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Newsline - November 1, 2001




NATIONAL UNITY MILITANTS INVOLVED IN MARKET POGROM

Militia officials stressed on 31 October that most of those involved in the rampage of some 300 youths the previous day at a Moscow market, which resulted in the deaths of two men from the North Caucasus and more than 15 injuries, were soccer fans celebrating a victory, Russian and Western agencies reported. However, other officials noted that Russian National Unity militants were involved as well, Interfax reported. The authorities increased the police presence in the areas where the pogrom took place, pledged to bring the guilty to justice, and held meetings with representatives of the Caucasus diaspora in Moscow to try to calm the situation, Russian agencies reported. PG

RUSSIA, BRITAIN AGREE ON AFGHANISTAN

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 31 October after meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Moscow that the two countries have a common perspective on combating terrorism and the problems of a postwar settlement there, ORT television reported. Ivanov reiterated Moscow's position that it will not take part in military operations there. PG

FATE OF IRAQ SAID TO REST IN HANDS OF LABORATORY SCIENTISTS

"Vremya MN" reported on 31 October that American policy toward Iraq is likely to be determined by whether laboratory scientists are able to link the current outbreak of anthrax to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But a senior Russian diplomat speaking anonymously prior to Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's departure for Washington said Iraq and Iran remain "the apple of discord" in relations between Russia and the United States, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. PG

CONTAINER WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS STOLEN IN SIBERIA

The Emergency Situations Ministry reported on 31 October that an 80-kilogram container of radioactive Cesium-137 has been stolen from a mining facility in Chita Oblast, RIA-Novosti reported. The container had been used as a source of gamma radiation to measure the quantity of metals in ores. The Interior Ministry has launched a criminal investigation. VY

PAPER SPECULATES CHURCHES MAY BE NEXT TERRORIST TARGETS

"Moskovskii komsomolets" suggested on 31 October that Moscow officials believe that terrorists may attack religious institutions in the Russian capital. The officials said the attacks are likely to be carried out by Muslim women and to involve not only Orthodox churches but also Roman Catholic churches, synagogues, and even mosques. PG

RUSSIANS URGED TO AVOID PLACES WHERE TERRORISM IS MORE LIKELY

A series of articles in "Izvestiya" on 31 October said tourism is increasingly difficult in a time of terrorism and provided details on which destinations pose the highest risks. The paper also described the measures other countries, including the United States, have taken to warn their citizens of where to travel and where not to. PG

KHATTAB SAID TO HAVE STUDIED IN MOSCOW A DECADE AGO

In an interview published in "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 31 October, the Moscow correspondent of Al-Jazeera television, Akrma Khazam, said Chechen field commander Khattab had studied in Moscow in the early 1990s. PG

U.S. BOMBING IN AFGHANISTAN SAID TO DISRUPT BIRD FLYWAYS

"Izvestiya" reported on 31 October that among the victims of the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan are birds who have lost one of their traditional flyways and who are thus less likely to return to their normal places of residence even after the bombing ends. PG

PUTIN PRESENTS HIS 'OCTOBER THESES'

According to an article in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" published on 31 October, President Putin presented an outline the previous day of his entire political program, an outline the paper described as his "October theses." These include the belief that cutting tax rates will lead to higher state revenues; that terrorism must be combated by cutting off its funding; that monopolies can be divided, but only after careful study; that Russian businessmen must view their country as their "home and castle;" that Russia wants to be a member of the World Trade Organization, but not at any price; that Russian oil is a factor in international stability; that Russian can pay its own way; and that land sales are necessary. PG

PUTIN, KASYANOV DISCUSS FINANCIAL MONITORING AGENCY

President Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 31 October met to discuss the formation of an agency to monitor financial transactions and thus fight money laundering and other crimes, Russian agencies reported. PG

ROY MEDVEDEV SAYS PUTIN LIKELY TO TAKE A LONG TIME TO FORM TEAM

In an article published in "Moskovskie novosti" on 30 October, historian Roy Medvedev said President Putin is likely to proceed very slowly in forming his own team. He is proceeding cautiously, Medvedev argued, in order not to create new problems or make new enemies. PG

GOVERNMENT PRESENTS BUDGET MODIFICATIONS TO DUMA

In advance of the Duma's third reading of the 2002 draft budget, the government on 31 October presented some modifications to its earlier draft, including changes in spending on the financial reserve, the limits on credits, and the division of funds between Moscow and the federal subjects, Russian agencies reported. It also introduced a provision that would allow security facilities special rights in paying for energy supplies so those supplies could not be shut off. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kasyanov announced the same day that the Ministry for Federation Affairs, Nationalities, and Migration Policies will be completely shut down over the course of three months, Interfax reported. PG

OMBUDSMAN SAYS HUMAN RIGHTS WIDELY VIOLATED

In an interview published in "Trud" on 31 October, human rights ombudsman Oleg Mironov said the human rights of Russians are violated across the entire spectrum of rights as classified by international agreements, but he added that the greatest number of complaints reaching his office -- some 40 percent overall -- involve the violation of rights of people involved in the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, "Novye izvestiya" reported the same day charges by Russian human rights activists that Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov routinely violates the constitutional rights of the capital's residents. The paper also provided details on the legal profession in Russia: There are now 42,000 lawyers, 145 lawyer collegia, and about 5,000 legal consultation offices. The lawyers annually deal with some 5.5 million queries from citizens, of which 54 percent are handled pro bono. PG

DUMA FAILS TO STRIP IMMUNITY FROM DEPUTY ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION

A motion to strip Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) deputy Vladimir Golovlev of his parliamentary immunity so he can face trial on charges of embezzlement fell 11 votes short on 31 October, Russian agencies reported. Because 213 deputies did vote to lift his immunity, many of them said they will try again and expect to succeed. Since the creation of the post-Soviet Russian parliament in 1993, only one deputy -- Sergei Mavrodi -- has been stripped of his immunity and forced to stand trial. VY

BACKERS OF ANTICORRUPTION BILL TO TRY FOR 11TH TIME TO PASS IT

The Duma has included a draft bill on corruption for consideration in the near future, the 11th time that it has done so without success, former Interior Minister and Duma Security Committee member Anatolii Kulikov said in an interview published in "Tribuna" on 31 October. He said the parliament needs to approve the measure because Russia's direct losses from corruption total at least $15 billion a year and its indirect losses in terms of loss of public and investor confidence in Russia and its government are even greater. In other comments, Kulikov said corruption has not declined under President Putin but only taken other forms, with the government drawing on the shadow economy to increase its own revenues. Meanwhile, Yurii Biryukov, the deputy prosecutor-general, told the Duma the same day that capital flight from Russia will total $20 billion in 2001, Interfax reported. VY/PG

DUMA APPROVES MEASURE ALLOWING MORE RAPID DESTRUCTION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

The Duma on 31 October approved on third and final reading a measure allowing the authorities to destroy chemical weapons not only at the sites where such weapons are now stored but at others as well, RIA-Novosti reported. This should allow Russia to make more progress on the destruction of the 40,000 tons of such weapons it now has at a limited number of facilities. VY

SPS LEADER CALLS FOR COALITION OF LIBERAL FORCES

Viktor Pokhmelkin, the first deputy leader of the SPS fraction in the Duma, called on 31 October for the unification of all liberal forces into a coalition in advance of the next parliamentary elections, Interfax reported. PG

INTERFACTION GROUPS PLAYING GREATER ROLE IN DUMA

According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 31 October, interfaction deputy groups are playing a greater role in the legislative life of the Russian parliament. It noted that there are now more than 30 of these groups, including ones supporting energy, business, border defense, and union with Belarus and Ukraine. PG

PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATING NUMEROUS STATE AGENCIES

