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Newsline - November 13, 2001




PUTIN SAYS TERRORISM THREATENS STRATEGIC STABILITY

President Vladimir Putin told his senior commanders on 12 November that efforts by terrorists to obtain weapons of mass destruction threaten strategic stability, Russian and Western agencies reported. He also said that military reform will soon be implemented. Chief of General Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin, for his part, said that some 200,000 military slots will be eliminated in the armed forces in 2002-2003. Putin further characterized Russia's actions in response to "terrorism" in Chechnya as "correct, timely, and well-based." PG

EXPERT SAYS 180 TERRORIST GROUPS HAVE INTEREST IN NUCLEAR WEAPONS...

In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 9 November, Vladimir Dvorkin, the scientific leader of the Center of Strategic Nuclear Forces at the Academy of Military Sciences, said that 180 to 200 terrorist groups worldwide seek to acquire nuclear weapons. He said that the ability of these groups to acquire nuclear materials and/or weapons depends on money, professional expertise, and the goals of the terrorists themselves, as well as on the security measures taken by nuclear powers. PG

...BUT RUSSIAN ATOMIC ENERGY OFFICIAL SAYS THEY WILL NOT OBTAIN THEM IN RUSSIA

Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Bulat Nigmatulin said on Ekho Moskvy on 9 November that terrorists will not obtain nuclear weapons or technologies from Russian laboratories. "People who are working in Russian nuclear laboratories are loyal to their cause. They are patriots of Russia," Nigmatulin said. PG

TWO RUSSIANS IN THREE THINK U.S. OPERATION IN AFGHANISTAN LESS THAN FULLY SUCCESSFUL

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 9 November, 66 percent of Russians believe that the U.S. antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan has been less than fully successful or even completely unsuccessful. Meanwhile, another poll, conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax the same day, showed that only 13 percent of Russians name the United States as an enemy of Russia, down from 48 percent who did so in 1999. The same poll also found that 37 percent of Russians believe that their country can become a great power over the next five to 10 years, up from 28 percent who said that two years ago. PG

PAPER COMPLAINS AUTHORITIES NOT BLOCKING FOREIGN GOVERNMENT RECRUITMENT OF AFGHAN VETS

According to an article in "Tribuna" on 10 November, the Russian authorities are doing little or nothing to prevent foreign governments from recruiting Russian veterans of the war in Afghanistan. PG

BRITISH TO PAY RUSSIA FOR AIDING AFGHANISTAN'S NORTHERN ALLIANCE

British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon has signed an accord with Russia's arms export agency Rosoboroneksport to pay Moscow $45 million for supplying heavy weapons and other services to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, "Sovershenno sekretno," No. 11, reported. VY

YAZOV SUGGESTS U.S. COULD WIN WAR, LOSE PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN

Former Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov told Reuters on 9 November that the U.S. can win the war in Afghanistan through carpet bombing. "But what will be left?" he asked rhetorically, arguing that "you could destroy the entire population." Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, however, said on 12 November that the U.S.-led antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan "is proceeding according to a predictable scenario and from the military point of view is going successfully." PG

RUSSIAN OIL COMPANIES TO CUT EXPORTS

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced on 12 November that Russian oil companies will cut their exports by 30,000 barrels a day and thus provide some support for the efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to maintain prices, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russia has come under increasing pressure from OPEC to do so, "Vremya Novostei" reported on 9 November. Kasyanov said that if oil prices fall below $18 a barrel, his government will be unable to create a planned financial reserve fund, ITAR-TASS also reported on 9 November. On 10 November, President Putin told American journalists in Moscow that declines in the world price for oil will not have a negative impact on the Russian economy, Russian and Western agencies reported. PG

PUTIN TELLS INTERIOR MINISTRY TO FIGHT EXTREMISM

President Putin told Interior Ministry officials on 10 November that extremism is "the most acute problem" and that they must fight against it, Interfax reported. Justice Minister Yurii Chaika said on 9 November that his ministry has prepared and will in the near future send to the Duma for consideration a new bill on combating extremism, the news agency said. Chaika said that the new draft is very different from that proposed in 1999, due to changes in the world situation. Among other things, the new draft calls for the creation of a federal center for the struggle against terrorism. Meanwhile, Russian skinheads on 12 November killed another Moscow resident and prosecutors announced further arrests of participants in the 30 October pogrom in which two North Caucasians were killed, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October and 1 November 2001). PG

USTINOV DENIES EXISTENCE OF 'BLACK LIST' OF SENIOR OFFICIALS

In an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 9 November, Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov said that reports of the existence of some sort of "black list" of senior officials against whom investigations are about to be launched are untrue. PG

PUTIN MAY SET UP STATE COMMISSION TO MONITOR NATURAL RESOURCES EXPORTERS

Following an audit which determined that most Russian natural resource exporters violate their licenses, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 9 November that the presidential administration is considering establishing a special presidential state commission to take direct control over all mineral exports. The government has already expanded its control over the export activities of state-owned enterprises, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported the same day. VY

AUDIT CHAMBER TO FOCUS ON PRESIDENTIAL PROPERTY OFFICE

Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin said in an interview published in "Argumenty i Fakty" on 9 November that his agency is investigating the Presidential Property Office and also the Foreign Ministry. The Audit Chamber is examining particularly closely the government residence at Barvikha, a favorite retreat of former President Boris Yeltsin, "Izvestiya" reported on 6 November. VY

PEOPLE'S PARTY OFFICIALLY REGISTERED

On 9 November Justice Minister Chaika handed to Gennadii Raikov, the leader of the parliamentary group People's Deputy, official certification of that group's registration as a political party, Interfax reported. PG

SHOIGU, LUZHKOV, AND SHAIMIEV AGREE ON PARTY NAME

The leaders of the political parties Unity, Fatherland, and All Russia, Sergei Shoigu, Yurii Luzhkov, and Mintimer Shaimiev respectively, on 10 November agreed that the new party to be formed by the combination of Unity and Fatherland will be known initially as Unity and Fatherland, Interfax reported. PG

DORENKO GIVEN FOUR YEAR SUSPENDED SENTENCE

A Moscow court on 9 November convicted television talk show host Sergei Dorenko of "aggravated hooliganism" for running down a pedestrian with his motorbike in April, gave him a four-year suspended jail term, and ordered him to pay 10,200 rubles ($350) in damages, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Dorenko is currently seeking a seat on the Moscow city duma, but the court decision does not prevent him for running for that office. PG

MOSCOW SAYS SELF-DETERMINATION CANNOT BE USED TO JUSTIFY SECESSION

Dmitrii Knyazhinskii, a Russian representative to the 56th UN General Assembly, told that body on 9 November that the right of peoples to self-determination cannot be invoked as a justification for undermining the territorial integrity or political unity of existing sovereign states, Interfax reported. He said that the international community must "decisively block any separatist manifestations and firmly and in a thoroughgoing manner defend the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity of states, and the inviolability of their borders." He also expressed Moscow's concern about financial mismanagement at the UN. PG

MOSCOW CRITICIZES U.S. OPPOSITION TO CTB TREATY

Russian diplomats at a UN conference that the United States did not attend said on 11 November that American unwillingness to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is part of a broader "dangerous" trend that threatens international stability, Reuters reported. PG

MOSCOW CRITICIZES U.S. FOR FAILING TO GIVE RUSSIA MONEY TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS

Munitions Agency head Zinovii Pak told Reuters on 9 November that Washington's failure to provide promised funds has slowed and may soon stop Russia's program to destroy its chemical weapons. Pak said that "the Pentagon and the State Department are holding up decisions on the start of building work for incomprehensible and unjustified reasons." He said that the reasons given by Washington so far reflect "a game by bureaucrats who don't want there to be normal partnership relations between Russia and the United States." PG

