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Newsline - July 10, 2002


PUTIN SPECULATES ABOUT RUSSIA'S SOUTHERN BORDER...
Speaking at a Saransk meeting of Volga Federal District officials on 8 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2002), President Vladimir Putin said that he believes Russia should reconsider where its southern border with Kazakhstan should lie, polit.ru and regions.ru reported the same day. Putin said that it would be a mistake to build border facilities along the current border with the former Soviet republic if the countries intend to create a common economic space. He revealed that he discussed the issue at an informal meeting with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on 6 July in Aqtau, Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, and Belarus form the Eurasian Economic Commonwealth (EES). Putin said that a common border will help commonwealth countries cope with threats such as drug trafficking, especially from Afghanistan. VY

...AS MOSCOW HOPES TO BRING UKRAINE AND MOLDOVA INTO NEW ECONOMIC ALLIANCE
Meanwhile, EES Secretary-General Grigorii Rapota told journalists in Moscow on 9 July that his organization wants to upgrade the observer status of Ukraine and Moldova to full membership, RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported. However, he said that Ukraine needs time to "understand what we are doing." He added that the five members of commonwealth are working to create a unified economic space with a single customs and transportation-tariff regime. He also mentioned that on 3 July he signed an agreement with First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov formally establishing the EES's headquarters in Moscow. Interestingly, Colonel-General Trubnikov is a former director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and Lieutenant General Rapota is a former SVR deputy director. VY

COURT APPROVES THIRD TERM FOR GOVERNORS
The Constitutional Court ruled on 9 July that most governors who are now in office may seek a third and, in some cases, a fourth term, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The court had been asked to rule on the legality of amendments to the law on general principles for organizing legislative and executive organs of power in the subjects of the federation, which was adopted in February 2001, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 10 July (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 31 January 2001). Under those amendments, the terms of governors or presidents that began before October 1999 -- the date on which the original law came into force -- are not counted under the provision of the law that limits regional leaders to just two terms in office. The court upheld the amendments and, according to the daily, 43 governors will be eligible to seek third consecutive terms as a result; seven will be eligible to seek a third and then possibly a fourth term; while six governors currently serving their third term will be able to seek a fourth. According to smi.ru, Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov and Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov are now eligible for up to two more terms of office. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who will be able to seek a third term, called the ruling "logical" and "rational," according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

IVANOV WARNS THAT FOREIGN-POLICY DEBATES SHOULD NOT DIVIDE THE COUNTRY...
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, in a wide-ranging interview with "Izvestiya" on 10 July, said he disagrees with the opinion of much of the country's political elite that President Putin's foreign policy makes too many concessions to the West and brings too few benefits to Russia. "Foreign policy should not be based on the principle of barter," Ivanov said. He added that Putin formulated the essence of Russia's foreign policy two years ago based on the premise that the country's limited human, political, military, and financial resources should serve its domestic reforms without being deflected by external problems. Ivanov said that the main difference between this policy and the policies of the 1990s is its sense of purpose and predictability. He added that there will always be domestic criticism of the Kremlin's foreign policy, but "the main thing is that domestic politics do not fracture the country." VY

...AND COMMENTS ON CHINA, IRAQ
In the same interview, Ivanov also emphasized Russia's productive relations with China, saying that the countries had achieved "balanced economic cooperation" and are discussing a number of joint projects. "As far as international problems are concerned, [Russia] and China are in complete mutual understanding. There is not a single international issue over which our interests are divided or in conflict," Ivanov said. Asked about the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Iraq, Ivanov said, "Now the problem is to prevent any complication [of the situation]." When asked how Russia would respond if the United States attacked Iraq, Ivanov responded, "We will proceed from the situation that develops." RC

BOOBY-TRAPPED SIGN KILLS MAN IN KALININGRAD
A man was killed in the Kaliningrad Oblast city of Baltiisk on 10 July when an obscene sign that he was attempting to remove exploded, Russian and Western news agencies reported. According to NTV, the sign contained profane language addressed toward a commander of the Baltic Fleet, which is based in the city. The unidentified 50-year-old man was trying to remove the sign when it exploded, killing him instantly and seriously wounding a woman passerby. Lenta.ru reported that the sign apparently did not contain anti-Semitic language, as did those involved in several similar booby-trap incidents in recent weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 29 May, and 8 July 2002). The Interior Ministry on 10 July warned citizens not to touch suspicious signs on their own, ITAR-TASS reported. RC

GERMAN CHANCELLOR HOPEFUL COURTS MOSCOW
Foreign Minister Ivanov met in Moscow on 9 July with Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, who is also chairman of the Christian Social Union and the main rival to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in elections this fall, Russian and Western news agencies reported. After the talks, Ivanov told journalists that relations between Germany and Russia "historically have a special significance for European and international security." He added that the close ties between Moscow Oblast and Bavaria are a model for interregional cooperation in Europe. Stoiber said during a meeting with Moscow Mayor Luzhkov that his visit to Russia has nothing to do with the German elections. Stoiber was received on 10 July by President Putin, who expressed his thanks to Bavaria for its help following the mid-air crash of the Bashkir Airlines passenger jet with a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany on 1 July, ITAR-TASS reported. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov also met with the Bavarian prime minister. The BBC commented the same day that Stoiber's meetings at such a high level reveals Moscow's preference in the upcoming elections in Germany. VY