First Deputy Prosecutor-General Biryukov on 31 October confirmed that prosecutors are currently investigating several corruption cases involving officials at the Central Bank, the State Customs Committee, the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Railways Ministry, and the State Fisheries Committee, Russian news agencies reported. But the only official charged so far, the spokesman said, is Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko. Biryukov added that some 15,000 officials were charged with corruption-related crimes in 2000, Interfax reported. The activities of the prosecutors combined with those of the Audit Chamber prompted the authors of an article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 31 October to conclude that the Kremlin is using these institutions as a means to change the government. And an article in "Izvestiya" on 31 suggested that the proposed financial intelligence service might be used in the same political way. VY/PG

PROSECUTORS WON'T OPPOSE RESTORATION OF DEATH PENALTY

Deputy Prosecutor-General Biryukov said on 31 October that prosecutors won't object if the Duma decides to pass legislation ending the current moratorium on the use of the death penalty, RIA-Novosti reported. The Council of Europe has made that suspension and ultimate abolition of the death penalty a condition of membership, but since the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States polls suggest ever more Russians back the use of this form of punishment. VY

CHIEF RABBI WANTS LIFTING OF JACKSON-VANNIK AMENDMENT

Berl Lazar, the chief rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish Community in Russia, plans to appeal to U.S. President George W. Bush to ask the U.S. Congress to lift the restrictions imposed on Russia by the 1974 Jackson-Vannik amendment, Interfax reported on 31 October. Other Russian officials and U.S.-Russian trade associations want the amendment lifted because they say that "state anti-Semitism in Russia" is a thing of the past. VY

EU IMPOSES ANTIDUMPING MEASURES AGAINST RUSSIAN GOODS

Mikhail Dmitriev, the first deputy economic development and trade minister, said on 31 October that the countries of the European Union are applying "baseless and at times discriminatory" antidumping measures against Russian goods, Interfax reported. PG

MORE MOVES ON THE MEDIA FRONT

The Duma on 31 October passed on second reading a measure that would free print publications from having to pay sales taxes, Interfax-AFI reported. In an interview published the same day in "Itogi," Presidential adviser Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Russia plans to study American limitations on media reporting about statements of terrorists in order to develop rules for Russian media. Also on 31 October, "The Moscow Times" reported that the Media Ministry is looking into gaining control of the pulp and paper industry to use as an additional lever on the media. Meanwhile, polit.ru reported on 31 October that "Vremya novostei" is going to close after its issue on 2 November. On 19 October, that paper carried an article suggesting the Russian elite does not approve of President Putin's support of the U.S.-led antiterrorist campaign. PG

250 GENERALS TO BE SENT TO RESERVES

In an interview published in "Argumenty i fakty" on 31 October, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said some 90,000 uniformed personnel, including 250 generals, will be transferred from active duty to the reserves in 2001-2002. Meanwhile, Interfax-Northwest reported the same day that 44 percent of all the land now controlled by the Defense Ministry is in Arkhangelsk Oblast. PG

PAPER ASKS WHETHER U.S. CAUSED THE 'KURSK' TO SINK

An article in "Tribuna" on 31 October asked whether "the Americans cause[d] the "Kursk" submarine disaster and cited Russian experts as saying that a breach in the hull of the "Kursk" could have been caused by a collision with another boat. The same day, more cruise missiles and bodies were removed from the "Kursk," Russian agencies reported. PG

THREE RUSSIANS SENTENCED FOR SPYING...

A Moscow court on 31 October sentenced Viktor Kalyagin to 14 years in prison for espionage on behalf of an unnamed country and handed brothers Aleksandr and Petr Ivanov prison sentences of 1.2 and 1.8 years for divulging state secrets, the FSB Public Relations Center told Interfax. VY

...AS HIGH-PROFILE SPY TRIALS CONTINUE

A Kaluga court resumed its closed hearings in the case of Americanist Igor Sutyagin, who is accused of spying for "a NATO country," ITAR-TASS reported. He faces 12 to 20 years if convicted. Meanwhile, on 29 October, the Military Tribunal of the Russian Pacific Fleet resumed its closed hearings of the repeat trial of Grigorii Pasko, a military journalist who is also accused of divulging state secrets. Pasko was convicted the first time around only of "professional negligence," and the FSB has successfully won a new trial against him on the more serious espionage charges. VY

DEMAND FOR PERSONAL WEAPONS RISING

According to a report in "Izvestiya" on 31 October, ever more Russians are seeking to purchase individual firearms for self-protection. Meanwhile, Interfax-Northwest reported the same day that the St. Petersburg authorities have allocated 100,000 rubles ($3,400) for a weapons buy-back program. PG

ONE PRISONER IN 10 HAS TUBERCULOSIS

Some 100,000 inmates in Russian prisons have tuberculosis, a figure slightly over 10 percent of the total prison population, Interfax-AFI reported on 31 October. PG

MOSCOW CITY TRYING TO FIND 50,000 COMPANIES

Tax authorities in the Russian capital are attempting to locate some 50,000 companies that have paid no taxes or declared no income, "Moskovskaya pravda" reported on 31 October. The authorities believe that most of these firms are dummy companies and have no physical existence. PG

RUSSIA TO COMPLETE PIPELINE TO PRIMORSK BY END OF YEAR

Yurii Sokolov, the head of the Baltic Pipeline System, has announced that the pipeline to the new terminal at Primorsk in Leningrad Oblast will go online before the end of the year and thus reduce or even eliminate Russia's dependence on access to Baltic ports, "Vremya novosti" reported on 31 October. The pipeline system will handle 18 million tons of oil a year, including oil from Kazakhstan, the paper said. But difficulties in handling rolling stock at Novorossiisk and Tuapse have forced officials to end the offloading of railcars at both ports, a measure of problems that Russian ports encounter, "Vremya MN" reported on 31 October. VY/PG

OPENING OF NEW GAS FIELD INCREASES GAZPROM'S PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY

The opening of a gigantic new gas field in the north of Russia will allow Russia to produce up to 530 billion cubic meters of gas each year, Interfax-AFI reported on 31 October. President Putin sent a message congratulating the company on the opening of this field. PG

MILITIA OFFICERS THINK THEIR COMMANDERS PLACE THEMSELVES AHEAD OF SERVICE

A poll of militia officers reported in "Novaya gazeta" on 29 October found that almost half of all militia officers think their commanders are more concerned about enriching themselves than maintaining law and order. And most of them complained not only about their low salaries but also about the absence of support from their superiors in the carrying out of their duties. PG

PAPER NOTES 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF REMOVAL OF STALIN'S REMAINS FROM MAUSOLEUM

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 31 October described the way in which Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was removed from the Red Square mausoleum 40 years ago on 31 October 1961. It noted that his reburial in the Kremlin wall was the only case in which someone's remains were interred there "without speeches, orchestras, and a farewell salute." Meanwhile, "Izvestiya" the same day reported that in January 1954 following Stalin's death, Soviet officials destroyed many of the archives and thus made future rehabilitations and prosecutions more difficult. PG

MILITARY COURT REFUSES TO REHABILITATE ADMIRAL KOLCHAK

The Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Omsk regional and federal human rights organizations to rehabilitate Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, one of the most prominent leaders of the anti-Bolshevik White movement during the Civil War, regions.ru reported on 30 October. Soviet ideologists painted Kolchak in the darkest colors, but since 1991, various people have sought his rehabilitation because of his contribution to Russian exploration and geographic science. But the Military Collegium said "Kolchak's scientific merits do not outweigh his crimes," the website reported. VY

ANOTHER REGIONAL LEADER PREDICTS FEDERATION COUNCIL WILL BECOME ELECTED BODY

In an interview with Interfax on 31 October, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said he is sure that more changes will be made in the principles under which the Federation Council is formed within the next two years. He predicts that the during the next State Duma elections, voters will also select senators for the upper legislative house. "Under the current rules for forming the Federation council, questions have arisen about its legitimacy." Shaimiev added that he "had been worried from the beginning that [with the reform of the council] it would be filled with people without real ties to a specific region, and in many cases this is exactly what has happened." He continued, "among the new senators there are several people who still head this or the other commercial enterprise." In the future, Shaimiev suggests regional legislatures and executive bodies should suggest candidates who the people would in turn elect. JAC

RADIO STATIONS GO OFF THE AIR IN KALININGRAD...

