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Newsline - October 22, 2001




PUTIN, BUSH AGREE ON COMBATING TERRORISM, NOT ON ABM

At a joint press conference on 21 October following a one-on-one meeting in Shanghai at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush said that they are in complete agreement on the need to combat global terrorism "to the very end," but they did not find common ground on American plans to scrap the 1972 ABM Treaty in order to build a missile shield, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Putin insisted that the ABM accord remains "an important element of stability," but he said Moscow remains prepared to discuss this and all other issues. Overall, Putin said, "Russian-American cooperation is steadily on the rise." Earlier, on 19 October, Putin told the APEC summit that Russia remains "unchanged" in its support for the U.S. counterterrorism effort but that he believes there needs to be a stronger international legal framework in order to overcome terrorism. Specifically, Putin said, "the legal systems of many countries don't give a clear definition of terrorism," a failing he suggested makes it more difficult to fight those who engage in it. Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo and U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice discussed bilateral cooperation against terrorism, Interfax reported on 20 October. VY/PG

PUTIN'S SUPPORT FOR U.S. SAID OPPOSED BY RUSSIAN ELITES

According to an article in "Vremya novostei" on 19 October, members of key Russian elites oppose Putin's backing of the U.S. antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan. Indeed, the paper quoted Andrei Ryabov of the Moscow Carnegie Center as saying, many in Moscow view this split between the president and the elites as being very similar to the Russian political scene during the "late Gorbachev" period. PG

JOURNALISTS, POLITICIANS QUESTION AMERICAN INTENTIONS...

An article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 19 October suggested that the U.S. will not tolerate any interference with its plans and is not even willing to commit "not to using nuclear weapons." Another article in "Izvestiya" the same day said that the U.S. is using the antiterrorist campaign to promote its own interests and to leave Russia in the position of "a poor relation" rather than "a partner." "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 October said that Washington has "bought" Uzbekistan with $8 billion and will use that base to oppose Russian interests in Central Asia. Another article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on the same day said that the United States became "a totalitarian state" at least on 16 October when the Congress was "closed down" because of the anthrax scare and the country was ruled by the president alone. At the same time, Viktor Zorkaltsev, the chairman of the Duma social and religious organizations committee, told Interfax on 19 October that the U.S. is engaging in "a witch hunt" in Afghanistan. And Duma deputy (Russian Regions) Viktor Alksnis said the same day that Moscow should provide Cuba with a security guarantee given the new environment and given the Russian government's decision to close its listening post there, Russian agencies reported. PG

...AS OTHER RUSSIANS OPPOSE ANTITERROR CAMPAIGN

A service was held in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior on 20 October in memory of the victims of the antiterrorist campaign by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Russian agencies reported. On 19 October, leftist radical organizations organized a demonstration of 70-100 people in Moscow's Pushkin Square against what they called U.S. "aggression" against Afghanistan, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, the Stalin Cossack Society organized the same day a slightly larger demonstration -- 150 participants -- against Russian membership in the World Trade Organization, the news agency said. PG

PAPER NOTES 'EPIDEMIC OF FEAR' OVER ANTHRAX IN RUSSIA

"Izvestiya" on 19 October said that suspicious white powder inside envelopes received in various places in Russia is sparking "an epidemic of fear." Russian officials sought to calm the population, with Deputy Health Minister Gennadii Onishchenko saying in an interview published in "Vek" on 19 October that there is no possibility that anthrax could be used for biological warfare. The next day, Federal Security Service officials announced that they had caught an individual in Novosibirsk who had sent letters containing white power, Interfax reported. PG

ACADEMICIAN SAYS ANTHRAX IS NOT A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION

Academician Veniamin Cherkasskii, who works at the Russian Central Epidemiological Institute, said in an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 20 October that anthrax is not a weapon of mass destruction. He said that on the contrary, "the disease itself is not so terrible as the psychosis it causes." Meanwhile, Mels Turyanov, a spokesman for the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, said on 19 October that the spores of anthrax that have been sent by mail to various U.S. political figures and journalists have "a clearly American origin," RTR reported. He noted that only Russia, Iraq, and the U.S. have spores that can be used as biological weapons. He said Russian-produced anthrax could not be involved because unlike the strains reported so far, Russian anthrax is resistant to antibiotic treatment. VY

ZHIRINOVSKY SAYS RUSSIA SHOULD DEMAND CONCESSIONS FROM U.S.

In an interview published in the issue of "Sobesednik" for 18-24 October, Duma deputy speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said Russia's current geopolitical position permits the country's leadership to make certain demands on the United States in exchange for their support of the American antiterrorist effort. "No one should give anything without receiving something in return," Zhirinovsky said. PG

GORBACHEV WANTS ANTITERROR COALITION TO BECOME BASIS FOR NEW WORLD ORDER

In an article published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 20 October, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that the international coalition should quickly convert itself into a coalition for a new and fair world order. He said it should fight poverty because poverty is a seedbed of terrorism. "If the struggle against terrorism is reduced to military action alone," Gorbachev said, "the world will eventually lose." PG

PAPER CRITICIZES U.S. FOR USING 'RESISTANCE' TO DESCRIBE CHECHEN MILITANTS

An article in "Vremya MN" on 19 October criticized U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for saying that "not every Chechen taking part in the resistance is necessarily a terrorist." By using the word "resistance" -- a word that has positive connotations because of its links to the Free French fighters in World War II -- the article said, Powell implied a parallel with Lithuania, noting that "Western countries never recognized the annexation of the Baltic countries by the Soviet Union." This terminological difference, the article continued, points to a deep divide among the members of the antiterrorist coalition. PG

NO PLANS TO RESTRICT ACCESS TO MOSCOW CITY BECAUSE OF AFGHAN EVENTS

Vladimir Ivanov, the chief of the Interior Ministry's Moscow office for visas and registrations, said on 19 October that he sees no reason for restricting the entrance into the city of foreigners because of events in Afghanistan, Interfax-Moscow reported. He further noted that 2,671 people from the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have become permanent residents of the Russian capital during the last 12 months, the news agency said. During the same period, he said, 4,502 people were forcibly expelled from the Russian capital. PG

'IZVESTIYA' CONTINUES TO HIGHLIGHT NUMBER OF MUSLIMS IN CIS

"Izvestiya" on 19 October carried an article underscoring the large percentage of Muslims in the member countries of the CIS. According to its statistics, Muslims form more than 95 percent of the population in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan; they form approximately 90 percent of the population of Uzbekistan; 65 percent of the population of Kazakhstan; and more than 80 percent of the population of Kyrgyzstan. Within Russia, what the paper called "Muslims by birth" now number 12.5-13 million as "a little under 9 percent" of the population. PG

