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Newsline - July 22, 2002


FRANCE BACKS RUSSIA ON KALININGRAD...
A two-day, informal summit in Sochi between President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac ended on 20 July following wide-ranging discussions of international and bilateral issues, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The two leaders urged the staging of an international conference on the crisis in the Middle East. The presidents also announced that Aeroflot will purchase 18 Airbus aircraft in a deal worth about $600 million. Chirac offered his support in Russia's dispute with the European Union over the Kaliningrad exclave, saying it would be "unacceptable" to require Russians to get visas "to go from one part of Russia to another." "There are no technical problems without a solution, and this solution should not be humiliating for Russia," Chirac told a press conference on 19 July. RC

...AS KEY PLAYERS EXPRESS CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM
In a long roundtable discussion broadcast on Ekho Moskvy on 20 July featuring the EU's representative in Russia Richard Wright, President Putin's representative on the Kaliningrad issue Dmitrii Rogozin, Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, and Danish Ambassador to Russia Lars Vissing, participants expressed cautious optimism that a solution can be found within the next few months. "The European Union wants and is prepared for cooperation with Russia to improve the situation on the border with Kaliningrad, and we are ready to offer technical and financial support," Wright said. Rogozin also expressed hope that a solution will be found. "The situation is, let's say, dramatic. And I am absolutely convinced...[and] I can now affirm that we all want to find a solution together. We will find it. In this, I am an optimist," Rogozin said. RC

OFFICIAL: IRAN NOT PART OF 'AXIS OF EVIL'
Speaking to reporters after two days of consultations in Teheran, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov said Iran should not be considered part of an "axis of evil," as U.S. President George W. Bush has labeled it, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 July. Trubnikov said his talks touched on a wide range of issues, including the situation in Afghanistan, and that he believes Iran is interested in expanding and deepening its relations with Russia. Trubnikov said Iran is working to ensure stability and security in Afghanistan and is promoting regional cooperation. He also said that he discussed with his Iranian counterparts upcoming Russian naval exercises on the Caspian Sea. RC

FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION NOT GOING WELL...
State Duma Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin said on 21 July that the Prosecutor-General's Office is working to curtail state corruption, but that its efforts are meeting stiff resistance, rtr-vesti.ru reported, citing Interfax. Stepashin called for a revision of existing legislation that makes it difficult to prosecute corrupt officials. He also said that the bureaucracy must be sharply reduced since "the more bureaucrats there are, the more sources of corruption there are." He also called for the adoption of measures to reduce the influence of the bureaucracy over the economy. In the same interview, Stepashin said he will not run for governor of St. Petersburg, as some analysts have speculated. RC

...AS GOVERNMENT CALLED POWERLESS BEFORE 'FISH MAFIA'...
In the third and final article in a series on the so-called "fish mafia," or organized criminal group in charge of Russia's fishing industry, on 19 July, "Izvestiya" concluded that the group is active on a variety of fronts, eluding all government control. Generally, the group acts quietly, but one recent exception was the assassination of General Vitalii Gamov, head of the Federal Border Guard Service directorate in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 2002). Among the incidents discussed in the article is an alleged $1 million bribe from Dalmoreprodukt President Yurii Didenko to "a group of people" in the government and the State Fisheries Committee to help him "resolve some problems." Didenko extended the bribe at a time when Dalmoreprodukt workers had not received their wages for five years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 2002). The daily also presented what it calls "documentary evidence" of the helplessness of the government in the area of regulating supertrawlers. JAC

...AND NAZDRATENKO CONTINUES TO FRUSTRATE HIS SUPERIORS
Without reference to sourcing, the daily quoted from memos, orders, and conversations illustrating that a long line of prime ministers from Yevgenii Primakov to Mikhail Kasyanov have been wrestling ineffectively with the sector. President Putin reportedly ordered Kasyanov to implement a suggestion of presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Konstantin Pulikovskii with regard to strengthening control over supertrawlers but, according to the daily, Kasyanov has ignored this order. Kasyanov, in turn, has complained to Putin about the current leadership of the State Fisheries Committee, which is headed by former Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko. The daily alleges that Nazdratenko and his apparat "have done everything possible to disrupt the work of supertrawlers in the current year...For example, four supertrawlers of Vostokrybflot spent only nine of 36 days fishing and sustained huge [financial] losses." JAC

DISSIDENT HERO DIES IN PARIS
Renowned Soviet-era dissident and writer Aleksandr Ginzburg, one of the founders of the samizdat tradition in the Soviet Union, died in Paris on 19 July at the age of 65, Russian and Western news agencies reported. In 1959, Ginzburg founded the literary journal "Syntaksis," of which only three issues appeared. He was arrested and sent to a labor camp in 1960. In 1966, Ginzburg collected and published documents relating to the persecution and trial of fellow writers Andrei Sinyavskii and Yulii Danil. The next year, Ginzburg was arrested again and sentenced to another five years in the camps. After his release, he joined forces with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to organize a support fund for political prisoners that was financed largely by proceeds from the sale of Solzhenitsyn's epic "The Gulag Archipelago." This work led to Ginzburg's third arrest in 1977 and to his exile to France in 1979. In recent years, Ginzburg wrote for the emigre newspaper "Russkaya mysl" and actively campaigned against human rights abuses in Chechnya. RC

