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Newsline - October 15, 2001




PUTIN REACTS CALMLY TO POSSIBILITY THAT GEORGIA MIGHT QUIT CIS

President Putin on 12 October said that "the withdrawal of Georgia [from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)] would only reduce the burden which Russia has taken on itself in view of the special relations with the republic in the political sphere," Russian agencies reported. (Although on 11 October some Georgian parliament deputies had demanded Georgia's withdrawal from the CIS, Georgian presidential spokesman Kakha Imnadze said the same day that the issue "is not yet on the agenda," Caucasus Press reported.) As for Georgia's call for the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force serving under the CIS aegis in Abkhazia, Putin noted that these are "not our peacekeepers." Rather, they are the peacekeepers of the CIS. Putin said that Tbilisi should turn to the CIS and international bodies like the United Nations that support the presence of these troops if it no longer thinks these peacekeepers are needed. Putin said Russia looks forward to "constructive" work in solving all the conflicts of the southern Caucasus, especially with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who was a member of the Soviet leadership when many of these problems emerged. PG/VY

RUSSIA SEEN BEING OUSTED FROM CIS COUNTRIES BY U.S., NATO

In an analysis carried by pravda.ru on 13 October, Anatolii Baranov said that the presence of American forces in Uzbekistan is the beginning of a process by which the United States and NATO will seek to "oust Russia" from its influential position in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. He suggested that the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Abkhazia with NATO peacekeepers taking their place will be the next step, and then Azerbaijan will seek to have NATO forces on its territory to counter what Baku sees as "'Armenian terrorists.'" PG

KVASHNIN SAYS RUSSIAN REGIONS BORDERING CENTRAL ASIA 'NOT SAFE'

General Anatolii Kvashnin, the chief of the Russian General Staff, said in an interview published in "Samarskoe obozrenie," No. 37, that the regions of the Russian Federation "adjacent to the Central Asian states are not safe." He said that was the reason why Moscow decided to have the headquarters of the new Trans-Volga Military District (which was created by the combination of the Urals and Volga military districts on 1 September) further north. In the short term, Kvashnin acknowledged, the decision will be more expensive to implement, but in the longer term, it provides commanders with greater security. "Twenty years or so from now, we will see if the decision was correct," Kvashnin concluded. PG

FORMER FSB OFFICER NAMED DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER FOR COUNTERTERRORISM

On 12 October President Putin named Anatolii Safonov as deputy foreign minister overseeing international cooperation in counterterrorism, Russian and Western agencies reported. Safonov in 1994-97 served as first deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) with responsibilities in domestic security. PG

MORE THAN HALF OF MUSCOVITES OPPOSE U.S., U.K. STRIKES IN AFGHANISTAN

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 12 October, 56 percent of Muscovites do not support the antiterrorist operations being conducted by the U.S. and the U.K. in Afghanistan, while 41 percent do approve of them. The same poll found that 72 percent of the residents of the Russian capital would oppose strikes against other countries Washington has identified as harboring terrorists, such as Iraq, Iran, and Libya. The poll also showed that 66 percent of Muscovites are concerned that Russia may be attacked by terrorist forces and that only 8 percent believe Russian forces should participate in the U.S.-led antiterrorist campaign. PG

HEALTH MINISTER DOWNPLAYS BIOLOGICAL TERRORISM THREAT

Health Minister Yurii Shevchenko told Interfax on 13 October that the country's health service is on guard against possible bio-terrorism threats, but that there was no reason for excessive concern as "we have very good control over the sanitary-epidemiological situation in the country." One day earlier, officials reported that the government's draft budget for 2002 eliminates a budget line for combating bio-terrorism (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). PG

INTERIOR MINISTER WANTS TO CONTROL MIGRATION

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov on 12 October said that he has proposed to the government that control over migration issues be put under his ministry as part of a broader effort to tighten control over illegal migration, Interfax reported. He said that there are now 5 million illegal immigrants and so many kinds of registration documents that these people often find it easy to procure fake registrations. The same day, Konstantin Kosachev, the deputy chairman of the Duma International Relations Committee, pointed to a potentially serious problem for Russia. He said that at present, there are some 23 million blank passports still held by non-Russian countries in the CIS, the news agency reported. Both Gryzlov and Kosachev called for speeding up the introduction of new passports in Russia in order to prevent the influx of more illegal immigrants. PG

U.S. SUSPENDS ISSUING VISAS IN MOSCOW

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on 13 October that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has suspended for the time being the issuing of visas to Russian citizens in order to improve security for American embassy officers, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIA, CHINA AGREE ON 'POST-CONFLICT' AFGHANISTAN

Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Losyukov met with Chinese officials in Beijing on 12 October and said that Russia and China have reached "100 percent agreement" both on how to combat international terrorism and also what "post-conflict" Afghanistan should look like, RIA-Novosti reported. Losyukov added that Beijing also has a strong interest in "cooperating with Russia in Central Asia." VY

RUSSIAN ASTROLOGER SEES 1917-LIKE REVOLUTIONARY STRIVINGS IN 2001

Aleksandr Zaraev, the leader of the Russian Astrological School, told Interfax on 13 October that his reading of the heavenly bodies suggests that the end of 2001 will resemble 1917 as a time of revolutionary upsurges around the world. He said that this prediction is based on the cycle of the planet Uranus, and that "the activity of the masses at the end of this and the beginning of next year will be extremely high, and that while a third world war will not begin, the contradictions between the Muslim and Western worlds will continue for practically all of next year." PG

PUTIN SEES RUSSIA BECOMING A MAJOR GRAIN EXPORTER

President Putin said on 12 October that Russia had had a better harvest this year because of the restructuring of agriculture "carried out in recent years," Interfax reported. He said that this increase shows that "the laws of the market slowly but surely are beginning to affect the agricultural sector as well." He added that Russia "step by step" will reacquire its status as a major grain exporter. At the same time, Putin pledged that the government will continue to invest in agricultural infrastructure to ensure further improvement. PG

MOSCOW WORRIED ABOUT EXHAUSTION OF RAW MATERIALS

A special working group of the State Council on 12 October released a report saying that Russia faces the rapid exhaustion of its raw materials and that this problem is compounded by the inefficiency of the processing sector, RBK reported. In the Kola Peninsula and the Norilsk region, the report said, existing mines will be exhausted within the next 10 years. The report also said that greater efforts must be made to locate new raw material reserves. The same day, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Russia must transform the structure of its exports because the country cannot rely "for many years" on the export of oil, gas, and metals to pay its way in the world, Russian agencies reported. VY/PG

PUTIN GREETS MOSCOW JUDO COMPETITION

President Putin on 12 October sent a message of greetings to the participants of the First International Judo Tournament in Moscow, Interfax reported. Putin said the holding of the tournament in the Russian capital is "visible testimony that Russia was and remains a great sports power." PG

PAVLOVSKII WANTS STATE, SOCIETY TO BE MORE CLOSELY LINKED

In an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 12 October, Gleb Pavlovskii, the director of the Effective Policy Foundation and a close Kremlin media adviser, said Russia's government "is structurally isolated from society" and has been so since 1991. He said that "civil society has existed in our country for a long time," noting that "I have been working and living within it for at least 30 years." He said that steps like the convening of the Civil Forum next month can help to create conditions in which society will "be able to realistically aspire to equality with the state -- which is not the case at present." As that happens, Russian citizens will cease to be "a society of passive consumers" and become partners with the state to the benefit of both. PG