PUTIN, JIANG URGE SHIFT FROM MILITARY ACTION TO POLITICAL SETTLEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN

In a joint communique issued after their talks at the APEC summit, President Putin and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin on 20 October called for the most rapid possible transition from U.S. military actions in Afghanistan to the search for a political settlement there, ITAR-TASS reported. Both said they back the idea of forming a broad coalition government in Kabul. Concerning bilateral ties between their two countries, the two leaders said Moscow and Beijing are "entering the 21st century as strategic partners in foreign policy as well as economics." VY

RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE VETERAN SUGGESTS DIVISION OF AFGHANISTAN

Nikolai Leonov, a former chief of the Soviet KGB foreign intelligence analysis department, said in an interview published in "Tribuna" on 19 October that Afghanistan might be divided into two sectors, a northern one controlled by pro-Moscow Central Asian states and a southern one in which the United States will inevitably clash with China and Iran. Leonov further suggested that the international situation is now favorable for Moscow because the United States rather than Russia is engaged in a confrontation with the Islamic world. VY

PUTIN TELLS APEC RUSSIA CAN HELP WITH ENERGY, TRANSIT

President Putin on 19 October told the APEC meeting that Russia is making significant economic progress at home and is prepared to help with the construction of "a new energy infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region" as well as to assume responsibility for "stability of world energy markets," Russian and Western news agencies reported. He said Russia is particularly interested in building pipelines to carry its gas to China, Japan, and Korea; in linking Russia's railways with those of North and South Korea; and in developing transit connections with the West Coast of the United States via Russian ports in Asia. He added that Russia is currently exploring the possibility of building highways linking Asia and Europe. He also called on the APEC leaders to support Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization, Russian and Western agencies reported. VY

NAZDRATENKO AGAIN CALLS FOR FISHING MINISTRY

Yevgenii Nazdratenko, the chairman of the State Fisheries Committee, on 19 October repeated his call for the formation of a fisheries ministry, Interfax reported. Nazdratenko said that such a status would give Russia better control over the biological resources in its continental shelf and also equalize Russian representation at international forums on fishing issues. PG

RAILWAYS MINISTER CHARGED WITH ABUSE OF OFFICE

Russian prosecutors on 19 October charged Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko with abuse of office, Interfax reported. Aksenenko, the news service said, avoided arrest by signing a pledge not to leave Moscow. On 20 October, in the face of rumors that he had resigned, Aksenenko told a press conference that he has not resigned and does not plan do. He also said that he had not signed any undertaking not to leave the Russian capital. He said the charges against him are political and reflect "the incompetence of some employees of the prosecutor's office." PG

DUMA APPROVES BUDGET ON SECOND READING

By a vote of 280 for to 23 against, with one abstention, the Duma on 19 October approved on second reading the government's draft budget for 2002, Russian agencies reported. Deputies increased the amount of money allocated for defense and force structures as well as for social needs and cut the amount of money planned to service debts and to support international assistance programs. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said the same day that these changes mean that the political struggle at the time of the third reading of the budget will be complex, Interfax reported. PG

JUSTICE MINISTRY SEES 50 POLITICAL PARTIES IN RUSSIA'S FUTURE

Deputy Justice Minister Yevgenii Sidorenko said on 19 October that approximately 50 political parties have begun to take shape and to contend for influence on Russian society, Interfax reported. He said that 1999 social-political movements are currently registered with his ministry, including approximately 60 political parties. PG

KLINTSEVICH RE-ELECTED HEAD OF AFGHAN VETERANS GROUP

Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy leader of the Unity faction in the Duma, was re-elected as head of the Russian Union of Veterans of Afghanistan at the latter's congress in Cheboksary on 19 October, Interfax reported. PG

NORTHWEST HEADS DISCUSS CREATION OF NORTHERN FEDERAL DISTRICT

Heads of the federation subjects now included in the Northwest federal district have reacted in various ways to a proposal by a group of scholars in Arkhangelsk calling for the creation of a new Northern federal district, Interfax-Northwest reported on 19 October. Karelia head Sergei Katanandov said that in principle he agrees with the idea. Nenets Autonomous Okrug head Vladimir Butov said that such a move to create larger federal units would require amending the constitution, which he termed "a minus." PG

PROSECUTORS SEEK TO DISSOLVE ALTAI PARLIAMENT

Valentin Simurchenkov, the deputy general prosecutor in the Siberian Federal District, has asked the authorities there to dissolve the parliament of the Altai Republic because of that body's failure to harmonize its legislation with federal laws, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 19 September. PG

NEW UNITS TO BE SET UP IN MOSCOW POLICE DISTRICTS

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 19 October has directed the formation of police dog units in the Russian capital as part of an anticrime initiative, Interfax-Moscow reported. PG

ENERGY OFFICIALS MEET IN DAGHESTAN CAPITAL

In a meeting whose site -- Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan -- was symbolic in and of itself, the All-Russian Conference of Energy Officials on 18 October called attention to Russia's dominant position in oil and gas pipelines extending from the Caspian basin to the West, "Izvestiya" reported the following day. Meanwhile, on 19 October, Russian gas giant Gazprom said that it does not believe it is possible to sign new contracts on supplying gas to European markets because of turmoil in the market, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

MOSCOW PAYS $1 BILLION TO IMF AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

Poul Thomsen, the Moscow representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said on 19 October that the Russian Central Bank has repaid almost $1 billion of debt to the IMF ahead of schedule, Russian and Western news agencies reported. PG

INFLATION PROJECTED TO BE 1.2 PERCENT IN OCTOBER

First Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Ulyukaev said on 19 October that consumer prices are likely to rise 1.2 percent for the month of October and that inflation for 2001 is likely to total between 17 and 18 percent, Interfax-AFI reported. PG

IMPROVED TAX COLLECTIONS MAY MAKE MORE RATE CUTS POSSIBLE

Tax Minister Gennadii Bukaev said on 18 October that improved tax collection -- which has resulted in the government collecting 2 percent more of GDP in 2001 than it did in 2000 -- may make it possible to cut marginal tax rates, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the following day. Bukaev said that the improved rate of collection reflects improved tax administration as well as the already introduced lower marginal rates that individuals and industries were more willing to pay. PG

DESPITE ECONOMIC GROWTH, AMOUNT OF BACK WAGES OWED RISES

According to a report in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 October, the amount of back wages owed to workers rose 4.4 percent in September to 34.17 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) despite economic growth. Meanwhile, the International Labor Organization said that the minimum wage in Russia now amounts to no more than 6 percent of the amount needed for a minimum standard of living, Interfax reported on 19 October. PG

NTV JOURNALISTS WARNED TO OBEY THE LAW

Sergei Shevtsov, the spokesman of the Interior Ministry units in Moscow, told Interfax on 19 October that the television journalists detained earlier that day after going into a prohibited zone around the city's water supply were from NTV and had been warned to obey the law. He said that such obedience was especially important at a time of increased activity by "international terrorist organizations." Meanwhile, the same day a lawyer for embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky told Interfax that Russian prosecutors have issued a warrant for Berezovsky to appear to answer questions regarding new charges against him, Interfax reported. PG

