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Newsline - November 8, 2001




U.S., IAEA FEAR TERRORISTS COULD OBTAIN NUCLEAR MATERIALS FROM DECOMMISSIONED RUSSIAN SUBMARINES

U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials told Reuters on 7 November that terrorists might be able to extract nuclear materials from decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines that are now floating off the Kola Peninsula. Michael Bell, head of the IAEA's Nuclear Waste Technology Section, said that "of course it's possible that a terrorist could make a 'dirty nuclear bomb' from the nuclear fuel on board the submarines." Dieter Rudolf of the U.S. Defense Department also said such a danger exists, albeit it a remote one. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Valerii Lebedev said that "Russia has taken emergency security measures [in this area] because we know there is a real threat from international terrorism." PG

PUTIN SAYS ANTHRAX SPORES IN U.S. NOT FROM RUSSIA

President Vladimir Putin told ABC news interviewer Barbara Walters in a transcript released by the network on 7 November that the anthrax spores that have been found in the United States are not of either Russian or Soviet origin. He added that the analysis of the spores "shows with a great degree of certainty that they could not have been produced in the Soviet Union, let alone in Russia." Putin also said that there has not been, and will not be, any leak of nuclear weapons or technology from Russia. At the same time, he said that it is possible that some nuclear secrets may have been sold, but noted that "we don't have documentary confirmation of any such cases." Putin also said that he joined the Soviet intelligence service in order to be "useful to the Motherland." He added that he is not ashamed of his past service in the KGB and that if he could live his life over again, "I would do the same." VY

PUTIN SAYS MOSCOW PREPARED TO BE FLEXIBLE ON ABM TREATY

In the same interview with the ABC network, Putin said Russia will be flexible during what he said will be tough talks with U.S. President George W. Bush concerning modifications in the 1972 ABM Treaty, Reuters reported. He said that he believes that the treaty is important, "but we have a negotiating platform starting from which we could reach agreements. At least I hope so." PG

RUSHAILO CALLS FOR UN FUND TO SUPPORT NATIONAL ANTITERRORIST EFFORTS

Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said in Warsaw on 6 November that Moscow would like to see a special organization set up under the direction of the United Nations to help defray the costs of antiterrorist actions by individual countries, ORT reported. He also urged that all countries cooperate in their customs regulations in order to create "real barriers" to international terrorist networks. VY

RUSSIA SUPPLYING U.S. WITH INTELLIGENCE ON TALIBAN

Pentagon officials told ITAR-TASS on 7 November that Moscow continues to provide the United States with intelligence information on the Taliban. The most valuable part of this intelligence flow, the sources said, includes information about Taliban command posts and arms depots hidden in caves. Such information allows for better targeting, the sources said. VY

MOSCOW TELLS EU TO USE RUSSIAN ROUTE TO AID AFGHANISTAN

Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Yurii Brazhnikov said on 7 November in Brussels that the European Union should use Russian routes to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan population this winter, ITAR-TASS reported. Brazhnikov added that EU leaders support this idea but that mid-level officials in EU structures are failing to move quickly in response. PG

MOSCOW PLEDGES TO IMPROVE LEGAL BASIS FOR FIGHTING TERRORISM

First Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev told Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer on 7 November that "Russia will continue to improve its legal basis for the fight against terrorism and be guided by international documents, including Council of Europe documents," ITAR-TASS reported. Avdeev also said that Russia's "priority" in the fight against terrorism is the organization of "a global system to fight new challenges under the auspices of the United Nations." PG

LUZHKOV SAYS GOVERNMENT MUST USE AGENTS TO PENETRATE EXTREMIST GROUPS

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said on 7 November that the Russian authorities should use special agents to penetrate extremist groups in order to be able to neutralize them, Interfax-Moscow reported. He said that the Federal Security Service (FSB), the militia, and other services should take the lead in doing so. Moscow Deputy Mayor Valerii Shantsev added in an interview on Ekho Moskvy the same day that that the government should create special subdivisions of the FSB to track the activities of extremist groups. Meanwhile, also on 7 November, police in a Moscow district detained two youths who had drawn swastikas and written fascist slogans on the wall of a school, Interfax-Moscow reported. PG

NOVEMBER 7TH HOLIDAY PASSES 'WITHOUT EXCESSES,' MVD SAYS...

The Interior Ministry said on 7 November that the four major marches in Moscow to mark the national holiday took place "without excesses," Interfax reported. More than 3,000 police and internal forces officers were on guard in the Russian capital, Interfax said. According to a poll conducted by ROMIR and reported by Interfax on 7 November, older, less well educated, and poorer Russians are far more likely to view 7 November as the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution while younger, more well educated, and richer Russians are more inclined to view it as the Day of Peace and Accord. PG

...AS YOUNG AND OLD GATHER TO REMEMBER...

Meanwhile, in Vladivostok ORT reported that only about 100, mostly elderly, people gathered to march down the city's central thoroughfare. In St. Petersburg, TV-Tsentr reported that a rally of some 3,000-5,000 people gathered on the city's main square was led by young people. In Chelyabinsk, the gathering organized by the Communist Party was said to have drawn a group of about 5,000 people, while in Kazan, the crowd of some 1,000 was estimated to be a quarter of last year's gathering, according to ITAR-TASS. In Yekaterinburg, city officials accidentally gave leftist organizers and a local trading company permission to use the same space for different rallies; however, no incidents occurred. In Vladikavkaz, North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov laid flowers on the Monument to the Eternal Flame, declaring that "on this day, it is important for all of us to look into the future and think about building a new Russia." He continued, "It's impossible to move forward with your eyes turned to the past." JAC

...AND LIPETSK RESIDENT BURNS RUSSIAN FLAG

Of the various 7 November demonstrations held across Russia, one of the most dramatic occurred in Lipetsk, where locals set fire to a Russian flag, RIA-Novosti reported. According to the agency, the rally was organized by the local branch of the Union of Rightist Forces and the regional committee of the Communist Party. According to the agency, some 200 people attended, including Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council and Lipetsk Oblast head Oleg Korolev. Speakers at the rally called for the resignation of the Russian government of the "antipeople" "Putin regime" and also spoke out against the new Labor Code and Land Code. JAC

VETERANS MARK 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF 1941 PARADE

Some 1,200 marchers including 1,000 military veterans, marched through Red Square on 7 November to mark the 60th anniversary of a Revolution Day march from which participants immediately went on to fight against the Germans at the gates of Moscow, Interfax reported. The city government and the veterans laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown and at other memorials, the news service said. PG