PUTIN UPBEAT ABOUT AGREEMENTS AT SUMMIT

President Putin on 10 November told a group of American editors in Moscow that he hopes that relations between Russia and the U.S. will qualitatively change for the better as a result of the upcoming summit. He added that a compromise on the 1972 ABM Treaty is possible, Russian and Western agencies reported. Putin said that Russia will help rescue any American fliers shot down in Afghanistan. He said that the United States can count on Russia as "a reliable and predictable partner" not only in the struggle against terrorism but also in other areas. PG

MOSCOW EXPECTS A DIFFERENT KIND OF SUMMIT

"Vremya novostei" on 9 November suggested that the upcoming Putin-Bush summit will be different in both style and substance from earlier meetings between the leaders of the two countries. Russian negotiators, the paper said, have been told not to adopt a hard line in talks with the U.S., and U.S. diplomats also are taking a cooperative line. But the most important outcome of the meeting is likely to be not specific "breakthroughs" on missile defense but rather a shift in the strategic attitude of the two countries towards each other. On 11 November, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that most of the documents to be signed by the two presidents are ready, ITAR-TASS reported. But Putin has demonstrated no flexibility over the U.S.-backed sanctions regime against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, AP reported. VY/PG

ZYUGANOV SEES 'NOTHING GOOD' COMING FROM SUMMIT...

In an open letter to President Putin on 9 November that was released to Russian and Western news agencies, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that he expects nothing good from the U.S.-Russian summit. He said that "the West secured a maximum of concessions but made no steps in return," that "Russia's strategic position continues to decline," and that "Russia now is a mere purveyor of cheap resources" and perhaps soon of "cannon fodder" for new U.S. "international adventures." He added that talk about Russia's joining NATO "will win us no friends in either the South or the East." PG

...BUT SPS, YABLOKO LEADERS UPBEAT ABOUT MEETING

Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), said on 9 November that recent developments are creating favorable conditions for a rapprochement between Russia and NATO, Interfax reported. Yabloko deputy and Duma Defense Committee Deputy Chairman Aleksei Arbatov said that Russia is now more important for the United States than all other allies in the international antiterrorist coalition, the news agency said the same day. PG

GROUP FORMED TO PROMOTE RUSSIAN INTEGRATION WITH EUROPE...

Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov announced on 9 November the formation of the Russian section of the international committee "Russia in a Unified Europe," Interfax reported. That group, which includes leading SPS, Yabloko, and Regions of Russia deputies as well as regional officials, seeks to improve the climate of trust between Russia and Europe and to promote Russia's integration into Europe, Ryzhkov said. PG

...AS ANOTHER GROUP FORMED TO FIGHT GLOBALISM

European antiglobalists have set up a branch of their movement in Russia under the motto "Peace is Not a Commodity," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 November. PG

RUSSIAN TAX POLICE HEAD CALLS FOR BALTIC-WIDE LAW ENFORCEMENT CENTER

Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Federal Tax Police, on 9 November urged the creation of a coordinating center of law enforcement agencies of the Baltic Sea countries, Interfax-AFI reported. PG

RUSSIA MAY REOPEN CONSULATE IN MAZAR-I-SHARIF

Russia's consulate in the north Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was closed for security reasons in May 1997, will reopen as soon as the situation in the city stabilizes, possibly early next year, Interfax reported on 12 November quoting unidentified Russian diplomats. The Northern Alliance regained control of Mazar-i-Sharif late last week. LF

RUSSIAN PROSECUTORS TO INVESTIGATE LATEST CIVILIAN DEATHS IN CHECHNYA

Following a protest demonstration by some 1,500 residents of the Chechen town of Argun on 10 November, Russian military and civilian prosecutors launched an investigation the next day into the circumstances of a raid by FSB forces on the town during the night of 8-9 November during which at least six civilians were killed by mortar fire and a further 21 wounded, and 40 homes were destroyed, Reuters reported. Interfax reported on 9 November that the FSB forces surrounded the town and then fought a five-hour gun battle with Chechen militants, taking 12 of them prisoner. LF

MOSCOW ASKS GEORGIA TO EXTRADITE CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER...

Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Valentin Simuchenkov told Interfax on 10 November that his office has asked its Georgian counterpart to hand over Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev, widely identified as having played a key role in the October infiltration of Chechen fighters and Georgian guerrillas into Abkhazia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 34, 12 October 2001). The following day, Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, commander of the North Caucasus Military District, told journalists that Gelaev is "definitely" in Georgia. President Putin and Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilev both affirmed on 10 and 12 November respectively that Georgia constitutes a "weak link" in the struggle against international terrorism given that Chechen fighters can retreat unimpeded to Georgian territory whence, Putin claimed, they travel to Turkey and then Afghanistan. But Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze commented the same day that Putin's statement is implausible and reflects badly on Russia, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, for his part, said on 12 November during his traditional Monday radio interview that Chechen fighters are unable to enter Georgia. He added that those Chechens currently staying in the Pankisi gorge in northeastern Georgia are refugees, not fighters. LF

...AND BEREZOVSKY ASSOCIATE

Simunchenkov also said on 10 November that his agency has officially requested that the Georgian authorities extradite Badri Patarkatsishvili, a close associate of embattled magnate Boris Berezovsky who is accused of embezzling funds in the so-called Aeroflot case, gazeta.ru reported. VY

PUTIN ORDERS GOVERNMENT TO AID CUBA

President Putin on 12 November directed the Russian government to send immediate assistance to Cuba following widespread hurricane damage to the island, Russian agencies reported. PG

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN MOSCOW CITY TO TOP $5 BILLION IN 2001

Moscow Mayor Luzhkov said on 9 November that total foreign investment in the Russian capital this year is likely to exceed $5 billion, Interfax-Moscow reported. In an interview published the same day in "Trud," Luzhkov said that he will never run for president. PG

NORILSK NOT REALLY CLOSED, DEPUTY MAYOR INSISTS

Nikolai Bova, the deputy head of the Norilsk city government, said on 9 November that Norilsk will not become a closed city again, Interfax-Eurasia said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2001). Instead, in recognition of its "strategic importance" to Russia, the city will simply be able to impose tighter restrictions on visits by foreigners. PG

CRACKDOWN ON ECONOMIC CRIMES SEEN RESULTING IN MORE CAPITAL FLIGHT

According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 9 November, recent efforts by the authorities to step up enforcement of tax laws and to combat corruption has had the unintended consequence of impelling ever more Russian businessmen to park their money abroad, out of the reach of the government. That, in turn, has kept the rate of capital flight from falling from its current level of $20 billion a year, the paper said. PG

ORTHODOX HIERARCH WANTS STATE RELIGIOUS COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHED

Noting that he speaks only for himself, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk said in an interview published in "Kommersant-Daily" on 9 November that he would like to see a new government organization like the Soviet-era Council on Religious Affairs set up to work with the Church on key issues. He noted that the Soviet-era body had "a positive and constructive importance" for the church because it provided an established point of contact between the hierarchy and the state. He said that the Patriarchate was pleased by the response of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to Moscow's call for reunification, and that he believes that reunification will soon take place. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Patriarchate sharply criticized Russia's reality television program "Behind the Glass" for undermining public morality and privacy, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIAN NEO-NAZIS PROFILED

According to an article in "Gazeta" on 9 November, "the average age of contemporary Nazis [in Russia] is 20 years. They are teenagers from the outer suburbs, school students, and the unemployed." Some of them, the paper said, are active believers in Nazi ideology, while others are "hitmen" who do not care about politics but want to lash out at any available "enemy" group. The two largest extremist groups in Moscow have a total of 1,000 regular members and an unspecified number of additional sympathizers, the paper said. Meanwhile, "Obshchaya gazeta" reported on 7 November that over the last several years Russian neo-Nazis have killed no fewer than 15 foreigners in Moscow. PG

'UNSUPERVISED' CHILDREN SEEN AS THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY

In an interview published in "Krasnaya zvezda" on 9 November, Vladimir Melnikov, the deputy chairman of the security and defense committee of the Federation Council, said that Russia's 1.5-3 million "unsupervised" children (bezprizorniki) constitute a threat to national security. He said that "this enormous army of young men and women really can be lost for the country and for society." Melnikov said that 90 percent of the young people now on the streets are "social" rather than real orphans because their parents have abandoned them. They commit ever more crimes and ever more frequently end up in penal institutions, he said. He suggested that the military could play a useful role in overcoming this problem by organizing activities for young people. The same day, Patriarch Aleksii II expressed his concern that Russia lacks a carefully developed youth policy, Interfax reported. PG

AMUR GOVERNOR TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR HELPING MILITARY

Amur Oblast Governor Leonid Korotkov issued a decree on 9 November under the terms of which he and his administration will take responsibility for helping servicemen and their families stationed in the oblast, Interfax reported. The same day, the Primorskii Krai administration formed a department of economic security to help ensure the well-being of the population there during the upcoming winter, the news service said. PG




ARMENIAN PRESIDENT INSPECTS MILITARY POSTS CLOSE TO BORDER WITH AZERBAIJAN

President Robert Kocharian has completed a three-day inspection visit of Armenian military posts located close to Armenia's border with Azerbaijan, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 12 November. The presidential press office reported that Kocharian discussed with senior officers existing shortcomings and problems and their causes and said he is "overall satisfied" with the situation. At the same time, Kocharian warned officers "not to content themselves" with their present level of professionalism but to seek to improve their skills. LF

ARMENIAN ENERGY SECTOR WORKERS DEMAND WAGE ARREARS

Energy sector employees have appealed to Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian to ensure that enterprises in that sector comply with an earlier agreement to pay wage arrears dating back between four and 10 months, Noyan Tapan reported on 12 November. LF

MAYORS CONSIDER PROSPECTS FOR ARMENIAN-TURKISH COOPERATION

The mayors of Yerevan and Istanbul, Robert Nazarian and Ali Mufit Gurtuna, met in Paris on 8 November under the aegis of French Senate President Christian Poncelet to discuss the prospects for direct cooperation between their respective cities, Caspian News Agency reported on 12 November quoting the Armenian Foreign Ministry. LF

ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER COMMENTS ON MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS' VISIT

Vartan Oskanian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service in Strasbourg on 9 November that on their recent visit to Baku and Yerevan, the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group did not unveil their own amended peace proposal, but sought Armenia's reaction to amendments suggested by Azerbaijan to a broad agreement reached during talks in Paris and Florida this spring between President Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev. Oskanian did not explain the nature of those proposed amendments or say whether Yerevan accepted or rejected them. He said that Armenia is prepared to continue negotiations as long as the "Paris principles" remain intact and serve as the basis for discussion. LF

AZERBAIJAN TERMS NEW KARABAKH PROPOSALS 'UNACCEPTABLE'

The amended Karabakh peace proposal presented on 4 November to President Aliyev by the visiting co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group is "unacceptable to Azerbaijan," AP on 9 November quoted presidential administration official Novruz Mamedov as saying. Mamedov reportedly said that proposal does not differ greatly from earlier versions, and that President Aliyev continues to insist that any peace plan must take Azerbaijan's national interests into consideration. Mamedov accused Armenia of "adopting an unconstructive position" and refusing to face up to political reality, according to Turan. On 10 November, the Baku daily "Ekho" as cited by Groong criticized the statement released by the co-chairmen in Yerevan two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2001). They questioned the co-chairs' assertion that the majority of Azerbaijanis favor a peaceful solution to the conflict and condemned the fact that they referred to the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by its Armenian name (Stepanakert) rather than its Azerbaijani name (Khankendi). LF

AZERBAIJAN EXTRADITES ANOTHER EGYPTIAN TERRORIST SUSPECT

An Egyptian citizen apprehended in Azerbaijan on suspicion of involvement in international terrorism was handed over to Egyptian officials at Baku airport on 8 November, Turan and Interfax reported the following day. He is the third suspected terrorist to be extradited to Egypt in recent weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 25 October 2001). LF

AZERBAIJANI DIASPORA GATHERING TAKES PLACE IN BAKU

Some 1,150 delegates from 36 countries attended the first World Congress of Azerbaijanis in Baku on 9-10 November, Turan reported. There were no representatives from Iran, which has the largest emigre Azerbaijani community, nor were members of Azerbaijani opposition parties invited to attend the congress. In an address to participants, Azerbaijan's President Aliyev appealed to Azerbaijanis world-wide to close ranks, and reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. Delegates adopted an appeal to the international community to intensify efforts to reach a solution to that conflict, and condemned what they termed Armenia's "groundless territorial claims" against Azerbaijan and the killing by Armenian troops in Khodjali in February 1992 of "thousands" of Azerbaijani civilians. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION AGAIN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO RESIGN

Some 1,500-2,000 people attended a rally in Baku on 10 November convened by the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Turan reported. Participants at the rally, which was sanctioned by the municipal authorities, again demanded the resignation of President Aliyev and condemned the authorities for their corruption and indifference to human rights, and their "defeatist" Karabakh policy. Police observed the rally but did not intervene. LF

GEORGIAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS REAFFIRM STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

Visiting Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze expressed satisfaction on 9 November that bilateral relations between their two countries can be characterized as a "strategic partnership," and that their positions on numerous international issues, including fighting international terrorism, coincide. The two presidents reviewed strategic joint projects, including the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline, the Tbilisi-Kars railway, and the Poti-Rize undersea fiber-optic cable. Sezer affirmed his support for Georgia's territorial integrity and called on Russia to comply with its commitment made at the 1999 OSCE Istanbul summit to close its military bases in Georgia, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze proposed that Turkey, which has a sizeable Abkhaz minority, should supply peacekeepers to serve in Abkhazia should the UN agree to provide a peacekeeping force to replace the CIS contingent currently deployed in the Abkhaz conflict zone, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER AT SECOND ATTEMPT...

During a marathon session that ended in the early morning of 10 November, deputies finally elected Nino Burdjanadze, a 37-year-old lawyer and chair of the parliamentary Commission on International Relations, to succeed Zurab Zhvania as parliament speaker. In a first round of voting, none of the three candidates received the required two-thirds majority: Burdjanadze polled 104 votes of a possible 235, former Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze 71, and opposition Revival Union faction leader Djemal Gogitidze 52. In the second, subsequent round, which was decided by a simple majority, Burdjanadze received 129 votes and Lortkipanidze 98. Burdjanadze pledged on 10 November to do all in her power to defuse tensions and create a "non-confrontational atmosphere" within the legislature, Caucasus Press reported. ITAR-TASS quoted her as saying that she will not represent the interests of any single parliament faction. She also said that as a member of Zhvania's "team" she is aware of mistakes committed by that team in recent years, and that her "respect and loyalty" for President Shevardnadze will not lead her to agree to "compromises that are not acceptable to the country." LF

...AMID CHARGES OF FOUL PLAY

The Georgian Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case in connection with the discovery on 9 November that the voting papers distributed to parliament deputies for the secret ballot for a new speaker were marked in invisible ink with the numbers 1-235, Caucasus Press reported. The vote took place only after new ballot papers were printed. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SUBMITS NEW GOVERNMENT LINEUP, PROPOSES PARLIAMENTARY REFORM

President Shevardnadze submitted to parliament on 12 November a proposal to reduce the number of ministries from 19 to 15, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. At the same time, he rejected calls by some opposition politicians for the abolition of the presidency and the institution of a parliamentary republic. Two days earlier, Shevardnadze said he plans to renominate several members of the outgoing government, including Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili, to their old posts. He said that the minister of state will be a young man who is well-acquainted with the present situation, but did not name him. On 12 November, parliament speaker Burdjanadze said she will discuss Shevardnadze's proposed ministerial candidates with the heads of parliament factions on 13 November. The former majority Union of Citizens of Georgia faction expressed reservations on 12 November over some of Shevardnadze's nominees, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze has also proposed the introduction of a bicameral parliament with a total of no more than 80-90 deputies instead of the present 235, "Akhali taoba" reported. LF