'KURSK' PUT IN DOCK

A spokesman for Russia's Northern Fleet said on 21 October that the operation to place the pontoons-barge-Kursk submarine system in a floating dock at Roslyakovo is "over," Interfax-Northwest reported. But the system remains floating and the dry dock will not be pumped out for another day. Meanwhile, Vladimir Ustinov, the Russian prosecutor-general, said on 20 October that he would personally begin examining the "Kursk" submarine on 22 October, Interfax reported. PG

IMPROVED PATENT PROTECTION FOR SECRET PROJECTS URGED

An article in "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 39, argued that the government and the Duma must expand patent protection for inventions that arise during secret government research programs. The same issue of the military weekly review noted that the U.S. successfully recruited spies in Soviet and Russian institutions just as Moscow has had success in doing the same thing in the United States. PG

FIRST RUSSIAN STUDY ON INFORMATION WAR PUBLISHED

"Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 39, carried a review of a new book entitled "Information Challenges of National and International Security," prepared by a group of Russian scholars and published by the PIR-Center. The review said that this is the first Russian publication devoted to the defensive and offensive aspects of information security. PG

NEO-NAZIS, FOREIGN STUDENTS CLASH IN ST. PETERSBURG

"Novaya gazeta," No. 76, reported that Russian neo-Nazis clashed with foreign students in the northern capital on 13-14 October but that city officials have "prefer[red] to ignore its racist violence problems." One of the reasons for the officials' position, the paper suggested, are claims by the neo-Nazi racists that "up to 30 percent of all Russians support the racist slogan 'Russia for the Russians!'" PG

SLAVERY SAID 'A NORMAL THING' IN RUSSIAN ARMY

According to an article in "Tribuna" on 16 October, slavery in the Russian army is "a normal thing." Officers "very often" use soldiers as a source of free labor for their own projects and often hire them out to private entrepreneurs who then do not have to pay for the labor involved. A military prosecutor in Ivanovo said that his office alone launches "two to three cases" concerning such slavery each year, but the paper said that "slavery in the army flourishes." PG

NONFERROUS EXPORT REVENUES FALL

A spokesman for the Industry and Science Ministry said on 20 October that revenues from the export of nonferrous metals dropped 19 percent in the first nine months of 2001 compared to the same period in 2000, RBK reported. The spokesman said that declining demand due to recession abroad has combined with increased domestic demand due to Russia's economic growth to send the level of exports and hence revenues from them down. VY

RUSSIAN PR SPECIALISTS MARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY

The members of the Russian Association of Public Relations on 18 October marked the 10th anniversary of their group and of the role of PR specialists in the Russian economy, "Izvestiya" reported the following day. PG

TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY MARKS CENTENARY

After President Putin intervened to choose among six dates proposed as being the most appropriate one, the Trans-Siberian Railroad marked its 100th birthday on 21 October, Russian and Western agencies reported. It was on that date a century ago that construction crews from the east and west linked up at Pogranichnaya station near the Chinese border. PG

ECOLOGIST WARNS OF GROWING ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT TO HEALTH

Viktor Danilov-Danilian, the head of the Ecological Union of Russia, on 19 October said that increasing environmental pollution -- which now amounts to two tons per Russian per year -- threatens the health and well-being of the people of Russia, Interfax reported. He argued that the current ecological protection bill being considered by the Duma will do little to change this situation. Meanwhile, Russian officials announced the opening of a new plant in Severodvinsk to process low-level radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. PG

WEBSITE ESTABLISHED FOR 2002 CENSUS

Strana.ru reported on 17 October the opening of a new website -- http://www.perepis2002.ru -- in support of the Russian census scheduled for 9-16 October 2002. Meanwhile, Vilya Gelbras, a Sinologist at Moscow State University, said in an interview published in "Vremya MN" on 19 October that he sees no danger of a massive influx of Chinese migrants into Siberia in the near future. At the same time, Gelbras added, such an influx could prove destabilizing later. PG

ROMA DEPORTED FROM KRASNODAR KRAI

Over 100 Roma from a dozen extended families have been forcibly expelled from Krasnodar Krai to Voronezh, their registered place of residence, Glasnost North Caucasus reported on 20 October. The rationale cited for the expulsion was that the Roma were engaged in drug trafficking, even though the Krasnodar police have not brought drug-trafficking charges against any of them. LF




ANTHRAX SCARES REPORTED IN ARMENIA, KAZAKHSTAN

Armenian Deputy Interior Minister Ararat Makhtesian confirmed on 19 October that the Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs, and Sport received a letter earlier that day containing a suspicious white powder, Noyan Tapan reported. Makhtesian said tests were being conducted and it was not clear at that juncture whether the powder contained anthrax spores. Also on 19 October, the Almaty office of the National Bank of Kazakhstan was evacuated and eight employees were placed under medical supervision after the delivery of a letter containing a white powder, Interfax reported. LF

ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES ITS FORMER BOSS IS IN ARMENIA

Makhtesian also said on 19 October that his ministry doubts claims by two residents of the village of Voskepar in Tavush Raion to have sighted former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian, Noyan Tapan reported. Siradeghian is widely believed to have fled Armenia after parliament deputies voted in April 2000 to lift his immunity to allow him to be taken into custody for the duration of his trial on charges of commissioning several political murders (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2000). Makhtesian said his ministry is working with the authorities of an unspecified country to clarify information that Siradeghian is in hiding abroad. LF

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO ARMENIA

Visiting Yerevan on 18-19 October, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko discussed expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Bilateral trade turnover doubled during the first six months of this year to reach $14.6 million, according to Noyan Tapan. Zlenko also reaffirmed Kyiv's interest in participation in construction of the planned Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. Zlenko's talks with his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian and with Armenian President Robert Kocharian focused on the Karabakh conflict. Zlenko, who visited Azerbaijan and Georgia before arriving in Armenia, told Oskanian that "despite bellicose statements," Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev is committed to seeking a peaceful solution of the conflict. Oskanian said Ukraine is ready to contribute to seeking such a solution and that Armenia will work with Kyiv in the coming months to that end. LF

ARMENIA TO RECEIVE DELAYED WORLD BANK LOAN TRANCHE

A World Bank representative in Yerevan announced on 19 October that the bank will release next month the second tranche, worth approximately $15 million, of an SAC loan intended to cover almost half of Armenia's anticipated budget deficit for this year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The tranche was originally scheduled to be made available in September, but was delayed because of the shortfall in tax revenues that totaled 17 percent over the first nine months of the year. The third and final tranche of the loan is contingent on the "transparent and open" privatization of four energy distribution networks. LF

