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Newsline - July 8, 2002


FOREIGN MINISTER TALKS TOUGH ON KALININGRAD...
Speaking on ORT on 7 July, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that "if somebody in the West has the idea of tearing Kaliningrad from Russia, he will fail." Russia's leadership will never leave oblast residents without support, he continued. Ivanov also said that the European Union position on Kaliningrad "is very weak." The EU argues that the organization's borders must be secure after Poland and Lithuania join in order to prevent Kaliningrad from serving as a conduit for organized crime, drugs, and AIDS. However, Ivanov argued, Russia is also threatened by these dangers and is equally interested in combating them. VY

...AS MILITARY PREPARES FOREIGN PASSES FOR ITS UNITS
Meanwhile, Captain Anatolii Lobskii, head of the press service of the Kaliningrad-based Baltic Fleet, said that navy command has begun preparations for issuing foreign passes to service personnel stationed in the region, strana.ru reported on 5 July. Lobskii noted that the documents must be ready by 1 January 2003, the date on which Lithuania plans to introduce visa requirements for Russian citizens. VY

MOSCOW TO EXTEND NUCLEAR COOPERATION IN ASIA
Speaking in Beijing on 8 July, Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said that Russia will increase its transfer of nuclear-energy technologies to China, India, Iran, and other Asian states, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Addressing the Russian-Chinese Commission on Nuclear Cooperation, Rumyantsev noted that his agency will take part in the bidding to build two additional reactors for the Tianwan nuclear-power plant on China's eastern coast, where his ministry has already installed two reactors. Russia is also constructing two blocks at India's Kudamkulan plant and plans to complete the nuclear-power plant in Bushehr, Iran, in 2004-05. VY

KREMLIN PLANS TO TAKE CONTROL OF VITAL NATURAL RESOURCES FROM REGIONS
Dmitrii Kozak, deputy chief of the presidential administration, is ready to introduce a bill that would transfer control over the most valuable natural resources -- including oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds and ferrous and non-ferrous ores -- to the federal government and declare them federal property, "Ekspert," No. 24, reported. This new bill would amend the existing law on mineral wealth and the Tax Code and will leave the regions control only over relatively insignificant resources such as gravel, sand, and underground water, the weekly noted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2002), noted the weekly. Under the amendments, revenues from the exploitation of natural resources would go to the Kremlin, which will then distribute them among the regions. The government expects strong opposition from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, Krasnoyarsk Krai, and the republics of Komi, Sakha (Yakutia), Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan, which are rich in natural resources. However, the Kremlin believes its majority in the Duma is strong enough to overcome this resistance. VY

STRANA.RU MAKES IT OFFICIAL...
Gleb Pavlovskii, head of the Effective Policy Foundation and an influential political consultant, has sold his website strana.ru and its affiliated projects -- including vesti.ru, smi.ru, ukraina.ru, inopress.ru, and kavkaz.strana.ru -- to the state broadcasting company VGTRK, "Vremya novostei" and other Russian media reported on 4 July. Although several sources said the sale was motivated by the poor financial condition of Pavlovskii's projects, "Kommersant-Daily" and polit.ru speculated that the real reason might be Pavlovskii's loss of influence within the Kremlin. According to "Kommersant-Daily," Pavlovskii's colleagues in the Internet business are convinced that the so-called St. Petersburg group in the Kremlin, of which Pavlovskii is not a member, demanded an audit and arranged a hold on all expenditures on his projects. Staff of strana.ru confirmed that the foundation's media projects have been financially strapped and that they haven't received their wages for three months. RFE/RL's Russian Service commented on 5 July that the merger has a certain logic. Under General Director Oleg Dobrodeev, VGTRK -- which runs RTR television, Radio Mayak, and other broadcast outlets -- is now making major inroads into the Russian Internet. It has been estimated that strana.ru and its related projects represent as much as 25 percent of the news-related Russian Internet. VY/JAC

...AS STATE RUSSIAN TELEVISION GOES GLOBAL
VGTRK announced that two of its channels -- RTR and Kultura -- are available free of charge as of 1 July to audiences in Western Europe and the Middle East via the new Ekspress-3A telecommunications satellite, Russian news agencies reported on 2 July. The Ekspress-3A was launched last month. According to a VGTRK statement, the goal of the "RTR-Planet" project is to make Russian state television accessible to the widest possible Russian-speaking audience. In September or October, the channels will also be available via satellite in the Western hemisphere, including the United States and Canada. The project is similar to one launched in the 1980s by Soviet state television called "Moscow-Global." VY

KGB VETERAN SAYS KALUGIN DIDN'T HELP THE U.S....
A veteran of the KGB's foreign intelligence service, Colonel Leonid Kolosov, said that former KGB General Oleg Kalugin -- who was sentenced in absentia on 26 June to 15 years in prison for treason (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2002) -- could not have revealed the identities of undercover agents to U.S. intelligence, "Ekspress-gazeta" reported on 4 July. Kolosov said that most of agents that work under deep cover only work for about 10 years and those who worked under ordinary diplomatic cover have already retired. Therefore, he and Kalugin have no knowledge of the current generation of spies. Kolosov also said that now that Russia and the United States are cooperating closely to share information about common threats, Russian counterintelligence should be most wary of Eastern and Middle Eastern secret services, apparently referring to China and Israel. VY

...AS INTELLIGENCE EXPERT CLAIMS RECORD NUMBER OF RUSSIAN SPIES DEFECTED TO U.S.
Writing in "Moskovskii komsomolets " on 4 July, intelligence expert Aleksandr Khinshtein said that over two dozen Russian intelligence officers and diplomats defected to the United States during the 1990s, including several senior officials with the Foreign Intelligence Service's counterintelligence department. Among the defectors, Khinshtein also mentioned several senior Foreign Ministry officials, including Vladislav Potapov, an aide to the foreign ministry, who had information about Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover around the world. VY

PUTIN BLAMES FORMER LEADERSHIP FOR PROBLEMS IN ULYANOVSK
During a visit to Ulyanovsk on 7 July, President Vladimir Putin criticized local leaders for the poor state of city utilities, Russian agencies reported. "The rate of the growth of tariffs for housing, electricity, and heat has risen from 7 1/2 to 11 times more than in the country as a whole. This is what they call shock therapy. Unfortunately, it is the result of the neglect of the oblast leadership in past years," Putin said, adding that "as usual, the guilty are nowhere to be found." However, Putin also criticized current officials, noting that while the number of city officials working only on the problems of public utilities has increased to 15,000 people, their effectiveness has not been high, according to Interfax. The oblast's current governor, Vladimir Shamanov, a former military commander in Chechnya, was supported by the Kremlin during his effort to unseat the previous Communist governor, Yurii Goryachev, who had kept prices on a variety of goods and services capped (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 2000 and 16 February 2001). JAC

ANOTHER ANTI-SEMITIC BOOBY TRAP WOUNDS TWO
A booby-trapped anti-Semitic sign exploded on 8 July near the Siberian city of Tomsk, slightly injuring the two men who were trying to remove it, AP reported the same day. The sign was the latest in a series of such incidents since a booby trap severely injured a woman near Moscow on 27 May. On 4 July, police sappers removed a similar sign in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, although no explosives were found. RC

