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Newsline - September 4, 2002


FEDERATION COUNCIL URGES CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF GEORGIAN PRESIDENT...
Federation Council member Aleksandr Nazarov on 4 September submitted an official request in the name of the upper chamber to the Prosecutor-General's Office asking for an investigation into whether Eduard Shevardnadze exceeded his authority while serving as Soviet foreign minister in 1990, strana.ru and Ekho Moskvy radio reported. The request stems from the 1990 agreement that delimits the border between Russia and the United States in the Bering Sea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002), which transferred rich fishing grounds to the United States. If an investigation determines that Shevardnadze, who is now president of Georgia, did exceed his authority in signing the pact, Nazarov will ask for a criminal case to be filed against him. Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov, who coordinates contacts between the upper chamber and the U.S. Senate, told ORT that Russia is raising the issue not in order to start a conflict but in order to alleviate undercurrents of tension that are hampering bilateral cooperation. VY

...WHILE RUSSIA MULLS RECONSIDERING OTHER INTERNATIONAL PACTS
Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Aleksandr Torshin told Ekho Moskvy that the 1990 Bering Sea agreement is not the only international document that might be reconsidered, RosBalt reported on 4 September. Torshin said that several unspecified agreements with CIS countries could be reviewed. The basic criterion for examining the agreements will be the extent to which they correspond to Russia's national interests. "First of all, these will be documents dealing with economic matters," Torshin was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, strana.ru called for the revision of "the political heritage of Shevardnadze." RC

NO BREAKTHROUGH ON KALININGRAD DURING PUTIN, RAU TALKS...
President Vladimir Putin told journalists after meeting with his German counterpart Johannes Rau in Moscow on 3 September that they discussed a number of issues, including the payment of Russian debts to Germany, Russian news agencies reported on 4 September. Putin announced that Russia will accelerate payments in order to assist Germany in the wake of this summer's devastating floods. Putin also confirmed that they discussed the problem of the Kaliningrad exclave but stopped short of saying that progress had been made. For his part, Rau said the two countries "have a lot in common, but they have differences too." Rau added that he believes a compromise on Kaliningrad can be reached that will satisfy both Russia and the European Union, perhaps as early as next month. However, he stressed that the status of his office does not allow him to take part formally in the process but only to give advice. VY

...AS ENVOY HINTS EU-RUSSIA SUMMIT MIGHT BE POSTPONED
Duma Deputy Dmitrii Rogozin, President Putin's envoy on Kaliningrad and chairman of the Duma Foreign Relations Committee, stated after talks with EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Chris Patten in Brussels on 2-3 September that Moscow is working to save the Russia-EU summit scheduled for November in Copenhagen, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 4 September. Rogozin endorsed President Putin's recent call for visa-free travel between Russia and the EU (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2002), describing it as "a gigantic step" toward the EU's position on Kaliningrad. However, he warned, "There is a limit to any compromises." "For us, Kaliningrad is not a bargaining chip, but an issue of our strategic partnership with the West and our national security," Rogozin said. "Russia understands EU concerns about illegal emigration and is also fighting against it by adopting new, harsher laws. But it is complete idiocy to end the Cold War, to break down the Berlin Wall, and then build a new wall much farther east." VY

KRASNOYARSK RACE KEEPS GETTING DIRTIER
The election campaigns of a number of candidates for the post of governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai have strayed outside the bounds of the law, strana.ru reported on 4 September, citing Central Election Commission member Sergei Bolshakov. Bolshakov said that his agency has received more than 400 complaints of election-law violations. It cannot be said that the candidates "have begun conducting themselves for the most part within the norms of morality and the law," Bolshakov was quoted as saying. He added that some unspecified mass-media outlets "are clearly working on behalf of one or another of the candidates." Voting will take place on 8 September. RC

RUSSIA SEEKS REMOVAL FROM FATF 'BLACKLIST'
Viktor Zubkov, head of the Committee for Financial Monitoring (Russia's financial-intelligence agency), has said that Russia meets all the requirements set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the G-7's financial-security agency that tracks money laundering, Russian news agencies reported on 4 September. Speaking to law enforcement officers in Tula, Zubkov said that two years ago the FATF included Russia on its blacklist of countries that tolerate money laundering because it did not have an agency combating money laundering or adequate anti-money laundering legislation. In February, a law on money laundering was adopted and the Committee for Financial Monitoring was created. Speaking after Zubkov, Central Bank Deputy Chairman Viktor Melnikov noted that his institution has probed over 1,200 Russian banks, and found that about 10 percent were guilty of money-laundering violations. He added that banks caught money laundering will have their licenses revoked. VY

GOVERNMENT ADOPTS ENVIRONMENTAL DOCTRINE
The government's Information Department announced on 3 September that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a national environmental doctrine, RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported. The document formulates state policy concerning environmental protection and lays out priorities for implementing that policy. The doctrine includes such measures as incorporating into economic indicators the full cost of environmental impact, plus costs associated with protecting the environment. It also calls for the creation of a mechanism for collecting payments from natural-resources developers and the distribution of these funds for environmental preservation. The government also directed all relevant organizations to submit plans for implementing the doctrine by 15 November. VY

SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY INSPECTS FAR EAST
Addressing regional security and law enforcement officials in Khabarovsk on 3 September, State Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo said that Russia faces extremely complicated problems connected with "a new stage in the opening up of the Far East," polit.ru reported. Among the problems, Rushailo named high immigration from Far Eastern regions, plundering of local natural resources, the activity of criminal organizations in vital economic sectors, and logistical difficulties supporting the regional military infrastructure. Rushailo, who is inspecting Far Eastern civilian and military installations at the request of President Putin, added that the most acute problem is emigration from the region, which reached 1.2 million people over the last decade. VY

