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Newsline - January 11, 2002


PROSECUTOR-GENERAL INVESTIGATING VOLOSHIN'S BUSINESS ACTIVITIES
Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov announced that his agency is investigating Aleksandr Voloshin, the chief of the presidential staff, in connection with his former business activities, Russian news agencies reported on 10 January. The investigation is focusing on the period of 1991-98, when Voloshin was involved in controversial business dealings on the part of various privatization funds and banks. During that period Voloshin had close ties with Otari Kvantrishvili, a kingpin of the Russian underworld who was killed by an unknown sniper in 1993; was a business partner of magnate Boris Berezovsky; and served as a broker in the privatization of lucrative state assets to Roman Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs. Ustinov said the investigation was requested by State Duma deputies Ivan Shandybin and Yurii Nikiforenko from the Communist Party, Aleksei Mitrofanov of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Dmitrii Savelev of the Union of Rightist Forces. Voloshin is widely considered a figure who symbolizes the corruption of former President Boris Yeltsin's regime, and his continued presence as head of the Kremlin administration provokes constant criticism from all parts of the political spectrum. VY

RUSSIA OPPOSES U.S. PLAN TO STORE NUCLEAR WARHEADS
In a statement released on 10 January, the Russian Foreign Ministry said U.S. plans to store but not destroy warheads as part of the two countries' reduction of nuclear arsenals is "unacceptable," "Kommersant-Daily" reported. In addition, a source from the Russian General Staff told the daily that Washington's decision to destroy 50 Peacekeeper missile launching pads is a "laughable compensation" for the U.S. retreat from the ABM Treaty. The BBC commented the same day that if the U.S. insists on storing the dismantled warheads, Russia will never proceed with the reduction of its own nuclear arsenal, as that would ultimately be perceived as a weakness. VY

FEDERATION COUNCIL HEAD RALLIES BEHIND PASKO
Sergei Mironov said on 10 January that he is ready to personally step in as Grigorii Pasko's "guarantor" if the military journalist is released from custody, RIA-Novosti reported. Mironov argued that the information published by Pasko was not classified military information, and that in Pasko's case "world public opinion has long defined who is guilty and on whose side lies the truth." VY

RUSSIA INCREASES AIRLINE SECURITY MEASURES
First Deputy Transport Minister Aleksandr Neradko said that special security measures and precautions will be introduced this year for the domestic airline industry, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. According to Neradko, the measures include more meticulous screening of pilots and others working at airports and airlines. He also said that the number of security personnel will also be increased "as far as available funds will allow." VY

PUTIN LOOKS TO HISTORIANS FOR NATIONAL IDEAS
In the first days of the new year, President Vladimir Putin met behind closed doors in the Kremlin with groups of historians specializing in ancient Rus to gain insight into how to form a national ideology, "Versiya," No. 1, reported. According to the investigative weekly, Putin asked the scientists to outline the most important events in the history of ancient Rus, and to answer the questions such as: "What Russian city can be considered as the historical and cultural center of Russian civilization?" and "How, based on the historical forms of Russian statehood, can one formulate the modern Russian national idea?" The weekly said the historians advised the president to look for clues in more recent history. Meanwhile, "Sobesednik," No. 1, commented that Putin has modeled himself after Tsar Nicolas I, who ruled from 1825 to 1855 with draconian discipline but enjoyed considerable popular support. VY

DUMA DRAFTS BILL ON COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR TERRORISM
A group of State Duma deputies from Unity, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and the LDPR have drafted a bill on the material responsibility of terrorists' family members for damages resulting from terrorist acts, RosBalt reported on 10 January. Under to the proposed bill, those who are aware of the preparation of terrorist acts by a member of their family would be responsible for paying financial compensation to the victims of the act if it is carried out, and the amount will be defined in closed-door trial proceedings. VY

PUTIN WANTS TO KNOW WHY SOME CITIES DON'T HAVE HEAT...
President Putin has ordered the government to prepare a report within a month explaining the reasons for heating supply disruptions in Primorskii Krai, Sakhalin and Kamchatka Oblasts, and in the northwest and southern areas of the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January 2002). Following a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko that day, government press secretary Aleksei Gromov said Putin suggested that the government "work more closely with the leaders of those regions" experiencing difficult weather conditions. According to RFE/RL's Russian Service, some 30,000 people were without heat over the New Year's holidays. JAC

...AS REGIONS LEFT SCRAMBLING TO MEET ORDERED WAGE HIKE
"Nizhegorodskie novosti" reported on 9 January that 82 of Russia's 89 federation subjects have been put in a tough situation by President Putin's decision to raise the wages of state sectors workers. At a press conference in Nizhnii Novgorod last month, Governor Gennadii Khodyrev said his oblast was only able to raise teachers' and doctors' wages in December with help from the federal Finance Ministry, and in January it will be even more difficult to make wage payments because tax receipts are typically low at the beginning of the year. However, one local foreign-language teacher, Olga Shchitova, told the daily that her wages in December turned out to be lower than November's. And a nurse at local hospital going by the name "Anna B" reported that she received no wages at all in December. According to Anna B, rumors are circulating at her hospital that wages will not be raised before March. JAC

OLIGARCH VYING FOR LEADERSHIP OF KEY ECONOMIC COMMITTEE
"Vremya novostei" reported on 10 January that Sergei Pugachev, the head of Mezhprombank and representative to the Federation Council for the Tuva Republic, is competing for the chairmanship of a newly created committee for financial markets in the upper legislative house. According to the daily, Yevgenii Bushmin (Nizhnii Novgorod) has already been selected to head the Budget Committee and Aleksandr Nazarov (Chukotka) will head the Committee on the North. Bushmin is a former deputy finance minister. Earlier in the week, recent appointees from Sverdlovsk Oblast complained that the division of leadership posts in the upper legislative chamber had been decided before all of the new members had assumed office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 January 2002). According to the daily, the number of committees in the chamber will increase from 11 to 16. Other new committees will be one on resources and ecology, local self-rule, judicial and legal questions, and industrial policy, according to polit.ru. JAC