MORE LOCAL OFFICIALS SACKED IN THE SOUTH...
In an interview with RTR on 4 July, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said that two raion administration heads in Krasnodar Krai have been dismissed along with two raion administration heads in Stavropol Krai for their inadequate handling of the aftermath of severe flooding in their regions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June 2002). "Now the position of the head of a city is being considered [for dismissal]. I won't say for the time being which city," he added. According to the station, Shoigu also criticized the State Construction and Housing Committee for its slow work in restoring damaged homes. Meanwhile, more people are returning to their homes: The ministry told ITAR-TASS on 7 July that more than 80,000 out of 102,000 local residents evacuated as a result of floods in Russia's Southern Federal District have returned to their homes. As of 6 July, the death toll from the recent flooding had reached 104 people, according to Interfax. JAC

...AS PRIME MINISTER ECHOES PUTIN'S WARNING TO EES
On 5 July, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov warned Russia's natural monopolies against raising their rates to cover their extra expenditures to repair infrastructure harmed during the recent floods, Interfax reported. Earlier, President Putin criticized a Unified Energy Systems (EES) official for proposing raising local rates to cover repair costs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 2002). JAC

NENETS GOVERNOR REMAINS DEFIANT
In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 4 July, Nenets Autonomous Okrug Governor Vladimir Butov said that he does not plan to resign before his term is up, despite his current battle with local and federal prosecutors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June and 2 July 2002). Butov accused local law enforcement structures of "fighting for power" in the region and trying to force both the executive and legislative branches to submit to their domination. On his conflict with LUKoil, Butov said that he continues to believe that "different companies must operate in the region" and not just appear to operate, but engage in actual oil exploration or give up their licenses. JAC

MIRONOV STUMPS FOR REGIONAL MERGERS
Following a visit by Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko to both Perm and Kudymkar, Perm Governor Yurii Trutnev told reporters on 5 July that "for the first time in Russia, the process of merging two territories has been launched," "Izvestiya" reported on 5 July. According to the daily, Mironov traveled to the region to promote the merger of Perm Oblast with the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug, whose capital is Kudymkar. Trutnev, Mironov, and Kirienko met with okrug Governor Gennadii Savelev, who is reportedly not opposed to a closer association between the oblast and okrug but wants to preserve the autonomy of the Komi-Permyak peoples. Oganes Oganyan, a representative of the okrug in the Federation Council, told the daily that the upper legislative chamber "is ready to act as a guarantor...of the interests of the united territories and the people living there." He added that he thinks that in the "near future the Federation Council will adopt a special resolution on the question of merging the okrug and oblast." JAC

BREAKING DOWN THE BUREAUCRACY
The State Statistics Committee announced on 4 July that over the past 18 months, the largest growth in the number of state officials has occurred in the legislative branch, which saw a 25 percent increase, "Izvestiya" reported the next day. The number of judges and prosecutors also increased --as was expected because of the judicial reforms -- but by less than 25 percent. Overall, according to the daily, there are 1.14 million state officials in Russia, which represents a slight decrease over the past year and a half. The newspaper concludes that there are eight officials at various levels of government per 1,000 Russian citizens. JAC

ANOTHER CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER REQUESTS AMNESTY
Abu Arsanukaev, who headed former Chechen President Djokhar Dudaev's security service from 1992 until Dudaev's death in April 1996, has petitioned Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov for a pardon, Interfax reported on 3 July. After meeting with Arsanukaev, Kadyrov set in motion an investigation of whether Arsanukaev, who served in 1999 as first deputy prosecutor-general under President Aslan Maskhadov, has committed any serious crimes. According to Kadyrov, Arsanukaev has pledged "full support" for Chechnya's present leadership. LF

MERCENARIES' PAYMASTER REPORTED KILLED IN CHECHEN FLOODING
Abu Al-Walid, who reportedly inherited the duties of commander of the contingent of Arab mercenaries fighting in Chechnya after the death in March of Saudi-born field commander Khattab, was drowned while trying to ford a river on horseback late last month, Interfax reported on 5 July, quoting Chechen human rights activists. His body was later found near the village of Tsa-Vedeno. LF

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS ELECTION LAW...
Deputies passed controversial amendments to the election law on 3 July in the second and final reading by a vote of 71 in favor, three against, and three abstentions, Noyan Tapan reported. Forty deputies did not participate in the vote. The amendments, which opposition deputies argue are intended to increase the majority Republican Party of Armenia's chances of a victory in the parliamentary elections due in May 2003, change the ratio of mandates awarded under the majoritarian and proportional systems from 37:94 to 56:75, thereby reversing changes adopted in December 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December 2000). LF

...APPROVES GOVERNMENT'S PROPOSED DISCIPLINARY MEASURES
Deputies also approved on 3 July a slightly softened version of the measures proposed by the government empowering the parliament speaker to summon police to remove unruly deputies from the parliament chamber, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 28 June 2002). LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE AGAIN WARNS ARMENIA NOT TO RETAIN DEATH PENALTY
In a 6 July interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Council of Europe Secretary-General Walther Schwimmer warned that Armenia will face unspecified "serious political consequences" if it ends its moratorium on the execution of persons sentenced to death. Council of Europe officials have repeatedly insisted that Armenia must not make any exceptions to its commitment to the council to abolish the death penalty. Parliament nonetheless last month adopted a new Criminal Code that retains the death penalty for serious crimes committed before the code takes effect. That loophole was intended to create a legal foundation for the execution of the five gunmen who shot eight senior officials in the parliament chamber in October 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 25 June 2002). LF

ARMENIA POSTS HIGHEST CIS INCREASE IN INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT
Industrial output in Armenia grew by 11.2 percent during the first six months of 2002, the highest increase recorded in the CIS, according to Armenian television on 3 July, as cited by Groong. Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian told a news conference on 4 July that GDP growth over the same period is likely to be between 10-12 percent, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Khachatrian also announced a 14 percent increase in tax revenues and predicted that "if things continue like this, we will be able to fully implement the 2002 budget and perhaps achieve more." He added that the government will spend an additional 1.5 billion drams ($2.56 million) on repaying outstanding debts. LF

EU RELEASES FURTHER GRANT FOR ARMENIA
The European Union has released the second and final tranche of its annual $9.4 million budgetary subsidy to Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 4 July, citing the EU's Yerevan office. The subsidies are intended primarily to finance the Armenian government's social and agricultural programs. LF

FORMER ARMENIAN NEGOTIATOR SAYS AZERBAIJAN WANTS 'PHASED' KARABAKH PEACE AGREEMENT
Zhirair Libaridian, who served from late 1994 until October 1997 as then-Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian's senior foreign policy adviser, said in Yerevan on 4 July that the Azerbaijani leadership wants a "phased" agreement on resolving the Karabakh conflict that would postpone indefinitely a final ruling on the disputed enclave's status, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 5 July. Libaridian, who is a U.S. citizen and traveled to Baku last months for talks with Azerbaijani leaders, said Azerbaijan is willing to open its border with Armenia if Karabakh Armenian forces withdraw from four of the seven Azerbaijani districts to the south and west of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic that they currently occupy. The present Armenian leadership, however, has always insisted on a "package" peace deal that would resolve all aspects simultaneously. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION DIVIDED OVER REFERENDUM BOYCOTT
The leadership of the opposition Azerbaijan National Independence Party (AMIP) decided on 3 July to boycott the planned 24 August referendum on President Heidar Aliev's proposed amendments to the Azerbaijani Constitution, Turan reported on 4 July. AMIP Chairman Etibar Mamedov said on 4 July his party will deploy observers to monitor voter participation in the referendum, which he predicted will be no higher than 10 percent. Some other opposition leaders, however, are undecided whether a boycott is the most appropriate countermeasure. Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said on 4 July his party would not support a boycott. But the 24 parties aligned in the United Opposition Movement nonetheless agreed the same day to convene mass protests beginning in early August against the proposed amendments, which they consider unconstitutional (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 23, 1 July 2002). It is not yet clear whether voters must approve the 39 proposed amendments as one package or individually. LF

