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Newsline - September 9, 2002


OFFICIALS REPEAT OPPOSITION TO ATTACK ON IRAQ...
State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev told journalists in Moscow that the Duma opposes any military operation against Iraq, Russian news agencies reported on 7 September. "The United States and Great Britain do not understand that Iraq is not Afghanistan and that plans for a U.S. military operation against [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein are not supported by the Islamic world, by Europe, or even by NATO," Seleznev said, according to RIA-Novosti. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that Russia "is categorically opposed to any operation that is not sanctioned by the United Nations," RIA-Novosti reported on 7 September. VY

...AS PUTIN CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR POLITICAL SOLUTION...
Speaking by telephone to U.S. President George W. Bush on 6 September, President Vladimir Putin "expressed serious doubts" about the U.S. rationale for a possible military intervention in Iraq, Western and Russian news agencies reported on 7 September, citing the Kremlin press service. Putin called for "coordinated political and diplomatic efforts" to resolve the Iraq dispute. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters in Moscow on 8 September that intervention could endanger international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. "If, under the pretext of combating terrorism, attempts are made to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states, it will not only aggravate the situation in the regions where such attempts are made but can also inflict irreparable damage to the unity of the framework of the antiterrorism coalition," Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying. RC

...WHILE ANALYST BELIEVES THAT POSITION COULD SOFTEN
Yurii Fedorov, deputy director of the Moscow Center for Political Research, told the BBC on 8 September that sooner or later Russia's political elite would accept a U.S. military strike against Iraq. "Because Russia cannot prevent unilateral U.S. action, it risks antagonizing the United States without being able to provide any practical help to Iraq," Fedorov noted. The only reasonable alternative, Fedorov argues, is for Russia to reach agreement with the United States in order to pursue Russia's economic interests in post-Saddam Iraq. VY

SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY INJURED IN AUTOMOBILE CRASH
Vladimir Rushailo suffered serious injuries in a car accident near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii on 9 September that left six dead, Russian news agencies reported. Among the dead were four officers of the Federal Protection Service and the Federal Security Service (FSB), including Colonel Yurii Sharov, head of the FSB's regional antiterrorism office. According to initial reports, a Toyota sport-utility vehicle driven by a man who was allegedly intoxicated plowed into Rushailo's motorcade at an estimated 80 kilometers per hour. The driver of the Toyota was also killed in the accident. Rushailo, who was on an inspection tour of the Far East, suffered a concussion and possible internal injuries to the chest, and Kamchatka Oblast Governor Vladimir Mashkovtsev and oblast legislature Speaker Nikolai Tokmantsev were hospitalized in serious condition as well. In all, nine people were injured. The FSB has opened an investigation. VY

DEFENSE MINISTER PLEDGES MILITARY AID TO AFGHANISTAN...
Sergei Ivanov visited Kabul on 6 September and announced after talks with Afghan administration head Hamid Karzai that Russia will assist in the modernization of the Afghan Army, ORT and other Russian news agencies reported on 7 September. Afghanistan's armed forces are almost exclusively equipped with Soviet-made weaponry. Ivanov said that, in addition to spare parts and other equipment, Russia will supply fuel and will train Afghan officers. He added that initially the help will be provided as assistance, but that later it might be continued on a commercial basis. VY

NEW LEFTIST OPPOSITION PARTY FORMED...
Nearly 600 delegates from 71 regions took part in the founding congress of the Party of Russia's Rebirth in Moscow on 7 September, Russian news agencies reported. The party is based on the Rossiya movement of Duma Speaker Seleznev, although a formal declaration of cooperation between the two will only be made in October following the next Rossiya congress. By a vote of 577 to two, Seleznev was elected to head the party, polit.ru reported on 7 September. Speaking to the congress, Seleznev stressed that "political compromise" can enable the left opposition to participate in shaping the future. He said the Party of Russia's Rebirth will play "the role of constructive opposition to any government that can stabilize the situation in the country." He criticized Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov for being too confrontational. "We are prepared for constructive and honest cooperation with the president, the government, political parties, and public organizations to the extent that they are pursuing the goal of creating a social state," Seleznev said. President Putin sent a congratulatory message to the congress. RC

...AND CALLS FOR OVERSIGHT OF MEDIA
In his speech, Seleznev emphasized the need for law and order and called on President Putin immediately to order the establishment of public oversight boards for all television channels, polit.ru reported. Seleznev said that the Party of Russia's Rebirth advocates "the creation of a rule-of-law culture based on respect for the law and on the enforcement of public order." RC

PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR CHECHNYA OPERATION DECLINING
The number of Russian citizens who approve of Russia's military operation in Chechnya has fallen to 30 percent, RosBalt reported on 8 September, citing a study by the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM). Forty-eight percent of those polled expressed a negative opinion of the conflict. The survey polled 1,500 respondents in 44 regions. In July 2000, VTsIOM recorded 64 percent support for the campaign. In July 2001, 59 percent of Russians approved of the military action, while that figure had declined to 37 percent in February of this year. However, VTsIOM also found that 48 percent of Russians think that President Putin's performance has been "excellent," and 38 percent describe it as "satisfactory." VY

FSB SAYS APARTMENT-BOMBING SUSPECT HIDING IN GEORGIA
Lieutenant General Ivan Mironov, head of the FSB's Investigative Department, told journalists that the main suspect in the case of the 1999 apartment-building explosions in Moscow and other Russian cities, Achemez Gochiyaev, is hiding in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 9 September. Speaking on the eve of the third anniversary of the explosions, Mironov said the FSB has enough evidence to indict Gochiyaev. Gazeta.ru commented on 9 September that the FSB does not know where Gochiyaev is hiding and that the statement that he is in the Pankisi Gorge is simply part of a recent campaign of pressure against Georgia. VY

NOVGOROD MAYOR VICTIM OF HIT AND RUN
Novgorod Mayor Aleksandr Korsunov was killed on the evening of 8 September on the territory of an administration-run resort by an unidentified man who ran him down with Korsunov's own car, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 9 September. According to RIA-Novosti, a man has been arrested in the case. Oblast Prosecutor Anatolii Chugunov has declined to comment on that report. Chugunov also declined to speculate on whether the incident was a contract hit. Korsunov was the only mayor serving on a commission headed by deputy presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak that is charged with drafting a new law on local self-government. That draft law, which is supposed to be presented to President Putin on 13 September, includes a number of controversial provisions, including an option to replace elected mayors with hired managers. Korsunov resolutely opposed the draft, which he said is "unacceptable to the majority of mayors" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2002), strana.ru reported. RC

