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Newsline - September 10, 2002


MOSCOW TO MARK 11 SEPTEMBER ANNIVERSARY
There will be a special concert at the Moscow Conservatory on 11 September to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, RIA-Novosti reported on 10 September. The performance will feature the premiere of "New York Requiem" by composer Yefrem Podgaiets. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow will open an exhibition at Moscow's Library of Foreign Literature that will display photographs and letters of sympathy written by Russians in the wake of the attacks. VY

DEFENSE MINISTRY TO INVESTIGATE MASS DESERTION IN VOLGOGRAD...
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on 10 September ordered an immediate investigation into the mass desertion of 54 servicemen of the 20th Motorized Infantry Division stationed near Volgograd, RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported. The soldiers reportedly left their unit, which is assigned to the North Caucasus Military District, because of poor conditions and bad treatment in their unit. Forty-nine of the deserters were soon detained in Volgograd, saying they merely wanted to draw attention to the severe hazing to which they had been subjected by their comrades. According to Reuters, the unarmed soldiers left their base on 8 September after witnessing other soldiers being beaten. They walked all night to the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Volgograd to complain of conditions at their unit. Lieutenant General Vladimir Novikov, head of the Defense Ministry's Department of Safety, said that a criminal investigation had been opened against their commanding officer, who was not identified. VY

...AS IT DECLASSIFIES NUMBER OF DESERTIONS
According to data released by the Defense Ministry, just 2,265 soldiers have deserted from their units and remain at large since 1992, strana.ru reported on 11 July. That figure is considerably lower than the estimate of 40,000 made by the nongovernmental organization the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers. In the first half of this year, 2,270 soldiers left their units without permission and 860 are still at large, Defense Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Moiseenko said. During the same period, 89 servicemen committed suicide, up from 70 during the same period in 2001, Moiseenko said. One hundred twenty-seven soldiers and officers died of other non-combat-related causes. VY

WILL INJURED SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY STEP DOWN?
Vladimir Rushailo, who was severely injured in a car accident near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii on 9 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002), has been evacuated by special aircraft to Moscow, Russian news agencies reported on 10 September. Doctors consider his condition to be serious, but stable. While Rushailo recuperates, his duties at the Security Council will be taken on by his first deputy, Vladislav Sherstyuk. In recent weeks, there have been rumors that Rushailo might step down soon and might possibly be named an ambassador. "Kommersant-Daily" speculated on 9 September that Rushailo's health might now serve as a convenient pretext for his resignation from the Security Council. VY

NATIONALIST WANTS U.S. TO GIVE RUSSIA A FREE HAND IN THE TRANSCAUCASUS
Answering questions online at smi.ru on 2 September, Deputy State Duma Speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii said that, although a "strategic union" between the United States and Russia is important, Moscow should continue to hold to a hard line on Iraq. He added that if the United States insists on Russian concessions in one region, Russia should seek similar concessions in others. "We took the pro-American position in Afghanistan, so the United States must retreat on the Iraq issue or it must not hamper our return to the Transcaucasus and the Balkans," Zhirinovskii said. VY

ANOTHER CATHOLIC PRIEST REFUSED ENTRY
For the fourth time since April, a Roman Catholic priest has been denied entry into Russia, dpa and other news agencies reported on 10 September. Reverend Jaroslaw Wisniewski, a Polish citizen who works in parishes on Sakhalin Island, was refused entry by immigration officials in Khabarovsk after returning from a vacation in South Korea and Japan. Wisniewski was told that his visa had been annulled. In August, Slovak priest Reverend Stanislav Krajniak was denied a visa extension to continue his work in Yaroslavl (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August 2002). In April, Bishop Jerzy Mazur of Irkutsk and Reverend Stefano Caprio of Vladimir were refused visas (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 22 April 2002). RC

GOVERNMENT PREPARES LEGAL TOOLS TO CONTROL MINERAL WEALTH
First Deputy Natural Resources Minister Vitalli Karaganov has said the government is reviewing the draft Mineral Resources Code that is being prepared to supplement the current law on mineral wealth, polit.ru and pravda.ru reported on 6 September. Karaganov said that the document, which was prepared by a working group under deputy head of the presidential administration Dmitrii Kozak, will radically change the process of exploiting the country's natural resources to the benefit of the state. He added that it is no longer possible to live under laws adopted during the transition period of early post-Soviet economic reform. In contrast to current legislation, the new code will grant some ownership rights of natural resources to the state even after they have been extracted by commercial developers. VY

SENIOR RAILWAYS OFFICIAL KILLED
Nikolai Glubokov, a senior Railways Ministry official who was head of the state enterprise Passenger Services Directorate, was stabbed to death in his Moscow apartment on 9 September, RosBalt and other Russian news agencies reported. Glubokov's body was found by his son, covered with more than 30 stab wounds. According to Glubokov's son, some valuables were missing from the apartment and robbery might have been the motive for the murder. On 20 August, the deputy head of the Moscow Railway, Sergei Paristyi, was shot dead outside his Moscow apartment building (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). RC

COMMUNIST'S SUPPORTERS COULD DECIDE KRASNOYARSK RACE
In statements on 10 September, State Duma Deputy Sergei Glaziev (Communist), who came in third in 8 September voting for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai with 21.45 percent, stopped short of asking his supporters to back Taimyr Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Khloponin, RosBalt and other Russian news agencies reported. Glaziev urged the Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature Speaker Aleksandr Uss, who came in first in the first-round vote, "to renounce his connections with [Russian Aluminum shareholder] Anatolii Bykov." For his part, Khloponin said he would welcome Glaziev's support because "there is much that is useful for the krai in [Glaziev's] economic program," RosBalt reported. The second round of voting will be held on 22 September. RC