POLICE POSTS REMOVED FROM AZERBAIJANI VILLAGE
The seven police control posts set up on the outskirts of the village of Nardaran near Baku following clashes early last month between police and villagers were removed on 6 July, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 June and 2 July 2002). On 5 July, members of the Committee for the Rights of Nardaran Residents picketed the Supreme Court in Baku to demand that the police who opened fire on Nardaran villagers, and those officials who approved the use of force, be punished. The Azerbaijani authorities have not yet taken any action to meet villagers' demands, which include the release of all those detained in the wake of the clashes, improvements to the local infrastructure, and the chance to transport their agricultural produce to Baku for sale in the city's markets. LF

DEFENSE OFFICIAL DENIES GEORGIA RECEIVED ARMS FROM RUSSIA
A senior Georgian Defense Ministry official on 3 July rejected as untrue a Russian Defense Ministry statement the previous day that claimed that between 1992-95, Russia gave Georgia 12 helicopters, more than 350 armored vehicles, more than 400 field guns and other military hardware together with more than 47,000 guns and ammunition, Caucasus Press reported. But former Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani told a Georgian radio station on 3 July that Georgia did receive Russian armaments at that time, including tanks and 600 trainloads of ammunition, but that most of those arms were then sold or exchanged for drugs, Interfax reported. Former Mkhedrioni paramilitary head Djaba Ioseliani said on 3 July that the Russian Defense Ministry overstated the quantities of arms, but that Georgia did receive nearly 100 armored vehicles and dozens of pieces of ordnance in the summer of 1992, Interfax reported. Georgian officials have for years claimed that Russia did not give Georgia any share of the hardware of the former USSR's armed forces. LF

RUSSIAN CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS GEORGIAN TROOPS REMAIN IN KODORI
In a written response to a query from the Russian State Duma, Russian armed forces Chief of General Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin said that Georgian Army troops and local militiamen remain in the upper, Georgian-controlled reaches of the Kodori Gorge in what he termed a gross violation of the agreement reached earlier this year that all such troops should be withdrawn, Interfax reported on 3 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2, 3, and 11 April 2002). On 6 July, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba similarly claimed that some 900 Georgian troops remain in the upper reaches of the Kodori Gorge, Caucasus Press reported. He said Sukhum will ask the new UN special representative for the Abkhaz conflict, Heidi Tagliavini, to persuade Tbilisi to agree to the establishing of a CIS peacekeeping post in the upper reaches of the gorge. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT PARDONS THREE CONVICTED FOR FAILED ASSASSINATION BID
Eduard Shevardnadze has signed a decree pardoning three men convicted on charges of participating in the car-bomb attempt on his life in August 1995, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported on 6 July. They include former Interior Minister Temur Khachishvili, who was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, and Giga Gelashvili, a former leading member of Mkhedrioni (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1998). LF

GERMAN BUSINESSMAN REPORTED MISSING IN GEORGIA
German businessman Klaus Draege disappeared from his Tbilisi office on 2 July, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 6 July. Despite the discovery of blood stains in Draege's office, Georgian Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili said on 4 July he doubts Draege has been either kidnapped or murdered, Caucasus Press reported. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY...
Nursultan Nazarbaev told journalists in Astana on 5 July that Kazakhstan will not retreat from democracy, Interfax reported. But he stressed that the government's primary concern is to preserve political stability. Also on 5 July, Interfax reported that Nazarbaev has submitted to the Constitutional Court the controversial new law on political parties drafted by the OTAN party that supports him. That law raises to 50,000 the minimum number of members a party must have to qualify for compulsory reregistration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 26, and 27 June 2002). The court is to rule whether the new law contravenes Kazakhstan's Constitution. LF

...INSISTS MEDIA NOT SUBJECT TO RESTRICTIONS...
Nazarbaev told the same press conference in Astana on 5 July that 90 percent of the country's media are privately owned and that they are free to criticize the authorities without risk of reprisals, Interfax reported. He added that such criticism "is normal," Reuters reported. Nazarbaev denied that any foreign journalists are restricted in their activities. LF

...AS OPPOSITION EDITOR SENTENCED
On 4 July, an Almaty district court sentenced Irina Petrushova, editor of the opposition newspaper "Respublika-delovoe obozrenie," to 18 months' imprisonment on charges of illegal business activities, Interfax reported. Petrushova intends to appeal the sentence, even though the court ruled that she qualifies for an amnesty and will therefore not be jailed. The premises of "Respublika-delovoe obozrenie" were firebombed in May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23, 24, and 29 May 2002). LF

RUSSIAN, CENTRAL ASIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN KAZAKHSTAN
Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Aqtau in Kazakhstan on 6 July for a "working meeting" with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, Interfax reported. The talks focused primarily on the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in the export and use of oil and natural gas. Nazarbaev told journalists that he could not say why Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov, who was also invited, failed to attend the gathering. LF

KYRGYZ POLICE SAY CHINESE DIPLOMAT'S MURDER NOT POLITICAL
Police in Bishkek said on 4 July that the shooting five days earlier of a Chinese diplomat was not politically motivated, Reuters and the "Financial Times" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 2 July 2002). The intended target, in whose car the diplomat was traveling, was a Uighur businessman killed because of his involvement in illegal activities. Four Uighurs, three from China and one Kyrgyz citizen, have been arrested in connection with the murders. Kyrgyz Interior Minister Bakirdin Subanbekov told journalists on 4 July the killers will be tried in Kyrgyzstan, rather than extradited to China, Interfax reported. LF

KYRGYZSTAN TO MAKE SECOND AIRFIELD AVAILABLE TO ANTITERRORISM COALITION
The Kyrgyz authorities have reached agreement with the United States on placing an airfield in the town of Kant, 25 kilometers east of Bishkek, at the disposal of the international antiterrorism coalition, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 July, quoting an unnamed Kyrgyz Defense Ministry official. There is already a sizable U.S. presence at Manas international airport in Bishkek, which military aircraft from some 11 other countries also use. LF

WORLD BANK TO FINANCE THREE MORE PROJECTS IN TAJIKISTAN
Under an agreement signed at the World Bank's newly opened Almaty office on 3 July, the bank will provide three loans totaling $32.5 million to finance projects in Tajikistan, Interfax and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. They are Tajikistan's second Poverty Reduction Project; modernization of the Dushanbe water supply system; and the Pamir-1 hydroelectric plant. LF

TURKMENISTAN INTRODUCES RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL TO IRAN, UZBEKISTAN
President Niyazov announced on 4 July the introduction of a new $6 exit visa for Turkmen citizens wishing to travel to Iran or Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, persons wishing to travel to Iran must declare the purpose and duration of their journey, and a special mark will be stamped in their passport. Niyazov said the reasons for the restrictions, which will remain in place for at least two years, was to prevent attempts by Turkmen to smuggle drugs to Iran, or gasoline to Uzbekistan. But the restrictions on travel to Uzbekistan are likely to further antagonize Turkmenistan's already disaffected Uzbek minority. LF