SUPREME MUFTI DETAILS FINANCIAL TIES WITH FOREIGN ISLAMIC GROUPS
In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta-religii" on 17 July, Talgat Tadzhuddin, the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, commented on allegations regarding his meeting in 1991 with Osama bin Laden's brother Tariq bin Laden, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 13 December 2001). According to Tadzhuddin, the Federal Security Service investigated the visit and did not find any proof that Tariq bin Laden gave money to any leaders of Russia's Muslim community. Tadzhuddin did confirm that he has received financial aid from foreign Islamic organizations such as the Islamic Bank for Development in the early 1990s, which allocated $400,000 for a loan to design school curricula. In addition, the money was also used to begin construction of the Qol Sherif Mosque in Kazan and the Lyala-Tyulpan Mosque in Ufa. Also in the early 1990s, various foreign funds provided money to construct some 20 other mosques. JAC

CHINESE, FAR-EASTERN RUSSIAN OFFICIALS PLAY TUG-OF-WAR OVER ISLANDS
Plans by Khabarovsk Krai authorities to build a pontoon bridge linking the disputed Bolshoi Ussuriiskii Island in the Amur River with the krai may provoke a diplomatic crisis with China, which considers that island and neighboring Damanskii Island its territory, "Izvestiya" reported on 19 July. According to the daily, Chinese officials have already lodged an official protest against the Khabarovsk Krai legislature's decision to build the bridge. In the meantime, Chinese workers are trying to fill in the Kazakevich Channel, which runs between China and the island. Krai legislators are hoping the construction of the bridge, which would be opened twice a day for half an hour for boats to pass through, will force the Chinese not to fill the channel, but to deepen it. "The more water there is between China and the islands, the firmer will be Russia's sovereignty over them," said Yurii Yefimenko, chairman of the public committee for the retention of the islands. JAC

PIONEERING JOURNALIST DIES IN BASHKORTOSTAN
Firat Valeev, editor in chief of one of the only opposition newspapers in Bashkortostan, "Vechernii Neftekamsk," has been found dead, VolgaInform reported on 20 July. According to the agency, some observers believe there might have been a political motive behind Valeev's death, although the agency provided no details about how Valeev died. Valeev's paper was well-known for its critical coverage of President Murtaza Rakhimov, who tried on several occasions through legal and economic pressure to close it. Most recently, the newspaper called for mayors and the heads of raion administrations to be directly elected rather than appointed and for the republic's laws to be brought into conformity with federal legislation. JAC

MOSCOW ACADEMICS ATTACKED
A professor in the law department of Moscow State University (MGU) was beaten on 20 July in the entrance to his apartment building in the Yugo-Zapadnyi Raion of Moscow, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 July. Aleksei Ispolinov became the fourth academic to be attacked in the district in the last six months. According to the report, Ispolinov was struck from behind with a blunt object, and his bag with documents was stolen. However, Ispolinov refused to cooperate with police in the investigation or to say specifically what was in the stolen bag. Ispolinov also declined to speak to journalists. Previously, Andrei Brushlinskii, director of the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Psychology, was beaten to death on 31 January. On 8 February, just one block away, Valerii Korshunov of the microbiology department of the Russian State Medical University was killed in the entrance to his apartment building when he was struck from behind with a blunt object. On 19 March, the dean of the MGU history department, Sergei Karpov, was attacked and beaten by a group of youths near his home in the neighborhood. No arrests have been made in connection with any of the incidents. RC

RADAR SYSTEM CAPABLE OF DETECTING LAND MINES?
The Central Radiotechnical Research Institute has developed a radar system capable of detecting explosives, ITAR-TASS and other Russian news agencies reported on 22 July. According to the institute's deputy director, Oleg Melnichuk, the compact system is called "Rodnik" and it is capable of locating land mines and other explosives in a wide range of environments and conditions. The Moscow-based institute develops radio-based reconnaissance and radio-electric jamming equipment, as well as special antiterrorism equipment. RC

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS PROTEST NEW ALTERNATIVE-SERVICE LAW
A group of activists in Voronezh organized on 21 July a protest against the new law on alternative civil service recently passed by the State Duma and Federation Council, NTV reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June 2002). Protestors are collecting signatures for an appeal to President Putin that asks him not to sign the new draft law and instead to send it back for revision. According to the news account, activists from the Youth Human Rights Movement and Amnesty International object to the fact that the length of alternative service is longer than that of ordinary military service and that draft boards, which are composed of officers from military commissariats, judge whether a potential recruit's beliefs and principles allow him to take up arms. JAC

PUTIN WISHES HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST HAPPY BIRTHDAY
President Putin has sent birthday wishes to Lyudmila Alekseevna, president of the International Helsinki Federation and chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Interfax reported on 20 July. "Your firm beliefs, principles, and courage in defending free thinking draw sincere respect," Putin said, noting that Alekseevna continues to "strengthen Russia's institutions of civil society." Earlier in the month, Alekseevna's group, along with other Russian human rights organizations, announced that they were no longer prepared to participate in discussions in Grozny with representatives of the Russian government and military on the human rights situation in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 2002). The groups claimed that the dialogue was being used to deflect attention from flagrant human rights violations by the Russian military. JAC