AIDE REPORTEDLY DROVE CAR THAT KILLED NOVGOROD MAYOR
The driver of the car that killed Novgorod Mayor Aleksandr Korsunov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002) was allegedly Yelena Bildieva, who worked as Korsunov's aide, Russian news agencies reported on 10 September. According to "Izvestiya," Bildieva pressed down forcefully on the gas pedal while the car was in reverse, running into Korsunov and pinning him against a wall. Investigators have not yet said whether they believe the incident was an accident, but Bildieva is being investigated on charges of manslaughter. First Deputy Mayor Sergei Lobach will serve as acting mayor of Novgorod until new elections, which are expected to be held in December, polit.ru reported. RC

GENERALS FACE THE MUSIC OVER HELICOPTER DISASTER
Defense Minister Ivanov has signed an order accepting the resignation of Colonel General Vitallii Pavlov, former head of the army's aviation wing, RIA-Novosti reported on 7 September. Ivanov also formally reprimanded Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Kormlitsev, North Caucasus Military District Commander Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, and 10 other generals in connection with the 19 August shooting down of an Mi-24 military transport helicopter that left 121 dead (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2002). Although an investigation has established that the overloaded helicopter was shot down by a Chechen fighter using a shoulder-launched antiaircraft missile, the generals were punished for violating military regulations forbidding the transport of unauthorized personnel by military helicopters. VY

CHECHEN DISTRICT HEAD MURDERED
Akhmar Zavgaev, the head of Nadterechnyi Raion and brother of former pro-Moscow Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev, was killed on 9 September when gunmen opened fire on his car, Russian agencies reported. His secretary also died in the attack, for which the Chechen resistance military leadership claimed responsibility in a statement posted on chechenpress.com the same day. Chechen Prime Minister Stanislav Ilyasov described Zavgaev as an experienced administrator and his murder as a great loss for Chechnya, Interfax reported. Former Russian administrator in Chechnya Nikolai Koshman said part of the blame for the murder lies with local military prosecutors' offices, which are responsible for the security of local officials. For the past two months, Zavgaev had dispensed with bodyguards, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

OFFICIALS SEND MIXED SIGNALS ON CHECHEN REFERENDUM
The required political, social, and economic conditions for conducting a referendum in Chechnya on the new draft constitution do not yet exist, ITAR-TASS quoted Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov as telling Ekho Moskvy on 9 September. He suggested that the referendum should take place simultaneously with State Duma elections in December 2003, but no later, and that a new election law should be approved together with the constitution. But Interfax on 9 September quoted Russian presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov as saying that discussion of the draft constitution could begin this week and that the referendum will take place at the end of this year. Sultygov also argued that the head of the republic should be directly appointed by the Russian president, rather than elected. The draft constitution stipulates that the republic's president be elected for a term of five years (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 5, No. 17, 17 May 2002). LF

UN TO RESUME HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM IN CHECHNYA
The United Nations will resume its humanitarian operations in Chechnya on 9 September, a spokesman for the UN's Moscow office told Interfax. The program was suspended six weeks ago following the abduction in Chechnya of UNICEF employee Nina Davydovich (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 2002). Meanwhile, the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders announced on 10 September that it will resume operations in Ingushetia. The group suspended its work on 14 August after the head of its office in Daghestan, Dutch national Arjan Erkel, was kidnapped (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 2002). Erkel's whereabouts remain unknown, and Doctors Without Borders repeated its call for his immediate release. LF

ARMENIAN TV STATION OWNER RESURFACES, ASKS FOR GOVERNMENT PROTECTION
Artashes Mehrabian, owner of the independent Abovian TV station, reappeared late on 8 September, one day after his family reported him missing, and addressed a letter to President Robert Kocharian and law enforcement agencies requesting protection, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 9 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002). Mehrabian denied he was abducted on 6 September, explaining that he had received threats from three unknown men who ordered him to cease broadcasting until after the local elections scheduled for 20 October. LF

KARABAKH PRESIDENT REAPPOINTS PRIME MINISTER
Arkadii Ghukasian on 9 September reappointed Anoushavan Danielian to head the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's government, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported from Stepanakert. Some observers had believed Ghukasian was dissatisfied with Danielian's performance over the past three years (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 11, 16 March 2001). LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY MOVES TO NEW HQ
The Azerbaijan National Independence Party (AMIP) has again been forced by government pressure to move to new premises, Turan and zerkalo.az reported on 10 September. In 2001, AMIP was evicted from the premises it had occupied since 1992 and moved into new temporary headquarters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18, 20, and 30 July 2001). LF

AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ARRESTED
Nizami Sultanov, who heads the opposition Adalet party's Gusar branch and is also a former chairman of the Lezgin organization Savab, was arrested on 9 September in connection with a libel suit brought against him by the Gusar district administrator, zerkalo.az reported on 10 September. In a recent newspaper article, Sultanov reportedly accused the local official of belonging to the separatist Lezgin organization Sadval. The Gusar district court sanctioned Sultanov's arrest on the grounds that he had tried to pressure the court and there were grounds to suspect he might try to escape justice. Adalet party Chairman Ilyas Ismailov termed the arrest politically motivated. LF

GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DOUBT APARTMENT BOMBER IS IN PANKISI
In separate statements in Tbilisi on 9 September, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and National Security Ministry spokesman Nika Laliashvili both questioned the accuracy of claims by Russian military officers the previous day that Achemez Gochiyaev, the chief suspect in the Moscow and Volgodonsk apartment-building bombings in September 1999, has taken refuge in the Pankisi Gorge, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002). LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SEEKS EXPLANATION FOR DELAY IN TBILISI VOTE RECOUNT
Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Djumber Lominadze was summoned to the Georgian parliament on 9 September to explain the reasons for the delay in recounting the ballots cast in Tbilisi during the 2 June local elections, Caucasus Press reported. Lominadze said the process is labor-intensive and that he cannot estimate how much longer it will take. Some deputies believe the CEC is deliberately prolonging the recount. LF

KAZAKH, UZBEK PRESIDENTS PLEDGE RAPPROCHEMENT, COOPERATION...
Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov paid a one-day visit to Astana on 9 September, where he and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbaev discussed various aspects of bilateral relations, including construction of a highway between Kungrad in western Uzbekistan and the Kazakh port of Aqtau, the arms trade, and the price Kazakhstan is to pay for natural gas from Uzbekistan, Interfax reported. Speaking at a press conference after the talks, Nazarbaev said he and Karimov agreed to work for a close rapprochement between their countries in all fields. Karimov for his part denied Russian media speculation of personal tensions between himself and Nazarbaev, Interfax reported. LF

...FINALIZE BORDER DELIMITATION
Nazarbaev and Karimov also signed on 9 September a bilateral agreement on delimiting the few remaining sectors of the two countries' shared 2,440-kilometer border not included in the border agreement signed last year, Russian agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2001). Those sectors include the disputed Kazakh villages of Baghys and Turkestanets, whose residents have staged several protests over the last eight months over their unresolved status (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3, 4, and 7 January, 13 March, and 20 August 2002). The villages of Baghys and Arnasai and the Arnasai Dam will remain part of Kazakhstan, while Turkestanets, with a population of some 1,100, was ceded to Uzbekistan together with a couple of largely Kazakh-populated villages in Kyzyl-Orda Oblast, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

KAZAKHSTAN EXTRADITES TWO UZBEKS
Kazakhstan's National Security Committee has handed over to Uzbekistan two Uzbek citizens suspected of belonging to the banned Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, Interfax and AP reported on 9 September. LF

KYRGYZ, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEET
Askar Akaev traveled to Sochi on 9 September for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian agencies reported. The two presidents discussed various aspects of bilateral cooperation and cooperation within the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Referring to Russia as Kyrgyzstan's "main strategic ally and partner," Akaev expressed satisfaction at the 23 percent increase in bilateral trade over the first eight months of 2002. Putin called for renewing cooperation in the military-industrial sector, noting that prior to the collapse of the USSR the then-Kirghiz SSR produced defense hardware for the Soviet Navy. Putin lauded, and pledged support for, what he termed Akaev's efforts to "consolidate" Kyrgyz society. LF

KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO IMPOSE THREE-MONTH BAN ON MEETINGS
In the wake of the grenade attack on Security Council Secretary and acting presidential administration head Misir Ashyrkulov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002), the government issued a decree on 7 September on urgent measures to prevent the destabilization of the situation in Kyrgyzstan, akipress.org reported. On 9 September, Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev submitted to the Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of parliament) a bill imposing a three-month moratorium on all public marches, meetings, and rallies, Interfax reported. But Ata-Meken Party Chairman Omurbek Tekebaev and Ar-Namys Party Deputy Chairman Emil Aliev protested that both the government decree and the draft bill violate the constitution and the right to assembly. LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIALS IDENTIFY NEW ISLAMIC THREAT...
Addressing the Legislative Assembly on 9 September, Tanaev said that the proposed three-month ban on meetings and demonstrations is intended to thwart the activities of the banned Islamic movement Hizb ut-Tahrir which, Tanaev claimed, has developed a radical wing that does not eschew violence in its bid to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia, akipress.org reported. Tanaev added that Kyrgyzstan's security services have identified a new organization named the Islamic Movement of Central Asia, which operates in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz National Security Service Chairman Kalyk Imankulov said in Bishkek the same day that the new organization was formed on the basis of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), together with "Islamic separatists" from Tajikistan and Chechnya and Uighur separatists, and is headed by a former IMU leading member, Takhir Yuldashev, Interfax reported. Imankulov said the new movement has its base in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. LF

...WARN THAT PROTEST MARCH COULD TURN VIOLENT
First Deputy Prime Minister Kurmanbek Osmanov on 9 September linked the ban on meetings and demonstrations with the ongoing protest march on Bishkek by villagers demanding President Akaev's resignation, Interfax reported. Parliament deputy Azimbek Beknazarov told Interfax the marchers, who on 9 September reached Kara-Kul, number roughly 2,000, while akipress.org gave the figure as 400. Osmanov accused unnamed "political forces" of seeking to tap popular discontent with socioeconomic conditions to achieve their own political ends. He appealed to parliament deputies to set up an "initiative group" to talk with marchers in order to "prevent illegal steps" and "keep passions from flaring up." National Security Service First Deputy Chairman Boris Poluektov similarly warned parliament deputies that "if the protest march arrives in Bishkek, there may be...provocations that could result in bloodshed," Interfax reported. He accused the marchers of intending "to hinder the work of the parliament and government, which could result in a civil war," as in neighboring Tajikistan. Tanaev told parliament deputies that the marchers would not be allowed to proceed from Kara-Kul to Bishkek. He added that the police would use only truncheons, but not firearms, to prevent them doing so, akipress.org reported. LF