Four radio-transmitting stations in Kaliningrad Oblast have lost their power because the local electricity supplier has cut off their electricity due to unpaid debts, Interfax-BNS reported on 31 October. Local television stations remain on the air. Kaliningrad is the most recent region to lose either its radio or television broadcasts; other regions affected have been Kamchatka Oblast, Pskov Oblast, and Primorskii Krai (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 31 October 2001). JAC

...AS MEDIA MINISTRY PROMISES TO SET UP NEW MEDIA OUTLETS IN DISTRICTS

Deputy Media Minister Mikhail Seslavinskii told Duma deputies on 31 October that TV and radio companies will soon be set up in each of the seven federal districts, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

NENETS LEGISLATOR PUTS KIBOSH ON ANY MERGERS

The chairwoman of the legislature of Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Vitalina Glazunova, recently characterized the recent call by certain academics and politicians for the creation of a new Northern district as an attempt to deprive the Nenets region of its independence, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 31 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2001). Glazunova declared that "if we join with any other subject, then the interest of the [Nenets] people will suffer." JAC

ISSUE OF THIRD TERM FOR SAKHA HEAD GETS PASSED TO A NEW COURT...

After announcing that the decision of whether or not Sakha (Yakutia) Republic President Mikhail Nikolaev should be allowed to compete for a third term should be left up to the courts, the Central Election Commission (TsIK) announced on 31 October that it is lodging a complaint with the Office of the Prosecutor-General against Sakha's Supreme Court, NTV reported on 31 October. TsIK Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov believes that the court is deliberately dragging out its legal proceedings on the case (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2001). Sakha's Supreme Court decided on 31 October that it will stop its examination of complaints about Nikolaev's registration as a presidential candidate because it believes this issue would more properly be considered by the federal Constitutional Court. It believes that court should render a decision on whether the 67th article of the Sakha Constitution corresponds with federal norms. That article forbids republican presidents from seeking the office for more than two terms in a row. The federal Supreme Court has already rendered its decision about the article (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2001). JAC

...AS STUDENTS AGAIN GATHER IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT

Meanwhile, students in Sakha's capital, Yakutsk, held a second meeting in support of Nikolaev, according to Interfax-Eurasia. According to the agency, a few hundred students gathered in one of Yakutsk's main squares. JAC

RUSSIAN COMMANDER SAYS MILITANTS RUNNING OUT OF WEAPONS

Lieutenant General Vladimir Moltenskoi, the commander of Russian Federal troops in the North Caucasus, said on 31 October that Chechen militants are now experiencing a shortage of weapons and ammunition, ITAR-TASS reported. He based that assessment on the fact that federal troops increasingly are finding hunting rifles rather than more advanced weapons in Chechen militant armories. PG

AID AGENCIES SIGN ACCORD WITH CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION

John Macallan of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees led a delegation to Grozny of more than 20 representatives of humanitarian organizations on 31 October and signed accords with the Chechen administration on cooperation in providing humanitarian assistance to the Chechen people, Interfax reported. PG

INGUSHETIAN PRESIDENT SAYS CHECHEN REFUGEE CAMPS NOT READY FOR WINTER

Ruslan Aushev said on 31 October that the Chechen refugee camps in his republic "are absolutely unprepared for winter" and that the people in them "are forced to live in unbearable conditions," Interfax reported. He said there are not enough tents, medicines, or other basic necessities. Aushev said he has addressed the issue with Russian Prime Minister Kasyanov, "who will resolve these problems after the liquidation of the Ministry of Federation Affairs, Nationalities and Migration." He said his republic is currently owed more than 580 million rubles ($19 million) by the federal authorities for services provided to the refugees, and noted that for his republic "this is a significant sum." PG

NORTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENT UNHAPPY WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

Aleksandr Dzasokhov said on 31 October that he is unhappy with the level of cooperation among law enforcement agencies in protecting the population and in dealing with the hostage-taking situation on 30 October, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Russian and Western agencies reported, police in Vladikavkaz continue to look for the man who took 18 children and adults hostage in a hospital on 30 October and then escaped after a ransom was paid. PG

MAN ACCUSED OF ATTEMPTED COUP IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA DESCRIBES LINKS TO KHATTAB, INTERNATIONAL TERRORISTS

Khyzyr Salpagarov, who stands accused of attempting a coup in Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria, said on 31 October that he and other participants in the attempted uprising had close ties to Chechen militant leader Khattab and international terrorists, Interfax reported. PG




MOSCOW SEEKS BILATERAL SOLUTIONS TO CASPIAN SEA DISPUTES

Viktor Kalyuzhnii, the Russian deputy foreign minister and special presidential representative for Caspian Sea status issues, said on 31 October that disputes about the sea should be solved by a series of bilateral accords rather than a single overarching agreement, Turan reported. Kalyuzhnii suggested that this approach will allow the resolution of almost all questions without violating the interests of any of the littoral states. At the same time, he suggested that all of the countries must take common interests into account when they try to reach bilateral agreements. PG

U.S., ARMENIAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS ANTITERRORISM EFFORT

U.S. President George W. Bush and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian on 31 October discussed by telephone the counterterrorism effort and also regional issues, including the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Armenian and Russian news services reported. Bush thanked Armenia for its support of the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan, the services said. PG

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES ROMANIAN COUNTERPART

President Robert Kocharian on 31 October held talks with visiting Romanian President Ion Iliescu, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The two agreed to expand economic cooperation between their countries by simplifying customs procedures and improving transit arrangements. PG

NETHERLANDS TO DEFEND ARMENIAN INTERESTS IN WORLD FINANCIAL BODIES

Dutch Finance Minister Herit Salm told Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on 30 October that The Hague will continue to defend the interests of Armenia at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Noyan Tapan reported. PG

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT 'INDEFINITELY' POSTPONES TRIP TO TURKEY

Turkish diplomatic sources told the Trend news agency on 31 October that Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's visit to Turkey, which had been scheduled for this week, has been "indefinitely" postponed. Aliyev did not take part in the celebration of the Turkish national day in Baku on 29 October. PG

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION FIGURE CALLED UP FOR MILITARY SERVICE

Fazil Gazanfaroglu, the deputy chairman of the traditionalist wing of the People's Front of Azerbaijan Party, has been called up for military service as an officer, Turan reported on 31 October. Gazanfaroglu said that "if something happens to me in the army, Heidar Aliyev will be responsible." PG

PRO-MOSCOW CHECHENS SEEK TO OPEN OFFICE IN BAKU

Mukhtar Ismailov, a representative of the pro-Moscow administration of Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, is seeking to open an office in the Azerbaijani capital and has the support of the Russian government, Baku's "Ekho" newspaper reported on 30 October. PG

BAKU TO SEE EXTRADITION OF COUP PLOTTER FROM IRAN

Azerbaijani National Security Minister Namiq Abbasov said on 30 October that Baku will demand that Tehran extradite Mahir Cavadov, who is accused of plotting to kill President Aliyev and to seize power, Baku's "Bisim Asr" reported on 31 October. PG

SHEVARDNADZE FIRES CABINET, SAYS HE WILL RESIGN IF HIS TERMS ARE IGNORED

President Eduard Shevardnadze said on 1 November that he has dismissed his entire cabinet and that he is ready to remain president but only on his terms, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Shevardnadze said he is "not a stubborn person clinging to his post," and that he will "not sacrifice his country for [personal] interests." Parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania said that "our task now is to ease tension in the city and prompt the demonstrators to disperse." PG

DEMANDS GROW IN GEORGIA FOR MORE MINISTERS TO RESIGN...