AND HER MIDDLE NAME IS FEDERATION?
Aleksei and Lyudmila Shramkov in Nizhnii Tagil named their newborn daughter "Rossiya," ntvru.com reported on 20 July. The happy parents said that the registration workers tried to talk them out of the exotic name, but the parents believe that Russia will grow and will soon stand on its own two legs, as will their little "Rosya." JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT NAMES BASAEV TO HEAD DEFENSE COMMITTEE
Aslan Maskhadov convened a weeklong session of the Chechen Defense Council from 27 June to 3 July, chechenpress.com reported on 22 July. The session was attended not only by field commanders but also by Chechen Republic Ichkeria government ministers, parliament deputies, and unnamed local administration heads. Participants agreed to establish a Defense Committee, to be headed by field commander Shamil Basaev, which will coordinate the activities of the various sub-formations of the Chechen armed forces. Maskhadov also appointed Basaev deputy commander in chief of the Chechen armed forces. He further named Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed Zakaev to head a new Information Committee. LF

PUTIN AGAIN CALLS FOR HALT TO VIOLENCE AGAINST CHECHEN CIVILIANS
Speaking on 19 July in Sochi following his talks with French President Chirac, President Putin again said Russia should put an end to human rights violations committed by Russian troops during search operations in Chechen villages, Russian agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 2002). He said this could be achieved by gradually handing over to the embryonic Chechen police force responsibility for apprehending suspected resistance fighters. Putin admitted that violations of human rights have taken place during such search operations, but claimed that they "are not as awful" as they seem, Interfax reported. Meanwhile more than 100 people were detained in such search operations in the Shali, Kurchaloi, and Urus-Martan raions and on the outskirts of Grozny on 20-21 July, AP reported, quoting a member of the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership. LF

OFFICIAL MURDERED IN DAGHESTAN FOR DECRYING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Police in Daghestan have arrested a businessman Kurban Magomedov and charged him with gunning down Tsumada Raion administration head Magomed Magomedov in Makhachkala on 19 July, Interfax reported. Kurban Magomedov said his friend and former classmate had reproved him for consuming too much alcohol. LF

AZERBAIJAN EXTRADITES SUSPECTED TERRORIST TO RUSSIA
A Russian citizen detained last month without papers on Azerbaijan's border with Daghestan has been extradited to Russia, Turan reported on 19 July. The man has been identified by police in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan as the head of a group that blew up the Perm-Nizhnii Novgorod gas pipeline in 1999. LF

COURT REJECTS APPEALS BY AZERBAIJANI BANDIT GROUP
Azerbaijan's Appeals Court has declined an appeal by 23 men sentenced in April for murder, banditry, and membership of an illegal armed formation, Turan reported on 19 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 April 2002). Three of the men were sentenced to death. The court reduced the prison terms of two underage members of the group from seven and 10 years, respectively, to six. LF

GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER FIRES LAND FORCES COMMANDER
Georgian Defense Minister Lieutenant General David Tevzadze has fired Nika Djandjgava as commander of Georgia's Land Forces following the latter's 19 July announcement that he and 101 other officers and NCOs of the crack Kodjori battalion had resigned their commissions to protest inadequate financing and incompetent commanders, Caucasus Press reported on 19 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). Reuters on 19 July quoted Tevzadze as saying he has rejected the other 101 resignations and that the officers in question remain at their posts and "the incident is over." Reports differ as to whether the Kodjori battalion, said to be "Tevzadze's brainchild," will be dissolved. Caucasus Press said other factors that may have influenced Tevzadze's decision to fire Djandjgava, including criticisms the latter is said to have made of the U.S.-funded "Train and Equip" program and a feud between Djandjgava and National Guard Commander Koba Kobaladze. LF

ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN WORKING GROUPS MEET...
The UN Coordinating Council working groups dealing with security issues and the repatriation of displaced persons to Abkhazia met separately on 20 July in Gali Raion, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. The Georgian delegation told the working group of security issues that it has withdrawn its regular army troops from Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge in compliance with a 2 April agreement. In a 10 July letter to the UN Security Council, U.S. Secretary General Kofi Annan said there are currently 370 Georgian border guards, 540 local National Guard reservists, and 17 members of a Georgian Defense Ministry coordinating group still in the gorge. The Abkhaz delegation headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba called for the complete demilitarization of the gorge. The working group for displaced persons appealed to the UN to dispatch to Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion a team of international experts to determine whether the situation there is stable enough for Georgian displaced persons to return. LF

...AS GEORGIAN PRESIDENT'S ABKHAZ ENVOY THREATENS TO RESIGN
Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze has warned that he may resign as Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's special envoy for Abkhazia in the light of belligerent statements by Abkhaz parliament in exile Chairman Tamaz Nadareishvili, Caucasus Press reported on 22 July, quoting "24 saati." Nadareishvili has reportedly called for a new Georgian guerrilla offensive to bring Abkhazia back under the control of the Georgian central government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). Nadareishvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 19 July that three members of the Abkhaz government in exile will attend the planned 31 July UN Security Council session on Abkhazia and submit to the council a petition with 1.5 million signatures calling for the withdrawal from Abkhazia of the CIS peacekeeping force and a UN peace-enforcement operation there. Speaking in Tbilisi on 22 July, Shevardnadze said Abashidze has not been able to cope with his duties as special envoy for Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported. LF