NEW RESOURCE TO HELP BUREAUCRATS TALK GOOD
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 4 September published an official handbook for government bureaucrats and State Duma deputies on the pronunciation of difficult Russian words, Ekho Moskvy reported. The handbook, which contains the correct pronunciation of more than 800 problematic words, was prepared by experts of St. Petersburg State University following a visit there in the spring by Lyudmila Putina. According to the report, the handbook will soon be published as a separate volume and, most likely, will be distributed to Duma deputies during the fall session. RC

DEPUTY REPORTEDLY REAPS BIG REWARDS FOR LOBBYING EFFORTS
"Novaya gazeta," No. 64, has reported new information on the suspicious lobbying activities of Duma Deputy and Unity faction Deputy Chairman Vladislav Reznik. In July, the paper reported on Reznik's behind-the-scenes efforts to promote amendments to the Tax Code that were in the interests of foreign tobacco producers, despite the fact that he personally voted -- like most of his faction -- for the Kremlin's version of the changes. In its latest issue, "Novaya gazeta" reports that Reznik sold a 50.2 percent stake in the insurance company Rus to a holding company controlled by German insurer Alte Leipziger for $10 million. Rus is Russia's 118th largest insurance company and, for comparison, the paper noted that MDM-Bank recently sold a 33 percent stake in RESO-Garantiya -- one of the country's 10 largest insurers -- for $8 million. The paper speculates that the deal might have resulted from Reznik's lobbying efforts in June to lift restrictions on foreign insurance companies on the Russian market. "[Reznik's] initiatives on changing the legal norms for many European and American insurance companies show amazing word-for-word coincidences with statements of representatives of those companies," the paper wrote. The weekly went on to speculate whether the high price of the Rus deal included "a very significant sum for certain services rendered." RC

PROSECUTORS QUESTION SECOND WRITER IN PORNOGRAPHY PROBE
Writer Kirill Vorobev, known under the pen name Bayan Shiryanov, was questioned by prosecutors on 3 September in connection with an investigation into complaints that his works are pornographic, strana.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. The investigation was started after a complaint by the pro-Putin youth movement Moving Together asserted that Vorobev's novel "Mid-Level Pilotage" is pornographic and promotes drug use (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). According to Vorobev's lawyer, "the meeting was fairly formal and was conducted in an atmosphere of goodwill." Vorobev's novel is currently undergoing literary analysis by experts from the Union of Writers and the Institute of the Russian Language. Based on the results of that analysis, a decision will be made concerning the possible filing of criminal charges. Avant-garde writer Vladimir Sorokin already faces such charges based on a similar Moving Together complaint. RC

GAS GIANT ACCELERATES PROCESS OF SELLING MEDIA HOLDINGS
Gazprom intends to ask a court to lift the freeze on the shares of Media-MOST that it acquired from Vladimir Gusinskii, apparently in a move to speed up the sell-off of Gazprom-Media's holdings, gazeta.ru reported on 3 September. According to NTV General Director Boris Jordan, the company's main task is "to rationalize and consolidate all its shares." "At present," Jordan added, "all these shares are on the balance sheets of different [Gazprom] subsidiaries and we need to consolidate all these packets so that the holding has direct control of 100 percent of NTV, 100 percent of NTV+, etc." Jordan said that he hopes this process can be completed and that NTV and other Gazprom-Media companies can be sold during 2003. RC

YET ANOTHER RNE REGIONAL BRANCH FACING CLOSURE
Omsk Oblast Prosecutor Sergei Kazakov has filed an appeal to an oblast court asking it to rescind the registration of the local branch of the nationalist political party Russian National Unity (RNE), lenta.ru and RIA-Novosti reported on 4 September. According to Kazakov's press service, the prosecutor believes that RNE's charter and its emblem -- a stylized swastika -- are in violation of federal law. The party is also charged with inflaming racial, ethnic, and religious hatred, as well as slandering the authorities. The local RNE branch in Tomsk is also being challenged in court and branches in Khabarovsk Krai, Primore, and the Republic of Karelia have already been liquidated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June and 30 July 2002). RC

EIGHT CHECHEN POLICE OFFICERS DIE IN EXPLOSION
Eight Chechen police officers were killed late on 2 September when the truck in which they were traveling was destroyed by an explosion in the town of Shali, Russian news agencies and Reuters reported the following day. Colonel General Vladimir Moltenskoi, who commands the combined Russian force in Chechnya, said the truck hit a landmine laid by Chechen militants, while the Russian human rights commissioner for Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov pointed out that the explosion did not leave a crater like exploding landmines do and was probably the result of friendly fire from Russian troops, Interfax reported. LF

ARMENIAN PREMIER'S PARTY REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT
Galust Sahakian, who heads the parliamentary faction of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), told a press conference in Yerevan on 3 September that the HHK continues to support President Robert Kocharian "in line with our previous agreements," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He added that the HHK will "most likely" back Kocharian's candidacy in the February 2003 presidential election, according to Mediamax, as cited by Groong. Sahakian also downplayed the harsh criticism of Markarian expressed by several local government heads last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002). LF