'WALKING TOGETHER' YOUTH GROUP MARCH, CLEANUP

Up to 10,000 members of the pro-Kremlin youth group Walking Together participated in one of the 7 November marches wearing t-shirts featuring Putin's portrait, Russian and Western news agencies reported. After their march, they helped clean several city streets. PG

ZYUGANOV TELLS COMMUNIST MARCHERS THAT PUTIN 'LACKS THE WILL' TO LEAD RUSSIA OUT OF CRISIS

Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told more than 10,000 Communist marchers on 7 November that President Putin "lacks the will to lead the country out of crisis," and instead is dancing "to the tune of the United States by leading Russia into war," Russian and Western agencies reported. Zyuganov also said that the U.S. is attempting to use the campaign in Afghanistan "to establish a pyramid-like world order in which the United States and its allies form the pinnacle and all others must serve them." PG

LEFT RADICALS ANGERED BY BEING KEPT OFF RED SQUARE

Speakers at a march and rally organized by left radical groups on 7 November said they were angry that their members were not allowed to march on Red Square, but are sure they will be able to do so next year, Interfax reported. Viktor Shepinov of the Russian Komsomol (Bolsheviks) said his group is for "the complete expropriation of property," for proletarian internationalism rather than "great power chauvinism." Anatolii Kryuchkov of the Russian Communist Party-Revolutionary Party of Communists said that the retreat of communism over the last decade was only "a temporary" phenomenon that will be overcome as "true Leninists-Stalinists" return to the fold. PG

40 PEOPLE PROTEST COMMUNIST HOLIDAY

A group of 40 young people took part in a small demonstration organized by right-radical parties on 7 November to protest the commemoration of the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Interfax reported. They carried signs saying among other things: "Russia for the Russians, Moscow for the Muscovites, Russia without the Reds, Russia without the Blacks." Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church held a memorial service the same day for those who died resisting the Bolsheviks during the October 1917 revolution, Interfax reported. PG

ZHIRINOVSKY REGRETS THERE HAVE BEEN ANY REVOLUTIONS AT ALL

Duma deputy speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Interfax on 7 November that 7 November should become a memorial day for all the victims of all Russian revolutions, Interfax reported. He said, "It would have been better if none of these revolutions had taken place." PG

GOVERNMENT READIES ADJUSTMENTS TO 2002 BUDGET

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 7 November that his ministry is drafting proposals for adjusting the 2002 budget, but he stressed that these adjustments are not connected with declines in the international price for oil, ITAR-TASS reported. He said some additional funds have become available and need to be allocated among various government functions. PG

MOSCOW WANTS EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT REFORMED

First Deputy Foreign Minister Avdeev told ITAR-TASS on 7 November that Moscow seeks the reform of the European Human Rights Court. "The court must be reformed," he said, "because it cannot cope with the ever growing flow of complaints and cannot function properly." He called for more funding to allow the court to function more expeditiously. PG

DUMA DEPUTY SAYS RUSSIA DOES NOT INTEND TO RATIFY KYOTO PROTOCOL

Vladimir Grachev, the chairman of the Duma Ecology Committee, told ITAR-TASS on 7 November that Russia does not intend to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the environment because Moscow has certain disagreements with its provisions that allow developing countries "which have not assumed any obligations" to take part in the verification regime. At the same time, he said, Russia remains committed to the principles of the Kyoto Protocol and hopes to ratify it once these difficulties are resolved. PG

FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA, CHINA, AND INDIA INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT FOR WORLD SECURITY

In an interview published in the Indian newspaper "The Hindu" on 7 November, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia, India, and China bear increasing responsibility for security throughout the world and especially in Asia. He added that the joint efforts of the three countries to coordinate policy contribute to that goal. He also called for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan and the destruction of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. PG

RUSSIA, INDIA TO COOPERATE ON WEAPONS, SPACE EXPLORATION

During his visit to Moscow on 4-5 November, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee signed an agreement with Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Klebanov calling for the joint production of modifications to the Russian T-90 tanks, the BBC reported on 6 November. This agreement represents a breakthrough in that it is the first time in the history of Russian-Indian military ties that New Delhi will invest money in the development of advanced military hardware planned for export to India. Also during Vajpayee's visit, the two countries agreed to coordinate the development of booster rockets for space exploration. VY

ORTHODOX HIERARCH VISITS BEIJING

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who heads the department of church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, visited Beijing on 7 November, Interfax reported. Kirill met with Russian officials and with Chinese followers of Orthodoxy, the news service said. This is the first time since the departure in 1956 of the Russian exarch for Southeast Asia, Archbishop Viktor of Peking, that there has been a meeting of Orthodox Chinese believes with a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. PG

MAJORITY OF RUSSIANS WOULD LIKE TO SEE ABKHAZIA A PART OF RUSSIA

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 7 November, 52 percent of Russians would like to see Abkhazia become part of the Russian Federation (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 36, 29 October 2001). Only 24 percent are opposed to such a shift in sovereignty, the poll found. At the same time, 54 percent of the sample said Russia should not take sides in the conflict between Tbilisi and Sukhum. PG

FSB FINDS LARGE WEAPONS CACHE IN MOSCOW

A special unit of the FSB has found a major arms cache in the city of Moscow, ORT television reported on 7 November. Among the weapons found were two heavy gauge Kalashnikov machine guns, 21 Kalashnikov submachine guns, 12 SKS carbines, and 45 pistols of various sizes. The FSB discovery came after a tip from an informer who thought it must belong to a terrorist group. But the officials have learned that the weapons collection in fact belonged to a criminal enforcer gang. VY

SENIOR MVD OFFICER UNDER INVESTIGATION

Retired Interior Ministry Lieutenant General Aleksandr Orlov, whom the mass media have dubbed "the godfather of law enforcement corruption" and who now lives in Israel, is being investigated by his own agency, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 6 November. MVD officials said that the investigation was launched at the request of the Duma following media reports that Orlov has amassed a $100 million fortune through his close ties with organized crime in Russia and abroad. Among Orlov's most notorious associates was underworld chieftain Anton Malevskii. Orlov himself was an assistant to then-Interior Minister and current Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo. VY

RUSSIAN ORGANIZED CRIME KINGPIN DIES MYSTERIOUSLY IN ISRAEL

Anton Malevskii, the leader of the Izmailovo organized crime group, died in Israel when his parachute failed to open during a jump, Interfax reported on 7 November. Malevskii, whose criminal group controlled much of the Russian nonferrous metal market, was famous for his friendship with corrupt law enforcement personnel, including Aleksandr Orlov. VY