MISSING GEORGIAN BUSINESSMAN FOUND
Vita-Bank President Temur Datikashvili, who was reported missing last week, has reappeared in Tbilisi, Caucasus Press reported on 19 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). LF

TENSIONS AGAIN RISING ON KAZAKH-UZBEK BORDER
Leading members of the opposition Azat Party told a press conference in Almaty on 19 July that tensions are again on the rise in the villages of Baghys and Turkestanets on the Kazakh-Uzbek border, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Activist Aidar Abdrakhmanov, who was detained by Uzbek officials in December 2001 after residents proclaimed the village of Baghys an "Independent Baghys Republic," was again arrested following a new protest on 15 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 7 January 2002). LF

ANTITERRORISM COALITION IN KYRGYZSTAN AT FULL STRENGTH
The international troops stationed at Kyrgyzstan's Manas airport will not be increased from their present strength of over 1,800 men except in "exceptional circumstances," ITAR-TASS quoted the new commander of those forces, Brigadier General Robert Patrick, as saying on 19 July. Meanwhile the "Financial Times" reported on 22 July that Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev has publicly acknowledged that his Kazakh son-in-law Adil Toigonbaev is engaged in selling jet fuel to the base. The coalition forces have spent some $13 million on jet fuel since December 2001, the paper added. LF

TWO MILITANTS SENTENCED IN TAJIKISTAN
Tajikistan's Supreme Court has passed sentence on two members of the gang headed by Rakhmon Sanginov that was routed a year ago, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 22 July. One man was sentenced to death and a second to 22 years' imprisonment. The separate trial is continuing of 82 other members of Rakhmonov's band on charges of murder, banditry, hostage-taking and robbery (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 2002). LF

U.S. LAUNCHES TRAINING COURSE FOR UZBEK MILITARY
Instructors from the FBI have launched a two-week course to train 31 Uzbek Army and security officers to cope with attacks or accidents involving chemical or nuclear weapons, AP and Interfax reported on 18 and 19 July, respectively. The U.S. contingent will also present Uzbekistan with specialized equipment for that purpose valued at $270,000. LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY OVER HARVESTS...
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 21 July ordered his government to make sure that all grain in the country is harvested by 1 August, Belapan reported. The previous day, Lukashenka declared "a state of national emergency" in the agricultural sector. Lukashenka demanded that the entire agriculture industry work round-the-clock. He stressed that a harvest failure will result in grain and fodder shortages and force the country to import grain, thus undermining its economic independence. The president ordered Prime Minister Henadz Navitski and presidential administration chief Ural Latypau to set up a special harvesting headquarters to quickly deal with any problems that might arise. He also assigned top officials from different government departments to Belarus's six regions (two per region), giving them broad powers to manage the harvest. JM

...URGES CRACKDOWN ON 'VIOLATIONS' OF MEDIA LAW
"Top government members are clearly under attack, and the aim [of this attack] is to discredit them," President Lukashenka said on 18 July at a meeting with Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman and State Monitoring Committee Chairman Anatol Tozik, Belapan reported. Lukashenka called for a crackdown on "violations" of the country's media law. A correspondent of RFE/RL's Belarusian Service suggested on 19 July that Lukashenka's pronouncements are connected with a recent publication by the Minsk-based opposition newspaper "Nasha svaboda," which quotes an "analytical report" by Russian analysts implying that the Kremlin is working on scenarios to depose Lukashenka. JM

BELARUS, IRAQ REPORTEDLY MULL ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Belarus's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 19 July that last week's visit of an Iraqi delegation led by Deputy Premier Abdel-Tawab Mulla was devoted to discussing bilateral economic cooperation, AP reported. Iraq reportedly voiced interest in learning from Belarus's experience in the oil industry. The sides also looked at the prospect of assembling Belarusian engines and tractors in Iraq. The ministry said the sides did not touch upon military cooperation issues. "I can compare [this visit] to a meeting of two bandits who say that they are going to set up a symphonic orchestra," Alyaksandr Dabravolski, a leader of the opposition United Civic Party, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service on 19 July. "The [Belarusian] authorities...are looking for possibilities to earn some money from sales of military equipment and arms," Dabravolski added. Abdel-Tawab Mulla is also Iraqi's minister for military industry. JM

UKRAINE HOSTS GUAM SUMMIT
The presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova (GUAM) met in the Crimean resort of Yalta on 19-20 July and signed a number of accords, including on the creation of a free-trade zone and on combating money laundering, organized crime, and terrorism, Western and Ukrainian media reported. GUAM was set up in 1997 as a political, economic, and strategic alliance designed to seek mechanisms of interaction outside Russian influence. Uzbekistan joined in 1999, but announced last month that it was "suspending" its membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 26 June 2002). It was nonetheless represented at the Yalta summit by the Uzbek ambassador to Ukraine, Shakhmansur Shakhalilov. JM

METHANE BLAST KILLS SIX UKRAINIAN MINERS, WOUNDS 18
A methane explosion at the Yuvileyna coal mine in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast on 21 July killed six miners and wounded 18, UNIAN reported. The blast came two weeks after a fire killed 34 workers at another Ukrainian mine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). Since 1991, 3,700 miners have been killed in job-related accidents in Ukraine. JM