JUDGES OF NEW ARMENIAN ECONOMIC COURT SWORN IN

The chairman and six remaining members of Armenia's economic arbitration court were sworn in at the presidential palace in Yerevan on 20 October, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The court was established by parliament earlier this year and will resolve commercial disputes between private businesses, government agencies, and individual citizens. LF

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN

Ismail Cem held talks in Baku on 21 October with Azerbaijani President Aliev, Turan reported. Discussing the international situation following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, Aliyev again argued that both Azerbaijan and Turkey have repeatedly been the target of Armenian terrorism. He agreed to Cem's proposal that the Turcophone former Soviet republics should provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The two also discussed the planned Baku-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum export pipelines for oil and gas respectively, and the situation in Georgia. LF

DEFENSE MINISTER CONFIRMS U.S. IS USING AZERBAIJAN'S AIRSPACE

The U.S. has been making use of Azerbaijan's airspace since the beginning of the ongoing antiterrorist strikes against targets in Afghanistan, Colonel General Safar Abiev told journalists in Baku on 20 October, according to Interfax. Turan quoted presidential administration official Novruz Mamedov as saying the same day that the aircraft in question are transporting humanitarian aid and unspecified equipment needed for the antiterrorist operation. LF

AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION RALLY PROCEEDS WITHOUT VIOLENT INCIDENTS

Several thousand people attended a demonstration in Baku on 20 October organized by the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), Turan reported. The participants called on political parties to "unite in the struggle" against the present Azerbaijani leadership, according to AP. They demanded that the government end human rights abuses, take measures to reduce unemployment, release political prisoners, close the criminal cases against DPA Chairman Rasul Quliev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April and 14 December 1998), and abandon its "defeatist" policy with regard to resolving the Karabakh conflict. Several hundred police observed the proceedings but did not intervene. LF

AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT AMENDS ELECTION LEGISLATION

Parliament deputies voted on 19 October overwhelmingly in favor of amending the law on the Central Election Commission to empower that body to conduct referenda, Turan and RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. It is not clear whether that move was made in anticipation that any proposed political settlement of the Karabakh conflict be submitted to a nationwide referendum. LF

VIOLATIONS REPORTED DURING GEORGIAN BY-ELECTION

According to preliminary returns, former Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili defeated 10 rival candidates to win election in the Tbilisi district of Vake in a by-election on 21 October, winning 64.4 percent of the vote, Caucasus Press reported. Three other candidates withdrew from the race on 19 October. Saakashvili's closest rival, National Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia, polled 9.7 percent. It is not clear whether the Central Electoral Commission will recognize the validity of the ballot as the ballot box was stolen from one of the 48 polling stations shortly before the close of polling. Sarishvili-Chanturia on 22 October accused Tbilisi Mayor Vano Zodelava of falsifying the poll outcome and demanded that he resign. As anticipated, former Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze garnered up to 80 percent of the vote in the west Georgian constituency of Baghdadi (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 26, 13 July 2001). LF

GEORGIAN INSURGENTS TO APPEAL SENTENCES

Two members of the military formation headed by Colonel Akaki Eliava intend to appeal the sentences handed down to them on 18 October by Georgia's Supreme Court, lawyer Sevdia Ugrekhelidze told Caucasus Press the following day. One of the men was jailed for two and the other for four years for their role in a hostage-taking at a police station in the west Georgian town of Zestafoni in July 2000 during which Eliava was killed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July 2000). LF

GEORGIAN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE REVIEWS ABKHAZ SITUATION

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze chaired a session on 20 October of Georgia's National Security Council, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Participants discussed the implementation of measures outlined in the Georgian parliament's resolution on Abkhazia, which calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis along the border between Abkhazia the rest of Georgia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2001). LF

ICRC VISITS PRISONERS IN ABKHAZIA

The International Committee of the Red Cross on 15 October visited nine men taken prisoner during the recent fighting in Abkhazia's Kodori gorge, according to a press release of 19 October. The men's nationality was not specified. LF

KAZAKH ECOLOGY OFFICIAL SLAMS PROPOSAL TO STORE NUCLEAR WASTE

Kairat Aitekenov, the chairman of the Environment Protection Committee of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, told a conference in Almaty on 19 October on storing nuclear waste that his ministry opposes recent proposals by other Kazakh officials that the country should import and store nuclear waste, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July and 19 October 2001). He said doing so would be tantamount to "solving economic problems while ignoring environmental ones." LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AMENDS CONSTITUTION TO GIVE RUSSIAN STATUS OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

The People's Assembly (the upper chamber of Kyrgyzstan's bicameral parliament) voted in the first reading on 19 October to amend the constitution to formally designate Russian as an official language, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Both parliament chambers endorsed legislation last year granting Russian such status (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 2001). LF

UZBEKISTAN RESUMES GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan on 20 October after a hiatus of several days, a senior energy official told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15, 16, and 19 October 2001). Under an agreement signed during a visit to Tashkent last week by the first deputy director of the Kyrgyz state-owned Kyrgyzenergo, Ilyas Davydov, Kyrgyzenergo will receive 300 million cubic meters of gas from Uzbekistan and purchase 532 million kilowatt-hours of electricity between now and 31 March 2002. Uzbekistan will also supply Kyrgyzstan with heating oil and gasoline. But Tashkent will resume supplies of gas to the state-owned company Kyrgyzgas only after that company pays back debts amounting to $500,000. It is not clear whether Kyrgyzstan agreed in return to rescind measures on charging Uzbekistan for the use of water from Kyrgyz reservoirs that prompted the gas cutoff. LF

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT AFFIRMS SUPPORT IN DUSHANBE FOR AFGHAN OPPOSITION LEADERSHIP

At the invitation of Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov, Vladimir Putin made a three-hour stopover in Dushanbe early on 22 October on his way back to Moscow from the APEC summit in Shanghai for a summit with Rakhmonov and with Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Putin assured Rabbani of Moscow 's support of and recognition for "the internationally recognized government [which has] long been fighting to free its people," AP reported. He also ruled out participation of the Taliban in any future Afghan government, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Dushanbe. In a statement issued after the meeting, the signatories called for the "unconditional fulfillment of the terms of the antiterrorist coalition," the ouster of the Taliban government and the disbanding and disarmament of its armed units, for speeding up measures aimed at a political solution of the civil war in Afghanistan, and for the creation of a new Afghan government "with the maximum representation of various sections of the population, including all nations and ethnic groups," according to ITAR-TASS. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Federal Security Service head Nikolai Patrushev, who arrived in Dushanbe on 21 October, said they had discussed with Rakhmonov prior to Putin's arrival the military-political situation in Central Asia, while Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said they focused specifically on upgrading Russian-Tajik security cooperation. LF