UZBEKISTAN BANS USE OF FOREIGN CURRENCY
President Islam Karimov has signed a decree banning the use of foreign currency to pay for any goods or services, AP and ITAR-TASS reported on 3 July. The move is intended to strengthen the som and suggests the Uzbek government may finally remove the existing restrictions on its free convertibility. LF

UZBEKISTAN, RUSSIA DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Visiting Tashkent on 4-5 July, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko met with Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov and with the leadership of Uzbekneftegaz to discuss cooperation in the oil-and-gas sphere, in particular possible Russian investment in developing oil-and-gas deposits in Uzbekistan, Interfax reported. Khristenko also met with President Karimov to discuss the potential for expanding bilateral economic cooperation and trade. Annual trade turnover in 2001 amounted to $1 billion. LF

ITALIAN SPY RELEASED FROM BELARUSIAN JAIL
Angelo Antonio Piu, an Italian businessman sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison in September 2001, was pardoned by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and released from a maximum-security prison outside Minsk on 5 July, Reuters and AP reported the same day. Piu was handed over to Italian officials who then put him on a plane for Warsaw. Piu, who first came to Belarus in 1999 to work for an Italian humanitarian organization, was arrested and convicted after the Belarusian secret service, the KGB, said he was caught exchanging military documents with his interpreter and girlfriend, Irina Ushak, who was convicted of treason, though later pardoned. After leaving prison, Piu said he wanted to get on with his life and marry Ushak. Belarusian authorities, however, have still not decided whether to issue Piu another visa to enter the country or to allow Ushak to leave. KGB spokesman Fedor Kotov said the pardoning showed the strength of Lukashenka. "Only the president of a powerful state could show this kind of mercy," he said. CB

OSCE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY DENIES BELARUS ONCE AGAIN
The OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly once again denied the membership request of the Belarusian National Assembly at a weekend meeting in Berlin, ITAR-TASS reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 2002). A spokesman for the Parliamentary Assembly told RFE/RL on 8 July that its standing committee "postponed its decision until its winter meeting in Vienna in February." The Parliamentary Assembly has refused to accept the Belarusian National Assembly since President Lukashenka dismissed the country's democratically elected parliament in 1996. Russia, however, supported the Belarusian bid and State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev demanded that the issue be resolved in the next six months. CB

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PROBE INTO CAMERAMAN'S DISAPPEARANCE
Belarusian opposition activists rallied in front of President Lukashenka's office in Minsk on 5 July, demanding an international investigation into the disappearance of television cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski two years ago, AP reported the same day. About 100 people staged a peaceful protest on Minsk's October Square to mark the 7 July anniversary of Zavadski's disappearance. In a statement distributed at the rally, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also called on Belarusian authorities to agree to an international inquiry into the case. In March, a Belarusian court sentenced a former policeman to life in prison for several crimes, including the kidnapping of Zavadski. Zavadski's family, however, doubts the man convicted was actually the perpetrator. An investigator who worked on the Zavadski case fled Belarus last year and sought political asylum in the United States. He said that the Belarusian government created a special agency charged with killing the regime's critics. President Lukashenka, however, has repeatedly denied these claims. CB

FIRE KILLS 34 IN UKRAINIAN COALMINE
A fire killed 34 Ukrainian coalminers in the eastern Ukrainian city of Ukrainsk near Donetsk on 7 July. According to "The Independent" on 8 July, the fire started before dawn around a conveyor belt some 570 meters underground where 107 miners were working. Even in the early stages of the blaze, officials quoted by the daily said there was little hope of finding the miners alive. As rescuers tried to bring victims at the mine to the surface, a government commission led by Deputy Prime Minister Oleh Dubyna headed to the Donetsk coal-mining region to investigate the fire. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma sent condolences to the families of those who died. In a separate incident, Reuters cited Ukrainian media as reporting that a fire broke out on the night of 6-7 July at a coalmine further west, near Krivih Rih, in which 60 men were rescued. Ukraine's Labor Safety Committee reported that 116 miners were killed in industrial accidents in Ukraine from January-June this year. Some 300 miners were killed in mining accidents last year, according to Reuters. RK

PISKUN CHOSEN TO BE UKRAINE'S NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL
President Leonid Kuchma on 6 July signed a decree appointing Svyatoslav Piskun as Ukraine's new prosecutor-general, Interfax reported. The Ukrainian parliament overwhelming approved Piskun's candidacy on 4 July with 347 votes in favor, Ukrainian media reported. In addition to the pro-presidential For a United Ukraine election bloc, which unanimously voted for the Kuchma-proposed candidate, Piskun was supported by 73 members of the Our Ukraine faction led by Viktor Yushchenko, 60 Communist Party members, and 10 independent deputies. The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc was the only faction that voted against Piskun. Piskun is a former lieutenant-general of the Tax Police and had served as deputy head of the Tax Administration since May 2002. The post of prosecutor-general became vacant in April 2002 when Mykhaylo Potebenko (Communist Party) was elected to parliament. During his meeting with parliamentarians prior to the vote, Piskun promised to solve the murder journalist Heorhiy Gongadze "in six months" and vowed to stamp out corruption in the country. RK

UKRAINE REBUFFED AT COPENHAGEN EU SUMMIT...
The European Union reiterated on 4 July at the European Union summit in Copenhagen that it welcomes Ukraine's interest in joining the EU, but said more reforms are needed before it can join, AP reported. "There is a need for adjustment in Ukraine in relation to the European Union," said Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU Presidency. Javier Solana, the EU's chief of foreign and security policy, also took part in the meeting. Through an interpreter, Ukrainian President Kuchma told reporters that "by 2011, we want to be ready to meet the standards." Fogh Rasmussen said the EU also supports Ukraine's desire to enter the World Trade Organization. "It is of interest for both of us," he said. "The best way to combat poverty is to stimulate economic prosperity." RK

...GETS SUPPORT IN RIGA ON NATO
Meanwhile, at a meeting of prime ministers of NATO-aspirant countries held in Riga on 5-6 July (see "Latvia" below), "The Declaration of Riga" was adopted. According to the summit's website (http://www.rigasummit.lv), the declaration stated: "We [the "Vilnius 10"] are proud that our reforms and commitment to democracy may serve as a guide for other nations in Europe and beyond who are seeking a closer partnership with Euro-Atlantic institutions. We are particularly delighted to welcome Ukraine as a guest at this summit. We have been impressed by Ukraine's decision to build closer ties with European structures and we look forward to our close cooperation in the future to advance this commendable goal." RK

ESTONIAN ECONOMY MINISTRY DRAFTS ENERGY MARKET ACT
The Economy Ministry has prepared and sent to the government a new Energy Market Act, ETA reported on 7 July. The act takes into account Estonian negotiators' success with the European Union in postponing until 2008 the EU's requirement that 35 percent of the energy market be deregulated by 2003. At present, only those consumers who use more than 40 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year can freely select their electricity provider; thus, the Estonian market is only about 10 percent deregulated. The energy market is dominated by Narva Power Plants' two shale-oil plants, which are in need of major renovation. SG

