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Newsline - November 7, 2001




PUTIN AGAIN WARNS AGAINST 'DOUBLE STANDARDS' ON TERRORISM

After his 6 November meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, President Vladimir Putin said there must not be "a policy of double standards" about terrorism because that could lead to "a split in the common international position," Russian and Western agencies reported. Putin continued that "there cannot be good and bad terrorists, our terrorists and others. All those who have resorted to arms in order to resolve political disputes, all those organizations, all those structures and individuals who carry out those policies should not be tolerated." The two leaders released a joint statement saying that "terrorism is an absolute evil and represents a global challenge to all mankind," ITAR-TASS reported. PG

PAPER SAYS RUSSIANS EVER MORE SUPPORTIVE OF U.S. ANTITERROR EFFORT, BUT POLLS SUGGEST THEY HAVE QUESTIONS

"Izvestiya" on 5 November noted that opinion polls in the United States suggest that Americans are less uncritically supportive of the U.S. antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan than they were a month ago but that Russians are more supportive of that effort. The paper said that "public opinion in Russia at the same time has been growing steadily more pro-American" as well. At the same time, however, polls conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 6 November found that 46 percent of Russians say the U.S. has not proved that Osama bin Laden was behind the 11 September attacks. Thirty-six percent of Russians believe that the U.S. will be successful in its campaign in Afghanistan but 46 percent do not believe that the U.S. will win. Moreover, 62 percent of Russians believe the current military action in Afghanistan will destabilize Central Asia, and 80 percent think the campaign will lead to more Muslim extremist actions around the world. PG

SENIOR RUSSIAN MUFTI SAYS BOMBING DURING RAMADAN COULD HAVE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES

Ravil Gainutdin, the head of the Council of Muftis of Russia, told Interfax on 6 November that Russian Muslims are concerned by the intention of the U.S. to continue bombing Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He said such actions show "a lack of respect" for Islam, and suggested that such bombing could have negative consequences for the U.S. since the Muslim world may revise its support for the American counterterrorist effort. PG

RUSHAILO WANTS TERRORISM CLASSIFIED AS CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said in Warsaw on 6 November that terrorism should be put in the category of especially dangerous crimes against humanity, Interfax reported. He also said terrorists are "getting better organized and becoming increasingly cunning," and that their opponents must do the same to beak up "the large web of financial, commercial, and public organizations which, under the cover of advocating religious and national ideas, are in fact creating a real terrorist international." Meanwhile, presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii said in New York the same day that the West's shift in its understanding of the nature of the Chechen conflict has reduced the ability of the Chechen militants to maneuver abroad, AP reported. PG

KOZAK SAYS SPECIAL SERVICES DON'T NEED MORE POWERS TO FIGHT TERRORISM

Dmitrii Kozak, the deputy head of the presidential administration, said on 6 November that there is no need as part of the war on terrorism to give the special services additional powers, Interfax reported. At the same time, he called on law enforcement agencies to increase their effectiveness in fighting extremism at home, the news service said. The same day, prosecutors reported that they have completed their investigation into the April 2001 pogroms in Moscow's Yasenevo region, Interfax reported. Five cases are being sent to the courts for consideration, the news service said. PG

FSB SAID UNINTERESTED IN FIGHTING EXTREMISM AMONG THE YOUNG

"Izvestiya" reported on 6 November that despite President Putin's call for a crackdown on extremist actions by the young, "Russian law enforcement officials say that Russia has bigger problems to deal with than to chase after racist and other extremist groups." Indeed, the paper reported, "no one at the Federal Security Service (FSB) deals with such cases." Meanwhile, an article in "Moskovskie novosti" on 6 November speculated that the FSB may have been behind the 30 October pogrom in Moscow as part of an effort to set the pogromists against the antiglobalists. PG

ANTHRAX CONFIRMED AT U.S. CONSULATE IN SVERDLOVSK...

Tests taken to determine whether anthrax was among the mail at the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg have turned out positive, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 6 November. According to the consulate's press attache, the tainted mail arrived from Washington on 25 October. Of the six mailbags tested, only one revealed the presence of anthrax spores. One consulate worker is currently taking antibiotics, but has exhibited no symptoms of the disease. JAC

...AS RUSSIAN POSTAL SYSTEM PUT ON ANTHRAX ALERT

The Russian Sanitary and Epidemics Control Service told ITAR-TASS on 6 November that postal officials have been put on alert to deal with possible anthrax attacks or other forms of biological warfare. Leaflets warning "Beware of Dangerous Mail" have been sent to all post offices. Suspicious envelopes have appeared in 34 regions of the country. PG

PUTIN CONTINUES TELEPHONE DIPLOMACY

President Putin on 6 November spoke by telephone with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, and Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev to discuss the current antiterrorism effort, Russian news services reported. PG

PUTIN SAID LEANING TO DEMILITARIZING LAW ENFORCEMENT BODIES

"Kommersant-Dengi," No. 44, reported that President Putin currently is leaning toward approving the request of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov that military-type units in the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Emergency Situations Ministry, and the Customs Service should be transferred from those agencies to the Defense Ministry. The weekly also reported that Kremlin officials are planning to cut Interior Ministry personnel from 2 million to 500,000, Prosecutor-General's Office personnel from 50,000 to 35,000, and the Customs Service from 60,000 to 25,000. VY

PUTIN SAID TO HAVE DRAINED CONTENT OF RUSSIAN DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

Igor Bunin, the head of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies, said in an interview in "The New York Times" on 6 November that "the systems of checks and balances which existed in the Yeltsin years has completely disappeared. All the formal structures of power remain -- the Duma, the Federation Council, the media, the businessmen -- but their substance, their content, have been eliminated." He suggested that Putin is moving in the direction either of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet or former French President Charles de Gaulle, authoritarian figures who overcame divided countries and set the stage for eventual democratization. PG

PUTIN REPORTEDLY ANGRY WITH GENERALS FOR THEIR FAILURE IN CHECHNYA

According to an article in "Novaya gazeta" on 5 November, President Putin is angry that Russian generals have not won the war in Chechnya and as a result, the paper said, he has ceased to believe in the effectiveness of the senior commanders. That may lead to the dismissal of more generals and also increase tensions between the Defense Ministry and the Kremlin. But if Putin is unhappy with the military, the Russian people are not. According to a poll conducted by ROMIR-Gallup International and reported by Interfax on 6 November, 72.2 percent of all Russians trust the Russian army. Only 21 percent said they do not trust it. PG

LESIN SAID TO BE 'MINISTER OF HIS OWN BUSINESS AFFAIRS'

Writing in "The Moscow News" on 6 November, Aleksei Pankin, who edits the media magazine "Sreda," said that Media Minister Mikhail Lesin is known as "the minister of his own business affairs" because he uses his office to enrich his companies and hence himself. Putin insists that "he is just a normal minister," Pankin said, "but for some strange reason no one seems to believe him." Lesin is one of the founders of Video International, which today has a virtual monopoly on the sales of television advertising in Russia. PG

BOTH VESHNYAKOV AND PRISTAVKIN WANT TO KEEP THEIR JOBS

Aleksandr Veshnyakov, the head of the Central Election Committee, on 6 November rejected rumors that he is about to resign his post and said he has no plans to do so in the next three years, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Anatolii Pristavkin, the head of the Presidential Pardons Commission, said the same day that he will not voluntarily leave his post, the news service reported. PG

LUZHKOV CALLS FOR STATE COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said in an interview published in "Moskovskie novosti" on 6 November that he intends to seek the creation of a state committee for the affairs of migration and ties with compatriots. Meanwhile, an article in "The Moscow Times" the same day suggested that the Interior Ministry, which recently acquired responsibility for dealing with migration, is poorly equipped to do so. Svetlana Gannushkina, the head of the Civic Assistance NGO, told the paper that the Interior Ministry is "incapable of dealing with the human side of migration. Working with migrants requires a high-level human rights culture, which the Interior Ministry does not have." An official of the now-defunct Ministry for Federation Affairs, Nationalities, and Migration Policies added that "putting the Interior Ministry in charge of migrants is like founding an animal rights society in a meat factory." PG