YAVLINSKY, FSB WIN LIBEL CASES

A Moscow city court on 12 October found that the ORT television had libeled Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinsky when it reported in the run-up to the presidential elections in March 2000 that Yabloko had used dirty tricks in the campaign, Interfax reported. The court rejected ORT's defense that its comments had come "word for word" from a report distributed by the Agency of Political News (APN). Meanwhile, another Moscow court the same day found for FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev in a case he had brought against "Novye izvestiya" journalist Valerii Yakov, the news service reported. The paper reported on 4 August that Patrushev had violated orders and accepted military decorations for bad conduct in Chechnya. The paper and journalist must now pay Patrushev 5,000 rubles ($170) and publish a retraction. PG

MORE MOVES TOWARD CREATION OF CENTRIST PARTY

The third Congress of the All-Russian Social-Political Organization Fatherland on 13 October voted to create a single centrist party with Unity, Russian agencies reported. At the same time, Oleg Morozov, the head of the deputies group Russian Regions, said his group will join the process of creating that party. But Fatherland-All Russia leader in the Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said that OVR and Unity will maintain their independence in the parliament even after the party is formed, Interfax-Moscow reported the same day. Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told Fatherland that he wants President Putin to head the unified centrist party and that a government reflecting that party's predominance should be formed. PG

AGRARIANS RENEW DEMANDS FOR REFERENDUM ON LAND SALES

In the wake of the approval of the Land Code by the Federation Council, Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin said he will continue to prepare for a countrywide referendum on the use of land, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 October. He expressed regret to the paper that the Federation Council had "failed to consider the reasons which many reasonable politicians have for insisting on a conciliation commission" to modify the legislation. PG

FRADKOV CALLS FOR CLOSER TIES AMONG CIS TAX POLICE AGENCIES

Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Federal Tax Police, said on 12 October that the tax enforcement agencies of the CIS member countries must work more closely together in order to prevent money laundering and other crimes, Interfax-AFI reported. Fradkov was addressing the first meeting of the commission of the Coordination Council of the Organs of Tax Investigations of the CIS member countries, which Fradkov heads. He announced that the second session of this group will take place in Yerevan before the end of the year. PG

IMF PLEDGES TO HELP RUSSIA IF OIL PRICES FALL

Horst Koehler, the director of the International Monetary Fund, said in Moscow on 12 October that under current conditions, Russia will be able to service its foreign debts through 2003, but he added that the IMF will give Russia additional credits should there be a significant decline in the world price of oil, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Russian energy officials said the same day that Moscow will not take part in any meeting between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-cartel countries, Reuters reported. But in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 12 October, Energy Minister Igor Yusufov said that "for completely objective causes," Russia may reduce the export of oil at the end of this year and the beginning of next, Interfax-AFI reported. Also on 12 October, Prime Minister Kasyanov indicated that the government will maintain ownership and control of Slavneft, the agency said. PG

RUSSIA LOBBIES FOR UNIFIED ELECTRIC GRID WITH UKRAINE, BELARUS, LITHUANIA, AND ARMENIA

Viktor Glukhikh, the head of a business group uniting entrepreneurs from the post-Soviet states and the Baltic countries, said his organization is pushing for unifying the electric power grids of Russia with those of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Armenia, RBK reported on 13 October. Meanwhile, Russia's Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais is also pushing this idea, Glukhikh said. VY

HAS KOKH QUIT AT NTV?

Alfred Kokh on 12 October angrily resigned as chief of Gazprom-Media because he said he had been turned into a puppet, Russian and Western agencies reported. "I can stand face-to-face confrontation, but I cannot stay if somebody begins to push me out bit by bit, isolating me from decision making and turning me into a puppet," Kokh said. Kokh was speaking after Gazprom head Aleksei Miller announced that the firm plans to sell its media assets, including NTV, which Gazprom-Media took over earlier this year. But later the same day, Kokh told Interfax that he might withdraw his resignation if certain conditions are met. NTV spokesmen welcomed the Gazprom announcement, and Ekho Moskvy reported the same day that NTV may now be sold to an oligarch loyal to the Kremlin. But Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Union of Rightist Forces, said on 12 October that the departure of Kokh is "yet another indication of the attack on freedom of the press in Russia," Interfax reported. PG

'NOVAYA GAZETA' REPORTER FLEES TO AUSTRIA

Anna Politkovskaya, a "Novaya gazeta" journalist who has attracted attention for her reporting on Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya, has fled to Austria, "The Moscow Times" reported on 12 October. Politkovskaya received death threats after she published a story suggesting that Russian troops rather than Chechen militants shot down a helicopter that was carrying two generals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 2001), one of whom Politkovskaya told "The Moscow Times" was carrying documents concerning the conduct of Russian troops in Chechnya. PG

PETERSBURG RESIDENTS WANT RUSSIA IN EU, NOT NATO

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Ekho Moskvy on 12 October, 75 percent of St. Petersburg residents would like to see Russia become a member of the European Union, with only 18 percent opposed. But only 38 percent backed Russian membership in NATO, with 51 percent said they are opposed to Russia becoming a member of the Western alliance. PG

YASTRZHEMBSKII SAYS MASKHADOV HAS 'LOST RIGHT' TO SPEAK FOR CHECHNYA

Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 12 October said Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has forfeited the right to speak in the name of the Chechen people and that Moscow will never agree to a second Khasavyurt accord or to Chechen independence, Interfax reported. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Russian Service, Maskhadov called for international mediation in the conflict. PG

MOODY'S UPS RATING ON RUSSIAN RUBLE OBLIGATIONS...

The international rating firm Moody's Investors Services on 12 October raised its rating on Russian government obligations denominated in rubles from B3 to B1, Interfax-AFI reported. PG

...BUT 'RUSSIA'S GREENSPAN' SAID TO BE IN TROUBLE

Viktor Gerashchenko, the head of the Central Bank of Russia who is sometimes described as "Russia's Alan Greenspan," may be forced to leave office if his bank does not subordinate itself to the Kremlin, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 October. "Vremya MN" reported the same day that Gerashchenko continues to defend the importance of the bank's independence for Russia's economic progress. PG

ANTIDRUG COMMISSIONS TO BE SET UP IN FEDERAL DISTRICTS

Interior Minister Gryzlov said on 12 October that commissions for the struggle against the sale of illegal drugs will be set up in the seven federal districts, Interfax reported. Gryzlov said this move has the backing of President Putin. Meeting with Gryzlov the same day, Putin said he is generally satisfied with the work of the Interior Ministry and its fight against organized crime, but that he remains concerned by the rising level of street crime, the news agency said. PG

SOLDIER FROM DAGHESTAN PUNISHED FOR MISTREATING OTHERS IN SAMARA UNIT

Akim Alimuradov, a soldier from Daghestan, was sentenced to 18 months in a disciplinary battalion for his role in the mistreatment of his fellow soldiers in his unit based near Samara, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 October. As a result of his actions and those of several other soldiers from the North Caucasus, 72 predominantly ethnic Russian soldiers deserted the unit at the end of August. None of them will be punished, "Samarskoe obozrenie," No. 37, reported. PG