KRASNOYARSK VOTERS BRACE FOR SECOND ROUND
Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature Speaker Aleksandr Uss and Taimyr Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Khloponin will square off in the second round of voting for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian news agencies reported on 9 September. Uss took 27.63 percent of the first-round vote on 8 September, and Khloponin came in second with 25.25 percent. The Communist candidate, Duma Deputy Sergei Glaziev, was third with 21.44 percent. The second round will most likely be held on 22 September, Interfax reported, citing the Central Election Commission. The campaign was considered particularly dirty, and Glaziev charged that there were "very serious" violations in a number of precincts, rtr-vesti.ru reported. RC

PROSECUTORS TO INVESTIGATE SPS LEADER'S ALLEGATIONS OF PHONE TAPPING
The Moscow Oblast Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal investigation into the appearance in the media of transcripts of telephone conversations held by State Duma Deputy and Union of Rightist Forces leader Boris Nemtsov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002), ntvru.com reported on 9 September. Oblast Prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov said the investigation has been opened at Nemtsov's request. "The goal of the investigation is to establish who was directly responsible for using technical means to eavesdrop on Nemtsov's telephone conversations," Avdyukov said. He added that the investigation will also look into accusations of eavesdropping made by other political figures, but he did not name any of them. RC

FINANCE MINISTER: CAPITAL FLIGHT ON THE DECLINE
Capital flight from Russia will be significantly less this year than in previous years, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 7 September, polit.ru reported. Kudrin said that capital flight in 2002 will amount to $9 billion-$10 billion, a significant decrease compare to recent years. In 2001, capital flight from Russia was estimated at about $20 billion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 2001). Kudrin attributed the reduction to increased confidence in the Russian ruble, which he said is a result of the government's policy of balanced budgets. RC

NATIONAL BOLSHEVIK TRIAL TO BE OPEN
The trial in Saratov of writer and National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov (whose real name is Eduard Savenko) and five fellow party members will be held in open court, Ekho Moskvy, lenta.ru, and other Russian news agencies reported on 9 September. The Saratov Oblast Court, which had earlier ruled at the request of the FSB that the trial would be held behind closed doors, reversed itself and ruled that sessions will be open to the media when the trial resumes this week after a two-month break. Limonov and his colleagues are accused of acquiring weapons with the goal of preparing terrorist acts and of creating illegal armed formations, although they deny the charges. Limonov and one other defendant, Sergei Aksenov, are also accused of calling for the violent overthrow of the government. The National Bolshevik Party newspaper "Limonka" was closed down in July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 2002). Limonov has been held since 7 April 2001. RC

GUNMEN FAIL TO KILL GROZNY MAYOR
Oleg Zhidkov escaped injury on 7 September when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his motorcade as he was heading west to Ingushetia, ITAR-TASS reported. But an escorting vehicle was seriously damaged and one traffic police officer was wounded. Zhidkov said the following day that he does not believe the attack was directed against him personally, but that militants simply opened fire on the motorcade from forest cover. LF

ARMENIAN TV STATION OWNER REPORTED MISSING
Relatives of Artashes Mehrabian, the owner of an independent television station in Abovian, north of Yerevan, asked police on 7 September to launch a search for him, 24 hours after he disappeared, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Mehrabian's colleagues suspect he may have been abducted by the same persons who assaulted him and Abovian TV Executive Director Azniv Chizmechian on 24 August, apparently in reprisal for airing reports critical of Abovian Mayor Karo Israelian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 September 2002). Chizmechian told RFE/RL on 7 September that Mehrabian called her two hours after leaving his home the previous day and asked her to suspend broadcasts until after his return. LF

KARABAKH PRESIDENT SWORN IN FOR SECOND TERM
Arkadii Ghukasian was sworn in on 7 September for his second term as president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian attended the ceremony, as did Valerii Arshba, vice president of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia. On 6 September, Ghukasian signed a decree commuting from 14 years' imprisonment to a suspended sentence the verdict handed down by the enclave's Supreme Court in February 2001 on Sasun Aghadjanian, according to Arminfo, as cited by Groong. The reason cited was Aghadjanian's failing health. Aghadjanian was found guilty of participating in the March 2000 attempt to assassinate Ghukasian. At his trial Aghadjanian admitted opening fire on Ghukasian's limousine but denied attempting to kill him. His former comrades in arms appealed in April for clemency on his behalf (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 February 2001 and 9 April 2002). LF

AZERBAIJAN CLAIMS TO HAVE DETAINED AL-QAEDA MEMBERS
Addressing a gathering of CIS Interior Ministers in Baku on 6 September, Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev said Azerbaijani special services have apprehended an unspecified number of senior Al-Qaeda members, Turan and Interfax reported. He did not elaborate. LF

AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL COMMENTS ON NARDARAN, MILITARY CADETS' 'MUTINY'...
Presidential administration head Ramiz Mekhtiev told journalists in Baku on 6 September that he believes unnamed opposition forces and human rights activists are stoking discontent in the village of Nardaran in order to create an opportunity to promote themselves as advocates of justice, Turan reported. At the same time, he said he does not believe that Iranian activists played any role in inciting the villagers to their recent protests. Mekhtiev laid the blame for last week's walkout by up to 2,000 cadets from the Higher Military College on that institution's administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4, 5, and 6 September 2002). He said the cadets should not be punished for expressing "discontent." But he refused to say whether the cadets' collective demand for the return to the college of Turkish instructors who left some months ago will be met. President Aliev on 6 September declined to comment on the cadets' walkout, terming it "a minor problem." LF

...SAYS PIPELINE TENDER OUTCOME WILL NOT BE ANNULLED
Mekhtiev also said on 6 September that the selection of Consolidated Contractors International to build the Azerbaijani sector of the planned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil-export pipeline will not be reversed, Turan reported. He dismissed as unfounded opposition claims that the company's top management includes a leading member of the Armenian diaspora (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002). LF