MORE 'KURSK' VICTIMS TO BE BURIED IN ST. PETERSBURG

Bodies of 10 "Kursk" crewmembers are to be buried in St. Petersburg over the next few days, Northern Fleet officials told ITAR-TASS on 7 November. The officials added that investigators working on the recovered submarine took the day off because of the national holiday. PG

MUSIC FESTIVAL 'MY ADDRESS IS THE SOVIET UNION' TO TAKE PLACE IN KREMLIN PALACE

Organizers told Interfax-Moscow on 7 November that they will hold the second musical festival "My Address is the Soviet Union" in the State Kremlin Palace on 15 November. The show will feature musicians from the 1970s and 1980s. PG

RUSSIANS CAN NOW SEND MUSICAL TELEGRAMS

As of 1 November, Russians can sent musical telegrams on special blanks provided by the Communications Ministry, Interfax reported on 7 November, citing the ministry's website. The cost of this new service is 30-40 rubles ($1-$1.30) per telegram. PG

KRASNODAR LEADER SLAMS PUTIN...

NTV reported on 6 November that at a recent gathering of the Fatherland-Kondratenko movement in Krasnodar Krai, Governor Aleksandr Tkachev said President Putin is leading the country to self-destruction and that he will lead a popular uprising if land reform is introduced in his region. According to the station, the movement, which was established by former Governor Nikolai Kondratenko, uses slogans similar to the Communist Party. Tkachev also had a message for nonethnic Russians residing in the krai: "The main people in the Kuban are the Russian people, and all those who come to us should adapt themselves to us, to our ways and traditions, and think about us. And those who come today -- you've stayed for a while. Enough! Time to go home -- to Turkey, Georgia, and so on." JAC

...AS DUMA DEPUTY SLAMS 'ZIONIST-AMERICAN NEW WORLD ORDER'...

State Duma deputy (Agro-Industrial group) Nikolai Denisov, who also spoke at the gathering, declared that "it looks as if the Zionist-American new world order has now entered a new phase of its development. The 10-year period of...oppression of the former republics of the Soviet Union by the G-7 is now being complemented by the physical extermination of compatriots by means of unleashing a third world war." JAC

...AS PRUSAK VOICES RESENTMENT AGAINST MOSCOW

At a recent press conference in Omsk, Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak said that one of Russia's chief political problems is the gulf between federal center and regions, nns.ru reported on 7 November, citing the Omsk newspaper "Chetverg." According to Prusak, Moscow and its perceptions are all "remote from the reality of Russian regions," and people in the regions view with some disdain the information that central journalists dispense. Prusak said such a system came about because Russians are told "if you want to be smart, rich, or achieve something -- go to the capital! If you want [an answer], no one in the regions can resolve anything. Therefore, there is such inertia in the provinces' political plans -- as if policy is only made in Moscow. This is perfectly fine for certain people -- many of the people's elite are hostage to the interest of oligarchs. And the regions humbly starve and allow themselves to be treated like cattle." JAC

CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION HEAD ESCAPES ANOTHER ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov escaped uninjured but three of his bodyguards were injured late on 6 November when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his motorcade in Argun, Russian agencies reported the following day. LF




ARMENIA, LATVIA HOPE TO EXPAND ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Visiting Latvian Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins held talks in Yerevan on 5 and 6 November with Armenian leaders including President Robert Kocharian, parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian, and his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian, Noyan Tapan and Mediamax reported. Noting the absence of any problems overshadowing bilateral relations, the two sides assessed the potential for expanding cooperation, which the Armenian side said is needed especially in the economic sphere. Kocharian specifically thanked Berzins for Latvia's support for Armenia's accession to the Council of Europe, adding that Armenia could benefit from Latvia's experience in implementing economic reform and integration into European structures. LF

WORLD BANK OFFICIAL DISCUSSES FURTHER LOAN TRANCHES WITH ARMENIAN LEADERS

Judy O'Connor, the World Bank's regional director for Armenia and Georgia, told President Kocharian and Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on 7 November that Armenia will receive the second, $15 million tranche of its SAC-4 loan only if the IMF decides it has met the required tax-revenue target, according to Armenian National Television, as cited by Groong. She explained that release of a further $20 million tranche under that program is contingent on the successful privatization of four energy distribution networks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May and 22 October 2001), acknowledging that the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S. have negatively affected foreign investors' interest in the South Caucasus. Markarian assured O'Connor the Armenian government will not include that tranche in its calculation of incomes in the 2002 budget, but will decide how it is to be used if and when the sum is finally disbursed. LF

MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS CONCLUDE VISIT TO ARMENIA

The French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, together with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov, met in Yerevan on 7 November with Armenian President Kocharian in order to acquaint him with the amended peace proposal they presented to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev in Baku three days earlier, Armenian media reported. Trubnikov told journalists after the meeting with Kocharian that the revised proposal is not "radically new," but adds greater detail to specific aspects of the draft agreement reached by the two presidents during their talks in Paris and Florida in March and April. French co-chair Philippe de Suremain said the co-chairs briefed Kocharian on President Aliev's suggestions and reading of the current situation, according to ITAR-TASS. He added that the co-chairs intend to focus on promoting confidence-building measures between the conflict parties. But at the same time de Suremain warned that any proposed solution to the conflict must be acceptable to other states in the region, including Turkey and Iran, Arminfo reported on 7 November. LF

AZERBAIJAN TO TRY VOLUNTEERS TO FIGHT FOR CHECHEN INDEPENDENCE

Thirteen young Azerbaijani citizens who volunteered to join those Chechens fighting for their republic's independence from the Russian Federation have been charged with enlisting as mercenaries and membership of illegal armed formations, and will face trial in Azerbaijan's Court for Serious War Crimes on 14 November, Turan reported on 7 November. The young men were said to have undergone military training in a neighboring country, a possible allusion to the alleged Chechen military presence in the Pankisi gorge in northeast Georgia. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE HAS OFFERED PRIME MINISTER'S POST TO ADJAR LEADER...