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL WANTS MELNYCHENKO TAPES TO BE VERIFIED ABROAD
Svyatoslav Pyskun, Ukraine's newly appointed prosecutor-general, has ordered a test abroad of secret recordings made by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko in President Leonid Kuchma's office that link the Ukrainian president to the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Reuters reported on 19 July. "The prosecutor-general has announced a full authentication in a third country, which has a high level of modern electronic technology and has not before taken part in the investigation of the tape," Pyskun said in a statement. He also ordered new genetic tests on a headless body believed to be that of Gongadze. JM

ESTONIA WEIGHS POSSIBILITY OF RAISING TAX-EXEMPT INCOME RATE
Leaders of the Estonian Central Trade Unions Association (EAKL) told Finance Minister Harri Ounapuu on 19 July that they plan to raise the issue of increasing the monthly tax-exempt income from the current 1,000 kroons ($65) to 1,400 kroons at the next round of three-way talks with the government and employers' organizations in August, BNS reported. This would raise all employees' monthly take-home salary by 104 kroons. EAKL is arguing that the higher exemption is needed because the tax burden has increased and will rise even more with the implementation of unemployment insurance, compulsory payments into pension funds, and health insurance. They also noted that in earlier three-way talks it was agreed that in principle the tax-exempt income rate should be raised to the level of the national minimum wage (1,600 kroons). Ounapuu noted that such a measure would negatively affect local governments' income-tax revenue, and would require the state to provide them compensation. SG

SELL-OFF OF LATVIA'S VENTSPILS NAFTA POSTPONED
Economy Minister Aigars Kalvitis declared on 19 July that his ministry and the Latvian Privatization Agency has postponed preparations for the sale of the state-owned 43.62 percent share of Ventspils Nafta (VN), BNS reported. A 5 percent share is to go to the joint-stock company Latvijas naftas tranzits (Latvian Oil Transit), which already holds about 47 percent of VN shares. The remaining 38.62 percent stake is to be privatized. He noted that in early July the ruling coalition council backed out of its previous plans to sell part of the company's state-owned shares for privatization vouchers and that it is likely that the sale will only be considered again after a new government is formed following the October parliament elections. The postponement was prompted by VN's purchase of a nearly 50 percent stake in Latvijas kugnieciba (Latvian Shipping Co.) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2002), which raised VN's value. SG

LITHUANIA NOT TO SIGN CFE TREATY BEFORE JOINING NATO
Deputy Defense Minister Jonas Gecas said on 19 July that Lithuania does not intend to sign the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty before joining NATO, BNS reported. The CFE treaty was signed in November 1990 by NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, but not by the Baltic states because they had not yet regained their independence. Gecas's statement was prompted by recent remarks made in Helsinki by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov that the entry of the Baltic states into NATO could destabilize the situation in the Baltic region since there is a danger that NATO would place large amounts of weapons there. Russian Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrei Nikolaev had said on 2 July that the Baltic states should sign the CFE treaty before entering NATO. Parliament NATO Affairs Commission Deputy Chairwoman Rasa Jukneviciene asserted that the Russian statements were primarily intended to discourage Western politicians from backing Baltic entry into NATO. Lithuania is expected to receive an invitation to join the alliance at the NATO summit in Prague in November. SG

POLISH PRESIDENT OFFERS 'GATEWAY' TO U.S. BUSINESSES...
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on 19 July, President Aleksander Kwasniewski said U.S. businesses could use Poland as a "wide gateway" for their operations as the European Union expands eastward and takes on new members, AP reported. Following his speech, the U.S. and Polish Chambers of Commerce signed a memorandum that commits both sides to help Polish companies "identify and form business partnerships with U.S. counterparts." The same day Kwasniewski wrapped up his three-day visit to the United States (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 July 2002) with a trip to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was shown weapons and gear used in the U.S.-led war on terrorism by soldiers who have returned from fighting in Afghanistan. JM

...ATTENDS BUNDESWEHR SWEAR-IN CEREMONY
President Kwasniewski joined German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and German Defense Minister Peter Struck in an annual ceremony in Berlin on 20 July to commemorate an unsuccessful 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and to swear in Bundeswehr new recruits, dpa and Reuters reported. Kwasniewski was the first foreign leader invited to speak at the ceremony. The Polish president noted that Poland and Germany, the erstwhile enemies, are now allies and good neighbors united in the common cause of peace and prosperity in Europe. "The very fact that I am standing here today is the best proof of the fact that our two peoples have been able to draw the correct conclusions from a tragic past," he said. JM

FORMER HEAD OF RFE POLISH SERVICE MOVES BACK TO POLAND
Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, the longtime director of the Polish Service of Radio Free Europe in Munich (1952-76), returned to Poland on 21 July after 56 years in exile, PAP reported. Following his retirement in 1977, he moved to the United States where he lobbied for an independent Poland and later for Poland's entry into NATO. Nowak-Jezioranski, 89, termed his return an "act of optimism and faith in the future despite the hard time Poland is facing." JM