CIVIC FORUM SAID TO HAVE $1 MILLION PRICE TAG

According to an article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 6 November, the Civic Forum meeting set to take place on 21-22 November will cost $1 million, which is to be paid out of the president's administrative account. The paper also said that there are now three organizing committees: one with 27 representatives from nongovernmental organizations, a second with 27 from the government, and a third with 27 who do not agree with either of the first two. PG

ZYUGANOV SEES BRIGHT FUTURE FOR COMMUNISTS

Speaking on the 10th anniversary of President Boris Yeltsin's ban on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov said on 6 November that such actions only highlight the popularity of communist ideas. He said that "no decrees can affect the inclinations of citizens" and that "it is possible to fight with ideas only with other ideas." Zyuganov added that "without the friendship, popular rule, and justice in the name of which the October Revolution was carried out, Russia will not get out of its crisis." PG

PROSECUTORS SEEK FOUR-YEAR TERM FOR DORENKO

Prosecutors said on 6 November at the trial of television journalist and Moscow Duma candidate Sergei Dorenko that they will ask that he be sentenced to four years in a prison camp, Interfax reported. Dorenko is accused of running down a navy captain on a motorbike earlier this year. PG

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN SOME MILITARY SECRECY RULES

The Russian Supreme Court on 6 November ruled that some of the provisions of the Defense Ministry's classification system are not in conformity with the law, NTV reported on 6 November. Among those struck down are some that were used by prosecutors against former Russian naval officer and environmentalist Aleksandr Nikitin in the past and against a variety of scientists and journalists today. The most important finding of the court, however, may be its conclusion that the military cannot classify information about its activities that cause negative effects on people and the environment. VY

SUMMIT PREPARATIONS CONTINUE, HINTS OF COMPROMISE

Russian and American officials at various levels continued to prepare for the upcoming Russian-U.S. summit in mid-November, Russian and Western agencies reported on 6 November. Both sides indicated that there has been progress toward agreements on cutting nuclear weapons and modifying the ABM Treaty. The Moscow media suggested that U.S. President George W. Bush's backing for an end to the 1974 Jackson-Vannik amendment was Washington's response to Moscow's closing of the listening post at Lourdes in Cuba. PG

RUSSIA TO COOPERATE WITH INDIA ON NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, FIFTH-GENERATION FIGHTER

Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee on 6 November met with President Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to discuss expanding cooperation in the nuclear power area, including Russian construction of a new nuclear power station in India and the joint development of a fifth-generation fighter plane, Interfax reported. VY

RUSSIANS UNHAPPY WITH KYIV'S HANDLING OF TU-154 INVESTIGATION

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 6 November, 79 percent of Russians believe that the Ukrainian authorities conducted themselves in an unworthy fashion during the investigation of the accidental downing of a Russian Tu-154 over the Black Sea by a Ukrainian rocket. Only 8 percent support the Ukrainian government's conduct of the investigation. PG

UNION OF WRITERS OF RUSSIA AND BELARUS PROPOSED

Pavel Borodin, the state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, said on 6 November that writers in the two countries should consider forming a common Union of Writers in the Union State, Interfax reported. Borodin said the proposal originated with the International Community of Writers' Unions. PG

SHAMIL LETTERS RETURNED TO RUSSIA

Prince Alexei Shcherbatov, the head of the Noble Assembly of North America, has handed over to presidential aide Yastrzhembskii 19 letters by Imam Shamil, who in the 19th century resisted Russian incursions in the North Caucasus for a generation before his surrender in 1859, ITAR-TASS reported. Yastrzhembskii expressed his gratitude for the gift and said the letters are extremely topical because they show "a profound transformation of Shamil's views concerning relations with Russia." PG

MOSCOW LAYS CLAIM TO OIL-RICH ARCTIC SEABED

The Russian government has informed the United States, Canada, Norway, and Denmark that it is launching the legal procedure necessary to extend its national economic exclusion zone into the Barents and Karsk Seas, Mayak Radio reported on 5 November. According to "Ekspert," No. 44, there are approximately 5 billion tons of hydrocarbons located in this shelf area, some 80 percent of all Russian reserves on the continental shelf. But "Versty" on 5 November warned that Russian claims to Arctic seabeds could prompt counterclaims by other countries that would leave some straits now used by Russia as part of the coastal waters of other countries. VY

RUSSIA CAN'T AFFORD TO HELP OPEC MAINTAIN OIL PRICE

The oil ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, in the name of OPEC, have called on Russia to help prevent a further decline in the price of oil by cutting exports, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 November. But polit.ru reported the same day that Moscow cannot afford to cut its oils sales abroad because of the need to raise funds for the government budget. The same day, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said he has no plans to revise the budget because of the declining world price of oil, Interfax reported. VY/PG

ILLARIONOV SAYS RUSSIA HAS BECOME A MARKET ECONOMY

In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 November, the 10th anniversary of the launch of economic reforms by then-President Yeltsin, presidential economics adviser Andrei Illarionov said that "the chief result of these 10 years is the establishment of a market economy." He said that despite many mistakes, what has taken place in Russia is "a genuine economic revolution." PG

KALININGRAD ROCKET ENGINES SAID NOT TO BE OF MILITARY INTEREST

Customs officials said on 6 November that rocket motors seized in Kaliningrad on 5 November were not of any military interest even if they had somehow managed to be exported, Interfax-BNS reported. PG

OFFICIALS IDENTIFY TWO MORE 'KURSK' SEAMEN

Russian officials identified two more of the bodies recovered from the "Kursk" submarine on 6 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. But the officials said they do not expect to find many more bodies. They also said they have slowed down the recovery procedure in order to avoid losing any of the investigators to an accidental explosion. Meanwhile, in many cities across Russia, funerals were conducted for those seamen lost when the "Kursk" sank in August 2000. PG

REDEFINING THE 7 NOVEMBER HOLIDAY...

The Russian government plans to hold a military parade on Red Square on 7 November, not to mark the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution but rather the 60th anniversary of the defeat of German troops near Moscow in 1941, "Moskovskaya pravda" reported on 6 November. The paper noted that during the 7 November 1941 parade, many of the participants marched directly from Red Square to the battle lines near the city. It said that today's Kremlin officials thus see great symbolism in the date as marking "the beginning of the end of the myth of the invincibility of Russia's enemies and the resurrection of the belief in Russia's own victory." VY

...BUT PUTIN REITERATES OPPOSITION TO BURYING LENIN

President Putin on 5 November reiterated his opposition to any move in the near future to remove Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin from the mausoleum on Red Square and bury him as Lenin and his family requested, "Vremya MN" reported on 6 November. As he has in the past, Putin said that "actions of that kind could violate civil peace and the consolidation of society." PG

JOURNALIST WHO COVERED CORRUPTION GIVEN MVD PRIZE

The Interior Ministry has awarded its annual prize in literature to "Moskovskii komsomolets" journalist Aleksandr Khinshtein for his coverage of corruption not only generally but also within the MVD itself, his paper reported on 6 November. By giving him this award, Interior Minster Boris Gryzlov hopes to show that he is serious about overcoming corruption within his own agency's ranks, the paper said. VY

FOREIGN OWNERSHIP IN DEFENSE SECTOR SPARKS PROBE

The Interior Ministry has launched a probe of foreign ownership of shares of Russian defense firms, "Vremya novostei" reported on 6 November. Interior Ministry investigators said they are "horrified" by their initial findings, which suggest that "foreigners have purchased more than 50 percent of the shares" in firms in this sector "and thereby gain access to Russian state secrets." VY

ONLY 2 PERCENT OF RUSSIAN SCHOOLS CONNECTED TO INTERNET

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 6 November that only 2 percent of Russian schools are linked to the Internet compared to more than 65 percent of American schools in 1996. PG