NEW RAILWAYS MINISTER AXES SOME PET PROJECTS OF PREDECESSOR
The Railways Ministry has rejected a plan to construct a rail link between Sakhalin Island and the Russian mainland (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 January 2002), RIA-Novosti reported on 10 January. Newly appointed Railways Minister Gennadii Fadeev told reporters in Moscow that the ministry simply doesn't have enough resources to develop the project. Last year, then-Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko expressed optimism that the $10-$14 billion project would be constructed, according to ntvru.com. The Russian cabinet will meet on 24 January to discuss the ministry's draft investment program. JAC

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER SCANDAL IN YAKUTSK
As voters in the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic prepare to go to the polls on 13 January to vote in the second round of presidential elections, a new scandal has broken out in Yakutsk. Swiss citizen Adel Gromov and former republican Finance Minister Sergei Yanygin were arrested on 9 January by police on suspicion of large-scale swindling, Interfax reported on 10 January. Gromov is suspected of attempting to sell $100 million worth of invalid Sakha government bonds with Yanygin's assistance, according to TV-6. Meanwhile, strana.ru reported on 8 January that some Yakutsk residents have again begun receiving campaign pamphlets in their mailboxes designed to incite ethnic hatred. For example, one brochure signed by a group calling itself the "Russian Imperial Battalion" declares: "Our Shtyrov -- This is the beginning of our war for a Russian Yakutia." Alrosa President Vyacheslav Shtyrov is a favorite in the race. JAC

U.S. SLAMS RUSSIAN BRUTALITY IN CHECHNYA
Speaking at a press briefing in Washington on 10 January, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher expressed concern that Russian troops resorted to "overwhelming force against civilian targets" and committed human rights violations during recent fighting in the village of Tsotan-Yurt and the town of Argun, Reuters reported. "Die Welt" on 11 January quoted Chechen human rights activists as saying that drunken Russian soldiers massacred at least 80 Chechen civilians during the fighting in Tsotan-Yurt in early January, which was the fiercest in several months. Boucher also expressed concern that Moscow has not followed up on initial talks last November between presidential envoy to the Southern federal district Viktor Kazantsev and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's representative Akhmed Zakaev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 20 November 2001). LF

CHECHEN ADMINISTRATION HEAD SAYS HE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT
Meeting with journalists in Grozny on 10 January, Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov announced that he will run for president of Chechnya when elections take place, ITAR-TASS reported. No date for that ballot has yet been scheduled. Kadyrov told ITAR-TASS on 23 November that it must be preceded by the end of hostilities and the return of all Chechen displaced persons to their homes. LF

TESTIMONY CONTINUES IN ARMENIAN CAFE DEATH TRIAL
Testifying on 10 January at the trial for manslaughter of Aghamal Harutiunian, one of Armenian President Robert Kocharian's bodyguards, Gurgen Arsenian, who heads the National Security Ministry department responsible for the president's security, gave testimony that contradicts earlier witnesses' reports of the confrontation that ended with the death of Poghos Poghosian, an Armenian from southern Georgia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Armenian agencies cited by Groong reported. Arsenian said Poghosian publicly shouted abuse at Kocharian as the latter was leaving a Yerevan cafe on 25 September. Arsenian said Harutiunian then led Poghosian to the cafe restroom where, Harutiunian told his colleagues the following day, Poghosian punched him in the jaw. Arsenian said no other security guards followed the two men to the restroom, but other witnesses have said they saw several men kicking and punching Poghosian. None of those witnesses has identified Harutiunian as one of those who assaulted Poghosian. LF

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT ORDERS MANDATORY WATER METERS
The Armenian government issued a decree on 10 January requiring all households to install water meters by the end of 2003 in an attempt to improve water supplies and enforce the billing system, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. After meters are installed, households will be billed according to the amount of water they use, rather than at the present flat rate of 420 drams ($0.75) per person per month which, according to Gagik Martirosian, who heads the relevant government department, should prove cheaper in most cases. The new system should also make it possible to provide water 24 hours per day. Except for socially vulnerable families, households must install the meters at their own expense. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES ALIGN
Thirty-two Azerbaijani political parties participated in a meeting in Baku on 10 January that resulted in 25 of them joining forces to form a new United Opposition Movement and pledging to work together for the resignation of the present leadership and its replacement by "a legitimate government," Turan reported. Those 25 include the Musavat Party, the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, and the conservative wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP), but not the Azerbaijan National Independence Party or the progressive wing of the AHCP. Those two parties signed a cooperation agreement last October together with the Taraggi Party (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 40, 6 December 2001). LF

AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL WITHDRAWS LIBEL SUIT AGAINST JOURNALIST
Presidential administration head Ramiz Mekhtiev has withdrawn the libel suit he brought against Einulla Fatullaev, a journalist with the recently closed opposition newspaper "Milletin sesi," Turan reported on 11 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 2002). LF

LUKOIL HOLDS FURTHER TALKS ON PARTICIPATION IN AZERBAIJANI PIPELINE PROJECT
LUKoil senior Vice President Azat Shamsuarov held "working negotiations" in Baku on 10 January with the leadership of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR on LUKoil's possible participation in the group sponsoring construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export pipeline for Azerbaijani (and possibly also Kazakh) oil, Turan and Interfax reported. LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov announced last month that his company is considering joining the project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December 2001). LF

GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS DEMAND WITHDRAWAL FROM ABKHAZIA OF CIS PEACEKEEPERS
Some 300 Georgian displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war picketed the state chancellery on 11 January to demand that President Eduard Shevardnadze act on his pledge to comply with the parliament's demand that the Russian peacekeepers deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone be withdrawn, Caucasus Press reported. The displaced persons threatened to stage mass protests if Shevardnadze fails to meet their demand. On 10 January, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili denied media reports that Tbilisi has offered to agree to an extension of the peacekeepers' mandate provided that Moscow revokes the visa requirement that went into force a year ago for Georgian citizens wishing to travel to the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES RESURRECT ANTICORRUPTION BILL
On 10 January, the Georgian parliament's legal affairs and economics committees began joint hearings on a draft bill first presented last summer by then-Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili that would allow for the confiscation of assets that ministers could not prove were acquired legally, Caucasus Press reported. President Shevardnadze rejected that draft bill as violating the presumption of innocence, saying that the outcome of the privatization of state property will not be revised, and that the principle of "taking away from the rich to give to the poor" cannot be applied in Georgia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 30, 16 August 2001). Saakashvili, who resigned one month later and was subsequently elected to parliament, has now resubmitted the bill for consideration. LF

GEORGIAN ECONOMIST DOWNPLAYS LOSS IN VALUE OF NATIONAL CURRENCY
The Georgian lari's recent fall in value against the U.S. dollar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 January 2002) was "not unexpected," and can be attributed to "seasonal factors," Georgian National Bank spokesman Zaza Gachechiladze told Caucasus Press on 10 January. The lari fell to 2.225 to the dollar on 9 January but the following day recovered to 2.205. LF

KAZAKHSTAN TO INTRODUCE DEATH PENALTY FOR ATTACKS ON PRESIDENT?
The Kazakh government has drafted amendments to existing antiterrorism legislation that provide for stiffer punishment for involvement in and advocacy of terrorism, Interfax quoted Sergei Zhalybin, the chairman of the parliament committee for legislation and court reform, as saying. Those amendments provide among other things for the imposition of the death penalty or life imprisonment for attempts to assassinate the president. Zhalybin said that bill was first submitted in July 2001 and thus is not a response to the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. A second bill under consideration would require all adult citizens to submit to fingerprinting as part of the procedure for applying for identification documents, according to ITAR-TASS and ntvru.com on 10 January. LF

ARRESTED KAZAKH POLITICAL ACTIVIST RELEASED
Oral Saulebay, who is a leading member of the Azat movement and chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Kazakh Lands, was released from custody in South Kazakhstan Oblast on 10 January and return to Almaty the following day, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported. Saulebay was detained by Uzbek police on 30 December following a protest demonstration in the village of Baghys on the Uzbek-Kazakh border and charged with organizing an unsanctioned meeting and with insulting the honor and dignity of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He was transferred from Tashkent to the oblast police headquarters in South Kazakhstan Oblast a week ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3, 4, and 7 January 2002). LF

KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA, ASSESS BILATERAL RELATIONS
During talks in Astana on 9 January, visiting Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Kazakh Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev expressed satisfaction at the state of bilateral relations, noting specifically the expansion of economic contacts and trade between the two countries, Interfax reported. LF

KAZAKHSTAN REMEMBERS KUNAEV
Members of Kazakhstan's intelligentsia and NGOs gathered in Almaty on 10 January to commemorate the 90th anniversary that day of the birth of Dinmukhammed Kunaev, a former first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Kunaev's ouster in December 1986 triggered mass protests in Almaty; he spent the last years of his life under virtual house arrest. Neither Kunaev's erstwhile protege, current President Nursultan Nazarbaev, nor any other members of the present political elite attended the commemoration with the exception of former Ambassador Murat Auezov. LF

MORE PROTESTS IN KYRGYZSTAN OVER BEKNAZAROV'S ARREST
Several human rights activists began a hunger strike in Bishkek on 10 January to protest the arrest of parliament deputy Azimbek Beknazarov, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Plans to convene an emergency session of the Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of parliament) to discuss Beknazarov's case failed as only 34 deputies were present, six fewer than the 40 minimum required for a quorum, but Prosecutor-General Chubak Abyshkaev repeated to the 34 deputies present that Beknazarov's arrest was not politically motivated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7, 8, 9, and 10 January 2002). LF

KYRGYZSTAN SUMS UP ECONOMIC RESULTS FOR 2001
Kyrgyzstan's GDP in 2001 amounted to 73.89 billion soms (about $1.54 billion), which represents a 5.3 percent increase over the previous year, National Statistics Committee Chairman Zarylbek Kudabaev told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 9 January. Industrial output increased by 5.4 percent year-on-year if gold production is taken into account, but minus gold production fell by 1.6 percent; agricultural production grew by 6.8 percent and annual inflation amounted to 3.7 percent. LF

CONFLICTING REPORTS OF DAMAGE FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE IN TAJIKISTAN
Three children died, 54 people were injured, and 52 homes were destroyed by an earthquake that hit the town of Rogun, 140 kilometers northeast of Dushanbe, on 9 January, Russian agencies reported. The quake registered 6-7 on the Richter scale. Further tremors of up to 3-4 on the Richter scale were registered on 10 January. Reuters on 10 January reported that the Tajik government appealed to the international community on 10 January for emergency aid, in particular food and warm clothing, noting temperatures in the affected area have plummeted to minus 16 degrees Celsius. But Interfax later on 10 January quoted presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov as denying that Dushanbe has asked for help. Early reports also said the half-completed Rogun hydroelectric power station was not damaged by the quake, according to ITAR-TASS on 10 January. But ntvru.com reported the same day that the wall of the dam was seriously damaged and experts are working frantically to prevent its collapse, which would result in major flooding. LF

MINSK PROTESTS NTV REPORT ON ARREST OF BUSINESS EXECUTIVE...
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has sent a note to the Russian Embassy in connection with a report by Russia's NTV television on the recent arrest of Minsk Tractor Factory Director Mikhail Lyavonau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 January 2002), ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Ministry spokesman Andrey Savinykh told the agency that the report aired by NTV was "offensive" and distorted the real situation in Belarus. The Foreign Ministry summoned NTV correspondent in Belarus Pavel Selin and warned him that he may be stripped of his accreditation unless NTV makes relevant apologies, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Selin commented in his report on the arrest of Lyavonau that the Minsk Tractor Factory sells its tractors primarily in Russia, and added: "As known, President [Alyaksandr] Lukashenka vigorously opposes the mass penetration of Russian business in Belarus's profitable branches of economy. And in no less vigorous way he gets rid of those maintaining close economic ties with fraternal Russia." JM