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TAJIK LEADERSHIP

Kamal Kharrazi met in Dushanbe on 19 October with President Rakhmonov and with his Tajik counterpart Talbak Nazarov, Reuters reported. Kharrazi said an ethnically mixed coalition government is the only solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, but rejected as "unacceptable" U.S. proposals that "moderate" Taliban elements be included in such a coalition, AP reported. He also condemned the ongoing U.S.-led military strikes against Afghanistan on the grounds that they are compounding the sufferings of the civilian population. LF

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES HUMANITARIAN AID FOR AFGHANISTAN WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT

Joschka Fischer arrived in Dushanbe on 20 October for talks with President Rakhmonov on improving the infrastructure of the border regions of Tajikistan in order to enable humanitarian aid from Germany to be delivered via Tajikistan to Afghanistan, AP reported. At present only one ferry operates between Tajikistan and the region of northern Afghanistan controlled by the opposition Northern Alliance. Fischer also discussed the military and political situation in Afghanistan with Rakhmonov, Tajik Premier Oqil Oqilov and Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullo. Like Kharrazi, Fischer too distanced himself from the U.S. proposal to include "moderate" Taliban representatives in a new Afghan government, Reuters reported. "What is a moderate Taliban?" Fischer asked, adding "This question has not yet been answered on my journey." LF

RUSSIAN, TAJIK, KAZAKH, KYRGYZ EMERGENCY MINISTERS PLAN TO COORDINATE RELIEF FOR AFGHANISTAN

Meeting in Dushanbe on 19 October, the Russian, Tajik, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz senior government officials responsible for dealing with emergency situations pledged long-term cooperation in coordinating shipments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Russian agencies reported. Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu warned after the consultations that only the swift dispatch of that humanitarian aid can prevent an exodus from Afghanistan of the estimated 252,000 displaced persons now congregated in the north of the country, Interfax reported. Shoigu told journalists that three routes will be used to transport relief aid: one from the southern Kyrgyz town of Osh via Tajikistan to Faizabad and Ishkashim, one from the town of Kulyab in southern Tajikistan to the Panjsher valley, and one from Uzbekistan that must still be finalized with his Uzbek counterpart. LF

TURKMEN PRESIDENT RECEIVES YET ANOTHER AWARD

Turkmenistan's People's Council voted on 19 October to bestow a fifth Hero of Turkmenistan title on President Saparmurat Niyazov in acknowledgment of his contribution to "creating political harmony, social peace and harmony," and of his authorship of the spiritual guide "Rukhname," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). LF

PRACTICING MUSLIM TORTURED TO DEATH IN POLICE CUSTODY IN UZBEKISTAN

Ravshan Haidov, aged 32, who with his younger brother Rasul (25) was arrested in Tashkent on 17 October on suspicion of belonging to the banned religious organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, died as a result of torture in custody, Human Rights Watch reported in a press release datelined 20 October. Police claimed he died of a heart attack; his family say his neck and one leg were broken and his body was covered in bruises. LF




BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES GREEN LIGHT TO PRIVATE BUSINESS

Speaking at a meeting with Belarusian businessmen on 19 October, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka promised "to open the floodgates to the development of transparent and fair business" in the country, Belapan reported. Lukashenka also said Belarusian businessmen will have a significant role in privatization. "In my election campaign, I promised that we would privatize enterprises and sell shares in our enterprises. Money does not smell, it's a universal axiom. And presumably, it is not very important where this money will come from. To me, it is important. I would want Belarusian entrepreneurs and business people to have a substantial stake in privatizing our companies," Belarusian Television quoted him as saying. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION DENIES MISUSING WESTERN AID

The Belarusian opposition group Charter-97 has rejected the accusations of misuse of Western aid that were made public by political analyst Alyaksandr Fyaduta last month, Belapan reported on 21 October. "All that Fyaduta said to Interfax about the usurpation of grants and financial schemes is a lie from the first word to the last," Charter-97 coordinator Dzmitry Bandarenka told journalists. Fyaduta alleged that the opposition misused $24 million. "Fyaduta made a big mistake citing this sum. U.S. charitable funds provided a total of $22 million in assistance under the interstate agreement. Of this amount, $12 million was given in humanitarian aid, including to Chernobyl-affected areas, $6 million was spent on exchange programs, $3 million on support of the independent press in Belarus, and $1 million or a little more on Belarusian NGOs and initiatives," Bandarenka said. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WANTS CRACKDOWN ON MONEY LAUNDERING

Leonid Kuchma decided on 20 October to set up a governmental monitoring committee to combat money laundering, Interfax reported, quoting State Tax Administration chief Mykola Azarov. Azarov said the new body will gather information about dubious financial transactions in Ukraine and elsewhere. According to Azarov, "colossal sums" of illegal capital in Ukraine affect the state budget and national security. "Thirty percent of the crude oil imported to Ukraine from Kazakhstan was supplied to us by such an exotic state as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Among the suppliers are virtually unknown structures. When we try to find them for purposes of taxation, we often fail," New Channel television quoted him as saying. JM

WHY DID UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER LIE ABOUT AIRLINER CRASH?

Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk told journalists on 19 October during a special hot-line link that he never doubted that a Ukrainian missile downed a Russian airliner on 4 October, Interfax reported. "For me, from the very beginning there were no other versions, and there could not be. Otherwise, why would I have tendered my resignation [immediately after the crash]?" Kuzmuk said. Kuzmuk did not explain why five days after the airliner tragedy he assured the parliament that the missile downing theory was impossible since the missile fell into the sea two minutes before the plane disappeared from radar screens and the plane was far outside the missile's range. National Security and Defense Council head Yevhen Marchuk said on 19 October that Kuzmuk's dismissal should be expected within days, but Kuchma's spokesman noted on 20 October that the president will fire Kuzmuk if a government commission finds the minister responsible for the crash. JM

UKRAINIAN NGOS WANT KUCHMA TO COMPENSATE FOR AIRLINER CRASH

Some 1,700 people representing 500 Ukrainian NGOs on 19 October held a congress in Kyiv, Interfax reported. The congress adopted a statement to compatriots and the world community with apologies for "Kuchma's cynical words" asserting that "one shouldn't make a tragedy out of the crash if there has been a mistake" (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 October 2001). The congress also requested apologies for the attempts of Ukrainian top military leaders to deceive the public about the real reason behind the airliner tragedy. According to the congress, compensation for the downed plane should be paid not from the state budget, but from "foreign deposits of Kuchma and his entourage." JM

LICENSE OF ESTONIA'S TELEVISION STATION TV-1 REVOKED

The Broadcasting Council revoked the license of the commercial television station TV-1 on 19 October for failure to pay its debt to the Broadcasting Transmission Center, ETA reported. Culture Minister Signe Kivi was expected to sign the formal license revocation on 22 October. The center suspended the station's transmissions earlier in the month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001), but TV-1 resumed transmissions of its programs on cable television on 11 October. Despite repeatedly declaring that the station's owner, Poland's Polsat Media, was sending funds to pay the 1.5 million kroon ($88,000) debt, TV-1 board Chairman Rait Killandi agreed to begin the liquidation of the station. The Culture Ministry declared that broadcasting via cable television contradicts the terms of TV-1's broadcasting license, and with the revocation of the license broadcasts must be halted. SG.