FORMER ARMENIAN RULING PARTY WILL NOT JOIN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE
The Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) will not join the coalition of 16 opposition parties formed last week, HHSh election-campaign strategist Tigran Hakobian told RFE/RL on 3 September. He explained that the HHSh has grounds to believe that despite their criticism of the existing leadership, some unidentified parties in that alignment continue to cooperate with it. He further pointed out that the 16 have diverging priorities and ideologies, and predicted that their alliance will prove to be short-lived. LF

ARMENIAN REGIONAL TV STATION APPEALS TO PROSECUTOR-GENERAL
The founder and executive director of a television station in the town of Abovian have complained to the Prosecutor-General's Office that the police investigation into an assault on them on 24 August lacks objectivity, according to Arminfo on 3 September, as cited by Groong. The two executives were attacked and badly beaten by young men whom they believe were hired for that purpose by Abovian Mayor Karapet Israelian in retaliation for criticisms aired by the station. The two told journalists on 3 September that Abovian police began investigating the assault only after they complained to Interior Minister Haik Harutiunian, and have rejected medical reports detailing the injuries the two sustained. LF

TRUST IN ARMENIAN PRESS PLUMMETS
Only 1.5 percent of Armenians currently trust the print media compared with 80 percent five-six years ago, Caucasus Media Institute Deputy Director Mark Grigorian told journalists in Yerevan on 3 September, Noyan Tapan reported. Grigorian attributed the current "crisis" in the Armenian print media partly to a fall in the purchasing power of the population and partly to the fact that much reporting on domestic political developments is dull and unreliable. Grigorian urged print journalists to be more analytical and investigative in their reporting. LF

KARABAKH OFFICIAL DENIES KURDS BEING RESETTLED ON OCCUPIED AZERBAIJANI TERRITORY
David Mikaelian, who heads the government press service of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, has rejected as "absurd" Azerbaijani media claims that the Armenian authorities plan to resettle some 300 Kurdish families in the enclave, according to Arminfo on 3 September, as cited by Groong. On 31 August the Azerbaijani opposition paper "Yeni Musavat" published a report by the Olaylar news agency claiming that 300 families of former PKK fighters killed fighting the Turkish authorities have been resettled in the Lachin and Kelbadjar raions of Azerbaijan, both of which are under Armenian control. LF

AZERBAIJANI MILITARY CADETS LAUNCH PROTEST
Some 3,000 cadets from Azerbaijan's Higher Military Academy staged a walkout on 3 September to protest harsh conditions, poor food, and mistreatment by the college's administrative and teaching staff, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported. They claim the situation at the college deteriorated after the departure of Turkish instructors. Some 600 cadets returned to the college on 4 September and several hundred parents have gathered outside the premises. Turan reported on 4 September that the cadets are demanding a meeting with senior Defense Ministry personnel and President Heidar Aliev, and the return of the Turkish instructors. ITAR-TASS reported the same day that Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev went to the college late on 3 September. LF

PROSECUTOR SEEKS PRISON TERMS FOR SUPPORTERS OF FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT
The prosecutor has called for prison terms from 7.5 to 10 years for five supporters of former President Ayaz Mutalibov accused of planning to mount a coup d'etat in October 2001, "Azadlyg" and Interfax reported on 3 September. The trial opened on 14 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 August 2002). LF

AZERBAIJAN, PAKISTAN PLAN TO EXPAND ECONOMIC, MILITARY COOPERATION
An Azerbaijani government delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yakub Eyyubov is currently attending the second session of the Azerbaijani-Pakistani joint ministerial commission in Islamabad, AFP reported on 3 September. Eyyubov and Pakistani Defense Secretary Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Nawaz Khan have reached an agreement whereby Pakistan will provide free training for Azerbaijani army and air force officers. Khan also informed Eyyubov that Azerbaijani Airlines may resume flights to Pakistan at any time. Pakistan has also offered to provide storage facilities for Azerbaijani goods in transit by road or air to other countries, according to dpa on 3 September. In addition, Pakistan's Privatization Minister Saleem Altaf has offered to make available expertise in the banking, petroleum, and software sectors. LF

GEORGIA WILL NOT SERVE AS BASE FOR POSSIBLE U.S. STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ
Georgian military bases will not be used in the event that the United States launches military strikes against Iraq as the distances involved are too great, President Eduard Shevardnadze said on Georgian Television late on 2 September, according to Interfax the following day. LF

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR LEVELS NEW ACCUSATIONS AGAINST GEORGIA
In an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 4 September, Vladimir Gudev, who is Russia's ambassador to Georgia, traced the ongoing deterioration in bilateral relations to Tbilisi's refusal at the time of the Chechen attack on Daghestan in August 1999 either to close its border with Chechnya or to allow Russian troops stationed in Georgia to do so. Gudev also said that the two Russian military helicopters shot down in Chechnya over the past 10 days were "probably" targeted by weapons brought into Chechnya via Georgian territory. LF

RUSSIA REFUSES TO RELEASE GEORGIAN BORDER GUARDS
The three armed Georgian border guards detained on 2 September after inadvertently straying onto the territory of the Russian Federation will be released only after an enquiry establishes their identity and whether or not they entered Russia deliberately, Russian Federal Border Guard Service official Lieutenant General Aleksandr Manilov told Interfax on 3 September. LF

RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS DENY INVOLVEMENT IN ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN CLASH
A spokesman for the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone denied on 3 September that members of the Russian force encircled Georgian guerrillas in the village of Khumushkuri, Caucasus Press reported. Three of the Georgian guerrillas were killed and two injured in a shootout with Abkhaz security troops on 31 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002). Meanwhile, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba blamed the Khumushkuri incident on the Georgian authorities, including parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze, whom he accused of providing unspecified assistance to the Georgian guerrillas, Caucasus Press reported. Burdjanadze reportedly said in a recent interview that the Georgian guerrillas active in Abkhazia should not be considered as terrorists or militants ("boeviki"). Meeting on 3 September, Georgian Minister for Special Assignments Malkhaz Kakabadze and Major General Kazi Ashfaq Ahmed, who is the chief military observer of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, characterized the situation in the Abkhaz conflict zone as "stable," Caucasus Press reported. LF

KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST DETAINED
Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Chairman Tursunbek Akunov, who is one of the leaders of the Movement for the Resignation of President Askar Akaev, was forcibly detained and driven away by unknown men in the southern district of Aksy on 3 September, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. LF

KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTER PROPOSES CHECKING OPPOSITION GROUPS' FINANCING
Speaking on 3 September at the opening session of the Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of parliament), Nikolai Tanaev proposed investigating how the opposition parties planning a protest march to Bishkek are financed, Interfax reported. He accused "so-called human rights organizations" of deliberately fuelling tensions and aspiring to power, and said that the government will take all necessary measures to preserve political stability. Kyrgyz State Secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov issued a similar warning last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2002). LF

SECURITY OFFICIAL SAYS ISLAMIC ORGANIZATION 'THIRD FORCE' IN KYRGYZ POLITICS
The banned Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir operates in close conjunction with Al-Qaeda and the outlawed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and has become a "third force" that intends, together with drug traffickers, to destabilize the political situation in Kyrgyzstan, National Security Service Director Kalyk Imankulov told Interfax on 3 September. He said Hizb ut-Tahrir is "undoubtedly financed from abroad," and that it draws support primarily from the poorer strata of the population. Some 82 percent of Kyrgyz families live below the poverty line, and almost 40 percent of the country's 5 million population subsist on per-capita incomes of less than 140 soms ($3) per month. Imankulov said membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir is officially estimated at 2,000, but may be much higher. LF

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS TAJIKISTAN
On a brief visit to Dushanbe on 3 September, Dominique de Villepin thanked Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov for his country's support for the international antiterrorism operation in Afghanistan, and expressed the hope that "Tajikistan will become a real political partner," AP reported. He passed to Rakhmonov an invitation from French President Jacques Chirac to visit France next year. LF

TURKMENISTAN RESPONDS TO RUSSIAN CASPIAN PROPOSAL
Meeting in Ashgabat on 3 September with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari, who is Tehran's special representative for Caspian issues, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov affirmed that his country's position regarding the Caspian remains unchanged, turkmenistan.ru reported. Niyazov said Ashgabat advocates a 15-nautical mile national zone plus an economic zone, the extent of which should be agreed on in talks between the five littoral states. Russian diplomat Andrei Urnov has proposed extending the existing national zones from 10 to 15 nautical miles, according to Turan on 26 August. LF

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT DECREES ACCREDITATION OF POLLING AGENCIES
The government has passed a resolution whereby all legal entities dealing with public-opinion polls on the political and social situation in the country are required to obtain official accreditation in order to pursue their activities, Belapan reported on 4 September. The resolution provides for the creation of a Commission for Studies of Public Opinion under the National Academy of Sciences to issue this accreditation. The commission is obliged within three months to work out a procedure and conditions for granting accreditation to agencies that conduct and publish public-opinion polls pertaining to "nationwide referendums, elections of the president of the Republic of Belarus, deputies of the Chamber of Representatives and members of the Council of the Republic, and the social and political situation in the country." JM

BELARUSIAN GROUP TO SEEK REFERENDUM ON INTEGRATION WITH RUSSIA
More than 60 people have set up an initiative group to seek a referendum in Belarus on integration with Russia, Belapan reported on 4 September. The group is headed by Alyaksandr Yarashuk, the leader of Belarus's Trade Union of Workers of the Agro-Industrial Complex, who recently criticized President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for his failure to support the merger of the two states (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August). The group adopted an appeal to Lukashenka, other political leaders, and Belarusian citizens with a proposal to organize a "constructive nationwide discussion" that could lead to the formulation of questions for a future referendum. JM

WILL OUR UKRAINE PROTEST ON 16 SEPTEMBER?
"I support the protest actions [planned by the opposition to start on 16 September] because they are an adequate reaction to activities of the authorities who do not see or hear anything," UNIAN quoted Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko as saying on 3 September. Asked why Our Ukraine has not announced that it will join the "Rise Up, Ukraine!" protest campaign on 16 September, Yushchenko gave a vague answer. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Popular Rukh, a member of the Our Ukraine bloc, has reportedly decided to join the 16 September protest. Hennadiy Udovenko, the leader of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine (another constituent of Our Ukraine), told UNIAN that Our Ukraine regional branches have been given the right to decide on their own whether to join the protest campaign. Our Ukraine intends to hold a forum of democratic forces in Kyiv on 14-15 September, to which it invited President Leonid Kuchma and a number of opposition leaders, including Yuliya Tymoshenko, Oleksandr Moroz, and Petro Symonenko. JM

PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION WANTS UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO BE INDICTED IN GONGADZE CASE
The Verkhovna Rada's ad hoc commission for investigating the disappearance of Heorhiy Gongadze has decided to address a request to the Prosecutor-General's Office to instigate criminal proceedings against President Leonid Kuchma and other current and former top officials over the kidnapping of the journalist, UNIAN reported on 3 September, quoting lawmaker Hryhoriy Omelchenko, the chairman of the commission. "There is sufficient evidence indicating that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Verkhovna Rada head Volodymyr Lytvyn, former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, and lawmaker Leonid Derkach were collaborators in crime as organizers of the kidnapping of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze," Omelchenko said. Meanwhile, police have arrested Serhiy Obozov, the prosecutor of Tarashcha Raion where Gongadze's decapitated body was found nearly two years ago. "Obozov is not the last official to be arrested in the [Gongadze] case," Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun told journalists on 3 September. He did not comment on the charges against Obozov. JM

UKRAINE SEEKS MARKET-ECONOMY STATUS WITH EU
Ukrainian President Kuchma requested on 3 September that the European Union grant his country market-economy status as it did for Russia earlier this year, AP reported. Kuchma made the request at a meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Prodi reportedly responded that the European Commission will issue its opinion in six months. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES KYOTO PROTOCOL
By a unanimous tally of 66 votes, the parliament on 3 September ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Climate Change Framework Convention, ETA and BNS reported. The protocol obliges Estonia by 2008-12 to reduce its greenhouse-gases emissions by 8 percent from the 1990 level. This will not be difficult to accomplish because greenhouse-gases emissions in the country have already fallen by 56 percent since 1990. The protocol also allows Estonia to conclude international agreements on the exchange of pollution quotas. Environment Minister Heiki Kranich said that projects are being prepared with the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, and Sweden by which those countries will invest in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions in Estonia, but the reductions will be applied to their countries. Estonia signed the Kyoto Protocol in October 2001 and it will come into effect once it is ratified by at least 55 countries. SG

LATVIA REFUSES VISA FOR ZHIRINOVSKII
Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Vilmars Henins told LETA on 3 September that Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovskii's application for a visa to visit Latvia has been turned down. The chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Duma deputy speaker applied on 30 August for a visa for 4-10 September to attend the celebrations for the fifth anniversary of the television show "Balzams dveselei" (Balsam to the Soul). According to the daily "Diena," Zhirinovskii sent a letter to Latvian Ambassador to Russia Normans Penke declaring that he would demand Penke's expulsion from Russia if his visa was not granted. Latvia declared Zhirinovskii persona non grata in 1993. SG

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS LATVIA
Valdas Adamkus began a two-day visit to Latvia on 3 September with talks with his Latvian counterpart Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Baltic news agencies reported. The presidents agreed that their countries have excellent bilateral relations and can cooperate in achieving their common goals of membership in the European Union and NATO. They discussed the U.S. request that the two countries sign accords that would exempt U.S. citizens from extradition to the proposed International Criminal Court, but noted that they will not make any decision before the EU adopts its formal position. In a speech at the University of Latvia, Adamkus called for greater regional cooperation between Central and Eastern European countries. He also held separate talks with parliament Deputy Chairman Rihards Piks, Riga Mayor Gundars Bojars, and Prime Minister Andris Berzins. SG

LITHUANIAN ECONOMY MINISTER URGES GOVERNMENT NOT TO BUY MAZEIKIAI OIL SHARES FROM WILLIAMS
Petras Cesna told the parliament on 3 September that the government should not exercise its option to purchase part of the stake in Mazeikiai Oil that Williams International has agreed to sell to the Russian oil firm Yukos (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August 2002), ELTA reported. Cesna said that although Yukos would have operational control of Mazeikiai Oil with 53.7 percent of its shares should it acquire Williams's stake, Lithuania is considering selling part of its stake because the government would retain a veto right on a number of issues as long as it owns a 10 percent stake. Cesna stressed that the main objective is to make Mazeikiai Oil profitable so the state can recover the loans and state guarantees it granted to the company. The government is now trying to change the operation agreement it signed with Williams, as it considers the agreement unfavorable to the state. SG

POLISH SERVICEMEN CHARGED WITH DRUG DEALING
Twelve servicemen of the chemical-defense regiment in Brodnica (northern Poland) have been put on trial at a military court for possessing and distributing drugs, Polish television reported on 3 September. Those charged with distribution of drugs face up to eight years in prison while those who purchased the narcotics face three years' imprisonment. Meanwhile, police have recently shut down a methamphetamine drug lab near Warsaw, seizing some $365,000 worth of the narcotic, Polish radio reported the same day. JM

SEVEN CANDIDATES WANT TO RUN FOR WARSAW MAYOR
Seven politicians have announced their intention to run for the politically prominent post of Warsaw mayor in the 27 October local election, PAP reported on 3 September. They are: Marek Balicki (Democratic Left Alliance), Andrzej Olechowski (Civic Platform), Lech Kaczynski (Law and Justice), Janusz Piechocinski (Peasant Party), Antoni Macierewicz (League of Polish Families), Henryk Dzido (Self-Defense), and Zbigniew Bujak (Freedom Union). According to a poll published by "Zycie Warszawy" on 2 September, Kaczynski would win 34.6 percent if elections were held today and would face Olechowski (25 percent) in the second round. JM