MENATEP TO BUY OUT U.S. TELECOM OPERATOR IN RUSSIA

The Menatep financial group has reached an agreement to purchase the Russian holdings of the U.S. telecommunications company Andrew Corporation, Prime-TASS reported on 6 November. The details of the accord have not been made public, but a Menatep spokesman said this action will allow his company not only to control more of the Russian market in this sector but to enter the American telecommunications market as well. VY

RESCUE SQUAD IN FAR EAST STAGES HUNGER STRIKE TO DEMAND BACK WAGES

Workers at the rescue squad in the Skotovskii Raion of Primorskii Krai began a hunger strike on 6 November to call attention to the fact that they have not been paid for three months and to demand that the authorities pay them the 103,000 rubles ($3,500) they are owed, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Other workers in the health services industry in that district are owed more than 400,000 additional rubles in back wages. PG

OBLAST GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER CITY'S FINANCES

In what "Kommersant-Daily" is describing as a first in recent Russian history, an oblast government has declared that it is imposing external controls over a city's budget. Samara Oblast Deputy Governor Viktor Kazakov announced on 5 November that the oblast authorities are taking over the finances of the city of Samara because of the city's excessively high level of indebtedness. According to the daily on 7 November, Samara Mayor Georgii Limanskii managed to postpone a financial crisis in the city until after June mayoral elections by borrowing more than 200 million rubles ($6.73 million) from commercial banks. Once he was re-elected, Limanskii unsuccessfully tried to wrest more revenue from the oblast administration. When refused, Limanskii responded by waging "an information war against [Governor Konstantin Titov]." Now the oblast administration has struck back by utilizing Article 112 of the Budget Code, which empowers it to take charge when a certain level of indebtedness has been reached. JAC

FEDERAL INSPECTOR ALLEGES CRIMINALS IN TVER GOVERNMENT

Tver Oblast Governor Vladimir Platov is suing the chief federal inspector for Tver, Vladislav Kosenko, for libel, Russian agencies reported on 6 November. According to regions.ru, the suit centers around comments Kosenko made to the publication "Moskovskii komsomolets v Tvere," in which he suggested that two of Platov's deputies have a "criminal past" and that another deputy, Aleksandr Zatvan, has ties to the "criminal authority Taramov." Platov's deputies have also appealed to the local prosecutor to file criminal charges of libel against Kosenko. Platov is seeking 2 million rubles in damages, which he promises to pass on to an educational establishment for children. JAC

JOURNALISTS, MEDIA MINISTRY CLASH IN SARATOV...

Journalists in Saratov have appealed to the oblast's legislature demanding that legislators stop financing the oblast's Media Ministry, RFE/RL's Saratov correspondent reported on 6 November. According to the correspondent, the conflict started at the end of October, when local reporters were not allowed to attend the last session of the oblast's government and were told that future sessions would also be closed. Journalists informed the local media minister, Yurii Sanberg, about the problem and appealed to the local prosecutor. Only the prosecutor responded, warning Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov that by barring access he is violating the law on mass media. The journalists are now asking the deputies to eliminate funding for the ministry in next year's budget, and to instead use the money for social needs. JAC

...AS COMBATIVE MEDIA NOW CONSIDERED UNNECESSARY IN PRIMORE

The OTV-Prim television company and Ekho Moskvy vo Vladivostoke radio station have stopped their local broadcasts, regions.ru reported on 5 November, citing Vostok-Media. Vostok-Media explained the closures by asserting that the situation in the krai is now less "politicized" under new Governor Sergei Darkin: "Darkin's administration does not want to fight with anyone, nor does anyone want to fight with him." In addition, according to the agency, Vladivostok Mayor Yurii Kopylov controls the most popular newspaper and several popular television and radio programs, which as a result strive to create a positive image of the city's administration. During recent gubernatorial elections, Ekho Moskvy carried an interview with Darkin's chief competitor, Viktor Cherepkov, and that interview was subsequently used by the local election commission to disqualify him (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 20 June 2001). JAC

RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS TO TAKE PLACE THIS MONTH

A "meeting" will take place later this month at a venue in Russia still to be decided on between presidential envoy for the Southern federal district Viktor Kazantsev and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's representative, Akhmed Zakaev, Interfax quoted presidential aide Yastrzhembskii as saying on 6 November. Yastrzhembskii stressed, however, that the meeting should not be regarded as "a political dialogue" between the federal authorities and the Chechen people. Maskhadov's spokesman, Mairbek Vachagaev, told Ekho Moskvy that "intensive preparations" are underway for the Kazantsev-Zakaev meeting. On 5 November, Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov complained that Maskhadov "is spreading rumors that the talks will result in the withdrawal of Russian troops and his return to power," Interfax reported. As a result of such rumors, Kadyrov said, there has been a steep increase in the number of Chechens flocking to join the ranks of Maskhadov's fighters. LF




RUSSIAN WEBSITE ASSESSES SOUTH CAUCASUS POLITICIANS' INFLUENCE

Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev is not only the most influential but also the most secure political figure in the South Caucasus, according to the most recent survey conducted by the NNG Consulting Foundation and gazeta.sng.ru and summarized on 6 November by Caspian News Agency. Aliyev is followed by Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze; Armenian President Robert Kocharian (up from fifth place in the preceding survey); the head of the Azerbaijani presidential staff, Ramiz Mekhtiev; and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian ranks sixth, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba seventh, and former Georgian parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania eighth. In ninth place is fugitive Russian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, who since settling in Georgia several months ago has purchased the Tbilisi Dynamo soccer club and several electronic media outlets. LF

MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS HOLD TALKS IN STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN

The French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group held talks in Stepanakert on 5 November with the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkadii Ghukasian, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Noyan Tapan quoted Ghukasian as affirming his support for a peaceful solution to the conflict and regret that recent bellicose statements by members of the Azerbaijani leadership "do not contribute" to establishing mutual trust between the parties to the conflict. On 6 November, the three co-chairs traveled to Yerevan where they discussed unspecified confidence-building measures with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, who also argued that both Armenia and Azerbaijan should refrain from calling for a new war, according to Arminfo. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov, who accompanied the co-chairs, said that on 7 November the co-chairs will discuss with Armenian President Kocharian an amended version of the tentative peace agreement reached during talks earlier this year in Paris and Florida between Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Aliev. LF

U.S. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER SENTENCE ON AZERBAIJANI NAVAL CAPTAIN

The U.S. Embassy in Baku issued a statement on 6 November expressing concern over the eight-year jail sentence handed down the previous day on former naval captain Djanmirza Mirzoev, Turan reported. "His sentence and the manner in which his trial and investigation have been conducted appear to have been inconsistent with the principles of due process of the law, " the statement said. Mirzoev has been consistently harassed for his efforts to publicize corruption within the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 34, 26 August 1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI APPEALS COURT REDUCES FINE IMPOSED ON NEWSPAPER

On 6 November Azerbaijan's Court of Appeals reduced from 80 million manats ($17,390) to 27 million manats the fine the editor and two journalists from the newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard" must pay for insulting the honor and dignity of Baku Mayor Hadjibala Abutalibov, Turan reported. But the court upheld the decision of a Baku district court to close down the newspaper permanently (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2001). Also on 6 November, the Baku municipal authorities refused permission for a picket the following day to protest the closure of "Bakinskii bulvard" and the daily "Milletin sesi" on the grounds that there was "no need" to resort to such political protests, "Milletin sesi" Editor Shahbaz Hudaoglu told Turan. LF

NATO UNIMPRESSED BY AZERBAIJAN'S CULT OF PERSONALITY

NATO officers currently in Baku to conduct multilateral maneuvers under the aegis of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program have expressed surprise and disapproval that at least 10 portraits of President Aliyev adorn the command headquarters, according to the independent daily "Azadlyg" on 7 November, as cited by Turan. The officers reportedly compared Azerbaijan with Iraq and said that "worship" of the head of state is not a normal phenomenon. The military exercises involve some 600 troops from nine NATO member states and 10 members of the PfP program, and will last until 16 November. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ELECT NEW SPEAKER