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT BUDGET FOR 2002

The cabinet finally endorsed the draft budget for 2002 and presented it to the parliament on 19 October, BNS reported. It foresees revenues of 1.52 billion lats ($2.43 billion) and expenditures of 1.66 billion lats. The budget was prepared on the assumptions that the state's GDP in 2002 will increase by 6 percent in constant prices, and the rate of inflation will be 3 percent. The expected deficit of 140 million lats would be 2.46 percent of the country's GDP under the budget. Parliament committees will begin discussing the budget this week and the parliament is expected to approve it on 29 November, approximately the same time frame as this year's budget was approved last year. SG

FOUR LITHUANIAN POLITICAL PARTIES MERGE

Four minor right-of-center parties -- Homeland People's, Democratic, Independence Parties, and Lithuanian Freedom League -- formally merged and founded the Lithuanian Rightist Union during a congress in Vilnius on 20 October, "Kauno diena" reported on 22 October. Arunas Zebriunas, a well-known 71-year-old film director and former Sajudis activist, was elected chairman. The new union will have eight deputy chairmen, two each from the merging parties, and a council made up of 80 members. The congress also approved the statutes and program of the new party, which will have about 4,000 members. Representatives of other rightist parties, such as Conservatives, Christian Democrats, and Union of Lithuanian Political Prisoners and Deportees, addressed the congress and urged for greater cooperation in the future among right-of-center parties to counter the successful union of the leftist Social Democrats and Democratic Labor Party. SG

POLAND'S NEW GOVERNMENT PROMISES NO 'REVOLUTIONS'...

President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 19 October swore in the new leftist cabinet headed by Leszek Miller from the Democratic Left Alliance. "We are just another government in a line of democratic governments and will take over both our predecessors' successes and failures. Knowing this, we neither plan to start nor pursue any revolutions," Miller commented after the swearing-in ceremony. Miller, who was also appointed head of the European Integration Committee, said EU membership is Poland's only choice if the country does not want to get "stranded on the fringes of civilization," PAP reported. JM

...CUTS 2001 BUDGET SPENDING, FREEZES CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION SALARIES

During its first meeting on 20 October, Miller's cabinet decided to cut this year's budget expenditures by 8.5 billion zlotys ($1.9 billion). The cut is to be identical for all the ministries and will amount to 6.5 percent of the annual spending plan. The cabinet also decided to freeze remuneration payments in the central administration and to defer the new graduation examinations, which were to take place in 2002, by four years. Finance Minister Marek Belka said his ministry has revised this year's GDP growth downward to 1.5 percent. He also said the 2001 annual inflation is expected to amount to 4.5 percent instead of 4.7-4.8 percent projected earlier. JM

POLISH PARLIAMENT ELECTS LEADERSHIP

During its first sitting on 19 October, the Sejm elected Marek Borowski (Democratic Left Alliance) as its speaker as well as Tomasz Nalecz (Labor Union), Donald Tusk (Civic Platform), Andrzej Lepper (Self-Defense), and Janusz Wojciechowski (Peasant Party) as deputy speakers. The election to a top legislative post of Lepper -- a firebrand populist whom several Polish courts are suing for breaking the law in violent protests he organized in the past -- is widely believed to be the most sensational about-face in post-communist Poland's politics. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT WANTS SENATE TO SURVIVE

President Kwasniewski told journalists on 20 October that he sees the need for the existence of the second parliamentary chamber in Poland. "We must have a place that gives an opportunity for the improvement of the law and for concern for the quality of the law. If there was no Senate, there would have to be a Legislative Council or something else," Polish Television quoted him as saying. Kwasniewski was referring to the election pledge of the ruling coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Labor Union (UP) to abolish the Senate. The 100-seat Senate, in which the SLD-UP coalition has 75 mandates, convened for its first sitting on 20 October and elected Longin Pastusiak (SLD) as its speaker. JM

POLISH EX-PREMIER RESIGNS PARTY LEADERSHIP OVER ELECTION DEFEAT

Jerzy Buzek on 20 October resigned as the head of the Solidarity Electoral Action Social Movement (RS AWS), which in coalition with other Solidarity-rooted groups failed to win a single deputy mandate in the 23 September parliamentary election. "Now we have to start from the very bottom [and] elect new party delegates so that they can come here and decide about a new image for our party," Buzek told an RS AWS congress. Buzek was replaced by Senator Mieczyslaw Janowski. "An era when the Social Movement was the political arm of the [Solidarity] trade union has ended," AP quoted Solidarity trade union leader Marian Krzaklewski as saying. JM

SECURITY AT PRAGUE AIRPORT INCREASED AFTER DISCOVERY OF WEAPON

Following the discovery of a functional antitank weapon in the vicinity of Prague's Ruzyne airport on 18 October, security was beefed up at that international airport, CTK and dpa reported on 19 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 2001). The Czech army's 4th rapid deployment unit, consisting of some 200 soldiers, was deployed at Ruzyne. Chief of Staff General Jiri Sedivy said the weapon could "probably not hit a plane." Prima TV, cited by CTK, on 21 October reported that the missile had been produced by Zeveta, a Czech company from Bojkovice, southern Moravia. It said the company produced 250,000 such missiles between 1975 and 1990, and none had been exported. Also on 19 October, Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz denied that suspected suicide terrorist Muhammad Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi diplomat and called information about such a meeting "a lie," CTK reported. In addition, British officials on 19 October discontinued control checks at Ruzyne airport of passengers bound for the United Kingdom. MS

VERHEUGEN SAYS MELK PROCESS COMPLETED

The EU's commissioner in charge of enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, on 19 October wrote in a letter to Czech Premier Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel that the process of assessing the safety of the Temelin nuclear power plant agreed on in Melk has ended and should be closed officially in mid-November, CTK reported. Verheugen wrote that "all safety concerns have been eliminated." Schuessel said Austria has yet to receive from the Czech Republic a number of "legally binding commitments" needed for the process to be closed, but failed to specify what he meant by that. Schuessel also said he considers the Czech Foreign Ministry's plan to close the process within one week "unrealistic." Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil said in Prague that if the process is not ended within that period, the European Commission must make a decision. Meanwhile, on 21 October, Austrian opponents of Temelin resumed demonstrations at the Weigetschlag/Studanky border crossing, protesting against Verheugen's statement. Reuters on 21 October cited Temelin spokesman Milan Nebesar as saying the output of the plant's first reactor has been increased to 75 percent of its capacity. MS

SLOVAK CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS TO RUN INDEPENDENTLY IN 2002