NEW AZERBAIJANI EDICT ON STATE SECRETS TO BE REVISED?
Shahin Aliev, who heads the legal department within the presidential administration, met in Baku on 6 September with journalists and editors to discuss their objections to President Aliev's recent decree on state secrets, Turan reported. That decree places the responsibility for not divulging state secrets on journalists and editors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August and 3 September 2002). Aliev hinted that the decree could be revised to take into account journalists' objections that its provisions restrict media freedom. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT BRIEFED ON CHECHEN PEACE PROPOSAL
Former Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin met in Tbilisi on 7 September with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, whom he briefed on the details of a Chechen peace proposal he discussed in Zurich with Chechen Vice Premier Akhmed Zakaev, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2002). In an interview published the following day in "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Rybkin said Zakaev approved that proposal, which envisages Chechnya remaining within the Russian Federation, as a basis for talks on ending the conflict. Rybkin added that he respects Shevardnadze as a "decent, intelligent, and wise" adviser and that, given the "tremendous authority" that both Shevardnadze and his Azerbaijani counterpart Aliev enjoy throughout the Caucasus, they should be invited to participate at the initial stage of peace talks in Chechnya. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili denied that the Rybkin-Shevardnadze talks constituted an attempt to sideline Moscow. LF

GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DENY AGREEING TO JOINT OPERATION WITH RUSSIA IN PANKISI
Speaking to journalists on 6 September in Baku, where he was attending the CIS Interior Ministers' meeting, Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said that he reached agreement with his Georgian counterpart Koba Narchemashvili on joint action to track down "international terrorists and members of rebel groups" still hiding in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, Interfax reported. But Narchemashvili and a second Georgian Interior Ministry official both denied the following day that any such agreement was reached. They said the two ministers agreed only to exchange information about specific criminals. Georgian National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze told journalists in Tbilisi on 7 September that all the Chechen fighters have left the Pankisi Gorge, ITAR-TASS reported. He said he is unaware of their present location, but that they may have climbed higher into the Caucasus Mountains. LF

REPORTS SURFACE THAT CHECHENS HAVE MOVED FROM PANKISI TO KODORI
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko told journalists in Moscow on 6 September that Russia continues to insist that Tbilisi apprehend and extradite Chechen militants and international terrorists, Interfax reported. He referred to unspecified reports that "groups of international terrorists are being moved from Pankisi to the Kodori Gorge.... Such maneuvers might become a repetition of the bloody raid by the militants of [field commander Ruslan] Gelaev into Abkhazia in autumn last year and would again lead to loss of life, spiraling tension in relations between Tbilisi and Sukhumi, and...the destabilization of the situation in the Caucasus region as a whole," Yakovenko argued. Abkhaz Security Service head Zurab Aghumava likewise told Interfax on 7 September that two weeks ago he received reports of the presence of Chechen and Arab terrorists in the Kodori Gorge. LF

RUSSIA'S ABKHAZ ENVOY MEETS WITH ABKHAZ PREMIER
During talks on 7 September, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, and Abkhaz Prime Minister Anri Djergenia discussed the situation in the Pankisi Gorge and the possibility that the Chechen militants formerly ensconced there may again move to Abkhazia, Russian news agencies reported. They also warned that a new attack on Kodori would negatively affect the chances for resolving the Abkhaz conflict and undermine security and stability throughout the Caucasus. LF

ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA DISCUSS COOPERATION
Djergenia also held talks in Sukhum on 7 September with Eduard Kokoyty, president of the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, Interfax reported. The two agreed to coordinate their response should Chechen militants launch an attack on either republic. On 6 September, Interfax quoted South Ossetian Foreign Minister Murad Dzhioev as saying that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will hold joint military maneuvers before the end of this year to which Nagorno-Karabakh and the Transdniester Republic will send observers. He added that if the situation in Georgia deteriorates, the four unrecognized republics will consider establishing a military bloc. LF

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS URGE KAZAKHSTAN NOT TO EXTRADITE TURKMEN DISSIDENT
Amnesty International has appealed to the Kazakh authorities not to hand over opposition politician Gulgeldy Annaniyazov to the Turkmen government, Interfax reported on 6 September. Annaniyazov was extradited on 2 September from Russia to Kazakhstan after arriving at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport from the Kazakh city of Aqtau earlier that day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002). According to the Russian human rights group Memorial, Annaniyazov requested political asylum upon his arrival in Moscow but the request was refused. LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIAL WOUNDED IN GRENADE ATTACK
Security Council Secretary and acting presidential administration head Misir Ashyrkulov received multiple, but not life-threatening injuries when unidentified assailants threw three grenades at his automobile as he was approaching his home late on 6 September, akipress.org and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Presidential aide Bolot Djanuzakov told journalists the following day that the attack was a politically motivated terrorist act, according to Reuters. Speaking in Moscow on 7 September, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov said it is hard to say who might have tried to kill Ashyrkulov and why. Ashyrkulov himself told journalists from his hospital bed that religious extremists might have been responsible, Interfax reported. RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau quoted Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Chairman Tursunbek Akunov as saying that Ashyrkulov may have incurred the disapproval of other senior Kyrgyz officials by his recent efforts to promote reconciliation between the authorities and the opposition. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an opposition figure similarly suggested to Reuters that "it looks like internal bickering" within the government. He also suggested that the banned Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir might have been responsible. LF

KYRGYZ CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL ELECTS OPPOSITION FIGURE AS CO-CHAIRMAN
Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan Chairman Absamat Masaliev was elected the third deputy chairman of the Constitutional Council at that body's 7 September session, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Two further opposition parliament deputies, Ismail Isakov and Alisher Abdimomunov, were co-opted as council members the same day, raising the total number from 40 (not 38 as erroneously reported in "RFE/RL Newsline" on 28 August 2002) to 42. At its 7 September session, the council discussed at length the optimum distribution of powers between the president and parliament and the procedure for proposing, appointing, and dismissing the prime minister, state secretary, and prosecutor-general, as well as Central Election Commission (CEC) and Audit Chamber chairmen, akipress.org reported. Addressing the council, President Askar Akaev, who is its chairman, argued in favor of expanding the powers of the prime minister and giving parliament a greater say in selecting government ministers and the chairmen of the CEC and National Bank. LF