Speaking live on the independent TV channel Rustavi-2 on 8 November, President Eduard Shevardnadze announced that during his talks in Batumi on 4 November with Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze he offered Abashidze the post of prime minister and hopes that he will accept, Caucasus Press reported. The post of premier does not yet technically exist, but Shevardnadze said on 5 November he hopes the parliament will amend the constitution to introduce it (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 37, 7 November 2001). "Izvestiya" predicted on 5 November that Shevardnadze would select the next premier, while Abashidze's preferred candidate would be elected parliament speaker. On 8 November, the independent daily "Alia" quoted unnamed experts as predicting that Shevardnadze will assume the responsibilities of interior minister until the current crisis is resolved. He held that post for several years in the 1960s. LF

...AS TBILISI DEMONSTRATORS DISPERSE...

The last few dozen demonstrators who gathered outside the Georgian parliament building on 31 October to demand Shevardnadze's resignation dispersed on 7 November, Caucasus Press reported. LF

...AND TWO MORE CANDIDATES NOMINATED FOR PARLIAMENT SPEAKER

The parliament faction of Abashidze's Revival Union, which numbers some 60 deputies, nominated its leader, Djemal Gogitidze, for the vacant post of parliament speaker on 7 November, Caucasus Press reported. The following day, the Industry Will Save Georgia faction, which is about to align with the "Majoritarian" faction giving a combined total of 34 deputies, proposed one of its members, David Saralidze, for the post of speaker, thus raising the total number of candidates to four. LF

KAZAKHSTAN AFFIRMS READINESS TO MAKE GREATER CONTRIBUTION TO ANTITERRORISM CAMPAIGN

Altynbek Sarsenbaev, the chairman of Kazakhstan's Security Council, told journalists in Almaty on 7 November following a meeting between President Nursultan Nazarbaev and the chairman of the CIS Collective Security Treaty, Valerii Nikolaenko, that Kazakhstan is ready for closer cooperation with the international antiterrorism coalition, Interfax reported. He declined to say whether Kazakhstan is prepared to make its military bases available to U.S. troops, but said the country's leadership "will consider" any further requests or proposals for assistance. "Vremya novostei" suggested on 5 November that the Kazakh leadership is jealous of the intensity with which the U.S. is soliciting cooperation with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. LF

KAZAKH MINISTER PREDICTS MACROECONOMIC TRENDS FOR 2002

Kazakhstan's GDP is likely to reach 3.49 trillion tenges ($23.6 billion) in 2002, which is 450 billion tenges more than in 2001, Economy and Trade Minister Zhaqsybek Kulekeev told parliament on 7 November. He predicted real GDP growth of almost 12 percent, an increase of 11 percent in industrial output, and a 14 percent increase in oil and gas extraction. Kulekeev said that planned budget spending for next year will not be revised downward unless oil prices fall to $16 per barrel from the present $19.30. Even if spending is reduced, those cuts will affect highway construction and construction programs in the new capital, Astana, but social programs will be left unchanged, he added. LF

BREAD PRICES INCREASED IN KAZAKHSTAN

Despite a bumper grain harvest of 18 million tons, 4 million tons more than last year, prices for bread in Kazakhstan have been increased by 10-15 percent since 1 November, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. A loaf of bread previously cost between 31 and 35 tenges ($.21 and $.25). There was no prior announcement of the price hike and no explanation for it has been given. LF

DEMOGRAPHER SOUNDS ALARM OVER FALLING BIRTHRATE IN KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan's population has fallen by 1.5 million over the past decade and the country may face a demographic crisis in the very near future, State Migration and Demography Agency Chairwoman Altynshash Zhaghanova told journalists in Astana on 7 November, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. She pointed out that although emigration has fallen over the past few years, Kazakhstan has the lowest birthrate of any Central Asian state. (During the first three months of 2001, births were down 6.4 percent compared with the same period in 2000). The country's total population as of 1 April 2001 was 14,842,600; in July 2000 Deputy Premier Daniyal Akhmetov predicted that by 2030 Kazakhstan's population will rise to 25 million. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AMENDS TAX CODE

The Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament) on 7 November approved amendments to the Tax Code proposed by the government, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Persons earning more than 5,000 soms (about $105) per month will pay 20 percent tax and those with lower salaries 10 percent. The tax threshold is raised from 400 to 650 soms. The IMF withheld a loan tranche earlier this summer after parliament enacted and President Askar Akaev signed into law tax cuts that reduced the income tax rate from 30 percent to 10 percent. The Legislative Assembly rejected, however, a proposed 10 percent tax to be introduced on bank account interest payments. LF

U.S. DIPLOMAT PROMISES INCREASE IN AID TO KYRGYZSTAN

Visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lynn Pascoe assured Kyrgyz President Akaev on 7 November that Washington plans a gradual increase in aid to Kyrgyzstan, but did not divulge any specific sums, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau and AP reported. At the same time, Pascoe insisted that the increase is in no way connected with Kyrgyzstan's support for the international antiterrorism coalition. Kyrgyzstan has pledged "support" for that campaign but has not offered the use of its airfields. Pascoe and Akaev discussed the situation in Afghanistan and in Central Asia in general, economic reforms, and U.S. investment in Kyrgyzstan. Pascoe also met with Defense Minister Esen Topoev and Foreign Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev and with representatives of Kyrgyz opposition parties. LF

TURKISH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT

Ahmed Necdet Sezer arrived in Dushanbe on 7 November for talks with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov that focused on the situation in Afghanistan and on expanding bilateral relations. Rakhmonov noted that stability in neighboring Afghanistan is a necessary precondition for expanding economic cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. The two presidents said they would welcome a coalition government in Afghanistan, but that it should not include representatives of the Taliban, Reuters reported. Rakhmonov confirmed at a joint press conference after his talks with Sezer that U.S. experts are assessing the potential of three Tajik airfields -- at Kulyab and Kurgan Teppe in the south, and Khudjand in the north -- and that he will agree to the U.S. using "one or two" of them if they are deemed suitable. "It's not a secret that the infrastructure that Tajikistan inherited from the Soviet Union is not good for much," AP quoted him as saying. LF




BELARUSIAN COMMUNISTS MARK OCTOBER REVOLUTION DAY, BUT UNIMPRESSIVELY

Some 500 members of the pro-government Communist Party of Belarus and 200 members of the opposition Belarusian Party of Communists laid flowers on 7 November at the statue of Vladimir Lenin in Minsk in two separate ceremonies to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917, Belapan reported. The Minsk city authorities did not permit communists to stage a march and a rally in the center of the capital. Meanwhile, the Brest city authorities granted such permission, but only 150 communists turned up for the occasion. In Mahileu, the authorities gathered some 2,000 people, mainly students of the city's higher educational institutions, for an official rally but were forced to end it just 20 minutes after it began because participants started to disperse. JM