The National Conference of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) decided on 20 October that the party will run independently in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2002, CTK reported. KDH Chairman Pavol Hrusovsky told Radio Twist that the KDH will consider with whom it would enter a governing coalition only after the elections, but added that a coalition with Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) is excluded. In 1998, the KDH ran as part of the Slovak Democratic Coalition, which has since fallen apart. Also on 20 October, CTK reported that the KDH is likely to run in the elections scheduled for the new regional governments on 1 December in alliance with Premier Mikulas Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic and Christian Union and the Democratic Party. The agency said negotiations are under way between the HZDS, the minor coalition Party of the Democratic Left, and the Smer (Direction) party to form an alliance ahead of the regional elections. Smer Chairman Robert Fico said he sees a "fundamental difference" between collaboration with the HZDS in regional politics and at the national level. The only party unlikely to form any electoral alliance is the Slovak National Party, according to CTK. MS

SLOVAKIA WITHDRAWS FROM SPACE RESEARCH OVER HIGH COSTS

Slovakia has withdrawn from space research and participation in any space program, Ivan Bella, the country's only astronaut, told journalists on 19 October. Bella said, "Space research is very costly, and we cannot afford it." He said Slovakia is now facing the "complex task" of purchasing fighters for its air force and upgrading that force to NATO standards. A special committee of the Slovak Academy of Sciences will "monitor" the latest developments in space research, Bella said, and "we shall not lose contact." Bella was in space for eight days in 1999 as a member of a Russian-French-Slovak crew on board the Soyuz 29. MS

BUDAPEST EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH SISTER-CITY NEW YORK

A commemorative concert in memory of the victims of the terror attacks against New York in September was held on 21 October in Budapest, dpa reported. Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky told the audience of 3,000: "In the name of the citizens of the free world -- we are all New Yorkers." U.S. Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker said the attack in New York claimed the lives of citizens from 80 countries, adding that it was not an attack only on the United States, but on "freedom and an open society." MS

MARTONYI REACTS TO VENICE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION ON STATUS LAW

Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said on 19 October in Venice that Hungary is content that the Venice Commission of EU experts has concluded that other European countries also have legislation aimed at encouraging ties with kinfolk living in neighboring countries, Mediafax reported. Martonyi emphasized that the commission considers legislation aimed at encouraging minorities to preserve their national identity as "positive" and that states have the right to approve such legislation. He said the commission's recommendations (see Romanian item below) will enable the sides to consult on the implementation on the Status Law in Hungary, adding that the "interpretation of the recommendations can, of course, be still divergent," but the consultations should help "close gaps." Martonyi also said it has never been the Hungarian intention to have the Status Law apply elsewhere than in Hungary proper. MS




MACEDONIAN ETHNICALLY MIXED POLICE ENTER EX-REBEL AREAS

Ethnically-mixed Macedonian and Albanian patrols of up to 10 police -- accompanied by monitors from the EU and the OSCE and NATO guards -- began on 22 October to deploy into several villages deemed "low risk," Western news agencies reported. The villages in the Kumanovo and Tetovo areas were formerly occupied by the insurgents of the National Liberation Army (UCK). In Tearce, police entered only Macedonian areas. The key principles guiding the operation are flexibility and the need to build mutual confidence. Officials of the Macedonian government secured the agreement of EU and NATO negotiators over the 20-21 October weekend for police to carry machine guns in areas deemed particularly tense. The original plan was for the police to carry only handguns. Macedonian hard-liners, including Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, want a more robust police presence in order to reaffirm Skopje's control in the formerly UCK-held villages. International representatives and ethnic Albanian leaders fear that any sign of a crackdown by Skopje could lead to a renewal of the insurgency. The police will patrol only during daylight and in regular police cars. They will not have normal powers of arrest. PM

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT TO FINALLY APPROVE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES?

Under a recent agreement between Macedonian political leaders and representatives of the EU and NATO, the Macedonian parliament's constitutional committee is scheduled to meet on 22 October to deal with the package of 15 constitutional amendments outlined in the 13 August Ohrid peace agreement, Western news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 2001). The parliament is slated to debate the amendments individually on 24 October. The process of amending the constitution to grant more equality to the large Albanian minority is several weeks behind the schedule outlined in the Ohrid agreement. Some ethnic Macedonian leaders have sought to revise key provisions of the constitutional changes and have engaged in obstructionist tactics in the legislature. A scheduled amnesty for UCK fighters, belatedly decreed by President Boris Trajkovski on 8 October, has been watered down so as to make it nearly meaningless. Parliament has yet to approve an amnesty. Elections are slated for January 2002, and many Macedonian legislators have taken a hard line toward the Albanians in order to appeal to voters in this ethnically polarized society. PM

FIVE DETAINED IN BOSNIA OVER TERRORIST LINKS

Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said in Sarajevo on 21 October that five unspecified individuals have been detained recently in conjunction with threats made against the safety of the American and British embassies, dpa reported. He added that he hopes that the matter will be cleared up soon. The embassies reopened on 22 October after being closed for several days, AP reported. The Sarajevo daily "Dnevni avaz" said that the five men are all Algerians. PM

FORMER YUGOSLAV GENERAL TURNS HIMSELF IN TO HAGUE

Retired General Pavle Strugar voluntarily flew from Podgorica to The Hague on 21 October to face charges in conjunction with the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav military, "Vijesti" reported. Strugar, who suffers from kidney problems, was taken immediately for a medical examination upon his arrival at The Hague. Strugar has said that he is innocent and wants to clear his name, arguing that the tribunal "is as honorable a court as any court in Yugoslavia." Three other commanders were also indicted but remain at large, presumably in Serbia. They are Admiral Milan Zec, Admiral Miodrag Jokic, and Captain Vladimir Kovacevic, AP reported. The shelling killed 43 civilians and left 563 buildings destroyed or damaged. PM

MONTENEGRO SAYS 'NO' TO KOSTUNICA

Miodrag Vukovic, a leader of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and adviser to President Milo Djukanovic, said in Podgorica on 21 October that Montenegro will not take part in talks on the future of Serbian-Montenegrin ties announced by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica for 26 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Podgorica objects to Kostunica's inclusion of pro-Belgrade Montenegrins from the federal government in the talks. Podgorica does not recognize the federal government, which it considers illegitimate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 2001). PM

HAGUE PROSECUTOR IN SERBIAN CAPITAL

Carla Del Ponte, The Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, was scheduled to arrive in Belgrade on 22 October, "Danas" reported. She will meet with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic, Justice Minster Vladan Batic, and Yugoslav Justice Minister Savo Markovic to ask for further extraditions of indicted war criminals. Del Ponte seeks the extradition of men involved in attacks on Dubrovnik and Vukovar in 1991. She will then travel to Podgorica. On 19 October, Reuters reported from The Hague that Del Ponte plans to expand the current charges against former President Slobodan Milosevic. Some of the new charges include that of genocide for war crimes in Bosnia. Other additional charges stem from the recent discovery of bodies of Kosovars in a mass grave near Belgrade and include sexual assault. Del Ponte's spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, said that the new charges will be filed on 29 October. PM