...WANTS TO CLARIFY MANDATE OF OSCE GROUP IN BELARUS
Foreign Ministry spokesman Savinykh said on 10 January that Minsk will not approve a new head of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Belarus until the question of the group's mandate has been clarified, Belapan reported. According to Savinykh, Dr. Eberhard Heyken, Germany's former ambassador to Ukraine, is seen as the most likely candidate to head the OSCE group in Minsk. Former OSCE group head Hans Georg Wieck ended his mission in Minsk last month. JM

KYIV MAYOR TO FILE LAWSUIT OVER WIRETAPPING
Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko has acknowledged the authenticity of an audio recording of his telephone conversation with Our Ukraine election bloc leader Viktor Yushchenko about the dismissal of parliamentary deputy speaker Viktor Medvedchuk (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10 January 2002), STB Television reported on 10 January. The conversation allegedly indicates that Omelchenko and Yushchenko orchestrated the ousting of Medvedchuk. Omelchenko said he does not see any scandal or anything new in his conversation, since it concerned a general opinion shared in many parliamentary caucuses. Omelchenko noted, however, that the bugging of his telephone conversation is a crime and added that he intends to file a lawsuit over this fact. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS BILL ON POLICE STRENGTH
The parliament passed a bill on 10 January establishing the total number of employees working at the Interior Ministry at 386,600 people, UNIAN reported. This figure does not include the ministry-subordinated internal troops for which the numerical strength was set at 44,000. The same day parliament considered some 70 draft laws, but voted against reverting to the CD antipiracy bill that was voted down in December. A totally new bill is to be submitted for consideration on 11 January, New Channel Television reported. JM

UKRAINE'S ACCOUNTING CHAMBER REPORTS $358 MILLION IN MISUSED FUNDS IN 2001
The Accounting Chamber found in 2001 that 1.9 billion hryvni ($358 million) in budget funds was used by ministries, organizations, and enterprises illegally, inefficiently, or for purposes other than for which it was approved, UNIAN reported on 10 January, quoting Accounting Chamber head Valentyn Symonenko. Symonenko said the Accounting Chamber has uncovered offences totaling some 12 billion hryvni in the five years of its existence. JM

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS TO PROBE FOREIGN ACCOUNTS OF SIX LAWMAKERS
The Prosecutor-General's Office has launched an investigation into the opening of foreign bank accounts by six Ukrainian legislators, Interfax reported on 11 January, quoting a letter by Deputy Prosecutor-General Oleksiy Bahanets to parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch. The lawmakers suspected of illegally opening bank accounts in Switzerland are: Oleksandr Volkov, Ihor Bakay, Pavlo Ryabkin, Oleksiy Kucherenko, Kostyantin Zhevaho, and Volodymyr Satsyuk. The investigation was opened following a motion by lawmakers Hryhoriy Omelchenko and Anatoliy Yermak. Last month, Omelchenko and Yermak demanded explanations from the Prosecutor-General's Office about an Internet report alleging that Swiss police had blocked some 200 bank accounts belonging to Russian and Ukrainian companies and citizens. The report mentioned the six Ukrainian lawmakers. JM

2001 INFLATION RATES IN BALTIC STATES
The Estonian Statistics Office announced on 8 January that the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0.2 percent in December compared to November, and 4.2 percent compared to December 2001, BNS reported. In December, the costs of goods increased by 0.3 percent, and those of services fell by 0.1 percent. The Latvian Central Statistics Office announced on 9 January that the CPI in December rose by 0.4 percent compared to November, and 3.2 compared to December 2000. During the year the prices of goods rose by 3.7 percent and of services by 1.6 percent. Lithuania's CPI edged up by 0.3 percent in December compared to November, and by 2.0 percent compared to December 2000. The largest increases during the year were 21.1 percent for communication costs and 6.2 percent for food and nonalcoholic beverages, which were eased by the decreases of 10.9 percent in transportation costs and of 2.9 percent for clothing and footwear. SG

CARGO TURNOVER IN LATVIAN PORTS INCREASED 9.8 PERCENT IN 2001
Latvian ports handled 56.9 million tons of cargo in 2001, or 9.8 percent more than in the previous year, LETA and BNS reported on 10 January. The direction of the cargos was clearly one-sided; outgoing cargos totaled 54.4 million tons while those coming in were 2.5 million tons. An important factor in the increase was the record-breaking exports of crude oil (17.7 million tons) and oil products (13.7 million tons). About two-thirds of the cargos (37.9 million tons) went through the port of Venstspils, but the greatest increase in turnover (11.5 percent) was in Riga, the country's second-largest port, which handled 14.9 million tons. SG

SPANISH AMBASSADOR TO LITHUANIA SPELLS OUT EU PRESIDENCY PRIORITIES
Jose Pons Irazazabal, who resides in Copenhagen, informed leading Lithuanian officials during his four-day visit to Vilnius about the priorities Spain has set for its six-month presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2002. In separate meetings on 10 January he told President Valdas Adamkus and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas that Spain's main priorities include EU enlargement, economic stability and social welfare, increasing the EU's influence in the world, and the fight against international terrorism, ELTA reported. Irazazabal stressed that his country favors Lithuania's admission into the EU as soon as possible and that Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, whose flight to Vilnius was canceled by the terrorist attacks of 11 September, plans to visit Lithuania in the first half of the year. He noted that the political decision to open a Spanish embassy in Vilnius has been made, but the country's Finance Ministry must resolve financing difficulties. SG