NATIONAL BOLSHEVIK PARTY LEADERS GO ON TRIAL
Court proceedings against National Bolshevik Party leader and writer Eduard Savenko, commonly known by his literary pseudonym Limonov, and five of his colleagues were held on 8 and 9 July in Saratov, Russian news agencies reported. Limonov and his colleagues are accused of acquiring weapons with the goal of preparing terrorist acts and creating illegal armed formations. Limonov and one of his colleagues, Sergei Aksenov, editor of the party's newspaper, are also charged with calling for a change in Russia's constitutional order, "Vremya novostei" reported on 9 July. Both court sessions were closed to the public. Following the hearing on 9 July, the judge ruled that the next session will be open and will take place on 9 September, giving Limonov's attorney, Sergei Belyak, additional time to prepare his case. Belyak argued that open sessions will be more beneficial for his client, gazeta.ru reported. Moreover, according to the court ruling, Limonov received authorization for a public defender, State Duma Deputy Victor Cherepkov (independent), to work alongside Belyak. Limonov was arrested on 7 April 2001. MD

MASS GRAVE UNEARTHED AT SUPREME COURT
Construction workers renovating the building of the Supreme Court in Moscow uncovered a mass burial site, possibly dating to the Stalinist repressions of the 1930s and '40s, ITAR-TASS and other news agencies reported on 10 July. Nns.ru cited an unnamed police source as saying that the remains date to the Stalin era. However, according to ITAR-TASS, there had been a church on the site before the 1917 revolution and there may have been a crypt or cemetery there as well. According to Interfax, the remains have been taken to a morgue for examination and a report will be forwarded to the Prosecutor-General's Office. According to nns.ru, only five burial sites dating to the Stalin era have been identified in Moscow so far, including the cemetery of the Yauzskaya Hospital. RC

TAXES HIKED FOR SHUTTLE TRADERS
The State Trade Commission on 8 July raised excise duties on goods imported to Russia by individuals, a move with serious implications for the country's shuttle traders, nns.ru reported on 9 July. According to the new regulation, the import duty for goods weighing less than 200 kilograms and worth up to $10,000 will be 30 percent of declared value and not less than 4 euros per kilogram. Individuals will still be allowed to bring in up to 50 kilograms of goods tax-free. The website speculated that the move was the government's response to lobbying pressure from domestic light industry, seeking protection against cheap foreign clothing. RC

COURT DELAYS HEARING APPEAL IN SPY CASE
The Supreme Court on 9 July postponed hearing the appeal of Viktor Kalyadin, who was convicted last October of spying for the United States, RTR reported the same day. The court will hear the case on 1 August. The postponement was due to the illness of Kalyadin's lawyer, Lyudmila Trunova. Kalyadin, the head of an electronics company, was convicted of divulging state secrets and handing over top-secret information to U.S. agents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May 2002). RC

NEW CHIEF MILITARY PROSECUTOR NAMED
The Federation Council on 10 July approved the appointment of General Aleksandr Savenkov as the country's chief military prosecutor, strana.ru reported the same day. Savenkov's nomination had been put forward by Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, who told senators that Savenkov is "a highly qualified and professionally prepared, mature leader capable of organizing the work of the military prosecutor's office and the military prosecutors working under it." The 41-year-old Savenkov has worked in the military prosecutor's office for 16 years, according to the website. Since the beginning of this year, he has served as first deputy to Chief Military Prosecutor Mikhail Kislitsyn, who resigned on 14 June because of poor health (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2002). RC

MOSCOW CONCERNED ABOUT LANGUAGE RESTRICTIONS IN UKRAINIAN MEDIA
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern on 9 July over a decision by Ukraine's National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting to require that within the next year all domestically produced television and radio programs be in Ukrainian. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said at a briefing, "basically this step limits the right of the millions of ethnic Russians who live in Ukraine and the many Ukrainians for whom Russian is their native language to receive information in their primary language," Interfax reported. Yakovenko added that such a measure contradicts the spirit of Russian-Ukrainian cooperation, as well as international standards for defending the rights of ethnic minorities, gazeta.ru reported. Yakovenko also expressed the hope that Ukrainian officials will take Russia's concerns over the issue into consideration. MD

KALMYKIA LEADER SAYS DALAI LAMA'S VISIT WILL BE NON-POLITICAL
Kalmykia President Ilyumzhinov told Interfax on 9 July that the September visit of the Dalai Lama will be solely devoted to the pursuit of "religious goals." Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Losyukov recently said that the Russian government does not object to the Dalai Lama's visit as long as it remains a religious rather than political event. According to Ilyumzhinov, the Dalai Lama will visit Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva during his visit. Last year, Ilyumzhinov told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau that there had been pressure from Moscow to rescind an invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit Elista that summer. During the interview, Ilyumzhinov called for international recognition of the independence of Tibet -- a stance at odds with Russia's official position. JAC

FEDERAL AUTHORITIES WELCOME CHANGED ATMOSPHERE IN VLADIVOSTOK
A special committee under the president's political envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, Konstantin Pulikovskii, has begun investigating the work of the Primorskii Krai's administration, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 8 July. The inspection of Primore's regional and municipal authorities will be completed by the end of this week, but local officials don't expect any sensational results, as "it will be the usual systematic work that is regularly conducted in all federation subjects," the daily quoted Igor Surshkov, press secretary for Primore's Governor Sergei Darkin, as saying. Darkin ordered his staff to cooperate fully with the work of the committee and said, "All shortcomings that are found will be corrected." The daily commented that it is much easier for Pulikovskii to deal with the current "complaisant" Darkin than with the former governor, the "uncontrollable" Yevgenii Nazdratenko. MD