U.S. SENATOR PROPOSES $30 MILLION TO SUPPORT DEMOCRACY IN BELARUS

Republican Senator Jesse Helms introduced a bill to the U.S. Congress on 7 November called "Belarus Democracy Act of 2001," which is intended to impose sanctions on the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and provide support to democratic institutions and organizations in Belarus. "Because of Lukashenka, Belarus has emerged as a dark island of repression, censorship, and command economy in a region of consolidating democracies," Helms said, adding that Belarus "has become the Cuba of Europe." The bill proposes that the U.S. government deny assistance to the Lukashenka regime, freeze Belarusian assets in the U.S., prohibit trade with Belarusian government-run businesses, and deny Belarusian officials the right to travel to the United States. The bill also proposes the appropriation of $30 million to assist Belarusian democratic institutions and organizations, including funding for radio broadcasting in and to Belarus. JM

UKRAINIAN LEFTISTS MARK OCTOBER REVOLUTION DAY...

Some 1,500 people participated in a march and a rally organized by leftist parties and organizations in Kyiv on 7 November to mark the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917, Interfax reported. The demonstrators adopted a resolution that condemns the government for "moral and social terror against the working people," slams Ukraine's cooperation with the U.S. and NATO, and protests the recently adopted Land Code allowing private land sales. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko slammed the government for permitting U.S. transport planes to cross Ukrainian airspace in the campaign against Afghanistan's Taliban. There were also October Revolution demonstrations in other Ukrainian cities: Simferopol (3,000 people), Sevastopol (3,000), Dnipropetrovsk (1,000), Odessa (300), Kharkiv (200), and Lviv (100). JM

...WHILE PRESIDENT PROMISES LAND TO PEASANTS

Leonid Kuchma said on 7 November that he will certainly sign the Land Code, but added that the parliament will have to pass some 30 other bills in order to enact the code properly. "Some suggested that I sign the code today. Well, I did say at a meeting with farmers today that Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had promised [land] back in 1917 and we were, so to say, fulfilling this commandment. We can say that the land has been handed over for good to those who work on it, to agricultural workers directly," the New Channel television quoted Kuchma as saying. JM

UKRAINE'S NATIONAL SALVATION FORUM BECOMES YULIYA TYMOSHENKO BLOC

The antipresidential National Salvation Forum led by former Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko has been renamed the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Interfax reported on 7 November, quoting Sobor Party leader Anatoliy Matviyenko. Apart from the Sobor Party, the bloc includes the Fatherland Party, Social Democratic Party, Republican Party, Conservative Republican Party, Patriotic Party, and Christian Democratic Party. Tymoshenko said the bloc has already agreed on candidate quotas on a joint election list in next year's parliamentary ballot, but gave no details. JM

SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN KYIV

Ukraine and Spain on 7 November signed an agreement on cooperation in combating crime, an accord on scientific and technological cooperation, and a memorandum on consultations between their foreign ministries. Following talks with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Zlenko said both countries will soon sign documents on the prevention of double taxation as well as on cultural cooperation and tourism. Pique assured Zlenko that during its presidency in the EU in 2002, Spain will offer all-round support to Ukraine regarding Kyiv's integration with Europe. JM

UKRAINE TO EXPORT 7 MILLION TONS OF GRAIN

Ukraine will export some 7 million tons of grain from this year's record harvest by July 2002, UNIAN news agency reported, quoting Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Ivan Kyrylenko. Ukrainian companies have already exported around 2 million tons of grain and concluded contracts to export 4.5 million tons more. According to the minister, Ukrainian exports are limited only by the capacity of its ports and railways. The main customers buying Ukrainian grain are in the Middle East and the Far East (North Korea). JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES ABOLITION OF LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

The parliament discussed and passed on 7 November the first reading of the bill proposed in October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October, 2001) that would abolish the Estonian-language requirement for candidates to the parliament and local councils, BNS reported. Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves spoke in favor of the bill, noting that it would help convince the OSCE to end its 10-year mission to Estonia. Complaints by the opposition Center Party that the bill would endanger the position of Estonian as the state language were countered by noting that the Pro Patria faction has submitted bills that would officially establish Estonian as the working language of parliament and all state councils. SG

NATO SUPPORTS LATVIA'S NEW STRUCTURE OF MILITARY FORCES

NATO officials voiced support for the planned new structure of Latvia's National Armed Forces that was presented in Brussels on 7 November, BNS reported. They praised the realistic nature of the changes, which should raise military capacity by increasing the number of units, improving antitank and air-defense weaponry, and reducing maintenance costs by channeling more funds toward modernizing communications equipment. The plans call for liquidating the headquarters of the land and marine forces, whose functions will be taken over by a combined central headquarters as well as four regional headquarters. The strategy also envisages grouping units by their readiness categories, as required by NATO, with less prepared units focusing on regional protection using cheaper and simpler equipment, and better prepared units focusing on more complicated operations. The next meeting to assess the development of Latvia's armed forces as part of its NATO membership action plan is scheduled for the spring of 2002. SG

PRINCE CHARLES INTRODUCED TO MANY ASPECTS OF LITHUANIA

Britain's Prince Charles began a three-day visit to Lithuania on 6 November with talks with President Valdas Adamkus that focused on bilateral political and economic relations as well as cultural exchanges. The next day the prince went to the parliament to open an exhibition on organic farming in Lithuania in which agricultural products grown on his Cornwall Estate farm and sold with the label "Duchy Originals" were included, BNS reported. Charles was welcomed there by parliament Chairman Arturas Paulauskas and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas. He then heard a short concert at the Academy of Music, toured the city's Old Town, and visited the University of Vilnius. Charles then traveled to an army base near the small eastern town of Pabrade to observe a British-sponsored military exercise and to meet with Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius and armed forces commander Major General Jonas Kronkaitis. Prior to a formal dinner at the presidential palace, he also visited the St. Peter and Paul Church and met with Cardinal Audrys Backis at the Vilnius Archdiocese's Crafts Center. SG

POLISH GOVERNMENT SIGNALS MORE FLEXIBILITY IN EU TALKS

Minister for European Affairs Danuta Huebner on 7 November said that, regarding the EU membership negotiations, the government "is constantly seeking a compromise with the European Union that would allow an efficient and publicly accepted way of adopting a mutually favorable solution." At the same time, Huebner denied press reports saying Premier Leszek Miller's cabinet has accepted proposed restrictions on access by Polish workers to EU labor markets. "Gazeta Wyborcza" wrote on 7 November that Poland will agree to "at least a two-year limit on Poles working in most of the EU countries," while "Zycie" reported that Poland has agreed to a "maximum of seven-year restrictions on the right to the labor market of the EU countries." JM