'VILNIUS 10' PREMIERS MEET IN LATVIA
The prime ministers of the countries in the "Vilnius 10" group, which is composed of the nine NATO aspirant countries plus Croatia, held a two-day summit meeting in Riga on 5-6 July, BNS reported. For the nine official candidates -- Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia -- it was their last meeting before the NATO summit in Prague in November at which many of then expect to receive invitations to join the alliance. U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent videotaped greetings to the meeting in which they spoke favorably about NATO expansion in Prague -- although they did not specifically mention any countries. U.S. Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott stressed at the meeting that the question of NATO expansion is not "whether" but "when." Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski suggested a new association of countries combining the Vilnius 10 and the three Visegrad countries, Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic, which have already gained NATO membership. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter who attended the Riga summit, spoke on 6 July about the possibility for future NATO expansion that could include Ukraine, as well as the need for more cooperation with Russia. SG

LITHUANIAN LOCAL, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD SIMULTANEOUSLY
By a vote of 56 in favor to 20 against, with two abstentions, the parliament decided on 5 July at the last meeting of its spring session to hold elections to local councils concurrently with presidential elections on 22 December, BNS reported. The local-council elections were originally scheduled for February-March 2003 before the terms of the current local councils end in April. The ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Social Liberals as well as the Liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats supported the change, noting that it will result in savings of about 10 million litas ($2.8 million) and higher voter turnout. Opponents argued that the presidential elections will detract attention from the local elections. Owing to recent amendments to the constitution, new council deputies will serve for four years instead of three. SG

POLISH PREMIER BRINGS BACK FORMER FINANCE MINISTER...
Prime Minister Leszek Miller on 5 July named Grzegorz Kolodko to replace Marek Belka as finance minister, Western and Polish media reported. "He is an excellent, well-known economist who successfully served as finance minister and deputy premier in the 1990s," Miller told reporters. Kolodko was finance minister from 1994-97 and is a fierce critic of National Bank head Leszek Balcerowicz. Miller went on to assure financial markets that Kolodko will keep spending in check by sticking to borrowing guidelines agreed just before Belka quit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). "The 2003 budget assumptions were approved by the cabinet as a whole and will not change after the appointment of the new finance minister," he said. DW

...REPLACES TWO OTHER MINISTERS...
In a surprise announcement, Miller also unveiled two new ministerial appointments on 5 July, Western and Polish media reported. Justice Minister Barbara Piwnik was fired and replaced by the chairman of the Sejm's Justice Committee, Grzegorz Kurczuk, while Culture Minister Andrzej Celinski resigned and was replaced by Waldemar Dabrowski, the head of the National Opera and a former deputy culture minister from 1990-94. Miller gave no reason for the changes. DW

...AND RULES OUT ZLOTY DEVALUATION
As markets continued to view the appointment of Kolodko as finance minister with some trepidation, Miller announced on 6 July that the government has no plans to devalue the zloty, dpa reported. "The question of devaluation has not been considered by the government," Miller said. In an article in the pro-government daily "Trybuna," Kolodko proposed weakening the zloty by 15 percent to spur exports in step with cutting interest rates. "The views of the minister are important, but a decision to devalue the zloty would have to be made by the entire government, not one minister," Miller said. DW

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS AND COALITION TO INK CZECH GOVERNMENT BLUEPRINT...
The Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Coalition were expected to ink on 8 July an agreement on the new government, CTK reported the same day. According to the agreement, the CSSD will get 10 cabinet seats, including the prime minister's post. The Coalition, an alliance between the Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU) and the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL), will get a total of six posts. The CSSD will also hold the chairman's post in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament. The CSSD won 70 seats in the 14-15 June general elections and decided to form a government with the Coalition, which won 31 seats. The new government will have a one-vote majority in the 200-seat chamber. The center-right Civic Democratic Party (ODS) won 58 seats and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) won 41 seats. BW

...AS FREEDOM UNION LEADER QUITS
Hana Marvanova, who headed the US-DEU, the smaller of the two parties in the Coalition, resigned her leadership position on 4 July over disagreements about the government agreement, Czech media reported on 5 July. Marvanova said she is opposed to concessions by the US-DEU on lowering the state debt. She also objected to a provision in the proposed government agreement that would require all CSSD and Coalition lawmakers to support every piece of legislation introduced by the new government, CTK reported on 7 July. Some consider such a requirement unconstitutional. "Deputies can hardly give such a blank check [to the government] for the whole four-year election term," Marvanova said, adding, "I will try to persuade the US-DEU leadership to discuss this question again." Marvanova said she will retain her seat in parliament with the US-DEU and is ready to vote in favor of the future government in a parliamentary confidence vote. BW

COALITION WON'T HAVE VETO POWER OVER POLICY
The Coalition will not have the right to veto policies in a future government with the CSSD, CTK reported on 6 July. The new government will decide policy by a majority vote. The lack of a Coalition veto, combined with a provision requiring all Coalition and CSSD lawmakers to support every piece of legislation the government introduces, would give the CSSD enormous control over policy. "We discussed the principle of veto but given the election results it was impossible to achieve it," the news agency quoted Marvanova as saying. BW

CZECH PRESIDENT PRAISES SPIDLA, GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATIONS
President Vaclav Havel could name CSSD leader Vladimir Spidla as prime minister as soon as 9 July, Czech media reported on 7 July. In sharp contrast to Havel's poor relations with former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and outgoing Prime Minister Milos Zeman, the president has excellent relations with Spidla, "Mlada fronta Dnes," reported on 4 July. "Mlada fronta Dnes" quoted an interview Havel gave to the French newspaper "Le Figaro," in which the president described Spidla as a practical, decent, and judicious man. Havel also praised the atmosphere of the talks on the forming of the new government. "Politicians seem to realize that they should behave decently and correctly, and that mistakes made in the past should not be repeated," Havel said. BW

CZECH AUTHORITIES ANNOUNCE SEIZURE OF PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES, DETONATORS
Police announced on 8 July that they intercepted roughly 33 kilograms of Semtex, along with hundreds of electric detonators and the highly flammable chemical rubidium, in a roadside bust in April, Reuters reported. Two men and one woman were arrested for trying to sell the cache, apparently at a gas station on the road between Prague and the Czech second city of Brno, the agency added. Experts estimated that amount of Semtex, the Czech-made plastic explosive used in the 1988 bombing of a PanAm jet over Lockerbie that killed 270 people, would suffice to level a 15-story building, a police spokeswoman said. Czech radio said the three were seeking about $47,000 for the materials, according to Reuters. The Czech government this year took control of Explosia, the company that produces Semtex, from oil and chemicals giant Unipetrol. AH

JAPANESE EMPEROR IN PRAGUE
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko toured Prague on 7 July, the second day of their first official visit to the Czech Republic, Czech and international media reported the same day. The imperial couple laid a wreath at the statue of St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech nation. "Let me present you with the key to the town, which you may need when you come for your next visit here," AP quoted Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Svec as telling the royal couple at a ceremony at the city's Old Town Hall. President Havel and his wife Dagmar were scheduled to receive Akihito and Michiko at Prague Castle on 8 July. The couple will leave for Poland on 9 July. BW