KYRGYZ POLICEMEN RELEASED
The nine policemen taken hostage in the village of Aksy in Djalalabad Oblast on 6 September were released unharmed two days later after lengthy negotiations between Beknazarov and local officials, akipress.org reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002). A criminal case has been opened in connection with the detention. It is not clear whether seven villagers whose release the hostage takers were demanding are still in detention. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT AGAIN TARGETS TERRORISM, EXTREMISM
Addressing a formal meeting on 8 September to mark the 11th anniversary of Tajikistan's independence, Imomali Rakhmonov singled out stepping up the fight against terrorism and religious extremism as his country's most important priorities, Interfax and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Rakhmonov also complained that developed countries do not allocate enough funds to combat poverty, and warned of the possible emergence of "neo-fascism," ITAR-TASS reported. LF

ANOTHER OSCE MISSION MEMBER DENIED VISA EXTENSION IN BELARUS
The Belarusian authorities have denied a visa extension to Meaghan Fitzgerald of the United States, a member of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Minsk, Belapan reported on 9 September. Fitzgerald's visa expires on 12 September. Foreign Ministry spokesman Pavel Latushka declined to comment on the authorities' decision. Alina Josan of Moldova will be the only foreign staff member left in the OSCE's office in Minsk after Fitzgerald's departure. Minsk previously denied visa extensions to the OSCE's Andrew Carpenter and Michel Rivollier. The Belarusian authorities have also refused to accept German diplomat Eberhard Heyken, the OSCE's nominee to head the group, demanding a revision of the group's mandate. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER PROPOSES PUBLIC DISCUSSION ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA
United Civic Party Chairman Anatol Lyabedzka has proposed holding public hearings in Minsk in October-November on the prospects for Belarusian-Russian relations, Belapan reported on 9 September. "It is evident that there is a crisis in relations between Russia and Belarus," Lyabedzka said, adding that "there is a need for a broad public discussion that would result in the presentation of an effective model of relations between our countries." Lyabedzka recalled that earlier this year his party and Russia's Union of Rightist Forces (led by Boris Nemtsov) proposed an integration scenario based on principles similar to those that are operational in the European Union. "Later developments showed that it was a correct and timely move," Lyabedzka said. Lyabedzka has also requested that the Prosecutor-General's Office investigate the illegal wiretapping of a telephone conversation he held with Nemtsov. The conversation, which touched upon an alleged conspiracy against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, was transcribed and published in Russia and Belarus last week (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 10 September 2002). JM

BELARUSIAN TRADERS TO DEMAND LUKASHENKA'S DISMISSAL ON 11 SEPTEMBER
The striking committee of Belarusian outdoor-market traders has called for a national strike on 11 September over what they say is the authorities' intention to make small business unprofitable, Belapan and RFE/RL Belarusian Service reported on 9 September. The committee is also demanding that President Lukashenka resign. "It is no accident that we scheduled our protest for the anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the U.S.," committee Chairman Valery Levaneuski told RFE/RL. "Our action will take place under the slogan: No to Economic Terrorism! We think that the policy of our state vis-a-vis the sphere of entrepreneurship is an example of economic terrorism." Meanwhile, the United Association of Entrepreneurs (an organization of Belarusian vendors), has appealed to vendors not to yield to "the provocative call" to hold a strike on 11 September, saying that such an action could undermine the ongoing talks between the government and the association. JM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT REPORTS TO PARLIAMENT ON COMBATING POVERTY
Labor and Social Policy Minister Ivan Sakhan on 10 September reported to the Verkovna Rada on the government's progress in implementing the program called "The Strategy for Combating Poverty in Ukraine," UNIAN reported. Sakhan said the main condition for overcoming poverty in Ukraine is to maintain macroeconomic stability and GDP growth. According to Sakhan, Ukraine's GDP rose by 4.4 percent in January-July 2002, while the real incomes of Ukrainians in January-August 2002 increased by 26.8 percent. Sakhan said the average monthly wage in June was 377.4 hryvnyas ($70.8) and exceeded the subsistence minimum (365 hryvnyas) for the first time in the past several years. JM

UKRAINIAN INTERNET JOURNALIST REQUESTS PROTECTION
Olena Prytula, the editor in chief of the "Ukrayinska pravda" website, has sent an open letter to Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, Security Service head Volodymyr Radchenko, and Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov, asking them to provide protection for her, the website reported. Referring to a source in the Prosecutor-General's Office, Prytula wrote that her life may be in danger in connection with the investigation into the death of journalist of Heorhiy Gongadze, who worked for "Ukrayinska pravda" before his disappearance in September 2000. Prytula noted that the murderers of Gongadze may be also interested in killing her since, according to her source in the Prosecutor-General's Office, she is an "important witness" in the Gongadze case. Prytula recalled that Gongadze asked the Prosecutor-General's Office for protection in July 2000 but the office ignored his request. JM

UKRAINIAN RADICAL LEFTISTS PROTEST U.S. IRAQ POLICY
Some 500 representatives of the Progressive Socialist Party, the Russian Bloc, and the All-Ukrainian Association of Leftists "Justice" staged a picket in front of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv on 9 September to protest U.S. policies with regard to Iraq, UNIAN reported. According to the agency, the protesters threw an effigy of U.S. President George W. Bush to the ground, pelted it with tomatoes, and "pierced it with a scythe of the Grim Reaper." Progressive Socialist Party leader Nataliya Vitrenko said it is necessary to create a "triangle of justice" consisting of the Slavic world (Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia), the Arab world, as well as China and India in order to oppose the "U.S. aggression" against Iraq. Participants in the meeting adopted a resolution with demands to declare U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual persona non grata and expel him from the country, stop the blockades of Iraq and Cuba, and make U.S. President Bush accountable for "crimes against humanity" before The Hague war crimes tribunal. JM