MORE DELAYS IN 'KURSK' OPERATION

Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, the commander of Russia's Northern Fleet, said on 13 October that there is no reason for haste in moving the "Kursk" into a dry dock in Roslyakovo, ITAR-TASS reported. The day before, navy commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said that Russia on its own will retrieve the severed bow of the "Kursk" submarine in 2002, Interfax reported. "Vremya MN" commented on 12 October that despite these problems, "It has been easier to raise the "Kursk" from the bottom than to speak the truth about the causes of its sinking." PG

POLICE RECOVER STOLEN BUST OF FATHER MEN

Police in Moscow Oblast on 12 October arrested two teenagers who on 7 October stole the memorial bust to Russian Orthodox priest Father Alexander Men, Interfax reported. Men, who was widely admired for his spirituality, was murdered on 9 September 1990. The bust has been restored to its place of honor. PG

URALS CITY REPORTS FLOW OF DRUGS FROM AFGHANISTAN STOPPED

The U.S.-British airstrikes against Afghanistan have reduced the flow of drugs into the Urals region, regions.ru reported on 12 October. In Sverdlovsk Oblast, there has been no influx of drugs from Afghanistan, as some experts had feared, and in fact, the foundation City Without Drugs reports that there is a "shortage" of heroin in the black market of Yekaterinburg. According to Region-Inform, heroin from Afghanistan is shipped into Sverdlovsk Oblast from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and also from Kazakhstan, which has a common border with at least two regions in the Urals federal district, the Chelyabinsk and Kurgan Oblasts. JAC

PREMIER ADMITS TO UNEVEN TAX REVENUE SPLIT WITH REGIONS

On a trip to Yaroslavl to dedicate an ice hockey arena on 12 October, Prime Minister Kasyanov told reporters that the level of development between Russian regions is quite varied, and his government intends to level the differences, strana.ru reported. Kasyanov declared that now it would be inexpedient to change the principle of interbudgetary relations, in which 60 percent of budget revenues flow to the federal center. "We are trying to establish the law dividing revenues 50-50, but now we need a not large 'reserve of money' so the center can fulfill a series of important responsibilities -- international responsibilities such as repaying the state debt and internal ones such as reforming the army and judicial system," he said. Kasyanov acknowledged that there are 20 regions in Russia that have insufficient resources for paying the wages of state workers, and to fully resolve this problem, "corrections," such as raising assistance to the regions by 16 billion rubles ($543.6 million), have been introduced into the draft 2002 budget. JAC

BATTLE OVER UDMURT TV STATION WIDENS

The Prosecutor-General's Office has launched criminal proceedings in connection with the battle over Udmurtia television (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2001), presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko told reporters on 12 October. According to Kirienko, Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyaginstev has also suggested that Udmurtia prosecutor Vladimir Zykin resign, because he declared at a session of Udmurtia's legislature that the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company's (VGTRK) suspension of broadcasts to the region was "illegal." In doing so, Zykin added to the already "tense political situation in the republic." Zvyaginstev together with Kirienko and VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeev flew to Udmurtia's capital, Izhevsk, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. According to the daily, Kirienko tried to "stabilize" the political situation in the republic by unexpectedly announcing that Sergei Chikurov, the chief federal inspector to the Udmurtia, should not participate in Izhevsk's mayoral elections on 21 October. JAC

PRESSURE ON VLADIVOSTOK LEGISLATOR TURNS VIOLENT

A deputy from Vladivostok' s Duma, Irina Keldyusheva, was severely beaten by two unknown assailants on 12 October, and doctors say her condition is critical, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Boris Danchin, chair of the city Duma, said that a number of deputies have received telephone threats demanding that they resign. Earlier in the month, the city Duma took control of the administration and leasing of municipal properties. And, on 4 October, deputies approved a decision to direct an inquiry to Vladivostok Mayor Yurii Kopylov about transactions with municipal property over the last few years. Earlier, two of Kopylov's deputies were accused of abuse of office in connection with their handling of municipal real estate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 July 2001) JAC

NEW MASS GRAVE FOUND IN CHECHNYA

On 13 October, police in Grozny began exhuming a mass grave discovered in Grozny's Lenin Raion, Interfax reported on 14 October. The bodies of 12 men and women, all of whom died a violent death, have been recovered so far. LF




ARMENIAN OPPOSITION QUESTIONS MILITARY PROSECUTOR'S SHIFT ON PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS...

Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on 12 October, opposition Hanrapetutiun party leader Albert Bazeyan noted that Chief Military Prosecutor Gagik Djahangirian, who heads the ongoing investigation into the October 1999 parliament shootings, was initially convinced that President Robert Kocharian masterminded them, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Eight senior officials died in the shooting, including Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian and parliament speaker Karen Demirchian. Djahangirian announced last week that he is no longer seeking to establish a connection between Kocharian and the five gunmen currently on trial for the killings. LF

...AS MORE POLITICAL GROUPS CALL FOR PRESIDENT TO RESIGN

Leaders of several Armenian organizations representing retired military personnel announced at a press conference in Yerevan on 12 October that they have aligned to create the Homeland and Honor Association, Noyan Tapan reported. The association intends to play an "active role" on the Armenian political scene and to demand the resignation of both President Kocharian and the present leadership, which they accused of patronizing a "clan system" that has plunged the country into a profound economic crisis. Also on 12 October, the Hayots tun (Armenian House) party called for a nationwide referendum on holding preterm parliamentary elections in order to replace Kocharian, Noyan Tapan reported. LF

ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MEETS WITH AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS

Meeting in Yerevan on 11 October with a group of visiting journalists from Azerbaijan, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian acknowledged that some citizens of Armenia serve in the Defense Army of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, adding that the fewer the number of people who consider that army to be "separatist," the better, Noyan Tapan reported. He said that Armenia is the guarantor of Nagorno-Karabakh's security, adding that "I dream that the Karabakh conflict will be settled and a peace agreement signed," Arminfo reported. Sarkisian also pointed out that although Armenia's annual $70 million defense budget is only half that of Azerbaijan. Armenia's defense potential is significantly higher and mortality within the armed forces much lower. Sarkisian accused Baku of exceeding the quantities of certain types of military hardware it is permitted to deploy under the revised CFE Treaty. LF

AZERBAIJAN HONORS LUKOIL PRESIDENT

Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev presented LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov on 12 October with Azerbaijan's prestigious Honor Award in acknowledgment of his "significant contribution to the development of economic relations" between Azerbaijan and Russia, Turan reported. LUKoil is a participant in five separate consortia engaged in exploiting Azerbaijan's oil deposits. Alekperov was born in Baku, where he graduated from the Oil and Chemical Institute. LF

GEORGIAN OFFICIALS SEEK TO DEFUSE TENSIONS IN RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

Speaking on Georgian state television on 12 October, President Eduard Shevardnadze criticized as "unfair" the resolution adopted the previous day by the Russian State Duma blaming the deterioration of bilateral relations on Georgia, Russian and Georgian agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). Shevardnadze argued that Georgia's and Russia's interests largely coincide, and vowed that "normal good-neighborly relations will prevail" provided Russia "does not get in our way" in Abkhazia, Reuters reported. Shevardnadze, his spokesman Kakha Imnadze, and Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili on 13 October all positively assessed Russian President Vladimir Putin's 12 October statement that Moscow will support Georgia's territorial integrity and will not intervene in territorial conflicts in Georgia. Interfax on 12 October quoted Arsenishvili as predicting that the crisis in bilateral relations will blow over within a few days. Also on 12 October, the Georgian parliament adopted a statement rejecting the allegations in the Duma resolution that Georgia protects terrorists and follows "an aggressive anti-Russian policy," Caucasus Press reported. The Georgian statement attributed those accusations to the influence of disinformation propagated by the Russian media. LF