GEORGIAN FINANCE OFFICIAL RULES OUT SECOND BUDGET SEQUESTER

Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 12 November, the head of the Georgian Finance Ministry's Treasury Service, Levan Kistauri, rejected as unlikely presidential advisor Giorgi Isakadze's prediction that a second budget sequester may become necessary, Caucasus Press reported. Kistauri said further cuts will not be needed provided that revenue targets are met in November and December. Parliament voted last month to cut spending by 164.6 million laris ($79.1 million), or 15 percent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 24 October 2001). LF

KAZAKHSTAN WILL NOT REDUCE OIL PRODUCTION

Kazakhstan does not plan to cut oil production despite OPEC's appeal to independent producers to do so, Deputy Prime Minister Uraz Djandosov told journalists in Astana on 12 November, Interfax reported. Djandosov pointed out that the Kazakh government's ability to cut production is minimal as it fully controls only KazakhOil, which produces only 6.5 million tons of the estimated 40 million tons to be extracted in Kazakhstan this year. The balance is produced by independent, mostly foreign-owned consortia. LF

FIRST AID CONVOY LEAVES KYRGYZSTAN FOR AFGHANISTAN

A convoy of 30 trucks carrying 150 metric tons of flour and vegetable oil left the town of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan for Faizabad in Afghanistan on 10 November, AP reported. LF

TAJIK, RUSSIAN, UZBEK PRESIDENTS CONSULT BY TELEPHONE

In separate telephone conversations on 12 November, Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov discussed with his Russian and Uzbek counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Islam Karimov, coordinating activities connected with the ongoing international antiterrorism strikes against Afghanistan and the dispatch of humanitarian aid to that country, ITAR-TASS reported. Putin also discussed the antiterrorism campaign and post-crisis settlement in Afghanistan with Karimov. LF

FRANCE TO OPEN DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION IN TAJIKISTAN

France will open a diplomatic mission in Tajikistan this week in order "to reinforce our dialogue with Tajikistan on the management and settlement of the Afghan crisis," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told journalists on 9 November, AP reported. Pascal Maubert has been named to head that mission. LF

U.S., TURKMEN DIPLOMATS DISCUSS AID FOR AFGHANISTAN

Visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lynn Pascoe met with Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov in Ashgabat on 9 November to discuss the fight against terrorism and the shipment of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Interfax reported. A planned meeting between Pascoe and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov was cancelled for reasons unknown. On 12 November, Reuters quoted USAID official Andrew Natsios as saying that until Uzbekistan opens the border bridge across the Amu-Darya at Termez, Turkmenistan will remain the single most important transit country for aid shipments to Afghanistan. LF




DEFENDERS OF MINSK'S STALIN-ERA MEMORIAL SITE JAILED, FINED

Police and demonstrators clashed for a second day on 9 November at Kurapaty on the outskirts of Minsk, the site of mass executions during the Stalin era (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2001), Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Police detained some 30 protesters who wanted to protect the site from being damaged by the ongoing reconstruction of the Minsk beltway. On 9 November, courts in Minsk started to hand down jail sentences and fines to detainees. Youth Front leader Pavel Sevyarynets was sentenced to 10 days in jail (his fourth imprisonment this year) and Khvedar Zhyvaleuski to seven days, while Uladzimir Yukho, Leanid Sadouski, and Viktar Kaveshnikau were fined. Others are to stand trial later. JM

BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SLAMS PROPOSED U.S. SUPPORT FOR OPPOSITION...

Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastou told Interfax on 9 November that "The Belarus Democracy Act of 2001" proposed by U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 2001) "has no prospects, as it is odious and would lead to the severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries." Helms's legislative initiative calls for U.S. political and economic sanctions on the regime of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and for $30 million in U.S. assistance to pro-democracy groups and independent media in Belarus. JM

...WHILE OPPOSITION LEADERS HAIL IT

"The political significance of this step is great," Belarusian Popular Front leader Vintsuk Vyachorka on 9 November commented to Belapan with regard to Helms's bill. "I think Belarusian civil society should accept any assistance with gratitude. The situation is such that Belarusian NGOs and independent media outlets may receive support only from abroad," Belarusian Social Democratic Party leader Mikalay Statkevich said. JM

BELARUS DOES NOT YET QUALIFY FOR IMF MONEY

IMF official Marta Castello-Branco told a news conference in Minsk on 9 November that talks between the IMF and Belarus on IMF loans under a standby arrangement may start no earlier than in mid-2002, Belapan reported. Castello-Branco said the Belarusian government failed to carry out in full a six-month IMF-monitored program which was a necessary precondition for such talks. She added that Belarus is now required to implement successfully another six-month program. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW DEFENSE MINISTER

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has appointed General Volodymyr Shkidchenko as defense minister, Interfax reported on 12 November. Shkidchenko succeeds Oleksander Kuzmuk, who stepped down last month after his troops accidentally shot down a Russian airliner during air defense exercises. Shkidchenko has been Ukraine's chief of General Staff and first deputy defense minister since September 1998. In other reshuffles, Kuchma appointed Mykola Lytvyn as the chief of the State Border Protection Committee and dismissed Yuriy Solovkov from the post of chief of the State Customs Service. JM

WORLD BANK CONDITIONS LOANS FOR UKRAINE ON POWER SECTOR PRIVATIZATION, RISE IN TARIFFS

Luca Barbone, the World Bank director for Ukraine and Belarus, told Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh on 9 November that the bank will continue to support the government's economic program with further loans if it resumes the privatization of regional power distribution companies (oblenergos) and raises tariffs for electricity distributed by already-privatized oblenergos, Interfax reported. In particular, Barbone said Ukraine could obtain $100 million as early as this month and $250 million in mid-2002. Barbone praised Ukraine's economic progress and pledged $50 million under the bank's new project to establish a social investment fund in the country. Meanwhile, Kinakh said on 12 November that the government will not agree to increase electricity tariffs for the population. He added that the government will look for "alternative solutions" to meet the World Bank's condition, UNIAN reported. JM

CRIMEAN TATARS RE-ELECT LEADER, MULL ELECTION STRATEGY

The fourth congress (Kurultay) of Crimean Tatars on 11 November re-elected Mustafa Dzemilev as chairman of the Mejlis, their legislative body, New Channel television reported. The Kurultay decided to support the Popular Rukh of Ukraine (led by Hennadiy Udovenko) in the 2002 parliamentary elections. Udovenko's party, which is a member of Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine election bloc, offered to include two Crimean Tatars on its list. The strategy for the election to the Crimean Supreme Council is to be outlined by the Kurultay at another meeting. Dzhemilev warned that Crimean Tatars will resort to wide-scale civil disobedience if the number of their deputies elected to the Crimean legislature fails to correspond to their share of the Crimean population, that is, some 15 percent. JM

UKRAINIAN, MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS BORDER CONTROL

At their meeting in Vinnytsya on 9 November, Ukrainian President Kuchma and his Moldovan counterpart Vladimir Voronin arrived at a "political resolution" to give their governments 10 days to prepare a document, along with representatives of Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region, on joint control over commodity shipments across the Ukrainian-Moldovan border, Interfax reported. Kuchma said Ukraine will not introduce economic sanctions against Transdniester. He also hinted that there will be no joint Ukrainian-Moldovan customs posts, which were proposed by Chisinau in a bid to curb smuggling into and out of Transdniester. JM

ESTONIA RISES TO FOURTH PLACE IN INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM

Estonia rose to fourth place among 155 countries in the Index of Economic Freedom compiled by the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation and "The Wall Street Journal," BNS reported on 12 November. Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand hold the three top positions, respectively. Fourth place was shared with Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the U.S. Estonia was ranked 22nd in 1999 and 14th in 2000. The other Baltic states also improved their ratings from last year: Lithuania from 42nd to 29th and Latvia from 46th to 38th. The index ranks countries according to the level of trade restrictions, tax policies, government intervention in the economy, monetary and banking policies, capital flows and foreign investment, price and wage regulation, real estate, and the size of the black market. SG

LATVIA HOLDS CONFERENCE ON BALTIC MEMBERSHIP IN NATO

Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins and Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis spoke at a conference on "Baltic Membership in NATO -- Strengthened Stability and Security in Europe" held in Riga on 9 November, BNS reported. Berzins said that the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S. once again emphasized the meaning of NATO's existence, and that by seeking to join NATO Latvia "is not looking for protection," but wants "to stand together, facing and countering challenges." Kristovskis noted that Russia "has a different interpretation of NATO enlargement and NATO values," and that NATO membership for Latvia will "put an end to all speculations over the past, history, and geopolitical issues." The conference was organized by the Latvian Trans-Atlantic Organization in cooperation with the Latvian Defense and Foreign ministries and the American Latvians' Association. SG

LITHUANIA'S CONSERVATIVES CHOSE THEIR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

About 70 percent of the 17,000 registered members of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) participated in the party's primary elections to choose their candidate for president, which concluded on 11 November, ELTA reported the next day. Former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius was the overwhelming winner, receiving 90 percent of the votes. Parliament deputy Rasa Jukneviciene received 6.2 percent and former Social Affairs and Labor Minister Irena Degutiene 3.7 percent. The parliament deputies of the Liberal Union by a vote of 26 to five elected parliament Deputy Chairman Gintaras Steponavicius as the leader of their faction, replacing Rolandas Paksas, who resigned after losing the elections for the union's chairman to Eugenijus Gentvilas. Since the Liberal Union is the largest opposition party in the parliament, Steponavicius will also assume the post of leader of the opposition in the parliament. SG

POLISH PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SPEEDING UP EU-ORIENTED REFORMS

Speaking on Poland's Independence Day on 11 November, Aleksander Kwasniewski called on Poles to intensify efforts to complete reforms that will allow the country to join the EU. "Patriotism means taking advantage of all opportunities and preventing time being wasted... To be successful, we need not only to tighten our belts, but also to cooperate with all political forces and conduct dialogue with society," AP quoted him as saying. The OBOP polling agency found in a poll conducted in September that only 49.6 percent of Poles support Poland's EU membership, while 30.4 percent oppose it. In a similar poll a year ago, the figures were 61.6 percent and 20.4 percent respectively. The poll also found that 14.5 percent of respondents are determined to seek employment in the EU, while 18.4 percent said they will "probably" seek work in the EU. JM

POLISH DEPUTY JUSTICE MINISTER APOLOGIZES TO SOLIDARITY OPPOSITION

Deputy Justice Minister and Deputy Prosecutor-General Andrzej Kaucz on 12 November apologized to those representatives of the Solidarity movement who now "feel hurt" because of his involvement in trials of anticommunist opposition activists in the 1980s, PAP reported. In particular, Kaucz was the prosecutor in the trials of Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, now leader of the Freedom Union, and Barbara Labuda, currently a secretary of state at the presidential chancellery. Labuda strongly criticized the appointment of Kaucz to the post of deputy prosecutor-general. Justice Minister and Prosecutor-General Barbara Piwnik told Prime Minister Leszek Miller last week that she sees no grounds to recall Kaucz from his post. JM

FORMER PREMIER REFUSES PLACE ON POLAND'S EU INTEGRATION BODY

Former Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki has turned down Premier Miller's invitation to participate in the work of the European Integration Committee (KIE), PAP reported on 11 November. "I am still a politician, I am still the chairman of the Freedom Union political council, so it would be hard for me to enter the government body," Mazowiecki explained. Miller, who is also the KIE head, reserved three seats in the KIE for persons from outside the government. Miller's invitation was accepted by Poland's former chief EU negotiator Jan Kulakowski and former KIE head Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. JM

POLAND TO INSTALL SENSORS AGAINST MIGRANTS ON EASTERN FRONTIER

Within the next two to three years, Poland will install a system of special cameras and electronic sensors on its eastern border to monitor illegal border crossings, PAP reported on 12 November. The sensors will operate in daylight and during the night and will also be able to determine the weight of border-crossing objects. "We want to monitor the eastern border electronically. The new system is capable of sealing it completely," Border Guard Commander Jozef Klimowicz told journalists. He added that most of the money for the project will come from the EU. JM

JARUZELSKI BLAMES GOMULKA FOR ORDERING 1970 MASSACRE OF POLISH WORKERS

General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's last communist leader, said on 12 November at his trial for his role in the 1970 massacre of protesting shipyard workers that he did not issue the order allowing troops to shoot at protesters, AP reported. Jaruzelski, who was defense minister in 1970, said the authorization for military troops to respond with firearms came directly from then Polish United Workers' Party leader Wladyslaw Gomulka. According to Jaruzelski, the order was passed on to military commanders by Prime Minister Jozef Cyrankiewicz. Jaruzelski added that police were authorized to use weapons only after demonstrators used them first. At least 44 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in the coastal cities of Gdynia, Gdansk, Szczecin, and Elblag during the 1970 protests. JM

CZECH PREMIER MEETS U.S. LEADERS

Prime Minister Milos Zeman met in Washington on 9 November with U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell and held a video conference with Vice President Dick Cheney, CTK reported. Bush emphasized the need for continuing and intensifying cooperation between the two countries' secret services. He said that "what the Czechs know, the Americans know, and what the Americans know, the Czechs will know." Bush praised the information passed on by Prague on terrorist Muhammad Atta's contacts with an Iraqi intelligence agent earlier this year. They also discussed the forthcoming NATO summit. Bush said that while no decision has yet been made on which countries to admit, he wants the envisaged NATO enlargement to be "significant." Zeman reaffirmed Czech solidarity with the U.S. fight against international terrorism. Vice President Cheney told Zeman that he "respects" the Czech decision on the purchase of supersonic fighters and hopes that decision will be "advantageous for NATO." MS

HAVEL SAYS RFE/RL BROADCASTS FROM PRAGUE ARE 'HONOR' FOR CZECHS

President Vaclav Havel on 9 November said that the RFE/RL broadcasts from Prague are "an honor for the Czech Republic," CTK reported, citing presidential spokesman Martin Kraftl. Havel added that widening broadcasts to include programs for Afghanistan would signify "an additional Czech contribution to the struggle against terrorism." MS

CZECH AUTHORITIES DENY LINK BETWEEN RUZYNE MISSILE, NEWLY DISCOVERED WEAPON

The Czech authorities on 12 November said there is no link between the antitank missile discovered on 18 October in the vicinity of Prague's Ruzyne airport and a similar weapon found last week in the possession of a former Czech army soldier, dpa reported. A statement issued by the Defense Ministry said the weapon found recently was neither armed not functional, unlike the one discovered near Ruzyne. The ministry said the latter weapon had been used for military training, and the Interior Ministry said such weapons are dummies used for instruction purposes. MS

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES APPROVES SECOND VERSION OF CZECH BUDGET

The Chamber of Deputies on 9 November approved the revised version of the 2002 budget submitted by the cabinet, CTK reported. The new version foresees a 46.2 billion crowns ($1.24 billion) deficit, with revenues estimated at 690.4 billion crowns and expenditures at 736.6 billion. The deficit is 6 billion crowns lower than in the first version, which the chamber rejected. The revised bill was supported by 134 deputies representing the ruling Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the opposition Civic Democratic Party which supports the minority CSSD government under the provisions of the so-called "opposition agreement." Deputies representing the Four Party Coalition and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia voted against the budget. MS