CONTROVERSIAL CZECH NUCLEAR-POWER PLANT HITS ANOTHER SNAG
Due to a short circuit in a generator, plans to connect the Temelin nuclear-power plant's second reactor to the national power grid on 5 July were postponed, CTK reported the next day. Milan Nebesar, a spokesman for the plant, said it will take several days to determine the cause of the short circuit, which occurred during tests of the second reactor's generator. The generator must be cooled before the cause of the short circuit can be investigated and the damage repaired, Nebesar said. Austria's Stop Temelin organization subsequently repeated its demands that the plant be closed down, and Austrian Environment Minister Wilhelm Molterer called for new talks with the Czech government over the plant's future, CTK reported on 7 July. BW

HZDS CONGRESS APPROVES LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR SLOVAK ELECTIONS
The opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), the front-runner ahead of the 20-21 September parliamentary elections, has approved its list of candidates, SITA reported on 7 July. Left off the list were Ivan Gasparovic, a former parliamentary speaker and the second most popular HZDS politician, and former Slovak Information Service (SIS) Director Ivan Lexa, who is sought by Interpol and whose whereabouts are unknown. Parliamentary deputy Olga Keltosova was also left off the list. According to SITA, the closed-door part of the session of the congress was stormier than expected. The agency reported that parliamentary deputy Ivan Gasparovic's speech was interrupted by former Prime Minister and HZDS leader Vladimir Meciar. Meciar told journalists that the HZDS wants to form a government after the elections, even if it has to wait. He stressed that the "coalition potential of the HZDS has improved since 1998," adding that the party knows what it cannot do -- form a government with the Slovak National Party (SNS). AS

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS BECAME PARTNER OF THE EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S PARTY IN SLOVAKIA
The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) on 5 July became the third Slovak party to be granted associate membership of the European People's Party (EPP) at an EPP working group session in Bratislava, SITA reported the same day. The Slovak Christian Democratic Union (SDKU) and Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) became associated members in 2002 and 2000, respectively. Wim van Velzen, the vice president of the European Popular Party's (EPP) group in the European Parliament, noted that the party has gained significant political power in Slovakia. The HZDS is also seeking to join the EPP as well; however, van Velzen said the party is not acceptable in its present form for EPP membership. AS

HUNGARIAN DEMONSTRATIONS CLOG CENTRAL BUDAPEST, LEAD TO SCUFFLES AND DETENTIONS
Protesters demanding a recount of April election results blocked Budapest's central Elisabeth Bridge before violence broke out as they resisted police attempts to clear the road on 4 July, AP reported. Twenty-two people were detained and one policeman injured in the melee, which swelled from about 50 to several hundred, according to the agency. "We are now considering charging several of those detained with disturbing the peace, assaulting police officers, and traffic offenses," Budapest police chief Antal Kokenyesi said. "We used the minimum of force that was required to restore order and allow the other citizens of the city to get on with their daily lives." The protesters later regrouped outside the parliament building to demand that the government resign. Prime Minister Medgyessy during a visit to Rome condemned the demonstration as unnecessarily violating the law, AP reported, citing MTI. Opposition FIDESZ Vice President Tamas Deutsch said afterward that the government was to blame for "not address[ing] the doubts of many concerning the fairness of the [April] elections" in which his party lost its place in government. AH

COLLABORATION ISSUE BACKFIRES ON HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER...
The leader of Hungary's leading opposition party, FIDESZ Chairman Zoltan Pokorni, resigned on 3 July after he was forced to publicly acknowledge that his father was a longtime informer for the communist-era secret police, local and Western agencies reported the same day. Pokorni, who last month demanded that Socialist Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy step down after the media reported his ties to communist-era counterintelligence ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2002), said he was "under no moral or political obligation to resign, but I am doing so," according to AP. "I cannot continue with my work as party president as I would wish." The agency named former parliamentary leader Janos Ader as a likely replacement in the party leadership and tipped Tamas Deutsch to assume Pokorni's role as parliamentary group leader. AH

...WHO SAYS HE NEEDS TIME TO DEAL WITH REVELATION...
Pokorni, who has been a key adviser to the staunchly anticommunist former Prime Minister Viktor Orban, added on 3 July that he needs time to deal with the emotional strain of the revelation about his father, AP reported. Pokorni said he knew nothing of the three decades his father spent as an informer until a 1 July media report by a local cable broadcaster made the assertion without specifying which politician it concerned, AP added. On 3 July, the liberal daily "Magyar Hirlap" followed up with an article pointing the finger at the father of a "prominent opposition leader," Reuters reported. Janos Pokorni, 74, was offered his freedom from persecution for anticommunist activities in exchange for collaboration following the suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, Zoltan Pokorni was quoted by AP as saying. AH

...AND PRIME MINISTER CONDEMNS 'COLLABORATION' TACK IN POLITICS
Prime Minister Medgyessy responded to Pokorni's resignation by suggesting the latter's political career is not dead, AP reported on 3 July. "We should concentrate on the future and close the past," Medgyessy was quoted by the agency. "We need peace in Hungary, not the proliferation of family tragedies." Medgyessy followed his own revelations of counterintelligence activities with an assault on those whose collaboration remains subject to state secrecy, including the cabinet's discussion of a draft bill to make public any pre-1990 affiliation with the secret services by those seeking public office ("RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 24 June 2002). AH

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO OFFER CONCESSIONS IN AMENDED STATUS LAW
State Secretary Andras Barsony said during a visit to Slovakia on 3 July that the new Socialist-led Hungarian government is prepared to amend the contentious Status Law, with the result going to a parliamentary vote in September, Czech news service CTK reported from Bratislava the same day. He said Prime Minister Medgyessy's government shuns a piecemeal approach to foreign objections to the Status Law, adding that bilateral agreements are not enough. "The current Hungarian government is not interested in concluding individual special agreements, because partnerships with neighboring countries are just as important," the agency quoted Barsony as saying after a meeting with Slovak State Secretary Jaroslav Chlebo. Barsony said a joint commission of experts will work toward a mutually acceptable agreement over the summer, CTK reported, noting that such talks are already slated to take place with Ukraine and Romania. The Status Law, passed last summer, has been criticized by the European Union and the Council of Europe, in addition to neighboring Romania, Ukraine, and Slovakia. AH

MESIC LAUNCHES TALKS ON SETTING UP NEW CROATIAN GOVERNMENT...
President Stipe Mesic began formal talks with the leaders of the political parties and groups represented in the parliament on 8 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. His move follows the resignation of Prime Minister Ivica Racan's government on 5 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). Mesic spoke with Ivan Jakovcic of the Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS) on Brijuni island on 6 July to urge the small party to return to the governing coalition, which it left some time ago. Elsewhere, parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic said that 84 out of 151 legislators have signed a petition supporting a new government to be led by Racan. Ivo Sanader, who heads the opposition Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), said he will agree to Mesic's invitation for talks but will not join any government led by Racan. Sanader added that Racan is responsible for the country's current unspecified problems. Anto Djapic of the far-right Croatian Party of [Historic] Rights (HSP) expressed a similar view. PM