ABKHAZ LEADERS, OSCE WARNS AGAINST WITHDRAWAL OF CIS PEACEKEEPERS

Abkhaz Prime Minister Anri Djergenia told journalists in Sukhum on 13 October that he does not think the CIS peacekeepers currently deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia should be withdrawn as the Georgian parliament is demanding (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). On the contrary, Djergenia argued, the peacekeepers' mandate should be expanded. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba's spokesman, Astamur Tania, told Reuters the same day that "we are categorically opposed to a withdrawal." Characterizing the peacekeeping force as "the only guarantee of peace and stability in the region," Tania said its withdrawal could trigger "large-scale military operations." Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba similarly predicted that the peacekeepers' withdrawal "will inevitably lead to a large-scale war," Interfax reported. He said that if that force does leave, the Abkhaz army will occupy the positions it currently holds on the right bank of the Inguri River in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion, which has a Georgian population of some 60,000-70,000. In Tbilisi, Minister of State Arsenishvili said on 13 October after meeting with a visiting OSCE delegation that that organization considers the withdrawal of the CIS peacekeepers ill advised, and had raised the question of who would fill the vacuum left by their departure. Also on 13 October, Georgian parliament's Committee for Defense and Security Chairman Giorgi Baramidze said Tbilisi should ask NATO to send a peacekeeping force to replace the CIS contingent, Caucasus Press reported. LF

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN KODORI GORGE

Abkhaz Defense Minister Mikanba said on 13 October that a group of some 100 Chechen fighters have broken through the Abkhaz forces surrounding them near Sugar-Loaf mountain after fighting near the village of Ablukhvara in which six of the intruders and two Abkhaz were killed, Interfax reported. Presidential aide Tania said that group, which was believed to include Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev, was retreating northward pursued by Abkhaz forces. On 14 October, isolated fighting between Abkhaz troops and the intruders, who had apparently split up into small groups, was continuing, Deputy Defense Minister Garri Kupalba told Caucasus Press on 15 October. He said that Abkhaz army used artillery and aircraft to bomb one group of fighters who were heading northeast up the Kodori gorge to the region controlled by the Georgian military. Also on 15 October, Kupalba denied, as his Georgian counterpart Gela Bezhuashvili did the previous day, that Abkhaz troops have exchanged fire with the Georgian army forces sent to the Kodori gorge on 11 October, Caucasus Press reported. LF

GEORGIA REJECTS ABKHAZ CHARGES OF AGGRESSION

The Abkhaz parliament has called upon the legislatures of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia to condemn the Georgian leadership for protecting terrorists and for resorting to violence in an attempt to resolve the Abkhaz conflict, Interfax reported on 13 October. But Georgian presidential spokesman Imnadze told that Russian agency the following day that Georgia "has not taken any aggressive steps" against Abkhazia. Arsenishvili for his part told Interfax on 12 October that Tbilisi is ready to resume talks with the Abkhaz leadership under the aegis of the United Nations. He blamed the upsurge of fighting on unnamed "forces that oppose closer ties between the Georgians and Abkhaz." LF

KAZAKH PRESIDENT DENIES TWO MINISTRIES TO BE MERGED

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev denied on 12 October rumors of a planned merger of the Finance Ministry with the State Revenues Ministry, Interfax reported. Nazarbaev said he is "satisfied" with the work of the latter ministry. LF

HEAD OF KAZAKHSTAN'S URANIUM MONOPOLY DISMISSED

Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev has dismissed Mukhtar Dzhakishev from his post as president of Kazatomprom, which is Kazakhstan's monopoly importer and exporter of uranium, Interfax reported. No reason was given for his dismissal. LF

OPPOSITION PARTY SAYS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST KAZAKH PRESIDENT'S SON-IN-LAW TRUE

Amirzhan Qosanov, the chairman of the executive committee of the opposition Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, on 12 October confirmed that President Nazarbaev's son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev controls numerous media outlets and is guilty of abuse of his official position as deputy head of the Committee for National Security (the former KGB), RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. On 11 October staff members of one of the TV companies said to be controlled by Aliyev denied that he owns the company. The original charges against Aliyev were made in an open letter addressed to President Nazarbaev by parliament deputy Tolen Toqtasynov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 October 2001). Qosanov said his party plans to make public a "White Book" containing details of Aliyev's repressive actions against it. LF

KAZAKHSTAN ASSESSES CAPACITY TO ACCOMMODATE AFGHAN REFUGEES

Kazakhstan's Security Council Secretary Altynbek Sarsenbaev told journalists in Almaty on 13 October that Kazakhstan cannot accommodate a large number of new refugees in the event of upheaval in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. He noted that Kazakhstan has already taken in 9,000 refugees from Tajikistan and 11,000 from Chechnya. He added that refugees are likely to pose a more serious problem for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, both of which border on Afghanistan. LF

KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN AGAIN AT LOGGERHEADS OVER GAS SUPPLIES

Uzbekistan's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Alisher Salahitdinov, warned Kyrgyzstan's First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev on 12 October that Tashkent may suspend natural gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan unless Bishkek pays back debts for previous deliveries, which a Kyrgyz official estimates are $659,000 in cash and commodities to the value of $1.5 million, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Tanaev responded by suggesting that Kyrgyzstan would respond by reducing water supplies to Uzbekistan. Bakirdin Sartkaziev, director-general of the state-run Kyrgyzenergo, left for Tashkent on 13 October to try to reach agreement with the Uzbek government. Kyrgyzgas Deputy Director General Mahamatdjan Yusupkhanov told RFE/RL that Kyrgyz consumers owe his company some 250 million soms ($5.2 million) in unpaid bills. Uzbekistan cut supplies of gas to Kyrgyzstan early this year over a similar disagreement over debts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 January and 27 February 2001). LF

NEW KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT FACTION TO OPPOSE BORDER AGREEMENT WITH CHINA

A group of Kyrgyz parliament deputies plan to align in a new faction to be named Public Front of Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 12 October. The group's primary objective will be to campaign for the annulment of border agreements under which Kyrgyzstan cedes tracts of territory to China (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June, 3 July and 7 August 2001). LF

U.S. MILITARY SPECIALISTS ARRIVE IN TAJIKISTAN

A group of six U.S. officers arrived in Dushanbe on 12 October to discuss with Tajik officials the possible use of Tajik airspace and military facilities by the United States within the framework of the antiterrorism strikes against Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 October 2001), Russian agencies reported. LF

TAJIKISTAN HALTS REBROADCASTING OF ORT

Tajikistan has suspended retransmission of Russia's ORT television and reduced by five hours rebroadcasts of a second Russian TV station, RTR, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 12 October. Tajik Communications Minister Nuridin Muhiddinov told that agency that the ORT's predecessor Ostankino owes his ministry a total of 5.5 million rubles ($184,000) in unpaid fees dating back to 1997, and RTR owes a similar amount. "We cannot afford to broadcast Russian TV for free," he explained. On 14 October, a Tajik Interior Ministry spokesman announced the arrest in Dushanbe of two men who have confessed to the March 1996 murder of ORT journalists Viktor Nikulin, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

UZBEKISTAN, U.S. UNVEIL COOPERATION AGREEMENT

Under an agreement signed on 7 October, the governments of Uzbekistan and the United States agree on the nature of the threat posed by international terrorism and pledge to raise bilateral relations to a qualitively new level to meet that threat and ensure long-term regional stability, according to a joint statement by the two governments made public on 12 October, AP and Russian agencies reported. That statement also reaffirms Uzbekistan's readiness to make one of its air bases available for use in humanitarian or search-and-rescue operations during the U.S.-led antiterrorist strikes against Afghanistan. On 15 October, ITAR-TASS reported that U.S. military specialists are already installing equipment at the Khanabad air base, which is some 145 kilometers from the Uzbek-Afghan border. LF




LUKASHENKA SAYS UNION WITH RUSSIA SAVES BELARUS...