AUSTRIA INSISTS MELK PROCESS CLOSURE SHOULD BE 'INTERNATIONALLY BINDING'

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said on 9 November that his country "most resolutely insists" that the "Melk process" on assessing the environmental impact of the Temelin nuclear power plant be closed by agreements that would include "internationally biding legal commitments by the Czech Republic," CTK reported. Meanwhile, Four Party Coalition leader Karel Kuehnl said on 12 November on Austrian television that "in the long run" he is not opposed to Czech Republic closing its nuclear power plants. For now, Kuehnl said, he would "welcome" a decision by his country's government or parliament that no new nuclear power plants will be built. MS

'RESPEKT' LAUNCHES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ZEMAN

The weekly "Respekt" on 9 November launched a lawsuit against Premier Zeman, accusing him of incitement to violence and hatred, CTK reported. "Respekt" Editor in Chief Petr Holub said Zeman's statement at his 22 October press conference that he wishes the weekly to "cease to exist" and cabinet ministers' plans to launch multiple lawsuits against the weekly amount to incitement to violence and hatred against a group of people, which is an offense punishable under the Penal Code's provisions. Zeman said in New York on 12 November that "Respekt" is a "dustbin of Czech journalism." MS

BRITISH OFFICIALS RESUME CHECKS AT PRAGUE AIRPORT

British immigration officials resumed on 9 November checks at Prague airport of passengers embarking on flights for the U.K., CTK reported. A spokesman for the British Embassy told the agency that the checks "have a random character" and were not resumed due to an increase in the number of Czechs seeking asylum in the U.K. He declined to specify how long the checks will continue. The checks were suspended in mid-September but were reinstituted for three days in October. They first began in July, under an agreement between the two governments following a steep increase in Czech, mainly Romany, asylum seekers in the U.K. MS

CZECH POLICE PREVENT PRISON REVOLT

Police and prison guards rounded up Russian-speaking inmates in 11 Czech prisons on 11-12 November to thwart riots that officials said were planned to allow two convicts to escape, CTK and AP reported. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross told journalists that 400 police officers and more than 800 prison guards stormed the prisons late on 11 November, and that 19 Russian-speaking inmates were taken to other prisons and held in isolation. Police chief Jiri Kolar said the riot was planned by members of gangs who were rivals outside prison but have worked closely together since they were jailed. MS

FORMER PREMIER REITERATES SUPPORT FOR SLOVAKIA'S EU, NATO MEMBERSHIP

Former Premier Vladimir Meciar, campaigning for his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) for regional elections scheduled for 1 December, told supporters on 9 November that the HZDS's main priorities are joining NATO and the EU, CTK and AP reported. Meciar rejected his rivals' accusations that his government was to blame for Slovakia's failure to accede to NATO when the organization was first expanded. He said it is time to become "visionaries of the future rather than historians of the past," and called on all Slovak parties to work together to make NATO and EU membership possible. But he ruled out any possible coalition with the Slovak National Party, saying the HZDS will not forge an alliance with those who reject any "integration program." MS

CZECH TV TYCOON SAYS NEW SLOVAK CHANNEL WILL BE LAUNCHED IN SPRING 2002

Czech television tycoon Vladimir Zelezny told journalists on 12 November that after winning the license to launch a new commercial television channel in Slovakia, a "merciless economic survival" with his competitors has started, and that he has postponed launching the new station until the spring of 2002 because Slovakia lacks infrastructure installations. MS

SLOVAKIA REGISTERS THIRD CASE OF BSE

Martin Chudy, head of the State Veterinary Administration, announced on 11 November that a third case of BSE ("mad cow disease") has been discovered in south-central Slovakia, CTK and AP reported. Chudy said results of a second test are expected "in the next few days." MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMENDING 2001-2002 BUDGET

The parliament on 12 November approved by a majority of 207 to160 the amendments proposed by the cabinet to the country's two-year 2001-2002 budget, Hungarian media reported. The approval was made possible by the support of the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) and of three deputies from the opposition Socialist Party. The amendment allows the allocation of 285 billion forint (over $1 billion) in surplus budget revenues to increase pensions, raise the salaries of civil servants, and support the Szechenyi Plan for economic investment and development. Two of the Socialist deputies said they supported the amendment "by mistake," but a third, Matyas Szuros, said he did so because he agrees with the amendment's social aspects. MS

HUNGARIAN DEPUTY MINISTER RESIGNS AFTER COURT CONVICTION

Culture Ministry Political State Secretary Attila Varhegyi resigned on 9 November following a court ruling that he is guilty of having mismanaged funds when he was mayor of Szolonk in the mid-1990s, Hungarian media reported. Varhegyi was fined 300,000 forints ($1,075). Prime Minister Viktor Orban accepted his resignation but said that Varhegyi might be re-appointed to his position if he wins his appeal. Varhegyi was acquitted on a bribery charge. He said he will stay on as a deputy representing the ruling FIDESZ in the parliament and as chairman of the FIDESZ National Committee. MS

YOUNG HUNGARIAN ULTRANATIONALISTS DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE ROMANIAN EMBASSY

A protest demonstration organized by an organization calling itself "The Youth Movement of the 64 Counties" was held in front of the Romanian Embassy in Budapest on 10 November, Romanian media reported. Romanian Ambassador to Hungary Petru Cordos called the demonstrators "revisionists" and said the organization is named after Greater Hungary's administrative division. The Romanian Foreign Ministry said the next day that it is "concerned" about the re-emergence in Hungary of a "movement reminiscent of those in the interwar period" and that "endangers European stability and negatively impacts relations" between the two countries. The ministry called on the Hungarian authorities to take measures to prevent further such demonstrations, Romanian radio reported. MS




ETHNIC ALBANIANS FREE MACEDONIAN HOSTAGES...

Guerrillas belonging to the extremist Albanian National Army (AKSH) freed 39 Macedonian civilians in the Tetovo area on 12 November, Reuters reported. The Albanians took the hostages the previous day after hard-line Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski sent members of a paramilitary police unit into the Trebos area, which was formerly held by the National Liberation Army (UCK), and arrested seven Albanians (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 October 2001). Well-armed Albanians thereupon killed three of the policemen in an ambush in the single most violent incident since the signing of the peace accord on 13 August. The paramilitary police ostensibly entered the area to protect a mass grave of a dozen Macedonian civilians, the existence of which many international and Albanian observers doubt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). Boskovski sent the paramilitary police into the tense area without coordinating the action with international monitors, as previously agreed. He also did so in the absence of a parliamentary amnesty for former UCK fighters. Many ex-guerrillas fear mass arrests without a formal amnesty. PM

...AFTER MACEDONIAN HARD-LINERS STAGE PROVOCATION

An unnamed Western diplomat told the "Financial Times" of 13 November regarding the developments in Trebos: "This is a very deliberate provocation. Boskovski is trying to escalate the situation to score political points and delay the vote" scheduled for January, because his party is doing very poorly in the polls (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 November 2001). Boskovski belongs to Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski's nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE). Some reports say the paramilitary police unit sent into Trebos is part of the so-called Lions, a contingent which is close to the VMRO-DPMNE. Following the incident, President Boris Trajkovski received telephone calls from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and other members of the international community, Deutsche Welle's Serbian Service reported on 13 November. PM

MACEDONIAN MINISTER DEFIANT AGAINST WEST, ALBANIANS

Boskovski said in the Tetovo area on 12 November that "we are in the second half of the war now" against "terrorists and bandits" of the Albanian community, Reuters reported. He stressed that "Macedonia is a sovereign state, and we cannot have the attitude of a protectorate" toward the international community. He referred to the previous achievements in the peace process as "a farce," RFE/RL reported. Meanwhile, "hundreds of Macedonian special forces were deployed to surround the Tetovo villages of Neprosteno and Trebos" on 12 November, dpa reported. But an unnamed senior police official told Reuters, "We are reducing the number of police [in the flashpoint area] at the request of Amber Fox," which is NATO's current mission in Macedonia. For his part, AKSH spokesman Alban Berisha called the 13 August peace agreement a "waste of time," dpa reported. He stressed that there will be war until the Albanians are granted full equality within Macedonia. If that fails to materialize, he said, "There will be only one topic of discussion: borders." PM