Deputies failed at an emergency session on 6 November to elect a successor to Zhvania, who resigned as parliament chairman on 1 November, Caucasus Press reported. Two candidates were formally proposed: parliament Foreign Relations Committee Chairwoman Nina Burdjanadze and former Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze, but neither received the required 118 votes (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 37, 7 November 2001). A second round of voting was scheduled for 9 November. LF

RUSSIAN MATERIEL STOLEN, RETRIEVED IN ABKHAZIA

A trainload of arms, including four batteries of "Buk" antiaircraft missiles, was hijacked on 24 October by a group of unidentified armed men while being transported from the Russian military base at Gudauta in Abkhazia to Adler in the Russian Federation, according to Interfax and the Georgian daily "Alia" on 6 November. The train and the weapons were found abandoned several days later in a tunnel near Novyi Afon and returned to Gudauta. Abkhaz officials denied any responsibility for the theft. The Abkhaz authorities finally agreed to the withdrawal of all equipment from the Gudauta base after "difficult" talks with Russian Defense Ministry representatives and the commander of the CIS peacekeeping force in the Abkhaz conflict zone, Major General Nikolai Sidorichev. Also on 6 November, Interfax quoted Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze as saying that the Georgian leadership will not consider that Moscow has met its obligation to close the Gudauta base until the 600 servicemen still guarding it are withdrawn. LF

ABKHAZ POLITICIANS COMMENT ON ABASHIDZE APPOINTMENT

Who represents Georgia in talks on a solution to the Abkhaz conflict is of marginal importance, Abkhaz Prime Minister Anri Djergenia told Russian news agencies on 6 November a propos of the announcement by President Shevardnadze the previous day that he has appointed Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Abashidze to represent the Georgian government in those talks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). "The only thing that can be discussed at the negotiations is a mechanism for meeting the mutual commitments to the nonuse of force and guarantees of a nonresumption of hostilities," ITAR-TASS quoted Djergenia as saying. Interfax quoted him as saying that talks can take place only on relations between two independent states. Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba for his part said what is needed is a fundamental change in Georgia's attitude toward resolving the conflict, according to Interfax. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT MEETS WITH FORMER CP FIRST SECRETARY

On the sidelines of celebrations on 6 November to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of Kazakhstan's Academy of Sciences, President Nursultan Nazarbaev met in Almaty with Ismail Yusupov, who served as first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan from 1962-1964, when then-CPSU General-Secretary Leonid Brezhnev appointed Dinmukhamed Kunaev to replace him. Nazarbaev congratulated Yusupov on his 88th birthday and lauded his "significant and unforgettable" contribution to building Kazakhstan's statehood. Nazarbaev, then chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers, supported the replacement of Kunaev in December 1986 by ethnic Russian Gennadii Kolbin, a move that led to widespread protests in the Kazakh capital. Kunaev died in 1993 after spending the last seven years of his life under virtual house arrest. LF

WOMEN FROM SOUTHERN KAZAKHSTAN RENEW CAMPAIGN FOR BENEFITS

A group of women from South Kazakhstan Oblast who have been campaigning since early this year for payment of child benefits dating back to 1997 is again in Almaty seeking a meeting with Prosecutor-General Rashid Tusupbekov, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 6 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January, 18 and 19 April, and 21 September 2001). LF

KYRGYZSTAN SUSPECTED OF VIOLATING EMBARGO ON ARMS SALES TO LIBERIA

The UN Security Council began on 5 November debating an exports report it commissioned that chronicles illegal sales by Kyrgyzstan of helicopter spare parts to Liberia in violation of UN sanctions imposed in March, RFE/RL's UN correspondent reported. LF

KYRGYZ HEATING ENGINEERS END STRIKE

The 100 employees of the Bishkek power and heating plant ended on 6 November the strike they began the previous day to demand payment of wage arrears after the plant's management promised to pay those arrears within the next few days, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The plant's director explained to RFE/RL that he was unable to do so because both private households and state-owned companies regularly fail to pay their heating and electricity bills. LF

U.S. DIPLOMAT, TAJIK PRESIDENT DISCUSSES EXPANDING COOPERATION

Lynn Pascoe, who is Deputy Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of State for the Caucasus and Central Asia, met in Dushanbe on 6 November with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, whom he gave a letter from U.S. President George W. Bush, Asia Plus Blitz reported, noting that Pascoe was the third ranking U.S. diplomat to meet with Rakhmonov in the past two weeks. The two men discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the prospects for expanding bilateral ties and cooperation. Presidential press secretary Zafar Saidov said Rakhmonov expressed particular interest in boosting economic ties and attracting U.S. investment. Neither Pascoe nor Saidov said whether military cooperation was discussed, according to Reuters. LF

BRITISH TEACHER FOUND MURDERED IN TAJIK CAPITAL

A 48-year-old Londoner who taught English at Dushanbe's Institute of Foreign Languages was found stabbed to death in his apartment on 5 November, Reuters reported. None of his belongings were stolen. Tajik police declined to comment on the killing. LF




BELARUSIAN PREMIER ASSURES IMF OF ECONOMIC LIBERALIZATION...

Premier Henadz Navitski met on 6 November with an IMF mission that is currently in Belarus to monitor the results of an economic program implemented by the government in April-September, Belapan reported. Navitski assured the mission that his government is working to further liberalize monetary controls, tighten tax policy, curb inflation, speed up price liberalization, get rid of cross-subsidies, step up privatization, adopt universally recognized principles for tariff control, and remove any obstacles to free trade in anticipation of entry to the World Trade Organization. The premier also underscored his cabinet's intention to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises. JM

...WHILE IMF OFFICIAL WARNS AGAINST 'ILLUSION OF GROWTH'

Meanwhile, IMF European II Department Director John Odling-Smee said in Minsk the same day that the Belarusian government has implemented the six-month program only in part. According to Odling-Smee, it is too early to talk about the possibility of the IMF's support for Belarus. Odling-Smee noted that a major cause of the Belarusian government's failure to observe some parameters stipulated by the program is its decision to increase the average monthly pay to the equivalent of $100. "Such an increase in wages should only be based on a related increase in labor productivity. Otherwise, it is just an illusion of growth in living standards. But the labor productivity has not increased enough," he said. JM

LUKASHENKA WANTS WESTERN MONEY TO STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS...

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said in Hrodna on 6 November that there are some 100,000 illegal immigrants in Belarus, Belarusian Television reported. According to him, Hrodna Oblast has become a "storeroom" for illegal immigrants heading for Western Europe. He threatened that the West will have problems unless it pays Belarus money for dealing with illegal immigration. "We cannot be a filter and a collection sump for all those migrants we catch here. When we ship them to Russia, they come back here again. Let [the West] pay us money for this. If they fail to pay, they will have problems there," Lukashenka said. JM

...AND HAILS OCTOBER REVOLUTION

In an address to the nation on the occasion of the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in 1917, Lukashenka said that "Belarus acquired real statehood" thanks to the October Revolution, Belapan reported on 6 November. Lukashenka said the 1917 events were "a deliberate choice of generations" and a "powerful impulse of millions of people toward building a just society." Lukashenka stressed in his address that Belarus currently "occupies a decent place in the world community, pursues a peace-loving foreign policy, respects the rights of all countries and peoples, and builds its relations with them on the principles of partnership" as it "successfully develops" its own economy and "raises the living standards of the population." JM

KUCHMA PLEDGES KYIV'S PARTICIPATION IN HUMANITARIAN ACTION IN AFGHANISTAN...