KOSOVAR JOURNALIST KILLED

Unidentified persons killed "Bota Sot" journalist Bekim Kastrati in a drive-by shooting in Lausha, west of Prishtina, on 19 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kastrati was politically close to moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Also killed was Besim Dajaku, a former bodyguard of Rugova. Rugova said in a statement that the killing of Dajaku was an attack on the LDK, AP reported. A third man in the same car was wounded. UN police said that they do not know the motive for the killing. PM

CROATIAN HARD-LINE VETERANS PROTEST

Some 15,000 war veterans demonstrated in Zagreb on 20 October against the government's policy of cooperation with The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Retired General Janko Bobetko told the veterans that the government seeks to "humiliate" them by reducing their privileges and pensions. After the protest, Prime Minister Ivica Racan said that the organizers' aims were political and that the turnout showed that they do not have much support. Zlatko Tomcic, the speaker of the parliament and president of the Croatian Peasants' Party (HSS),told reporters that the demonstration was a "big fiasco." President Stipe Mesic said that he is glad that the rally passed without any incidents. PM

ROMANIA HAILS 'VICTORY' OVER VENICE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana on 19 and 20 October said the recommendations of the Venice Commission of EU experts have vindicated the Romanian position over the Status Law passed by the Hungarian parliament earlier this year. The nonbinding recommendations said that, while legislation encouraging ties with kinfolk in neighboring countries and intended to preserve their national identity is "positive," no state can "transfer jurisdiction" over a part of its territory to another state, nor can legislation affecting national minorities living abroad be implemented without the acquiescence of the state in question. It also said that a state whose citizens are members of national minorities must assume responsibility for those minorities' welfare. The commission also said that minority organizations in neighboring countries cannot fulfill tasks that are the prerogative of the state by definition, such as issuing identification documents. It said such documents can be issued by consulates in the neighboring country, but in order to avoid discrimination must not specify ethnic origin. MS

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER MEETS RUSSIAN PREMIER

Chamber of Deputies Chairman Valer Dorneanu met in Moscow with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 19 October to discuss ways to boost trade between the two countries and reduce the Romania's trade deficit with Russia, Romanian radio reported. The sides said "flexibility and realism" are required to advance discussions on the pending bilateral treaty between the two countries. Dorneanu, using terminology reminiscent of communist jargon, said the talks were "sincere, friendly, and constructive." Upon his return to Bucharest on 20 October, Dorneanu said his visit, which also included talks with Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev, was a "pleasant surprise" because Russia is just as interested as Romania in " giving a new dimension to our commercial and political relations." MS

GREATER ROMANIA PARTY TO BOYCOTT DEBATES ON LIFTING PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor told journalists on 19 October that the PRM will boycott debates in the Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies on lifting his own parliamentary immunity and that of PRM deputy Danut Saulea, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Both Tudor and Saulea are charged with disseminating false information. Tudor said that the boycott will "put an end to the circus organized by the [ruling] Social Democratic Party." He said the PRM "does not recognize the moral authority of [Justice Minister] Rodica Stanoiu and [Prosecutor-General] Joita Tanase" to launch proceedings against "the largest opposition party." Tudor also said the PRM is demanding the immediate dismissal and trial of Tanase, whom he accused of "complicity with a genuine terrorist," who, he said, was an Iranian citizen resident of Craiova. MS

MOLDOVAN METROPOLITAN CHURCH WANTS 'CONCORDAT' WITH STATE

A first-ever "Great Assembly" of the Moscow-subordinate Moldovan Metropolitan Church on 19 October called on the Moldovan authorities to sign a "concordat" with the church, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Observers in Chisinau and abroad said such an agreement would contradict Orthodox canonical law and tradition, being "a Catholic import into the Orthodox dogma." The gathering was attended by some 1,000 priests who signed the appeal, which also demands that ownership of all Orthodox churches in Moldova be transferred from parishes to the Metropolitan Church. The appeal also demands that the state refuse registration of a parish unless it proves that at least 30 percent of the population belongs to it. The assembly was obviously convoked ahead of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on the government's refusal to register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church. Addressing the gathering, President Vladimir Voronin said his administration will "never register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church" because it does not agree to creating divisions in the Orthodox Church. MS

UKRAINIAN PREMIER ENDS MOLDOVAN VISIT

Anatoliy Kinakh and his Moldovan counterpart Vasile Tarlev signed protocols in Chisinau on 19 October attesting to the earlier ratification by their parliaments of a number of important agreements, including the demarcation of the border and the mutual recognition of property owned by each side on the other side's territory, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Contrary to Moldovan expectations, no agreement was signed on the joint custom checkpoints on Ukrainian territory and Kinakh said negotiations on this Moldovan request will continue. Tarlev described the visit as "historic" and pointed out that Moldovan-Ukrainian trade has grown by 47 percent over last year. An agreement on cultural collaboration was also signed on 19 October, after which Kinakh visited the village of his birth, which is in Moldova. MS

SMIRNOV OFFICIALLY REGISTERED AS 'PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'

The Electoral Commission in Tiraspol on 19 October officially registered the candidacy of Igor Smirnov as "presidential candidate" in the elections scheduled for 9 December, Infotag reported the same day. His running mate is Sergei Leontiev, the chief of the Tiraspol "presidential administration." The deadline for submitting the 8,500 signatures in support of a candidacy runs out on 10 November, and observers are doubtful that any of Smirnov's four rivals for the post will be able to meet this requirement. MS

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS SS-23 MISSILES DO NOT FIT INTO COUNTRY'S DEFENSE DOCTRINE

Speaking in the parliament on 19 October, Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said Soviet-made SS-23 tactical missiles "do not fit" in the broadly defensive character of Bulgaria's military doctrine, BTA reported. Svinarov said that Bulgaria was "the last country in Europe" to have such weapons and that they "do not help boost the confidence of the international community in Bulgaria." He added that dismantling the missiles requires a government proposal and its approval by the parliament, as part of the military reform under way by Bulgaria's army. MS

IMF SAYS BULGARIAN ECONOMY AFFECTED BY EUROPEAN SLOWDOWN

Bulgarian exports are suffering as a result of the European economic slowdown triggered by the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, the IMF resident representative in Bulgaria, Piritta Sorsa, told BTA on 21 October. She spoke ahead of the arrival in Sofia on 22 October of a fund delegation for talks with members of the Bulgarian government. "We are concerned with the current account deficit," Sorsa said, adding that the IMF recommends "tightening fiscal policy" and keeping the budget deficit at 4 to 5 percent of GDP. She also said that she doubts the government's envisaged zero taxation on reinvested profits -- which has been postponed for a later stage -- could attract foreign investors. MS




There is no end note.





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