ESTONIAN RAILWAYS STRIPPED OF SAFETY LICENSE
The Estonian Railways Board revoked the infrastructure safety certificate of Estonian Railways on 9 September due to various shortcomings and gave it until 23 September to eliminate the faults, ETA reported. Estonian Railways claims that it has already eliminated nearly 90 percent of the defects, but the remaining 10 percent will take more time. The Railways Board also ordered the company to ensure by 11 September that it operate only its locomotives that meet the technical-operation regulation requirements and that it present documentary proof that the automatic signaling and braking devices of recently acquired U.S.-made locomotives are reliable (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21, 27, and 28 August 2001). The cancellation of the safety certificate has no immediate effects on Estonian Railways' operations, but the Railways Board is threatening to cancel the company's operating license, which would result in stoppage of all rail traffic. SG

LATVIAN SUPREME COURT TURNS DOWN BALLOT APPEAL
The Supreme Court Senate in an extended meeting on 9 September upheld the Riga Central District Court decision to remove parliament deputy Janis Adamsons of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party from the list of candidates for the 5 October parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August 2002), BNS reported. The district court ruled that Adamsons had worked for the Border Guards as a political officer under the Soviet KGB, and was therefore ineligible to run for office. The Senate will make public the motivation for its ruling in 10 days. Adamsons called the ruling "absurd" and said he will probably appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. SG

LITHUANIAN CONSERVATIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM ELECTIONS
Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) Deputy Chairman Andrius Kubilius announced at a press conference on 9 September that he is withdrawing his presidential candidacy and urged his supporters to vote for incumbent Valdas Adamkus, ELTA reported. Kubilius said that the achievement of the country's strategic Euro-Atlantic integration goals can be assured only by the election of a candidate from the right and thus it is important that these parties not split their votes by having numerous candidates. Kubilius called Adamkus the strongest such candidate and urged Center Union and Liberal Union Chairmen Kestutis Glaveckas and Eugenijus Gentvilas to also withdraw from the race. He rejected speculation that his decision has anything to do with the U.S. company Williams International's transfer of its shares in Mazeikiai Oil company to Russia's Yukos oil company. SG

POLISH PRESIDENT DISAPPROVES OF CABINET'S EU CAMPAIGN...
President Aleksander Kwasniewski has criticized the government's information campaign about integration into the European Union, Polish Radio reported on 9 September. "I hope that the government's campaign will be more active and better than it has been so far since I treat the present one as a warm-up exercise -- plain, characterized by very high tone, and providing very general information," Kwasniewski said at a meeting with participants in the World Forum of Polish Media Abroad in Warsaw. Kwasniewski added that his greatest worry is not the result of the EU accession referendum but a possible low turnout. JM

...STRESSES UN ROLE IN WAR AGAINST TERROR
Kwasniewski also said he is looking forward to U.S. President George W. Bush's speech at the United Nations later this week, adding that the UN cannot be ignored in the battle against terrorism. "The broader the coalition the better its efficiency. We hope that President Bush will present such an offer of cooperation in New York," Kwasniewski noted. Asked if Poland would back the United States in a possible military action against Iraq, the Polish president said, "We are waiting for information from the American administration. They have to define their decision as well as present the documents they have." JM

WARSAW HOSTS OSCE CONFERENCE
Some 500 politicians and human rights experts from 55 member states of the OSCE opened a conference called "Human Dimension Implementation" in Warsaw on 9 September, dpa reported. "While the fight against terrorism is imperative, it cannot be waged without observing fundamental human rights," OSCE Chairman and Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz said in his opening address. The 10-day forum will also focus on the implementation of previous OSCE commitments in areas including sex and slave trafficking, torture, capital punishment, corruption, media freedoms, landmines, democratic elections, and tolerance. JM

POLISH SPECIAL SERVICES TO LOOK INTO 'LAS VEGAS' INVESTMENT PLANS
Premier Leszek Miller said on Polish radio on 9 September that Poland's special services are interested in the investments planned by Turkish businessman Vahap Troy in Biala Podlaska (a city in eastern Poland). According to earlier reports in Polish media, the Turkish businessman intends to build a "Polish Las Vegas" in Biala Podlaska -- an entertainment complex including hotels, casinos, sports facilities, an airport, and a university campus. "There is a big risk in the project since it is not clearly known from where the money could be taken for it," Miller said. Vahap Troy reportedly wants to invest up to $5 billion in the "Polish Las Vegas," which would provide some 40,000 jobs in the region. JM

CZECH UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT SAYS UN SHOULD PLAY ACTIVE ROLE IN IRAQ CRISIS
New UN General Assembly President Jan Kavan told journalists in New York on 9 September that the United Nations must play an active role finding a solution to the current Iraq crisis, CTK reported. Kavan, who is a former Czech foreign minister, said he personally prefers a political and diplomatic solution to avoid war and bloodshed. He added that this does not mean he has any sympathy for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and that his statement is a reflection of his current UN position, which obliges him to seek the widest possible consensus among UN members. Kavan said he expects U.S. President George W. Bush's planned speech to the General Assembly on 12 September to include what Kavan called a "last ultimatum" to Hussein to comply with Security Council resolutions and allow arms inspectors to return to Iraq. Failure to comply, Kavan said, would create a situation by which "the U.S. could make a decision in favor of a military operation against the Iraqi regime." MS