Speaking at an antiterrorist summit in Warsaw on 6 November (see below), President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine is ready to offer its aviation in a future humanitarian action in Afghanistan, Interfax reported. "One needs to prepare oneself for the next stage of the antiterrorist operation -- rehabilitation of and humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people," Kuchma said. He stressed that the efficient struggle against terrorism needs, apart from united efforts of the global community, a "dialogue of civilizations" which he said should be spearheaded by the United Nations. JM

...SPEAKS IN FAVOR OF NATO EXPANSION

Kuchma also expressed his support for the expansion of NATO, PAP reported. Answering a question from Russian journalists on whether he thinks the expansion of NATO could be effective in the struggle against terrorism, Kuchma said: "What am I to think, since the strategic partner of Ukraine is Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin has stated that he is considering the possibility of joining NATO? I think that, today, there is a deep sense in these words of Putin -- there are no longer two camps that were in confrontation with each other." JM

CRIMEA'S RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS PUSH FOR ETHNIC ENCLAVE

The Russian Bloc of Crimea, established by regional branches of Ukraine's Slavic Party and Party of Slavic Unity, is calling for the transformation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea into a Russian autonomous entity and the reinstatement of Russian as the state language, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. According to the bloc's coordinator, Sergei Shuvainikov, "national-patriotic forces" on the peninsula intend to lead a campaign for the rights of Russians and their recognition as the indigenous people of Crimea and Ukraine as a whole. The bloc opposes the Ukrainian leadership's plans to grant the Crimean Tatars membership quotas on official bodies of the autonomous republic or to give them the right to elect their own deputies in constituencies where they constitute a majority. JM

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT EXTENDS PRIVATIZATION PROCESS DEADLINE

The cabinet decided on 6 November to extend the deadline for using privatization vouchers to the end of 2005 instead of the previously announced deadline of July 2002, ETA reported. Moreover, the use of vouchers in cases regulated in the Land Reform Act and the Housing Privatization Act will continue until 1 July 2006. The deadline had to be extended because land privatization has been delayed and the final stages of the land reform were remapped. Reports from local governments indicate that 330,000 hectares of land still need to be returned to their owners. The land can be purchased with vouchers that were issued to all Estonians at the beginning of 1990s, which have primarily been used up to this point to privatize homes and apartments. The total volume of privatization vouchers issued by 10 October was worth 7.99 billion kroons ($460 million). SG

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS CHANGES IN LANGUAGE REGULATIONS REQUIRED BY UN COMMITTEE

On 6 November, the government amended the state language proficiency regulations that were criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee, LETA reported. The committee ruled that the decision by the Riga Election Commission in 1997 to remove Antonina Ignatane, a Latvian citizen, from the list of candidates to the Riga City Council elections because she was deemed not to be fluent in Latvian was illegal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 2001). The amendments provide that the State Language Board will have the right to check only the authenticity of the language proficiency certificate and not the actual proficiency of its holder. SG

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTED BILL ON IDENTIFICATION CARDS

The parliament by a vote of 61 to 23, with 13 abstentions, adopted a law on 6 November that will make an ID card the principal personal identification document for Lithuanian citizens beginning on 1 January 2003, "Lietuvos rytas" reported on 7 November. The cards, which all citizens over the age of 16 will be required to obtain, will be used mainly within the country, but will also be valid in foreign states with which appropriate agreements will be made. The cards are expected to cost about 5-10 litas ($1.25-$2.50). It also became clear that the no-confidence motion against Health Minister Romualdas Dobravolskis will fail, as the ruling coalition's decision not to participate in the vote makes it impossible to gain the needed majority (71 of 141 votes). SG

WARSAW SUMMIT ADOPTS ANTITERRORIST ACTION PLAN...

The antiterrorist conference of Central, Eastern and Southeastern European leaders in Warsaw on 6 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001) concluded with the adoption of a joint declaration and an Action Plan, PAP reported. "We stand by the American nation just as they supported us in our struggle for freedom," the leaders said in the declaration. They also declared their readiness for wider exchange of intelligence data and for cooperation among intelligence services in combating international terrorism. The Action Plan calls for exchanging experiences in the sphere of training of antiterrorist units and rescue services. It also announces the introduction of a system of monitoring of issues associated with international terrorism. "Today an important signal is coming from Central Europe to terrorists: Central Europe is not a good place for terrorists. You cannot feel safe here," Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the initiator of the conference, said at a news conference. JM

...WHILE U.S. PRESIDENT SAYS TERRORISM IS GLOBAL THREAT

Addressing the Warsaw antiterrorist summit via satellite link, U.S. President George W. Bush likened the fight against terrorism to a new Cold War. "Like the Fascists and totalitarians before them, these terrorists, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban regime that supports them, and other terrorist groups across our world, try to impose their radical views through threats and violence," Bush noted. Bush said Al-Qaeda operates in more than 60 countries, including some in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE. "These terrorist groups seek to destabilize entire nations and regions," he warned. And he added: " [The terrorists] are seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and, eventually, to civilization itself. So, we are determined to fight this evil and fight until we are rid of it." JM

POLISH PRESIDENT SAYS NATO, EU EXPANSION IS RESPONSE TO TERRORIST THREAT

Kwasniewski told the antiterrorist summit in Warsaw that European integration and NATO enlargement should be a response to international terrorism, PAP reported. "Integration requires acceptance of the same values, principles, and procedures, and that means that Europe is really becoming a common continent where all of us enjoy security and development, but also bear responsibility for our lives," he added. JM

POLISH COURT SEEKS TO LIFT DEPUTY SPEAKER'S IMMUNITY

The Regional Court in Elblag, northern Poland, has asked Sejm deputy speaker Andrzej Lepper to confirm his earlier pledge that he will forsake his parliamentary immunity in a case launched against him for insulting state authorities, PAP reported on 6 November. A court spokeswoman told the agency that the court has commenced the procedure to lift Lepper's immunity irrespective of this request. Lepper, the leader of the radical farmer's union Self-Defense, is accused of insulting the previous cabinet of Jerzy Buzek by calling it "a government of national betrayal." Another Self-Defense lawmaker, Danuta Hojarska, who is accused of having embezzled some 200,000 zlotys ($48,000), is also included in the same procedure for the lifting of parliamentary immunity. JM

CZECH TELEVISION MOGUL'S LAWYER DETAINED

Ales Rozenhal, the lawyer of Czech television mogul Vladimir Zelezny, was detained on 5 November and the Prosecutor-General's Office is to decide on 7 November whether to file charges against him. The office asked that Rozenhal be taken into custody and a Prague court is to rule on that request, CTK and dpa reported on 7 November. Rozenhal spent the night in jail. He is suspected of committing the same crime as Zelezny -- cheating a creditor, namely the U.S. company Central European Media Enterprises owned by businessman Ronald Lauder. The same charges have been filed against Zelezny. If convicted, Rozenhal faces up to eight years in prison. Throughout the night of 6-7 November, Czech police searched the offices of Zelezny-owned Nova television, CTK reported on 7 November. MS

VERHEUGEN TELLS CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER EU REPORT IS 'POSITIVE'

Guenter Verheugen, the EU's commissioner in charge of enlargement, told journalists on 6 November that this year's report by the commission on progress toward accession will be positive as far as the Czech Republic is concerned, CTK reported. Verheugen spoke after meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. Kavan said the report will highlight the need for a stable, independent, and effective civil service due to the fact that the Czech Republic has yet to pass legislation on the independence of civil servants. The two politicians agreed that the Czech Republic is clearly among the candidates with whom the EU is likely to complete negotiations by 2004. Kavan also said that at an earlier meeting with EU Vice President Loyola da Palacio, the sides are in full agreement over the "Melk process" and on the need to close those negotiations between Vienna and Prague. Kavan said he does not believe Austria will "take the risk" of vetoing the closure of the energy chapter in EU-Czech negotiations. MS

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES CZECH-GREEK INITIATIVE ON MIDDLE EAST IS UNDER WAY

Speaking in Brussels on 6 November, Kavan denied reports that a joint Czech-Greek initiative on solving the Middle East conflict is being prepared, CTK reported. He spoke after meeting with Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for common foreign and security policy. Solana told Kavan that the key role in the Middle East peace efforts is being played by the United States, and that the EU's influence and possibilities in the region are "limited." Kavan said the Middle East is a "hotbed of terrorism and terror" and that "it is necessary to deprive terrorists of these protracted conflicts, which produce frustration, feelings of hopelessness, and anger." But he stressed no joint Czech-Greek "bilateral activity" is being undertaken for this purpose. MS