KYRGYZ VILLAGERS 'DETAIN' NINE POLICEMEN
Residents of the village of Kara-Suu in Djalalabad Oblast on 6 September detained nine policemen in an attempt to force the authorities to release seven people taken into custody in connection with a protest meeting in Kerben in June, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. On 7 September, several hundred people demonstrated in Kara-Suu to demand the release of the seven detainees, AP reported. Meanwhile, some 400 people left Tash-Komur on 6 September on a protest march to Bishkek, and reached Razan-Sai the following day, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The marchers are demanding the resignation of President Akaev and the punishment of those responsible for endorsing the use of firearms against demonstrators in Aksy Raion on 17-18 March. LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO REDUCE POVERTY
President Akaev chaired a meeting on 6 September to discuss the final draft of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy, Interfax and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The three-year strategy (2003-05), which was drafted with the help of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is envisaged as the first stage in a broader program of comprehensive development until 2010. The total cost is estimated at $2 billion, of which $500 million will come from budget funds and the remainder from foreign investment and grants. Akaev defined the program's objective as reducing the poverty rate by 5 percent. He said the poverty rate fell from 52 percent in 2000 to 47.6 percent in 2001. Other observers claim the figure is far higher, and that 82 percent of Kyrgyz families live below the poverty line. LF

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS TAJIKISTAN
Sergei Ivanov made a stopover in Dushanbe on 6 September en route from Kabul to Moscow to meet with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, Interfax reported. The two discussed bilateral military and technical cooperation and the military and situation in Central Asia. LF

UZBEK OPPOSITION ACTIVIST SENTENCED
A district court in Tashkent on 6 September sentenced Dzhahongir Shosalimov, who is a member of the banned Erk Party and of the Independent Human Rights organization of Uzbekistan to 15 days' detention on charges of inciting a public disturbance, AP reported. Shosalimov was detained on 4 September with six other people after a clash in a Tashkent market between police and vendors who were protesting increased taxes and the imposition of stricter regulations on trading. LF

UZBEKISTAN, JAPAN ASSESS BILATERAL RELATIONS
A delegation from Japan's Finance Ministry headed by Deputy Minister Takayaoshi Tanaguchi held talks in Tashkent on 6 September with President Islam Karimov and Foreign Ministry representatives, uza.uz reported. The talks focused on the implementation of joint programs and projects and agreements signed during Karimov's visit to Tokyo in July. LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS PUTIN'S OFFER TO MULL INTEGRATION SCENARIOS...
Alyaksandr Lukashenka told journalists on 7 September that he sees no need to form a team of experts to study the three scenarios for Belarusian-Russian integration as proposed recently in a letter by Russian President Vladimir Putin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002), Belarusian media reported. "Those who prepared the letter -- maybe it was Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] himself -- appear to have forgotten that we already have a Belarusian-Russian joint group, which, according to the [1999 union] treaty, is working on an act that would determine the way of building the union state," Lukashenka said. JM

...SAYS KREMLIN'S MESSAGE CARRIED NO NEWS...
Lukashenka said Putin's letter to him was a propaganda move rather than a message. "There was nothing new in it," Belapan quoted Lukashenka as saying. "The same [old] story -- to divide Belarus and incorporate it by pieces. If the Russian leadership wants to abrogate the [1999 union] treaty, let them do it, but without us. Belarus will not take part in this. I have always advocated a union. And what are they proposing? Incorporation.... Russia's leadership has made clear that it does not want an equal union with Belarus." JM

...AND SPECULATES ON THE REASONS RUSSIA WOULD WANT TO ABSORB BELARUS
Lukashenka also said there are many reasons why Moscow does not want an equal union with Minsk. Among domestic reasons, Lukashenka named the reluctance of officials in the Russian government "to work on an equal basis [with Belarus]," as well as the wish of "rich people in Russia...to grab Belarus and criminalize the economy." Lukashenka added that Russia is also under external pressure. "This is like a litmus test -- for the leadership of Russia, not for Lukashenka. Let's see whether the leadership of Russia will withstand this pressure on it in this situation -- whether they will surrender Belarus or not," the Belarusian president said. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATOR JAILED FOR 10 DAYS
A court in Hrodna on 6 September imposed a 10-day jail sentence on Dzmitry Ivanouski, the deputy chairman of the local branch of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front, Belapan reported. Ivanouski was punished for his participation in an unauthorized demonstration in Hrodna on 8 July to mark the second anniversary of the disappearance of Belarusian journalist Dmitry Zavadski. JM

TWO BELARUSIAN YOUTH UNIONS MERGE
The Belarusian Patriotic Youth Union (BPSM) and the Belarusian Youth Union (BSM) -- the country's largest youth organizations -- held a joint congress on 6 September and merged into the Belarusian National Youth Union (BRSM), Belapan reported. The BSM was the legal successor to the Soviet-era Communist Youth League (Komsomol), while the BPSM (nicknamed Lukamol) was created by President Lukashenka in 1997 in order to mobilize support for his policies among young Belarusians. Lukashenka, who attended the 6 September congress, praised the merger, promised governmental support for the new organization, and said the BRSM should become a major source for recruiting government staff. JM

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS CONTINUE TO TOUR REGIONS TO PROMOTE UPCOMING PROTEST
Yuliya Tymoshenko, Oleksandr Moroz, and Petro Symonenko met with some 1,000 people in Cherkasy (central Ukraine) on 7 September and with 1,000 people in Bila Tserkva (Kyiv Oblast) the following day to seek regional support for the opposition protest campaign "Rise Up, Ukraine!" which is planned to start on 16 September, UNIAN reported. Tymoshenko told journalists in Cherkasy that the protest campaign aims at holding early presidential elections and completely changing the executive branch in Ukraine. JM

PRESIDENT TO ACCEPT CABINET FORMED BY OUR UKRAINE?
President Leonid Kuchma told journalists in Donetsk on 6 September that he will agree to a coalition cabinet formed by a parliamentary majority centered on Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, UNIAN reported. "Yushchenko is free to organize a [parliamentary] majority. I will shake his hand and carry out everything I promised without waiting for amendments to the constitution," Kuchma said. While announcing last month his proposal for constitutional reform (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 2002), Kuchma called on the Verkhovna Rada to form a coalition cabinet without waiting for relevant constitutional changes. JM