CZECH PREMIER IN DENMARK
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla told his Danish counterpart Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Copenhagen on 9 September that the Czech Republic will not agree to join the European Union if the costs of doing so prove to be too high, CTK reported. Denmark currently holds the EU's rotating Presidency. Spidla told journalists after his talks with Rasmussen that the Czech Republic is insisting that it receive "just and equal treatment" in its negotiations with the EU and that this is "a borderline we cannot cross." Rasmussen said he expects current EU members to reach a joint position by early November on sensitive chapters in the negotiations, including the agriculture chapter. The two politicians said the August floods in the Czech Republic will not delay its EU accession. "The floods were huge, but their impact was not so big as to divert us from our path," Spidla said. Speaking before the Danish parliament's Foreign Commission later on 9 September, Spidla said that tangible EU aid to repair flood damage as well as being treated as an equal in accession negotiations would help boost support in his country for joining the EU. MS

CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST FORMER VZS HEAD
Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik told the daily "Pravo" of 9 September that he has filed a complaint against former Czech Military Intelligence Service (VZS) chief Andor Sandor and his former deputy Miroslav Kvasnak, who was recently dismissed as military attache in India, CTK reported. Tvrdik said Sandor did not follow orders last year to end cooperation with Karel Srba, who while Foreign Ministry secretary was also an undercover agent for the VZS. Srba is currently under investigation for corruption and commissioning the assassination of a journalist. Sandor responded that he was surprised by Trvdik's move. Sandor said he took over the VZS command in May 2001 and was told by subordinates that all VZS contacts with Srba had been discontinued in May 2000. On 10 September, Tvrdik was quoted by "Pravo" as saying that more lawsuits may be brought against former and current VZS staff held responsible for information leaks that in some cases endangered the lives of undercover VZS agents. MS

DISSIDENT FACTION EMERGING IN CZECH US-DEU
A dissident faction calling on the party to stick to its right-wing program and principles is emerging in the Freedom Union-Democratic Union (US-DEU), CTK reported on 10 September, citing Zdenka Dubova. Dubova, a member of the committee set up to officially organize the faction, said the group calls itself the Right-Wing Platform and aims at renewing voters' confidence in the US-DEU and starting cooperating with other right-wing parties. The US-DEU statutes allow for the formation of factions if they include at least one-third of the party's district organizations and are accredited by the US-DEU National Committee. Observers say this may signal danger for the current ruling coalition, in which the US-DEU is a junior partner. Ivan Pilip, who is US-DEU acting chairman, said respect for different views is important for the US-DEU and he does not fear a party split. MS

CZECH CHEMICAL PLANT ADMITS CHLORINE LEAK HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY REPORTED
Spolana chemical plant spokesman Jan Martinek said on 9 September that nearly 81,000 kilograms of chlorine gas and liquid leaked into the Labe (Elbe) River and the air last month, when the Neratovice-based plant, some 20 kilometers north of Prague, was seriously affected by flooding, CTK reported. A laboratory analysis commissioned by Czech Radio and Czech Television concluded that dangerous quantities of dioxins that leaked from the plant settled in sediments on the shores of the Labe, dpa reported. The analysis concluded that dioxin levels in the village of Libis, half a kilometer downstream from Spolana, were three times higher than safety norms. MS

FORMER PREMIER SAYS HE WILL NOT SEEK POSITION IN NEXT SLOVAK CABINET
In an interview with the English-language Bratislava daily "Slovak Spectator" of 9 September, former Premier Vladimir Meciar said he does not intend to be a member of Slovakia's next government, CTK reported. Meciar said that even if another political party offered him a portfolio in the future cabinet, "the answer would be 'no.'" MS

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER SAYS FUTURE BELONGS TO UNITED RIGHT
Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, in an interview with the Czech daily "Hospodarske noviny" of 9 September, said that the united right will form the core of the future Slovak coalition, CTK reported. Dzurinda said he will hand the country to his successor in good shape. He said he does not regret having caused the break of the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) by forming his own Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, because the SDK was an "artificial party." But he added that "What was not artificial was the idea of cooperation of political forces with close programs, and this idea is still alive." Dzurinda said his relations with the Hungarian Coalition Party and with the Christian Democratic Movement are good "to the extent that it will be mainly up to our three parties [to determine] how Slovakia will look after the 2002 elections." MS

EU ENVOY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CONTINUATION OF SLOVAK REFORMS
EU Ambassador to Slovakia Eric van der Linden told CTK on 9 September that there is a high probability that the reform process begun by the cabinet headed by Dzurinda will be continued after the upcoming parliamentary elections. At a press conference attended by the Danish, Greek, French, and British ambassadors to Slovakia, he said that the drop in the popularity of Merciar -- who was long considered a favorite to win the elections -- is a very interesting development. He said he expects the European Commission's assessment of candidate countries, due in October, to be positive on Slovakia and that this will probably be the last report before accession. MS