US-DEU TO FIELD CANDIDATES FOR OVER HALF OF CONSTITUENCIES IN CZECH SENATE ELECTIONS
The Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU) wants to field candidates in 15 out of the 27 constituencies up for election in the Senate polls this autumn, CTK reported on 20 July, citing US-DEU Deputy Chairman Robert Kolar. This would leave the Christian Democratic Union-Popular Party (KDU-CSL) just 12 constituencies in which to field candidates. Last week, the two formations agreed to run separately in the Senate elections but to divide the constituencies among them and thus avoid running against each other. Kolar said the US-DEU should be allowed to field more candidates than the KDU-CSL, in view of the preferential voting that boosted KDU-CSL candidates in elections to the Chamber of Deputies in June. The KDU-CSL elected 22 deputies to the lower house of parliament, whereas the US-DEU elected just nine. MS

CZECH PREMIER MEETS LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla told visiting Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on 19 July that his government strongly endorses Lithuania's bid for NATO membership, CTK reported. Adamkus expressed Lithuania's appreciation for the support it has received from the Czech Republic, as well as for the extensive military ties between the two countries, noting that many Lithuanian officers study at Czech military academies. In response to a question from Spidla, Adamkus said Lithuania supports the European Union's position on requiring visas for Russian citizens transiting Lithuania to and from Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast, but added that his country is simultaneously searching for alternative solutions acceptable to both Brussels and Moscow. He added that Lithuania's relations with the Kaliningrad exclave are better than is reflected in media reports. MS

CZECH AUTHORITIES REGISTER FORMER PRAGUE MAYOR'S NEW PARTY
The European Democrats, a formation recently set up by former Prague Mayor Jan Kasl, was registered by the Interior Ministry on 19 July, CTK reported. Kasl said he was pleased by the speed in which the registration request was handled and added that now nothing prevents his formation from running in the November local elections in Prague. Kasl said the European Democrats will also run in regional elections and that he expects the party to become active at the national level within 18 months. MS

CZECH SKINHEADS CHARGED FOR DISTRIBUTING SUDETEN LEAFLET
Two skinheads from Usti nad Labem were charged on 19 July with inciting racial hatred after distributing leaflets calling for the return of the Sudetenland to Germany, CTK reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). Leaflets were found in their homes during a police search. MS

SLOVAK COURT ORDERS LEXA INTO CUSTODY
A Bratislava regional-court judge ordered on 20 July that former Slovak Information Service head Ivan Lexa be taken into custody, CTK reported. The judge rejected Lexa's written pledge to cooperate with law enforcement bodies if he was allowed to be investigated out of custody. Under current legislation Lexa can be kept in custody for up to three years. Lexa appealed the decision, which is to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. MS

U.S. SOLDIERS TRAINING IN SLOVAKIA
Some 200 U.S. soldiers, out of whom 20 are pilots, arrived on 19 July at the Kuchyna air base in Slovakia, where they are to conduct technical and navigational exercises, CTK reported, quoting a base spokesman. The U.S. military has used the base several times in the past. MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER TO APPEAR BEFORE INVESTIGATION COMMISSION
Peter Medgyessy announced on 19 July that he will appear on 1 August before the parliamentary investigative commission probing his past service in counterintelligence, Hungarian media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2002). The commission also decided to request that Interior Minister Monika Lamperth rescind the oath of secrecy of anyone who from 1978 onward headed the then-ministry's counterintelligence arm, Division III. In other news, the prime minister's office has compiled a list of about 190 cabinet members who were appointed after the change of regime, allowing the commission tasked with investigating cabinet members' past ties with state security services to obtain relevant data from various authorities based on that list. MSZ

HUNGARIAN CENTER-RIGHT MOVEMENT GETS GREEN LIGHT FOR REFERENDUM DRIVE
The National Election Commission on 19 July verified and authenticated the petition sheets of the center-right movement "Hajra Magyarorszag!" (Go Hungary!), which seeks to organize a referendum in order to bar foreigners and domestic or foreign companies from obtaining ownership of farmland, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Hajra Magyarorszag! submitted the petition seeking a binding referendum on 17 June. Unless the commission's decision is challenged before the Constitutional Court within 15 days, the movement will have four months at its disposal to collect the 200,000 signatures necessary to call for a referendum. The commission would then have to verify the signatures, leaving parliament to decide on staging the referendum. Former Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Csaba Hende, who is organizing the referendum drive, said the 150,000-strong Hajra Magyarorszag! will be able to collect the signatures quickly. MSZ

LABUS CONFIRMS DECISION TO RUN FOR THE SERBIAN PRESIDENCY
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Labus said in Belgrade on 22 July that he will be a candidate in the Serbian presidential elections scheduled for 29 September, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 19 July 2002). He told a news conference: "I have made the decision to run for the Serbian presidency and I deeply believe that I will win.... We find ourselves at a crossroads: we must decide whether to continue with reforms or drop them. I am convinced that as president of Serbia I can bring political peace to the country." Polls suggest that Labus, an ally of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, is the only candidate with a good chance of defeating Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica for the Serbian presidency. Kostunica, whose present job is likely to be abolished once Serbian and Montenegrin leaders agree on a legal framework for their new loose union, said in Belgrade on 19 July that he is opposed to holding a Serbian presidential vote until that legal framework has been agreed, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. PM