AL-WALID'S DEATH NOT YET CONFIRMED
A senior commander of the combined federal forces in Chechnya told Interfax on 9 July that he cannot confirm media reports that Arab field commander Abu al-Walid has been killed. Chechen sources reported that he was drowned late last month while trying to cross a flood-swollen river (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL VISITS ARMENIA
Council of Europe Secretary-General Walther Schwimmer held talks in Yerevan on 9 July with Armenian President Robert Kocharian, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, and parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian, Noyan Tapan reported. Topics discussed included the Karabakh peace process, Armenian-Turkish relations, and Armenia's compliance with the commitments it made when accepted into full membership of the council in January 2001. Kocharian assured Schwimmer that Yerevan is determined to comply with those commitments. They include abolition of the death penalty, which a new Criminal Code adopted by parliament last month retains in exceptional circumstances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2002). Schwimmer also met with the heads of parliament factions and groups, and delivered a lecture at Yerevan State University in which he called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to opt for "dialogue rather than mutual accusations." LF

ARMENIA TIGHTENS CONTROL OF EXPORTS
Following the imposition by the U.S. State Department in May of sanctions against an Armenian company and businessman for supplying dual-purpose technology to Iran (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2002), Armenia has tightened export controls at all border crossings, Armenian customs service head Armen Avetisian said on 9 July, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Avetisian explained that the Armenian government did not block the sale to Iran by the Charentsavan-based Lizin biochemical company of its production line because the dismantled components were not immediately identifiable as dual-purpose technology. LF

FORMER AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL ACCUSES NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER
Isa Nadjafov, who is a former first deputy prosecutor-general, launched on 9 July in Baku a revised edition of his book giving background to the murders of two senior officials in 1994 and to the failed insurrection of October 1994 and the events of March 1995, Turan reported. The book also accuses former Turkish Ambassador Altan Karamanoglu of "antistate activities." Karamanoglu was recalled immediately after the standoff in Baku in March 1995 between army troops and members of the Interior Ministry special-purpose troops commanded by Rovshan Djavadov. Nadjafov claims in his book that National Security Minister Namig Abbasov was instrumental in destroying materials from the investigation of the Soviet military intervention in Baku in January 1990. But ministry spokesman Araz Gurbanov denied those allegations the same day, pointing out that Abbasov worked as a KGB official in Murmansk from 1989-92 and returned to Azerbaijan only in the summer of 1992. LF

DIPLOMATS MEET WITH AZERBAIJANI VILLAGERS
The ambassadors in Baku of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway, together with United Nations and OSCE representatives, traveled on 9 July to the village of Nardaran on the city outskirts to meet with villagers and discuss their grievances, Turan reported. The previous day, the villagers had addressed an appeal for assistance to foreign diplomats and international organizations, asking them to condemn the police brutality toward village residents during clashes in early June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 June 2002). LF

AZERBAIJAN MAY DECLARE COUNCIL OF EUROPE RAPPORTEUR PERSONA NON GRATA
Speaking in Baku on 9 June, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev hinted that Swiss parliamentarian Andreas Gross, who was recently named its rapporteur for Azerbaijan by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, may not be permitted to enter Azerbaijan due to his alleged lack of objectivity, according to Turan and MPA News Agency, as cited by Groong (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). Gross was scheduled to arrive in Baku on 15 July with a Council of Europe monitoring group. Quliev pointed out that Latvia has similarly refused entry to a Council of Europe official whose objectivity it questioned. LF

GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS DISCUSS DRAFT FRAMEWORK TREATY
Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and the chairman of the Russian State Duma's Committee for CIS Affairs, Boris Pastukhov, held a fourth round of talks in Tbilisi on 9 July on the draft framework treaty between the two countries, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 22, 21 June 2002). The two officials focused on the section of the treaty dealing with political and military affairs. They declined to make any comment on the progress achieved. But "Kommersant-Daily" on 9 July reported without disclosing its sources that there are major differences between the drafts prepared by the two sides. The paper claims the Russian draft allocates Georgia the same status as the USSR did to the countries of Eastern Europe, and that it provides for retaining Russia's two remaining military bases in Georgia. LF

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY REJECTS GEORGIAN CLAIM ON ARMAMENTS
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Aleksandr Kosovan on 9 July rejected as "delusions" Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's statement the previous day that Georgia has a right to a share of the former Soviet armaments removed from Georgia to Russia following the demise of the USSR, Interfax reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated last week that it did in fact supply Georgia with part of that military hardware (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 July 2002). LF

GEORGIA TURNS DOWN ABKHAZ REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL PEACEKEEPING POSTS...
Georgia has turned down Abkhazia's proposal that two additional CIS peacekeeping posts be established in the upper, Georgian-controlled reaches of the Kodori Gorge, Caucasus Press reported on 9 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze said that the Georgian leadership believes that the joint patrols conducted weekly by UN observers and CIS peacekeepers are adequate to monitor the situation in the gorge. The Abkhaz have repeatedly objected that since the UN and the CIS force are required to inform Tbilisi in advance which areas of the gorge they plan to inspect, the Georgian side has ample opportunity to relocate and hide the troops Sukhum claims still remain in the gorge in violation of an agreement reached in April. LF