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT AGAIN DELAYS DEBATE ON REFORMS

President Trajkovski's office said in a statement that, "The most important thing is to adopt the constitutional changes as soon as possible and not allow the further spread of the armed conflict and violation of the cease-fire," AP reported from Skopje on 13 November. Parliament speaker Stojan Andov called a session of the legislature for noon that day after the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD) ended its opposition to the proposed preamble to the constitution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2001). A PPD spokesman told dpa that his party decided to change its position after talks with EU envoy Alain Le Roy and in view of the latest violence. But on the morning of 13 November, Andov announced a postponement of the legislative session until after the funeral of deputy Gjorgji Kotevski, who died in a traffic accident near Prilep that morning, AP reported. PM

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS SET TO LEAVE MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT...

The leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), Branko Crvenkovski, confirmed that his party will leave the broad-based coalition government as soon as the parliament has implemented the 13 August Ohrid peace agreement, the Skopje daily "Dnevnik" reported on 10 November. "It is true that we plan to leave the government, but we do not know whether this will happen next week. We do not want to jeopardize the implementation of the peace agreement," the party's deputy leader and Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski is quoted as saying. Buckovski added that his party is unhappy with the work of the current government (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 November 2001). According to the newspaper, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Socialist Party (SPM) will withdraw their ministers once the SDSM does the same. UB

...WHILE PRIME MINISTER LOOKS FOR NEW COALITION PARTNERS

Georgievski told journalists on a visit to the Makstil steel plant that his party is in contact with potential new coalition partners, the daily "Nova Makedonija" reported on 10 November (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 November 2001). According to "Dnevnik," it is likely that Georgievski will try to form a new government together with his conservative former coalition partners from the Democratic Alternative (DA), Andov's Liberal Party (LP), and the defectors from his own party now known as the "real" VMRO (VMRO-VMRO). There are also rumors that New Democracy (ND) and Arben Xhaferi's Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) will be invited to join the new cabinet. UB

YUGOSLAV ADMIRAL SURRENDERS TO HAGUE TRIBUNAL

Former Yugoslav Admiral Miodrag Jokic arrived in The Hague on 13 November accompanied by Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 2001). Jokic decided to surrender to face charges stemming from the 1991 shelling of Dubrovnik lest he be arrested "on the street or in a market," Deutsche Welle's Serbian Service reported. Before leaving Belgrade for the Netherlands, Jokic stressed: "There is nothing I should be ashamed of. I made this decision myself. As a soldier and as an admiral I carried out my duties professionally and conscientiously according to the rules of international law," RFE/RL reported. Mihajlovic said, "Jokic took the decision to cooperate with The Hague himself voluntarily. I am going with him to show respect for his courageous decisions and to show that the Serbian government stands behind him." The minister added that the government is prepared to provide the same guarantees for his pre-trial release as it did for former Bosnian Serb leader Biljana Plavsic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

SERBIAN ELITE POLICE 'MUTINY' OVER COOPERATION WITH THE HAGUE...

More than 100 members of the Red Berets paramilitary police blocked a main road into Belgrade with armored vehicles on 12 November until late afternoon, Reuters reported. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" called the action "a mutiny." The men say they are angry that some of them were recently "tricked" by the Interior Ministry into arresting two Bosnian Serb brothers who were then extradited to The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2001). Red Berets say that those carrying out the arrests had been told that that the brothers were common criminals. The protesters want Serbian Interior Minister Mihajlovic to resign. They also demand passage of a law to clarify relations with The Hague. "Vesti" noted that the Red Berets appeared in public without their usual ski masks. Many citizens cheered the men, who attended a Serbian Orthodox service in uniform. PM

...AS LARGER ISSUES LOOM

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said on 11 November in Belgrade that the police should keep out of politics and stressed that his government will continue its cooperation with The Hague, Reuters reported. He then went to the Red Beret base at Kula but failed to dissuade paramilitary police there from going ahead with their plans to block traffic. Many in the government fear that the protest could become a rallying point for Serbs who agree with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, who has said that the tribunal is an anti-Serbian instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Critics note that the government has repeatedly delayed enacting legislation on cooperation with The Hague. Mihajlovic said that the real reason for many of the Red Berets' anger is that they have heard rumors that some of them have been indicted by the tribunal for war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia, or Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 12 November. PM

HAGUE STUDIES THIRD INDICTMENT AGAINST SERBIAN EX-LEADER

Experts at The Hague-based war crimes tribunal have given prosecutors a proposed third indictment against former President Slobodan Milosevic, this time for crimes committed in Bosnia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 12 November. He has previously been indicted for atrocities in Kosova and Croatia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 October 2001). PM

ROBERTSON TELLS SLOVENES: YOU'RE NOT READY FOR NATO

In Brdo Pri Kranju, Slovenia, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson told his hosts on 12 November that they should concentrate on "producing armed forces which are usable and deployable," AP reported. Repeating a theme he has stated before, Robertson said Slovenia has "a good record, but the work still has to be done." Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek argued that his country is doing its best. He added that Slovenia's best contribution to NATO could be its geographic location. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNING PARTY SET TO SPLIT?

Socialist Party Chairman Fatos Nano has criticized the government headed by his own party as being linked to smugglers and drug traffickers, dpa reported from Tirana on 12 November. Nano accused Prime Minister Ilir Meta of "ruling Albania with fascist methods. He has used dirty money to maintain power." Meta denied the charges, saying that they are the remarks of "an irresponsible politician." The daily "Koha Jone" wrote that a split in the party seems inevitable. Recently, Nano failed to stop Meta's bid for a new term in office and to secure party backing to succeed President Rexhep Meidani (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 7 and 18 September 2001). PM

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT STARTS DEBATING 2002 BUDGET...

The parliament on 12 November began debating the 2002 budget after hearing Premier Adrian Nastase's presentation of its main elements, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. It is the first time since 1989 that an incumbent government has presented a draft bill on the budget within the time frame stipulated by law. The budget foresees a 3 percent deficit, a 5 percent increase in GDP, and an inflation rate of 22 percent. The opposition National Liberal Party (PNL) and Democratic Party said they will vote against the budget. The Greater Romania Party also criticized the budget parameters but did not say whether its deputies will vote for or against it. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania announced that it will support the bill, as did the parliamentary group representing other national minorities. MS

...AMID PROTESTS FROM TEACHERS

Some 1,000 teachers, researchers, and civil servants protested outside the Senate building in Bucharest on 12 November against the austerity budget and demanded a wage increase, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The protesters said the budget for education should be increased to at least 6 percent of GDP. Premier Nastase said demands for better wages are justified but that it is necessary to search for "concrete solutions" within the current restrictions on the deficit agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund. MS

ROMANIAN PARTIES SIGN MERGER AGREEMENT

The PNL and the extraparliamentary Alliance for Romania (APR) signed a merger agreement on 9 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The agreement stipulates that the merger take effect on 19 January 2002, after approval by extraordinary congresses of the two parties. The merged group will be called PNL. The APR will be represented in the merged formation's leadership by a PNL first deputy chairman's seat (most probably former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu) and will have three representatives in the PNL Standing Central Bureau. MS

ROMANIAN CABINET EXTENDS TERM FOR PROPERTY RESTITUTION CLAIMS

The cabinet on 9 November extended by three months the term for submitting property-restitution requests, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. This is the second time the term has been extended, and the move follows demands voiced by representatives of U.S. Jewish communities during Premier Nastase's recent visit to that country. The deadline for submitting claims is now 15 February 2002. The government also decided that refugees in Romania will be granted the right to free education and to work. MS