PREMIER PROMISES U.S. JEWS THAT POLAND WILL RESOLVE PROPERTY RESTITUTION ISSUES
Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who is currently visiting the United States, met in New York on 10 January with representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, PAP reported. "We do not want to consign to oblivion the issue of property return; we want to resolve it at least in part," Miller declared in his speech at the meeting. Miller noted that the property restitution bill passed by the previous Polish parliament and subsequently vetoed by the president was "unrealistic and unfair." Jewish leaders asked Miller to set up a permanent channel for talks between individuals making property claims and the Polish government. Miller said in response that government official Lech Nikolski will be responsible for maintaining permanent contacts with former property owners and for discussing with them the property restitution act that is being prepared by the Sejm. JM

POLISH LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO COMMEMORATE DEMOLISHED MONUMENT TO SOVIET ARMY
The municipal government of the city of Kutno, central Poland, has decided to place a commemorative plaque at the site of the monument to the brotherhood of the Polish People's Army and the Red Army dismantled in 1990, Polish Radio reported on 10 January. This is the first decision of this kind in Poland concerning the commemoration of a dismantled monument glorifying the Soviet army. The Kutno Municipal Council decided in 1990 to erect a monument to Marshal Jozef Pilsudski at the site, but has failed to collect appropriate funding. JM

CZECH TEMELIN NUCLEAR PLANT REACHES FULL CAPACITY, HITS SNAGS...
Representatives from the Temelin nuclear power plant said on 11 January that the facility's first block reached full capacity in the early morning hours of that day, less than 12 hours after the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety approved the output hike, dpa reported. However, the power station was shut down within hours due to a problem with a power generator. A spokesman said the development was "in no way critical." Output had been expected to remain above 1,000 megawatts for about three weeks as some 312 tests were conducted on the first of two reactors at Temelin, the agency said. The nuclear safety agency issued a permit on 10 January for the plant to raise its operational level from 90 percent, where it has been for several weeks, to 100 percent. A second reactor is scheduled to begin test operations in the spring, dpa added. AH

...AS AUSTRIAN PETITION AIMS TO DERAIL CZECH PLANT
A weeklong petition referendum aimed at conditioning Austrian support for Czech entry to the EU on decommissioning Temelin is set to begin on 14 January, CTK reported from Vienna on 10 January. The far-right Freedom Party is behind the action, which would force the Austrian parliament to discuss the topic if more than 100,000 signatures are collected. Unlike a regular referendum, the outcome of a petition referendum is not legally binding. The organizers want their government to withhold Austrian approval of Czech membership in the EU until Prague "submits an internationally binding statement on decommissioning the Temelin nuclear power plant and as soon as this decommissioning is realized," CTK reported. Preliminary results of the petition drive are expected on 21 January. The Czech government, with EU backing, has repeatedly stressed its right to determine its own energy policies. AH

U.S. JOINT COMMITTEE NOTES CZECH POLITICIANS' 'HOSTILITY' TOWARD FREE MEDIA
A memorandum from the U.S. Congress' joint Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe cites lingering problems in the Czech Republic with respect to freedom of expression and the press, CTK reported on 10 January, citing the commission's annual report. While the document concedes that "official censorship has completely eased and the Czech Republic has witnessed tremendous improvements," it adds, "Leading political figures, such as current Prime Minister Milos Zeman and speaker of the parliament Vaclav Klaus...are often openly hostile toward the media." The report makes reference to Zeman and his government's effort to "liquidate" the weekly "Respekt," which was announced on 22 October, and a case in which two journalists from the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" are charged with abetting a crime for refusing to disclose their sources. AH

CZECH TV MAGNATE 'GIVEN NOTICE' BY BUSINESS PARTNER
The local tabloid "Blesk" reported on 11 January that a representative of TV license-holder CET 21 gave a two-month notice to dismiss Vladimir Zelezny, the head of Czech commercial television TV Nova, on 4 January. CET 21, which holds Nova's license, is generally seen to be under Zelezny's direct or indirect control. Petr Krsak's authority for issuing such a dismissal was not immediately clear, but a spokesman for Zelezny's TV Nova scoffed at the move as "ridiculous" and not worthy of comment. Krsak accuses Zelezny, who has charges of attempting to harm a creditor and international arbitration rulings pending against him, of grossly overstepping his authority in using his weekly "Call the Director" program to solve personal problems. He also says Zelezny improperly promoted his new Slovak television venture on TV Nova. Krsak calls on Zelezny to leave his office by the end of March, CTK added. The last business partner that sought to dismiss Zelezny from TV Nova, a subsidiary of Ronald Lauder's CME group, has found itself locked out of the local television market as legal challenges continue. AH

MINISTERS PLAY UP UNPREPAREDNESS OF CZECH ARMY
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said on 10 January that his country may have bitten off more than it could chew during preparations for rapid entry into NATO, CTK reported. "It is maybe a question of whether our eyes weren't too big in the accession period," Kavan said. His comments came one day after Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik suggested that NATO was unimpressed with the Czech Republic last year, a sentiment he said emerged from a recent assessment by the Atlantic alliance. Tvrdik added on 10 January that the shortcomings lay in the Czech Republic's inability to fulfill army-building goals, which stem from flawed political decisions in the mid-1990s. Following criticism of his initial remarks, Tvrdik said Czechs "are not at the end of the list in this NATO assessment, and we are in first place among at least three new NATO members," presumably referring to Poland and Hungary, which also joined the alliance in 1999. AH

SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SAYS DEFAMATION CLAUSES COULD ENDANGER FREE SPEECH
The Constitutional Court on 10 January suspended paragraphs in the Slovak Criminal Code related to defamation of the republic and public officials, saying they could threaten freedom of speech in the country and will be examined further, TASR-Slovakia reported. The paragraphs in question, 102 and 103, relate to speech concerning the country, its parliament and government, the Constitutional Court, and the Slovak president. The court also rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of a clause protecting public officials from attacks for executing their duties, the agency said. Court Chairman Jan Mazak said the ruling is not connected with any particular case, though Deputy Tomas Galbavy and other lawmakers filed a challenge with the court after President Rudolf Schuster announced his intention to sue journalist Ales Kratky over a satirical article. The court ordered that Galbavy's case be explored further. A Justice Ministry official said the court's decision to suspend the clauses rendered the prosecution of Kratky impossible, TASR reported. AH

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES LAWS ON WAR, MARTIAL LAW, MILITARY STRUCTURE, AND NATIONAL EMERGENCIES
Ministers approved four key draft constitutional amendments on military, legislative, and executive responses to emergency situations, including war, TASR-Slovakia and CTK reported on 10 January. The legislation must still be approved by the parliament. Defense Minister Jozef Stank called the amendments long overdue, saying they should have been among the first priorities after Slovakia was established in 1993, TASR said. One of the drafts provides for a Parliamentary Council and a Security Council headed by the prime minister to assume legislative and executive powers. The draft Act on Slovakia's Defense defines local and regional powers. The Act on Military Forces specifies the military's structure, goals, and command and control, along with guidelines for use of soldiers in the event of natural disasters. The Conscription Act limits a potential call-up to citizens under 55 years of age, rather than the current 60. AH

BRATISLAVA AMENDS STATUS OF MILITARY-TRADE LICENSING BODY
The Slovak government on 10 January approved new status for an intergovernmental commission to hand out licenses for trading in guns and military materiel, TASR-Slovakia reported. The commission will include representatives from the Economy, Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Interior Ministries, as well as seats for the Slovak Intelligence Service and the Slovak Customs Directorate, the agency said. The news agency said the changes should make it more difficult to obtain such trading licenses, a move that should be welcomed by the international community, which has been critical of Slovakia's porous military trading regime in the past. The commission represents a first step, aimed at limiting illegal trading, and should be followed by new legislation intended to better define rules for such business. AH

HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW MEMORANDUM WELCOMED BY COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Walter Schwimmer, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, released a statement on 10 January welcoming Hungary and Romania's signing of the memorandum of understanding on the Hungarian Status Law, Hungarian media reported. Schwimmer said the council's Venice Commission recommendations are included in the memorandum, which does not discriminate against non-Hungarian Romanians. Meanwhile, Socialist Party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs characterized as unprecedented European People's Party Chairman Wilfried Martens's recent condemnation of Hungarian Socialists for their position regarding the memorandum of understanding (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 January 2002). Kovacs said the statement seems to mirror one made by FIDESZ and the Hungarian cabinet. In other news, Hungarian President Ferenc Madl on 10 January presented in parliament the first Hungarian nationality certificates to an ethnic Hungarian family from Slovakia, Hungarian media reported. MSZ

HUNGARY TO INVITE INTERNATIONAL ELECTION MONITORS
The government has decided to invite representatives of international organizations to monitor Hungary's parliamentary elections in April, Interior Minister Sandor Pinter wrote on 10 January in a letter addressed to Socialist former Prime Minister Gyula Horn. Nine Socialist parliamentary members appealed to Pinter in December to invite observers after the minister recommended only governing party candidates as members of the National Election Commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 December 2001). MSZ

HUNGARIAN RADIO STATION FINED FOR SUPPORTING MIEP VIEWS
The National Radio and Television Board (ORTT) levied a 2.3 million forint ($8,400) fine on Pannon Radio on 10 January for broadcasting comments and programs that overtly advocated the positions of the extremist Hungarian Justice and Life Party. The Board said the radio station had encouraged hatred, promoted anti-Semitic views, and grossly insulted ethnic minorities. Broadcasters are prohibited under the Media Act from functioning as advocates of political parties or movements, although this was the first instance in which the ORTT has imposed a sanction for a violation of the ban. In other news, the Pest Central District Court issued a preliminary ruling on 10 January ordering the weekly "Magyar Demokrata" and the daily "Magyar Nemzet" to publish corrections for falsely reporting that Peter Medgyessy, the opposition Socialist Party's candidate for prime minister, and his company had offered or distributed payments to Socialist deputies in the 5th District local authority in connection with the sale of Gresham Palace (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 December 2001. MSZ

WHAT NOW FOR KOSOVA'S PRESIDENCY?
Ibrahim Rugova failed to win the presidency in two rounds of legislative voting on 10 January, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 January 2002). He received 50 votes in the first round -- when he needed 81 votes to win -- and 51 in the second, when just 61 votes would have given him the top office. The problem was that he and the leaders of the two next-largest ethnic Albanian parties -- Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj -- were unable or unwilling to cut a power-sharing deal. Thaci's and Haradinaj's supporters boycotted the vote. Speculation now centers on the possibility of a dark-horse compromise candidate, such as veteran publisher Veton Surroi. Rugova's supporters may be very reluctant to see anyone but their leader in that office, however. He campaigned last November on the slogan: "President Rugova. Who else?" But the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" suggests that some of his followers have become impatient with his "autocratic" leadership. The daily blames Rugova for the breakdown in talks with Haradinaj and Thaci. PM

SERBS HOPE FOR KEY ROLE IN KOSOVA
Serbian deputy Rada Trajkovic said in Prishtina that she expects that "all parliamentary groups" will soon start negotiations with the 22 Serbian legislators, AP reported on 11 January. It is not clear when the 120-member assembly will meet again. PM

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DISAPPOINTED WITH KOSOVA VOTE
John Menzies, who heads the U.S. diplomatic mission in Kosova, said in Prishtina on 10 January: "We are a little impatient of the time it is taking to form the government. We hoped that there would be a president today. I am sure there will be one within a few days -- I hope," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 January 2002). Germany's "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" commented on the vote by saying that "it was not a sign of political maturity." PM