CZECH PREMIER GETS OPPOSITION SUPPORT ON 'RESPEKT AFFAIR'

Civic Democratic Party Chairman and Chamber of Deputies speaker Vaclav Klaus said on 6 November that the government's plan to file multiple lawsuits against the weekly "Respekt" is not an attack on the freedom of the press, CTK reported. Klaus was responding to a letter "Respekt" Editor in Chief Petr Holub wrote to Klaus, asking him to state whether the intention is not such an attack and whether the chamber intends to demand that Prime Minister Milos Zeman explain his behavior. Klaus said he is "just one deputy in the chamber" and that he "does not know" whether the house will initiate such a move. "I myself am not going to initiate it and do not know why the chamber should deal with disputes between the government and private entities selling their product on the market," he wrote. He added that anyone who feels harmed by what such "entities" produce can choose how to react, and said, "I do not know why this chance should be denied to the government. This is why I believe the court should decide on the dispute between the government and your publication." MS

SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA HAS DROPPED OBJECTIONS TO NATO ENLARGEMENT

Eduard Kukan told journalists on 6 November that Russia "wants to play a large role in world politics" and that "strategic positions" are more important to Moscow than "partial successes in individual parts of the world," CTK reported. Kukan said he believes this is the reason why Russia has dropped its objections to NATO enlargement, including objections to Slovakia's membership of that organization. He said it is "far fetched" to think that Russia itself may become a NATO member and that he considers that possibility to be "unrealistic." Kukan also said he is optimistic that Slovakia will accede to NATO and added: "I dare say that Slovakia will be prepared for entry next year better than Hungary, Poland, and Czech Republic were at the time of their admittance." MS

SLOVAK OFFICIAL SAYS HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW OUT OF LINE WITH INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION

Deputy Foreign Minister Jaroslav Chebo told journalists in Bratislava on 6 November that the Hungarian Status Law is out of line with international legislation and with European standards on national minorities, TASR reported. Chebo said Budapest should consider amending the law before it comes into effect on 1 January 2002. Chebo said the law's implementation will amount to discrimination, thus breaking one of the basic EU principles. "We unequivocally reject any [reintroduction] of nationalism in Central Europe and see this as a negation of the achievements made in the region's stabilization and as a future potential risk," Chebo said. He is expected to meet his Hungarian counterpart Zsolt Nemeth in Budapest on 16 November to discuss the Status Law. MS

HUNGARY TO INCREASE PEACEKEEPING ROLE IN BALKANS

Hungary is preparing to expand its contingent of peacekeepers stationed in Kosova and Bosnia, dpa reported on 7 November. The government asked the parliament to approve the reorganization of Hungarian troops taking part in the KFOR and SFOR missions, based on expectations that the United States and the United Kingdom may withdraw parts of their contingents in the region to deploy them closer to the Afghanistan war theater. MS

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER OUTLINES IDEAS ON EU ACCESSION

Janos Martonyi told journalists in Paris on 6 November that Hungary continues to consult with neighboring countries about the Status law and reiterated that the EU's position is that the law does not run counter to EU legislation, Hungarian media reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said Martonyi was received by Raymond Forni, the speaker of the French National Assembly, after which he outlined his ideas and expectations on the future of the EU at a parliamentary hearing. Martonyi said his country will be in a position to adopt the euro two years after acceding the union, by which time it will have managed to reduce its high inflation rate to the levels set by the Maastrich Treaty. MS

HUNGARIAN EXTREMIST PARTY ACCUSES MEDGYESSY OF MEMBERSHIP IN COMMUNIST SECRET POLICE

In the parliament on 6 November, Hungarian Justice and Life Party deputy Lorant Hegedus accused the Socialist Party's candidate for premiership, Peter Medgyessy, of having been an undercover officer working for the communist secret police, Hungarian media reported. Hegedus alleged that Medgyessy was paid cash for gathering information on people and writing reports on them. Secret Services Minister Ervin Demeter said that a ruling by the Constitutional Court prevents him from replying "substantively" to Hegedus's allegation, and added that many files of the communist regime's secret police were destroyed during the transition to the new regime. Medgyessy's deputy chief of staff, Zoltan Gal, said Hegedus "is not worthy of a reply," as proceedings have been launched against him on grounds of "fomenting hatred." MS




NATO WANTS MACEDONIANS TO KEEP PROMISES

NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson was scheduled to arrive in Skopje on 7 November for his third visit in as many months aimed at persuading Macedonian politicians to keep the promises they made in the 13 August Ohrid agreement, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). These include the passage of a package of constitutional reforms and an amnesty for ethnic Albanian guerrillas. Claus Vollers, NATO's ambassador to Macedonia, said: "We hope to get a breakthrough this week." He added that the absence of an amnesty has not led to any arrests of former fighters, but "nobody knows how it is going to work in the future." PM

POWELL CALLS ON MACEDONIANS TO ENACT REFORMS

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski to urge swift passage of the reform package, dpa reported from Skopje on 6 November. Powell stressed the link between the reforms and Washington's willingness to support economic aid to Macedonia and the return of Macedonian police to former guerrilla-held areas. PM

FORMER MACEDONIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY IN GLIGOROV BOMBING...

At a media briefing on 5 November, the Interior Ministry announced that former Interior Ministers Ljubomir Frckovski, Tomislav Cokrevski, and Pavle Trajanov will soon be charged with complicity in the 3 October 1995 bomb attack on former President Kiro Gligorov because they did not carry out their duties properly, the Skopje daily "Dnevnik" reported on 6 November. The ministry said the former ministers failed to keep records properly, employed criminals during the investigations, and sacked high officials who worked on the case. So far, the investigations have not produced any results. Gligorov survived the bombing after extensive hospitalization and plastic surgery. UB

...WHILE THE ACCUSED DENY RESPONSIBILITY

Former Interior Minister Frckovski told the press in Skopje that he does not want to comment on "stupid accusations." But Trajanov maintained that he kept proper records, "Dnevnik" reported on 6 November. "During my time in office, an analysis [of the investigation] was made, and an expert team in the Interior Ministry scrutinized the investigation. The experts decided that an operational staff led by the State Security Commission (DBK) should be set up... Current Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski knows this very well, since he was deputy director of the DBK at that time." UB

KOSOVARS ANGRY OVER BELGRADE PACT

Leading ethnic Albanian politicians in Kosova said in Prishtina on 6 November that the recent agreement between the UN civilian administration (UNMIK) and the Belgrade authorities is unacceptable, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline" and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 November 2001). Albanian representatives subsequently boycotted a planned session of UNMIK's advisory council. The Albanians object to the renewed involvement of Belgrade in Kosova's affairs. They also object to anything in the pact that prohibits the parliament set to be elected on 17 November from declaring independence, which all Albanian parties want. Ramush Haradinaj, who heads the Alliance for the Future of Kosova, said he will now oppose UNMIK. Former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci argued that his Democratic Party of Kosova is determined to press ahead for independence. Moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova said he opposes the agreement but will continue to work with UNMIK. PM

UN ADMINISTRATOR DENIES ANY KOSOVA INDEPENDENCE BAN

Hans Haekkerup, who heads UNMIK, said in Prishtina that independence for Kosova at some future point has not been excluded, Vienna's "Die Presse" reported from Belgrade on 7 November. He noted that UN Resolution 1244, upon which UNMIK's mandate rests, is "neutral and does not exclude any possibilities" regarding the province's future political status. Belgrade and Moscow maintain that the resolution reaffirms that Kosova is part of Yugoslavia. PM

ALBANIA CALLS FOR 'PEACEFUL VOTE' IN KOSOVA

In Tirana on 6 November, the Albanian parliament said in a statement that it hopes the Kosovar "elections will take place in a peaceful atmosphere with the massive participation of all groups in Kosova," dpa reported. PM

YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT TO BREAK WITH TRAJKOVIC?