...CRITICIZES PLANNED ABKHAZ-SOUTH OSSETIAN JOINT MANEUVERS
Georgian Intelligence Department chief Avtandil Ioseliani characterized the recent announcement by the leaderships of the breakaway Republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of their plans to hold joint maneuvers as nothing more than attempt to demonstrate those republics' independence, Interfax reported on 9 July. Ioseliani said that neither entity is facing any military threat. The leaderships of the two republics, however, are convinced that Georgia plans to use the military units now being trained by U.S. instructors to launch a new offensive against the two republics and bring them back under the control of the central Georgian government. LF

KAZAKHSTAN, U.S. POSTPONE SIGNING OF AIRPORT AGREEMENT
The signing by Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Abuseitov and U.S. Ambassador Larry Napper of a formal agreement under which U.S. military aircraft participating in Operation Enduring Freedom may use the Almaty international airport in emergencies and for refueling has been postponed for two days "for technical reasons," Interfax reported on 9 July. The signing was to have taken place that day. Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev said in April that Astana would make an airport available for U.S. use in emergencies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 23 April 2002). LF

KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN MAP FUTURE COOPERATION
Visiting Bishkek on 9 July, Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Imanghaliy Tasmagambetov discussed with his Kyrgyz counterpart Nikolai Tanaev a program of economic cooperation for 2002-05, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Tasmagambetov told journalists after those talks that agreements were signed on labor migration and the equitable use of water resources. He also said that Kazakhstan will invest $1.9 million in the construction of two Kyrgyz hydroelectric power stations, Interfax reported. Tasmagambetov also met with President Askar Akaev to discuss various aspects of bilateral relations. LF

CORRECTION:
On the basis of an inaccurate report from RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau, "RFE/RL Newsline" reported on 9 July that the South Korean businessman found murdered in Bishkek two days earlier was the co-owner of a restaurant in the city. He was not.

OSCE CHAIRMAN IN OFFICE VISITS KYRGYZSTAN...
Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz, whose country currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the OSCE, held talks with President Akaev in Bishkek on 8 July, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov said during those talks that the Kyrgyz government did not violate human rights in its efforts to disperse widespread protests in the south of the country following the 17-18 March clashes in Aksy in which five people died. The visiting Portuguese delegation also met with leaders of opposition political parties and journalists. LF

...AND TAJIKISTAN
Da Cruz then traveled to Tajikistan where he met on 9 July in Dushanbe with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov to discuss the situation in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Interfax and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Da Cruz reportedly commended the Tajik government's moves to strengthen democracy and support independent media. On 10 July, he met with members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan to discuss the domestic political situation, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The two sides agreed that some key laws passed during the transition period following the civil war, including those on elections and on political parties, must be improved. LF

TURKMEN, AFGHAN, PAKISTANI OFFICIALS DISCUSS PIPELINE PROJECT
The first session of the tripartite commission to oversee construction of the planned gas export pipeline from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan opened in Ashgabat on 9 July, Interfax and turkmenistan.ru reported. An official from the Asian Development Bank announced at the session that it will finance a feasibility study for the 1,500-kilometer pipeline, Reuters reported. The estimated construction cost is $2 billion. In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 10 July, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Moscow has no objections to the pipeline project provided that its own interests as a gas exporter are not damaged. LF

BELARUS SENDS HUMANITARIAN AID TO FLOOD-STRICKEN REGION OF RUSSIA
A convoy of 10 trucks filled with humanitarian aid left Belarus on 10 July for flood-stricken Stavropol Krai in Russia's Southern Federal District, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The press service of the Belarusian Emergency Situations Ministry said that the convoy was carrying diesel-powered generators, blankets, tents, shoes, and foodstuffs with a value of $160,000. The flooding across the North Caucasus has resulted in the deaths of at least 95 people and the evacuation of 88,000 more (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June and 1 July 2002). CB

PROTESTERS DEMAND MINSK SYNAGOGUE BE REBUILT
A group of about 30 demonstrators gathered in Minsk on 9 July to demand the reconstruction of a 19th-century synagogue that was torn down last year in the center of the Belarusian capital, AP reported the same day. Yakov Gutman, president of the World Association of Belarusian Jewry, handed out an open letter addressed to the leaders of the United States, Russia, and Israel, asking that they pressure Belarusian authorities to rebuild the synagogue. "What the Belarusian authorities have done can only be compared to the destruction of the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan [by the Taliban authorities in 2001]," Gutman said. The synagogue was built in 1897, but was closed by Soviet authorities in the 1930s. It was part of the Jewish ghetto during the Nazi occupation and housed leading Belarusian artists after World War II. A high-rise building is now being constructed in its place. CB

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS UKRAINE AT LEAST FIVE YEARS AWAY FROM MEMBERSHIP
"NATO appreciates Ukraine's declaration of strategic orientation and its aspirations to be part of the Euro-Atlantic mainstream, but we need to realize that this a long-term process," RFE/RL quoted NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson as saying during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council held in Kyiv on 9 July. He later told RFE/RL correspondents that it would probably be another five years before the country can join the alliance. AP reported on 10 July that Robertson also said that "we are not talking about a...membership application at the moment, but we are talking about a much more intensified program of work and this will intensify the relationship between NATO and Ukraine." Commenting on this meeting, the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" on 9 July wrote that only six members of NATO actively support Ukrainian membership in the alliance, naming Poland, the United States, Turkey, and with somewhat less enthusiasm Germany, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Other NATO members remain skeptical about Ukraine's place in the alliance, according to the Polish daily. RK