UKRAINIAN NEWSPAPER PUBLISHES MOTION TO LIFT TYMOSHENKO'S IMMUNITY
The Kyiv-based newspaper "2000" on 6 September published on six full pages a request by Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun to the Verkhovna Rada to lift the deputy immunity of opposition leader Tymoshenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August 2002). "Ukrayinska pravda" suggested that the request -- which has not yet been addressed by parliament -- was publicized following an instruction from either the presidential administration or the Prosecutor-General's Office in order to start an anti-Tymoshenko campaign in the state-run media. According to the published request, prosecutors suspect Tymoshenko of bribery, abuse of office, forgery, embezzlement of property, and tax evasion. The charges are connected with Tymoshenko's work as head of Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine in 1995-97 and her position as deputy premier in Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet in 1999-2000. JM

ESTONIA POSTS DEFLATION IN AUGUST
The Statistics Office of Estonia announced on 6 September that the consumer price index in August was 0.5 percent lower than in July, but 2.6 percent higher than in August 2001, BNS reported. Compared to July, the costs of goods dropped by 0.9 percent while the costs of services rose by 0.3 percent. The decline was due to a 1.8 percent fall in the price of food, alcohol, and tobacco, while the costs of manufactured goods remained unchanged. Bank of Estonia officials noted that this was the third consecutive month of deflation caused by a decline in prices for fruits and vegetables as well as the cheaper U.S. dollar, but that inflation is likely to return. SG

BALTIC PHARMACY AGREEMENT SIGNED IN RIGA
In Riga on 6 September, Estonian Social Affairs Minister Siiri Oviir, Lithuanian Health Minister Konstantinas Romualdas Dobrovolskis, and Latvian Welfare Minister Viktors Jaksons signed a cooperation memorandum on pharmacy information exchange and uniform criteria for the assessment of state-refunded medicines, Baltic agencies reported. Oviir said that it is important to use joint methods to evaluate the prices and profitability of medicines and that the exchange of information should help guarantee more effective use of health-insurance funds. Jaksons mentioned that the agreement might serve as the first step in increasing the number of medicines for which the state provides compensation, noting that medical experts will be able to gain from the experience of colleagues from neighboring countries, which will help them to better evaluate the efficiency and use of prescription drugs. SG

LITHUANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS NOMINATE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
In Vilnius on 7 September, the 25th Congress of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) by a vote of 534 to five, with eight abstentions, approved the nomination of party Deputy Chairman Vytenis Andriukaitis as its candidate for the presidential elections in December, ELTA reported. He was the only candidate, as party Chairman Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, First Deputy Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas, and several other leading party officials declined nomination. The council of the LSDP's coalition partner, the New Union (Social Liberals), will decide on 15 September whether it will back Andriukaitis or nominate its own candidate, probably party Chairman Arturas Paulauskas, for president. SG

POLISH PREMIER PROPOSES TO HOLD EU REFERENDUM IN MAY 2003...
Premier Leszek Miller on 7 September proposed to hold a national referendum on whether to join the European Union next May, citing the month as historically significant, AP reported. Miller made this proposal during a convention of his Democratic Left Alliance in Warsaw to kick off a campaign for the 27 October local elections. Miller recalled the month as the end of World War II, which led to the division of Europe by the Iron Curtain into two hostile blocs -- the U.S.-led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. "Let May be a month of overcoming European divisions and a symbol of winning a chance for Poland," he noted. JM

...SAYS POLISH SERVICEMEN ARE IN PERSIAN GULF AREA
Premier Miller has admitted that Polish servicemen from special units are in the Persian Gulf area, Polish Radio reported on 8 September. Miller emphasized, however, that the Poles are there not because of the situation in Iraq, but as part of an international antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan. Miller did not say whether Polish servicemen would take part in a possible U.S. attack on Iraq. He only noted that Polish diplomats are in Baghdad, adding that their safety depends on the Polish position on the possible attack. JM

POLISH ARMS INDUSTRY WORKERS PROTEST OVER UNPAID WAGES
Several hundred Solidarity trade union members representing arms plants from all over Poland picketed the Economy Ministry in Warsaw on 6 September, demanding the payment of overdue wages and an end to large-scale layoffs in their branch, Polish media reported. The protesters threw firecrackers and smoke bombs in front of the ministry. JM

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES FLOOD-RELIEF PACKAGE
The cabinet on 8 September approved a package of measures intended for financing reconstruction after last month's floods, CTK reported. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists that the measures are expected to generate 10.3 billion crowns (nearly $336 million) in 2002 and 15.5 billion in 2004. Among the measures are a 3 percent increase (from 32 to 35 percent) in income taxes paid by those earning an annual income of 900,000 crowns or more, and increasing the value-added tax to 7 percent from 5 percent. The value-added tax currently paid on some items, such as automobiles, will drop to 21 percent from 22 percent, and the corporate-income tax will be reduced to 28 percent from 31 percent as of 1 January 2004. On 7 September, Vladimir Tlusty, deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies, said the ODS will not support in parliament the government's bill on raising taxes. MS

CZECH FINANCE MINISTRY RELEASES PRELIMINARY DATA ON FLOOD DAMAGES
The Finance Ministry on 8 September released preliminary data on the August flood damage, CTK reported. The data showed that the large cities most affected were Prague, Plzen, Karlovy Vary, and Usti nad Labem. As many as 753 out of 6,000 municipalities in the country were affected, with Metly, southern Bohemia, and Zalezlice, central Bohemia, nearly being wiped off the map. The floods claimed 17 lives and total damage estimates are between 60 billion-90 billion crowns (some $2 billion-$3 billion). Approximately 225,000 people were evacuated. MS

CZECH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE WITHDRAWING AGENTS FOLLOWING INFORMATION LEAKS
The daily "Pravo," cited by CTK, reported on 9 September that recent leaks to the media regarding the activities of the Czech Military Intelligence Service (VZS) have prompted the withdrawal of VZS agents abroad. The leaks began when it was recently revealed that former Foreign Ministry Secretary Karel Srba worked for the VZS and oversaw several agents whom he posted abroad in diplomatic and other posts. Srba is currently under investigation on suspicion of corruption and of ordering the assassination of a journalist. "Pravo" quoted Defense Minister Tvrdik as saying that "Investigations now clearly show that our people who have nothing in common with the [Srba] case are endangered." Tvrdik confirmed that some agents have been withdrawn. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on TV Nova on 8 September that Tvrdik is not responsible for the VZS scandals and that the defense minister acted appropriately when he ordered the recent dismissal of former VZS head Andor Sandor. Spidla said he has ordered Tvrdik to radically reform the VZS. "This means that some [VZS] parts will be entirely abolished and others will be replaced," Spidla said. MS