Participants in street demonstrations and independent journalists as well as deputies such as parliament speaker Zhvania called on 31 October for more government ministers and the country's prosecutor-general to resign, Caucasus Press reported. The calls increased after the resignation of Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze on 30 October. President Shevardnadze attempted to calm the situation by saying that Interior Minister Targamadze had not been involved in the recent events around Rustavi-2 television, the news service reported. Moreover, Shevardnadze said he plans to reform the security ministries. PG

...AS DEPUTY SAYS COUP POSSIBLE IN TBILISI

Elena Tevdoradze, the chairman of the Georgian parliament's Human Rights Committee, told Interfax-AVN on 31 October that a military coup may take place sometime in the next few days. Tevdoradze added that the increasingly vocal public demonstrations against the Georgian authorities are frightening the force ministries and that they may organize a military coup and impose martial law to restore order. PG

OSCE TO MONITOR INGUSH SECTION OF GEORGIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER

Officials at the Vienna headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on 31 October that the OSCE will conduct monitoring on the Ingush section of the Georgian-Russian border, Interfax reported. The OSCE has been monitoring the Chechen section of the Georgian-Russian border since February 2000. PG

RUSSIAN GENERAL LASHES OUT AT GEORGIANS, BUT DUMA DOESN'T

Major General Nikolai Sidorichev, who heads the peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia, said in an interview published in "Trud" on 31 October that Georgian accusations that Sidorichev's forces had failed to take necessary actions to keep the peace were baseless. (Meanwhile, Georgian officials said they intend to check for radiation at the former Russian base in Gudauta in Abkhazia, Interfax reported.) But the same day, the Russian Duma voted not to discuss a resolution offered by the LDPR criticizing Georgian President Shevardnadze, the Russian news service reported. And also on 31 October, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" carried an interview with Avtandil Ioseliani, a senior Georgian intelligence official, who said that he expects a rapid resolution of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. PG

GEORGIA SAID TO HAVE CEDED STRATEGIC GAS PIPELINES TO RUSSIA

An article in "Rezonansi" on 31 October said that a deal on the establishment of a Georgian-Russian joint stock company will effectively give Moscow control over Georgia's strategic gas pipelines even though the accord gives Tbilisi 51 percent of the new company's shares, Caucasus Press reported. PG

ABKHAZ PRIME MINISTER SURVIVES CONFIDENCE VOTE

The Abkhaz parliament on 31 October failed to pass a no-confidence motion on Anri Jergeniz, the prime minister of the self-declared Abkhaz republic, Prime News reported. Meanwhile, Abkhaz officials said the same day that they will not participate in talks with Tbilisi until Georgia withdraws its forces from the Kodori gorge, the news service said. PG

FORMER COMMUNIST LEADER BARRED FROM PRESIDENTIAL POLL IN SOUTH OSSETIA

Feliks Sanakoev, who was the Communist Party chief in South Ossetia from 1972-88, has been denied registration as a candidate for the presidency of that self-declared republic, Prime News reported on 31 October. A court in Tskhinvali said Sanakoev failed to meet the 10-year residency requirement because he left the republic in 1988 and then lived in Tbilisi and Moscow. PG

U.S. PROVIDES FUNDS TO KAZAKHSTAN TO STEP UP SECURITY AT BACTERIOLOGICAL RESEARCH CENTER

According to a report by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service on 31 October, the United States has allocated funds for increasing security at Almaty's Center for Bacteriological Research in order to prevent any anthrax or other organisms from falling into the hands of terrorists. The same day, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported, the opposition Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan called on the Kazakh government to appeal to the United States for help in cleaning up the consequences of the testing and production of biological weapons that took place there during the Soviet era. Meanwhile, Kazakh police seized 786 firearms during the last week, Kazakhstan Today's website reported on 31 October. Kazakhstan is also taking measures to tighten control over migrants: the same website reported that the country has deported more than 5,000 foreigners since 20 September. PG

KAZAKHSTAN POSTPONES ASIAN SUMMIT

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry has postponed a summit of the heads of Asian countries that had been scheduled to take place in Almaty on 8-10 November, "Izvestiya" reported on 31 October. The ministry said the meeting had to be postponed because the situation in the Central Asian region has deteriorated. PG

EUROPEAN OIL COMPANIES IN KAZAKHSTAN AGAIN CONSIDERING PIPELINE VIA IRAN

European oil companies are again considering the possibility of exporting oil from Kazakhstan via Iran, Kazakh commercial television reported on 31 October. They are doing so, the station said, even though the United States continues to press Kazakhstan to use the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline instead. Meanwhile, an article in Moscow's "Izvestiya" on 31 October said the Tengiz-Novorossiisk pipeline is already working and thus making other routes less attractive or necessary. PG

ILLEGAL ACQUISITION OF RUSSIAN CITIZENSHIP BY KAZAKHS ANGERS ASTANA

Bolat Baykadamov, the secretary of Kazakhstan's Human Rights Commission, said in Astana on 30 October that the Kazakh government is concerned at numerous instances where Kazakhs have illegally acquired Russian citizenship with the help of the republic's Slav Movement, Kazakhstan's Russian community, and some tourist agencies, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. The two countries do not have a dual citizenship agreement, Baykadamov noted. PG

AFGHAN SITUATION NOT PROMPTING MORE ETHNIC RUSSIANS TO LEAVE KYRGYZSTAN

Georgii Rudov, Russia's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, said on 31 October that the situation in Afghanistan has not prompted more ethnic Russians to leave Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Indeed, the ambassador said, there has been a steady decline in the number of Russians leaving or seeking to leave Kyrgyzstan in recent years. Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry the same day requested that Moscow provide $2.5 million in military-technical assistance to Bishkek, Interfax reported. PG

LEAFLETS OF BANNED ISLAMIST PARTY FOUND IN TAJIK UNIVERSITY

Tajikistan Interior Ministry officers have found leaflets distributed by the banned Hezb-e Tahrir Islamic party at Khujand State University and elsewhere in the republic, Asia-Plus reported on 31 October. PG

NIYAZOV ORDERS SECURITY ORGANS TO CHECK TURKMENISTAN'S EMBASSIES ABROAD

Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, on 31 October ordered his country's security agencies to check the finances of Turkmenistan's embassies abroad to determine whether all the funds taken in from the sale of visas are being sent back to Ashgabat, Interfax-Central Asia reported. PG

RUSSIAN AGENCY SAYS UZBEKISTAN REFUSING TO ALLOW U.S. TROOP DEPLOYMENT

According to ITAR-TASS on 31 October, Uzbekistan has rejected a request from the United States to allow the basing of additional American soldiers to be deployed on Uzbek territory. Meanwhile, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Louis Michel said in Tashkent the same day that the EU appreciates the position of the Uzbek government on the antiterrorist operation, Interfax reported. PG




BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION UNWILLING TO ENTER 'SOCIOPOLITICAL DIALOGUE'

The Consultative Council of eight Belarusian opposition parties on 31 October confirmed their readiness for political talks with the authorities, but not within the framework of a broad "sociopolitical dialogue" that was recently suggested by presidential aide Syarhey Posakhau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2001), Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. "I think the authorities are unable to conduct political talks about the power system or principles for the implementation of legislation. Therefore, they want to deal with some corporate structures and organizations of hobbyists; for example, with dog breeders and philatelists. It is easier to talk with them," Social Democratic Party leader Stanislau Shushkevich said. The opposition wants to discuss the four issues proposed by the OSCE in 2000: giving more powers to the legislature, stopping political persecution, providing the opposition with access to the state media, and bringing electoral legislation into line with international standards. JM

BELARUSIAN COMMUNISTS WON'T MARCH ON OCTOBER REVOLUTION DAY

The Minsk city authorities have banned the Belarusian Party of Communists (BPK) from staging a march and a rally in Minsk on 7 November to mark the anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, Belapan reported on 31 October. The party was only allowed to lay flowers at a monument to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin on Minsk's Independence Square. "This is unprecedented. The regime has denied citizens of their constitutional right," BPK leader Syarhey Kalyakin said, adding that the authorities told him that "now is not the right time to stir people up." JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER URGES U.S. TO LIFT TRADE RESTRICTIONS...