OFFICIALS OF UKRAINIAN MINE ARRESTED, INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO ACCIDENT
The director and the chief engineer of the Ukrayina mine in Ukrainsk where 35 miners died on 8 July in an underground fire were arrested on charges of gross negligence and manslaughter, Interfax reported on 9 July. According to dpa on 9 July, regional prosecutors said they believe they will be able to prove that the two mine managers grossly violated safety regulations, and are responsible for the 35 deaths because they allowed the mine shaft to operate with outdated equipment. However, Donetsk media carried stories arguing that the charges are an effort by regional coal tycoons to deflect responsibility by setting up a pair of low-level mine managers as scapegoats, dpa reported. According to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 9 July, experts in Donetsk said the miners could have been rescued and that they perished due to poorly organized rescue procedures in the first moments after the fire broke out. RK

ESTONIAN ENERGY COUNCIL APPROVES BOND ISSUE
The supervisory council of the utility Eesti Energia approved on 8 July a 200 million euro ($196 million) bond issue, BNS reported the next day. The issue, which will be organized by SchrodersSalomonSmithBarney, is intended to help finance the renovation of the utility's two large shale-oil power stations. In preparation for the bond issue, the government obtained credit ratings for the utility from international rating agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's. The ratings, which are the same as those of Estonia, are the highest among energy firms in Central and Eastern Europe. The council also decided to give the utility's board two months to draw up a report on combining the shale-oil mining company Eesti Polevkivi and Narva Elektrijaamad. SG

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT GRANTS FUNDS TO APPEASE MEDICS
The government decided on 9 July to allocate 3.2 million lats ($5.3 million) to increase the salaries of medical workers from 1 October, BNS reported. The funds are intended to raise the average monthly salary of medics to 140 lats. This was one of the main demands during the first of what was intended to be a series of eight-hour strikes by medical workers, beginning in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 2002). It is not yet clear whether the other strikes, scheduled for July and September, will be held. Welfare Minister Viktors Jaksons said that he is pleased that the ministry has "succeeded in proving that doctors actually need this money." Finance Minister Gundars Berzins noted that the grant was only "a move to extinguish the fire" and urged the Welfare Ministry to change the system for funding health care. SG

FREE MARKET INSTITUTE CRITICIZES LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT
At a press conference on the first anniversary of the current government, Lithuanian Free Market Institute President Ugnius Trumpa stated on 9 July that the current "impressively growing" economy is not only the result of the work of the cabinet of Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, but also that of earlier governments and the people's desire to live better, "Kauno diena" reported the next day. He criticized the government for procrastinating on the structural reforms and modernization needed for EU membership and for the lack of continuity and transparency in its work. "It looks like the government wants to control everything, but does not want to be controlled or even observed from outside," Trumpa said. He also noted that most decisions are made without discussion with the opposition, and there are major disagreements between parliament, the government, and the president. Institute Vice President Ruta Vainiene described the year 2002 as a "year of tax revolution" in which the great number of passed laws reminds one of fulfilling "the five-year plan in three years." SG

POLISH CURRENCY CONTINUES SLIDE IN REACTION TO NEW FINANCE MINISTER
The zloty continued to weaken against the U.S. dollar on 9 July, dpa reported, as markets expressed uncertainty over newly appointed Polish Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko. The zloty dropped from 4.18 to 4.24 to the dollar in trading on 9 July. "Foreign investors are worried over the future of Polish fiscal policy, especially about [a possible] devaluation of the zloty," said Jacek Wisniewski, an analyst at Poland's PKO SA bank. After Prime Minister Leszek Miller attempted to calm market nervousness at Kolodko's appointment by ruling out a devaluation of the zloty on 6 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002), further uncertainty arose when Kolodko declined to elaborate on his fiscal plans after a 9 July cabinet meeting. DW

JAPANESE EMPEROR IN WARSAW
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko began their historic four-day official visit to Poland on 9 July in Warsaw, dpa reported. The imperial couple is expected to visit landmarks in Warsaw and Krakow and meet with President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Miller. This is the first visit by a member of the Japanese royal family to Poland. The imperial couple has already visited the Czech Republic and will continue to Austria in their tour of Central Europe. DW

CZECH CROWN HITS RECORD HIGH
The Czech crown hit a record high on 9 July, trading at 29.04 against the euro and 29.24 against the U.S. dollar, CTK reported the same day. By the end of the trading day, the crown weakened slightly, closing at 29.07 to the euro and 29.24 to the dollar. The crown's surge was partially due to favorable inflation figures for June. Czech consumer prices fell by 0.3 percent in June. Year-on-year inflation fell from 2.5 percent in May to 1.2 percent in June, the lowest level since September 1999. "The crown confirmed today that its gains would stop only after central-bank intervention, because it does not react to bad news and strengthens on good news, which is due to the positive sentiment ruling on the market," said Vladimir Pikora, an analyst for Volksbank. Exporters have been calling on the Czech National Bank (CNB) to intervene to rein in the currency. The CNB will publish the minutes of its last monetary session on 10 July. Analysts and dealers predicted the bank might cut interest rates and intervene on currency markets at the end of July to weaken the currency. BW