CZECH TAKES OVER UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENCY
On 8 September, former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan took over his one-year mandate as president of the 57th session of the UN General Assembly, CTK reported. MS

CZECH ROMA DEPORTED FROM U.K.
Twenty-eight Czech Roma who were denied asylum in the United Kingdom were returned to the Czech Republic on 6 September, CTK reported. A special plane flew the Roma to Prague and TV Nova, as cited by CTK, said further such flights are expected. The number of Czech Roma requesting asylum in the United Kingdom has been growing as of late; while 80 Czech Roma requested asylum in the United Kingdom between January and the end of March 2002, the total number had risen to 595 by the end of June. Meanwhile, Czech authorities reported on 6 September that the number of asylum seekers in the Czech Republic itself has stagnated, with the country registering just 328 applications for asylum in August. Last year more than 18,000 people sought asylum in the Czech Republic and 75 were granted asylum status. MS

CZECH SKINHEAD MUSICIANS CHARGED WITH PROMOTING HATRED
Four members of the skinhead rock band "Hlas kvre" (Voice of the Blood) were charged on 6 September with promoting a movement disseminating hatred, dpa reported, citing police spokeswoman Blanka Kosinova. Kosinova said that the band's lyrics "openly propagate ideas of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia." MS

SLOVAKIA'S FICO RULES OUT MECIAR, DZURINDA AS POSTELECTION PARTNERS...
In an interview with Reuters on 8 September, Smer (Direction) Chairman Robert Fico ruled out any postelection cooperation with former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar or with current Premier Mikulas Dzurinda. Fico, whom polls tip to be Slovakia's next premier, told the agency that he will not form any coalition without ensuring that it is acceptable to the West. "It is Slovakia's No. 1 priority to receive an invitation to [join] NATO in November, at the alliance's Prague summit, as well as to join the EU as soon as possible." He said cooperation with the new Movement for Democracy (HZD), the splinter faction that broke away from Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), depends on how the HZD is perceived by Western diplomats in Bratislava. Speaking in Nitra the same day, Fico said that he rules out cooperation with Dzurinda and Deputy Premier Ivan Miklos. "Both have committed economic betrayal of this nation. To shake their hand and enter a government [with them] would amount to prostitution, not politics," Fico was quoted as saying by TASR. MS

...BUT FORMER PREMIER HAS OTHER PLANS
HZDS Chairman Meciar said on 8 September on the private Joj TV channel that he would not give up his position as HZDS chairman to enable the party to join a ruling coalition, TASR reported. He said the HZDS will not negotiate with any formation that insists on this condition but added that a "compromise" is possible, as the HZDS could join the new government without his being a member of the cabinet. On 7 September, former Interior Minister Gustav Krajci told journalists that no stable government could be formed after the 20-21 September elections without the participation of the HZDS. Also on 8 September, Meciar told an HZDS rally in Presov, eastern Slovakia, that "Iraq is not Afghanistan. It is better armed and will pose [to the United States in the event of an attack] problems that are substantially more complex." Meciar said that the Iraqi problem should be discussed by the United Nations and its Security Council. MS

SLOVAK ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CALL ON FAITHFUL TO VOTE
Slovakia's Roman Catholic bishops on 6 September issued a pastoral letter calling on the country's faithful to participate in this month's elections, AP reported. TASR reported on 8 September that the letter has been read in sermons throughout the country. The letter did not endorse any particular party but called on believers to vote "for people whose actions are in agreement with the Ten Commandments and the Gospel." MS

SLOVAKIA'S NUMBER 2 SOLDIER FAILS VETTING PROCESS
Slovak armed services Deputy Chief of Staff Jan Cmilansky has failed to pass the vetting process conducted by the Military Intelligence Service and will leave the military, TASR and CTK reported on 7 September. Cmilansky said he is "leaving the army at my own request." He said his failure to be cleared was the result of intrigues and added that the Military Intelligence Service did not invite him for an interview, as is required by law, before issuing its decision. Cmilansky said he intends to sue the service. MS

HUNGARY'S FREE DEMOCRAT STATE SECRETARY ADMITS TO COLLABORATING WITH SECRET SERVICES...
Gabor Szalay, political state secretary at the Economy and Transport Ministry, admitted on 6 September that he had filed reports for the communist-era counterintelligence services, but not for domestic intelligence services, Hungarian media reported. Szalay decided to come clean after Imre Mecs, chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating government officials' secret-service pasts, told him that it was his document that disappeared from the Interior Ministry's files in 1995 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2002). Szalay said counterintelligence services contacted him in 1978 when he was sent to Togo as the leader of a $100 million business project. He said that for 10 years he informed Interior Ministry staff about business deals; however, he insisted that he did not sign any papers, did not file reports, was not paid, and was not an informer. Szalay said he does not intend to resign. MSZ

...WHILE FIDESZ DEPUTY CHAIRMAN SAYS SOCIALIST POLITICIAN HAS ALSO BEEN IMPLICATED
FIDESZ Deputy Chairman Laszlo Kover told Inforadio on 7 September that a Socialist politician who was a member of Gyula Horn's cabinet between 1994-98 had links with the communist-era secret services. FIDESZ does not claim that the politician collaborated with the state-security authorities, Kover said, but the party believes that he is also among those involved, according to the principles under which the Mecs commission is functioning. Kover also said it is very important that an investigation be conducted to find out why data on Free Democrat Gabor Szalay disappeared from the Interior Ministry in 1995. MSZ

FORMER MINISTER LEAVES HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM PARLIAMENTARY GROUP
Imre Boros, who was a former minister in charge of overseeing PHARE funds, told a meeting of the opposition Hungarian Democratic Forum on 6 September that he is leaving the parliamentary group of his own accord after he made inconsistent statements to the media and the party about whether he collaborated with the communist-era secret services, Hungarian media reported. Boros had earlier made it clear that he would not voluntarily leave the parliamentary group, despite being asked to do so by the party's leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 September 2002). The majority of the party's deputies were on his side, Boros claimed, but he said he had to consider the interests of the party and the parliamentary group. Party officials told "Nepszabadsag" that if Boros had not left, he would have been expelled. He will now sit in parliament as an independent. MSZ