...BUT WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR BUDISA?
Drazen Budisa, who heads the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), said in Zagreb on 5 July that he will oust from the party any legislators who supported the government in the recent vote on an agreement with Slovenia regarding the Krsko nuclear-power plant, which triggered the breakup of the coalition, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The HSLS was the second-largest party in the five-member coalition, after Racan's Social Democrats (SDP). But four government ministers belonging to the HSLS said they intend to stay in Racan's cabinet. They are Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic, Defense Minister Jozo Rados, Health Minister Andro Vlahusic, and Science and Technology Minister Hrvoje Kraljevic. Only Economy Minister Hrvoje Vojkovic said that he will follow Budisa's lead. Ivo Skrabalo, who was a founding member of the HSLS, said he believes that HSLS legislators opposed to Budisa may form their own faction in the parliament. Budisa said he will regard any government formed by Racan as legal but not legitimate. PM

SFOR SENDS CAPTURED WAR CRIMINAL TO THE HAGUE
On 7 July, approximately 20 SFOR troops arrested Miroslav Deronjic in Bratunac and sent him to The Hague, Reuters reported. The war crimes tribunal has indicted him for ordering local Serbian forces to attack and burn the Muslim-held village of Glogova in May 1992. He was present when the community fell to Bosnian Serb troops backed by Yugoslav Army artillery, dpa reported. The village was then destroyed and 60 Muslims were disarmed and executed. He later became the first Serbian civilian administrator in Srebrenica after General Ratko Mladic's forces took the town in July 1995. He negotiated with Dutch peacekeepers to turn Srebrenica over to the Serbs. Deronjic was indicted for committing crimes against humanity, including persecution and murder, as well as violations of the laws and customs of war, including wanton destruction of cities, destruction of religious institutions, and an attack on an undefended village. PM

HISTORIC MOSQUE REOPENS IN SREBRENICA
Several hundred Bosnian Muslims attended the reopening of the White Mosque in Srebrenica on 5 July, dpa reported. The modest new structure stands in place of one dating from Ottoman times that Serbian forces destroyed during the 1992-95 war. SFOR troops were on guard for the reopening, but no serious incidents were reported. The ceremony marked the beginning of commemorative activities leading up to the seventh anniversary of the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim males by Serbian forces on 11 July, Reuters reported. PM

BOVINE DIES OF ANTHRAX IN BOSNIA
One bovine has died of anthrax in the Sanski Most region, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported on 8 July. The authorities have announced precautionary measures for people and animals. No additional cases have been reported. PM

POLICE DETAIN MAN FOR PLANNING TO SHOOT NATO COMMANDER
Local police said in Mostar on 8 July that they arrested an unnamed 31-year-old man from Zenica two days earlier for illegally possessing a weapon and plotting to kill General John Sylvester, who heads NATO forces in Bosnia, AP reported. No details about the man are available. PM

EU READY TO TAKE OVER BOSNIAN POLICE MISSION
The European Commission announced in Brussels on 5 July that it is prepared to send up to 500 police to Bosnia should the United Nations' police mission (IPTF) there end as a result of the dispute between the United States and the European Union over the International Criminal Court (ICC), dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). The UN's mandate is scheduled to expire on 15 July unless Washington and its allies find a way out of the legal and diplomatic impasse. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" noted on 3 July that unnamed persons in the German military share Washington's concerns about the ICC, but the daily reported the next day that the United States is "isolated" diplomatically. The EU had previously planned to take over the IPTF at the beginning of 2003. PM

SARAJEVO SUMMIT FOR THREE EX-YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS
The presidents of Croatia and Yugoslavia will meet with the members of the Bosnian joint Presidency in Sarajevo on 15 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 7 July. It will be the first top-level gathering of leaders of the three states since Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic forced the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. PM

BELGRADE-SARAJEVO AIR LINKS RESTORED
Air Bosna began flights from Sarajevo to the Serbian capital on 5 July, restoring air links between the two cities after a break of 10 years, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Air Bosna will fly Fokker 50 aircraft, which carry about 50 people, but will expand to larger planes as the need arises. The airline plans to fly four round trips weekly between the two cities. PM

TOP POLITICAL LEADERS MISSING FROM U.S. FOURTH OF JULY PARTY IN BELGRADE
"Vesti" reported on 6 July that Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, and numerous persons from Serbian NGO's were among those attending the Independence Day reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. Among those absent were Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic. PM

PIRATE CD FACTORY RAIDED IN BELGRADE
A Serbian police spokeswoman said in Belgrade on 7 July that police have confiscated 750,000 pirated CDs and DVDs, mostly illegal copies of foreign productions. Police also seized equipment from Bulgaria for making the pirated editions. It is the biggest such haul in Serbian history. PM

SERBIAN COURT ISSUES FIRST SENTENCE FOR KOSOVA CRIMES
On 8 July, the district court in Prokuplje sentenced Ivan Nikolic to eight years in prison for crimes against civilians in Kosova in 1999, dpa reported. Nikolic, who was a Yugoslav Army reservist during the conflict, was charged with killing two ethnic Albanian civilians on 24 May 1999. This is the first time that a Serbian court has sentenced a Serb for war crimes against Albanians in Kosova. PM

BATIC SETS CONDITIONS FOR SERBIAN JUDGES IN KOSOVA
Serbian Justice Minster Vladan Batic said that Serbian judges may resume work in Kosova if the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK) there guarantees them a home, safety, employment for their families, and employment for additional Serbs in court-related professions, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Belgrade on 7 July. PM

STEINER TELLS SERBS THAT 'METOHIJA' IS NOT A LEGAL DESIGNATION
Michael Steiner, who heads UNMIK, has ruled that the province's legal name does not include the term "Metohija" because it is not mentioned in UN Security Council Resolution 1244, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Steiner added, however, that Serbs may use "Kosovo and Metohija" if they wish. A verbal row recently took place between ethnic Albanian and Serbian legislators over the legal use of the term "Kosovo and Metohija." Many Serbs prefer Metohija (from a Byzantine Greek term for monastic estates) to describe western Kosova and thereby underscore its historic links to Serbia through former land ownership by Serbian Orthodox monasteries there. Albanians call the region Rrafsh i Dukagjinit, or the plateau of the medieval Dukagjin family. PM

EIGHT ARRESTED IN KOSOVA CRACKDOWN
Approximately 90 UN and local police arrested eight ethnic Albanian men on 6 July in simultaneous raids in Prishtina and Gllogovc, AP reported. The eight are wanted in conjunction with the killing of five members of an ethnic Albanian family in August 2001, including one man who worked for the Serbian police prior to the entry of NATO forces into Kosova in June 1999. Three of the arrested men, who have not been identified, are members of the civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK). In related news, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 5 July that a lively discussion has begun in the Kosovar press over whether there are war criminals among the Albanians and, if so, whether they should be punished. Until recently, most Kosovars took the unqualified position that their struggle against the Serbs in 1998-99 was one of self-defense for survival, and that self-defense cannot be considered criminal. PM

MACEDONIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CONFLICT CONTINUES
The Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church stripped Metropolitan Jovan of the Veles-Vardar region of his church functions and ordered him to retire to a monastery, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Skopje on 6 July. Jovan, who recently reached an agreement recognizing the authority of the Serbian Orthodox Church, said he does not recognize the Macedonian Church's decision or its jurisdiction over him. Irinej, who is the Serbian Orthodox bishop of Nis, said the Macedonian synod's treatment of Jovan shows that further talks with the Macedonian Orthodox Church are pointless. The Macedonian Orthodox Church declared its independence of the Serbian body in 1967 in a move designed to strengthen Macedonian national identity and weaken Serbian influence there. The breakaway church has not been recognized by any other Orthodox church. Talks have been underway recently between the Serbian and Macedonian churches in hopes of reaching an understanding and ending the Macedonians' isolation. In the Macedonian emigration in the United States, some churches owe allegiance to the Macedonian Orthodox Church, while others are linked to that of Bulgaria. PM

ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS RELATIONS...
Meeting with his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase in the Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca, newly elected Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy on 6 July presented a set of proposals to expand bilateral relations, Mediafax reported. At the press conference following their meeting, Medgyessy, himself of Transylvanian origin, gave a short speech in Romanian. He said that ethnic minorities "should feel good in their home countries" and that all involved parties "should make their own contributions" in that direction. Nastase handed Medgyessy an aide-memoire called "The Romanian-Hungarian Strategic Partnership for Europe in the 21st Century." The document is now being studied by the Hungarian side. The two did not discuss the controversial Status Law adopted by Budapest last year, because a bilateral commission is to deal with the subject at its next meeting due later this month. ZsM

...AND COMMENT ON ROMANIAN CENSUS RESULTS...
Commenting on the preliminary results of the March 2002 Romanian census (see below), Nastase said the decline in the number of ethnic Hungarians in Romania is probably due to "Hungary's attraction." He added that while the general decline of the country's population is also due to the fact that many Romanians went to work abroad, the temptation of working abroad might be stronger among ethnic Hungarians. Medgyessy said that in light of the census results, his government intends to examine the problems and the living conditions of Hungarians from Transylvania. He added that while he is legally only the prime minister of Hungarian citizens, he has a moral responsibility before the whole Hungarian nation in the Carpathian Basin. ZsM

...WHILE MEDGYESSY SHOWS SUPPORT FOR ETHNIC HUNGARIANS
During his one-day visit to Cluj-Napoca, Medgyessy also met with the leadership of the Democratic Union of Hungarians from Romania (UDMR). He said it is in the Hungarian government's interest that Romania join NATO as soon as possible, and it will support Romania's accession to the alliance. UDMR Chairman Bela Marko said the number of Hungarians in Transylvania over the last 10 years declined alarmingly and asked the Hungarian government for help for keeping ethnic Hungarian youth in the region. Medgyessy said he will support Hungarian-language media and Hungarian investments in the region. He also called for unity among Hungarians in Romania, adding that Budapest will not impose its will on the diaspora. Medgyessy also announced that the Permanent Hungarian Council will convene on 17 July. ZsM

PRELIMINARY CENSUS RESULTS SHOW CONSIDERABLE DECLINE OF POPULATION
Preliminary results of the March 2002 census show a 5 percent decline in Romania's population over the last 10 years, Romanian Television reported on 4 July. According to the results, Romania's population is 21.7 million, down from the almost 23 million in 1992. National Statistics Institute Director Aurel Camara said the two main reasons for the decline are migration and the fact that the mortality rate exceeds the birth rate. He added the population is also tending to move out of the larger cities. Ethnic Romanians make up almost 90 percent of the population. The ethnic Hungarian population decreased by more than 10 percent, and a similar declining tendency can be found among other ethnic minorities, with the exception of Roma, which is due to a higher birth rate and an increased willingness to declare their ethnicity to census-takers. ZsM

ROMANIAN LIBERALS TO HOLD EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS NEXT MONTH
The 5 July meeting of the Liberal Party's (PNL) National Representatives Delegation decided to hold the party's extraordinary Congress on 24-25 August, Romanian Television reported. The congress is to elect new leadership for the party, which has been torn by internal strife for several months. Former PNL presidential candidate and PNL National Council Chairman Theodor Stolojan announced he will not leave the party and will even consider running for the chairman's office, pending modifications to the PNL charter and structure. Stolojan had earlier announced that he would quit the party, embittered by the internal struggle among party factions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 June 2002). ZsM

EXTREMIST ROMANIAN POLITICIAN LAUNCHES HARSH ATTACK AGAINST U.S. AMBASSADOR
Extremist politician Corneliu Vadim Tudor, chairman of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM) launched an attack against U.S. Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest, "Adevarul" reported. Tudor was dissatisfied with the fact that Guest did not reply to a PRM invitation to participate in a ceremony to unveil a statue of former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in Cluj-Napoca. In an open letter addressed to "Mrs. Michaela Guest," Tudor asked the ambassador to "legalize his relationship with his Latino lover," and then continues with other offensive statements. The paper says Tudor has thus "offered a new example of his political irresponsibility and his blind fanaticism." Political leaders cited by the paper strongly condemn Tudor's letter. ZsM

RESITA STEELMAKER RETURNED TO STATE CONTROL
On 6 July, the Romanian Privatization Authority formally once again became majority owner of the Resita-based CSR steel company, Mediafax reported. The Privatization Authority became majority shareholder with an 83 percent stake after the company's debt to the state was turned into shares last April. The rest of the shares remain in the property of the former majority owner, U.S.-based Noble Ventures, which will continue to run the factory. In recent months, the company experienced renewed worker protests because of unpaid wages. ZsM

ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN NEGOTIATIONS ON SCHOOL FELLOWSHIPS BREAK OFF
Negotiations in Bucharest between representatives of the Romanian and Moldovan education ministries regarding their cooperation protocol for the next academic year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002) were suspended on 3 July, Romanian Television and Flux reported. The negotiations apparently broke off due to Moldova's request that Romania reduce the number of scholarships offered, arguing that the Moldovan government needs to develop Moldovan education. Romanian Education Ministry Secretary of State Constantin Corega said the Moldovan negotiators have a "hostile" attitude and that the number of scholarship applications is much larger than the number of scholarships. According to Flux, Moldova asked for a break in order to consult with Chisinau authorities. Romanian Television reported on 6 July that Moldovan authorities said the protocol will be signed this week. ZsM

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NEW LAW IS NEEDED ON 'BULGARIANS ABROAD'
President Georgi Parvanov told an expatriate audience in Zagreb on 6 July that his country needs legislation to "enable [Bulgarians abroad] to do business, pursue their studies, and receive medical treatment on equal terms with Bulgarians living in Bulgaria," BTA reported. He cited tax breaks to businesspeople who support cultural initiatives of expatriate Bulgarians, the agency added. "The care of Bulgarians abroad is an essential commitment of the state," he reportedly said. There are just 331 Bulgarians in Croatia, according to the latest official census. AH

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER QUELLS REPORTS OF STRAINS IN COALITION
Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski said on 6 July that the sacking on 4 July of two regional governors by the Council of Ministers was not consulted with coalition partners in the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), BTA reported. The government, which appoints and dismisses regional governors, ousted Stefan Koradov of Bourgas and Vladimir Vladov of Shoumen on 4 July. That sparked reports of tension between Saxecoburggotski's National Movement Simeon II and its coalition partner, the DPS. But he insisted, "We maintain excellent relations with the DPS," according to the agency, "[and] the regional governors' replacements are not something to argue about in the media." AH

...AS OUSTED GOVERNORS' PARTY URGES GREATER CONSULTATION
DPS Deputy Chairman Emel Etem said that, as a coalition partner also responsible for government, her party should be informed of appointments of regional governors, BTA reported on 5 July. She also noted the DPS's strong presence in the Bourgas and Shoumen regions where the firings took place. But Etem distanced her party from the dismissed officials, saying their appointments were not coordinated with the DPS. AH

There is no End Note today.


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