The federal authorities are seriously considering firing Momcilo Trajkovic, who heads the Federal Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, "Blic" reported on 7 November. Trajkovic, a prominent Kosova Serb, has angered the Belgrade leadership by rejecting their call for Serbs to take part in the elections. His role has, in any event, been largely symbolic. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic is Belgrade's main point man for Kosova as well as for Presevo. PM

YUGOSLAV COURT THROWS OUT DECREE ON COOPERATION WITH HAGUE

The Constitutional Court ruled in Belgrade on 7 November that a controversial government decree from earlier this year permitting the extradition of Yugoslav citizens to The Hague is invalid, AP reported. The decree was opposed by backers of former President Slobodan Milosevic. Constitutional law expert Slobodan Vucetic told the news agency that "this decision does not mean that Yugoslavia cannot or will not cooperate with The Hague tribunal... [But] there is now an added urgency to pass legislation to finally regulate cooperation with The Hague." Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic said the court's ruling will have no practical effect on his work. He noted that the government did not cooperate with The Hague in the past on the basis of the decree, but on the basis of The Hague tribunal's mandate from the UN. PM

SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS 'GLAD' TO FIGHT TERRORISM...

After his meetings in Washington on 6 November with U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Powell, Zoran Djindjic said: "We are happy to, for the first time in the last 50 years, to be part of the democratic world fighting against the common evil. And although we are a small part of this, we are on the right side," VOA reported. Djindjic called his talks with Powell a "meeting among friends," and said it is Belgrade's "duty" to keep the Balkans stable and not complicate the global crisis. He expressed surprise that Bush administration officials were able to discuss Balkans issues with him and his team despite their focus on Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 18 and 28 September 2001). PM

...BUT SERBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER NOT SO SURE

A veteran Serbian human rights activist, Professor Vojin Dimitrijevic, told "Die Presse" on 7 November that "there is a danger [in Serbia] that the entire society may take the Afghan side. This is because of latent anti-Americanism and the xenophobia that dates from the Milosevic era." He also warned against Muslim "fundamentalism" in the Balkans but did not give evidence to prove that this is a serious problem (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 28 September 2001 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 September 2001). Dimitrijevic argued that there has not been much terrorism in Serbian political history, but perhaps some of his Austrian readers may disagree with him. PM

HAGUE REVEALS INDICTMENT OF BOSNIAN SERB SIEGE COMMANDER

The Hague-based war crimes tribunal has made public the "sealed" indictment of former Bosnian Serb General Dragomir Milosevic, Reuters reported from The Hague on 7 November. He was indicted for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, together with the Bosnian Serb army's former chief of staff, General Stanislav Galic, in conjunction with the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo. The court noted that "because of the shelling and sniping against civilians, the life of every Sarajevo inhabitant became a daily struggle to survive." PM

OSCE INTRODUCES NEW VOTER REGISTRATION SYSTEM FOR BOSNIA

The OSCE, which has supervised all elections in Bosnia for the past five years, has introduced a new system of voter registration aimed at transferring control over the process to local governments in Bosnia's 145 municipalities, dpa reported from Sarajevo on 6 November. PM

REPUBLIKA SRPSKA TO CHANGE CONSTITUTION

The government decided in Banja Luka on 6 November that the constitution will be changed to list Muslims and Croats -- as well as Serbs -- as "constituent" peoples of the Republika Srpska, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The move follows a recent ruling by the Bosnian Constitutional Court to that effect. PM

REFUGEE RETURNS UP IN BOSNIA

During the period from 1 January to 31 September 2001, some 56,683 persons returned to their former homes in areas now held by ethnic groups other than their own, AP reported from Sarajevo on 6 November. Among them were 25,759 Serbs, 23,862 Muslims, 6,394 Croats, and 668 others, the UNHCR said in a statement. The comparable figure for the same period in 2000 was about 37,000 returnees. Only 18,800 Serbs went home in all of 2000. PM

FORMER ALBANIAN GENERAL SENTENCED

A court in Tirana has sentenced former General Agim Shehu in absentia to seven years imprisonment for deserting his post during the 1997 unrest, dpa reported from Tirana on 6 November. PM

SLOVENIA'S PRESIDENT IN AUSTRIA: PUT THE PAST BEHIND US

On the first state visit to Austria by a Slovenian president since independence in 1991, Milan Kucan said in Vienna that problems in Austro-Slovenian relations left over from the past should be left to expert commissions and historians, "Die Presse" reported on 7 November. He rejected Austrian calls for the repeal of the former Yugoslav legislation -- known as the AVNOJ Decrees, much like the Czechoslovak Benes Decrees -- that confiscated the property of Slovenia's German-speaking minority at the end of World War II. Kucan added, however, that Slovenia still wants compensation for the work done by Slovenian forced laborers in Austria during that war. Kucan's hosts included President Thomas Klestil, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, and Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER IN U.K.

Adrian Nastase was present on 7 November at the signing ceremony in London of the privatization contract for the Galati steel-making giant SIDEX. The British-Indian consortium LNM ISPAT purchased SIDEX for over $500 million, of which over $350 million is to be invested over the next 10 years in the unprofitable company, Romanian radio reported. Nastase earlier addressed in Birmingham the national conference of the Confederation of British Industry, calling on British businessmen to invest in his country and outlining reforms undertaken by his government to encourage investment and promote economic growth. Nastase met on 6 November in London with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who told him NATO and EU enlargement is "essential for Europe's future stability and the fight against terrorism." Straw said the U.K. "fully supports Romania's and the other candidates' aspirations for membership in both organizations," and said he is "grateful for Romania's strong support for the international coalition" engaged in operations in Afghanistan. MS

ROMANIAN, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS TO ACCELERATE SEARCH SOLUTION TO DISPUTES

Meeting at the Warsaw summit on international terrorism on 6 November, President Ion Iliescu and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma agreed to direct experts to find "within one month" a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute involving their border on the Black Sea's continental shelf, Romanian radio reported. The solution should make it possible "to avoid appealing to international arbitration." They also agreed that their joint commission on economic relations should meet "within two months" to examine ways of improving trade. The presidents also agreed on the need to find mutually acceptable solutions to the problem of minorities living in each other's countries. MS

ROMANIAN OSCE PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN ADMITS TO 'DISAGREEMENTS' WITH ROTATING CHAIRMAN

OSCE Parliamentary Chairman Adrian Severin said on 6 November that there are "points of disagreement" between himself and OSCE rotating Chairman Mircea Geoana, who is also Romania's foreign minister, Mediafax reported. Severin said such differences of opinion are "normal" between the organization's legislative and executive branches, and that they do not "attest to a personal conflict." MS

ROMANIA, LATVIA SIGN AGREEMENT ON MILITARY COOPERATION

Visiting Latvian Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis and his Romanian counterpart Ioan Mircea Pascu signed an agreement on military cooperation in Bucharest on 6 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. They agreed that the current international situation calls for an enlargement of NATO that would embrace all candidate countries. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES RUMOR ON GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE...

Vladimir Voronin, speaking on Moldovan television on 5 November, dismissed rumors about an imminent cabinet reshuffle, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. "We plan no changes [and] cabinet members should know they have our trust and should carry on working normally," Voronin said. However, he added, "We have strict requirements, and expect from them concrete results." Voronin said the government has all the conditions it needs to cope with the tasks ahead, as it is supported in the parliament by a solid majority. He added that "if we, who control the power...fail to obtain concrete results, it will not be only the Communist Party that will lose -- the entire country would then be the loser." Voronin also accused the authorities in Tiraspol of money laundering "considerable sums" and said the local Petrolbank was used for this purpose. He said in 2001 alone some $584 million was laundered, "including $80 million in cash." Voronin said he would like separatist leader Igor Smirnov "to tell Transdniester voters where this $584 million could have come from when the entire annual budget of the region is $85 million." MS

...SAYS SEPARATISM IS ALSO TERRORISM...