FRENCH DIPLOMAT TO HEAD OSCE MISSION IN KOSOVA
An OSCE spokesman said in Prishtina on 11 January that veteran French diplomat Pascal Fieschi will replace Daan Everts as the head of the OSCE mission in Kosova, dpa reported. Fieschi has been French ambassador to Ukraine since 1997. It is still not clear who will replace Hans Haekkerup as head of the UN's civilian administration, known as UNMIK. PM

SACKED SERBIAN BANK WORKERS STAGE PROTEST
Some 1,000 of the 8,500 employees who lost their jobs recently when Yugoslav National Bank Governor Mladjan Dinkic closed Serbian's four largest banks called for Dinkic's resignation at a protest rally in Belgrade on 10 January, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 7 January 2002). Protesters chanted: "Resign! Resign," "Treason," and "Thieves!" A union leader charged that Dinkic is a coward for not appearing before the crowd. One woman said: "I am 51, my daughter is seven, I worked 32 years in the bank -- and now they tell me to seek a new job. Who is going to take me at this age?" PM

ETHNIC ALBANIAN REBELS IN MACEDONIA 'REACTIVATING'?
AP reported from Tetovo on 11 January that it has received a communique from what claims to be the disbanded National Liberation Army (UCK). The authors said the Macedonian authorities have not respected the 13 August Ohrid peace agreement and "completely ignored it." It is not clear exactly what provisions of the agreement the authors of the text have in mind. They added: "We [warn the] Slav Macedonians' police and military forces that we will take no responsibility for their security." The authors stressed that "as of today, [we] are forced to declare that we have no commitment toward the agreement whatsoever. We have proven that we can fight for our rights." It is not clear who the authors are, or if the text is genuine. There has been no official reaction from the government or from known guerrilla leaders. PM

ALBANIA HAS COLLECTED ONE-THIRD OF STOLEN WEAPONS
Police chief Bibil Mema said in Tirana on 10 January that the authorities have collected about 180,000 of the 549,000 weapons stolen during the 1997 anarchy that followed the collapse of several pyramid investment schemes, dpa reported. Police believe that a second third of the stolen weapons has found its way to Kosova in recent years, while the remaining third is illegally held by Albanian citizens. PM

CROATIA TO PRIVATIZE LARGEST INSURANCE COMPANY
The government has decided to privatize Croatia Osiguranje, dpa reported from Zagreb on 10 January. The price of a 50 percent stake is $112.5 million. The firm controls 54 percent of the domestic market. PM

BOSNIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR MERGING INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES
The government of the Croat-Muslim federation has approved and sent to the parliament a proposal to merge the Croat (SNS) and Muslim (AID) intelligence services within 90 days after the law is approved, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 10 January. Those who violate the new law once it takes effect face prison terms lasting up to five years. Nationalists have doggedly resisted longstanding demands by the international community to merge the two services (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 2001). PM

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DISSOLVES BUCHAREST COUNCIL
The Romanian government dissolved the Bucharest General Council on 10 January and announced new elections for that body, Romanian media reported. The government argued that in 2001 eight of the council's decisions were annulled by final decisions of Bucharest courts. A provision of the Law on Local Public Administration allows for the dissolution of the council if three of its decisions are annulled by courts. Local Public Administration Minister Octav Cozmanca said Bucharest Prefect Ioan Mihai Luican has received a final warning and is considered to be the guilty party in approving council decisions that later proved to be illegal. He also announced the dismissal of two deputy Bucharest prefects and the secretary-general of the Bucharest Prefecture. He added that a recent governmental control agency found irregularities in the activities of the council and the Mayor's Office, including Bucharest General Mayor Traian Basescu. Several opposition councilors said they will appeal the government's decision. ZsM

LIST OF ROMANIAN SECURITATE AGENTS RELEASED
Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, the initiator of the Law on Securitate Files, has released a list naming some 1,000 former collaborators of the dreaded communist secret police, the Securitate, Adevarul reported on 10 January. The list contains names of Securitate officers and employees, as well as judges, prosecutors, and policemen who collaborated with the Securitate. The list also contains over 100 nicknamed informers, and Ticu called on the Romanian Information Service to release the records with the real names of those informers. He said in the first months following the December 1989 regime change, some 80,000 Securitate files were destroyed. Ticu also made accusations that the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS) was subjected to political pressure by those wishing to prevent the naming of former Securitate agents. In response, CNSAS Secretary Constantin Buchet denied any political pressures on the institution, saying Romanians had easy access to their own files. ZsM

REPORT SAYS ROMANIAN ROMA DISCRIMINATED AGAINST 'ON A LARGE SCALE'
A Council of Europe report released on 10 January said the Romany minority in Romania faces police brutality and "large-scale discrimination," Mediafax reported. The Roma are victims of police brutality "much more often than persons belonging to other minorities or the majority," the report states. The Roma encounter difficulties in gaining access to education and work, and some media outlets use negative stereotypes in relation to them. The report also notes that the Romanian government recently launched a national strategy in an effort to improve the situation of the Roma and halt discrimination against them. The report is the result of a June 2001 visit by members of the Framework Convention on National Minorities' Consultative Committee. ZsM

PROTESTS IN MOLDOVAN CAPITAL TURN ANTICOMMUNIST
Protests against the introduction of compulsory Russian classes continued on 10 January in central Chisinau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 January 2002), Flux reported. Some 2,000 people participated in a meeting organized by the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD), and that party's chairman, Iurie Rosca, said the protests will continue "until the final fall of communism" in Moldova. Participants chanted anticommunist and antipresidential slogans. Meanwhile, Chisinau police asked the General-Prosecutor's Office to take measures against PPCD deputies for organizing the illegal protests. The PPCD had requested authorization for their meeting in front of the government's building, but the Chisinau Mayor's Office proposed another venue for the meeting. ZsM