"We are sure that trade and economic relations between states should be based on equal cooperation and transparent market competition, and that the Jackson-Vannik amendment, which restricts Ukrainian-U.S. trade and economic cooperation, is a relic of the Cold War. We are also sure that it is time to consider the issue of granting Ukraine the status of a market economy," Inter television quoted Premier Anatoliy Kinakh as saying at a news conference in Washington on 31 October. Kinakh held talks with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier the same day. Kinakh said both sides agreed to deepen cooperation in combating terrorism, including money laundering, Interfax reported. JM

...SUGGESTS LIMITED PRIVATIZATION OF GAS PIPELINES

Kinakh also told journalists in Washington that he does not rule out the privatization of Ukraine's gas-transit system provided that it remains under state control and management. According to Kinakh, Ukraine's gas-pipeline system, which has a capacity of transporting 170 billion cubic meters of gas per year, now delivers 120 billion cubic meters of gas to Western Europe annually. Under such circumstances, Kinakh added, Kyiv regards any intention to build gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine as "an attempt at political pressure." JM

U.S. OFFERS UKRAINE $14.5 MILLION TO SUPPORT LAND REFORM

The United States has offered $14.5 million for Ukraine's program to issue state certificates for private ownership of land, Ukrainian Television reported on 31 October. A memorandum to this effect was signed in Kyiv on 31 October by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Leonid Kozachenko and Christopher Crawley, the director of the USAID mission in Kyiv. The program is expected to issue 1.8 million land certificates over two years. The State Committee for Land Resources reported on 29 October that to date, 1.8 million out of 6.8 million Ukrainian farmers have received state certificates for ownership rights to land plots they were allotted under the country's ongoing land reform. JM

UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS SAY VOTE ON LAND CODE RIGGED

Socialist Party (SPU) leader Oleksandr Moroz and SPU activist Valentyna Semenyuk on 31 October said the 25 October vote on the controversial Land Code, which contained a clause to allow the buying and selling of farmland after 2004, was rigged. To support their claim, Moroz and Semenyuk showed journalists copies of the ballots that were used by lawmakers on 25 October. The Land Code officially passed by a vote of 232 to two, but Moroz and Semenyuk claim that one vote was invalid because the "yes," "no," and "abstained" categories were all checked. In addition, four deputies cast votes with notes saying that they voted for the code in the second reading only, not on the final version of the bill. Moreover, 10 votes were not signed by the deputies personally, and eight signatures do not resemble deputies' signatures that are contained in the registration documents. "It surprises me...that [deputy Hanna] Antoniva, who is in a maternity hospital right now, also voted. Being in Kyrovohrad, she managed to cast her vote in Kyiv," STB television quoted Semenyuk as saying. JM

HOLLAND FORESEES ESTONIA IN EU IN 2004

Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok told President Arnold Ruutel in Tallinn on 31 October that Estonia is making such good progress in its EU negotiations that it should become a member in 2004, ETA reported. In discussions with Prime Minister Mart Laar, Kok stressed that Holland is ready to open its labor market to workers from Estonia immediately upon its accession into the EU. He also noted that it is likely that NATO will make the final decision about the membership of the Baltic states in Prague next fall, and said he feels confident that the decision will be favorable for those states. Laar pointed out that Holland has helped Estonia with police cooperation and in creating border checkpoints, and is the third-largest foreign investor after Finland and Sweden. Kok also asked parliament Chairman Toomas Savi about the progress of the bill that would abolish the language requirement for candidates running for Estonia's parliament and local councils. SG

IMF WANTS LATVIA TO REDUCE NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET DEFICIT

The IMF mission, which is in Latvia from 24 October through 5 November to assess the implementation of its cooperation memorandum with Latvia, believes that Latvia should reduce its planned 2002 budget deficit to 1.4 percent of GDP. At a meeting with Prime Minister Andris Berzins on 31 October, the IMF officials noted that Latvia had earlier agreed that the deficit would not exceed 1 percent of GDP and the current planned deficit of 2.46 percent of GDP is not acceptable, BNS reported. The IMF opposed Latvia's plan to reduce the rate of corporate income tax by 3 percent next year, and suggested reducing the large amount of planned investments by choosing only those that are the most necessary. Berzins doubted that parliament would agree to reduce expenditures, but pointed out that the deficit could be lowered to a mutually acceptable level if the efficiency of tax collection were boosted by 1 percent. SG

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS LITHUANIA

Rudolf Scharping told reporters in Vilnius on 31 October after meeting with President Valdas Adamkus that no non-NATO state will be given the right to veto the acceptance of any new members into the alliance, BNS reported. He said Germany will probably decide on NATO expansion at the beginning of 2002, but feels certain that at least three countries will be invited to join the alliance in the next round of NATO expansion. Scharping also held talks with parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas, Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius, Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis, and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas. Brazauskas spoke with Scharping about the problems EU membership will bring to Lithuania's relations with the Kaliningrad Oblast, whose permanent residents currently are not required to have visas to travel to Lithuania. He said Lithuania plans to enlarge its consulate in Kaliningrad and that he hopes Russia will allow the exclave's economy to develop under conditions of open relations with the EU. SG

POLAND NOT TO SAVE ON RAPID-REACTION FORCES...

Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said in Lubliniec, southern Poland, on 31 October that the main military expenditure of the state in the near future should go toward rapid-reaction forces that are currently assigned to cooperation with NATO, PAP reported. Szmajdzinski noted that while the planned program of the army's modernization "cannot be fully implemented" due to a difficult budget situation, its main goals will be realized consistently. He listed such priority modernization tasks as the introduction of new command and communication systems, a multipurpose aircraft, a wheeled transport vehicle, and a new guided missile. JM

...BUT TO 'EXTINGUISH' SOME MILITARY SCHOOLS

"The education model in the Polish military establishments, compared to similar training in NATO states, is obsolete," Szmajdzinski said the same day in Wroclaw. He added that a decision on whether to eliminate Poland's six higher military schools will be made before the end of the year. "In the forces we do not use the expression 'to close down' but to 'extinguish' the school as the successive classes graduate," Szmajdzinski said. "The changes are simply necessary since the dilemma over whether to equip special military units or to finance the military schools is unacceptable." JM

CZECH DAILY SAYS ATTA WAS 'FREQUENT VISITOR TO CZECH REPUBLIC'

The daily "Hospodarske noviny" said on 31 October that Muhammad Atta, one of the suspected suicide terrorists of 11 September, was a frequent visitor to the Czech Republic, CTK reported. The daily said Atta made other visits apart from an unsuccessful attempt to enter the country and two officially confirmed visits in June 2000 and the spring of 2001. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said he "cannot rule out that investigative journalists have information that we do not have." However, Gross told the daily that the Security Information Service does have more information than it can release publicly about Atta's visits. He also said he cannot rule out the possibility that a terrorist-related anthrax transaction could have taken place in the Czech Republic, as has been speculated in several media reports. MS