HUNGARY'S RIGHT-WING MEDIA FIGURES MAY FLEE TO AUSTRIA
Leading personalities of the now defunct "Press Club" program on Hungary's ATV channel intend to apply for symbolic asylum in Austria, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 9 September. One of them, journalist Istvan Lovas, announced that they will establish the Voice of Freedom Radio, which he said will be modeled on RFE/RL and will be broadcast from Austria "so as not to get in the way of the Hungarian radio and television authority." MSZ

DAY OF DECISION FOR THE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA
The Bosnian Serb government is expected to take a formal stand on 9 September on a recent report by several leading officials denying that a massacre took place in Srebrenica in 1995, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 September 2002). The government is also expected to respond to recent charges by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo that the Bosnian Serb Orao (Eagle) aircraft company has illegally sold spare parts to Iraq. Jozo Krizanovic, who is the ethnic Croatian member of the three-man Bosnian Presidency, said on 7 September that the Sarajevo authorities are doing their part in the investigation and that there is no question of any sanctions being leveled against Bosnia for illegal arms sales to Baghdad. PM

BOSNIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF WARNS PARTIES
Munir Alibabic, who heads the intelligence service of the Muslim and Croat federation, said in an open letter that unnamed political parties are trying to exert pressure on his organization in the run-up to the 5 October general elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Sarajevo on 9 September. Alibabic stressed that he wants politicians to leave his people alone so they can concentrate on their job of combating crime, corruption, and terrorism. PM

NO BREAKTHROUGH FOR SOLANA IN BELGRADE
Javier Solana, who is the EU's security policy chief, failed in seven hours of talks with top Serbian and Montenegrin leaders on 6 September to reach an agreement on a Constitutional Charter between the two republics to govern their future relations, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2002). Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic wants the recent agreement between his government and that of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to be the basis of the charter. Several parties in the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, as well as pro-Belgrade politicians in Montenegro, want a more closely integrated state with at least some strong joint institutions. A major problem is the selection of deputies to the joint legislature, whom the Montenegrin government wants appointed by the respective republican parliaments and most others want directly elected. The Montenegrin authorities also do not want any mention of Vojvodina in the preamble of the charter lest it imply a constitutional continuity with the current Yugoslav state. PM

IS MONTENEGRO THE ISSUE?
The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 7 September that the European Union has reportedly warned Djukanovic of unspecified countermeasures by Brussels unless he changes his position, but he does not seem impressed. In Podgorica, Social Democratic leader Ranko Krivokapic said that he does not think that the charter will be finalized before the 29 September Serbian presidential elections and the Montenegrin parliamentary vote on 20 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. PM

MONTENEGRO'S ALBANIANS WANT AMERICAN GUARANTEES
The chairmen of the two main political parties representing the ethnic Albanian minority in Montenegro announced in Podgorica that they accept a recent proposal to reduce the number of seats for Albanians in the parliament from five to four on the condition that the United States guarantees that the Albanian minority's rights will not be curtailed, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 6 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002). Observers note that the United States is the only power that the region's Albanians trust and that a continuing U.S. presence in the region is vital for thwarting the influence of extremists among the Albanians. PM

SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE BEGINS...
The deadline for filing petitions for a candidacy in the 29 September Serbian presidential race has passed, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 8 September. At least 11 candidates have filed, of whom seven have so far been approved by the Republican Election Commission. The most important ones are Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, and possibly Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2002). The main interest in the other candidates centers on how many votes they will attract and at the expense of which of the main candidates. Kostunica has already said that he expects to win in the first round, but polls showed him about evenly tied with Labus. PM

...WITH GENERAL PAVKOVIC...
In a last-minute development, former General Nebojsa Pavkovic entered the Serbian presidential race, filing just before the deadline, AP reported from Belgrade on 9 September. The former head of the General Staff said, "All Serbia knows me well, what I have done both in peace and in war, and what I stand for." PM

...AND KOSOVA IN THE PICTURE
The Republican Election Commission announced in Belgrade on 7 September that all registered voters in Kosova will appear on the election lists, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2002). Voting will be held only in those parts of Kosova with a primarily Serbian population, however. A spokesman for Labus said that it is not acceptable to have people appear on the lists who live in localities where no polling station will be opened. PM

SERBIA CELEBRATES BASKETBALL WIN WITH THE 'MOTHER OF ALL PARTIES'
At least 150,000 Serbs packed central Belgrade on the night of 8-9 September to mark Yugoslavia's 84-77 overtime victory over Argentina in the finals of the men's World Basketball Championship, its fifth gold medal in the event, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2002). In his message of congratulations, basketball fan and Kostunica described the team as "unbelievably courageous and a little bit crazy." Following the celebrations, Radio Belgrade reported that police detained more than 70 persons for rowdy behavior and that more than 30 persons were hospitalized with injuries. PM

MACEDONIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY ATTACKING THE OPPOSITION?
Interior Ministry spokesman Voislav Zafirovski announced on 6 September that the ministry has filed charges against Vlado Buckovski, the deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Union (SDSM), "Dnevnik" reported. Buckovski -- a former defense minister and a rival of Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski -- is accused of abuse of office and responsibility for the loss to the state of some $4.2 million. The Interior Ministry also pressed charges against former Public Prosecutor Stevan Pavlevski in connection with mistakes during the investigation of the 1995 bomb attack on former President Kiro Gligorov. The ministry also leveled charges against journalist Marijan Gjurovski of the opposition weekly "Start" because of a report that suggested the involvement of the Interior Ministry in a "conspiracy to incite war." On 9 September, "The Independent" reported that the ministry is planning to arrest some independent journalists, including Saso Ordanoski. Some observers believe that the charges are part of a campaign against leading opposition representatives and the media in the run-up to the 15 September parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 August and 6 September 2002). UB/PM

FISHERMEN'S DEAL IN PIRAN
Representatives of Slovenian and Croatian fishermen agreed in Piran on 7 September to extend their previous agreement not to fish in contested waters -- which expired on that date -- to 15 September, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 September 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 August 2002). PM