POLISH RULING PARTY OFFICIAL TO FACE LUSTRATION AGAIN

The Lustration Court on 7 November decided that Jerzy Jaskiernia, the head of the parliamentary caucus of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance, will undergo the lustration procedure once again, PAP reported on 7 November. The court overruled the previous lustration verdict that cleared Jaskiernia of collaboration with the communist-era secret services. Deputy Lustration Prosecutor Krzysztof Kauba believes Jaskiernia lied in his lustration statement by not admitting his ties with communist Poland's intelligence in the 1970s. Jaskiernia said he expects to be cleared of charges in the new trial. He insists that he was never a collaborator for the communist secret service. JM

POLISH FINANCE MINISTER DROPS PROPOSED BORDER FEE

Marek Belka decided to drop the plan to introduce a 20 zloty ($5) tax on Poles and foreigners crossing the Polish state border, PAP reported on 7 November. The measure was included in the 2002 budget draft prepared by the former cabinet of Jerzy Buzek. The proposed border-crossing tax raised cries of protest among residents on both sides on Poland's borders, who feared that shopping trips abroad and cross-border trade would no longer be financially viable. JM

POLISH-BELARUSIAN BORDER CROSSING TO BE CLOSED FOR RECONSTRUCTION

Poland will close its border crossing to Belarus in Kuznica Bialostocka for more than one year beginning on 21 November in order to complete reconstruction work on the checkpoint, PAP reported on 7 November. The modernization of the Kuznica Bialostocka checkpoint began last year and is currently the largest border infrastructure project in Poland. JM

CZECH PREMIER CONTINUES U.S. VISIT

In Austin on 7 November, Milos Zeman discussed the current economic recession and ways to deal with it with Texas Governor Rick Perry. CTK reported that Zeman is interested in attracting modern communication technology investments in the Czech Republic. Zeman was also made an honorary citizen of Austin. Upon his arrival in Washington later that day, Zeman told journalists that if the U.S. Senate approves a House of Representatives bill on launching Radio Free Afghanistan, his government will approve its operation from Prague, under the patronage of RFE/RL. MS

CZECH CABINET APPROVES AMENDMENT TO SECURITY VETTING PROCESS

The government on 7 November approved an amendment to the bill on classified data that enables results of security vetting to be appealed and checked in a court of justice, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said the same day, CTK reported. The amendment must be approved by both houses of the parliament. The vetting process, which is carried out by the National Security Office (NBU), focuses on persons with access to secret information. The decision to amend the law follows a Constitutional Court ruling in July that said the provision in the law preventing people from appealing NBU decisions in court is unconstitutional and infringes on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Czech legislation. The court also ruled that the NBU must explain why if it refuses to vet a specific individual. MS

CZECH COURT ORDERS ZELEZNY LAWYER'S ARREST

A Prague court judge on 8 November ordered the arrest of Ales Rozenhal, who is television magnate Vladimir Zelezny's lawyer, CTK and AP reported. The judge said Rozenhal is to remain in police custody to prevent him from trying to influence witnesses or to tamper with evidence during the ongoing investigation. Like Zelezny, Rozenhal has been charged with causing financial damage to a creditor, an offense punishable by up to eight years in prison (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). MS

FORMER CZECH NATIONAL PROPERTY FUND HEAD ACQUITTED

A Prague court on 7 November acquitted Jan Stiess, the former director of the National Property Fund (FNM), of the charge that he submitted a forged copy of a lustration certificate upon taking office in 1998, CTK reported. The judge said the acquittal is due to "the benefit of the doubt." In December 2000 the same judge found Stiess guilty and fined him 200,000 crowns ($5,370). Stiess resigned from his FNM post in February 2000 after media allegations that he was an informer for the communist secret police. MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT LIFTS FORMER OFFICIAL'S IMMUNITY

The parliament on 7 November voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of former Agriculture Minister and Political State Secretary Bela Szabadi, Hungarian media reported. This is the second time the legislature has lifted Szabadi's immunity, as charges brought against him have been widened as a result of the ongoing inquiry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 2001). Szabadi, who is accused of misusing funds, fraud, and forging documents while at the ministry, said prior to the vote that he is being subjected to political persecution and accused the government of interfering with the judicial process. Szabadi is under house arrest. MS




ANOTHER MACEDONIAN PROMISE FOR NATO

NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in Skopje on 7 November that Macedonian government leaders promised him that a long-overdue amnesty will apply to all former ethnic Albanian guerrillas except those indicted by The Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). The government promised to "exchange letters" with NATO to that effect. It is not clear whether the guerrillas will accept anything less than a formal amnesty passed by the parliament. Upon arriving in Skopje, Robertson called on the legislature to pass the constitutional package that was slated to have been passed weeks ago. He said: "The agreement is now six weeks overdue for ratification in parliament. That means there are sizeable, real risks of a return to violence. Inevitably there is going to be...violence if the parliamentary process is not concluded [promptly]." PM

IS MACEDONIA SET FOR RENEWED CONFLICT?

Reuters correspondent Mark Heinrich reported from Skopje on 7 November that nationalist legislators have used a "grab bag of gambits" in recent weeks to delay action on the reform package (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 October 2001). He also noted that "the threat of renewed fighting comes both from militant Albanian separatists exploiting broader feelings of betrayal and from Macedonian rightist hawks who oppose the civic democracy envisaged by the peace plan and may count on further delays to provoke Albanian violence and justify a new military offensive." The Macedonian government has recently made large arms purchases abroad and made "pointed displays on television of new firepower and special forces, [which] have made ex-guerrillas nervous and suspicious." PM

'SUSPICIOUS POWDER' IN NATO'S MACEDONIAN MAILROOM

A NATO spokesman said in Skopje on 8 November that a letter sent from China to a nonexistent soldier in the German contingent contained "suspicious white powder," AP reported. The spokesman added: "The mailroom was sealed, the individuals in contact with the mail -- five military personnel and one civilian -- received antibiotics, [and] the mailroom was sealed and decontaminated." No further details are available. PM