TEMELIN LEAK FORCES SHUTDOWN

Milan Nebesar, spokesman for the troubled Temelin nuclear power plant, announced on 31 October that tests at the plant have been halted in order to repair a leaking circulation pump, CTK and international agencies reported. He said the pump will be fixed "within days," but further maintenance work will take about three weeks, after which tests will be resumed. Austrian Environment Minister Wilhelm Molterer said the "new failure at Temelin shows that further and serious talks on the safety of the Czech nuclear power station are absolutely necessary." Earlier on 31 October, Austrian antinuclear activists organized a symbolic one-hour blockade at the Wullowitz-Dolni Dvoriste border crossing between the two countries, CTK reported. The activists said they staged the blockade to mark the 1 November All Saints Day, in memory of the children who lost their lives as a result of the Chornobyl catastrophe. MS

FOREIGN MINISTRY TO ANNOUNCE TENDER FOR MOSCOW'S CESKY DUM

First Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka told CTK on 31 October that the ministry is preparing a tender to rent the Cesky Dum building in Moscow. "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported in March that the building had been rented to the Hotel Cesky Dum company under disadvantageous conditions for the state, and that illegal duty-free imports into Russia may have been arranged by the company under the auspices of the Czech Embassy in Moscow. Telicka said a new contract with a new renter will be prepared by 1 January. MS

BALVIN ELECTED NEW CZECH TELEVISION GENERAL DIRECTOR

Jiri Balvin was selected on 31 October by the Czech Television Council to be the next general director of Czech Television, CTK reported. Balvin has filled that position on an interim basis since the crisis at Czech Television that ended in January 2001. He was supported by 10 of the council's 15 members. The appointment is for six years. MS

CZECH LABOR MINISTER SEEKS TO SOOTHE TRADE UNIONS

Labor and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla on 31 October told CTK that he will meet with trade union representatives to discuss a decision by the government to postpone a planned increase of civil servants' wages, CTK reported. The agency said the unions are "outraged" by the decision to postpone until April the 7 percent wage increase that was due in January, and which was earlier agreed upon by the two sides, and is preparing to stage "strong" protests. The government decided to postpone the increase after the Chamber of Deputies rejected the first version of the 2002 budget. In the latest version of the budget, the amount earmarked for civil servants' pay was lowered from 7.2 billion crowns ($1.9 million) to 6.1 billion crowns. MS

NATO OFFICIAL SAYS SLOVAKIA'S MEMBERSHIP CHANCES 'SERIOUS'

A NATO official who requested anonymity told CTK on 31 October that Slovakia is a "really serious candidate" for membership in the organization and that talks with a Slovak delegation at NATO headquarters on 30 October were "very successful." The official refused to speculate on whether a victory by Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) in the 2002 parliamentary elections would threaten the country's membership prospects. He said that whether NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson meets Meciar during his visit to Bratislava on 5 November, and what they would discuss in such a meeting, should be watched closely. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jan Figel, who headed the Slovak delegation, said following the discussions that he assured NATO representatives that the elections will not affect any political plans of the present government. Figel said he believes voters will relate the ballot to Slovakia's prospects of joining NATO and the EU, and will "elect those forces that ensure continuity." MS

MECIAR EXPECTS CZECH SUPPORT FOR SLOVAKIA'S NATO BID

Meciar, in an interview with the Czech daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 31 October, said he expects the Czech Republic to back Slovakia's bid to join NATO regardless of who wins the 2002 parliamentary elections, CTK reported. Meciar admitted that holding a referendum on joining NATO when he was premier was a mistake, but added that the continued isolation of the HZDS at home and abroad has been caused "artificially" by what he called "the eloquence of certain groups." He said he expects a repetition of the 1998 electoral scenario, "when everybody was against Meciar," but added that after three years of opposition the HZDS is stronger than in 1998. He claimed he has "no interest" in any government post. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER WANTS TO STEP UP RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

Slovakia seeks to improve relations with Russia, parliamentary speaker Jozef Migas told ITAR-TASS on 31 October. Migas said that Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev's visit, which began on 1 November, will give new impetus to relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on 31 October that the two countries have agreed to mutually simplify visa regimes and that citizens from the two countries will no longer be required to submit letters of invitation to either country when applying for visas. Slovakia introduced visa requirements for Russian citizens on 1 January and Moscow reciprocated. MS

SLOVAK HUNGARIAN LEADER HAILS STATUS LAW

Miklos Duray, a prominent leader of the Hungarian Coalition Party, said on 31 October that the Hungarian Status Law contradicts neither international legislation nor the legislation in Hungary's neighboring countries, CTK reported. He said that if the law is properly implemented Hungarian minority members who left Slovakia might be encouraged to return. "We are mainly witnessing the departure of ambitious young people who want to study and acquire more knowledge than they are able to in Slovak schools. They leave mainly for the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary. We want them to return and enrich this country with their knowledge," Duray said. MS

SECOND BSE CASE SUSPECTED IN SLOVAKIA

Slovak state veterinarians said on 31 October that they have discovered the country's second case of BSE ("mad cow disease"), Reuters reported. The Agriculture Ministry said further tests will be conducted at laboratories in Bratislava to confirm the initial findings. The animal died while calving. In early October the first case of BSE was discovered in Slovakia. MS

HUNGARY SAYS IT WILL IMPLEMENT STATUS LAW AS OF 1 JANUARY 2002

Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said on 31 October that there is no reason why Hungary should postpone the implementation of the Status Law and that the law will be implemented as of 1 January 2002, AFP reported. Horvath's announcement came in response to a call from Erik Jurgens, a member of the Council of Europe's Legal and Human Rights Commission, to delay implementing the legislation on the grounds that Jurgens is preparing a report on the Status Law to be submitted to the council. Horvath said there are no reasons to abide by that request as the Venice Commission, which is also subordinate to the Council of Europe, "had no objections to its implementation." MS

ORBAN, NASTASE, CRITICIZED IN BUDAPEST BY BUCHAREST MAYOR

Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu on 31 October said in Budapest that both Hungary and Romania's premiers are "excessively ambitious," and also "irresponsible" in their handling of the Status Law dispute, Mediafax reported. Basescu, on a two-day visit upon the invitation of his Budapest counterpart Gabor Demszky, said the dispute over the law is being used by both sides for the purpose of building political capital with an eye toward the next parliamentary elections. He said the dispute risks "ruining the achievements of the last 10 years" in regard to the two country's relations. "Romanians and Hungarians," Basescu said, "work together, get married to one another, steal together, and coexist with one another, and only politicians of the likes of Orban and Nastase disturb that coexistence by their actions." He said no law that is not negotiated with, and accepted by, the Romanian government can apply on Romanian territory. MS

MIGRATION OFFICIAL SAYS FORMER COMMUNIST STATES MUST REINSTATE TIGHT BORDER CONTROLS

Thomas Tass, the head of the Budapest-based International Center for Migration Policy Development, told Reuters on 31 October that the former communist states need to recreate the tight border controls that existed before the Iron Curtain fell. Tass said such a measure is necessary in order to stop human trafficking. He said that under communism, border controls in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia were coordinated and information was shared on a daily basis, and "not even a mouse got through." He said these countries need to reinstate "that type of close communication" in order to transform Central Europe into "a first filter" on the path of illegal migrants and organized crime into Western Europe and North America. MS