NATIONAL MOVEMENT SIMEON II TO BECOME POLITICAL PARTY IN BULGARIA
The leadership of the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) coalition plans to register the movement as a party in the near future, standartnews.com reported on 10 January. The leaders of the two parties that originally formed the NDSV, Vesela Draganova and Tosho Peykov, said the condition on which the responsible court will grant the registration is important. Bulgarian legislation allows parties as well as movements to run for elections. The new party might not be allowed to have a parliamentary faction and it could lose state financing. "The easiest way [to avoid this] would be to change the law on political parties, the election law, and regulations of the parliament," the NDSV's Emil Koshlukov said. The NDSV holds 120 seats in the 240-seat parliament. UB

BRITISH GENERAL GIVES POSITIVE ASSESSMENT OF BULGARIAN ARMY REFORM
General Jeremy McKenzie, a former deputy supreme allied commander Europe and consultant on military reform, said Bulgaria is doing everything possible in its preparations for NATO membership, BTA reported on 10 January. McKenzie added that the military reforms under the updated Plan 2004 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 January 2002) are proceeding well. The general made the comments following a meeting with outgoing President Petar Stoyanov. In connection with the deployment of a Bulgarian military unit to Afghanistan, Stoyanov said: "Bulgaria must become part of the antiterror front, within its powers and capacity." UB

BULGARIAN YEAR-END INFLATION AT 7.4 PERCENT
The National Statistics Institute on 10 January published its calculations of the inflation development over the past year, BTA reported. According to the institute, the year-end inflation for 2001 was 7.4 percent and the consumer price index grew to 110.4 in December 2001 compared to 100 in the same month of 2000. UB

SLOVENES AWAIT 2002 CENSUS


The week between Christmas and New Year regularly sees the staging of dozens of live nativity scenes across Slovenia. These range from solemn displays in downtown churches to more clamorous rural productions, such as that held annually at the village of Logojna near Ljubljana. These often involve an entire village as well as a good part of its livestock and are attended by thousands, who warm themselves with mulled wine and homemade brandy. Before surging forward to view the displays, the crowd of onlookers respectfully listens to a narration of how Caesar Augustus decreed that all the world should be counted.

Perhaps it is fitting, then, that Tomaz Banovec, the general director of the Slovenian Statistics Office, chose this week to announce that preparations for the 2002 national census are going ahead according to plan. The census, scheduled to take place between 1 and 15 April, was originally planned for 2001, but budgetary constraints forced its postponement. The expected cost of the census is 2.5 billion tolars ($10 million). Some 12,000 people will conduct the census, which will reflect the status of the population at midnight, 31 March 2002. Initial figures will be available in six months, and complete results within two years. Such delays are not unusual. For example, detailed results of the Ukrainian national census, conducted in December 2001, will appear only in December 2002.

Not all data will be collected anew -- some data will be taken from databases maintained by the Statistics Office or from other registries, such as those for employment or vehicle ownership. The Constitutional Court will decide on the final format of certain questions by 17 January, and questions regarding ethnic identity and religious affiliation will be optional. In the 1991 census, 3.2 and 19.2 percent of respondents did not answer these questions, respectively.

Previous censuses took place in the former Yugoslavia every 10 years from 1961 through 1991. The significance of the new census, then, lies not only in the fact that is the first to take place in an independent Slovenia, but that it will be the first to reflect the turbulent changes connected with the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Although the influx of refugees from Yugoslav successor states has declined since the mid-1990s, the census will reflect population shifts and accompanying sociopolitical changes. In the 1991 census, 26,725 (1.36 percent) of Slovenia's 1,962,606 inhabitants indicated their ethnicity as Muslim, and 12,237 (0.62 percent) as Yugoslav. Since then, self-identification as "Yugoslav" has presumably declined. At the same time, the number professing Islam as their faith has increased -- although this does not necessarily correspond to ethnic identification as (Bosnian) Muslim, since many ethic Albanians and others are also of Islamic heritage.

The number of Roma in Slovenia is also an open question. In the 1991 census, only 2,293 (0.12 percent) identified themselves as ethnic Roma, but 2,847 persons claimed Romany as their mother tongue. However, European Union estimates that the number of Roma in Slovenia ranges from 6,500 to 10,000. It remains to be seen whether current Roma-oriented legislation in Slovenia will have any effect on their ethnic self-identification.

The new census will also likely underscore the peculiar fact that several unofficial minorities outnumber Slovenia's two official minorities -- Hungarians and Italians. These two groups ranked only fifth and ninth, respectively, in the 1991 census. Larger groups -- which consist solely of other ex-Yugoslav ethnicities -- are denied minority status on the basis of being nonindigenous (this itself is a matter of historical debate) and geographically dispersed. Because Articles 64 and 80 of the Slovenian Constitution grant special rights in education and political representation to the Hungarian and Italian minorities, this is a sore point for some other, more numerous ethnic groups.

The census will reflect not only data regarding the population, but general trends as well. Based on existing data collections, statisticians anticipate overall increases in life expectancy, the average age of the population, and the total number of people in Slovenia. They also expect overall decreases in the annual number of births and marriages, and the size of the farming population.

Despite generally recognized shortcomings in any attempt to define and measure social categories, census statistics have great popular appeal. Their representations of ethnicity, religion, and language are widely quoted for a variety of motives -- some of which cannot even be anticipated in advance.

This highlights the need to design and carry out any census carefully. A compelling case in point is the Austro-Hungarian census of 1910, which provided ammunition to pro-Austrian Carinthians in the 1920 plebiscite (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 November 2001). Slovenes have charged, then and now, that their numbers were grossly underestimated, both ethnically and linguistically.

The enduring fascination of and demand for census data is also illustrated by the recent online release of the 1901 census of England and Wales (available at http://www.census.pro.gov.uk). The site crashed immediately after its launch on 2 January this year, when 1.2 million people tried to access the material.Donald F. Reindl is a freelance writer and Indiana University Ph.D. candidate based in Ljubljana. (dreindl@indiana.edu)

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