SERBIAN COMMISSION LOOKS INTO 'PAVKOVIC AFFAIR'
The Serbian parliament formed a commission on 19 July to investigate what has become known as the "Pavkovic affair," RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16, 17, and18 July 2002). The commission immediately summoned former Generals Milan Djakovic, Milen Simic, and Aleksandar Vasiljevic to testify before it on 22 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June and 1 July 2002). The commission also called for testimony from Ljiljana Nedeljkovic, who heads Yugoslav President Kostunica's office, and Vladimir Popovic, who heads the Serbian government's communications department. Pavkovic himself gave a formal disposition to the Belgrade police on 19 July. On 22 July, he repeated his version of developments in 2001 to the commission, AP reported. Elsewhere, Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) said it considers the commission a political instrument of Kostunica's rivals and is not to be taken seriously, "Vesti" reported on 21 July. PM

MILOSEVIC AIDE REFUSES TO TESTIFY
Former Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic said in The Hague on 22 July that he cannot testify against former President Slobodan Milosevic because he cannot legally discuss state or military secrets, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Service reported. He added that the Supreme Defense Council must release him from this obligation before he can testify. PM

SERBIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF PROMISES NEW APPROACH
Andrija Savic, who heads Serbia's secret police, told Reuters in Belgrade on 21 July that the new Security Information Agency will be a "modern and accountable" intelligence service, depoliticized and demilitarized. Savic added that the agency "has the support of all major intelligence services, from the United States and Great Britain to Russia and China." PM

MONTENEGRO TO VOTE ON 6 OCTOBER
President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 20 July that general elections will take place on 6 October, the same date that early local elections will be held in the capital, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). This is but the latest addition to a full election calendar in the former Yugoslavia. Macedonia holds general elections on 15 September, while Serbia chooses a president on 29 September. Bosnia holds general elections on 5 October, while Slovenia is expected to select a new president on 10 November. In related news, the OSCE joined NGOs and Djukanovic's supporters in criticizing the media legislation passed recently by his opponents in the parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 July 2002). The OSCE agreed that the legislation appears politically motivated and aimed at influencing the upcoming election campaign. PM

WHAT WAS UNDER DISCUSSION BETWEEN STEINER AND THE MONTENEGRINS?
Michael Steiner, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), met on 19 July with Djukanovic in Sveti Stefan, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. After the meeting, UNMIK said in a statement in Prishtina that the two discussed opening a customs office at the Kula border crossing on the Peja-Rozaje road. In Podgorica, however, the Montenegrin authorities said the agenda centered on refugee return, confidence-building, and the impact "on the region" of decisions reached by Serbia and Montenegro about their future relations. PM

POWER-PLANT FIRE IN KOSOVA
Steiner broke off his meetings in Montenegro and returned to Kosova on 19 July because of a major fire at the Kosova B power plant in Obilic, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Lightning struck some cables, thereby starting the blaze. The fire then touched off five explosions, which killed one Croatian engineer and injured 34 others. Power outages are no stranger to Kosova, but the province can now expect more outages than usual in the coming months. PM

CROATIA REJECTS SERBIAN CENSUS CHARGE
The Croatian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement on 19 July that it considers unacceptable a recent comment by Yugoslav Foreign Minster Goran Svilanovic about the latest Croatian population census, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 June 2002). Svilanovic said that the figures for Croatia's ethnic Serbian population show that much of the Serbian minority has been "ethnically cleansed." PM

CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER TO ANNOUNCE CABINET SOON
Ivica Racan said in Zagreb on 19 July that he expects to name his new cabinet shortly and that the parliament will vote to confirm it on either 26 or 27 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. PM

IMF WARNS BIG-SPENDING BOSNIANS
The IMF has threatened to withdraw a $100 million stand-by arrangement from Bosnia if the several parliaments in that country pass spending measures that exceed the budget, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Sarajevo on 19 July. PM

RULING ETHNIC ALBANIAN PARTY OFFICIALLY REGISTERED IN MACEDONIA
The leadership of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) announced on 19 July that it was officially registered by the Skopje Municipal Court on 5 July, the daily "Dnevnik" reported. That court had refused to register the party for five years because of the party flag as well as certain allegedly unconstitutional provisions in the party program. The party flag features a black double-headed eagle against a red background, similar to the Albanian national flag. "[The court has now] ruled that it is not the symbol of the Republic of Albania, since our double-headed eagle in many ways differs from the Albanian national flag," Deputy Party Chairman Bedredin Ibrahimi said. The PDSH was founded on 5 July 1997. UB

MIGRANTS DEAD IN COLLISION OFF ALBANIAN COAST
At least two Albanians were killed and many more injured late on 21 July when an Italian coastguard patrol boat collided with a dinghy that was packed with Albanian illegal migrants, Reuters reported. The Italian ship was attempting to force the dinghy back to shore just off Vlora when the accident occurred. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER REITERATES DETERMINATION TO CLEANSE OWN PARTY OF CORRUPTION
Addressing a meeting of the Social Democratic Party's (PSD) Central Executive Bureau on 19 July, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said all PSD officials involved in corruption affairs must resign from the party, Romanian television reported. He said that if those officials fail to do so of their own accord, they will be dismissed from the PSD. The PSD, he said, will offer no "political protection" for anyone suspected of involvement in corruption scandals and will "make no exception" when it comes to respecting the letter of the law. MS

ROMANIAN RULING PARTY, ALLY EXTEND PACT
Nastase and Romanian Humanist Party (PUR) Chairman Dan Voiculescu signed an agreement on 19 July extending the cooperation pact between their formations until the end of 2004, Mediafax reported. The PUR ran on joint lists with the PSD in the 2000 elections. MS

