entitlements, evidenced by the cancellation of collective agreements and planned restrictions in the Labor Code, Hina reported on 4 October. The government intends to shorten the period for notice of termination and reduce severance pay to provide grounds for the dismissal of redundant workers in state administration as well as in the private sector, said NHS head Kresimir Sever. AH

'KEY PROBLEMS' REMAIN UNSOLVED BETWEEN CROATIA AND YUGOSLAVIA

A year after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic fell from power, Zagreb and Belgrade have made "scant progress in normalizing relations and burying the legacy of war and a decade of enmity," a Reuters analysis argued on 5 October. While ethnic tensions have visibly decreased, the piece cites analysts and former officials as saying that there remain many sticking points to normal bilateral relations. Zeljko Trkanjec, a Croatian political analyst and former Foreign Ministry official, said that "normalization has taken root," but "most key problems are not being resolved." An unnamed Croatian diplomat points to concrete issues like war reparations, missing persons, and the return of Croatian property confiscated by Yugoslavia at the outset of the war. AH

CROATIAN CABINET PUSHES FOR CURBS ON GOVERNMENT BY DECREE

Prime Minister Ivica Racan's cabinet has submitted a proposal to the Croatian parliament that would abandon a long-held practice of government by decree, Hina reported on 4 October. In what has become an annual rite, the Sabor on 28 September passed a law that effectively hands some legislative powers to the government. But even Croatia's ruling parties chafed at its passage this year, and Prime Minister Racan said after a cabinet session on 4 October that extraordinary sessions of parliament could be assembled if legislation requires particularly speedy adoption. He noted that the current government has invoked decrees on only 10 occasions since coming to power in January 2000, versus some 444 decrees and by-laws issued by the HDZ during its decade in power, the agency said. This is the first time since 1991 that the government has requested that it be stripped of such authority, according to Hina. AH

ALBANIAN EXTRADITION TO U.S.

REPRESENTS HISTORICAL FIRST. Albanian authorities have for the first time extradited an individual to the United States, handing over the 24-year-old suspect in the 1997 murder of a New York college student, AP reported on 4 October. Bernardo Martinaj was returned to the U.S. in late September following extensive litigation in which Albanian officials had resisted the efforts of U.S. prosecutors to bring him to trial. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said that while the U.S. has had an extradition treaty with Albania since 1933, this case marks the first time it has ever been successfully invoked. Morgenthau said Martinaj, who had been in the country legally on his mother's asylum visa and was working as a security guard, pulled a knife and fatally stabbed a Yugoslav immigrant and injured another man outside a New York bar. Interpol alerted New York City law enforcement authorities after Martinaj was arrested in Albania on charges of forgery and illegal possession of drugs and ammunition, AP reported. AH

ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY CHIDES MACEDONIA ON POLICE DEPLOYMENT

Albania warned against the deployment of Macedonian security forces in areas formerly held by ethnic Albanian insurgents, dpa reported on 4 October. The country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it is concerned with the Macedonian National Security Council's decision to send police into such areas following the recent disarming of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army, the agency added. The ministry said the move ran "counter to the spirit and objectives of [the] Ohrid agreement" and could undermine efforts at peace and political stability in Macedonia. AH

HUNGARIAN PREMIER TURNS PRIVATE ROMANIAN VISIT INTO MEDIA EVENT...

Viktor Orban on 4 October attended in Oradea the inauguration of Partium Christian University, the second private Hungarian-language university in Romania launched this week, a local RFE/RL correspondent reported. The university is affiliated with the Hungarian Reformed Church. Orban told the audience "a 1,000-year-old culture should not ask if it can survive, but how it can continue." He said, "The time has come for reestablishing unity between the [Hungarian] nation and mother country... The Hungarian nation from the entire Carpathian region must participate in the [joint Magyar] social, cultural, and economic life." For that purpose, Orban said, "joint cultural and spiritual institutions are needed." In response to a journalist's question, Orban said that if the joint Hungarian Romanian commission on national minorities reaches no consensus, the implementation of the Status Law "will go ahead as of 1 January 2002." MS

...AS ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER RETURNS INVITATION TO ATTEND