CZECH COALITION LEADERS AGREE ON REVISED TAX-HIKE PROPOSAL
Leaders of the three-party coalition -- the Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Party-Peoples' Party (KDU-CSL), and the Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU) on 3 September reached agreement on a tax-hike proposal intended to help cover the estimated 90 billion crowns ($2.97 billion) of damage caused by the floods, CTK reported. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla had announced an agreement on 2 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002) but was contradicted the same day by US-DEU acting Chairman Ivan Pilip. Pilip said that while his party considers tax increases on tobacco products and alcohol feasible, it opposes raising the maximum income tax to 37 percent, as such a step would run against the US-DEU's program. The coalition partners subsequently agreed to raise the income tax to a maximum of 35 percent. If approved by parliament, the tax increases would be in force for not longer than three years. The coalition leaders also agreed on a proposal to lower the corporate-income tax from the current 31 percent to 28 percent as of 2004. MS

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT REQUESTS 1 BILLION EUROS FOR FLOOD RELIEF
The European Parliament has requested 1 billion euros ($984 million) from the European Commission and European Union countries for immediate aid to Central European countries hit by the recent floods, CTK reported on 3 September. Unidentified sources told the news agency that the Czech Republic could receive one-tenth of the aid. The same day, EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen noted that Czech public support for EU membership has risen considerably as a result of the union's quick response following the floods, but warned that the EU must show solidarity and continue to provide aid to affected countries. MS

FUTURE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS ATTACK AGAINST IRAQ WOULD THREATEN COALITION
Jan Kavan, who will be president of the upcoming 57th session of the UN General Assembly, told CTK on 3 September that military action against Iraq at this time would lead to the break-up of the international coalition against terrorism. In a telephone interview from Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the former Czech Foreign Minister said that as next General Assembly president he must represent the opinion of the majority of UN members. He said that, like most EU states, most UN members believe a diplomatic, rather than a military solution, should be sought. "I continue to hope that [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein, under pressure from the international community, will begin fulfilling [UN] resolutions, especially allowing the unconditional return of weapon inspectors," he said. MS

SLOVAK COURT HEARS APPEAL AGAINST LEXA'S RELEASE FROM DETENTION
A district court in Bratislava on 3 September began examining the prosecution's appeal against the Supreme Court's August decision to free Ivan Lexa from detention, TASR and CTK reported. The former chief of the Slovak Information Service was extradited to Slovakia from South Africa in July but was freed from detention by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds. Lexa told the court that he has no reason to flee the country because he is innocent and does not fear the court proceedings. Lexa fled the country in 1999 while awaiting trial. Upon leaving the court on 3 September, Lexa accused Prosecutor Michal Serbin of acting on the political orders of Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky and Premier Mikulas Dzurinda. The judge has yet to rule on the case. MS

SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MILITARY REFORM WILL CONTINUE AFTER ELECTIONS
Defense Minister Jozef Stank told CTK on 3 September that the next Slovak government will not block the military reforms begun by the current cabinet. He said Slovakia's basic national-defense strategies were approved by the outgoing parliament and that the next cabinet would need parliamentary approval to change them, which he said is unlikely. MS

SLOVAK POLL CONFIRMS SLIGHT SMER LEAD
A public-opinion poll conducted by the Dicio polling agency confirmed earlier polls showing that Smer (Direction) holds a slight lead over the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) in the run-up to the parliamentary elections later this month, TASR reported. The Dicio poll has Smer garnering 17.6 percent of the vote, the HZDS 17.3 percent, and the Hungarian Coalition Party placed third with 12.7 percent. Premier Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic Christian Union (12.3), the Alliance of New Citizens (9.2), the Christian Democratic Movement (6.9), and the newly formed Movement for Democracy (6.1) are all expected to win parliamentary representation. MS

SLOVAK ROMANY ORGANIZATION SUES SMER, PSNS...
In a complaint filed with the Prosecutor-General's Office on 3 September, the Romany Initiative of Slovakia (RIS) accused Smer and the Real Slovak National Party (PSNS) of inciting racial and ethnic hatred, TASR reported. The RIS also asked the Central Election Commission to ban Smer and the PSNS from running in the elections scheduled for 20-21 September. RIS Chairman Alexander Patkolo said that the electoral campaigns of both formations are primarily targeting the Romany minority, with racial hatred and intolerance being spread at electoral rallies and roundtables. MS

...WHILE SLOVAKIA'S EXTREME NATIONALISTS COMPETE ON POPULIST RHETORIC
Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairwoman Anna Malikova said on 1 September on Slovak television that in the September ballot Slovaks will have to opt between NATO membership and "normal life," TASR reported. Malikova said that if Slovakia remains out of NATO, the money saved could be used for increasing pensions and reviving the economy. She also said the SNS supports free university education and raising teachers' salaries. Jan Slota, Malikova's predecessor as SNS chairman who is now heading the Real Slovak National Party, said his formation's priority is to "solve the problem of the Hungarians and the Gypsies" in Slovakia. MS

HUNGARIAN COMMISSION HEAD ADMONISHED BY OWN PARTY CHAIRMAN
Free Democrat Chairman Gabor Kuncze on 3 September criticized fellow party member Imre Mecs, chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating government officials' secret-service pasts, by saying that the release of the names of those implicated was not done in the proper manner (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002), "Magyar Hirlap" reported. Mecs said he has been attacked by Socialist commission member Karoly Toth "on the left, [by] others on the right," and has also been criticized by his friends, which he said shows that "he stands in the center." He vowed to complete the commission's work within two weeks and insisted that a draft report should be submitted to parliament, despite the fact that the opposition no longer recognizes the legitimacy of the commission. MSZ

HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM ASKS FORMER MINISTER TO LEAVE PARLIAMENTARY GROUP
The national leadership of the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) unanimously decided on 3 September to ask Imre Boros, the former minister in charge of overseeing PHARE funds, to leave the MDF parliamentary group, Hungarian media reported. It was recently determined that Boros had collaborated with the communist-era secret services. He initially denied such reports and criticized MDF Chairwoman Ibolya David for withdrawing her support for him. Party spokesman Karoly Herenyi said that written statements Boros gave to the parliamentary group conflict with the denials he has given to the media. Boros said the MDF's decision was shocking. MSZ

BUDAPEST MAYORAL RACE HEATING UP
Pal Schmitt, the potential right-wing candidate for Budapest mayor, on 3 September challenged incumbent Gabor Demszky and Socialist candidate Erzsebet Nemeth to an open debate, "Nepszabadsag" reported. In accepting the challenge, Demszky, a Free Democrat, said a date for the debate should be set once Schmitt officially becomes a candidate. Nemeth also accepted Schmitt's challenge. In related news, the daily reported that Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy and Socialist Party Chairman Laszlo Kovacs are inclined to withdraw Nemeth from the race for Demszky's benefit if Demszky agrees to accept her as deputy mayor. Many Socialists believe that Nemeth will announce her withdrawal just a few weeks before the 20 October local elections. For his part, Demszky told reporters that the question of whether to withdraw Nemeth from the race is an internal Socialist matter, adding that he would accept Nemeth as deputy mayor. MSZ

HUNGARY WANTS SWEDEN TO AGREE TO CHANGES TO GRIPEN LEASE CONTRACT
In Stockholm on 3 September, a Hungarian delegation put forward proposals for modifying the contract on Hungary's lease of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden, Hungarian media reported. The lease for 14 Gripens was signed in December 2001 by the FIDESZ-lead government. Retired General Nandor Hollosi, a senior adviser to the Defense Ministry and a member of the delegation, explained that changes are necessary because the jets offered to Hungary cannot be refueled in midair, nor can they be fitted with precision laser-guided weapons, as required by NATO. Hollosi said the Swedish negotiators "were not particularly surprised by the proposals" and said they would study them and make their decision in early October, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. MSZ

BOSNIAN SERB REPORT ON SREBRENICA CALLS MASSACRE IMAGINARY...
A new Bosnian Serb government report seeks to deny that the Srebrenica massacre took place and to portray Serbs as victims in the Bosnian war, international media reported on 3 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002). The study suggests that exhausted Muslim men imagined a massacre or invented stories to attract the attention of the international community. Reuters quoted the report as saying that "to walk for almost 20 days in an area that might be full of landmines, without any food and water, under the fear of being shot from any direction, was such a trauma that Muslim soldiers sometimes mixed reality with illusions. Having looked at dead bodies under such psychological [pressure], some Muslim soldiers could have believed what they imagined." The report calls a Serb soldier who admitted taking part in the killings "mentally disturbed." PM

...AND AVOIDS THE ROLE OF MLADIC...
The new Bosnian Serb government study argues that "the Muslims inflated the number [of deaths] in order to accomplish what they wanted from the very beginning -- to involve the international community in the conflict with Serbs," Reuters reported from Banja Luka on 3 September. The document mentions General Ratko Mladic only in the context of evacuating civilians and asking for the surrender of the town. Bosnian Serb government official Sinisa Djordjevic said that the study aims at promoting "truth and reconciliation." PM

...DRAWING CONDEMNATION FROM MUSLIMS...
Refik Hodzic, who is a spokesman for The Hague-based war crimes tribunal, said in Sarajevo that the document is "outrageous," AP reported. He noted that Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic did not dispute that mass killings took place during his 2001 trial that led to his receiving a 46-year prison sentence. Evidence presented at that trial showed that "many thousands of Bosnian men were killed, most probably 7,000 to 8,000," by Serbian forces in July 1995, Hodzic added. Kada Hotic, a Srebrenica survivor, said: "I have not invented [the killing of] my son, [and] I lost my husband, too. I'm still missing all of my brothers and my husband's brothers. The Serbs know very well that they are lying to themselves and to the rest of the world." Survivor Munira Subacic stressed: "I have one message for [the Serbs]: Their lies are making us stronger." The Sarajevo daily "Dnevni avaz" wrote on 4 September that the report is an attempt by the Bosnian Serb government under Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic to deny that genocide took place. The commentary calls for passing a law in Bosnia similar to those in many European countries that make it a crime to deny the Holocaust. PM

...AND OTHERS
A spokesman for Paddy Ashdown, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 3 September that the report is a "callous and irresponsible attempt to misguide voters [in the 5 October general elections] and exploit the trauma of those who survived or were bereaved by the massacre.... History cannot be rewritten in this way," AP reported. Ashdown himself said that the Bosnian Serb document is "so far from the truth as to be almost not worth dignifying with a response." He added that "pretending [the massacre] didn't happen is an insult to people of all ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Reuters reported. Ashdown dubbed the report "tendentious, preposterous, and inflammatory." In Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serb government press office called the foreigners' reactions hasty and ill-informed, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 4 September. But the Bosnian Serb Helsinki Committee for Human Rights called the report "unacceptable." PM

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES AGREEMENT BETWEEN INTERIOR MINISTRY AND UNMIK
The government approved a cooperation agreement between the police of the United Nations civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK) and the Macedonian Interior Ministry on 3 September, Macedonian media reported. The two institutions will work to fight organized crime, terrorism, and trafficking in arms, drugs, and human beings. UB