OSCE ELECTIONS CHIEF CRITICIZED IN KOSOVA

Daan Everts, the top international official overseeing the 17 November general elections in Kosova, has encountered widespread criticism for appearing at a recent rally of Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), praising Rugova, and wearing a scarf with the LDK logo, Reuters reported from Prishtina on 1 November. Everts told the rally that "the LDK is a party with a proud history, with a leader like Dr. Rugova, who symbolizes what Kosovo needs. He has tolerance, peace, patience, dignity, and orientation toward Euro-Atlantic structures." Everts replied to critics with a statement saying: "Yes, I did attend an LDK rally; and I have attended and will attend other rallies of other parties. As a guest at a political rally, I pay respect to any leader who espouses the ideals that I hope everyone who wants a better future for Kosovo shares -- peace, dignity, and, above all, tolerance." The international community has also encountered criticism in Bosnia for allegedly manipulating election rules to favor non-nationalist candidates who have cultivated foreign backing. PM

OSCE FINES KOSOVAR DAILY

An OSCE committee that handles election-related complaints has fined the Prishtina daily "Bota Sot" nearly $2,500 for biased election coverage in favor of the LDK, to which it has close ties, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 31 October. PM

NATO TROOPS CATCH ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSERS IN KOSOVA

Within the past two days, KFOR troops arrested and turned over to international police some 17 individuals who illegally crossed the border from Macedonia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 31 October. PM

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS AFTER BOMB THREAT

The legislature interrupted an important session on 31 October after receiving a bomb threat, dpa reported. The debate on constitutional amendments is scheduled to resume on 1 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2001). Before the adjournment, speaker Stojan Andov said he expects the vote on the amendments to take place by 8 November and for the changes to take effect on 12 November, AP reported. Ethnic Albanian leader Arben Xhaferi told Reuters in Tetovo, however, that the reform package must include an amnesty for the guerrillas if peace is to succeed. PM

CROATIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES KNESSET

Stipe Mesic told the Israeli legislature on 31 October: "As the president of the Republic of Croatia, I sincerely condemn with all my heart the crimes that were carried out against Jews during World War II by the government that collaborated [with the Nazis] and unfortunately carried the name Croatia... I take every opportunity to ask forgiveness from all those who were hurt by Croatians anytime, first of all the Jews," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2001). He added that Croatia is "aware of its responsibility to investigate, bring to trial, and convict war criminals." For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Mesic: "Your policy paves the way to a new chapter between our two countries." Earlier that day, Mesic visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. PM

NGO CHARGES MONTENEGRIN PLOT AGAINST CROATIAN EDITOR

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), which includes editors, managers, and journalists, said in a statement on 31 October that it is concerned for the safety of Ivo Pukanic, the director of the Croatian magazine "Nacional," dpa reported from Belgrade. Earlier this year, the weekly charged that President Milo Djukanovic and other top Montenegrin officials are involved in a huge cigarette-smuggling racket. SEEMO's statement added that "two groups close to the state secret service in Montenegro are preparing Pukanic's assassination." Djukanovic has denied the smuggling charges and has opened legal proceedings against the pro-Belgrade daily "Dan," which published the reports from "Nacional." PM

MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS STATE MEDIA BOARDS

The government has appointed oversight committees for the state-run media, namely Radio-Television Montenegro and the daily "Pobjeda," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 31 October 2001. The opposition Socialist People's Party (SNP) said it will not take part in the committees' work because it does not consider the state-run media to be objective. PM

BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY NAMES TWO NEW INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS

The joint presidency has named Munir Alibabic to head the Muslim intelligence service (AID) and Ivica Vuksic to head the Croatian service (SNS), AP reported from Sarajevo on 1 November. The move comes just two months before the expiration of a deadline set by the international community for the two services to merge. Supporters of the appointments say that the two men will work quickly to unite their services. Critics charge that only one director should have been named to do the job, not two. On 1 November, UN mission spokesman Stefo Lehmann said in Mostar that the time has come for the two services to work together, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. PM

HAGUE TRIBUNAL OPENS BOSNIAN 'SEALED' INDICTMENT

The Hague-based war crimes tribunal has made public a hitherto "sealed" indictment against Bosnian Croat police official Pasko Ljubicic for atrocities against Muslims in the Lasva valley in 1992 and 1993, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He is charged with four counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of violations of the laws or customs of war in the murder of more than 100 civilians in the central Bosnian village of Ahmici. Chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is expected to soon make public a further six sealed indictments. PM

CAMERA TO REMAIN IN SERBIAN EX-LEADER'S JAIL CELL

A spokesman for The Hague tribunal said there is a camera in former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's cell and that he and visits by his relatives are monitored, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 31 October. The spokesman added that this is the same treatment accorded to other prisoners there. Milosevic had demanded that the camera be removed in the interest of privacy. PM

SERBIAN POLICE EXHUME MASS GRAVE OF KOSOVARS

Dragan Karleusa, a senior Serbian police officer, told AP in Belgrade on 31 October that police have found more than 400 bodies in a mass grave in Batajnica and expect to find an additional 400. Karleusa said the bodies are those of victims of Milosevic's 1998-1999 crackdown in Kosova and "most probably, they are Albanians." The police official added: "Most probably, they were not killed in battle, but by criminal means. That's why they were brought here. That is discouraging, terrible." PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES U.S. VISIT

Adrian Nastase met on 31 October in Washington with Deputy Defense Minister Paul Wolfowitz and Attorney General John Ashcroft, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Nastase told Wolfowitz that Romania and Bulgaria can provide a necessary link between NATO and Central and Southeastern Europe. He discussed with Ashcroft measures aimed at combating international terrorism. Also on 31 October, an agreement was signed by Communications and Technology Minister Dan Nica, who is accompanying Nastase on the visit, with Harris Corporation for a $100 million modernization of Romanian radio's transmitting and relay equipment. Nastase also met with Senators Trent Lott and Chuck Hagel, who back the expansion of NATO, and with congressman Tom Lantos, who told the Romanian premier that Hungary's Status Law "is not helpful for the process of building a new Europe." The premier also met with executives of large U.S. corporations, including General Motors Corp., Boeing Co., and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. MS

IMF BOARD APPROVES STANDBY AGREEMENT WITH ROMANIA

The executive board of the IMF on 31 October approved an 18-month, $380 million, standby loan for Romania, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Welcoming the board's approval, Nastase said it demonstrates "the credibility that we have managed to restore in the eyes of international financial organizations." Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, who is accompanying Nastase, said U.S. companies are now showing a renewed interest in investing in Romania. MS

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS ORBAN IS 'ARROGANT AND SOMEWHAT OUT OF DATE'

Foreign Ministry spokesman Victor Micula told journalists on 31 October that Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban's recent declaration that, "while Romania has 2 million Hungarians more than it needs, Hungary has 2 million less," shows that the premier is "arrogant" and that he is "out of date" with European developments on minority issues. Micula also said Orban's handling of the Status Law "reflects a strange manner of electoral campaigning," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Also on 31 October, Interior Minister Ioan Rus said he is "surprised" that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry has interpreted his recent speech in Cluj as a call for a halt in Hungarian economic investment in Transylvania, and said such an interpretation is "tendentious." Meanwhile, Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko said the same day that the position displayed by the Romanian opposition parties in criticizing the Status Law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2001) is "an incoherent and callous attack" on the formation he heads. Marko reminded those parties that until recently they themselves were coalition partners of the UDMR and had a joint program on minority issues. "I cannot but wonder," Marko said, "when were these parties sincere?" MS

ROMANIAN DIPLOMATS END ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS IN MOSCOW

On 31 October in Moscow, a delegation headed by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Cristian Diaconescu ended a two-day negotiation round on the pending basic treaty with Russia. Upon his return to Romania, Diaconescu said "serious progress" has been made and that he has found a "political will" on the Russian side to find ways of coping with the treaty's "sensitive aspects," among which he mentioned the denunciation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the issue of returning the Romanian state treasury, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In his press conference, Micula said the signing of the treaty "may create the premises" for dealing with the state treasury issue after an agreement is reached on the treaty itself. He also said the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact is less important for this treaty's purpose than it was for the treaty signed with Ukraine. Micula added that, "according to information thus far received," Russia does not intend to block Romania's bid to join NATO. MS