The Romanian Foreign Ministry on 4 October summoned the Hungarian ambassador to Bucharest, Istvan Ijgyarto, in order to return the invitation that Romanian Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu received from her Hungarian counterpart Joszef Palinkas to attend the inauguration of the university in Oradea. A ministry spokesman said a Hungarian minister cannot invite a Romanian counterpart to an event taking place in Romania. The spokesman said Andronescu will instead invite Palinkas to meet her in Miercurea-Ciuc, Transylvania. MS

ROMANIAN TRIBUNAL HEEDS APPEAL OF PEASANTIST LEADER

A Bucharest court on 4 October heeded the appeal of the Victor Ciorbea wing in the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) against a lower court's refusal on 23 August to register the merger of the PNTCD with the National Alliance Christian Democratic. The court sent the case back to the Bucharest Tribunal for reexamination, Mediafax reported. MS

NEARLY 300 ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS WERE SECURITATE INFORMERS

Gheorghe Onisoru, chairman of the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives, on 4 October said that the council has discovered records of 270 journalists having acted as informers of the former communist secret police. Onisoru refused to say whether the former informers are still active in the mass media, Romanian television reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PREMIER SAYS CABINET HAD 'NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE' OF MOREI SPEECH IN STRASBOURG

Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev on 4 October said that the Moldovan government had not preapproved the declarations made in Strasbourg by Justice Minister Ion Morei, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Romanian government canceled Premier Adrian Nastase's scheduled visit to Moldova in protest against the speech Morei made the previous day, and said the Moldovan justice minister had "not merely expressed his private opinion" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001). Tarlev said he will respond to the Romanian government only after examining Morei's statements. Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudau said that "relations with Romania remain privileged." In Bucharest, President Ion Iliescu said on 4 October that the Moldovan government's attitude toward the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church is "incorrect and discriminatory." Iliescu also said Moldova will have to apologize for Morei's statements. Moldovan opposition leaders harshly criticized Morei's speech. Iurie Rosca, chairman of the pro-Romanian Popular Party Christian Democratic, said Morei's speech in Strasbourg had "shown the true face of communist rule in Moldova" and that President Vladimir Voronin's "advisers" are "incapable of understanding that relations with Romania are crucial for Moldova." Former President Mircea Snegur said Morei's statements "show a return to Stalinist mentality." MS

OSCE SUBMITS PLAN TO DISPOSE OF RUSSIAN MUNITIONS IN TRANSDNIESTER

William Hill, the head of the OSCE mission to Moldova, on 4 October said in Vienna that the OSCE has completed preparations for and launched the project for the destruction of 40,000 tons of weapons and ammunition in the Transdniester, Reuters reported. Hill said that "even before 11 September, this stock of ammunition was a temptation and an object of interest for a number of groups around the world...that possess older equipment dating back to the Soviet era -- especially insurgents, rebels, or terrorist groups." He said that Russia has already begun disposing of the stockpile, but that the cache still constitutes a potential risk for the town where it is stored. MS

NATO CANDIDATES IN SOFIA SAY EXPANSION WILL HELP FIGHT AGAINST TERROR

The so-called Vilnius Group of 10 NATO candidate countries, meeting in Sofia on 5 October, said in a joint statement that the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S. have added a sense of urgency to their arguments for joining the alliance, international agencies reported. The heads of state from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia said expanding NATO to absorb countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states will help the world in the struggle against global terrorism. Addressing the gathering, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said the 11 September terrorist attacks has "neither derailed the enlargement process, nor slammed NATO's door shut." Robertson added: "The strong logic of enlargement must be matched by the effort needed to make that happen. Aspirant countries must meet NATO's political and military standards before they can be admitted." MS

EU URGES BULGARIA TO INTEGRATE ROMANY MINORITY

In Sofia on 4 October, the head of the Bulgarian division in the EU's General Directorate for Enlargement urged Bulgaria to increase efforts to integrate the country's Romany minority and said Bulgaria should improve nuclear safety as part of its accession efforts, Reuters reported. "The Roma issue is a serious and complex one, not only in Bulgaria," said Morten Jung-Olsen. "These are conditions Europe and Bulgaria have nothing to be proud of," he said, adding that the minority must be integrated "as fully-fledged members of society." MS




NATO IN THE WAKE OF 11 SEPTEMBER


By Christopher Walker

The watershed of 11 September -- as the coordinated terrorist attack against the United States unquestionably was -- has altered virtually all previous assumptions and calculations in international politics.