SERBIAN AIRLINE CHIEF CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION
The Serbian Interior Ministry has asked the State Prosecutor's Office to press charges against Predrag Vujovic for abuse of office as head of Serbia's national airline, JAT, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 3 September. He is alleged to have leased an unspecified number of aircraft to a Macedonian company for a sum far below the going market rate. Vujovic denied the charges and said that the affair is aimed at preventing JAT from modernizing its operations. The JAT employees' Strike Committee also said recently that management decided in only 40 seconds to sell six Boeing 727 aircraft and three DC-9s to a private company headed by a friend of Vujovic. PM

FISHERMEN MEET IN BAY OF PIRAN
Delegations of Slovenian and Croatian fishermen met on ships in the Bay of Piran on 3 September to discuss the issue of fishing rights in the waters disputed between their two countries, Hina reported. They agreed to avoid fishing in the contested zone until 7 September, on which date they will meet again. The Croatian fishermen then had a stormy discussion with Ivan Jakovcic, who is the prefect of Istria County. Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan and his Slovenian counterpart Janez Drnovsek are expected to hold talks about the Piran dispute on 6 September. In Zagreb, however, Foreign Minister Tonino Picula said that he does not want to meet with his Slovenian counterpart, Dimitrij Rupel, in the current tense atmosphere (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 August 2002). Picula said that Croatia wants a comprehensive settlement of outstanding issues, not a piecemeal one. PM

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT TO HAVE LAST WORD ON JOINING NATO, EU
The ad hoc parliamentary commission on constitutional amendments agreed on 3 September to recommend that the decisions on joining NATO and the European Union, should Romania be invited to join those bodies, would be made by the parliament by a two-thirds majority, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. This provision is to be included in the constitution, amendments to which are currently being debated by the commission. The constitution will also stipulate that EU legislation will be given priority over Romanian legislation. The commission also decided that proposed amendments that are not backed by a two-thirds majority of the commissions' members shall nonetheless be forwarded to the parliamentary debate as an "annex" to the agreed amendments. This would also apply to the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's (UDMR) demand that the provision defining Romania as a "national state" be deleted from Article 1 of the constitution. UDMR parliamentary deputy Attila Varga saluted the decision as "a wise compromise." MS

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO WARN ROMANIA ON ICC?
European Parliament Chairman Patrick Cox will send a letter to the Romanian parliament demanding that Bucharest comply with the EU's position on the proposed International Criminal Court (ICC), Mediafax reported from Strasbourg on 3 September. The agency said that European Parliament deputies have expressed "concern" over the accord signed with the United States under which Romania will not extradite U.S. citizens to the ICC, and that judicial experts of the parliament consider the accord to be "illegal" because Romania previously endorsed the setting up of the ICC. Also on 3 September, Adrian Severin, who is chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, said there is no dispute or personal rivalry between himself and Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana regarding the ICC, Romanian Radio reported. The dispute, Severin said, is between the EU and the United States. However, the rivalry between the former and the current foreign minister was publicly confirmed by Social Democratic Party Secretary-General Cozmin Gusa in an interview with Romanian Radio the same day. MS

MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER WANTS UNIFICATION OF TRANSDNIESTER, MOLDOVAN FORCES
Defense Minister General Victor Gaiciuc said on 3 September that the Moldovan and Transdniester military forces must be unified, regardless of whether the envisaged federalization materializes or not, Infotag reported. Gaiciuc spoke on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of the establishment of Moldova's military. He said that his ministry has worked out an accord for cooperation between the two armies. "The Republic of Moldova must have one army, one customs service, and one currency," he said. MS

SIS REJECTS ACCUSATIONS BY MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER
In a statement released to the mass media on 3 September, the Information and Security Service (SIS) rejected accusations directed against it by Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) Chairman Iurie Rosca, Flux reported. In an open letter to the SIS, Rosca on 30 August accused the service of infringing on current legislation and on human rights. He said the SIS organized "provocations" ahead of the 1 September meeting organized by the PPCD in Chisinau and had attempted to "intimidate" participants in an effort to prevent them from taking part in the rally. The SIS responded that Rosca's allegations "are not in line with actual facts" and are aimed at "destabilizing the situation in Moldova." The SIS said its duties include "discovering, preventing, and countering actions aimed at endangering individual or state security," and that it is determined to continue taking all necessary measures to prevent such activities in line with the legislation in force. MS

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST LEADER URGES MINISTERS TO RESIGN
Sergey Stanishev, the chairman of the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), has indirectly urged Minister for State Administration Dimitar Kalchev and Regional Development Minister Kostadin Paskalev to resign, BTA reported on 3 September. "If the incumbents' policy remains unchanged, persons involved in this country's government and linked to the [Socialists] should sooner or later make a...choice between loyalty to the prime minister and loyalty to [Socialist] values," Stanishev told a party meeting on 2 September. Kalchev and Paskalev were both BSP mayors before they joined the government as experts. There has been speculation that the BSP would step up its pressure on the government by threatening to withdraw its ministers (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2002). UB

PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR FUTURE NATO MEMBERSHIP FALLING IN BULGARIA
According to a recent opinion poll conducted by the MBMD agency, public approval for the country's bid to join NATO has dropped, BTA reported on 2 September. In late July, only half of the respondents supported NATO membership, while some 30 percent opposed it. Support for acceding to NATO reached its peak in August 2001, when some 65 percent of respondents favored NATO membership. Analysts ascribe the fall in support for joining the Atlantic alliance to the recent confusion over the scrapping of Bulgaria's stockpile of SS-23, Scud, and Frog missiles (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2002). UB

There is no End Note today.


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