Addressing the antiterrorist summit in Warsaw on 6 November, Voronin said not only terrorism itself, but also its sources must be curbed, and that one of those sources is separatism, according to Infotag. He said the Moldovan experience shows that regions controlled by separatist forces are a constant source of instability and strain -- "a culture medium for smuggling, illicit trading in arms and drugs, money laundering, and illegal immigration." Voronin complained that the Transdniester authorities are threatening to cut Moldovan water supplies, as well as supplies of gas and electricity as winter approaches, and said such actions "are nothing but terrorism." MS

...INITIATES LEGALIZATION OF DUAL CITIZENSHIP

President Voronin submitted to the parliament on 5 November a proposal for a constitutional amendment that would make dual citizenship possible, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The move follows the recommendations of an ad hoc commission set up by the president about a month ago. Amending the basic document requires a two-thirds majority in the parliament. Some 300,000 Moldovans hold dual citizenship, primarily Romanian, Russian, and Ukrainian, in defiance of the current ban. MS

RUSSIA TO RESUME TRANSDNIESTER ARSENAL EVACUATION

Russia will resume the pullout of armaments from Transdniester on 8 November, General Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian contingent in the region, told ITAR-TASS on 6 November. Yevnevich denied reports that the four trains transporting armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, and other military equipment will be sent to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. "This materiel needs to be repaired. It is being sent to the Urals plants for restoration," he said. MS

SOFIA MAYOR TO SET UP NEW POLITICAL PARTY

Popular Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski, a member of the opposition United Democratic Forces Steering Committee, announced on 7 November in an interview with the daily "Trud" that he will leave that party and set up a new political formation, BTA reported. Sofiyanski said the new party will "have a new name, be made up by new people, and have a new program." The agency also reported that, according to a survey carried out by Alpha Research, 34 percent of Bulgarians will be influenced in their voting for the 11 November presidential elections by the debate aired by bTV on 5 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001), during which President Petar Stoyanov made public excerpts from a classified 1999 counterintelligence report on corruption that heavily implicated his rival, Bogomil Bonev. Thirty-nine percent approved of Stoyanov's conduct during the debate, and 24 percent said the performance of Bonev, who is running as the Civic Democratic Party's candidate, during the debate was better than that of Stoyanov. Fifty-three percent said they believe Stoyanov's accusations against Bonev. MS

BULGARIAN WOMEN CAN

Bulgaria ranks first in the region in the number of women who are parliamentary deputies, BTA reported on 6 November, citing Stanimira Hajidimitrova, the coordinator of Gender Task Force within the Balkan Stability Pact. Hajidimitrova said this is due to the campaign called "Women Can, Want, and Know," which was launched by the pact and whose main purpose is to train women in leadership skills. The Gender Task Force -- Bulgaria was set up in 2000 and unites 20 women's organizations. MS

BULGARIAN, YUGOSLAV VETERANS APOLOGIZE FOR MUTUAL WARS

Leaders of veterans' organizations from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia are meeting on 7 November in Sofia and are offering mutual apologies for the wars waged by the two countries against one another at the end of the 19th and in the 20th century, BTA reported. The Yugoslav delegation is led by a 106-year-old veteran. The two delegations are to sign an agreement on the maintenance of military cemeteries in their countries. MS




MOLDOVA AND RUSSIA INITIAL BILATERAL AGREEMENT


By Eugen Tomiuc

The foreign ministers of Russia and Moldova, Igor Ivanov and Nicolae Dudau, initialed a bilateral friendship and cooperation treaty between the two countries in Chisinau on 5 November. In the document, Russia recognizes Moldova's independence and territorial integrity and pledges to work toward a political settlement of the dispute between Moldova and its breakaway Transdniester region. Ivanov also said Russia will observe a 2002 deadline for completing the withdrawal of its troops and weapons from Transdniester, and added that the agreement will help build what he called "a strategic partnership" between the two countries and resolve the Transdniester conflict.

"This treaty opens the way for a future strengthening of cooperation between our countries in various fields -- political, economic, cultural, and foreign policy," Ivanov said. "The document reflects the objectives and the parameters of the strategic partnership we want to build between our countries, including the fact that this treaty must contribute to a settlement of the Transdniester conflict."

The Transdniester issue has been the main bone of contention between Russia and Moldova for more than a decade. The pro-Russian region broke away from Moldova in 1990 over fears that Moldovans would seek reunification with their ethnic kin in neighboring Romania.

Armed conflict followed in 1992, and several hundred people died in seven months of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Moldovan security forces. Fighting ended in July 1992 with a Russian-mediated settlement enforced by Russian troops already stationed in the region.

A final agreement on the region's political status has yet to be adopted, despite a series of agreements under international mediation by Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Russian legislators in 1999 refused to ratify a first Russian-Moldovan treaty -- signed by the two sides back in 1990 -- because of what they called the document's failure to reflect the new situation following Transdniester's secession from Moldova. Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin withdrew the document from the State Duma and negotiations on a new bilateral treaty began soon afterward.

The treaty's completion was stepped up after pro-Russian Communists earlier this year won both parliamentary and presidential elections in Moldova. Upon his election in April, Moldova's Communist President Vladimir Voronin said establishing better ties with Russia was one of his top priorities, along with resolving the Transdniester dispute.

"Having initialed the treaty -- which as you noticed, was a very speedy procedure -- we have entered the final phase," Foreign Minister Dudau said on 5 November. "I hope [Moldovan] President Voronin's visit to Moscow will take place in a short time, where the treaty will be signed. We are also preparing for its ratification in Moldova's parliament and in Russia's State Duma."

Voronin and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to sign the treaty during the Moldovan leader's visit to Moscow scheduled for 18-20 November.

Ivanov and Dudau both said that Moldovan and Russian legislators are likely to ratify the document by an overwhelming majority -- despite a pro-Transdniester lobby in the State Duma. Analysts say the treaty is a disappointment to Transdniester's pro-Russian leaders, who had insisted on having a role in negotiations and wanted the document to mention the existence of a "common state" composed of Moldova and Transdniester as two independent entities.

They also wanted the treaty to state their right to establish separate economic, cultural, and social ties with Russia and to provide for a Russian consulate in Transdniester. But Russia refused to include any of the separatists' demands in the treaty without Moldovan consent.

Diplomat Ion Stavila, Moldova's chief negotiator, told RFE/RL that "representatives from Transdniester came up with suggestions and proposals regarding the treaty during negotiations, but I want to stress that they did not take direct part in the negotiations process."

Transdniester officials were not even invited to the initialing ceremony. A final version of the document was handed to a Transdniester representative by Russian and Moldovan officials only after the ceremony.

At the same time, however, experts say Moldova had to cave in to some demands to reach compromise on the treaty.

Transdniester leaders have always insisted they want Moldova to become a loose confederation of two independent states, despite offers of large autonomy made by Moldova's new communist leadership.

In order to gain official Russian recognition of its independence and territorial integrity, Moldova had to agree that the treaty would include direct mention of Moscow's role as main arbiter and guarantor in the Transdniester dispute. It also agreed to note the "strategic partnership" between Moldova and the Russian Federation.

Furthermore, the document gives the Russian language a more prominent status in a country where some 65 percent of the population of 4 million speaks Moldovan, which is virtually identical to Romanian. Moldova pledges in the treaty to provide "necessary conditions in accordance with Moldovan law" for those who want to study in Russian. Russia's presence is also felt in the form of the some 2,500 troops, 50,000 weapons, and 40,000 tons of ammunition it maintains in the Transdniester region.

Under a 1999 OSCE agreement signed in Istanbul, Moscow pledged to withdraw its troops and arsenal from Transdniester by the end of next year, but the withdrawal started only in July this year under the auspices of the OSCE.

Ivanov said on 5 November that Russia will honor its commitments under the Istanbul conference and will withdraw both its troops and arms from the Transdniester by the deadline.

In turn, Dudau said Moldova is satisfied with the pace of Russian weapons withdrawal, which he said is one month ahead of schedule. But so far, only old armaments have been destroyed or removed from the Transdniester region -- and even that has drawn repeated protests by Transdniester leaders and residents.

It is still unclear how Transdniestrians will react if and when the real test -- Russian troop withdrawal -- begins. Eugen Tomiuc is an RFE/RL correspondent.


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