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 12 October said his course of rapprochement with Russia "is actually saving our country [and] our economy," Belarusian Television reported. "[This course] gives us the possibility to maintain those living standards of the Belarusian people without which the state cannot exist. I am saying this absolutely frankly," Lukashenka told a delegation of the Russian Federation's Udmurt Republic. The delegation included 82-year-old Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the world-famous Kalashnikov submachine gun. JM

...URGES BROADCASTING COMPANY TO ACHIEVE WORLD-CLASS LEVEL

"Information pressure from outside and the battle for the control of minds have not ended. There are no breaks in this confrontation, and in order to win tomorrow we have to reach a world level today," Lukashenka told the staff of the National Broadcasting Company on 13 October. He added that Belarus should have "a [qualitatively] new television" beginning on 1 January 2002. Lukashenka promised technical support to the company and a new manager, following the unexpected death of National Broadcasting Company Chairman Valery Skvartsou last month. JM

KYIV ADMITS DOWNING RUSSIAN AIRLINER...

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk told journalists in Kyiv on 13 October that the 4 October crash of a Russian Tu-154 jetliner with 78 people aboard was caused by an errant missile fired by Ukrainian antiaircraft defense troops from the Crimean Peninsula. Kuzmuk's statement came after Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said earlier the same day that, according to an expert conclusion, the crash was caused by an S-200 missile exploding some 15 meters from the plane. Kuzmuk did not explain how the missile came to miss the drone it was targeted on and instead zeroed in on the plane, saying only that further investigation is needed. JM

...OFFERS APOLOGIES TO VICTIMS' FAMILIES

"I offer my apologies to the families and relatives of the tragically deceased, as well as to the president, the government, the Supreme Council, and the Ukrainian people for harming the prestige of the state," Interfax quoted Kuzmuk as saying. Kuzmuk was speaking at a news conference during which Ukrainian Air-Defense Forces commander Volodymyr Tkachov announced that he and his deputy have tendered their resignations over the crash. As for Kyiv's previous denials of its responsibility for the crash (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 9 October 2001), Tkachov said that "we were sure that it was not our guilt. At that time [in the first days after the crash], we had the full right to say so -- a lot of evidence, including data from an objective inspection as well as technical parameters of the firing, added to our confidence." JM

MONUMENT TO UKRAINIAN NATIONALIST LEADER ERECTED IN DROHOBYCH

A five-meter granite monument to Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) leader Stepan Bandera was unveiled in Drohobych, western Ukraine, on 14 October, Interfax reported. The unveiling ceremony was attended by Bandera's relatives as well as representatives of local authorities and parliamentary deputies. The OUN cooperated with Nazi Germany's authorities, hoping to build Ukrainian statehood with their support after the German attack on the USSR in 1941. On 30 June 1941 in Lviv, the OUN faction led by Bandera proclaimed "the renewal of the Ukrainian state." The Germans reacted by arresting Bandera and other OUN activists and placing them in a concentration camp. Bandera was murdered by a KGB agent in Munich in 1959. JM

ESTONIAN MINISTER ADMITS ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM BOGGED DOWN

Interior Minister Tarmo Loodus admitted that the government will not be able to carry out its territorial administrative reform plans to reduce the number of local governments from 247 to 80-90 before the next elections in the fall of 2002, BNS reported on 12 October. Loodus noted that most local governments oppose any radical reform and, unlike his Pro Patria Union, the coalition partner Reform Party has clearly expressed its position that any unions of local governments should be voluntary and not mandatory. The European Union Committee for Regions President Jos Chabert declared during a visit to Estonia earlier in the week that 247 local governments is clearly too many for a country with a population of 1.4 million. He mentioned that Belgium established a more efficient system of local governments by reducing their number from 600 to 200. SG

FINLAND URGES LATVIA TO HURRY UP WITH EU TALKS

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja told his Latvian counterpart Indris Berzins in Helsinki on 12 October that Latvia should try to complete as many chapters as possible in EU negotiations before the end of Spain's presidency of the European Union on 30 June 2002, and to leave the most complicated problems for last, BNS reported. The ministers also spoke about the global situation following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States and agreed that the fight against terrorism should not have any effect on the expansion of the EU and NATO. When asked later about the most complicated issues in the EU talks, Berzins said Latvia does not have any major problems, only "sensitive issues," for example, agriculture and fishing in the Gulf of Riga. He also delivered a lecture about Latvian-Finnish relations and their future prospects during the information day about Latvia as an EU candidate, which was organized by the Latvian Embassy in Finland and the European Commission. SG

LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SPEAKS AT ERFURT CONFERENCE

During a working visit to Germany on 12 October, Antanas Valionis delivered a speech at the Erfurt conference titled "Together in a Single Europe" in which he emphasized the 10th anniversary of Lithuanian-German diplomatic relations, ELTA reported. Noting that although some people in Lithuania and other new democratic states in Eastern Europe thought that their countries would immediately join NATO and the EU, NATO has so far admitted only three new members and the EU none. Valionis said that enlargement is an increasingly likely reality, as evidenced by the dynamic pace of talks and preparations, and that Lithuania will enter Europe as a country with a clear understanding of its role in an effective Euro-Atlantic alliance. Valionis discussed with Michael Steiner, an adviser to the German chancellor, Lithuania's role in the antiterrorist coalition and its contribution to security as well as the increasing support for NATO membership in Lithuania. SG

POLAND'S FREEDOM UNION ELECTS NEW LEADER

The Solidarity-rooted Freedom Union (UW), which failed to win even one parliamentary seat in the 23 September election, held an extraordinary congress on 14 October, Polish media reported. The UW leader, 69-year-old Bronislaw Geremek, resigned from his post at the congress and was replaced by 46-year-old Wladyslaw Frasyniuk. Geremek told the congress that the UW fell victim to public discontent during the four-year term of the Solidarity-led cabinet in which the UW participated as a coalition partner until mid-2000. "We want society to begin longing for the Freedom Union and to believe that we are a response to the revolution of populism," Frasyniuk said after his election, urging UW activists "to stop splitting hairs and to work hard after tomorrow." JM

POLISH PREMIER DESIGNATE ALLAYS EU FEARS OVER COALITION PARTNER...

Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leader and Prime Minister designate Leszek Miller on 12 October said the EU should not be afraid of the SLD's Euroskeptic coalition partner, the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), Polish Television reported. "Perhaps Brussels is a prisoner of various stereotypes, some of which were still partly justified several years ago, but at present the PSL, at least its major part represented by [PSL leader and Deputy Prime Minister designate] Jaroslaw Kalinowski, is a modern, European party," Miller noted. JM

...GETS READY FOR SMOOTH POWER HANDOVER

Miller met with outgoing Premier Jerzy Buzek on 13 October to discuss security issues, EU membership talks, and the procedure for the handover of power. "I give assurances that the handing over of power will take place in a manner that is efficient and fluent, and so that citizens not feel this," Polish Television quoted Buzek as saying. Miller said he expects that his cabinet will be sworn in on 19 October and new ministers will assume their duties later the same day. "We consulted [the cabinet lineup] earlier many times, and I will sign these nominations with the conviction that these are good people," President Aleksander Kwasniewski declared the same day. JM

POLICE INVESTIGATING WHETHER ATTA RAN BUSINESSES IN CZECH REPUBLIC

Police are investigating possible business operations in Prague by Mohamed Atta, one of the suspects in the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, AP reported on 12 October, citing Interior Minister Stanislav Gross. The daily "Hospodarske noviny" one day earlier wrote that one of the aliases used by Atta was Mohamed Sayed, and that two companies operating in the Czech Republic are listed under names similar to that alias. A Mohamed Sayed Ahmed is listed as owner of the Prague-based Electric Construction Company, founded in 1995, and a Sayed Mohammad Saeed Shah is listed with interests in ANS Holding -- a trading company with owners in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, and Pakistan -- which was also founded in 1995. Meanwhile, Czech Premier Milos Zeman on 12 October denied reports that Atta had twice met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). "Atta spent a day in the Czech Republic in transit at Prague airport, but neither before nor after was he in the country again," Reuters quoted Zeman as saying. MS

CZECH DAILY SAYS U.S. URGING PRAGUE TO PURCHASE USED F-16

According to the daily "Pravo," the U.S. is urging the Czech government to purchase second-hand F-16 supersonic fighters to show solidarity with the struggle against international terrorism, CTK reported on 15 October. The daily reported that the United States wants the Czech cabinet to cancel the tender for the purchase of between 24 and 36 fighter jets, which now has the British-Swedish BAE systems consortium as the lone bidder. The daily said the 10-year-old F-16s would be considerably cheaper, but would necessitate "hundreds of million of dollars" for refurbishing. "Pravo" also reported that the U.S. has promised to help market the Czech-made L-159 subsonic fighter abroad as part of the envisaged deal. In other news, the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes," citing Jan Petras, chief of the army's military medical service, reported on 15 October that the army's medical staff has been placed on the highest possible alert to detect the possible use of biological weapons, particularly anthrax. MS

CZECH PREMIER SAYS NATO SHOULD RECONSIDER RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA...

In an interview with the daily "Prazke slovo" on 15 October, Premier Zeman said the time has come for NATO to reconsider its relation with Russia, CTK reported. "The world changes, and we change with it. Ten years ago, after the experience of the Soviet occupation of 1968, nobody would have thought that we shall [one day] view Russia as a friendly country," Zeman said. He added that in his opinion "in the long-run perspective, if Russia wishes to enter NATO, one should ponder over that possibility, because in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attack on the U.S., fighting terrorism has become NATO's main objective." MS

...VISITS GERMANY

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on 12 October told visiting Czech Premier Zeman in Berlin that the two countries' divergent opinions over the safety of the Temelin nuclear power plant will not delay the Czech Republic's admission to the EU, dpa reported. In addition, Schroeder said that German concerns over Temelin will not have any impact on closing the energy chapter in Prague's negotiations with the EU. Also on 12 October, Zeman lectured in Berlin on "The Two Faces of Euroskepticism" and said that skeptics in Eastern Europe doubt the EU is able or willing to help candidate countries, while skeptics in Western Europe doubt those candidate countries can effectively use EU aid and believe the aid will be consumed rather than invested. Zeman said the Czech Republic is "lucky" not to have a "rich brother" as eastern Germany had after the collapse of the communist regime and to have learned how to effectively use funds directed to it from the EU. MS

CZECH PRESIDENT OPENS FORUM 2000 CONFERENCE

President Vaclav Havel, opening the fifth meeting of the Forum 2000 international conference in Prague on 14 October, said that the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States were a "challenge to mankind" and as such raised the question of whether mankind's focus should continue to be on technological progress rather than on spiritual values, CTK reported. This year's Forum 2000 meeting is called "Human Rights and the Search for Global Responsibility." Havel said in his opening speech that the terrorist attack has given the conference a "special urgency" because beyond the attack itself there is a "certain sign, a certain warning, a certain message, a certain challenge to this civilization." He said that the world has always had its fanatics, "but they never had this giant chance to hit the whole planet, to threaten the lives of so many people," which is made possible due to the fact that modern technologies give terrorists vast opportunities. This year's Forum 2000, a conference gathering prominent thinkers, spiritual leaders, and politicians, is also being attended by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. MS

'FIGARO' APOLOGIZES TO HAVEL OVER FALSE ATTRIBUTION

The French daily "Le Figaro" on 13 October apologized to President Havel for having published on 11 October an article attributed to Havel that he did not author (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). The daily said the article had been sent to its editorial offices by the Prague branch of the Project Syndicate agency and that "Le Figaro" had no reasons to doubt its authenticity, as Project Syndicate has in the past provided articles that created no problems. Project Syndicate has not commented on the affair in any way. MS

CZECH PROSECUTION APPEALS DECISION OVER TUTTER CASE

The Prosecutor-General's Office in Prague on 13 October appealed the decision of a Prague court to stop prosecuting former communist officials Jaroslav Klima and Jaroslav David on the grounds that the statute of limitations applies to the offense attributed to them. The two were charged with having prevented the prosecution of Nazi war criminal Werner Tutter in 1966 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2001). MS

SMK DEFINITELY STAYING IN SLOVAK RULING COALITION

The National Council of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) on 13 October approved the assessment of the SMK leadership that the coalition partners have met the conditions of the SMK for not leaving the government by having the parliament approve legislation on the reform of the civil service, Reuters and CTK reported. MS

AMBIVALENT SLOVAK REACTION TO OSI REPORT ON ROMA SITUATION

Slovak officials reacted ambivalently to the annual report published on 11 October by the Open Society Institute (OSI) on the situation of the Roma in Slovakia, CTK reported on 13 October. The report said discrimination of the Romany population is continuing and Slovak politicians express racist opinions about the Roma. It also criticized the fact that most Roma do not have a permanent residence address and for this reason cannot participate in elections or benefit from their rights pertaining to education and health care. A spokesman for Deputy Premier Pal Csaky, who is in charge of human rights and minority problems, said he doubts that the report reflects Slovak realities. Peter Miklosi also emphasized that Premier Mikulas Dzurinda's cabinet has been the first to admit that a "Romany problem" exists in Slovakia. Mikulas added that the issue is one that requires action by all members of the Visegrad group. Klara Orgovanova, government commissioner for Romany affairs, said she welcomes the report because it will advance solving Romany problems, but added that the OSI tends to be overly critical and that the report includes many inaccuracies. MS

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT, UNIONS FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT

A "tripartite" meeting held on 12 October between members of the government, representatives of trade unions, and employers' representatives ended in failure to overcome differences, and CTK described the situation as "even more tense" after the talks. The unions are objecting to the government's intention to increase prices for energy by 19 percent and are threatening to take labor action. Ivan Saktor, chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ), said after the meeting that the Council of Economic and Social Agreement -- more commonly known as "the tripartite" -- cannot be turned into a body that "dictates to social partners." Premier Dzurinda said in response that "it is easier to conduct politics on the street, hamper solutions, and threaten [profitability of] enterprises that work well," than to seek "honest solutions" that would help the employees. Dzurinda also accused the KOZ leadership of "becoming politicized." MS

HUNGARIAN ARMED FORCES TRAINED TO DETECT ANTHRAX

The health staff of the Hungarian armed forces is being trained to detect the appearance of anthrax bacteria, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 15 October. The staff said, however, that there is no justification at present to obtain and distribute anthrax antibiotics either in the army or among the civilian population, as anthrax can be easily treated if detected in time. In other news, the Spanish newspaper "El Mundo" reported, citing British intelligence sources, that last summer several members of the Basque terrorist organization ETA visited Budapest seeking weapons from Iraqi agents and members of the Russian mafia. The ETA members reportedly wanted to buy some 5,000 kilos of explosives, 2,000 detonators, 300 hand grenades, 500 pistols, and 200 machine guns. "Magyar Hirlap" quoted the Spanish newspaper as saying that the deal ultimately fell through and the ETA members disappeared without a trace. MSZ

HUNGARIAN TOWN'S RESIDENTS PROTEST REFUGEE CENTER

Residents of Kalocsa on 12 October demonstrated against the government's recent decision to set up a refugee detention center in the town, which will host mainly Afghan refugees. Mayor Andor Gusztav Torok told the rally that the former barracks chosen to house the center is unsuitable for refugees because it was the site of a meningitis outbreak two years ago and is too close to the Paks nuclear power plant. Interior Ministry Chief of Staff Laszlo Valenta said the government will not revoke its decision. He added, however, that refugees from the former war in Yugoslavia who are still living in Hungary, not Afghans, will be moved to the center, Hungarian media reported. MSZ

SOROS DONATES $250 MILLION TO UNIVERSITY IN BUDAPEST

George Soros, the Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire and philanthropist, on 13 October announced the creation of a $250 million endowment for the Budapest-based Central European University (CEU), which he founded in 1991, Hungarian media reported. The endowment, the largest in European higher education, will ensure that the university can continue its critical mission of educating leaders from emerging democracies throughout the world. Speaking at CEU's 10th anniversary festivities in Budapest's Vigado Hall, Soros said, "While the collapse of the Soviet system is now 10 years in the past, the main challenge for this institution will be to develop and build globalization. We have global markets, but we do not have global institutions to match." The CEU has grown into the leading post-graduate school in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, with some 4,000 students having completed their courses since its establishment. MSZ




MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON REFERENDUM DESPITE PROTESTS

The Macedonian parliament was set to meet on 15 October to vote on submitting constitutional changes agreed upon in the August peace agreement to a popular referendum, a move that could endanger the peace process, Reuters and dpa reported. Western envoys have urged the parliament to reject the idea, as it was not included in the Ohrid peace plan and could bring the fragile agreement to an end. "We are coming to a crucial stage of the political process. It will be tense, nasty, and frustrating in the next couple of weeks," one Skopje-based Western diplomat said. Representatives of the ethnic Albanian parties also condemned the vote. "The referendum has the tendency to block the peace process -- it's unacceptable for us," said Aziz Polozani of the Democratic Party of Albanians. DW

EU NAMES FRENCH DIPLOMAT AS NEW MACEDONIA ENVOY

The European Union on 12 October named Alain Le Roy to succeed fellow Frenchman Francois Leotard as its special representative in Macedonia, AP and Reuters reported. Le Roy, who has served with the UN in Kosova and then Bosnia, is currently the Foreign Ministry's coordinator for the international Stability Pact in the Balkans. "Mr. Le Roy is a highly talented diplomat with substantial experience of the Balkans," said Javier Solana, the EU's foreign and security policy representative. Leotard is to step down from his post on 29 October for personal reasons. DW

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR CALLS FOR DEBT RELIEF FOR YUGOSLAVIA

Kicking off a three-day visit to Belgrade, Wolfgang Schuessel said that his country will support Yugoslavia's efforts to win debt relief from the $12.2 billion it owes to creditor nations and institutions, AP reported on 12 October. He also promised $7 million in aid to go to welfare and to support the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. DW

MARKOVIC: REFORMISTS OFFERED ME MONEY TO BLAME MILOSEVIC

The former chief of state security under President Slobodan Milosevic, Radomir Markovic, said at his trial for allegedly arranging an assassination attempt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001) that members of the reformist Serbian government had offered him money to implicate Milosevic, Reuters reported on 12 October. He said he was taken to a government villa four months after his February arrest to meet with Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic and others. "Mihajlovic suggested I should claim responsibility and say Milosevic ordered it," he told the court. "In return I would get immunity from prosecution, I could go to the country of my choice with my family and I would have enough money for the rest of my life," he said. "I rejected it." Mihajlovic denied this. "I have no idea what Markovic is talking about. It's up to him to explain that." DW

KOSOVA POLICE DETAINED IN YUGOSLAVIA RELEASED

The six members of the Kosovo Police Service detained by Yugoslav forces in the republic of Yugoslavia on 11 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001), were released after more than 24 hours, dpa reported on 13 October. The release of the five men and one woman was negotiated by the KFOR peacekeeping troops and they were able to return on 12 October. DW

BOSNIAN MUSLIM LEADER IZETBEGOVIC STEPS DOWN...

Alija Izetbegovic, who led Bosnia's mainly Muslim central government during much of past decade, stepped down as head of the nationalist Party of Democratic Action (SDA) on 13 October at a party congress, Western agencies reported. "Development of the economy and creation of more jobs must be an imperative of our policy," Izetbegovic said, adding that only a strong and stabile economy can lead Bosnia toward political integrity and stability. The last of the signatories to the 1995 Dayton peace treaty to leave office, the 76-year-old former president had confirmed on 12 October that he would leave politics, citing poor health and age. He was unanimously voted lifelong honorary president of the party he helped form in May 1990. AH

...AS SDA PARTY PASSES MANTLE TO TIHIC

Delegates of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) on 13 October elected Sulejman Tihic to lead the party following Alija Izetbegovic's departure, Western agencies reported. Tihic is the Muslim deputy speaker of the parliament in the Bosnian Serb-run Srpska Republika. Delegates to the third SDA congress also elected Adnan Terzic as the party's vice president and Edhem Bicakcic, Seada Paravlic, Elmir Jahic, and Mirsad Kebo as deputy chairmen, dpa reported. The SDA also made a major decision to move toward the political center from a more right-wing nationalist position, becoming more open to non-Muslim Bosnians, dpa said. The party was originally defined as a political organization "of people from the Muslim cultural-historical circle." The SDA gathering added it will advocate changes and upgrades to the Dayton peace agreement, in hopes of further strengthening Bosnia's integrity. AH