The shifting global landscape is having an especially important impact on the NATO alliance. In the days since the attacks, NATO invoked for the first time in its history Article 5 of the NATO charter, declaring the attacks on the U.S. to be an attack on the alliance. On 3 October, Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, presented a formal request to the North Atlantic Council, NATO's decision-making body, asking for use of military bases, seaports and airspace. Ambassador Burns also requested use of the alliance's fleet of 17 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, among other items.

NATO has been working to arrive at a viable, unified response to terrorism, while managing a full range of other important issues on its agenda, including further enlargement of the alliance. The NATO enlargement discussion is being altered considerably due to the sheer magnitude of the terrorism issue, on the one side, and the apparent need to accommodate Russia, on the other.

Two NATO-related meetings have been scheduled -- one on 5 October in Sofia, Bulgaria, the other starting on 6 October in Ottawa, Canada -- that reflect the new currents that have been running through international politics since 11 September.

In Bulgaria, heads of state from NATO candidate countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) are gathering for a summit that was originally intended to put the enlargement cause on the front burner. However, in light of changed international realities, the meeting is expected to have a different focus, namely NATO's place in the international coalition against terrorism.

In Canada, the four-day meeting of NATO's Parliamentary Assembly will focus on the issue of global terrorism.

Just over a year from now, at the Prague NATO summit planned for November 2002, a decision will be taken on how many new members will be invited to join the alliance. Earlier this year, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson removed doubt about enlargement moving forward next year when he took the so-called "zero option" off the table, indicating that at least one candidate country will be invited at the Prague summit to join the alliance.

The possible enlargement permutations range from a strategy of maximum caution -- extending an invitation only to tiny Slovenia and, perhaps, Slovakia (the "Slo-Slo" formulation) -- to the other end of the enlargement continuum, the so-called "Big Bang," which would take an entire group of candidate countries into the alliance in one stroke.

It is the menu of options beyond Slovenia and Slovakia -- in particular those that include the Baltic states -- that would under any circumstances require skillful diplomatic bargaining to overcome Russian opposition. But the recent change in relations among major powers as a response to recent events, in particular between Moscow and Washington, raises the question of whether the balance has already shifted toward the less ambitious end of the continuum. Washington is the recognized center of gravity in determining how energetic an effort will be made in pushing anything beyond the "Slo-Slo" enlargement route.

One must also consider whether Russia would be receptive to more than the "Slo-Slo" candidates in 2002, on the condition that the second round of enlargement not include the Baltic states and that, in view of the situation in Chechnya, Georgia would not be considered in future rounds. Perhaps in a bid to preempt such a tradeoff, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze argued in a speech at Harvard University on 3 October that "NATO needs further strengthening, because it is the cornerstone of establishing humanistic values and stability in the Eurasian region. Therefore, seeking NATO membership is an unalienable right of each and every democratic state in Europe. Thus, to draw any red lines on the continent is completely unacceptable in present circumstances."

Of course, all of these calculations are contingent upon a very dynamic and unresolved set of assumptions; indeed, Moscow's own role vis-a-vis NATO is being reexamined in light of the Russian contribution to the counterterrorism effort. Indicative of the significant shifts occurring below the surface of the political and diplomatic landscape were the meetings between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and President Vladimir Putin with NATO officials in Brussels on 26 September and 3 October respectively. During that visit to Brussels, President Putin said Moscow could reconsider its opposition to NATO enlargement if NATO were to become a political organization and if Russia were involved more in the consultations of the alliance.

Here, too, the American response is pivotal. To a larger degree than any other single country, the United States will decide both how Moscow's role with NATO will evolve and how extensive future rounds of alliance enlargement will be.

The immediate showing of solidarity and offering of assistance from tried and true friends, sometime friends, and even some erstwhile foes have been encouraging for the United States so far. What President George W. Bush has described as the "first war of the 21st century" surely requires an intensive effort to line up previously untapped sources of cooperation. But in the scramble to stamp out the diabolical groups that threaten the civilized world, the West will need to consider just how high a price it is willing to pay over the long term to win this global war. Christopher Walker is head of policy and communication in the president's office at the EastWest Institute in New York.


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