ROMANIA DENIES ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD TRAFFICKING

Serban Mihailescu, the minister in charge of coordinating the activities of the government's secretariat, on 1 October denied allegations printed in "The Guardian" the day before, Romanian Radio reported. The British daily said a Romanian governmental commission has uncovered numerous cases of illegal trafficking of children adopted through international agencies, and that some 500 Romanian children have disappeared. It said profits from the sale of those children most likely end up in the pockets of international terrorist organizations. Mihailescu said no such governmental commission exists and that, "with a six-month regularity," hoax information is being disseminated on the alleged fate of Romanian children who disappear. He said this action is most likely due to the fact that nongovernmental institutions "are angry about the government's decision to freeze international adoptions for one year." He said the decision was taken "in order to refute the allegations and to introduce full transparency" in the process of international adoptions. MS

TRANSDNIESTER HALTS ALL TRAINS BOUND TO MOLDOVA

Extending the blockade instituted earlier this week in Bendery-Tighina, the Transdniester separatists have halted all trains bound for Moldova transiting the province's territory from Ukraine, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Infotag cited Deputy Premier Andrei Cucu as saying the separatists have "impounded" the 400 freight cars in Bendery-Tighina, and are illegally interfering with international commerce. MS

SMIRNOV CONTINUES HARASSMENT OF 'PRESIDENTIAL' RIVALS

The authorities in Tiraspol on 31 October suspended the publication "Golos naroda" (People's Voice), whose editor in chief is Aleksandr Radchenko, Flux reported. "Information and Telecommunications Minister" Boris Aculov motivated the decision on the publication's "undermining of Transdniester's constitutional provisions." One day earlier, separatist leader Igor Smirnov dismissed another rival in the "presidential" race from his administrative post (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2001). MS

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 2002 DRAFT BUDGET

The government on 31 October approved the draft for the 2002 budget and several draft laws amending laws on corporate income tax, local taxes and fees, VAT, personal income tax, and excise duties, BTA reported. The budget envisages a 4 percent growth in GDP, and an inflation rate of 4.2 percent. The projected deficit is zero. The amendment on corporate tax stipulates that companies will pay a tax of 15 percent -- 5 percent less than in 2001. MS

BULGARIAN CHIEF MUFTI SAYS 'THE GUARDIAN,' BULGARIAN MEDIA MUST APOLOGIZE

Chief Mufti Selim Mehmed on 31 October urged "The Guardian" and Bulgarian newspapers that reprinted an article by that British daily to apologize for reporting that Muslim fundamentalists are being trained in the village of Surnitsa, southern Bulgaria, BTA reported. The call was voiced in the local mosque and in the presence of diplomats from the United States, Russia, Turkey, and several Arab countries. The mufti's office organized a tour of the village and of its school, which offers Koran classes to trainees from all over Bulgaria, in an effort to counter the allegations. MS

BULGARIAN NGO CRITICIZES OFFICIAL REACTION TO U.S. REPORT ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The Tolerance Foundation said in a fax received on 30 October by "RFE/RL Newsline" that the official Bulgarian reaction to a recently published State Department report on religious freedom in the world "again demonstrates the depth of attitudes [shared by] a large part of Bulgarian [political] elites" who oppose "the enlargement of religious freedom in Bulgaria." The foundation said that although the report was "mild" and "the situation is in fact much worse," the officials sought to present it as being "biased" and "groundless." The foundation said that claims made by the head of the government's Religious Affairs Directorate, Lubomir Mladenov, who said that "only a few religious communities that applied for registration have not yet received approval," are inaccurate. The foundation said Mladenov's list left out several such communities, and that he failed to mention that a complaint by the Unification Church has reached the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. MS




WTO ENTRY A POISON PILL OR NECESSARY MEDICINE FOR RUSSIA?


By Jeremy Bransten

Participants at this year's World Economic Forum in Moscow -- both foreign and local -- have been singing the praises of Russia's recent economic performance.

The figures appear impressive: an estimated annualized GDP growth rate of over 6 percent for the past three years, $39 billion in foreign exchange reserves, and stabilized inflation.

President Vladimir Putin, in his keynote address on 30 October, promised far-reaching reforms to attract foreign investment and prepare the country for induction into the World Trade Organization. Russia hopes its membership in the WTO will mean the removal of tariffs for its export goods and open access to Western markets and financial services. "Under no circumstances will we agree to join the WTO according to nonstandard conditions," Putin said. "We are looking at the whole issue with optimism, but we resolutely want standard conditions to be applied to us. We don't want demands imposed on us that other candidate countries would never accept."

Even if Moscow is accorded the fair treatment Putin has demanded, Russia remains some distance from meeting WTO membership criteria. To a great degree, Russia owes its recent positive economic performance to high oil prices. But as several participants noted at the Moscow forum, reliance on oil exports will not bring Russia the long-term wealth and development it seeks. Natural resource wealth more often than not translates into corruption and poverty -- as seen in much of the developing world -- rather than stability and democracy.

"Everybody knows that the most prosperous countries -- in terms of natural resources -- are the poorest countries," said Vladimir Mau, the director of the Moscow-based Working Center for Economic Reform. "Rich natural resources are a great temptation and a great danger. Moreover, I would say that only very developed countries, with stable democracies, can afford rich natural resources, since they have the institutions and the experience to use them properly," he said.

Cash and oil reserves, it is clear, will not suffice for Moscow to make it into the WTO. Among the greatest reforms the government has yet to undertake -- as required by WTO statutes -- is an overhaul of the country's moribund banking sector, which continues to act merely as a conduit for channeling public funds to favored firms. Forum participants said an overdue and crucial reform is needed to allow Russian banks to stand up to foreign competition while acting as true engines of domestic growth.

"If we don't have a more or less decent bank system in the next two years -- let's not take into account what the oil price will be -- we won't have any growth in Russia, since the capital will be transferred abroad," said Yevgenii Yasin of Russia's Higher School of Economics. "We don't have in our country a mechanism that helps transform savings into investments. Without a mechanism of this kind, the situation will be catastrophic since sooner or later we'll have to collect more taxes and control capital investments from the center. We can wait, if we want. But, in my view, we don't have the time," he said.

Andrei Kostin, who heads Russia's Vneshekonombank, said he believes "most Russian banks will not be able to survive when these reforms are introduced." Such a scenario would be no great loss, according to Kakha Bendukidze, the general director of United Heavy Machinery, one of the country's largest enterprises. "We have no banks. What does 'bank' mean?" he queried. "A bank is some fiduciary institution. How many fiduciary institutions do we have in Russia? How many institutions do we have that you can trust? How many institutions can you trust? Five? Three?"

Some experts say the cost to other sectors of the Russian economy after WTO admission could be equally dire. They point to the indirect subsidies many businesses enjoy and the import tariffs that favor domestic goods over foreign ones. But here again, Bendukidze disavowed conventional wisdom. He noted that in fact, few Russian companies ever pay import tariffs on foreign goods, preferring to bribe their way around the law. In his view, most Russian companies are already exposed to foreign competition with little or no protection. WTO membership could make it easier for Russian exporters on foreign markets, and the introduction of transparent corporate governance, he said, would help local companies rather than hinder them.

The months ahead will show how serious the Russian government is in its reform intentions, and how prepared the other WTO members are to take its membership bid seriously. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin predicted at the Moscow Forum that Russia will be finished with its negotiations by the end of 2002. Jeremy Bransten is an RFE/RL correspondent.


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