CROATIAN CABINET HOLDS CRISIS MEETING OVER 23 DIALYSIS DEATHS

Government ministers convened on 15 October to respond to the deaths of 23 kidney patients in the past week as investigators sought to determine the cause of the tragedies, dpa reported. All of the patients, 13 women and 10 men in hospitals in Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Sibenik, and Pula, were treated using dialysis filters manufactured by a U.S. firm, Baxters, according to Western news agencies. Representatives of that company insisted the dialyzers were independently tested and proven safe, although Spanish authorities still have not cleared use of the filters pending a probe of 10 deaths there of patients who reportedly also used the same company's products, dpa said. Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan told a news conference that his government had been aware of the Spanish cases, but added that Pliva, the Croatian importer, had received written guarantees from Baxter that the imported equipment was safe. Racan said investigations so far have led to suspicion that the filters "could have caused these tragic events." Health Minister Ana Stavljenic Rukavina offered her resignation on 14 October following the recent deaths, though Racan rejected it and instead called for an investigation. AH

CROATIAN COLLECTIVE BARGAINING TO CONTINUE 19 OCTOBER

The parties to talks on a collective agreement for Croatia's civil servants signed a protocol for negotiations on 12 October, opening the way for renewed bargaining from 19 October, Hina reported. The government and public sector unions have been unable to agree even on the starting point for the talks since the government abandoned the existing agreement as a basis for negotiations. The starting point for the new talks will be two drafts, one from the government and the other from unions, labor leader Ivica Ihas said on 12 October, according to Hina. AH

OSCE CALLS ON ALBANIAN OPPOSITION TO DROP BOYCOTT

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's ambassador to Albania has urged that country's opposition Our Union for Victory to call off a boycott of June election results and "take its place in parliament," Reuters reported on 12 October. Geert-Hinrich Ahrens conceded there were serious flaws in the election process, but recommended that politicians "stop the incessant internal political bickering and move ahead." The agency also cited an OSCE report published on 12 October that criticized the election. The report said the vote marked progress over past polls, a reference to 1997 elections held amid anarchy caused by the collapse of pyramid schemes. But it said "serious irregularities in the voting process, including cases of ballot-box stuffing and use of premarked ballots, were noted in a limited number of zones," Reuters reported. The OSCE ambassador also said Albania could and should "act much more vigorously against organized crime, trafficking of drugs, arms and human beings, and corruption," Reuters reported. AH

ROMANIAN PREMIER ANNOUNCES INCREASED BORDER SURVEILLANCE...

Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said on 12 October that Romania has increased border surveillance to prevent the possibility of an "influx of Afghan refugees," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The same day, Romanian border police detained 18 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia, Somalia, Bangladesh, and Lebanon who had crossed the border from Moldova. The refugees had been told by their Egyptian guide that they were in Germany and that he would meet them in the next locality. Each had paid $3,000 to the guide to be led across the border, but he disappeared. On 13 October, Romanian television reported that German Interior Minister Otto Schilly, in a letter to his Romanian counterpart Ioan Rus, said Romania has made considerable progress in improving the security of its borders and has fulfilled the EU conditions for lifting visa requirement on citizens who travel within the Schengen system. The same day, Nastase said Romania will fully implement the EU conditions even before the visa requirement is lifted, as is expected, on 1 January 2002. MS

...DISAGREES WITH PLAN TO BUILD SPECIAL ROMA NEIGHBORHOODS

Premier Nastase said on 14 October that he is opposed to Piatra-Neamt Mayor Ion Rotaru's plans to build a separate neighborhood for the town's Roma population, Mediafax reported. "I do not believe one can speak of integration and at the same time perceive solutions in terms of ghettoization," Nastase said. President Ion Iliescu on 13 October said the solution proposed by Rotaru is "unwise" and that the problems of the Roma should be solved through "integration rather than isolation." Meanwhile, Public Information Minister Vasile Dancu visited the envisaged construction site in Piatra-Neamt on 12 October and praised Rotaru's project, saying the intention is to build a "very modern complex, unmatched by any other similar project in Romania, at an absolutely Western-like standard." Roma leaders and the Romani Criss association protested the plan. MS

ROMANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME MASTERMIND TO AVOID PRISON

A Bihor tribunal on 12 October ruled that Ioan Stoica, who masterminded the Caritas pyramid scheme in which more than 250,000 Romanians lost their savings in 1994, cannot be sent to prison because his crime falls under the statute of limitations, Romanian television reported. Stoica was sentenced to 22 months in prison by a tribunal in Oradea, but appealed the sentence. Stoica was sentenced to six years in June 1995, but the sentence was later reduced and eventually commuted by the Supreme Court. MS

ROMANIAN PROFESSOR SAYS HE HAS ANTHRAX ANTIDOTE

Professor Ioan Coman of the Iasi Veterinary Medicine Faculty said he has discovered a new substance capable of annihilating "within one minute" the anthrax bacillus, Mediafax reported on 12 October. Coman said the substance works on both animals and human beings and there are no side effects. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER MAKES PUBLIC LETTER TO VORONIN...

Romanian Premier Nastase on 12 October made public the contents of a letter he addressed on 3 October to Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, Mediafax reported. Nastase reiterated in his letter the accusation that Justice Minister Ion Morei's Strasbourg declarations are "inadmissible" and compared them with the "theses of the former Communist (Bolshevik) Party of the Autonomous Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic." The Romanian premier called on Voronin to dismiss Morei. He also wrote that the Moldovan authorities "refuse" to discuss ways of settling a $32 million debt for electricity deliveries from Romania and to implement agreements on the setting up of joint companies. Nastase on 14 October said Interior Minister Ioan Rus will pay a "technical visit" to Chisinau on 16 October, Mediafax reported. Nastase refused to specify what he means by that or what the purpose of Rus's visit will be, saying only that Bucharest wants to continue "technical relations" with Moldova even following the cancellation of his own visit. MS

OSCE MISSION HEAD TO END MOLDOVA MISSION

William Hill, OSCE mission head to Moldova, is ending his mission this week and will be replaced by David Swartz, the former U.S. ambassador to Belarus, Flux reported on 13 October. Hill told the Moldovan agency that some progress has been made in the course of his two-year mission, particularly in dispelling doubt about Russian readiness to implement the decisions of the 1999 November Istanbul OSCE summit, but expressed regret that no agreement could be reached on a special status for Transdniester due to "political reasons." He also said the continued detention in Tiraspol of the three members of the Ilie Ilascu group after Ilascu's own liberation "makes no sense." MS

SIX CANDIDATES CONTEST BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Six candidates will contest the Bulgarian presidential elections on 11 November, BTA reported on 12 October. Apart from President Petar Stoyanov and Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov, the race will include four candidates with slim chances. Former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, who became leader of the Citizens' Party after being removed from Ivan Kostov's cabinet in 1999, is running on a ticket with Atanas Zhelezchev, a former deputy representing the Bulgarian Agrarian Union and a deputy chairman of the previous National Assembly. Renata Indjova, a former caretaker premier, is running on the ticket of the Democratic Alliance with former Bulgarian Ambassador to Libya Krutsyo Ilov as her vice presidential candidate. Maverick politician George Ganchev, seconded by former Deputy Vesselin Bonchev, is running as leader of the George Ganchev Bloc. Ganchev has so far contested all Bulgarian presidential elections and has always come in third place. Finally, Peter Beron, who in 1992 was Ganchev's vice presidential candidate, is now contesting the presidential post on the ticket of the Bulgaria Union. His running mate is retired General Stoyan Andreev, a former national security adviser to President Zhelyu Zhelev. MS




There is no End Note today.





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