ARCHBISHOP'S LETTER PROVOKES PROTESTS IN SLOVAKIA
Roman Catholic Archbishop Jan Sokol on 8 September called on the faithful not to cast their ballots for "nonbelievers," stirring protests in several Slovak circles, TASR and CTK reported. Sokol said in the letter that people should not vote for atheist parties whose leaders are former communists, liberals, or nonbelievers. He also said they should not vote for the Alliance for New Citizens (ANO), whose leader, media tycoon Pavol Rusko, "demoralizes our nation and its most precious group, the youth, through his television." Smer (Direction) leader Robert Fico said the separation of church and state must be made into law. ANO, the Social Democratic Alternative, and other formations protested the letter. Bishop Frantisek Tondra, head of the Conference of Slovak Bishops, said he disagrees with Sokol's telling people who should they should and should not vote for, and has not signed Sokol's letter. Tondra said one must differentiate between the pastoral letter sent by the conference calling on people to vote and Sokol's own separate initiative (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002). MS

DISPUTE SCUPPERS HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY HEARING ON MISSING FILE
Parliament's National Security Committee was unable to hold a hearing on 9 September to look into why a file on Free Democrat Gabor Szalay disappeared from the Interior Ministry in 1995 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 9 September 2002), as the governing parties wanted an open hearing and the opposition a closed one, "Nepszabadsag" reported. Committee Chairman Laszlo Kover of the opposition FIDESZ party wanted to question Free Democrat Chairman Gabor Kuncze, who was interior minister in 1995, as well as Historical Office head Gyorgy Marko and Imre Gondos, the chairman of the panel of judges screening public figures for involvement in the communist-era state security apparatus. Kover said there are no legal conditions in place for holding an open session, adding that he will ask Elemer Kiss, the head of the prime minister's office, to declassify the missing documents. MSZ

HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS INSIST ON AMENDING VETTING BILL
Socialist deputies do not believe that government bills on making public the communist-era state-security pasts of public figures and on establishing a state-security archive should be withdrawn, party official Laszlo Varju told reporters on 9 September. Varju said there is no need for a new bill, but that the existing ones should be amended. Earlier, Laszlo Solyom, former president of the Constitutional Court and head of a committee consulted by Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy on the matter, said he would "consider it fortunate if the government abandoned its proposals." However, parliament's National Security Committee found the bills suitable for debate, as governing-party deputies have endorsed the proposals. Committee Chairman Kover (FIDESZ) said the new bills "would authorize merciless action against those on the lower echelons of the one-time state-security pyramid, while the actual operators of the regime would be exempted," Hungarian dailies reported. MSZ

FIDESZ POLITICIAN RETURNS TO POLITICAL LIFE
Former FIDESZ Chairman and parliamentary group leader Zoltan Pokorni was elected FIDESZ deputy parliamentary group leader on 9 September, Hungarian media reported. Pokorni resigned his posts in the summer after his father's past as an informer during the communist era came to light. Pokorni was nominated to the post by group leader Janos Ader. MSZ

BOSNIAN SERB GOVERNMENT BACKING OFF FROM SREBRENICA DENIAL?
Republika Srpska Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said in Banja Luka on 9 September that the controversial report denying that a massacre took place in Srebrenica in 1995 does not represent government policy, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 September 2002). Ivanic said that the study was an early version for the media and that the final document has yet to be released. The government is expected to respond on 10 September to U.S. charges that the Orao aircraft company in Bijeljina has illegally sold spare parts to Iraq. The republican government in Sarajevo is considering establishing control over the foreign arms trade, which is currently overseen by officials in the two entities. PM

ANTI-MUSLIM INCIDENTS AS BOSNIAN SERBS CELEBRATE BASKETBALL WIN
In central Serbia, two persons died of heart attacks in the course of the massive celebrations marking Yugoslavia's second consecutive gold-medal victory in the World Basketball Championship, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 9 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002). In northeast Bosnia, incidents were reported in Kozarac and Prijedor in which rowdy ethnic Serbs attacked or destroyed property belonging to Muslims and threatened local Muslims who have returned to their former homes. Other anti-Muslim incidents were reported in Novi Pazar in Sandzak. PM

MONTENEGRIN COURT CONVICTS SERB OF WAR CRIMES
A court in Bijelo Polje found Nebojsa Ranisavljevic guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to 15 years in prison on 9 September, Reuters reported. The charges stem from his role in the abduction from a train of 19 mainly Muslim civilians in eastern Bosnia in February 1993 and their subsequent torture and murder. He was part of an armed group that carried out the atrocity on the Belgrade-Bar railway line. PM

CROATIAN AND SLOVENIAN LEADERS REACH TEMPORARY AGREEMENT
Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan held talks in Zagreb with his Slovenian counterpart Janez Drnovsek on recent incidents in the Bay of Piran, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 10 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 2002, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 August 2002). As expected, the leaders failed to resolve the maritime-border dispute that has bedeviled their relations since 1991. They nonetheless concluded a three-month agreement that can be terminated or renewed at any time by either side, Reuters reported. The leaders agreed on a temporary sea border and on joint police patrols to work out disputes between fishermen. Drnovsek said that he wants a permanent bilateral pact, while Racan called for international arbitration. He added that "this dispute is endangering other aspects of cooperation between our two countries, and we would like to stop it before the conflict escalates." PM

CROATIAN PARENTS PROTEST JOINT CLASSES WITH ROMA
The parents of some 30 Croatian pupils locked the entrance to the elementary school in Drzimurac near the Hungarian border, AP reported. They demand separate instruction for their children from pupils from the majority Romany community, whom the parents say often do not know Croatian, are reluctant to learn and submit to discipline, and hence hold the other children back in their studies. PM

CAMPAIGNING BEGINS IN KOSOVA
The election campaign for the 29 October local elections in Kosova has officially begun, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Prishtina on 9 September. Some 60 parties, coalitions, civic initiatives, and other groups are fielding candidates in 30 districts. Both domestic and international monitors will be present. PM