SERBIAN LEADER MEETS WITH BUSH

Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic met in Washington with U.S. President George W. Bush for 45 minutes, which is three times longer than had been planned, "Danas" reported on 8 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). Bush praised the Serbian leadership for extraditing former President Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague in June and pledged continued U.S. support for the reform process. Also in Washington, Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic said he will seek an additional $42 million in U.S. assistance for Serbia, bringing the total aid for 2001 to $150 million, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Djelic said that the additional money is needed to help pay off the debt. PM

NEW UNIFORMS FOR SERBIAN POLICE

The uniformed employees of the Interior Ministry (MUP) are to have new work clothes, "Vesti" reported from Belgrade on 8 November. The new uniforms mark an important if symbolic break with the Milosevic regime. The uniformed members of MUP were considered his praetorian guard. PM

SERBIAN PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATES MILOSEVIC'S WIFE

A Belgrade prosecutor has ordered an investigation into charges that Mira Markovic, the wife of Milosevic, illegally used her influence when he was still in power to obtain a downtown Belgrade apartment for her grandson's nanny, AP reported on 7 November. If convicted, she could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison. Many current Serbian leaders have sought to put Milosevic-era officials behind bars on relatively minor but provable charges. They call this the "Al Capone option," an allusion to the fact that the famous gangster went to prison not for many counts of murder but for tax evasion. PM

BELGRADE DRAWS UP LIST FOR KOSOVA ELECTIONS

The governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition has put together a list of 60 candidates to run in the 17 November Kosova elections, dpa reported from Belgrade on 8 November. The list will be headed by Prishtina University's Serbian rector, Gojko Savic, and will appear under the name of "Return." In Serbian political usage, "return" can mean the return of refugees to Kosova or the restoration of Serbian control in the province. Most local Kosovar Serb political leaders have called for a boycott of the vote. But two prominent local politicians have recently withdrawn their support for the boycott, namely Momcilo Trajkovic and Marko Jaksic. PM

MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS WITHOUT QUORUM

The parliament adjourned in Podgorica on 7 November because a boycott by pro-Belgrade deputies prevented the assembly from having a quorum, "Vijesti" reported. A proposed law on a referendum on independence topped the agenda. The next session is scheduled to take place on 13 November. The pro-Belgrade deputies stayed away to protest what they say is an attempt by the government to hamstring an investigation of charges raised by a Croatian weekly that President Milo Djukanovic is deeply involved in a cigarette-smuggling racket. PM

BOSNIAN SERB PARTY MULLS RESPONSE TO PETRITSCH

Leaders of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) met in Banja Luka on 7 November to consider their response to recent critical statements by Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, "Nezavisne novine" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). The outcome of the meeting of the SDS presidency is not known. Elsewhere, Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said the Republika Srpska must consider proposed legislation on cooperating with The Hague following the tribunal's indictment of a top former Bosnian Serb general, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). In related news, Jacques Klein, who heads the UN police force in Bosnia, told the BBC that NATO must catch indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic if its statements about capturing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists in Afghanistan are to have credibility. PM

INVESTIGATORS MAKE REVELATIONS ABOUT HERZEGOVINIAN BANK

A spokesman for international investigators looking into the affairs of Hercegovacka Banka in Mostar said on 7 November that there is ample evidence that the bank was used to fund illegal attempts to create a Croat nationalist ministate, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The international community shut the bank down in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 18 April 2001). The bank lent some $9.75 million -- which included most of its capital -- to shareholders without calling for repayment, the spokesman added. He noted that some "highly-placed individuals" were involved in the shady dealings, but did not name them. The bank's records also showed that Croatia paid it nearly $25 million in subsidies for the Herzegovinian Croat military over an unspecified time. PM

CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SEEKS PARTY LEADERSHIP

Defense Minister Jozo Rados has announced his candidacy for the chairmanship of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), "Jutarnji list" reported from Zagreb on 8 November. He promised even-handed, responsible leadership, "Vecernji list" reported. Current HSLS Chairman Drazen Budisa has not said whether he will seek re-election. The HSLS is the second largest party in the governing center-left coalition. Some critics charge that Budisa's personal ambition and often mercurial behavior have hurt the party's fortunes. It is widely believed that Budisa would like to reconstruct the political landscape and emerge at the head of a new center-right government, but many center-right politicians are reluctant to enter into a coalition with him. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES U.K. VISIT

Adrian Nastase met on 7 November with Jean Lemierre, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and with his first deputy, Noreen Doyle, to discuss future projects for investments by the bank in Romania, Mediafax reported. These projects will primarily concentrate on agriculture, telecommunications, energy, and the oil industry. Nastase also met with British government officials and addressed a business forum organized by London's lord mayor, Ken Livingstone. He also lectured at Oxford on Romania's reforms and its economic prospects. MS

ROMANIANS ARE MOST SUPPORTIVE OF EU AMONG ALL CANDIDATES

A public opinion survey conducted in the EU candidate countries by the Czech TNS Factum polling institute shows that support for joining the EU is highest among Romanians, Mediafax reported. More than four Romanians in five (81 percent) would vote for joining the EU in a referendum. Second-placed are Bulgarians (70 percent), followed by Slovaks (65), Slovenes (63), Turks (61), Hungarians (60), Latvians (53), Poles (49), Lithuanians (48), Czechs (47), and Estonians (38 percent). MS

ROMANIAN LIBERALS OFFER DEPUTY CHAIRMANSHIP TO MELESCANU

The Standing Bureau of the National Liberal Party (PNL) decided on 7 November to offer former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu the position of PNL first deputy chairman, the daily "Adevarul" reported the next day. The PNL and Melescanu's Alliance for Romania decided to merge earlier this year. MS

ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS AGREE ON SHARING TASKS IN STATUS LAW IMPLEMENTATION

In Cluj on 7 November, representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, the historic Hungarian churches in Transylvania, and nongovernmental organizations agreed to jointly supervise the implementation in Romania of the provisions of the Hungarian Status Law, Mediafax reported. The representatives agreed to form for this purpose a joint commission composed of nine representatives from each of the three sides. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER CRITICIZES FOREIGN MINISTRY

Presidential adviser Victor Doras criticized the Foreign Ministry on 7 November for having leaked to the media the recent presidential proposals on the changes required in Moldovan foreign policy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). Doras said the proposals were "no state secrets," but were passed on to the ministry by the presidential office "for internal use" only and for soliciting comments from it. He also said the Presidential Office will now be forced to make public the entire contents of the proposals, as what reached journalists presents a "distorted image" of their purpose. Doras also said the Presidential Office finds it "strange" that some members of the ministry's staff "believe no changes in Moldovan foreign policy are warranted." MS