CZECH MEDIA SPECULATE ON GOVERNMENT'S PERFORMANCE
While the Czech media agreed that Vladimir Spidla's Social Democratic Party (CSSD) was the big winner in negotiations on the composition and program of the new government, commentators differed about how the new government will fare. "They have all they wanted both in terms of policy program and the distribution of ministerial posts. With 11 key posts, there is no doubt as to who will be calling the shots in this government," "Mlada fronta Dnes" commented on 9 July in reference to the CSSD. "Mlada fronta Dnes" also called Sweden "Spidla's role model," a reference to the prime minister-designate's desire to build a Scandinavian-style welfare state. "Lidove noviny," meanwhile, took a skeptical tone, saying Spidla's policies will cause the country to fall deeper into debt. BW

CZECHS BAN EU POULTRY
The Czech State Veterinary Administration (SVS) banned poultry imports from the European Union from 11 July until further notice after the discovery of beef proteins in poultry from the Netherlands, CTK reported on 9 July citing SVS spokesman Josef Duben. Beef proteins were added to the meat to increase water absorption, but the practice is prohibited in the Czech Republic. BW

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT AGREES TO SEND HELICOPTERS TO BOSNIA
The Slovak parliament on 9 July approved the sending of a helicopter unit to Bosnia to participate in the SFOR peacekeeping operation there, and also took into consideration information on prolonging the operation of a Slovak military field hospital in East Timor, TASR reported. The Slovak armed forces will send two Mi 17 helicopters and 21 soldiers to join the Dutch unit operating at the military base in Bugojno. The mission will probably last six months. The Slovak unit will be used to transport personnel, materiel, weapons, and ammunition. TASR reported that it is the first air unit of the Slovak armed forces to operate under NATO command. The Slovak military field hospital in East Timor is currently slated to operate until June 2003. AS

TWO POLLS SHOW HZDS IN THE LEAD AHEAD OF SLOVAK ELECTIONS
The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) would win parliamentary elections with 27.7 percent of the vote if elections were held today, according to a poll conducted by the Dicio polling agency, SITA reported on 9 July. The poll placed Smer (Direction) in second place with 16.5 percent support and the Alliance of New Citizen (ANO) party backed by media mogul Pavol Rusko in third with 10.7 percent. However, in a poll conducted by the Markant polling agency, ANO rose to second place for the first time with 14.2 percent support, bettering Smer's 13.2 percent support. HZDS topped the Markat poll with 28.5 percent backing. Both polls show that the Slovak National Party and the Real Slovak National Party would reach parliament only in coalition. Another Dicio poll claimed that Smer leader Robert Fico and HZDS leader Vladimir Meciar have the greatest potential to become Slovakia's next prime minister. Every fifth Slovak would prefer that Fico form the cabinet, while every sixth would prefer Meciar to do so. AS

SLOVAK PREMIER ACCUSES ANO PARTY OF MISUSING TV MARKIZA
Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said that the ANO party is misusing TV Markiza for its pre-election campaign, TASR reported on 9 July. Rusko, who backs ANO and is a co-owner of TV Markiza, Slovakia's most popular television channel, described Dzurinda's statement as nonsense. Dzurinda claimed that Rusko is wielding his influence to distort Markiza's news programs and described Markiza's coverage of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union's (SDKU) convention as "shameful." The prime minister also criticized the participation of popular TV Markiza employees in ANO's campaign. He charged that Rusko is using the channel to achieve his political goals, and accused him of ruling out possible cooperation between the SDKU and ANO after the elections. Rusko responded by calling Dzurinda's behavior schizophrenic. Markiza has also been criticized for excessive promotion of ANO in its news coverage by the nongovernmental organization MEMO'98, which is monitoring all Slovak television broadcasts. AS

SKINHEADS SENTENCED FOR RACIST ATTACK IN SLOVAKIA
A district court in Skalica sentenced three skinheads from Holic, western Slovakia, to 4 1/2 years in prison after finding them guilty of a racially motivated crime that caused serious bodily harm, SITA reported on July 9. In August 2001, the three men brutally attacked a Rom from Holic, which left the man permanently disabled. The Romany community in Holic protested police apathy following the attack, and claim that skinheads terrorize them on a daily basis. Some Holic Roma have warned that if the aggression does not stop they will implement the "eye for an eye" principle in retaliation. AS

SLOVAKIA HOPES TO IMPROVE ITS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AMONG OECD MEMBERS
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) expects unemployment rates in Slovakia to decrease from 19.3 percent in 2001 to 19.1 percent in 2002, SITA reported on 9 July. If Slovakia meets the OECD's prediction, Slovakia would relinquish to Poland the highest unemployment rate among OECD members. AS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT SETS UP TWO INVESTIGATIVE COMMISSIONS
Parliament on 9 July established two investigating commissions, one to look into Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy's communist-era counterintelligence activity and another to determine whether anyone else who has served in government since 1990 had any links to the communist-era state-security services, Hungarian media reported the next day. The first commission was formed at the initiative of the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) after it was revealed that Medgyessy had worked for the III-II counterintelligence division from 1977-82. The commission will investigate whether other documents exist pertaining Medgyessy's secret-service activity and whether he had any links with the III-III internal-security department. The commission is chaired by MDF deputy Laszlo Balogh and has to finish its task by 15 August. The second commission, proposed by the Free Democrats (SZDSZ), is chaired by SZDSZ deputy Imre Mecs and must conclude its work by 30 September. MSZ