SHIFT IN CROATIAN POLITICAL MOOD?
The Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) of the late President Franjo Tudjman has again become the most popular party, with 22.8 percent of the vote according to a poll in the 9 September issue of "Jutarnji list," dpa reported from Zagreb. Prime Minister Ivica Racan's Social Democrats would take 14.7 percent in a new election. In perhaps the most telling result of the survey, some 41 percent of the respondents said they do not plan to vote. The daily suggested that many voters feel that Racan has not handled the Piran issue wisely or well. PM

U.S. NATO COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN TELLS ROMANIANS 'NO VACATION' AFTER NATO SUMMIT...
U.S. NATO Committee Chairman Bruce Jackson said in Bucharest on 7 September that a decision to offer Romania admission to NATO at the organization's Prague summit would not mean Romanians could then "take a vacation," Mediafax reported. Jackson said such a decision would not signify "graduation from college" but "admission to college," and that there are many things that must be done before Romanian membership would be ratified by current NATO members. Among these he named combating corruption and reforming the secret services, in which former communist-era members of the secret police continue to be employed. Jackson said he has discussed these issues with the heads of the Romanian secret services and believes that "they got the message." Jackson was received on 6 September by President Ion Iliescu, and on 8 September he met with National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu and with Ioan Anamariei, the head of the National Anticorruption Prosecution. MS

...AND THAT 'MARRYING THE U.S. WHILE SLEEPING WITH TUDOR' ARE INCOMPATIBLE...
Jackson also said the United States cannot understand why 20 percent of Romanians are still supporting Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, Mediafax reported on 7 September. He said he wonders "how is it possible for such an extremist [politician] to still exist on Romania's political scene." Jackson asked why Romanians "want to get married to America if they continue to go to bed with its enemy." He said Tudor could pose a danger to the future of Romania's children and added, "If he wants to continue his political career he should move to Belarus, where such people as him are accepted." MS

...AS TUDOR CLAIMS LEAD IN OPINION POLLS
Speaking on Romanian Radio on 6 September, Tudor announced that public-opinion polls show that the PRM is in the lead with the support of some 30 percent of the electorate. He also said he himself is leading the field among presidential candidates, "with about 40 percent." (Parliamentary and presidential elections are due in the fall of 2004). Tudor said Romania has "only one genuine political party, the PRM. The rest are [just] gangs and clientele cliques." He added that the PRM "must not necessarily do a lot" to win popular support: "What is important is not to do what they did -- to destroy the country and plunder it." MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER ON PRIVATE ITALIAN VISIT
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase left for Sardinia on 6 September as the personal guest of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Romanian Radio reported. The radio said on 7 September that, "during a Mediterranean cruise," the yacht on which the two politicians were sailing encountered a vessel on which Iceland's Prime Minister Daniel Odson was traveling. The three politicians held talks, followed by a discussion between Odson and Nastase. MS

ROMANIAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS RETURNED FROM FRANCE
Some 80 illegal immigrants have been returned to Romania from France in the last month, Romanian television reported on 7 September. Romanian Consul in Paris Gicu Baciu said that 15-20 detained Romanian immigrants are brought to the consulate by French police every week and are flown to Romania after the consulate issues them travel documents. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DENIES HAVING ORDERED HALT OF ROMANIAN TELEVISION PROGRAMS
The presidential office denied in a 6 September press release that President Vladimir Voronin ordered that Romanian Television's Channel 1 broadcasts to Moldova be halted, Romanian radio reported. The release said that the cessation of broadcasts on 12 August must be solved in line with the current legislation on foreign-television broadcasts in Moldova. It also said the matter is under the jurisdiction of the Moldovan Radio-Telecommunications Department. In a separate statement, the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, to which the Radio-Telecommunications Department is subordinate, said the agreement on broadcasting the Romanian channel's programs has run out, as have the funds for covering the expense of the broadcasts. The ministry said it "received too late" an addendum to the expired agreement that was recently approved by the Romanian government. The ministry said that for the addendum to become effective and for the broadcasts to be resumed it must be ratified by the Moldovan parliament. MS

NEGOTIATIONS ON OSCE DRAFT FOR TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT 'SUSPENDED'
Infotag reported on 6 September that the negotiations on the draft agreement submitted by the OSCE have been suspended for an "undetermined period." The agency quoted Valerii Litskay, the head of the Tiraspol negotiating team, as saying that it is "useless to debate details such as the work of the bicameral parliament" or relations between the two sides' customs authorities and armies when it is not known "what we are going to have in the long run -- a federation, a confederation, or something else." Litskay proposed wrapping up the current round of negotiations in Chisinau and resuming talks in Tiraspol after the sides' positions have been clarified by their leaderships. The representatives of the three mediators -- the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine -- responded that, according to agreements previously reached, the heads of delegations should enjoy full powers to sign partial, interim, or provisional documents. MS

ALLEGED ATTACKERS DENY THEY THREATENED VENDOR OF MOLDOVAN PUBLICATION
Gelu Mocanu and Boris Cepoi denied at press conference at the Infotag news agency on 6 September that they attacked or threatened a vendor of the "Sens" publication, as alleged by the publication's Editor in Chief Valeriu Renita on 4 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002). They also denied being bodyguards for Popular Party Christian Democratic Chairman Iurie Rosca, saying they do not even know Rosca. Mocanu said he presumes the allegations stemmed from the bad relations between Rosca and Renita and that he intends to sue Renita for libel. Mocanu said he knows the vendor he allegedly attacked, but he claimed that "I did not take away his newspapers. They were old and I advised him not to tout them to people. For compensation, I gave him 27 lei ($2). Then we drank coffee in a nearby cafe, after which he proposed throwing the newspapers in a garbage container, which he did. The garbage was smoldering, so the newspapers naturally caught fire," Mocanu said. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS GOVERNMENT MORE OPEN TO DIALOGUE
Speaking on the sidelines of an air show on the occasion of the country's national holiday on 6 September, President Georgi Parvanov noted that the ruling National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) has become more open to dialogue, mediapool.bg reported. Parvanov, a former leader of the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), as well as his successor in office Sergey Stanishev, have sharply criticized the NDSV recently. As a result, the NDSV has offered to cooperate with the BSP in the lawmaking process. Parvanov denied that there are tensions between him and Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski. UB

There is no End Note today


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