UDMR SETS CONDITIONS ON AMENDING ROMANIAN CONSTITUTION...
Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), told Mediafax on 20 July that the UDMR will support amending Romania's Constitution only if one of the amendments allows for the use of minority mother tongues in courts. Marko said the UDMR is not satisfied with the document worked out by representatives of the parliamentary parties stipulating what constitutional changes would be worked out, and that none of the UDMR's demands are included on that list. Marko, speaking at a forum of young ethnic Hungarians in Mitresti, Mures County, also said that one of the main reasons for the decline of the ethnic Hungarian population in Transylvania is emigration to Hungary and that the problem can only be solved through agreements between the two country's governments. He said that while Hungary can recruit elites from among ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries, it should also remember that it has an interest in the survival of ethnic Hungarian communities in their native lands and that this can only be ensured through economic and social cooperation between Hungary and its neighbors. MS

...WHILE PRM WITHDRAWS FROM COMMISSION ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
The Standing Bureau of the Greater Romania Party (PRM) decided on 19 July to withdraw its representatives from the ad hoc parliamentary Commission on Constitutional Amendments. A PRM press release cited by Romanian radio said that the country has "other priorities than amending the constitution," naming among those priorities "poverty, criminality, and institutionalized corruption." The constitution, the PRM said, "must be respected, not modified." MS

INTERIM ROMANIAN LIBERAL LEADER PLEDGES LOYALTY TO DOCTRINE
Theodor Stolojan, the interim leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL), told journalists on 20 July that if elected PNL chairman he will not lead the party in a leftist direction, Mediafax reported. Stolojan, who was premier in 1991-92 in a coalition government dominated by the leftist National Salvation Front (today's PSD), thus rejected the criticism recently made regarding his possible election as PNL chairman by Victor Ciorbea, chairman of the national Peasant Party Christian Democratic. He said the PNL is a "political adversary, but not the political enemy" of the PSD and that despite their differences the two parties can conduct a dialogue on Romania's current and future problems. "There are [general] interests that go beyond what the PSD or the PNL believe in," he said, naming NATO and EU integration, privatization, and combating corruption as issues that "concern Romania as a whole and not one political party or another." MS

FLOODS RAVAGE ROMANIA
Five people drowned in floods following heavy rain in several areas of Romania over the weekend and a seven-year-old boy is missing, AP reported, citing police sources. Flooding has affected northern, eastern, and southeastern Romania, swamping 4,600 hectares of farmland and 1,500 homes. Some bridges were swept away by floodwaters, leaving several roads impassable, while drinking water and power supplies were cut in about 50 towns. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT UNDER RUSSIAN PRESSURE ON OSCE DRAFT?
Sources close to President Vladimir Voronin told Flux on condition of anonymity on 20 July that the president's recently expressed support for the OSCE's plan for settling the Transdniester conflict resulted from strong pressure from Russia. The sources noted that in his 17 July message expressing support for the plan, Voronin said the proposal could be "formulated differently." They said Voronin was forced to accept the plan, which envisages Moldova's federalization, after a long meeting with Russia's Ambassador to Moldova Pavel Petrovskii. The sources also claimed that parallel to that meeting, Yurii Shestak, the embassy's political counselor, traveled to Tiraspol and met with the separatist leadership, urging it to accept the proposal. According to the sources, in contrast to Tiraspol "Foreign Minister" Valerii Litskay, separatist leader Igor Smirnov and Supreme Soviet Chairman Grigorii Marakutsa refused to heed the appeal and insisted that Moldova be a confederation rather than a federal state. MS

GOVERNMENT APPROVES PRESIDENTIAL DRAFT ON TELERADIO MOLDOVA
The Moldovan government on 20 July approved President Voronin's draft on setting up the "Teleradio Moldova public company," Flux reported. Justice Minister Ion Morei said the company's denomination is in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Morei urged the government to forward the draft to parliament with the recommendation that it be debated under urgency procedure. The cabinet approved an amendment to the draft proposed by Culture Minister Ion Pacuraru that obligates Teleradio Moldova to promote "the authentic values of national culture and of the cultures of national minorities." MS

RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION AGAIN PROTESTS BULGARTABAC PRIVATIZATION...
On 19 July, the presidential administration of the Russian Federation for the fourth time sent a note to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry underscoring its claims on Bulgartabac property, "Dnevnik" reported. According to the newspaper, Russia wants the Bulgartabac tender to be suspended until the disputed property issue is resolved. Russia claims that the Soviet Union granted Bulgaria use of the factories under a 1953 lease agreement. In the note, the Russian side warned that should the privatization process continue, all provisions regarding the Russian property will be considered null and void by Russia. The Soviet Union obtained ownership of the factories in 1946 as part of Bulgaria's war reparations. UB

...WHILE BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS RUSSIAN CLAIMS UNFOUNDED
Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev told parliament on 19 July that Russia's claims to Bulgartabac property are groundless, "Dnevnik" reported. Vasilev said that a number of bilateral agreements between 1949-55 handed ownership of the disputed Russian property that houses 12 factories back to Bulgaria. Vasilev said the contents of the agreements are secret, and thus the Bulgarian government cannot publish them to provide evidence supporting the state tobacco company's claims to the property. The bidding process for Bulgartabac ends on 22 July. UB

There is no End Note today.


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