FIDESZ POLITICIAN ATTACKS HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT, MEDGYESSY, HORN
FIDESZ deputy parliamentary group leader Laszlo Kover on 9 July accused the government of carrying out political purges, attacking the fundamental institutions of a state governed by the rule of law and of restricting freedom of the press, Hungarian dailies report. Speaking before regular business in parliament, Kover described Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy as "politically damaged goods" and called former Prime Minister Gyula Horn "a padded coat who raised his weapon against his country," referring to the communist state militia in which Horn served during the 1956 uprising. Regarding Janos Pokorni, father of former FIDESZ Chairman Zoltan Pokorni, and his past as an informer in the communist era, Kover declared that "the likes of Medgyessy ruined the lives of people like Janos Pokorni to the present day." Hungarian democracy is in a crisis, Kover said, and in order to resolve it, "Medgyessy must go." MSZ

MESIC NAMES RACAN TO HEAD NEW CROATIAN GOVERNMENT...
On 9 July, President Stipe Mesic asked outgoing Prime Minister Ivica Racan to form a new government, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2002). It is expected that the new cabinet will include six to seven fewer ministries than the outgoing one, which had 19. Racan has 30 days to name his government, but Mesic told him on 10 July: "The new government must show initiative and focus on problems...[such as] unemployment, the economy, [and] Euro-Atlantic integration.... This is no time to calculate and wait. Croatia needs action and its people are rightly impatient," Reuters reported. Sources close to Racan say, however, that he does not rule out calling early elections to secure a fresh mandate. PM

...AS CONSERVATIVES EXPEL A LEADER
In other political news from Zagreb, the leadership of the opposition Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) agreed on 9 July to expel Ivic Pasalic from the party for saying that the current party leadership was "illegally elected" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 April 2002). Pasalic was a top adviser to the late President Franjo Tudjman and a one-time contender for the post-Tudjman HDZ leadership. He made many enemies because of his reputation as a wheeler-dealer linked to questionable privatization schemes during the Tudjman era. In addition, many Croats from Croatia proper resented the influence he and his so-called Herzegovinian Lobby exerted in Croatian politics and business during the 1990s. PM

SFOR SENDS ANOTHER SERBIAN INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL TO THE HAGUE
French and German peacekeepers arrested Radovan Stankovic in Trebicina near Foca on 9 July and prepared to send him to The Hague the next day, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. He is charged with running a brothel in the Foca area between August and October 1992, where Serbian soldiers allegedly raped Muslim women and girls as young as 12 years old. The war crimes tribunal has indicted him for crimes against humanity and serious violations of the Geneva Convention and the laws and customs of war (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). PM

U.S. OFFERS AUTHOR KARADZIC A BOOK TOUR
Former Bosnian Serb leader and top indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic has published a children's book entitled "There Are Miracles and There Aren't" (Ima cuda, nema cuda), "Vesti" reported on 8 July. Asked at a Washington press conference about Karadzic's latest literary endeavor, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "If he wants to go on a book tour, for example, he could start with SFOR, and then I'm sure we could provide transportation. And we have a facility -- he can sign as many books as he wants to in The Hague while he's awaiting trial." NATO's continued failure to find and arrest Karadzic has aroused suspicions among many Muslims and Croats. The alliance says that the grip is tightening on Karadzic, whom SFOR has recently linked to smuggling and other, unspecified, illegal activities. Karadzic's followers among Bosnian Serbs believe their hero has been victimized. One told AP on 7 July: "I'm fed up with the international community. I'd wish they'd all leave." PM

BOSNIAN SERB LEADER OPPOSED TO APOLOGY
Nebojsa Radmanovic, who is a leader of the Independent Social Democrats of the Republika Srpska, said in Banja Luka on 9 July that plans by the Muslim member of the joint Presidency, Beriz Belkic, to seek an apology from Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica for the 1992-95 war are counterproductive, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. Kostunica told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service on 5 July that he regards any such apology as "empty talk." PM

MEDIA STRIKE IN BOSNIA...
The Association of Electronic Media of Bosnia-Herzegovina has called upon the republic's 150 radio and television broadcasters to interrupt transmissions for one minute on 10 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The move comes in response to new rules on the role of media in the 60 days leading up to the 5 October elections, which the broadcasters' association says will cost them "millions" in lost advertising revenue. PM

...AND IN MACEDONIA
More than 1,000 workers at state-run Macedonian Radio and Television began a strike for higher wages on 10 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Demands for pay hikes average 25 percent. PM

EARLY ELECTIONS LIKELY FOR MONTENEGRO
Leaders of President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the pro-Belgrade Together for Yugoslavia coalition agreed in Podgorica on 9 July that differences between them are too great to form a government and that the best way out of the current political crisis is to hold early parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 2002). The Podgorica daily "Vijesti" reported that the elections will take place on 5 October, but there has been no official confirmation of that date. Outgoing Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said that the current parliament will continue work until the new one is elected. During that time, the legislature will deal with proposed regulations for the new joint state with Serbia. The last cabinet consisted of the DPS and the Social Democrats (SDP). It was supported by the pro-independence Liberal Alliance (LSCG) in the legislature until the Liberals withdrew their backing to protest the March agreement with Belgrade on setting up a new joint state (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April and 3 May 2002). PM

SERBIAN AND MONTENEGRIN GOVERNMENTS AGREE ON ECONOMIC RULES...
On 9 July, delegations of the two governments concluded a series of meetings held alternatively in Belgrade and Budva between 24 June and 8 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Belgrade and Podgorica. The governments agreed on the economic terms of the new joint state of Serbia and Montenegro (S-M). Authority will be based in the two republican governments, which will provide the funds for the joint institutions. Each republic will seek to harmonize its economic legislation with that of the European Union. Serbia and Montenegro will maintain their separate monetary and banking systems for at least the next three years. They will harmonize their customs tariffs within three years and their levels of excise tax within one. PM