OSCE REPRESENTATIVES BARRED ACCESS TO JCC MEETING IN TIRASPOL

The separatist authorities barred the access of OSCE representatives on 6 November to the meeting of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) in Tiraspol, OSCE mission spokesman Matti Sidoroff said on the next day, according to Flux. Sidoroff called the measure "unprecedented" and "without any justification," and said the move could be a "provocation." He said that in the absence of OSCE representatives, the JCC sittings "lose their international dimension." Sidoroff also said the separatists have recently barred access of his mission's representatives to the Colbasna ammunition depot, thus hindering their mission to monitor the evacuation of the Russian arsenal in Transdniester. He said that despite the hindrances, and "even if the Transdniester is against it," the OSCE is ready to continue its mediation efforts between the two sides. MS

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN AUSTRIA

In Vienna on 7 November, Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi discussed with his Austrian counterpart Benita Ferrero-Waldner Bulgaria's quest to join the EU and cooperation in combating crime, dpa reported. Ferrero-Waldner said after the meeting that Bulgaria must play an important role in the fight against organized crime "as one of the countries affected by drug smuggling along the Balkans route." Pasi also received assurances of support in Sofia's negotiations with the EU. Ferrero-Waldner pointed out that Bulgaria has already provisionally concluded negotiations on 12 out of the 31 chapters of the acquis communautaire, and said she expects a still more intensive course of reforms by the cabinet headed by Simeon Saxecoburggotski. MS

POLISH CHIEF OF STAFF IN BULGARIA

Polish Chief of Staff General Czeslaw Piatas, on a visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of his counterpart General Miho Mihov, said on 7 November in Veliko Turnovo that Poland will back Sofia's bid for NATO membership, BTA reported. General Piatas praised Bulgaria's contribution to peacekeeping operations. MS




RUSSIA'S POPULATION CRISIS: DEMOGRAPHY AS DESTINY?


By Dr. Graeme P. Herd

Russia is undergoing a demographic crisis that is unprecedented in peacetime: the population of Russia declined at comparable rates only when experiencing world wars, repression, or the famine of the 1930s. President Putin, key ministries, and regional elites have all noted the crisis -- with predictions of the current 144.2 million falling to between 120-80 million Russians by 2050. However, although many demographers have charted the causes of failing fertility and rising mortality, including analysis of the age-sex, ethnic, and geographical asymmetries, there is little research into the long-term security implications of such rapid decline for federal stability.

Some general features of the decline include a depopulation of the Russian Far East and North and migration toward the European core and South, and a movement from rural to urban settlement. More specifically, indigenous ethnic communities, invalids, and pensioners are being trapped in poverty ghettos, while educated ethnic Russians of working age with a higher degree of 'migratability' are moving. Differential birthrates between Slav and non-Slavs are widening, and are particularly noticeable between Muslim and Slavic Orthodox communities. Lastly, the Health Ministry calculated that 1 million Russians will have HIV by the end of 2001, and 10 percent of the entire Russian population by 2005.

Political stability will be affected by the decline. Currently, 50 percent of the population lives in the 20 most populous regions and elections are won and lost in the 10 largest -- a factor that internal migration reinforces. Thus the political weight of peripheral regions is decreased, just as Putin's recentralization of political power reduces the 'sovereignty' of ethnic republics and the Muslim population increases. There are two likely interlinked political outcomes. First, the 20-30 million Muslims (15-30 percent of the population and rising) will begin to demand greater political representation within the elite. Second, a Russian nationalist 'traditional Slavic values' backlash is likely to be fuelled by fears of national survival and the perceived threat posed by minority groups to state identity.

Military security is most obviously transformed by a declining population. Here the impetus will be to make real the rhetoric of military reform force reduction, the shift from a conscript to professional army. However, the closing of military bases, particularly those in the Russian Far East, further exacerbates internal migration patterns from periphery to center, and paradoxically renders border areas of greater strategic importance yet harder to defend. Moreover, economic productivity will also fall as a consequence of population decline, undercutting attempts to construct an RMA-type (Revolution in Military Affairs) low number, high-tech army.

Economic instability will also have an impact on stability, a problem that in 2015 will be particularly acute. As the baby boomers of the 1950s and 1960s retire, the lack of children born in the 1990s will affect the workforce, creating a 20 percent shortfall in labor reserves. The dependency ratio between young and old will mean that the state must pay more toward pensions and health care and less on economic modernization. A further dilemma will occur if moderate economic growth is registered: at that point deferred migrants will move from the periphery; economic stagnation stabilizes population distribution. Only massive economic growth will allow Soviet era-style subsidies and incentives to support state-sponsored demographic engineering and the increase of populations in peripheral areas.

It is calculated that the 20 percent labor reserve shortfall can only be met through immigration and then only half can consist of Slavic CIS workers, while the rest will be Chinese. Some analysts predict a Russian Chinese population of 10-30 million by 2050 and point to the societal security implications of such a large minority. While Chinese economic networks will improve cross-border trade, provide employment, increase local tax revenues, and generate investment, they will also generate interethnic tension and 'identity politics,' particularly in the Far East. In the context of high crime rates and housing shortages, unemployment differentials between Slavic and non-Slavic communities' social and societal polarization will increase.

The federal foreign policy implications of such internal instability can be easily gauged. The Russian diaspora becomes an end in itself, not simply a means to an end as various studies have demonstrated in the Baltic states. Competition for Slavic migrants between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine becomes an issue of rising strategic importance within CIS security politics, as does the pressure for the Russia-Belarus Union. Massive Chinese immigration to the Far East and Siberia places strains on the Russo-Chinese Strategic Partnership, and both legal and illegal migration to the EU shapes Schengen border regimes, and the fear of a 'Fortress Europe.'

Russia's policy responses to such predicted decline -- the drafting of a Migration Policy and the Demography Blueprint -- will prove to be a litmus test for Putin's ability to shape the federation. The issue of population decline will have to be factored into the strategic planning by the presidential administration and all power ministries and will expose and reinforce structural, institutional, and systemic weaknesses within the federation. It will also prove a crucial factor in the way in which globalization affects the federation, increasing the tendency toward localization -- those trapped communities are increasingly isolated -- and selective integration, as migration from and to the federation increases. Russia's destiny will be shaped by demographic decline through the new century. Dr. Graeme P. Herd is a lecturer in international relations and the deputy director of the Scottish Centre for International Security (SCIS). (g.herd@abdn.ac.uk)


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