ROMANIA CONSIDERS REDUCING COMPULSORY MILITARY SERVICE

Chief of Staff General Mircea Popescu said on 10 November that the current compulsory military service of between six and 18 months may be reduced to between four and 12 months by 2003, Mediafax reported. The parliament must approve that decision. Popescu said women could serve as volunteers if they wished. He added that if the Senate approves a bill on alternative military service, the length of that service will be double the normal length. Popescu also announced that 15 officers will be promoted from the rank of colonel to that of general on Romania's national day on 1 December. MS

RUSSIANS WITHDRAW ARSENAL FROM TRANSDNIESTER

Two freight trains carrying mainly Russian artillery equipment left the separatist region on 9 and 12 November, Moldovan and Russian media reported. The commander of the Russian contingent, General Valerii Yevnevich, told ITAR-TASS on 9 November that a total of four such freight trains evacuating "armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, and other materiel" are to leave before the end of this week. The evacuation is in line with the agreements reached at the OSCE's November 1999 Istanbul summit. In 1999 and early 2000, Moscow withdrew several trainloads of engineering and non-combat equipment from Transdniester. MS

MOLDOVAN EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY PARTIES AGREE ON MERGER

Five extraparliamentary parties agreed on 10 November to merge and to hold their unification congress on 8 December, Infotag reported on 12 November. The five formations are former President Mircea Snegur's Party of Revival and Reconciliation, the Party of Democratic Forces led by Valeriu Matei, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic headed by Valeriu Muravschi, the New National Party of Moldova, and the Party of Civic Dignity. MS

LOW PARTICIPATION MARS BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL

An apathetic Bulgarian electorate stayed away from the presidential poll on 11 November, and a computer failure made it impossible for official preliminary results to be announced the next day as expected, BTA reported. Voter turnout was 39.2 percent, making the contest the first presidential election that failed to meet the constitutional requirement of at least 50 percent voter participation. Unofficial exit polls put Georgi Parvanov, the Coalition for Bulgaria candidate, slightly ahead of incumbent President Petar Stoyanov with about 35 to 36 percent to Stoyanov's 34 to 35 percent. Both the low turnout and the failure of any candidate to garner 50 percent or more of the vote means that a runoff will be held on 18 November between Stoyanov and Parvanov. Due to the computer failure, the Central Electoral Commission postponed the announcement of preliminary results to 14 November. Before the elections, Stoyanov was tipped by some pollsters to win by a considerable margin in the first round, while others put him far ahead in a runoff (see also "End Note" below). MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS REACT TO OUTCOME

President Stoyanov, who was backed by both the ruling National Movement Simeon II and the opposition United Democratic Forces though running as an independent, said he expects to win the runoff and hopes to rally more voters to cast their ballots. He also said he will challenge Parvanov to a televised debate. Parvanov said the electoral outcome shows the Bulgarian people "want a new president who is not linked to the failures of the previous government and has proven his moral and political integrity." Former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, who garnered around 20 percent and finished third, said Bulgarians had cast a "negative vote" by staying away from the polls and added that the low turnout shows the presidential institution "has lost its prestige." Bonev said he will not make any recommendation to his supporters on how to vote on 18 November. All other presidential candidates scored far less than Stoyanov, Parvanov, or Bonev. MS




BULGARIA'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION GOES INTO RUNOFF


By Julia Guechakov

Bulgarian voters will go to the polls for a second time on 18 November to elect a president after the 11 November ballot failed to draw the minimum 50 percent of registered voters. Georgi Parvanov, the leader of the once-communist Socialist Party, who ran as the candidate for the Coalition for Bulgaria alliance, fared better than expected and will face incumbent Petar Stoyanov in a runoff that is likely to be close.

The 11 November vote pitted Stoyanov, the favored candidate, who ran as an independent, against Parvanov, Bogomil Bonev of the small center-right Civic Party, and three other candidates. Preliminary results released late on 12 November show Stoyanov and Parvanov neck and neck with 35.5 and 36.5 percent of the vote respectively. Bonev placed third at about 19 percent, while the three remaining candidates each polled less than 10 percent. Final results are due on 14 November.

But nearly two-thirds of Bulgaria's 6.8 million voters, angry at unfulfilled promises of higher living standards and allegations of corruption, stayed away from the polls: the Central Electoral Commission said just 39 percent of the electorate cast ballots. The Bulgarian Constitution stipulates that for a first-round election to be valid, turnout must exceed 50 percent of registered voters and one candidate must obtain at least 50 percent of the vote. In a runoff, there is no requirement for voter participation. Whoever wins more than half the votes is president.

The presidency is largely a figurehead position and a low turnout had been expected. But the participation rate, the lowest since the fall of communism more than a decade ago, went beyond the worst projections.

Stoyanov had been widely expected to win by a comfortable margin -- and possibly even an outright victory -- in the first round. At press conferences late on 11 November, candidates sought to assign blame for the low turnout, which Parvanov said marked a "collapse of public trust" in the political establishment. "People no longer want the status quo. People want change and we are gratified that a considerable number of voters see us as [the force to carry out] that change," Parvanov said.

Until the parliamentary elections in June, Bulgaria had been ruled by a succession of governments from the Socialist Party and the center-right Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) since the fall of communism. However, both major parties performed poorly in that vote, which brought to power a right-leaning coalition led by the former king and now prime minister, Simeon Saxegoburggotski.

Parvanov said the outcome on 11 November marked a "necessary, albeit small rehabilitation" of the political left.

Stoyanov for his part said voters stayed away from the polls because their real concerns were not addressed in the pre-election debate. "Before the first round, a relevant political debate about the concerns of Bulgarian citizens and the future of Bulgaria did not take place," he claimed.

Stoyanov, running for a second five-year term as an independent, had the backing both of the opposition SDS and the former king's ruling coalition. Paradoxically, the support of those two major parties may have undermined his chances of winning.

Stoyanov, once an SDS member, won his first term in 1996 on the SDS ticket. Hard-line SDS supporters now blame him for distancing himself from the party while other voters linked him to the shortcomings of the previous SDS government. There was also widespread speculation -- denied by the ruling coalition -- that the support expressed for Stoyanov by the former monarch was not wholehearted. Stoyanov acknowledged that support may have been wavering, but he said he is confident all that will change now that he faces the Socialist leader.

"I do believe that I can mobilize a significant number of supporters of the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV). As to the SDS, I am almost convinced that if until now some of the SDS hard-line supporters have been wavering, in the runoff they will no longer waver because now the [political] picture is absolutely clear," Stoyanov affirmed.

Analysts say the low turnout may have played in Parvanov's favor, as Socialist supporters are more united. By contrast, the SDS is still in disarray following its defeat in the June general election, while the former king's NDSV still has no party structures.

Mud-slinging accusations of corruption on the eve of the election may have further alienated voters.

Bonev, a former interior minister, accused Stoyanov of accepting donations from a shadowy business company. The incumbent president, in turn, revealed a secret intelligence report alleging that Bonev had maintained corrupt business links while in office in 1997-1999. Parvanov stayed out of the fray.

Bonev on 11 November blamed Stoyanov for having devalued the institution of the presidency over the past five years to the point that people "decided it simply carries no weight," and consequently did not bother to turn out to vote. Bonev's Civic Party is not represented in parliament. But his relatively strong showing on 11 November indicates he may become a figure to be reckoned with in the future.

The powers of the presidency are limited under Bulgaria's Constitution as a parliamentary republic. But the office does carry moral authority and influences the country's image abroad. During his five years in office, Stoyanov worked hard toward achieving Bulgaria's goals of membership in NATO and the European Union. Parvanov says he shares those priorities.

Julia Guechakov is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague


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