...BUT MANY SERBS HAVE THEIR DOUBTS
Yet another public opinion poll has shown that there is strong opposition in Serbia to continuing a joint state with Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 9 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2002). A survey by Serbian Television showed that 72.44 percent of the program's viewers want an independent Serbia and 27.56 percent favor a joint state. Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic has led a petition drive for a referendum on independence, but most other leading politicians have ruled a referendum out. PM

SERBIA PASSES CRIME LEGISLATION
The Serbian parliament on 9 July passed emergency legislation aimed at fighting crime and corruption, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. The recent killing of Major General Bosko Buha has heightened fears of more politically motivated assassinations and led to mutual recriminations among some rival leading politicians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 24 June 2002). PM

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RAISES MINIMUM INCOME LEVEL -- TO $63
The government announced on 9 July that the guaranteed monthly income will be raised over the coming six months by 20.5 percent to a total of about $63, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. This bare-minimum income affects some 20,000 jobholders. PM

SERBIA AND MACEDONIA RECOGNIZE UNMIK LICENSE PLATES
One of the points agreed during the recent visit to Belgrade by Michael Steiner, who heads Kosova's UN civilian administration (UNMIK), and the Serbia authorities is that Serbia will recognize automobile license plates issued in Kosova by UNMIK, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2002). Macedonia also recently agreed to recognize the UNMIK plates, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported on 9 July. PM

U.S. AMBASSADOR COMMENTS ON ROMANIA'S NATO ACCESSION CHANCES
In an interview published by "Adevarul" on 10 July, U.S. Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest said the U.S. administration highly appreciates Romania's efforts in the fight against terrorism. He warned, however, that Romania still needs to "do more in the fight against corruption" and to consolidate the rule of law. He added Romania should also make significant progress in solving its problems with the International Monetary Fund. Guest called the results of the country's military reforms "excellent." He said he will not reply to extremist Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor's recent statements (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). He added he believes Tudor "does not represent the future" of Romania. ZsM

ROMANIA, SLOVENIA TO BOOST COOPERATION
Romanian President Ion Iliescu and his visiting Slovenian counterpart, Milan Kucan on 9 July in Bucharest pleaded for increasing bilateral economic relations, Mediafax reported. Also meeting with Kucan, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the two countries can cooperate in the fields of telecommunications, information technology, agriculture, and oil by establishing mixed-ownership companies. He said the Slovenian company Lek Pharmatech's $30 million investment to build a pharmaceutical plant in the Transylvanian town of Targu Mures represents a first step in further boosting ties. ZsM

ECHR AGAIN SLAMS ROMANIA OVER PROPERTY RESTITUTION
According to a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) press release, Romania is to pay some 1 million euros ($980,000) in compensation to persons whose properties were confiscated during the Communist regime, Mediafax reported on 9 July. In three cases, the court found that the Romanian Supreme Court had improperly cancelled a final hearing and thus violated the rights of the plaintiffs. In the three cases, the ECHR rules that Romania is to return the plaintiffs' apartments or pay compensation worth about 834,000 euros and 58,250 euros in damages. In the fourth case, Romania is to return the property in question or pay compensation of 150,000 euros and an additional 6,000 euros in damages. ZsM

OSCE PLANS PROVIDE FOR A FEDERATIVE MOLDOVA...
The draft agreement between Moldova and the breakaway Transdniester region proposed by the OSCE mission in Chisinau provides for a federative Moldova, Flux reported. According to the draft, published by the governmental "Moldova suverana" and "Nezavisimaya Moldova," parts of Moldovan territory could have the right to their own legislation and Constitution, but the Moldovan Constitution and laws would prevail. The country's official language would be "Moldovan, based on the Latin script," but the regions could use their own languages along with Moldovan. The Moldovan parliament would have two chambers, the Legislators Chamber and the Chamber of Representatives. The agreement is to be guaranteed by Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE, while the OSCE is to provide peacekeeping troops during the transition period. ZsM

...AS MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER REJECTS IT
Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) Chairman Iurie Rosca said the plan is "unacceptable," as it merely represents "Russia's reply to NATO's expansion in the area and especially to Romania's [eventual] admission" to NATO. He warned that if the plan is implemented, Moldova would "finally and irreversibly disintegrate" and a conflict would break out with "unpredictable consequences." He further argued the plan does not even provide for the exact number of states to be created "on the ruins" of Moldova. Rosca said the OSCE should focus on the "total and irreversible demilitarization" of the Transdniester region and the removal of the President Igor Smirnov's "criminal team." ZsM

BULGARIAN OFFICIAL URGES EU TO REVISIT NUCLEAR DECISION
Citing "new technical circumstances" at the Kozloduy nuclear power facility, the chief secretary to Bulgaria's energy minister on 9 July called on the EU to reconsider its demand that Sofia decommission two aging reactors, BTA and AP reported. Slavcho Neikov, whose government is seeking to back away from a previous agreement to shut down those two reactors by 2006, was speaking after technical consultations with representatives of the European Commission (EC). Neikov did not offer details, but he said the Bulgarian experts stressed that nuclear matters should reflect technical considerations, not political ones, according to BTA. But Bulgarian representatives were expected to brief those same EC officials on the social and economic impact of early closures on 10 July, the agency added. AH

There is no End Note today.


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