KOSOVA AND ALBANIA TO COOPERATE AGAINST TERRORISM
Michael Steiner, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK), signed an agreement with Prime Minister Fatos Nano in Tirana on 9 September on combating terrorism and organized crime, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Steiner told reporters that he considers it too early to discuss the final status of Kosova. Many experts have suggested that delaying the clarification of Kosova's status contributes to instability and criminal activity in the province. PM

ROUND ONE OF MILOSEVIC TRIAL TO END
The portion of the war crimes trial of former President Slobodan Milosevic dealing with Kosova was to conclude in The Hague on 10 September, international media reported. Subsequent phases of his trial will center on war crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia under his leadership. The Belgrade broadcaster B92 continues to broadcast the trial in its entirety, including daily summaries of developments. PM

NATO AMBASSADOR TO MACEDONIA BLASTS ATTACKS ON MEDIA
NATO Ambassador to Macedonia Nicolaas Biegman issued a statement on 9 September criticizing pressure by the Interior Ministry on independent media, Makfax news agency reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 9 September 2002). "I am shocked by recent attacks against independent media and individual journalists as by legal maneuvers against media outlets, which are inappropriate especially during an election campaign," Biegman said. He added that "Supporting a free and independent media is fundamental for any country that wishes to be part of a new Europe." The Interior Ministry recently filed charges against one journalist and threatened to arrest others. UB

MACEDONIAN NAME DEBATE DRAGS ON
Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayotis Beglitis told Makfax news agency on 9 September that Greece is willing to continue talks over the name of Macedonia with whatever government is formed after the 15 September parliamentary elections. The talks will take place in New York under UN mediation. For more than a decade Greece has opposed the use of the name Macedonia, saying that the name implies territorial aspirations against Greece, which has a province bearing the same name. Because of Greek opposition, Macedonia is internationally recognized under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), even though the country's constitutional name is Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski recently criticized the lack of progress in the talks. He announced that he is willing to replace the members of the Macedonian delegation if need be. UB

SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA
Visiting Slovak President Rudolf Schuster met on 9 September with President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, and with the two speakers of Romania's bicameral parliament, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. They discussed cooperation on economic issues and their respective bids to join NATO and the European Union. An accord on cultural cooperation was also signed and Schuster decorated Iliescu with Slovakia's highest order. Romanian Radio reported on 10 September that Schuster was participating in a Romanian-Slovak economic-cooperation forum in Timisoara on the second and last day of his visit. MS

HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF ROMANIANS THAN AMERICANS BACK FORCE AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
A comparative public opinion poll released by Gallup International on 9 September shows that 38 percent of Romanians "fully agree" and 26 percent "partly agree" (combined 64 percent) that military force is the most efficient means to reduce international terrorism, Mediafax reported. In the United States, 37 percent of respondents "fully agree" and 22 percent "partly agree" with that statement (combined 59 percent). In the current EU countries, on the other hand, the combined groups score an average of 47 percent while the median of all 32 surveyed countries is 54 percent. Thirty percent of those questioned in Romania believe that U.S. foreign policy is beneficial for their country, 30 percent believe U.S. foreign policy has no effect on Romania, 16 percent believe the effect is negative, and 24 percent did not reply to this question or said they do not know. The Romanian poll was conducted for Gallup International by the Center for the Study of Opinion and Marketing. MS

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST POLITICIANS SHIFT ALLIANCES ONCE AGAIN
Ilie Neacsu and Sever Mesca, who earlier this year switched from the Greater Romania Party to the ruling Social Democratic Party, on 10 September announced that they had joined the extraparliamentary Romanian Socialist Party (PSR), Mediafax reported. The PSR was set up in 1992. MS

LEADING CONSERVATIVE OPPOSITION POLITICIAN FEARS COMMUNIST REVIVAL IN BULGARIA
Speaking on the private TV channel bTV, Edvin Sugarev, the deputy chairman of the conservative opposition Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), has said that Bulgaria is experiencing a revival of communism, the daily "Dnevnik" reported on 8 September. Sugarev said there are efforts to found a new communist party, while at the same time the monuments to former communist leader Todor Zhivkov are being restored. Sugarev added that the state administration is dominated by members of the opposition Socialist Party (BSP), which never distanced itself from its communist past. Sugarev also claimed that the BSP indirectly participates in the government with two ministers without taking responsibility. UB

BULGARIAN FINANCE MINISTRY ANNOUNCES NEW FOREIGN-DEBT EXCHANGE DEAL
Finance Minister Milen Velchev announced on 9 September that the government is to exchange parts of its foreign debt in "Brady bonds" with dollar-denominated Eurobonds, BTA reported. The exchange, which is worth some $800 million, will increase the volume of the country's dollar-denominated Eurobond issue of March 2002. The transaction will be handled by JP Morgan and Solomon Smith Barney. The move is intended to reduce Bulgaria's foreign debt and to release money that was set aside to secure the Brady obligations. It is estimated that the foreign debt will be reduced by some $238 million (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 March 2002). UB

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING SIGNED ON ALBANIAN-BULGARIAN TRANSPORT CORRIDOR
The transport ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding on 9 September in the Italian Adriatic port of Bari, BTA reported. The agreement defines the route of the so-called Pan-European Corridor No. VIII, which is to run from Albania through Macedonia to the Bulgarian Black Sea ports of Burgas and Varna. The route is to link Europe with the Caucasus and Central Asia. UB

There is no End Note today.


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